Life is Motion

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Odds and Chances

Growing up, I didn't dream of the perfect wedding, the perfect groom, or the perfect wedding dress like the image of little girls they show on TV. Basically, I didn't think much of anything that might even lead to a wedding.

But before I shock any of my longtime friends who might be reading this, the point of this writing is about "odds and probability," and not marriage...goodness, NO!
Watching House M.D. and finding out that the couple I am rooting for, Dr. Cameron and Dr. Chase, are actually dating in real life, I've got myself thinking about chances. Sure, they're cute, but what I find more interesting is that they are the same age, born of the same year, but from different continents. Who would have thought that the baby boy born in Melbourne a few months earlier than the baby girl born in CHicago would ever meet, like each other, and date someday? Isn't it mind boggling?

Heck, of course in this day and age, overseas travel is almost taken forgranted, but the game of chance is a fairly tricky s.o.b. The probability of someday dating a person born of the same year from another part of the world, and meeting in a place neither of you have ever lived in before is really fascinating.

I mean, sure it's cute to watch childhood sweethearts meet again after a couple of years and fall in love and end up together--as it happens in movies. But I reserve that fairytale in movies. Truth is, when I meet couples who've crawled together since diapers, I often think, "why didn't you live a little and explore?" Anyway, like I said, I am more interested in the the game of chance and probability. Beating the odds is whats interesting in life, be it career, money, and love. Love stories that that beat the roll of the dice-- so to speak-- are much more interesting than "we were neighbors and we liked each other in braces."

On the other hand, what about the person in the this age of travel, a frequent single traveller (READ: You often travel alone), and has not met even ONE person among the other frequent sole travellers that she could fancy? What are the odds of that happening?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Smart TV

FOX TV seems to be the channel for me. I love their shows Prison Break, and House M.D. Not as big a fan with CSI, but I like it as well.

I'm a fan, and this much I know...nothing beats smart shows!!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Politics vs. Pop Culture = what's stronger?

I met up with my Japanese friend Tomoko the other day. She's here in Manila for 3 weeks to do research for her thesis. After her graduation in January, she'll start work in April. It's wonderful to see her again, and we had a nice conversation over lunch. I ranted to her about our government, and she tried to comfort me by assuring me that they had their own problems in Japan.

Uh yeah. Japan = Philippines?

I'm not trying to trivialize Japan's issues and magnifying ours, but....(ok, words fail me here)

I guess the principle to apply in this kind of situation is that people live their reality. I'm sure if I were Japanese, their issues would be problematic to me as well. So they don't have starving people and their percentage of corrupt politicians is small compared to ours, but I forget that Japan was an island of bombed devastation more than half a century ago, so they do know the meaning of hardship.

Anyway, we moved on to less serious stuff to lighten the mood. We talked about Paris Hilton. I asked her why the heck are Japanese girls crazy over that woman, and she shamefully answered she had absolutely no idea. She dislikes Hilton herself. She said that she didn't have friends who liked Paris, and she probably wouldn't have the same interests with a person who likes her.
Good ol' Paris. After the talk of Japan's and the Philippine's great divide, Hilton managed to bridge the gap over a shared disgust and disbelief over her triviality and fame. Pop culture rules and makes the world smaller and smaller!

She who cheats, lives to cheat another day

I've been busy meeting up with friends I haven't seen for a long time, and I know it is more interesting to hear personal stories instead of political tirade. But I live in a third world country with politicians who stink the place like nobody's business, so I can't help but to rant about the stench. Therefore, I must write in hopes of getting off some of the stink from my system after reading the newspaper again...

The second impeachment complaint against President Arroyo has been trashed by the majority of the House of Representatives, otherwise known as Congress, otherwise known as House of Arroyo's pork barrel brigade, yesterday. Once again, any investigation and hearing about the alleged cheating and illegal use of millions and millions of public funds has been quashed by Arroyo's supporters (a.k.a. bribe benefactors). Once again, we have showed the world that democracy through numbers will prevail as long as the numbers are fat and have lots of zeros in it. With a vote of 173-32, with one abstention, the House upheld the decision of the committee on justice last week to kill this year’s impeachment complaint against Arroyo for insufficiency in substance.

There you go. More government funds were used to pay off congressmen to block the impeachment complaint from reaching the senate, and the public is once again left niggling with doubt and suspicion, as well as cynicism that corruption is at work AS USUAL. Arroyo and her henchmen are crowing in victory once again.

Read the rest of the tragedy

Monday, August 21, 2006

Fog ahead!!

Life in the Philippines is very much like living in Russia (atleast from my personal experience). The absurd and ironic could actually define everyday living. While the Philippines has long fought to become Asia's bastion of democracy and freedom; Russia on the other hand, is, well, not exactly synonymous to anything close to a democracy, but both countries run on a socio-polical machine that is very similiar.

Our "Little Ms.Dictator/Suppressor of democracy", President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ironically declared August 21 as a special non-working holiday in commemoration of the death anniversary of one of the country's most famous freedom fighters in the dark days of Marcos Martial Law-- Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.
Funny thing though, Sen. Aquino's wife, former President Cory Aquino, is one of the country's active voices in asking President Arroyo to step down from office for alleged (what a tame word) cheating during the Presidential elections.


So since today is a holiday, my family decided to go to Tagaytay. Tagaytay is famous for having the world's smallest active volcano, located in the middle of a lake. That's pretty special and all, but I like going there for the cool temperature. Living in the tropics means living 364 days a year in a relatively warm and humid environment, so driving 600meters above sea level to Tagaytay City is the main attraction for urban folks. It's almost cool all year round in Tagaytay with average temperature at 22.7° C. That's pretty good if you live in Manila where the temperature ranges from 27° C (most of the year) to 33° C during summer.

Today was even better. It was raining and there was fog everywhere. I might sound loony for getting excited by the fog, but you don't get 15° C with fog here in the Philippines very often.

hot coffee and tea are best during cold weather

wow fog!

and more fog!

The Accidental Russophile: If you are Russian ...

It's been a long time since I read anythng about Russia that brought back a rush of memories. Damn this is funny because I can totally relate!


The Accidental Russophile: If you are Russian ...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Great to be back

The smell of sweat and the dense humidity of the gym hit me immediately when I entered Elorde Boxing Gym last night. It has been months since I last put on my boxing gloves for a grueling boxing workout in Elorde, and I was anxious that the familiar would feel unfamiliar.

It didn't.

I hadn't realized how much I missed boxing, and that it felt like I was returning home after a long absence when I came back to Elorde. The gym was home. I've never felt more comfortable with a group of sports people than I did with the boxers and trainers. I'm a sporty gal, and I've tried lots of physical challeneges from swimming, wall-climbing, swimming, diving, taekwondo, and boxing. I always loved taekwondo and boxing the best.
I get along so well with my trainers and teammates, and there is an istant camaraderie within our group. I didn't feel the same empathy with other sports, and swimming doesn't count because it's quite solitary.
I'm not a hot head or a slugger who wants to show off my fighting skills, but I do love the sheer physicality of taekwondo and boxing. When I practice my kicks and punches, more than any activity in my life, I feel focused and so concentrated, that I only hear my heart beating.

It's great to be back.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Shooting out of their asses

You know what really pisses me off during traffic situations? You know what's really annoying? You know what makes me want to scream like a banshee or throw something hard enough to cause damage?

Macho posturing.

Every freaking day you see the evidence of the Filipino man's mentality of machismo and "dog marking his territory" behaviour. When you're on the road, some asshole cuts in, and you get pissed and honk your horn. He honks his horn right back, maybe even louder and longer, either to 1.) annoy you 2.) prove to you that he doesn't give a flying f*ck that what he did was totally assholic, cause you know, he's this strong macho male.

Yesterday, cars were lined up bumper to bumper and this guy totally blocked off an intersection because he moved his car forward even though the light was already red. So everyone turning left couldn't turn because his car was blocking the way. Fortunately, a traffic officer was there, and he knocked on the guys window and told him to move his damn car. Cars were honking, and everyone turning left was impatient for the ass to move his car. So what does the he do? He moves his car a teensy bit, enough to let the cars pass by the intersection, but not enough to make traffic move smoothly. As if that wasn't enough, when the traffic officer told him to move his ass further, the man got out of the car and mouthed off the traffic officer.
WHAT THE HELL? Everyone can see you're violating traffic, you do it infront of a traffic officer, and you have the gall to get out of your car, stand in front of everyone and argue with the traffic officer with one hand on your hip. Did he think the officer would cower because she's a woman? What twisted chauvinist hell do you come from?

Oh, lets not even go to public transportation drivers! Their macho mentality is probably one of the worse in the entire worldwide male population. There is no such thing as traffic rules for them as long as they don't get caught by someone in uniform. If you even waste time to argue with them if they cut you off, make a full stop in the middle of the road, turn when they shouldn't, or drive in a private-vehicle-only section of the road, you can expect verbal abuse or even physical intimidation. Yes, they're so strong, they can physically intimidate women half their size to prove that. It's true, it's happened to me. Their passengers can see them, if he admits he was wrong, it would make him look weak! Oh, and that would be a sin in the Filipino Macho Guy Bible, we can't have that! Every Filipino has to be macho!

One of my benchmarks of a decent guy here in the Philippines is his ability to handle a traffic situation. If he lets his macho meter dictate his behavior and cuss off or challenge another driver regularly (and when I mean regularly, it's because horrendous traffic is way of life here), then he's not boyfriend material. Who wants all that headache, and who wants a man who's so conscious about looking macho in trivial things? Men here don't even need to go through mandatory army service, and yet they act like fighting is a way of life. Filipino macho men want to show how strong and fierce they are, then they should join the
IDF! I'd love to see real fighters kick their smug macho asses.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Not again

Because of the latest terror attempt in London's Heathrow Airport--simultaneous suicide bombings in different transatlantic flights to the U.S.-- security alert all over the world is once again in an all-time high.
I bet there are longer lines at U.S. Embassies everywhere leading to the the visa application counters.
I wouldn't be suprised if there is also an increase in rejected visa applicants everywhere.
Filipinos, with thousands of applicants everyday praying and braving the ardorous visa application process are probably seeing the slim chance of getting a visa vanish before their eyes.
Unfortunately, our country's name has the illustrous honor of once again being mentioned in the recent grand terror scheme of Islamic radicals.

The Airliner Plot

Stratfor's special reports on the foiled terror air plot tend towards the perception that while Al-Qaeda is still active, it is less of a threat than it was.

Today's first report sees four "takeaway lessons" from the incident, suggesting that 1) the organization is finding it harder to launch successful attacks outside the Middle East 2) given the arrest figures of 24 out of 50 operatives, it might be concluded that AQ's security has been severely compomised 3) while 9/11 changed the world and Madrid changed Spain's government, all that the London plot has done is to close down an airport temporarily 4) Shiite Iran and Hizballah are now the dominant force in Islamic world terrorism, while Sunni/Wahhabi Al-Qaeda "appears unable to do significantly more than issue snazzy videos."

The second report concentrates on the technical aspect of the airliner plot, and looks at precedents, in particular the 1994-95 "Operation Bojinka", a Philippines-based militant Islamic operation which involved a plan to simultaneously destroy 12 airliners en route to the United States from cities in Asia. In the initial trial experiment, the original nitrocellose-based device detonated, but did not succeed in bring down the Philippine Airlines flight on which it was placed, and so the operatives developed a liquid acetone peroxide explosive which was, however, lost in an apartment fire. Abdel Basit, the author of the conspiracy, fled to Pakistan, but was betrayed to the authorities by one of his accomplices. Bojinka was not a suicide operation - the plotters were supposed to conceal the devices and then jump off the planes.

The report speculates on why it appears to have taken the British authorities so long to arrest the August 10 plotters. Possible reasons may have included the size and complexity of the operation, the reticence and hesitation of one of the suicide plotters who finally got cold feet, or just a general breakdown in operational security. "These arrests," the report concludes,
demonstrate the threat remains very real. One of two other factors also is in play, however.

Either the British government's counterterrorism efforts are sufficiently robust as to allow them to penetrate al Qaeda operations in some instance at least, or, as we have discussed in the past, al Qaeda's operational security has been degraded. Either way, penetration is now more possible -- raising the possibility that, though al Qaeda remains a threat, it is not the strategic threat it once was.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

When logic erodes...

How does a debate become, or is reduced to off-topic personal attacks?
It happens when either or both sides have failed to use logic, facts, and rationality in a discussion. When a debater can no longer defend his view, he either resorts to personal attacks or concede. Let me tell you of a story of one of those who resort to name-calling because he could not concede.

I was involved in another Israel-Hezbolla discussion in a local forum for artists, because an eager guy wanted to engage in a debate. Remember the "Boycott Israel" forwarded message I got? Sadly, he used his space to present his point by attacking me personally and failed to deliver facts to back up his anger. Yes, he was angry, and he couldn't explain lucidly why. He got even nastier when I challenged his ideas and he couldn't come up with his own data to back them up.

Count how many times he labeled me as "absurd," and "sad," and implied several times how ignorant I am. Like a cornered dog who has nowhere else to go, Mr. Red Constantino just barks at all directions even if he knows he's toast.

Next time Mr. Red Constantino, leave you cry baby tendencies at home if you want to talk with grown-ups. It's really embarrassing.

Here is our forum discussion:
Mr. Red Constantino's replies in bold.
Entries are posted from down (the earliest) to up (the latest).


Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 01:44:11 +0800
From: "Michael Mirasol"
To: "Renato Redentor Constantino"
Subject: Re: [philiraqsolidarity] Re: [CINEMANILA] Palestinian Artists Call for a Cultural Boycott of Israel

Michael Mirasol wrote:
It's sarcastic retorts like this that make serious, level-headed discussion impossible on both sides of the debate. "Way to go" Mr. Constantino.

Yours Truly,
Michael Mirasol
The Flipcritic

On 8/11/06,
Renato Redentor Constantino <> wrote:

Hello to Ken, first of all, and to Charisse. Work in India is preventing me from replying quickly.About the only thing so far that I find agreement with with Charisse isthat war this exchange ain't. War is when people die and the only thing that appears to have expired here is reason in Charisse's points.

I don't think I was being sarcastic when I wrote that Charisse was being absurd. I did mean it. I think the points Charisse made, and continue to make, are ridiculous. Regarding the latest reply, I confess it wasn'tjust sadness that it evoked but also giggling. Diversity of emotions is welcome.

Charisse: "If Hezbolla and their hero Nasrallah is so brave, why is Nasrallah hiding deep in their bunker networks and then barkingapocalyptic threats on TV?"And the brave Israeli pilots and artillery officers and tank drivers arebelly-dancing in their underwear openly on fields with the Red Cross insignia painted on their bellies.

Charrise: "Why are there still so many women and children in apartmentsand homes when IDF has already sent advance warnings that civiliansshould leave the area, working on the assumption, if you're not a Hezbolla fighter, you should not be there."
Brilliant Charisse.

Charisse: "Prior to the 1967 6-day war, Gaza was under Egypt and WestBack was under Jordan, the Golan and Sheeba under Syria. When the United Arab League (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia) amassed troops,mobilized, and cut off Israeli maritime rights in Tiran, and united forthe first time to attack ISrael, what in the world was Israel going to do?"
Right. And what in the world was Israel doing there in the first place?

Charisse: "If the Palestinians were dispossesed, they were dispossesedbecause their corrupt and megalomaniac government hated the Zionists more than they cared about the lives of their people."Oh man! That's right! The Palestinians -- you can never rely on them.They grabbed Palestine and yet they can't even be trusted to sustain the dispossession of their own people. Superb reasoning Charisse!

Charisse: "Could you blame Israel if they find that hard to believe andthey would not risk their tiny population after 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973,1982....etc."Of course not! "Etc"! That's right Charisse! We can't blame Israel for anything. I wish I had conversed with you years before. Now I understand.

Charisse: "Clean up your backyards; leave the players alone."
Ah, eh, that's what Israel's been doing -- cleaning up their backyard and the backyard of many others -- as in. And they've largely asked that they be left alone in their clean up duties.

Charisse: "extremist groups like Hamas and Hezbolla will never achievetheir purpose of getting Israel to "liberate" Palestinians with their own brand of "convincing."
Aba that's right! Only the Israeli brand can convince the Palestinians-- now why didn't I think of that?

Charisse: "The Lebanese government, who officially do not sanction the separatists Hezbolla in any of their action, now wants more than athousand prisoners in exchange for Israel's 2 kidnapped soldiers, theSheeba farm, and the map of the land mines."
Ikaw naman, why do you have to reveal naman that Israel has over a thousand Lebanese prisoners. Stop na. Baka you will also reveal how manychildren and women Palestinians are in Israeli jails huy. Wag na ha. Ialso promise never ever ever to ask you why Israel has so many of those prisoners. The Arabs kasi eh, they're so unfair eh. They have alreadybeen given prison lodgins for free tapos complain complain pa! The nerve!

Charisse: "Sure, they had 6 years since Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon to do just that, and look where they are now." And so for whatreason was Hezbollah created again? Ah ya! Sorry, I forgot, the foundingo rganizational constitution says "to eat our own children." Bad bad bad sila. Oo nga. I forgot, sorry.

Charisse: "I think the disproportinate response question is now quiteproportionate. What is not proportionate is the death toll."
Aba! Excellent logic! I am deeply impressed.

Charisse: "I find it disturbing that Nasralla is now seen as a hero tomost of the Arab world--regardless of bringing war to Lebanon."

Everyone, listen to Charisse kasi. Hezbollah is making war on Lebanon. Israel is bringing peace to Lebanon. Please, please, everyone,pay attention huy!.

Charisse: "[W]hen I call a group extremist, its usually for groups whocan sacrifice their civilians and their enemy's civilians to carry out a belief and an ideology.... I 100% believe that they [Hezbollah] do andthey will sacrifice their women and children in the name of so-calledprotecting their women and children.... [D]oes Israel fall in [the]category [of extremism]? No."

This is sad Charisse. You are sad. Couldn't giggle on this one

(Goodness, This Mr. Red Constantino is a really nasty piece of bitter pill huh? He likes using my name all the time, as if it would make his point any smarter or coherent.)

Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2006 21:34:23 -0700 (PDT)
From: ME
Subject: Re: [philiraqsolidarity] Re: [CINEMANILA] Palestinian Artists Call for a Cultural Boycott of Israel
To: "Renato Redentor Constantino"

Hello Red,

Thank you for you insight, and unfortunately, I am well and trully aware just how far this conflict has began, long before the actual July kidnappings of Israeli soldiers in Gaza and Southern Lebanon.

1.) You ask who started the conflict? Why, lets not even go back to the Palestinian dispossessions of 1948 and 1967. Let us start with something more recent, but much earlier than the July 12 date that you cite, regarding deliberate violations of sovereignty and kidnapping:
If we go through this debate, I truly doubt there would be any end because this comes down to the pre-1967 Palestinian territories that was occupied before the '67 six-day war. Then again, if we go far back on the Palestinian Mandate by the British, then there would even be more arguments because the Arabs and Jews each made their own violations.
There have been killings and retalions on both sides of the Lebanese border even after Israel withdrew from most of Southern Lebanon, the only difference from the usual engagement is that Israel responded with a significantly bigger retaliation this time, which Hezbollah did not anticipate. Nasrallah expected prisoner trade once again, like they usually did before this conflict began.

2.) True or false: Muslims of the Shia faith account for 40 percent of Lebanon's population? And what does Hizbollah mean -- Army of God or Party of God? Is it one among Lebanon's many political organizations, albeit a rooted, popular one, or is Hizbollah the name of the Lebanese Army?

Yes, and its also true that 40% of the population are Sunnis, and the rest are Christians, and Druze. Sunnis and Shi'ite Muslims have a long history of conflict. Hezbollah concentration is in the economically deprived South, populated mostly of Shi'ites. Does Hezbollah respresent the Sunnis, Christians, and Druze? When they brought their Southern conflict to the doorsteps of Beirut compose of a hetergenous ethnic and religious population, did they think they represented the people of Lebanon?

3.) You throw the word "unfair" in interesting ways. Tell us, which represents unfair: spreading the word about artists calling for a cultural boycott, or this interesting tally: Number of Lebanese slaughtered by Israel so far -- an absurdly low count of 509 civilians, 29 Lebanese soldiers and 53 Hizbollah fighters. Number of Israeli soldiers killed -- 57; number of civilians killed, 36. Please, tell us, where exactly do you get your dictionaries? (I think fresh air to calm your nerves is more important than a dictionary right now)

Once again, the argument of proportionate response. UN is calling for a humanitarian war, and states Israel is violating International humanitarian law. Humanitarian war? Isn't that an oxymoron? Do you actually think Israel cannot just target the Hezbolla hideouts and carpet bomb the locations? But Hezbolla locations are civilian locations, thus ground forces had to be deployed, and yes, risking more Israeli deaths. It is done, and has to be done because the international community is crying "disproportionate response!" Honestly, if our insurgents attacked a neighboring country and they lived among us civilians, do you realistically believe that the other country will just send their ground troops to finish off the insurgents and can leave 100% the civilians untouched?

4.) When you echo Egeland's whine that Hizbollah is "cowardly blending" with a population that apparently they live with and belong to, I take you are suggesting instead that Hizbollah members should courageously stand on an open field, paint bright red bullseyes on their chests and wave wildly as Israeli war planes approach so they can take the American-made missiles right in the middle of their chests? They may just do so you know, if you can convince the brave Israeli pilots hiding inside their lofty war planes to do the same so that the Katyushas can be aimed without difficulty at their rib cages.

Israelis are at the ground. Even if you watch anti-Israeli BBC, it shows Israeli ground troops have swelled and engaged guerilla warfare with the Hezbollas. And where did you ever get the idea that the katyushas were directed at Israeli military targets? Even if IDF wore a shirt with the Star of David and laid themselves on the ground, the katyusha rockets will fly over them because the targets are civilians. Katyushas as indiscrimately aimed at any location In Northen Israel, civilian locations.

From your argument, it seems ok to blend with the civilians, hide in their homes, build networks and bunkers within public building and apartments, but Israelis are not allowed to target these locations by air because there are civilians with the Hezbollah? Hezbollah forces are allowed to use whatever tactics needed to win, but with Israel, because we presume that as western country and operating under western guidelines, can only respond based on the dictates of their enemies battle tactic? Hezbollah does ground war, so Israel has to do ground war exclusively. If Hezbollah starts firing bigger missiles, that's the only time Israel is allowed to fire their missiles? Basically, they'll be handcuffed to act on Hezbollah's war strategy.
I wonder once again, if any country at war would actually operate that way? Lets assume this was North Korea and SOuth Korea, would SOuth Korea restrain itself when they are more militarily capable than the North and would only engage the North in a battle that is dictated by the North. North fires katyushas and engage the troops in ground battle along the border, and the South will just send their ground troops even if they can target their enemies' stronghold from air? I honestly don't think that's a realistic expectation.

Lastly, I have nothing against your point of view, regardless of our differences, but your obvious anger is more disconcerting. We are not even a Lebanese and an Israeli, and already it seems automatic to attack instead of engaging in a dialogue without sarcasms and put downs. This makes me imagine just how difficult a peace process can be achieved with the actual people involved.

Renato Redentor Constantino wrote:

Dear Charisse,

Please ask yourself a few questions:1. You throw the word "unfair" in interesting ways. Tell us, which represents unfair: spreading the word about artists calling for a cultural boycott, or this interesting tally: Number of Lebanese slaughtered by Israel so far -- an absurdly low count of 509 civilians, 29 Lebanese soldiers and 53 Hizbollah fighters. Number of Israeli soldiers killed -- 57; number of civilians killed, 36. Please, tell us, where exactly do you get your dictionaries?

2. When you echo Egeland's whine that Hizbollah is "cowardly blending" with a population that apparently they live with and belong to, I take you are suggesting instead that Hizbollah members should courageously stand on an open field, paint bright red bullseyes on their chests and wave wildly as Israeli war planes approach so they can take the American-made missiles right in the middle of their chests? They may just do so you know, if you can convince the brave Israeli pilots hiding inside their lofty war planes to do the same so that the Katyushas can be aimed without difficulty at their rib cages.

3. When soldiers of Israel go to their homes and neighborhoods, will they find their spouse and children and other members of their family there? If you answer yes, as any rational person would, can you also tell us if, by returning to their homes the Israeli soldiers are also "cowardly blending" into the population?

4. . True or false: Muslims of the Shia faith account for 40 percent of Lebanon's population? And what does Hizbollah mean -- Army of God or Party of God? Is it one among Lebanon's many political organizations, albeit a rooted, popular one, or is Hizbollah the name of the Lebanese Army?5. You ask who started the conflict? Why, lets not even go back to the Palestinian dispossessions of 1948 and 1967. Let us start with something more recent, but much earlier than the July 12 date that you cite, regarding deliberate violations of sovereignty and kidnapping:In southern Lebanon, on July 28, 1989 Sheikh Abdul Kareem Obeid was kidnapped by Israeli commandos. On May 12, 1994, Israel's agents kidnapped Mustafa Dirani. The two were held by Israel without trial for years, along with about 20 other Lebanese, as "negotiating chips." Sound familiar? Let us be more explicit. Let us use the Obeid kidnap -- as explained by the very website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- as an echo of the avowed motivation of the Hezbollah regarding its July 12 kidnap operation: "Israel had hoped to use the sheikh as a card to affect an exchange of prisoners and hostages in return for all Shiites held by it."Apparently, said Tel Aviv University professor Ze'ev Maoz, "that which is permissible to [Israel] is, of course, forbidden to Hezbollah."Did Hezbollah cross on July 12 a border recognized by the international community? Looks like it. Border violations are border violations. And since the time Israel was chased out of Lebanon in 2000, the Israeli air force has conducted daily surveillance sorties in Lebanese airspace.

I cited the instances above in an essay which came out in August 3 in in the Philippine paper, Business Mirror. It is a tiny, tiny piece of a gigantic picture that you are missing. Get more of those shards of truth Charisse, and just maybe you'll end up asking more folks to do more than just sign petitions such as these.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Guess where?

Ok, I was out and about the other day in a big shopping area (not mall, this place has a large outdoor dry market area) and I took some pictures:


SIBERIA: Yup, street flower shops and flower stalls remind me of my time in Siberia. Siberia may seem like the end of the world and evokes palletes of neutral colors instead of these vivid ones you see with the flowers. Well, Siberia is a complicated place, and my Russian friends told me that it is precisely because you can barely see colors in the Siberian landscape why flowers are so popular. They import flowers from far-flung places and bring them to Siberia. Housewives love to buy flowers for their homes, husbands regularly buy flowers for their wives, a guy late for his date buys flowers as apology(yes, I actually saw a guy running like a track and fielder clutching a bunch of flowers)...Yes, Siberians love flowers.

Italy: Fruits and vegetables of all shapes and colors, you see them in Italian markets and street stalls. Of course they don't have our popular yellow mangoes, but we don't have their amazing olives.

Philippines: A country of contradictions, Asia's ailing man, Asia's drama queen. We don't live in a war zone, but yes, signs like these are normal.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A good read

It's time to hear the silent majority, it's time for the moderates to be heared.

We Muslims have work to do
Sat, June 10, 2006
The Toronto Sun

Muslim Canadians, as Muslims elsewhere in Western societies, have felt increasingly besieged for some time now, both from outside their community and from within.

This sense of isolation, of being misrepresented and misunderstood, will inevitably deepen as the full story unfolds of the arrests of 17 Toronto-area Muslims on terrorism charges.

But whose fault is this? Let us, Muslims, be brutally honest.

We have inherited a culture of denial, of too often refusing to acknowledge our own responsibility for the widespread malaise that has left most of the Arab-Muslim countries in economic, political and social disrepair. read more here

And with that, my next entry will be back to regular life programming.

Relax, have fun!

Yes, I have fun. I'm not always serious or morose or critical.

I miss my French classes. On our last day, we had a mini-costume party...wear a sports uniform.

We need to schedule a time to hang out again before everyone starts leaving the country by next month.

His mother's son.

I am really really trying to manuever my blog towards its former lighter and more "normal" tone, but stories just keep popping up that I cannot resist but post or comment.

I promise that my next post will be musings on the daily life of a 20something urbanite. I'm gonna try my best to put some sort of a balance between the heavy and the light blog entries.

But first, here's another story that needs to be shared.

Israeli Military Service Unites Generations
Small Population and Frequent Wars Make for Shared Experience in Uniform

By Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, August 1, 2006;
Page A10

TALMEI MENASHE, Israel -- In the hours before he went to war, the family of Lt. Yair Cohen offered him time-tested advice around the breakfast table, some of it personal, some of it practical. Unlike the young soldier, they had been through this before.

"You're an officer now, so look after your soldiers, and always, always keep your eyes open," said his father, Yossi, who fought alongside two brothers in Israel's wars of 1967 and 1973 and was a 3-year-old child when his own father lost a leg to a land mine while fighting for the fledgling Jewish state in 1948.

"Oh, and you will get hot," he added, moments later. "Bring more water."
"That's not going to be what saves him," joked Yair's older brother, Eitan, who served in Lebanon eight years ago and had just been called up as a reservist in his brother's infantry unit. "Be safe," he said quietly. "Don't be a hero. I might see you up there soon."
Because of Israel's small population and frequent conflicts, war is an experience common to every generation, passed from fathers to sons in families such as the Cohens'.

Thousands of soldiers have made their way to Israel's front lines in recent days, including young conscripts serving compulsory three-year tours and the more seasoned reservists called up last week for the conflict with the radical Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah. Government officials said Monday that they planned to intensify the ground campaign underway in a clutch of small Lebanese border more here

I salute not just the brave young men of Israel for their dedication in defending their country's existence, but also their amazingly strong and resilient mothers whose hearts are broken repeatedly whenever they have to say goodbye to their beloved sons.

When I compare pictures of well-cared and fiercely loved Israeli boys and then pre-teen Palestinian or Iranian boys holding a rifle or lined up in a Hezbollah training camp, I just can't find an ounce of space in my heart to understand the minds and ideolgy of people who so loosely use the teachings and interpretation of jihad to intentionally encourage their sons to become martyrs. Aren't parents, especially mothers, programmed to protect their children at all costs?

If the Holocaust survivors went into that line of thinking, I wonder how many Germans would have been blown up. Fortunately, the destitute Jews thought otherwise and went off to make themselves smarter, stronger, and richer after they experienced the most inhumane of circumstances. I wonder if these extremists will ever get to figure that out before more jihadis and civilians are blown up.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Another round of "Israel, spawn of satan" public relations campaign

I recieved a forwarded message today in my mail. Isn't this bias song-and-dance getting too old already?
Although you gotta admit, when Israel's enemies beg for pity and sympathy, they have already proven to be experts.

Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers Call for a Cultural Boycott of Israel
August 1, 2006

Dear Filmmakers & Artists,

During the past few weeks we have borne witness to the escalation of Israeli aggression into open war on both Palestine and Lebanon.With Israel's invasion of Gaza on June 27th, 2006, ministries and educational institutions have been destroyed, as has the plant that supplies nearly 50 percent of Gaza's electricity (the letter never explained why Israel went inside Gaza). Bridges, roads, dozens of homes, and hundreds of dunams of agricultural land have also been destroyed. Sixty-four elected Palestinian legislators, cabinet ministers and officials have been detained without charge.

On July 12th, Israel brought its campaign of collective punishment and military violence to Lebanon, with "Operation Just Reward" (And if you're clueless about the middle east situation, you wouldn't know how this happened, the letter never explained why). A complete assault, via land, sea, and air, of the Lebanese population and infrastructure has led to total destruction. In just 3 weeks, almost 1 million Lebanese civilians have been displaced and the death toll has reached 900 Lebanese and 160 Palestinians, with a UN count saying one-third of the dead are children.Additionally, in violation of international law, Israel continues to occupy Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and Syria's Golan Heights. In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel continues to hold 9,600 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centers without due process, among them 130 Palestinian women and 388 children, many of them taken from their homes in the middle of the night.

We, the undersigned Palestinian filmmakers and artists, appeal to all artists and filmmakers of good conscience around the world to cancel all exhibitions and other cultural events that are scheduled to occur in Israel, to mobilize immediately and not allow the continuation of the Israeli offensive to breed complacency. Like the boycott of South African art institutions during apartheid, cultural workers must speak out against the current Israeli war crimes and atrocities.

We call upon the International community to join us in the boycott of Israeli film festivals, Israeli public venues, and Israeli institutions supported by the government, and to end all cooperation with these cultural and artistic institutions that to date have refused to take a stand against the Occupation, the root cause for this colonial conflict.We call upon you to take a stand in order to appeal to the Israeli people to give up their silence, to abandon their apathy, and to face up to their responsibility in the destruction and killing their elected government is wreaking. To the Lebanese and Palestinians terrorized by this Army's planes, bombs and missiles, this silence, apathy and lack of action from Israelis, are regarded as complicit in the ongoing war crimes, as for those Israeli artists, academics and intellectuals who continue to serve in the Israeli army they are directly implicated in these crimes.We call upon you to give way to action that would replace words spoken too often and forgotten too quickly. We call upon you to make your voices heard in calling for an end to this bloodshed and an end to this oppression that has lasted too long.To endorse or answer this call for a cultural boycott of Israel please send an email with your name, position and country to

Signatures (Alphabetical) 1. Adila Laidi, Lecturer 2. Anan Brakat, Filmmaker, Arab Cinema School 3. Annemarie Jacir, Filmmaker 4. Azza El-Hassan, Filmmaker 5. Bahia Munem, Filmmaker 6. Dahna Abourahme, Filmmaker 7. Dima Abu Ghoush, Filmmaker 8. Emily Jacir, Artist 9. Enas Muthaffar, Filmmaker 10. Faten Farhat, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center 11. Ghada Terawi, Filmmaker 12. Hanna Atallah, Filmmaker 13. Hanna Elias, Filmmaker 14. Hany Abu-Assad, Filmmaker 15. Haya Al-Jareedy, Filmmaker 16. Hayan Charara, Writer 17. Hazim Bitar, Filmmaker 18. Iman Aoun, Ishtar Theatre 19. Iman Hammouri, Popular Art Centre 20. John Halaka, Artist 21. Juliano Mer Khamis, Actor & Director 22. Kais Al-Zubaidi, Filmmaker 23. Kamal Boullata, Artist 24. Karma Abu-Sharif, Writer 25. Khadijeh.H.Abu-Ali, Filmmaker 26. Khaled Jubran, Musician 27. Larissa Sansour, Artist 28. Leila Sansour, Filmmaker 29. Liana Saleh, Filmmaker 30. Lina Bokhary, Artist 31. Mahmoud Massad, Filmmaker 32. Mai Masri, Filmmaker 33. Mazen Saade, Filmmaker & Writer 34. Michel Khleifi, Filmmaker 35. Miguel Littin, Filmmaker 36. Nabila Irshaid, Artist 37. Nahed Awwad, Filmmaker 38. Najwa Najjar, Filmmaker 39. Nizar Hassan, Filmmaker 40. Omar Barghouti, Dance choreographer 41. Omar Qattan, Filmmaker 42. Osama Al-Zain, Filmmaker 43. Rana Bishara, Artist 44. Rania Elias- Khoury, Yabous Productions 45. Rashid Masharawi, Filmmaker 46. Reem Fadda, Palestinian Association of Contemporary Art 47. Riyad Deis, Filmmaker 48. Rowan Al Faqih, Filmmaker 49. Saed Andoni, Filmmaker 50. Saleh Bakri, Actor 51. Salim Abu Jabal, Writer 52. Salwa Mikdadi, Curator 53. Samia A. Halaby, Artist 54. Sobhi al-Zobaidi, Filmmaker 55. Suleiman Mansour, Artist 56. Suzy Salamy, Filmmaker 57. Taghreed Mishael, Filmmaker 58. Ula Tabari, Filmmaker 59. Vera Tamari, Artist 60. Wafa Jamil, Filmmaker ------ End of Forwarded Message

What's next? Boycott Hollywood movies becasue Hollywood is ran by Jews?

The anatomy of a hit series

(left to right) Dr. Webber, Dr. Bailey, Dr. Karev, Dr. Stevens, Dr. O'Malley, Dr. Yang, Dr. Burke, Meredith (too stupid for a surgical intern, can't call her doctor), and, alright, Dr. Sheperd.

My blog may be looking schizophrenic these days. I've been writing a lot about politics and current events when this blog was initially created as a sort of travelogue/personal diary. Prior to the Israeli conflict, I was only writing bits about Philippine politics, but mostly I touched on less serious rantings, like traffic and brain dead celebrities in this country.

But you can't hide your personality especially as a blog progresses and develops. So yeah, my brain is a clutter of mundane, and fluff, pragmatic, and serious. There you go, so not to confuse people anymore.

Today I'm inspired to write about a series I've been hooked on watching for the past two days. I've finished season 2 of the series "Grey's Anatomy." I haven't bought the season 1 series on dvd yet, but I suppose I'll be doing that soon.

Here's a short summary of Grey's Anatomy:

Grey's Anatomy is a dramatic story about a group of new surgical interns fighting it out and figuring it out in one of the country's most competitive residency programs. The group of five all battle the job, each other and life on a daily basis. Despite the cut-throat atmosphere and relentless stress the five manage to form friendships and grow with each other. They are all young, sexually charged and motivated. . .leading to a deep and passionate story.

Despite this thread of similarity, all five interns are unique. Meredith, a quietly ambitious doctor is the daughter of a famous surgeon. She hides the fact that her mother is ailing from Alzhimer's and it eats her up. Christina is the definition of 'motivated' and 'mean', constantly vying for the top spot amonst the group. Isobel a self-conscious girl from a small town grew up poor and put herself through med school with her modeling, which becomes a source of embarrasment. George is the goofy guy next door who desperately wants the attention of the girls but is hopelessly awkward in their presence. Alex, although handsome, is as arrogant as they come and gives new meaning to the phrase 'God Complex'.

The team of doctors who 'mentors' this group is just as diverse and troublesome. Dr. Derek Shepherd is the hospital's new super-star surgeon. He soon finds out that a one-night stand, Meredith, is one of the hospital's new interns. Despite the hospital's policy he decides to continue his relationship with Meredith. Shepherd's success threatens Dr. Preston Burke, who views the hotshot doctor as an obstacle in his climb to the top of the hospital. Burke is an amazing surgeon that seems to thrive on this conflict. He's ruthless with the new doctors but in the end wants to help them. The interns get a good dose of tough love from their daily drill-master, Dr. Miranda Bailey the senior resident, AKA "the Nazi." She has a love for junk food and for snapping at interns. All the doctors report to the chief of surgery, Dr. Richard Webber who has cautioned the interns that some won't make the cut in his program. At times, he has a hard time treating Meredith as 'another intern' considering he knew her as her mother's daughter, a world renowned surgeon.

My comments:

Favorite couple:
Christina Yang and Preston Burke: Just because Preston Burke is a dream partner and any bitch like Christina is lucky to have him.

Least Favorite couple: Derek Sheperd and Meredith Grey. Sheperd has no balls, a total wuss and a two-timing scum. Grey, the lead character of the show, is colorless, spineless, and clingy. They deserve each other though.

Favorite male character: Preston Burke. Smart, sexy, sweet, and knows how to cook.
Favorite female character: Dr. Bailey probably. She's a tough cookie, but not icey like Christina, or stupid like Meredith, or too emotional like Izzie.

Favorite guest character: Dr. Mark Sloan, aka, Dr. McSteamy. He's the man Addison (Sheperd's wife) had an affair with and was Sheperd's bestfriend before he caught McSteamy in bed with Addison. Super hot, and makes no balls about what he wants--Addison. He's taller, bigger, more chiseled, and more decisive than that wussy Dr. Sheperd. I'd leave Sheperd's ass for him any day.

Cultural exchange and understanding

War in the Middle East is not the only thing in my mind. I think about what's happening here in my country a lot. Truthfully, just as fiercely as Israel protects her citizens, the Philippines is doing just the opposite--journalists, leftist, and activists are falling like flies since this current administration cheated its way into office. I wonder what western bleeding hearts will think about a government of a "democratic" country with such a high record of extra-judicial killings and only 2nd to Iraq for the highest number of murdered journalists. Would they condemn a country so brutally for protecting its own when faced with danger from different fronts, when there are countries who are supposedly members of the free world whose citizens are being murdered freely with no justice in sight.

Anyway, lets get back to having a normal life. I went out with old friends and new friends from Japan last night. We had dinner and desert and exchanged stories about our culture and gave each other mini-language lessons. Nice, fun, and peaceful. Two different cultures, forming new friendships. If only it always works this way.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Islamic extremists to the world: "Shut up or else..."

"Do you know anything about what's happening in Israel and Lebanon right now?" I asked my good friend Nadia, the executive director of the American Chamber Foundation of the Philippines, the first Amcham Foundation in Asia.
Let me tell you, Nads is very smart, articulate, well-travelled, and political--well, political about local issues atleast. How can she not be, she's the executive director of a non-profit organization and a former MCP of AIESEC.
But her reply to my question was a shake of the head, "Nope."

I turn to Juvy, the head of Fundraising for AmCham, "What about you Juvy?"

She shakes her head as well,"Nope, but I do know Israel is a beautiful place to visit. My friends who work there say its amazing to be in the place where Jesus walked and lived."

Thus, the gist of what most Filipinos think of when you mention Israel. For majority of the population of the predominant Catholic nation, Israel = Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jesus. For the small group that can afford to tour, Israel is a place for pilgrimage of the Christian faithful, a place everyone is afraid might be destroyed before they have the chance to visit Jesus' birthplace.
For me, the tiniest of the minority, Israel is not a destination for work or for pilgrimage, Israel is a place where men from different religion through the centuries and till the present, die and kill for.

This just came in:

Southeast Asian jihadis dispatched for global war on Israel
Natalie O'Brien and Stephen Fitzpatrick
August 04, 2006

The Australian

HUNDREDS of Southeast Asian suicide bombers have been dispatched around the world with a mission to attack Jewish interests in countries that support Israel such as Britain, the US and possibly Australia.
The radical Jakarta-based Asian Muslim Youth Movement gave The Australian details of the plot yesterday, claiming it was being funded in part with cash donations from two unnamed Australian-Indonesian businessmen.
The leader of the AMYM, Islamist author Suaib Bidu, warned that thousands more jihadis were preparing to join the resistance against Israel and die as"martyrs".
Mr Bidu said a "passing-out" ceremony for more than 3000 jihadis would be held tomorrow in the Indonesian city of Pontianak on the large northern island of Kalimantan.
But only about 200 would be sent immediately to targets aboard, with the remainder being active more here

Now we have a possible theory as to why Europe either supports or remains silent on the issue of Islamic extremists all over the world. I suppose their plan is, as long as they don't provoke the martyrs and wanna-be martyrs, their corner of the world is safe from these jihadists. Israel is considered western, and western countries work on the presumption that Israel operates by western rules. Even if Europe and the UN condemn and criticize Israel, they are assured that Israel or the Jews will not send a suicide bomber to the UN office in Belgium or to a chic Parisian cafe in Champs Elysee, in retaliation to their support or tolerance to Islamic extremists.

As a footnote, fighting is once again intesifying in the Southern-most part of the Philippines between the military and the Islamic extremist group Abu Sayyaf.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The war from OUR front

As visitors here probably deduced, I am more pragmatic and even cynical when it comes to war--or issues that are close to home like poverty, Catholicism, and terrorism. I live in a country that either numbs you, makes you cynical, makes you indifferent, forces you to leave, or at the far and low end of the scale, keeps you hopeful. These issues are not just seen in our television or read in global headlines; these issues are in our local news, happening to our people, and not somewhere thousands of miles away. Welcome to the 3rd world.

Lets forget (as though its possible) the crisis in Israel and Lebanon right now and take a more up close and personal look on the crisis. How has this affected the Philippines, a country thousands of miles away, a predominantly Catholic country with a Muslim minority and barely any Jews (except probably those who work in the Israeli Embassy). Aside from economics (rising oil prices), what do Filipinos care about the war right?

Oh, we care a lot. Our main concern has no direct relation to the people involved in the war, but with our people who are in trapped or are fleeing Lebanon. Since our media does not have any political interest in creating a bias angle in delivering the news, Filipinos will read about the war in newspapers or watch it on TV without much of the drama that CNN, and especially BBC, like to show. The only thing close to emotional or fiery that I've seen so far in local TV is the debate between the Lebanese consul and Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines when they we guests in a news magazine show. Aside from that, the news are more focused on the overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

What stories do we hear from them? 1.) our incompetent government is at it again.
OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) and the Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon are slinging accusations against each other because of their inability to assist and bring home the overseas workers who are trapped in Lebanon and Syria. Where are the funds? Everyone is asking where is the money that is needed to help the OFWs? Last year there was a reported 10billion peso budget from OWWA, but recently, the official report states that it's actually 8billion. What happened to the 2billion pesos after just 1 year? And if they have all that money, why are the OFWs still stuck and starving in Lebanon and Syria? Why is the Philippine Ambassador in Lebanon saying that they are running out of funds and OWWA has not sent him the repatriation funds?
I think the OWWA officials would not have such a hard time searching for the funds if they just look for it in their personal bank accounts.

2.) OFW horror stories. When you're from a third world country, enerygy and sympathy for international issues seem distant or very specific because we don't have the time or inclination to think about other people's problem when ours is big enough to last a lifetime. What we read in our local newspapers and watch in our local channels are stories of abuse, harrassment and neglect our OFWs have experienced in the hands of their Lebanese employees. Rarely do we hear stories from our countrymen that say they were treated well, or atleast,decently.
Yes, bleeding hearts from first worlds like Europe can cry, "Look at the poor civilians being bombed to heaven's gate by evil Israel," but for us in our little 3rd world corner, we hear personal stories from thousands of our people who served and lived with these Lebanese civilians as househelps. They tell us stories of abuse, of being locked in a room, not given food, unpaid wages, rape, sleeping with the family dog,
and death even before and during the conflict. When the families of these thousands of OFWs hear their stories and then see the news international media presents on TV, I wonder how many of these families find sympathy for the Hezbollah militants, sympathizers, and adult Lebanese civilians. But I guess that situation wouldn't be possible because poor families don't have cable channels and they watch their news in local tv, which has no obvious sympathy for anyone except for their ratings.
Before anyone gets his panties bunched, I am not saying because thousands of Filipinos were abused by Lebanese civillains, we automatically dislike the Lebanese or we automatically sympathize with the Israelis. My point is, if you're poor, you don't have the luxury of analyzing an international political issue nor do you have the resources to research it. You just want to have a decent life and your opinons are mostly shaped by personal experience. I'm sure there are OFWs who were fortunate to have good employers, but because media is more interested in provocative news, what we see often on TV are the horror stories and tales of abuse, much like what CNN and BBC would like to dish out to the rich western countries-- nations that have the luxury and the resources to form opinons and implement global policies.

Are these reality, the unmitigated truth? No, but since that's all we see, we eventually accept it as such.