June 23, 2009

i revel in my poverty

but sometimes i wish i have more

not more more

rather a little bit more.

dealt a cruel hand

i have no choice but to embrace

nay, revel and celebrate

poverty as it is.

but truth be told

there is really nothing to revel about.

and p.s.

poverty sucks!

i wish i have more.

not a bit more

but more more…

bill gates more!

i wish…


Rock Bottom

June 23, 2009


She knew this was the time.   

It was getting worse. Her whole body would shake at any given time and her world would seem to collapse with it. Nights were much, much worse. All alone in her room, very much awake, she would think of almost anything. Her past would haunt her as well as the present. The sight of a simple book or the sound of a certain melody would trigger a sudden urge or incomprehensible anger. The world was gradually shrinking and she was being enveloped in it. This sense of isolation was so overwhelming she would find herself crying at a corner of her small room with nothing but her ever-dependable drug of choice as her only solace.

Reality sank in. She was no longer in control. She would go mad eventually if she continued on this course. Deep within her, she knew it was only a matter of time before insanity takes place. but first, there’s a question that’s been nagging her for a long time which she was terrified to answer knowing fully well what the answer might be. was she an addict? she just could not face the fact that she became one. that she had become one of those scums that used to be the favorite topics of the guys when they were on a laughing trip. those miserable scums addicted to cough syrups and rugby. it’s unbelievable that she became one of them. certainly, she’s got a lot of class than those lowlifes. sometimes, a person would be surprised at the courage that she can muster when faced with such a frightening reality–that she were desperately hanging on to her sanity by the tip of her fingers; and given two options between sanity or insanity, of survival or death, she chose the first option with what’s left of her reason which was really nothing much at that time. She learned the gravity of the situation when she entered this fancy rehab clinic in one of the suburbs south of manila and began to participate in its daily rituals and chores. She had a hard time reading a paragraph from the ‘bible’ aloud and she cannot speak lest she mumble and eat the words. it was much worst later on. writing her daily journal took a lot of effort with a lot of focusing and concentration which before would just flow in naturally and effortlessly from somewhere within her brain. 

her stint in the fancy rehab didn’t have a positive effect on her life. she continued on with her old lifestyle. and somehow, the affliction had worsened. 

She was on the last phase of a downhill ride in her life. the moment that she crashed down to earth, suicide was no longer an abstract and distant thought but more and more of an option. the only way out from all her sins, tortured conscience and crushing guilt. it was the lowest point in her life when all the problems that she can think of , much, much more than she can handle, descended on her in one sweep fall.

it was a process that began with a denial of how deep down the hole she were in; she tried to let fear from creeping inside her and she shifted her thoughts to something more pleasant, even entertaining a false sense of hope, that she can still do something to delay the impact and thus gain precious time; where time is measured as: a moment = eternity. then somewhere along when she was running out of options and groping for more drastic ideas bordering on the ridiculous and the wild, fear gradually entered until it resided in every cell of her body and she found herself sweating hard in an air-conditioned room. having just ran out of options, a state of panic seized her entire body. she then instinctively closed her eyes as if to erase this painful part of her life in her memory’s databank, or more like a child moving his head from side to side wishing that these were all a mistake or a nightmare and that it would go away by itself. meanwhile, her brain was working so hard and at such a frightening pace that something in the remote recesses of her brain automatically and methodically began shutting off the different switches to prevent it from overloading [something like the engine of your car blowing out since the pistons cannot keep up with the rapid pace of its movement]. 

after which she experienced a profound change–more of the divine than of the mundane. the last refuge in a sea of chaos. it was like drowning when the sensation of peace and total solitude and acceptance kicked in after the initial fear. in fact, it was her only refuge. after working her brain so hard and pushing it to its limit, well beyond its imaginary envelope, the sad realization that she was after all just a tiny, finite speck in an infinite space dawns on her; that no matter how advanced and intelligent we have become since the days of the apes and the monkeys, we are just but a minute detail playing a most insignificant part in the history of evolution and lending it with our unnoticeable existence as fast as a shooting star disappearing from our sight into heaven’s bosom. we surrender to something greater than ourselves. just like what our primitive ancestors did when faced with an incomprehensible situation, we kneel to something that’s beyond finite and comprehensible.

it was at this point that she knew she was an addict. was it really that hard to admit to herself that she was one? was it too much of a reality for a woman like her? Maybe.

She instinctively ran out of her bedroom, past the livingroom and into her dad’s little sanctuary — his home office. she pulled open the topmost drawer of her father’s desk and got hold of the cold, uncaring .38 caliber revolver that her father kept.

No tears. No regrets. This is her final escape.

Remembering My Father

June 22, 2009

Apolonio M. Batalla



i’ve tried writing about my father for so many years now, but everytime i was in front of my pc, i couldn’t seem to pull it off. tears would suddenly flow just thinking about my papa. it hurts to write in the past tense about somebody that you really love. yes, i was hurting. and i couldn’t seem to shake it off.

my father was not an emotional person. he did not display his affection to us in public. but he would let us know his affection for us in our everyday lives. but still, i’ve regretted the fact that i wasn’t able to hug him and kiss him and tell him that i love him so much up until he died. i’ve regretted the fact that i wasn’t able to graduate from college at the time of his death when it was his desire to see me march on graduation day. i’ve regretted the fact that he lent me his name and i wasn’t able to live up to his expectation. i’ve regretted the fact that he passed away in a manner that does not befit a good man that he was.

my father was a newspaperman. although he studied law at mlqu and passed the same year he graduated from law school ( he also attended the Harvard International Seminar under Henry Kissinger), he opted to work for the manila daily bulletin. he started out as a cub reporter for manila daily bulletin (the precursor of bulletin today and manila bulletin) and rose from the ranks to become the daily columnist and editorial writer for bulletin today for 2 decades. as a columnist, his idea is to “inform the public and to impart to them my opinion in a balanced manner.” 

for him to sustain his daily columns, he read a lot on politics, business, economics and languages. i remember him took up mandarin and french (at alliance francaise) language courses so he can read more books that were written in chinese or french. 

he didn’t work late hours as most newspapermen did. he would leave at 5am and was home at around 5pm. everytime he arrived, one of us (we are four boys in the family) would remove his socks and put shoe trees in his shoes. apart from this, we would get him a bottle of cold beer (his maximum intake was a couple of beer) or a shot of his favorite whiskey or a snifter of brandy once in a while. a platitio of adobong maniawaited him everyday or nilagang mani. he would chat with us for a while, asking about our day and would begin reading his magazines like time, newsweek, fortune or his book of the day. he was a serious person. but come dinner time, he would play around with his kids and that would make our day. 

in our family, the disciplinarian was my mom. i never remember my dad raising a hand on us or using profane language at us. the most that he will say is pambihira!. no p.i.s and no bs. but when he thought that we had outstepped our boundary, one look from him was enough for us to be on the straight and narrow. he was a decent man, my papa. he was decent in the way he talked, the way he composed himself, the way he dressed and the way he dealt with other people. 

i would always want to think that i was his favorite child though my brothers would of course laugh off the idea. he gave me his name. that explains the a period in my name. when i was diagnosed with a leg condition, he lost his cool and punched his working table in his room. that was the only time i saw him display his anger. he didn’t go to mass for a couple of sundays either. and because i was told by my doctor to be bedridden for about a year (this was when i was in grade 5), he bought me my very own television set. later on, when my mom took me to a different doctor, i was told that i need not be bedridden for a year and that i can use a leg brace. but the television set stayed in my room.

on my first year in high school (which was in parañaque), he would bring me to school and since i would normally go out at around 3pm, he made some sacrifices and adjustments and would be at the school an hour or 30 minutes before 3. and that’s for one whole year since i was still in clutches or braces then. i think that those were the happiest moments of my life being with him alone driving me to and from school. we would usually stopped by an ice cream house in zapote or josephine’s in kawit for a halo-halo on our way home. he would tell me some anecdotes from his office or news on the political front and i would tell him my experiences in school. i skipped out the bad experiences, of course. 

my elder brothers and i attended the same high school. i don’t think that there was an occassion that my dad was called in the principal’s office for some misconduct done by my brothers. and i hope i can say the same way with me but, surely, it won’t be me if it happened that way. my dad would be called in by my high school principal about some things i did in school. he would gamely talked to the principal. and everytime he went out of the principal’s office, i would be shaking with fear what my father would tell or do to me. but he never scolded me nor did he discuss anything that was said to him by the principal. the only time he did was when i slapped a classmate with one of those huge hardbound literature (or is it algebra) book in the chest. you see, my father was a non-believer in violence. he never even owned a gun. he was once given a gun by a senator from capiz during the 60’s but he gave it to my mom’s brother.

there was some sort of tradition in our family. everytime there was a cause for celebration or a birthday in the family, we would go out and had dinner at those five-star hotels or restaurants. at my young age, it was an education in good taste as much as an adventure in knowing the culinary differences in other parts of the world. i would count the days for the next birthday to come but unfortunately, me and my brothers celebrate our birthdays months apart. i also remember that every sunday lunch, we always had nilagang baka. always! if not, we had pochero. the only difference will be the matching viand. we either had grilled liempo, or chicharong bulaklak or grilled tamban or grilled chicken to go with the nilagang baka. i do not really know the reason for that but my father would insist on it. i really had no problem with that because i would usually be the first one at the table and had the bone marrow for myself before my brothers would even had their share. 

papa was a simple man. he was not ambitious. he wouldn’t step on any man’s shoes (or any woman’s for that matter) just to get promoted. he just did his work. if i may, let me quote the respected columnist mr alejandro roces on his may 6, 1985 malaya column:

“it is national press week week and a good time to talk about the good things that can happen to persons connected with the press. one of these things is the appointment of a man who began in the lowest ranks of the working press as publisher of bulletin today…

…we are referring of course, to the appointment of apolonio batalla as publisher of bulletin today…

…members of the press are happy about batalla not because it was such a long jump, but mostly because it came quite unexpectedly, because it could not have happened to a more deserving person…

… how refreshing it is to witness in an organization that is powerful, the positiion seeking the man, instead of the usual man seeking the position”

i may not approximate my father’s hard-earned success, but i have every intention of matching the goodness of his heart.

With my Papa

ang sabi nila, ano nga ba naman ang mabuhay ka sa mundo. kailangan mo ba talagang magpakahirap sa trabaho kung pwede ka na lang namang magpakasarap sa buhay. hindi ba kung tutuusin ay isa lang tuldok ang kasaysayan ng ating buhay kung ikukumpara sa kasaysayan ng ating mundo simula pa ng hindi pa naisusulat ang kasaysayan.

siguro naman kung susuriin mo ang ganitong pananaw ay may punto rin naman. ano ba nga naman ang buhay ng isang magsasaka o ang buhay ng isang katulad ni barack obama sa pangkalahatang kasaysayan ng ating mundo? sa tingin mo ba naman na ang e=mc2 ng isang propesor na tila hindi nagsusuklay ng buhok ay may kahihinatnan o importansya? sa tingin mo ba na ang imbensiyon ng telepono ng isang taong nagngangalang bell ay may silbi sa pangkahalatang litrato ng bagay-bagay? sa tingin mo ba, kung saka-sakaling mawawala si bill gates o si warren buffet sa mundong ito, may pakialam ba ang karamihan sa mga taong maiiwan nila? malamang maging laman ng mga pahayagan ng isang linggo at pagkatapos ay mabibilang na lang ang istorya ng buhay nila sa mga librong kinumisyon ng kanilang mga pundasyon o pamilya.

pero bumalik tayo sa puntong kung ang buhay ng isang ordinaryong tao ay tatagal ng mga limampu o hanggang animnapung taon, may kahihinatnan kaya ito sa kasaysayan ng mundong nagkakaedad na nang milyong taon. ano nga ba ang animnapung taong buhay mo, matagumpay ka man sa napili mong propesyon o maging tambay ka man sa kanto skung ikukumpara sa milyong taong kasaysayan ng mundo. so why bother achieving something in your life when you’re nothing but a speck (not even!) in the history of humankind.

pero sa isang banda, kung susuriin mo ang kasaysayan ng mundo, malamang nagkakaskas pa rin tayo ng bato o ng kahoy para lang magkalingas o magkaapoy ang mga hibla ng tuyong dahon kakailangin natin sa pagpapainit ng ating kapaligiran o sa pagluto ng karne ng bagong katay na baboy damo.

dahil na rin siguro sa kolektibong kontribusyon ng ating mga ninuno na napunta tayo sa estado ng ating buhay na kung saan may mga makabagong teknolohiya na nagpapadali sa pamumuhay natin. nandiriyan ang pagliit ng mundo sa pamamagitan ng internet at ang pagsulpot ng mga makabagong komunikasyon katulad ng radyo, telebisyon at selpon.

di rin natin siguro makakaila na sa isang kolektibong aksyon nagkaroon ng pagkakataon ang mga minorya ng ating lipunan na magkaroon ng boses di lang sa paggawa ng batas kundi na rin ng partisipasyon sa pagpapatakbo ng gobyerno.

ganito rin siguro ang kailangan natin sa pagtutol sa mga di makatarungang isinasabatas ng ating mga mapanglinlang na mambabatas para lang maipasa ang kani-kaniyang interes. isang kolektibong aksyon na di lang matatapos sa pagsupil sa mga lideratong may hangaring saliwa sa hangarin ng karamihan ng ating mga kababayan. isang kolektibong aksyon na kung saan maipagpapatuloy natin ang pagbantay sa mga lideratong na may pangsariling interes at isang kolektibong aksyon na makakatulong sa ating sariling interes bilang mamamayan ng bansang ito.

maaaring mas kinakailangan nating ang isang matinding kolektibong aksyon di na lang sa paglaban sa mga mapaniil na liderato ng ating bansa kundi na rin isang pandaigdigang kolektibong aksyon upang labanan ang mga modernong problemang kinahaharap ng mundo natin katulad ng polusyon, sa pagkalap ng basura, sa pakikiisa sa pagbigay galang sa inang lupa, ang pagtigil ng iligal na pamumutol ng kahoy, ang paglaban sa paglaya ng ating mga kababayang nalulugmok sa kahirapan, sa mga karumal-dumal na krimen, sa pagkalat ng droga sa ating kapaligiran at marahil marami pang bagay na kinakaharap sa pagsagip ng ating kapaligiran at pati na rin ng mundong siya lang nating matatawag na tirahan.

ang punto ko lang po, kung pagtutulung-tulungan nating lahat ang mga nararapat gawin bilang isang mamamayan ng ating bansa at pati na rin bilang mamamayan ng ating planeta ay magkakaroon ng isang malaking kabuluhan sa pag-usad ng sibilisasyon kung ikukumpara sa maggagawa nating bilang isang indibidwal.

the freak show

June 18, 2009

there was a time in my childhood when the only form of entertainment during town fiestas were the fair (or perya as what we call them) where ferris wheel, octopus, carousel were the available rides and bingo, beto-beto and a shot at a prizes using bb guns are available if you’re not motion-inclined. but still, there were some side shows where all you need is to pay a peso to enter house-like enclosures to see human beings with deformities and billed as such (i.e. the human dolphin) with their limbs like that of a dolphin. these were called freak shows

still, there were some who were viewed as freaks because of their physical attributes like the dwarves or those born without any appendages, deafs, blinds, mutes or simply those with polios.

it is easy to judge these people with disablities as freaks. but are they really freaks? are they really freaks of nature or simply individuals that were born unlike those of us who are complete and ‘normal’.

the way i see it, these people are not freaks. it may not conform to the proper definition of being a freak but still, these are people that didn’t choose to be born with physical aberration. these are normal people who are capable of rational thought and is capable of being productive in a most honest way.

lately, headlines in the local newspapers are filled with people who would push some new laws with their own agenda in mind. some headlines would display ‘normal’ people who would display irrational behaviour such as stealing funds from government coffers.

it is sad that these people who have high educational background would display irrational thoughts or behaviour.

one general who was tasked to manage funds for his organization was found skimming off money and bringing it to the US using his sons, no less, for this illegal act.

another general who was also tasked to manage funds for the Philippine National Police was caught in Russia, of all places, with an undetermined amount of money in his possession.

another general who violated every possible human rights just to further his fight against so-called enemy of the people. 

a former president who has a penchant for merlot of the petrus brand who would play mahjong at the middle of the night with his cronies seemingly with governance not a part of his limited vocabulary.

then there was the zte deal. abalos, jdv, fg, gma and a lot more who have the intention of stealing people blind.

there was also the time when gma herself went on national television categorically stating that she will not run for another term only to renege on her promise and run winning with the help of garci.

and what about the senators outmaneuvering each other so that one or two of  their colleagues won’t get the nod of people come 2010.

there were also local government officials caught for dealing large amounts of illegal drugs.

and what about the judges who would find some technical loopholes to release big time drug dealers.

government employees (from bir, bid, lto, etc) committing fraud and theft like there’s no tomorrow.

last but not least, the members of the lower house of congress. lately, these bunch of nincompoops are pushing for a constituent assembly to prolong gma’s stay on power whether it be the presidency beyond 2010 or changing the system of government so that gma can be voted as a prime minister.

well, we can go about enumerating all these shenanigans in our government and it won’t fit this blog. 

so now, the big question is who are the real freaks? those who were born with disabilities or those who were not born with any physical defects but chose to ignore the rule of law as if they themselves were above the law.

the so-called freak shows of my childhood  is nothing compared with what’s happening to our society now.

the fraud in the present administration  is the real freak show. these shameless people in power who would flaunt their ill-gotten wealth and cling to power at the detriment of the public at large.

it’s one big freak show. and nobody’s enjoying it. when it will end is something only madame auring can predict.