Tuesday, September 22, 2009

celebrating eid ul-fitr in ateneo

the muslim students association (msa) of the university sent out a general invite to their grand pagbuka held Friday last week.

i went together with a co-teacher and the husband and i am so glad i did because it was such a beautiful and eye-opening experience for me.

as far as i understood it, a pagbuka is simply the breaking of the daily fast during the month of Ramadan. the grand pagbuka was called thus because it was the breaking of the fast before the most important day of the holy month, the last day, the hariraya.

it was explained during program that the hariraya is expected to be around september 21 yet but since there were no classes on that day or on the eve of that day, i guess the msa decided to celebrate with other members of the university community on a school day, the Friday before Sept. 21.

it was held at the LRC quadrangle and it was full of people: students, teachers, university staff. there was a short program of prayers - one was chanted by a male student - and short talks. as this was happening, male students went around the filling up the tables with food. the last speaker intentionally extended his talk for exactly five minutes because he was timing his speech to end at precisely the time when the fast should be broken. i am not sure if that time was 6pm. as he looked at his watch for the final time at the podium, he broke into a smile and said "now we can break the fast", opened the mineral water bottle he was holding and took a long, long drink.

at that point people started digging into the feast before them. msa very nicely provided the guests with water stations where they can wash their hands, saying that the washing of the hands would normally be done BEFORE the prayer and eating but i guess they made concessions for us who were not of their faith.

i excitedly took pictures of the food. i was testing the cam in my new cellphone (a birthday gift from husband. pwede na. haha). there was kulma (very spicy beef stew in gata), tyula itum (very spicy beef cooked in broth flavored with burned coconut meat -- i swear, this tastes way better than it sounds), a beef steak (sweetish), fried chicken, and pansit. it was all very good but what i still think about to this day is the rice that went with all those food. it was a yellowish rice, wrapped with banana leaves and formed into pyramids. the teachers seated on my table went into an involved discussion into what it could be. i forgot if it was sir bong or ma'am peña of the social sciences department and the accounting department respectively who gave the most authoritative answer: rice cooked in gata flavored and colored with turmeric and other spices. it was very good.

(i still can't figure out how to download photos from the cellphone camera)

but aside from the good food and the good company, i will remember most that part of the program where everybody hushed up to offer their personal petitions. the speaker said that there are three important prayer periods during the day. i don't remember the times exactly but roughly, they are the time before the sun rises, the time late in the afternoon before the breaking of the fast, and the time after the sun sets. the gathering at the lrc garden was during the second one. during the second one, the speaker said, anything that you pray for, ANYTHING AT ALL, will be granted. he then enjoined EVERBODY to take a moment to pray, and that whatever it was we prayed for, he said with conviction, it will be answered.

i don't think a multi-faith gathering in the university has ever had a more solemn, more quiet 30 seconds than what was happening at that point. it was so quiet. a peaceful, gentle kind of quiet.

Monday, September 21, 2009

walking in public in my underwear

almost nine days has passed since i walked the streets of zamboanga in my underwear.

time enough to allow me take a more pragmatic view on things. and forgive myself my trespasses - yet again.

the problem started september 7 when my boss told me that the kids are inviting the teachers to their acquaintance party, a pajama party which they are calling "one night stand".

i could see that the party meant a lot to the students and i wanted to go wearing what they wanted me to wear. ON THE OTHER HAND, my costume had to be something that will not result in students choking to death from laughter or hurtling themselves off the third floor ledge in embarassment.

so the style goal: sleepwear that is not funny nor lewd so that i can continue facilitating learning with a more or less straight face.

the magnificent solution: a black with while lace camisole and a gauzy half-slip.

the first thing the hosts did (after the usual prelims) was call to the front all those who did not bother to come in costume. and, bizaarely, unbelievably, incredibly, they called me!!!

but as i said, nine days has passed. enough for me to gather perspective. in other words, make alibis for them.

first, i wore tons of makeup. second, i wore multiple long pearl necklaces ala Madonna. third, i wore three-inch strappy silver high heels.

that is me at rightmost (because i am the most righteous, haha. can't help the pun) with the juniors. obvious na hindi nila pinaghandaan ang costumes nila. they are the main organizers (way to go, girls!). the guy in pink is clint sanchez. he teaches digital audio and video recording. if i may add, he was not in costume. (but he did bring the drinks, so they conveniently forgave him).

in the photo are, left to right, liza (nice hairdo), francel (seemingly the only one who remembered all the steps of their dance production), kamille (i LOOOVE the ad libbed choreography!), clint, rianne (her journalistic skills is NOTHING compared to her chair dancing), jobee (a presidency two years in the making), josh (her tasks that night is worth another blog entry), maila (the funny dictator in the paint me a picture game
), jenica (the wind beneath my wings), and hazel (wow. how come nobody got you to host before?). not in the photo is christine. she was at the that time hunched on the floor cutting, cutting, and cutting some more paper. making confetti or something. unable to attend the party is their batchmate karen.

now let's get back to the rationale behind my costume. my reason for wearing the three accessories above were - and it sounds to reason that I think these are perfectly SOUND reasons - i needed to wear something that would neutralize the FACT that i am going to a party with my students and co-teachers, inside the campus to boot, wearing underwear.

but nobody got it. again, i stand alone, sartorially misunderstood. as ever. forever. and ever.


on the other hand, and this is very important, i had a blast that night. the organizers did a good job of setting up the stage for a fun night, and the other students did not disappoint by giving it their all. my facial muscles were practically sore from having to laugh so much. well, the games got a bit too "parental guidance" at times for me but you could see it was all clean so we carried on.

the students prettified the television studio very well: mats on the floor, mood lighting, lots of plush toys, a colorful and graphic backdrop.

attendance was great. normally, a huge chunk of the student population would boycott (a sentiment i don't understand nor have much patience for) parties like this but that night, only very few were absent. and they all wore....pajamas. bah! predictable! (can you hear the sound of....sour graping? haha).

the guy (aherm) in the foreground with the blue shirt? he is wearing that, that....helmet as punishment for not coming in pajamas.

and they all performed at the time they were supposed to perform just like the great troopers they are. and expectedly, they had a "let's ridicule the teachers" portion. let's just say the game entailed teachers revealing to the student body their guilty pleasure, their first kiss, their first date, their secret fantasy. if you were there, you'd be privy to the faculty's answers. if you weren't, enroll next year.

(both photos were lifted off students' facebook. thanks!)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

i am about to have...

i am very excited about my current PILE of reading materials. i capitalize pile because i tend to get overacting when it comes to gathering together things to read. i have the reading sub-genre of Attention Deficit Disorder.

i borrowed five books from the university library yesterday. the ateneo library is the third reason why its hard for me to leave this job. the second is the free 24/7 internet connection. and the third is my baffling love for this school.

although pictures of these books are on the shelf to the right (generously brought to you by shelfari.com!), i willl post them here anyway in keeping with my overacting and easily excitable nature.
the diana chronicles. because tina brown wrote it. if british tatler, vanity fair, and the new yorker all thought she was good enough to be their editor-in-chief, then she certainly is good enough for me as author of a book on a tragic princess' life.

the children of hurin. because i want to know if this is anything like the other LOTR prequel, silmarillion, which is to say, mind-numbingly boring.

excerpts from the diaries of the late God. the title alone makes me want to drop everything and read. published in 1968. no photo available off the net. the book i borrowed from the library has long lost its dust cover.

good omens. at the back it says "what's so funny about armageddon." i really wanna know.

get shorty. because john travolta starred in the movie.

but these are not all. i also am reading:

two vogue magazines. one with gwynneth and the other with giselle and lebron james. ugly girls. back issues because current issues cost more than our water bill for five months. (i can go five months without running water, just so long as i have a vogue magazine to peruse as i live in filth. but will my children be as resolute?).

two elle decor magazine. back issues again. no celebries on the cover. the work area in the photo above is sheila bridges (remember her from a show on the lifestyle channel?). those stripes on the wall were painted on, with real paint, with real brushes, by real house painters. i want one.

a book on personal finance for pinoys. because we really need to buckle up and get organized. seriously.

a book on helping pinoy families help their kids do well in school by queena lee chua. so that my four kids will all graduate valedictorian and get good college scholarships, thus enabling me to use our money on better things: current issues of vogue and elle decor. for some reason, no image is available off the net.

a book on how to be a good teacher. kina-career talaga. i am not posting an image because i am self-conscious about reading this book. too heart-on-my-sleeve.

beneath this pile of fashion and shelter magazines and.....arghh... self-help books, are two hard bound books of which i am author. you got that right. i. the first is a big acid-free, lined journal. its pages are as yet pristine. got them from my sister anna for my birthday. have i told you i love notebooks? i haven't? then let me tell you now. i love notebooks. i lust after notebooks. i can almost not live without notebooks. the other is a white notebook which i use when i am feeling...artistic. its my doodle notebook. my kids, to whom i am the-one-who-cannot-do-anything-wrong, consider it a great privilege when i let them browse through it: "never mind if kuya rashdi will not let you watch that salamagan japanese animation dvd. don't cry. i will let you look at the pictures in my notebook."

a long weekend ahead. a pile of good reading. i think i am about to have a good weekend.

i wish you a good one too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

tale of two sundaes

i'd like to but i'm not going to rant because i don't like people to think that that is the only way i know how to write.

i just want to say that i prefer the sundae from mcdo than from jollibee because the soft ice cream is creamier, and the chocolate fudge is yummier.

but between the sundae served by mcdo la purisima and the one served by mcdo gateway, i prefer the latter simply because the serving is larger.

when you dig into your mcdo la purisima sundae, your plastic spoon will be coated with..... air because the center is an absolute...vacuum. their trick, i suspect, is that when they fill the cup, they just aim to pile it up the sides, leaving a nice and clean center hole. of course this hole is topped with a little ice cream and a little chocolate dressing so that no one is the wiser...until nga you start eating na.

their chicken here is smaller too than the gateway counterpart. haha. just wanted to say that. now i stop before this turns into out and out rant.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

will someone please tell me what they are fixing in front of jolibee camins?!!!

i will bet my christmas bonus that over half the population of pasonanca, sta. maria, gov. camins, and gov. ramos are on the verge of insanity. yes i will.

about two months ago, whoever is in charge of these things decided that the jollibee camins intersection needed to be fixed. as for me, me with my constant whining about how poorly the government maintains its infrastructures, i could not see what it was that needed fixing. could not see anything wrong at all. i, i, i, yenyen, i who could and would see the minutest wrong in ANYTHING, could not see anything wrong with the jollibee camins intersection AT ALL.

and if someone better than me (is that possible? how?) did manage to uncover even one ugly structural defect about that road, nothing could possibly be so bad as to merit the evil, devil, hevil, baweevil traffic that that....road re-construction is unleashing on the seven million people who have no option but to use that intersection to go to and from home to work, school, errands in pueblo, ukay-ukay in sta. cruz, etc., etc..

heck, if those verging-on-insane residents finally succumb, their families, verging on insanity themselves, will also be pushed over the edge as they try to navigate that intersection on the way to the mental facility in zamboanga medical hospital. families that go through that road together, go mental together.

to illustrate. yesterday, i thought eating lunch at busy bee camins would alleviate what my friends and family diagnosed as migraine. (thanks, guys. and there i was, ecstatic that i was finally going to be able to justify getting a nice looking pair of reading glasses. false alarm pala). so, stupid planner that i am, left the office at 12:10 and took a tricy to camins. ooops. the line started just before manang terry's chicken inato on canelar. the movement of the line can be measured in millimeters. i was hungry. i had a headache. it was still very muggy. it was dusty. i had no load so texting was out. i did not bring a book nor the ipod. di ba i told you na i am a stupid planner?

fast forward to the year 2017, the tricy driver and i were within sight of the triangular rotunda. a couple of years more and we were under the traffic light, turning left towards the new chowking where gonzalo's convenience store used to be (note to self: try that place soon. compare to chowking near mindpro where service and servings are amazingly... disappointing), then finally, in front of la terraza, with the goal so, so, so very close, a pasonanca jeep plugs the flow. it wants to u turn. it came from pueblo like us, it entered the road going to the airport like us, but unlike us, it wants to u turn in front of la terraza so that it can go back up to the intersection and proceed to sta maria, then to its ultimate destination, pasonanca.

hair straightening business is probably on a roll now too.

when i got to busy bee, my friend marsha, looks at me knowingly, and asked: "how many minutes?" and "how many did you make mura to?".

well, just one. the kundoktor of that pasonanca jeep. but hindi naman mura. just a gentle, "hoy! bastusan na yan!!!".

granted, the city government is trying to keep things tidy. they have succeeded i guess in the sense that i have not heard of a driver killing another driver so far. how do i know the agents are the city government's? they all wear this gray t shirt that reads C-E-L-S-O, that's why. It is an acronym for Community Elegant Landing Something Other. haha. joke.

hey. i have a tip. if you are coming from pueblo on the way to sta. maria and you do not want to do the u-turn in front of la terraza, stay on right side of the road, hug the curve in front of jollibee, go over that little bridge on the right side of jolibee, pretend you are going to ukay-ukay (as added motivation) then, when you are in front of 3rd cup cafe, do a u-turn. go back up the same road, then turn right after the bridge and you are on your merry way to sta maria.

how is this different from the la terraza maneuver? that goes left, this goes right. that's all.

Friday, September 11, 2009

i am 37!

i have come to the scary realization that, if you let it, facebook will take over your day.

but i indulged today and have been intermittently logged on since 8am, because, i figured, its my birthday so what the h!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

i have zombie for students

i have a feeling 21 young men and women got very, very little sleep - if any - last night on my account. i could feel the animosity flowing over my cellulite-ridden body as 21 pairs of bloodshot eyes threw virtual daggers at me all night long for making them write a publication-ready feature article.

if it is any consolation to you guys, I will be the one NOT SLEEPING for many days as i evaluate 21 full-length stories from 21 writers-in-training.

for both our sakes, i pray for articles i can read with pleasure rather than pain.
let the papers stream in! (5pm deadline, okay?).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

bitten by a bug

husband and i are on our way to Sia Laboratory to have his blood and urine checked. (sorry i had to mention that papa. but i have an honesty pledge with myself for this blog. you'll argue that i could just have omitted the fact, but that would still constitute dishonesty. i think...). he fears it is dengue. he's paranoid about illnesses and he tends to look at the littlest fever with suspicion bordering on....insane (mama, gabriel is coughing, maybe we should nebulize him. no? then let's give him ventolin syrup. not yet? how about dimetapp? not that either? neo kiddielets? antibacterial cream? hot water bottle? ice pack? betadine? band aid? well, how about applying katinko to his chest. i can do that? wow, thanks yen, you are so supportive of my insanity about our kids health!).

but i really hope it's not dengue.

my birthday is coming up and it would be such a bummer if he has dengue to use as alibi for not getting me that gift.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

oh george

this is george. he is my son rashdi's dog. he is about one thousand times bigger now than he is here. george was given to us by my brother monching and his wife mimi. monching claims he is a mongrel with a lot of belgian malinois in him. his great granny was supposed to be a canine of the phil national police.

since we moved, i have not seen george. he is still with my mother's, being cared for by cousin rani. rashdi visits him almost daily. this weekend, we're getting him. i hope he doesn't develop separation anxiety.