27 December 2009

When Blogs Take Flight

27 December 2009
When I was in high school, I juggled mathematics and writing effortlessly. I solved some algebra questions in the evenings and in between classes, while on weekends, I sat in front of my Windows 95-powered PC and created– feverishly, fervently– my next literary masterpiece. Those days, writing never felt like a chore. Sure, I discarded more stories than I could care to count, but my resolve never wavered. When one short story felt a bit too much for me to take, I took a break (or solved that trigonometric exercise that I’ve been itching to get my hands on). Then I moved on.

[Click here to read the rest of the entry. :-)]

08 November 2009

Of Hearts and Heartaches (III)

08 November 2009

MOOD | pensive
RANDOM | boracay in 2 weeks

Of Hearts and Heartaches
A Soap Opera of Madness

There is method to the madness.

Let us begin with a character named K. K, once upon a recent time, loved N, but that love, though lingering, is now slowly disappearing like ice on the polar caps. It's been a tough journey, but K is now ready to face other people. The first person in K's way? A character named L.

K is ambivalent about L, but L is enamored by K. However, another character named W is in this story, and W does not want K with L. W wants K with D, instead, but D is a person who likes things the easy way. D is cool enough with K, but because K is not that interested (because of the above-mentioned lingering love), D calls J and asks for a date. J is another character altogether. J declines the date.

K hypothesizes that W does not want K with L because W likes K. Recent events have revealed, however, that W actually likes L and not K. Unfortunately for W, L does not like W, but likes K. Interestingly, K liked W once upon a time, and K thinks that W likes K back, which was what prompted the hypothesis in the first place.

J, on the other hand, loved K eons ago, but that polar cap had already melted. What took its place was an enchantment for K. J and K had an intimate moment, but now K is already committed with K, which sort of takes out J out of the equation. J, however, still has bouts of "like" for K, but knows that the verdict is already out on that one. Instead, J turned J's eyes to W. Like K, J liked W once upon a time. But J knew W liked K more than W liked J, so J shrugged it off.

Just to clarify (haha): in between the K-W period and the K-L period, there were the K-N and the J-N periods. But N lost K and N lost J, and that was when K found L and J found W again. This time, J was hesitant about W because of certain values differences; W, on the other hand, appeared to like J. In any case, J stalled. But now, after some soul-searching, J has decided to pursue W. But the news came out that W actually likes L, and now W, who once liked J, is now ambivalent about J.

J thinks about N and the what-ifs. But J does not like N despite knowing that N likes J. J also thinks of L (in the sense that L is cute), but knows that K likes L to a certain degree and L likes K.

And just to add a wrench into the whole machinery, L now has a girlfriend named F.

Like I said, there is method to the madness. With a little luck and a lot of persistency, somebody's bound to get it. As for the madness that prompted me to write this entry in the first place? That no one can decipher; that no one can get.

Perhaps that's just as well, because I'm getting tired of figuring things out myself.

30 October 2009

Of Hearts and Heartaches (II)

30 October 2009

MOOD | neutral
CRAVING FOR | a sweet kiss
RANDOM | condos, hay

A Few Notes on Attractiveness

Note #1: Matching Hypothesis. This is no Popoy-Basha Breakup Rule; this is a real scientific theory proposed by Walster et al. in 1966. According to Walster, (and I'm quoting Wikipedia on this to get it right) "people are more likely to form long standing relationships with those who are equally physically attractive as they are."

Ever since my Psychology 101 teacher taught me this way back in 2nd year college, I became a fan and a believer of the hypothesis. It made sense then, and it makes sense now. Walster was perhaps just credible and ingenious enough to transform something seemingly in plain view into a paper discussing social desirability. Brilliant!

Note #2: Attractiveness. There's something vague about the term "attractiveness" though, and it is wise to look into the blurry line. I, for one, believe that there's a definitive distinction between "handsomeness" or "prettiness" and "attractiveness." Humanoid X can be handsome or pretty, and yet Humanoid Y may not be attracted to X at all, even when Y can acknowledge that X is, indeed, by some objective metric, handsome/pretty.

Let's break it down. In how many ways can one person become attractive to another?

BY VIRTUE OF THEIR GENES | Ignore the statement I made about "handsomeness"/"prettiness" not being equivalent to "attractiveness." Some people are just born lucky. Even as babies, they already have the perfect Athenian leg length or the impeccable Apollonian jawline. When they walk past, heads swirl and swivel, eyes pop and protrude. It doesn't matter whether they're drenched in motor oil or wearing potato sacks for clothes; these "uglifiers" may enhance their natural beauty even more.

BY VIRTUE OF THEIR ACCESSORIES | The most apt cliche for these guys? Clothes make the man. Someone from this group cannot leave the house looking (and feeling) good without the usual hygiene and beautification routines: the application of hair product, the combing of the hair, the just-the-right-number of perfume sprays. Without the proper grooming and the well-fitted clothes, their looks alone just wouldn't fly.

BY VIRTUE OF THEIR STANCE | People who belong to this group are perhaps luckier than their genetically-perfect counterparts due to the fact that their attractiveness tends to be more long-lasting. However, in order to get there, these guys and gals deserve a second, third, or fourth glance. In other words, their looks will not strike you; their stance will. When you come across these people, you find drawn to them even though you think (by some objective measure) they're not really all that handsome or pretty. Maybe it's just the way they hold their cup when they drink coffee; maybe it's just the way they stand when they're waiting for a cab; maybe it's just the way they walk across the room. Confidence? Most probably. Appeal? Definitely.

BY VIRTUE OF THEIR SKILL | You don't even have to meet these people in order to say that you're attracted to them. This is perhaps the rarest way by which one can find someone else attractive, but it exists; it's there. Ever wonder why performance artists gain ultimate fandom despite a physical look that's less than appealing? Ever wonder why writers lead a life of constant adoration from fawning fans? This is the reason: some people just sing "hot." Some people just write "hot." Some people just act "hot." Some people just freaking solve "hot."

As you can see, there are several ways by which one person can become attracted to another. But that's not really the point. Note #2 is just a corollary to Note #1. Note #1 is the point:

In order for me to form a long standing relationship with you, I first have to find you equally attractive as I am.

And that's how K sees it.

24 October 2009

Of Hearts And Heartaches (I)

24 October 2009

MOOD | curious
CRAVING FOR | a party
RANDOM | seven blog entry ideas, no time to write them down :(

There's Just No Time for Love

It's 8 AM on a Monday. The alarm has been blaring for 30 minutes now. I look over to the bed beside me and notice with a groan that my roommate has already left. Probably off to an early morning hearing. Good news: I have dibs on the bathroom-- there's going to be no mad rush to the toilet bowl today. Bad news: I still don't want to wake up.

But I have to. I cannot make the hand that feeds me wait.

And so it goes. The routine that I have to go through everyday. Rise from bed; iron my long sleeves; pick the clothes I have to wear and lay them on the bed; head over to the showers, and soap the tummy first; towel myself dry; put on the deo; brush my teeth, then gargle with the citrus-flavored Listerine; jab the insides of my ears with cotton buds; dress up for work; apply hair product on my, well, hair; powder my face; spray a noticeable amount of perfume; look for my room keys, my wallet, and my cellphone; arrange my bag; leave.

It's 9 AM. I'm 30 minutes late, and I haven't even hailed a cab yet. On a good day, this will take me around 2 minutes the moment I emerge from the kanto. On a particularly bad day, it will take me 20 to 30 minutes, tweedling my thumbs inside my pants and tapping my right foot like an irritated little brat. In any case, I will not ride a jeep to work. That alone will take me 45 minutes since the jeep passes through the dreaded Makati Ave - Ayala Ave route. I will rather wait for a cab 30 minutes longer than necessary.

When I arrive at work, I'll drop by the employee lobby to get my fingerprint scanned. It's an upper if I arrive by the skin of my teeth-- at 9:29. But if I arrive later, I'll just shrug my shoulders and hope for a better day tomorrow. The day personally begins at 10, with a lunch break at noon, a coffee break at 3 (if we haven't bought one from RCBC Starbucks during lunch), and dismissal at around 6:30, 7:30, or midnight, depending on how early I was in arriving at the office, how heavy my workload was for the day, and whether or not my officemates are rushing to get to the Body Jam/Hip Hop/Cycling/RPM/Body Combat session on time at the gym.

After the gym session (or at some days, study session), we tend to have dinner. If we're feeling stingy or diet-conscious, we'll skip the dinner altogether and head on home. Another 5-10 minutes waiting for a cab, and then I'm off.

It's 11 PM, and my roommate is already asleep. By this time, I'm still wide awake, either by the endorphines released from working out, or the exhilaration of getting through a chapter. I cannot let my day pass without serving my dishes in Cafe World, however, nor can I make my way to dreamland without checking out the latest news in the blogosphere first. Tap tap tippity tap tap on the keyboard for an hour or so before a yawn interrupts me, reminding me that there's still work to be done tomorrow. I try to squeeze in a blog entry, and if I'm lucky, I'n ready to lie down by 1 AM. 2 AM if there's a TV show to catch up on. 3 AM if there are two of them.

I look at the clock and it's way past my bedtime. Tomorrow is another day, and I cross my fingers that I get in before 9:30. I have a meeting at 10.

18 October 2009

Why I'll Always Be Proud of Ateneo (II)

18 October 2009

MOOD | scared of the next few days
CRAVING FOR | study leaves
RANDOM | spring awakening rocks!

PREVIOUSLY | There's more to my Atenean pride than just winning the basketball championship. First, I love where my school is located. Katipunan is not just a place I go to to study; it's a place I come home to each day. Second, Ateneo has pushed the boundaries of my mind and spirit by offering me eight helpings of Philosophy and Theology. That's a lot of non-core, yes, but those two subjects are a mighty chunk of what being an Atenean is all about.

Here are two more reasons.

THREE | Awesome Professors. A good teacher makes his or her students appreciate the course within the semester he or she teaches it; allows the students to learn on their own without sacrificing proper guidance; and most important, objectively looks at the students' merits before handing out a rightful grade. A great teacher does all that and-- beyond the confines of the classroom-- imprints a special mark in the lives of the people they teach. Ateneo has become a veritable breeding ground for excellent professors, and for that, I am proud. More so for these people:

Mrs. Rowie Azada-Palacios, Philosophy | I believed in myself and in my capacity as a thinker more because of the way she handled our class. Philosophy would not have been the same had she not been at the helm of that difficult course. Luijpen, Marcel, Arendt-- whoever the philosopher was, she managed to dissect his or her philosophy in chunks that were easy to digest. I remember the first time I read a philosophical discourse (Luijpen's Phenomenology of Truth) and I was devastated. I felt stupid. But when the class discussions moved forward, I realized how ingenious the entire dissertation was. Until now, applying Luijpen's thoughts remains as one of my favorite classroom-to-real life crossovers of all time.

Mr. Gad Lim, English | Sir Gad never gave me an A in any of my papers. Not in any of my short story readings, not in any of my opinion columns, not in any of my essays. The highest grade I got from him was a B+/A-, and that was for a piece that mentioned Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. Thank goodness I got good grades even for that one.

It's a testament to the brilliance of a teacher when a grade-conscious student like me did not for one second resent the grades that I got. I deserved all those marks. In fact, I should-- and was--- and still am-- grateful for all those comments in red that he gave me, the ones he wrote so neatly in the margins of my papers. The good techniques in writing that you perceive? I owe it all to him. The bad things? It's all my fault. I should have listened more.

Mrs. Marian Reyes, Statistics | My math grades weren't what they used to be back in high school. In fact, if Ateneo's system was more major-centric than it was-- that is, if almost all my subjects were math-related and had fewer core subjects-- I would never have graduated with honors. There were only a few math subjects that I truly excelled in, and one of them-- Statistics-- I really, really learned to love. My fascination for the subject cemented my desire to pursue the actuarial track, and the teacher who taught it-- the equally fascinating Marian Reyes-- helped me erase any doubts I had with myself back when the subject was the only bright spot in a particularly depressing semester.

FOUR | Cura Personalis. The nail that finally drove the coffin home. Or a saying that's similarly phrased. The one characteristic that separated Ateneo from my other options, the main selling point that pushed me to choose the Jesuit institution over the other, bigger campus in Quezon City. Personal Care.

I'm a high maintenance kind of guy. I don't appreciate being left all alone to fend for myself. While I understand the need to become independent, I need to have some sense of being watched over, of being able to say to myself that it's going to be okay to move this way, to commit some errors, because someone has my back. Ateneo provided me with the tools to grow into a unique individual, but at the same time established some ground rules to ensure that my growth is defined within safe boundaries. I appreciated the sense of purpose. I appreciated the concern for my welfare. I appreciated the holistic approach to addressing my entirety as a person.

In other words, I appreciated how Ateneo nurtured me.

With all these reasons, it's not hard to understand why I love my university so goddam much. Thank you, Ateneo, for everything. I will always be proud of being a blue-blooded Atenean through and through.

12 October 2009

Why I'll Always Be Proud of Ateneo (I)

12 October 2009

MOOD | proud of my alma mater
CRAVING FOR | a new pair of glasses + a new television (got it!)
RANDOM | when did the expression 'bitter ocampo' become, like, uso?

Ateneo just won the Men's Senior Basketball championship a few days ago. Another sweet, delicious victory. With the Seniors grappling their way to claim the judo top spot, the Juniors grabbing the basketball, judo, and swimming championships, and the sweet surprise that was the Cheerdancing Competition, my alma mater is on a roll as she celebrates her 150th year. With such wonderful feathers perched on our cap, it's quite difficult not to be proud of one's university, no?

But that's not exactly one of the prominent reasons why I'm proud of my school. For one, I'm not a sports fanatic. I don't even know what an "assist" is, for Pete's sakes. And for another, my interest only extends to a vague, general idea of what's going on in the UAAP basketball world. If you ask me who the starting five are, I'm going to look at you and blink. And blink. And blink. It's not my thing, in other words, and I'm cheering for the team because it's the Ateneo team.

So what is it? What prompts me to be very vocal about my affiliation with the school? What drives me to return to that campus on the hill to rejuvenate my tired spirit, my weary body? What inspires me to write again and again about why I'll always be proud of being an Atenean? Let me count the ways.

ONE | Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights. Katipunan was my world back then. The campus was my backyard. Having no close relatives in Manila, I had to stay in the dorm inside the school. For four years, my entire world was compressed in one little corner of Loyola. Little, yes, but that was one special corner.

In that little corner, lush rolling green fields lay. Trees adorned the sides of streets like sentinels watching over their wards. The red-bricked buildings stood proud amidst the concrete and the grass, each within a stone's throw from each other (save for Bellarmine, which was perhaps two stones' throw away). The roads, expansive and inviting; the paths, well-trodden and worn.

Outside, the entire strip was adorned with every possible necessity a student might have. Hungry? There was always KFC at one end, and McDonald's on the other. Hungry and with extra money? There's Kamirori if you were craving Japanese, and back then, The Barn for something more Western (Bo's Coffee now stands where this resto once was.). Internet cafes were dime a dozen. Rustan's Fresh was the grocery of choice, but if you were willing to move further for something cheaper, Shoppersville was just a tricycle ride away. Churches, banks, some tarot reading-- that little nook had it all.

Could you blame me if I just wanted to stay in?

TWO | Philosophy + Theology. These two branches of learning are unique to the university in that they're part of the core curriculum. Each and every student that passes through the gates of Ateneo has to take these subjects as early as their sophomore year, and will continue to do so until they graduate... four Philo subjects and four Theo subjects later. That's a lot of core curriculum.

I've got no regrets taking these subjects. I have had no complaints.

Philosophy pushed me to think over and beyond the conventional. It gave me the opportunity to inspect myself and the way I interact with the other; it provided me with the means to dissect what is truth and what is merely a semblance of the truth; it guided me to analyze religion in unbiased means and through a framework that is perhaps antithetical to its essence; and it enticed me to look at ethics as not merely guidelines to live by, but as a dynamic area of exploring one's purpose in life.

Theology, on the other hand, told me that yes, it is okay to question your faith. It is imperative to find reason behind the faith that we keep. While it is inadequate to reject religion outright with no reason or rhyme, it is also equally appalling to embrace it without knowing why you're doing so. Blind obedience is just as bad as stubborn rebelliousness.

The biggest personal thing I got from studying these subjects? Surprising myself. The human mind does work its wonders when given the right pressure and the right environment, and Ateneo is a perfect breeding ground. I'm proud of my school because it gave me the avenues to be proud of myself.

(To be continued.)

06 October 2009

Wading in the Shallow End

06 October 2009

MOOD | tired
CRAVING FOR | four-pack abs; let's not overreach for six
RANDOM | loving cafe world in facebook

When I graduated from Ateneo, I weighed around 125 pounds. It says so in my first resume, right beside Age (20) and Citizenship (Filipino). I think I just gained around 10 pounds during my entire stay in college. I have this distinct memory of getting assigned in the lightest weight division for the sparring finals of my first year judo P.E. class, and I couldn't have been greater than 115 pounds then. Of course, I wanted to gain some weight; I had an inverted triangle for a face back then, and it wasn't fun looking like a walking ad for Vicks. Unfortunately, no matter how much carbs I ingested (I was munching on pancit canton... sandwiched between slices of bread), all the gain I could muster was a measly 10 pounds. The wonders of a college guy's physiology.

Six months ago, nobody would believe that I once had a three-sided polygon for a head. It was unimaginable. Four years after stepping out of college, I was sporting a "healthy" 145 pounds. Not bad if I were 5' 9". Those pounds would have been fantastic. But alas, the gods in the sky decided that Cherifer should outdate me by around 20 years, so no, 145 pounds wasn't an ideal weight. According to this site:

My Height + My Weight = Borderline Overweight

Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant feeling. Everything about me seemed to double: my tummy, my face, and most annoying of all, my chin. Yes, I was quite sensitive about my double chin. It took years of practice to find that perfect camera angle, one that would give the illusion of a tight jaw and a distinctive jawline. Any shots that showcased the blasphemous folds would immediately find themselves in the digital bin.

Of course, I tried to lose some weight. But no matter how many times I skipped on that extra rice or slashed my eating time in half, it seemed as though my tummy, my face, and my chin had lives of their own, and the goal of their existence is just to expand and expand and expand until I was powerless and too overwhelmed by LDL to stop them. All the loss I could muster? Diminutive. Infinitesimal. Nil. The makings of a quarter-life crisis.

That was six months ago. Shortly after that, an announcement was made that drove me and several of my colleagues to the gym.

Annual Convention would be held in Boracay in November.

Fitness First has a motto that they love to plaster all over their gym walls: Motivation is what gets you started; habit is what keeps you going. Motivation, check. It's going to be my first time in that hallowed land right smack in the middle of this country, and there was no way in hell that a single guy like me would appear bloated in such a place. Boracay equals fit, and that was it. If I were to look good and feel good, things had to change around here. And as Master Yoda would put it: Change, things did.

I weighed myself yesterday.

I think I just returned to college. :)
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