Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Slacker No More

I've been writing the conference version of our thesis for the past several days. So far I've made ten pages, including the bibliography. Not all of that is new stuff; I only wrote the abstract, introduction and a couple of sections. I copied one of the sections covering the review of related literature from an earlier draft, since I figured we hadn't really discovered anything new since then, and it was probably okay. When I think about it, I should've finished this work last week; the stuff I wrote was only a few paragraphs long, stuff that I've known by heart after a semester and a half of semi-continuous research. It's a matter of sitting in front of the monitor in the sala and spinning my thoughts into words while tuning out the sound of my father's NBA game on TV.

Only it's not that simple. I'm prone to distractions; in fact, I tend to invite them quite readily. Whenever I get stuck at a tricky turn of phrase—I'm particular with word choice, even in my academic writing—I fire up Firefox and look up Dictionary.com. While looking for the link in the search bar's drop-down menu, the link for Onemanga catches my eye. Hmmm, a quick browse won't hurt. Even if I'm not currently following any manga, I love looking at random titles to see if there's anything interesting. So I click on Onemanga and browse to my heart's content...all the while watching the little digital clock on the system tray. I think, 30 minutes is fine. Unfortunately those 30 minutes pass by almost unnoticeably; the next time I check it's already been 50 minutes. 50? 50's fine. It's only about an hour before midnight, and I can stay up late, after all. Then an hour and a half pass by, then two, then three...until my eyes hurt and I check whatever work I've managed to put in. A couple of paragraphs. I don't need to look at the clock to know that it's way, way past my bedtime. A mixture of shame and weariness tug on my eyelids as I save my work and back it up on my thumb drive. Another day lost to my bad habits. I promise myself (always half-heartedly) that I'll finish the next day, I remind myself that if I would just sit down and work, I would be finished the next day. But in the back of my mind I'm already resigned to whatever distractions I'm bound to encounter. I welcome them, whether they be my favorite cooking shows on TV or another juicy installment of Lucifer (which I've already downloaded in its entirety, and is just waiting for me to open my comic reader and immerse myself). I welcome the temporary escape they bring, the promise of easy entertainment. The rush. The thrill of new information or wonderful stories. Both good things, but not when I'm using them to distract myself from what I ought to be doing.

I've been calling myself a slacker for the longest time. I used to think I was just being true to myself; hey, it's my nature, after all. I love goofing off. Sometimes I think that this is all that I really want to do with my life...amass books and movies and comics and manga and anime until I have more than I know what to do with. Take two- or three-hour naps. Watch TV. Open the door whenever our quirky Japanese spitz barks at it (and me) so he can go outside and watch the children playing on the street. Chop vegetables and saute garlic and onions and tomatoes whenever my mother's cooking. Sleep some more. Watch some more. And all the while I keep wondering, what about the stuff I keep saying I care about? The stories in my head, waiting to be given life? The books I keep buying and downloading, but haven't even bothered to read? And of course, there's the commitments I promised to keep, not the least of which is my thesis. I hate my habit of cramming my work ('cause I spent most of the allotted time slacking), but I always wind up doing it. Always. 'Cause I'm me, a slacker by nature.

Writing this all down helps me look at myself a little more critically, I suppose. It all sounds like so much rationalizing, and it is, it really is. Slacking is not what I want to do with my life. I want to accomplish something. I want to write my stories. I want to win a Palanca (yes, seriously). I want to read awesome, mindbending novels and watch critically-acclaimed movies. I want to broaden my perspective. And so on. But these things remain mere wants 'cause I haven't taken that crucial step: I haven't put in the work. I haven't gotten away from square one 'cause I haven't tried to leave it; I just whiled my time away, thinking that maybe I'd start moving somehow even if I didn't put in the effort. But no. No way that's gonna happen. Not at the rate I've been going.

So yeah. There's my New Year's resolution (though I better start even before the New Year 'cause my deadlines are in January XP). No More Slacking. Like a knife through the heart, that is. ~.~

PS I only got to thinking about these things because of an article I received in the mail from StevePavlina.com. It was about setting your sights on goals you care about and resisting distractions. It hit me square in the face, that one. ^^ If you're into personal development stuff, he's got some nice articles about all kinds of things, like building up your confidence. Good reads. :D

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween ^^

A little something I wrote for a horror-story contest. Enjoy. ^^


When it awoke it gazed lazily through the gaps amidst the leaves. It could hear the shrill yipping of ten urgent animal voices, but their owners were nowhere in sight; all it could see were its usual prey, the mute cockroaches, centipedes and lizards that wandered about on the rough cement of the yard. By instinct it stayed absolutely still, taking care not to disturb the pile of leaves that served as both shelter and camouflage. Once the unsuspecting prey had wandered within its reach, it shot out fibrous tendrils from beneath the leaves and paralyzed its prey with a swift-acting poison. It relished the slow act of digesting an immobilized victim. The juices of surrendered flesh, frozen in a state of permanent shock and fear, enlivened every fiber of its carnivorous being, more so if the victim had struggled or fought before the poison set in. Lately, however, it had grown weary of its steady diet of strong-willed cockroaches and sly lizards. Compared to the heady rush of warm blood from a still-pulsing heart, the cold juices of an insect or a tiny reptile were bland and unappealing.

It had gotten its first taste of warm blood by a stroke of good luck a few days before. A wary little sparrow had landed a few feet away from the leaf pile; it hopped about on tiny clawed feet, pecking stale bread crumbs off the dry cement. It maintained a safe distance between itself and the leaf pile, as if it was aware of the invisible eye-stalks watching it forage for food. However, the leaf pile stood absolutely still, and there was a large, tasty morsel several inches away from the leaves... It hopped closer, all senses alert, agile wings poised for flight at the slightest sign of movement. There was none. The large bread crumb was only a few inches away. It hopped once, twice, thrice—

Fibrous tendrils shot out from the leaf pile. The startled sparrow spread its wings and tried to fly away, but it could barely hop off the ground. Spasms jerked its wings in a grotesque parody of flapping as it quickly lost its control over its paralyzed wing muscles. Its heart beat furiously for a few tense seconds before coming to an abrupt halt.

Somewhere in the depths of the leaf pile, a ravenous creature was exulting from a dying sparrow's adrenaline-spiked blood. After disposing of the shriveled corpse, it eagerly awaited other warm-blooded animals, its tendrils trembling slightly from barely contained excitement.

For days it waited. No sparrows landed near the leaf pile; no sparrows landed anywhere on the cement within its range of vision. Every day it could hear the yipping of animal voices—full, throaty, vivacious voices, from bodies much larger than the unfortunate sparrow's. It threw away half-consumed lizards and completely ignored cockroaches. Its fibers and sinews hungered for warm blood.

Just as its hunger had reached an unbearable peak, it saw a densely furred little dog dart from an open doorway; the animal voices had grown louder, as if protesting the dog's escape. It yipped excitedly as it dashed from one corner of the yard to another, sniffing and marking its newfound territory with abandon. It was unaware of the eye-stalks underneath the leaf pile that eagerly following its movements.

A cockroach skittered in front of the dog; the dog followed, trying to snap up the cockroach. The cockroach, terrified, headed straight for the cover of the leaf pile and disappeared beneath the leaves. The dog, still sniffing, approached the leaf pile cautiously; it began to bark in its shrill, urgent voice, but the cockroach failed to reappear. The leaf pile was absolutely still. The dog slowly inched forward.

Beneath the leaf pile, a multitude of fibrous tendrils sprang to life. They shot forth, impatient, bloodthirsty, ravenous for the kill.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Word Shot # 1

Word Shot is a weekly exercise from TheWritersBag.com. Every Monday a random photo is posted, and you can write a sentence or a paragraph or a story describing the photo and enter it as a comment; you can also (constructively) criticize the comments of others, if that's your thing. It's a wicked fun way of getting your creativity moving, and I had lots of fun doing this first one. Oh yeah; the site's owner, Steve Osborne, will pick one winner at the end of the week. This week's prize is free copies of his e-manuals on writing. Man, I wanna win. XD

Steve kindly allowed me to post the photo and my story-comment here; here it is, for your enjoyment. :D

Sand. Sand everywhere. It covered the quarry beside the town in tall gray mounds and snaking rivulets, as if some god-child had been playing in his own cosmic sandbox with real buildings and a factory whose tall smoke stack spewed real, putrid smoke. Above dark clouds hovered sluggishly; the only sunlight that could filter through them was wan and gloomy, making the quarry look like a gray wasteland. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought that I was in the set of some apocalyptic movie instead of on the weedy hill at the outskirts of San Mateo, the town I grew up in.

My sister Lena stood mutely beside me. Her hand was clenched around my small fingers in an uncommonly tight grip; I could barely feel the softness of her palm. She was staring at a little brown box beyond a wall-like mound of sand. When I squinted at it I could dimly recognize the squat outline of Ma’s apartment building. Lena had hurried me out of bed and through the door while Ma was snoring loudly on the table, her half-empty glass of bourbon sitting quietly beside her head. I wanted to call out to her and say goodbye, but in my heart of hearts I knew better than to wake her up after she’d been drinking. Her screams and blows echoed in my mind as we stood in silence for several minutes on the hill facing the quarry. At that time I wanted to scream too, but no sound would form inside my throat.

When Lena said, “It’s time to go,” I nodded and followed her over the other side of the hill. Neither of us looked back as we made our way down the barren path.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko

Another (somewhat) bad translation from yours truly, this time requested by my bespren and bosom buddy, Aims. It's an old song, something our parents were listening to in their early twenties, I think. ^^ Hope you like it.

Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko
lyrics by Rey Valera

Kung tayo ay matanda na
Sana'y 'di tayo magbago
Kailanman, nasaan ma'y
Ito ang pangarap ko

Makuha mo pa kayang ako'y hagkan at yakapin, hmm...
Hanggang pagtanda natin
Nagtatanong lang sa'yo ako pa kaya'y ibigin mo
Kung maputi na ang buhok ko

Pagdating ng araw ang 'yong buhok
Ay puputi na rin
Sabay tayong mangangarap
Ng nakaraan sa'tin

Ang nakalipas ay ibabalik natin, hmmm...
Ipapaalala ko sa'yo
Ang aking pangako na'ng pag-ibig ko'y lagi sa'yo
Kahit maputi na ang buhok ko

Even When My Hair Has Lost Its Color
translated by Tina

When we're old and gray
I hope we don't change
This is what I long for
Wherever I am, whatever the time of day

Could you bear to kiss me and hold me in your arms, hmmm...
Until we grow old
I'm just asking if you'll still love me
When my hair has lost its color

The time will come when your hair also loses its color
Let's dream together of good times past

We'll bring back the old days, hmmm...
I'll help you remember
The promise I made to love only you
Even when my hair has lost its color

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Joh-pahy, kah-moose-tah kuh nahhh...

It's usually really amusing when an American tries to speak Tagalog. He tends to prolong the vowels or put the accent on the wrong syllables; for instance, he might say "Tag-uh-lohg" instead of Ta-ga-log, or "muh-boo-hey" instead of ma-bu-hay. Once he's familiar with the rhythm of the language his efforts are easier to understand, but the accent remains; he now says "Thi-gah-luhg" and "muh-boo-high." Still amusing, but improvements nonetheless.

Now, an American singing in Tagalog would be another matter altogether. You can imagine my amusement when one of my roommates showed me a Youtube video of this white guy from New Jersey singing covers of Pinoy rock bands. He calls his music jOePM, a pun on what an American guy is usually called in the Philippines, and the acronym for original Pinoy music. So far he's already sung songs by the Eraserheads, Parokya ni Edgar, Sugarfree, and Mayonnaise. His pronunciation is pretty good, albeit still accented (hence the title of this post); it looks like he's been practicing. I doubt that he understands what he's singing, though. ^^ At any rate, he seems to be a true fan of OPM, and apparently the Philippines in general - in his video of Jopay, there's a Philippine flag hanging from a table in the room. From the looks of it he either has Filipino relatives or Filipino friends, maybe both; he even visited somebody in Kalookan City and played for a bunch of kids while he was there. It's heartwarming to see his enthusiasm for Pinoy music; when he says, "Kah-moose-tah muh-nga rah-kees-tahng Pee-noy? (How are you, Pinoy rockers?)" I wanna reply, "Rakenrol!"

He accepts requests for OPM songs, although I'm not sure if he sings any non-Tagalog ones. Maybe I should request Francis M's Mga Kababayan Ko (My Countrymen), or Three Stars and a Sun; maybe he can rap too. :D

Saturday, August 23, 2008

0% Interpersonal??

Your result for The 4-Variable IQ Test...


0% interpersonal, 25% visual, 30% verbal and 45% mathematical!

Brother-from-another-mother! Like mine, your highest scoring intelligence is Mathematical. You thrive on logic, numbers, things representing numbers, and sets of things that are sets of other things, with numbers nowhere in sight. You probably like the online comic called XKCD, and if you don't, check it out.

You probably knew you'd score "Mathematical" as you took the test, and mathy types are usually super-high scorers on this axis, and low on the others. Why? Because you (we) yearn for math.

Anyway, your specific scores follow. On any axis, a score above 25% means you use that kind of thinking more than average, and a score below 25% means you use it less. It says nothing about cognitive skills, just your interest.

Your brain is roughly:

0% Interpersonal




Matching Summary: Each of us has different tastes. Still, I offer the following advice to the world.

1. Don't date someone if your interpersonal percentages differ by more than 20%.

2. Don't be friends with someone if your verbal percentages differ by more than 25%.

3. Don't have sex with someone if your math scores differ by over 40%. You might kill them.

Take The 4-Variable IQ Test at HelloQuizzy

No, I wasn't expecting to come out Mathematical - I was fully expecting Verbal - but seriously. 0% Interpersonal? Am I that antisocial? XP

And the guy who made this test is right, I did like XKCD... Laugh-out-loud geekiness. It's awesome. XD

Man of the Hour

This title is just apt for Sir Quiwa. Maybe I should listen to the Pearl Jam song of the same title while I'm doing the first draft of the character sketch. These lines encapsulate everything I feel for him, especially now that he's about to retire soon:

And the road
The old man paved
The broken seams along the way
The rusted signs, left just for me
He was guiding me, love, his own way
Now the man of the hour is taking his final bow
As the curtain comes down
I feel that this is just g'bye for now*
I'd forgotten that we were only supposed to do a character sketch. A thousand words isn't much; that's just three pages of double-spaced paragraphs. I guess I confused my own desire to learn more about him with what we were required to do in a thousand words: present a vivid portrait of the chosen subject using facts and anecdotes. I thought I needed to know him inside out, to put a label on all of his ideas and motivations. I'd forgotten that an artist paints what she sees, and what she thinks she sees; she has no real knowledge about her subject, only what she has seen and heard and deduced on her own. I had thought that this was simply a limitation that I had to overcome. Unfortunately, it's the limitation that shapes perception; we cannot ever truly know one another as we know ourselves. When writing about another person, I must always write from the viewpoint of the outsider; in this case, the student in awe of the maestro.

I cannot adequately quantify the good that he has done me, as well as the other Computer Science (CS) majors past and present. Many of his lessons are exemplified in his conduct: he never misses a class, never turns away a student in need. His door is open to all who approach him, whether delinquent or star student. He recognizes his role as a shaper of minds and fulfills it with utmost seriousness. I don't think I've ever known anyone whose genuine concern and love of work equals his; maybe I never will. It saddens me to think that, a few years from now, future batches of CS students won't even know him. By the time they set foot in Engineering and the CS department's new building, one of the department's founding fathers would have already gone. The man of the hour is taking his final bow.

One of my teachers said that we, as his students, are Sir Quiwa's legacy. A teacher's influence spreads at an exponential rate: his students will go on to influence others – friends, family, coworkers, their own students for those who become teachers. One cannot underestimate the power of a teacher to change the course of his students' lives. The least we can do is to reward his efforts, either by excelling in our chosen fields, or taking the path that he took – the path of self-sacrifice, of endless patience and faith in human potential. His greatness should not, must not come to an end with us – we have been given the task of taking on the mantle he is about to relinquish.

Hopefully my character sketch will do him justice. My original goal had been to understand how he can command the respect of so many people, when he always stays in the background, never taking credit for everything he has done; my interviews and conversations with him have helped me answer this. My new goal, then, is to communicate to others those qualities that make him the man of the hour. I hope that my words, like the brush strokes of an artisan, will portray him with the vibrancy and warmth that endears him to everyone he meets. I truly hope so.

I'll be posting the final draft of my character sketch here, as well as the final drafts of the other essays I'll be writing for my Creative Writing class. Watch out for them ^^

* the lyrics of Man of the Hour are copyrighted to whomever owns it ^^ they most certainly don't belong to me

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Bud

This is an entry for Scribbit's August Write-Away Contest :) It took me all of a couple of hours to write this in pencil in my notebook, I guess I was on a roll...all comments and criticisms are welcome, especially constructive ones :D Enjoy.

One time I decided to sit on one of the stone benches near the university's main library to clear my head. The padded straps of my backpack bit into my shoulders with urgency; the worn rubber soles of my shoes padded quickly over the grass that grew between two fatherly acacia trees, their boughs shading the bench I was rapidly approaching. With one smooth motion I slung my backpack off my shoulder and plopped thankfully into one of the U-shaped recesses on the bench. I unzipped my backpack, pulled out a bottle of bland apple-flavored tea, took a couple of long swigs and emitted a sonorous belch. Then, rather self-consciously, I turned to my left and saw her.

If I hadn't turned around I may not have noticed her at all. She had short, unkempt hair that stopped abruptly just below her ears; it looked as if it had been laid out on a block and shorn with a power saw. She kept her gaze fixed on some anonymous patch of weeds in the sunken field directly in front of us. Her head was bent slightly and her hair hung over half of her face, like a bead curtain. She seemed entirely oblivious to my stare, and for a while I was too. Behind the curtain of hair I could glimpse the profile of an exquisite apricot eye, a small Malay nose and full lips lying in a matter-of-fact line on her face. Her skin was the pale brown of parched earth. My mouth went dry, as if I had not downed half a 500mL bottle of diluted tea a few minutes before.

We sat in silence for the next half hour. She could have been an immensely lifelike statue carved by a mischievous sculptor if not for the rhythmic, almost invisible rise and fall of her shoulders and the occasional flutter of her hair from the breeze. Her close-fitting T-shirt was the nascent pink of a little flower that grows in the cracks of a cement sidewalk, her jeans the faded blue of many nameless journeys. As I sat there, lost in my own thoughts, I compared her to the many anonymous girls I passed by in the corridors of Engineering. She could have been any one of them, except for one thing: she lacked their vibrance and purpose. She sat here, moored in her own little universe, whereas those Engineering girls were laughing on the benches of their organizations' allotted hang-outs, or walking briskly toward the stairs right after a class. She stayed still while the rest of us flowed with time, living and loving. In my heart I pitied her, but I could think of nothing to say.

When I got up and left without a word I cursed myself for being so helpless. I threw the half-empty bottle into the nearest cement garbage receptacle with more force than I thought I possessed. She stayed in the back of my mind for the rest of the day, patiently waiting. That night I resolved to go back the next day and strike up a conversation.

She was already there when I arrived, sitting in the exact same place with the exact same pose. Only the color of her T-shirt was different - the soft green of new grass. Tentatively I sat down, easing my butt onto the cold red stone with too much care. Although I hadn't been to church in months I prayed fervently that I wouldn't fart. She ignored my nervousness with singular indifference; I could have been a dead leaf that had fallen from a nearby tree, for all my troubles. Nevertheless I plowed on. I inhaled deeply, closed my eyes, opened them again to gaze at the people playing frisbee in the sunken field, and began to talk.

I wasn't talking about anything in particular. I just said the first things that came into my head: flunking the midterms, cramming papers, getting drunk at the open-air watering hole my friends frequented. My stories were probably dull, the kind of things that happen to almost everybody on a regular basis. Excerpts from the archives of any of my friends' blogs, with different actors in each predetermined role. I considered myself a nobody in those stories, the nameless narrator who recorded the antics of others. Even so I had been there; each event was burned into my memory, and indication of my existence at that particular time. Perhaps it was this that I was trying to share with her. My life force, my vital energy. I scoured my reserves for anecdotes and insights until evening dimmed the surroundings and I realized that I had been silent for several minutes. The U-shaped recess beside me was empty, the red stone cold to my fingers.

I trudged back to my dormitory in a state of lightheaded weariness. I felt like I had run a 5-kilometer marathon with weights strapped onto my wrists and ankles. I sagged onto the thin foam mattress of my bed and slept after barely shrugging off my backpack. I dreamed of a solitary flower bud growing amidst the mossy stones set into the sidewalk in front of Engineering. There was a large gash in the palm of my hand. I crouched beside the little bud, letting the scarlet drops flow straight into the puckered mouth of petals. With each drop the bud grew fuller and more brilliant; its petals were opening ever so gradually. I knew that I had been crouching there for a long time - I knew my knees were ready to buckle - but I hung on stubbornly. I wanted to see the flower unfurl its scarlet petals, scarlet as the jagged lips that had torn my palm asunder.

I went back to the bench several times over the next few weeks, but she wasn't there any more. Sometimes I would sit in her spot, trying to locate the weeds she had been staring at on the day that I had met her. All I could see were lush green grasses that stretched on and on throughout the sunken field.

Once, while heading for the bench, I was surprised to see an unfamiliar girl sitting in her spot. At first I felt indignant, almost wanting to drive away the intruder. Upon closer inspection my heart began to palpitate wildly; I knew that lithe form, those dark locks. Her skin had grown rich and earthy; her clothes seemed fresh and lively, although she had not traded her T-shirts and jeans for anything else. With great trepidation I divested myself of my backpack and crept quietly into the seat next to hers. This time she turned and smiled the most radiant smile I had ever laid eyes on.

My mouth hung open, and I found myself mumbling an incoherent "Hi." She said nothing; her smile washed over me, and I basked in the glow of her presence. She leaned closer - so much closer - and soon I felt a pleasant, unknown wetness on my lips, sweet as the dew on silken petals.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

No. 1 Fan

Right now I'm hung over this song by one of my friends from Java Boot Camp. He's got this wonderful, smooth voice, and he composes his own songs; he says he gets the tune in his head before the words. He used to sing in the middle of our programming exercises. Sometimes he'd whistle a tune and get us to guess what it was. He can whistle entire songs, right down to the little nuances in melody. Awesomeness. XD Well, as you can see I'm biased... I want to believe I'm his no. 1 fan, it's not like his songs are on the radio or anything (wouldn't it be cool if they were XP).

In case you didn't catch that link up there, here's another one. Oh yeah, this is still an incomplete version... He and his bandmates (yes, he has a band :D) are planning to revise it, since the version currently up doesn't have the beatbox accompaniment yet. And they're also planning to fix the lyrics... You might notice that the words are a bit...odd. ^^ Oh well. I have to wait a couple of weeks - until after his final exams at the end of August - before they can get back to working on the song. Until then I have his acoustic version to tide me over. :D

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Feeling Lazy ^^;

I was surprised when I saw that I only had one post for the whole month of July... I hadn't noticed it go by so quickly. ^^; I can't think of anything vaguely interesting to talk about right now, so I decided to take another crack at translating Tagalog songs into English. This time I chose a few songs from Imago, one of my favorite Pinoy bands. Their lyrics are subtle and almost wistful...I had some trouble thinking of a way to preserve the delicacy of the Tagalog words. English can be so terse sometimes.

All right, here goes... Just like before, these translations are largely literal, and I tried to stick to the original Tagalog. Each one done right after the other, all in one sitting. (So, don't expect these to be too good... XP) Enjoy :)

note: I didn't check the original lyrics after I downloaded them...when I listened to the songs again I found a little error in Sundo's lyrics -.-;; it's a rather big change in the meaning of that particular stanza...I've corrected both the original and the translation here. I've also edited Taning's translation a bit ^^ Oh boy, I'm supposed to be writing my share of my group's thesis proposal, it's due on Monday... XP

Akap by Imago

bakit mahirap
sumabay sa agos
ng iyong mundo

simple lang naman sana
ang buhay
kung ika’y matino

Sabihin sa akin lahat ng lihim mo
iingatan ko
Ibaling sa akin ang problema mo
kakayanin ko

Pikit mata
kong iaalay
ang buwan at araw
pati pa sapatos kong suot

simple lang naman sana
ang buhay
kung ika’y lumayo

sabihin sa akin lahat ng lihim mo
iingatan ko
ibaling sa akin ang problema mo
kakayanin ko

Sasamahan ka sa tamis
sasamahan ka sa dilim
sasamahan ka hanggang langit
sasamahan ka sa tamis
sasamahan ka sa pait
sasamahan ka sa dilim
sasamahan ka hanggang langit Sasamahan ka


sabihin sa akin lahat ng lihim mo
iingatan ko
ibaling sa akin ang problema mo
kakayanin ko

Embrace (English Translation by Tina)

I want to know
why it's hard to follow
the way your world turns

I'm confused
Life would be so much simpler
If you were a decent guy

Tell me all your secrets
I'll keep them safe
Tell me all your problems
I'll deal with them

With my eyes closed to the world
I'd offer you the moon and the sun
Even the shoes on my feet

I want to know why
Life would be so much simpler
If you would leave me alone

Tell me all your secrets
I'll keep them safe
Tell me all your problems
I'll deal with them

I'll be by your side when life is sweet
I'll be by your side in the darkness
I'll be by your side all the way to heaven
I'll be by your side when life is sweet
I'll be by your side when life is bitter
I'll be by your side in the darkness
I'll be by your side all the way to heaven
I'll be by your side

Tell me all your secrets
I'll keep them safe
Tell me all your problems
I'll deal with them

Sundo by Imago

Kay tagal kong sinusuyod ang buong mundo
Para hanapin, para hanapin ka
Nilibot ang distrito ng iyong lumbay
Pupulutin, pupulutin ka

Sinusundo kita,

Asahan mong mula ngayon pag-ibig ko’y sayo
Asahan mong mula ngayon pag-ibig ko’y sayo

Sa akin mo isabit ang pangarap mo
Di kukulangin ang ibibigay
Isuko ang kaba tuluyan kang bumitaw
Ika’y manalig
Manalig ka..

Sinusundo kita

Asahan mong mula ngayon pag-ibig ko’y sayo
Asahan mong mula ngayon pag-ibig ko’y sayo

Handa na sa liwanag mo
Sinuyod ang buong mundo
Maghihintay sayo’ng sundo

Waiting for You (English Translation by Tina)

note: "Sundo" has no equivalent in English; literally it refers to a person who fetches someone else from a place (eg, a nanny fetching a child from nursery school is a "sundo"). On the other hand, its abstract form, "kasunduan," refers to an agreement or contract. I guess there's usually some kind of prior agreement between the "sundo" and the person being fetched... Anyway, I used the image of waiting instead. :)

I scoured the world for so long
Just to look for you
Wandering through the district of your loneliness
I'll help you get up again

I'll come for you
I'll come

Believe me when I say that my love belongs to you from now on

Entrust your dreams to me
My love is endless
Give up your fears, release them completely
Have faith in me
Have faith

I'll come for you
I'll come

Believe me when I say that my love belongs to you from now on

I'm ready for your light
I scoured the whole world
I'll wait for you

Taning by Imago

San mapupulot ang pag-asa
may katuwiran ba ang sala
ngiti ko ang iyong galak
langit ko ang iyong kandungan

Permiso sa isang araw na makasama ka
abiso ng pusong bulag na humahanga

Tama bang aminin na nating may taning
tong pag-ibig natin
dakila man walang kasaysayang kakapit
sa bulag na pag-ibig

Sa’n hihingi ng patawad
kung walang dalang dahilan
tangis ko ang iyong pagluha
nais ko ang iyong kalayaan

Permiso sa isang araw na makasama ka
abiso ng pusong bulag na humahanga

Tama bang aminin na nating may taning
tong pag-ibig natin
dakila man walang kasaysayang kakapit
sa bulag na pag-ibig

Tama bang aminin na nating may taning
tong pag-ibig natin
dakila man walang kasaysayang kakapit
sa bulag na pag-ibig

Permiso sa isang araw na makasama ka
abiso ng pusong bulag na humahanga

tama bang aminin na nating may taning

Not Enough Time (English Translation by Tina)

Where can hope be found?
Is there justification for a crime?
Your happiness brings me joy
Heaven lies in your lap

Permission to be with you for one day
Advice from a heart that blindly admires you

Is it all right for us to admit
that someday our love will end?
No matter how great it is,
history will not honor
such blind love

Where will we ask for forgiveness
if we have no excuses?
Your tears bring me grief
I want you to be free

Permission to be with you for one day
Advice from a heart that blindly admires you

Is it all right for us to admit
that someday our love will end?
No matter how great it is,
history will not honor
such blind love

Permission to be with you for one day
Advice from a heart that blindly admires you

Is it all right for us to admit
that someday our love will end?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Excuse for Writing

[I'm currently in the Algorithms and Complexity lab, typing this out on one of the lab's computers. There's only me and Ate Jas, one of the graduate students. I'm a bit embarrassed - this is the first time I'm using one of the computers (and the free internet connection) for something that isn't related to my thesis, but I guess that will wear off after a while. :)]

This is my first semester taking a Creative Writing (CW) course that isn't a GE. Unlike CW 10, which can be credited as one of the Arts and Humanities GEs that everyone has to take fifteen or so units of, my current subject, CW 140, is an elective; the only students who take it are mostly from the College of Arts and Letters, where its home department is located. The first day I walked into the class I felt like an astronaut visiting an uncharted planet; I was already sure, even if I hadn't seen the class list, that I was the only Engineering student there. I felt inferior in some way, ill-equipped; all my classmates, especially the CW majors, had had their formal training. I, on the other hand, was a wannabe, a dreamer who had been waylaid from her desired path and was, in some small way, trying to make up for it. I had no clue what I was in for.

After a month of writing short personal essays with fluctuating quality in my free time, I find myself enjoying the exercises. Personal essays are quite similar to blog posts; the main difference between them, as far as I've come to understand, is the informality of the latter. Many blog posts are more akin to journal entries, with their air of intimacy and confidence. These posts can be about the most mundane of things; in general, blog posts are often not expected to be coherent, or to deliver a point. An essay, on the other hand, is well-structured and full of insights - the people who read it expect to come away with something: a bit of trivia, a vicarious experience, a new idea. Of course, a blog post can also be a personal essay; some of the better blogs out there are the ones we read because we want to find out about someone's experiences and views, not because we indulge in the minutiae of her life. While thinking about what to write for my exercises I often think of things that, if I weren't so lazy, I could probably post here. Which is kind of strange, when I think about it; if I like writing enough to take a CW elective, why don't I just write whenever I have time? Why the procrastination?

I can't definitively answer this question, but it seems that some writers share a similar quirk. I've read about published authors who love to put off the work involved in writing a novel; they do their chores, go grocery-shopping, take their families out to dinner, that kind of thing. As one author put it, writers like to have written - writing involves a lot of thinking, restructuring, analysis, editing, and so on, and the maddening rarity of inspiration can drive one to long bouts with frustration. One of the reasons why writing is called a craft is the discipline required to go through the repetitive, often fruitless motions of writing and rewriting; it has to be done regularly in order for one to acquire skill and technique, and one has to keep nourishing one's Muse with good literature, since writers are also the anonymous students of other authors. It's quite tempting to just wing it and write whenever inspiration strikes. I've been writing this way for years, and so far I have only slightly improved. Hence my signing up for English and CW classes, first the GEs that everyone takes, and now, with a little step-up of confidence, a CW elective. So far it's been great being told what to write and being given free advice. My main problem would be continuing to write once classes are over and I'm left on my own again.

Hmmm, maybe I should update this blog more often. There must be a million things that I can write about, and God knows I need the practice. :)

[It's already past 7 in the evening, and I'm the only one left in the lab. Ate Jas left about an hour ago. The corridors are awfully quiet... Have to go home now. XP]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Translator? Not!

I like translating Tagalog songs into English. My first translations were of Eraserheads songs, done way back in my first year of high school; they were pretty bad, mostly because they were literal, almost word-for-word translations. At the time I didn't know this popular dictum: if a translation is beautiful, it isn't faithful to the original, and vice versa. A purist at heart, I unconsciously chose the latter, and wound up with clumsy English lyrics that were devoid of the charm of the original Tagalog. That this was so didn't matter to me, or maybe I was unaware of what a bad job I did; I was quite proud of those translations.

Fast forward to my (hopefully) last year in university. Friday morning, my roommate and I are sitting on her bed, watching MTV. Moonstar88's Migraine comes on; my roommate reaches for the remote, saying that the video's been playing all summer. Chunky yellow handwriting flashes on the screen like the opening credits of a movie; the band's female vocalist, clad in a knee-length dress with red printed flowers, her face obscured by the black angular frame of her glasses, is sitting on a wooden bench under a tree next to a young man in a pastel blue dinner jacket and a red bow tie, probably another band member. A bus stops in front of them; the young man takes his boxy red suitcase and gets on, while the girl remains sitting on the bench and watches him with a pleading look in her eyes. It's one of those videos whose ending you already know the minute they start playing. I must have been feeling sentimental - I might have been thinking of a certain well-known person whose name I shall withhold for the time being - I may have just liked the campy costumes and setting. Whatever the exact reason, I convinced my roommate to leave the remote alone, and we sat through five somewhat surreal minutes of girl-tries-to-get-boy-to-notice-her. Something in the song struck a chord in me, and I decided that I wanted to translate it into English. I hunted for an mp3 of the song and a copy of the Tagalog lyrics as soon as I could go online, and eagerly set to work.

Below are the original Tagalog lyrics and the English translation that I wrote. I tried to stay as close to the original wording as I could, although I couldn't avoid putting in some edits and paraphrases here and there to make the flow of the translation smoother. I also took a few liberties with a metaphor or two whose meaning I wasn't clear about... I hope I didn't misunderstand the song. ^^;

Migraine by Moonstar88

Oo nga pala, hindi nga pala tayo
Hanggang dito lang ako, nangangarap na mapa-sayo
Hindi sinasadya
Hahanapin pa ang lugar ko
Asan nga ba ako? andiyan pa ba sa iyo?

Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? aasa ba ko sayo?

Nasusuka ako, kinakain na ang loob
Masakit na mga tuhod, kailangan bang lumuhod?
Gusto ko lang naman, yung totoo
Yung tipong ang sagot
Ay di rin isang tanong

Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? asan ba ko sayo?
Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? aasa ba ko sayo?

Dahil di na makatulog
Dahil di na makakain
Dahil di na makatawa
Dahil hindi na...

Oo nga pala, hindi nga pala tayo
Hanggang dito na lang ako

Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? asan ba ko sayo?
Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? Aasa ba ko sayo?

English translation by Tina

I keep forgetting that we're not together
All I can do is hope to be with you
Unconsciously looking for my place
Where am I now?
Am I still by your side?

You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
Should I put my faith in you?

My insides are churning, so much it makes me sick
My knees are hurting, must I kneel before you?
I just want to know the truth
The kind whose answer isn't another question

You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
Should I put my faith in you?

Because I can't sleep
Because I can't eat
Because I can't laugh
Because I can't...

I keep forgetting that we're not together
This is all I can do

You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
Should I put my faith in you?

You make me dizzy
You confuse my mind

By the way, this was two Fridays ago...I almost forgot to put this post up :) Thesis work officially begins tomorrow; we'll be given our topics if we haven't thought of any. I spent the whole week in the library, looking up books for all the lovely research work I'll be doing. I want to blog during my thesis, but I might wind up writing about theoretical computer science...I'm in the Algorithms and Complexity research lab :D What fun! XP

Monday, June 9, 2008


That's what I am now. An overstaying Computer Science senior with some leftover units that need to be completed. Not the least of which are the six units that comprise my one-year thesis; I have to make good and graduate soon. Though I love my university, I'm not the type to slack off and spend ten years finishing my degree. I've lived out my four years of tertiary education; I'll try to squeeze in as much fun as I can into this extra year, then bid my beloved university good-bye. One of the best things about UP is that it's openly accessible; there are no gates or clearly defined boundaries, only open roads and a lot of unrestrained flora. I'll always be able to drop by, maybe pretend to be a student with my then-old ID. Goodness, I'm already getting sentimental. XP

I might not have much time to blog in the coming months; I'll probably squeeze out a short paragraph or two like this one every so often. Wish me luck for my thesis year :)

Bookish Tag

I saw this great tag post for bookworms over at Sucharita's blog, and I was green all over with envy. The rules are simple: when tagged, you take the book you're currently reading, go to the fifth line on page 123, then post the succeeding three lines on your blog. I posted a comment about how I wished I could've been tagged, and Sucharita kindly obliged me. :) Thanks so much!

The story the following excerpt was taken from is about a self-supporting commune of deaf-mute people who have developed a radical new system of communication that relies entirely on touch, sometimes bordering on extrasensory perception. In the excerpt the narrator is watching them perform a communal activity; the final result is similar to the experience of a Christian choir after singing exhilarating praise songs, or of a pumped-up crowd after a rock concert.

From The Persistence of Vision by John Varley, included in The Locus Awards anthology:

"It was expanding in such a way that the distance between any of the individuals was the same. Like the expanding universe, where all galaxies move away from all others. Their arms were extended now; they were touching only with fingertips, in a crystal lattice arrangement."

By the way, technically I just finished reading the book a few hours ago, but since I haven't started reading a new book yet I decided it was all right to use it. Hope I didn't break the rules. :)

I tag the following bloggers:

1) Brat
2) J-Mo
3) Aleta
4) Ran out of people to tag... ^^;

Quirky Tag

This is my second tag post; I've got a third one coming up, so I hope you aren't tired of reading about tags :) This one's about unspectacular quirks; in my case, those little weird things I do that I seldom notice on a daily basis, and which took me several days to list down.

I'm feeling lazy so I'll just copy the rules from Brat, the guy who tagged me:

1. Link to the person(s) who tagged you

2. Mention these rules on your blog

3. List 6 unspectacular quirks of yours

4. Tag 6 bloggers by linking to them

5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged bloggers' blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

That said, here goes...

1) Some people like singing soundlessly to their favorite songs (airsinging); others prefer to strum invisible guitars, usually in imitation of a famous rock band member (airguitaring). I, on the other hand, like tapping out a tune with the tips of my fingers or my palms on any available flat surface, be it table-top or the skin of my thighs. I call this airbongoing. So far I haven't found anybody who shares this quirk...

2) When I'm in the middle of writing code for a machine problem, it's not uncommon for me to scold my computer every time I find a bug in my code. I know that most bugs result from human error, but their often unexpected appearances are vexing, especially after I've spent a lot of time carefully planning my code. It's pretty easy to blame the bearer of bad news, i.e. a screen spouting semi-incomprehensible compiler errors. Of course, my computer takes it all in stride, although I wish it could tell me what I'm doing wrong. But then that would take all the fun out of debugging, wouldn't it? XP

3) I have a habit of sharing my bed with books, photocopied readings, notebooks, sometimes a pencil case or two. They occupy about a third of my sleeping space, and I've learned to stay in the same part of the bed all night long. I only started doing this when I traded the comfortable rooms of a UP dormitory for the cramped confines of an on-campus boarding house; I've had a year to adjust, and I've even brought the habit home during the summer vacation. My mother finds it odd that I can sleep soundly next to hard-bound books, dictionaries, and old newspapers.

4) I love browsing through the school supply sections of book stores. There's something inexplicably exciting about the scent of new, unused paper, unsharpened pencils and uncreased cardboard book covers. Often I'm sorely tempted to buy myself a new notebook on a whim, or a new pen even if I already have too many. Most of the time I walk away with a sigh; maybe next time I'll have an excuse to buy something I don't need.

5) I usually have at least three things on my person that used to belong to my eldest brother. He's a generous guy, and he used to give me a lot of things he no longer needed; that was before he got married and moved away. The things he gave me serve practical purposes, and I find myself feeling incomplete when I leave the house without them. They are: a segmented stainless steel keychain that resembles a silver millipede in its ability to curl and undulate; a black garrison belt, the sole remainder of his college ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) uniform, and; a water-resistant digital watch with thick rubber straps. I've had them since my freshman year in college, and it's part of my routine to check if I have them before I leave. Sometimes I don't need to wear a belt, sometimes I wear a different watch (for a change), but I always remember them, especially now that my brother lives elsewhere. Soon there will be a new addition to the three "heirlooms"; my brother has promised to bequeath his old mp3 player after hearing that I've been planning to buy one for myself. I'm so excited. Of all his old possessions, it will probably be the one I treasure most.

6) I'm fond of cracking open peanuts, watermelon seeds and squash seeds for my mother. I don't like eating them; for some reason, every time I see my mother settling down on the couch with a bowl of seeds or nuts I want to crack them all open for her. I'm slow while I'm at it, and she says it takes the fun out of eating seeds if they have no shells to remove, but she's gotten used to me "helping" her. She holds out her palm every time I finish extracting the meat inside a seed, or the nuts inside a peanut pod. A little extra help doesn't hurt. :)

Yay, done! :D Before I proceed with my third (and hopefully last XP) tag post, I'll tag the following bloggers:

1) Lester
2) Emir
3) Rich
4) Helen
5) Jaymee
6) Can't think of anyone else, since I have to tag some more people after this... ^^;

Monday, May 26, 2008


The last weeks of Java Boot Camp have finally ended. The official training ended two weeks ago, but we extended for one more week to finish the first iteration of the library web application that we were designing. Three days ago I said good-bye to the other interns, all of whom are from La Salle. Their first trimester for the year starts today; I probably will never see them again, since I'm a UP student. Orange and Bronze has begun sponsoring a Computer Science elective at La Salle, and one of the interns is taking it; the others said they'll be sitting in. I'm just sad that I can't be with them as they soak up even more Java-related knowledge... It's so much easier to learn new things when you're learning them with friends. :)

It's been a little over a month, and I find it hard to believe that I don't have to go to work in a few hours' time (it's now almost two in the morning). Two of the other interns still have a few days' worth of internship hours to fill in before they can receive their certificates; they'll be spending this week working on revisions and fixes for the first iteration. I decided to give myself this one week of rest before enrollment for the first semester starts, since I started my internship the day after following up some requirements at the last minute for the previous semester. After all, I'm not getting any credit for this internship; I just didn't want to be bored the whole summer long. Internships at our department are taken as summer electives, and since I'd already used up all my electives I decided not to enroll it. (Not to mention the fact that, in case I didn't pass, it wouldn't show up in my transcript... :D) I had no clue what I was in for...but I have to admit, I was never so glad to fill in overtime hours. And it's not just because of the nice laptop and unlimited wifi access.

My head is still reeling after being repeatedly barraged with Java and OOP best practices. I appreciate all the effort our trainors put into our training, although I did slack off half of the time (and read manga online whenever the lectures were especially boring ^^;). I learned something completely new; not just web development using Java, but an entirely different mindset from what I'm used to. Although I did learn Java and a little OOP in my freshman year, I realized how little I understood either of them. It was difficult for me to grasp the concepts central to the design of the programming language and the paradigm behind the language. Now I've had the chance to put what I've learned to practice, with a real application that Orange and Bronze is planning to use. I could have done better, worked faster, been more supportive of my teammates, the list goes on. But there's no doubt that I spent these last weeks in the most productive manner possible, and right now I find the shift back to doing virtually nothing at home somewhat disconcerting. Perhaps part of the reason is the environment: at Orange and Bronze I can easily get into programming mode, and there are so many people to approach whenever I have questions or problems. Everyone is friendly, jokes around a lot, and the office is so comfortable, if a little cramped. And of course there's the work. I was challenged, and though I feel I didn't give my all I enjoyed myself. I'm the type of person who doesn't get motivated easily, especially if I have to motivate myself... Being around so many motivated people who love their work was a refreshing, if not enlightening, experience.

Now that I have to bum around for a week, I'm going to miss all of the Orange and Bronze people, as well as the other interns with whom I shared a month's worth of learning and laughter. If I sound cheesy, take it at face-value; I really do feel this way, and the feeling will linger over the next few days.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


The following is a collection of 10 random facts about me. If you've known me for a while, you might recognize some of the items below. :)

1) I guzzle water
My mouth goes dry every 20-30 minutes, so I always have a bottle of water with me wherever I go. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is head for the kitchen and pour myself a large glass of water. I can't function properly without a well-hydrated body (and brain), especially when I'm in front of a computer screen; there's something about writing programs that makes me awfully thirsty. I'm most uncomfortable when my mouth is dry. ^^;

2) When I was a child, I was afraid of the other children on my street
I wouldn't leave the house, even under threat of a spanking, if there were other children on the street. For some reason I couldn't stand to have them see me, hear me, or talk to me; I kept my head bowed and walked briskly whenever I absolutely had to pass by them. This is just weird, because I don't remember having this kind of problem with my classmates in preschool or during my first years of grade school. I guess I was just extremely shy.

3) In high school I grew my hair until it was long enough to reach my thighs
This was a phase that started with an idea I got from out of the blue: what would happen if I stopped getting a haircut? So I did. And my hair grew, and grew, and became such a whorl of tangles and split ends that my mother took it upon herself to brush, condition, and braid it every morning before school. By the time my hair spanned the length of my back my classmates would ask me to unbraid it and mess it up a little, because they said I looked like Sadako; this was to tease another classmate who had screamed her lungs out while watching the first Ring movie. I gave in once, and let my hair down; she didn't talk to me for the rest of the day.

4) I've been writing since I was a child
I was born with a head full of words. By the time I was seven I already had a sizable vocabulary, and I'd write letters to imaginary friends, transcripts of conversations, and a story or two. One time I wrote out a contract between my mother and me before we split up a chocolate bar; after we finished eating I decided that my share was smaller than hers, so I wrote a formal complaint letter (complete with a letterhead of my own design) and gave it to her. She still has that letter tucked away somewhere, along with copies of other things I've written over the years.

5) I learned how to speak English from TV
At least, that's what my mother told me. I could read and write fluently in English before I entered grade school, but my spoken English was something else: I had a faux American twang. When I was a kid I loved watching any kind of TV show that was in English. Most of these shows were from America, so maybe my mother was right. (If I had watched British shows, would I have gotten a British accent? :P) Over the years I've lost this fake accent; that might be a disadvantage if I ever decide to work in a call center. :P

6) I love stuffed toys and anime merchandise
I always stop by stores and stalls that sell stuffed toys in malls to ogle or pinch the toys. If it's an anime store, I might spend a few minutes squealing or jumping up and down whenever I see a plushie or poster of a character I like. This has been incredibly embarrassing to my friends, who start inching away from me whenever I chance upon a store with the aforementioned products. ^^;

7) I'm allergic to dust and bug bites
I get breakouts of angry red wheals when I'm exposed to dust, or ticks from stray animals. I always have a tube of steroidal cream with me to keep the inflammations from getting worse; sometimes the cream helps, sometimes I'm just unlucky :) Skin allergies run in my family; my brothers also have boxes of creams on their bedroom shelves, and leftover prescriptions from dermatologists. As you've probably guessed, my brothers and I hate cleaning the house, especially when there's a lot of dust involved.

8) Nothing short of a nuclear holocaust (or a machine problem deadline) can rob me of a good night's sleep
I sleep very, very well. I'm the sort of person who can sleep through an earthquake and wake up completely unaware of what went on. Once I've lost consciousness there's no convincing my body to wake up until it's finished resting. If I deprive my body of its daily dose of unconsciousness, it will get back at me by knocking me out for twelve hours or more the next time I fall asleep. It takes a lot of willpower for me to wake up early, and even more than that to stay up late when my eyelids are already drooping; this kind of urgency usually comes from machine problems. Thus machine problems and their ilk are the bane of my existence.

9) I over-analyze
I am the queen of obsessing over details. Do not get into a discussion with me about what kind of house Bilbo Baggins lived in, or how good the movie adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is; we'll probably spend the rest of the day arguing over minutiae. (As an aside, I prefer a book to its movie adaptation; I tend to assume automatically that the latter is inferior. So I'm not a good person to have around when watching a movie of this type, except for The Lord of the Rings trilogy ^^;) This also applies to conversations: I know it's wrong, but I can't help mulling over why someone says what he says. I can spend hours thinking through every possible reason and motivation, especially anything I might have said or done that could have merited that kind of response. I'm currently trying to curb this bad habit of mine :)

10) I can't live in a house without an English dictionary
My dictionary is my best friend; no book in my room, or my house, has been thumbed over or brought out almost every day by my eager fingers. I would freak out if I had to live someplace without a dictionary, or at least Internet access so I can visit dictionary.com. An electronic dictionary would be a dream come true... *.*

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Java Boot Camp

My summer on-the-job training (OJT) at Orange and Bronze consists of lectures, programming exercises and two machine problems; the training program focuses on object-oriented software design, with Java as the target language. Training starts at 9am and ends at 6pm at the earliest, Mondays through Fridays. I've got my entire summer covered. ~.~ Although I didn't enrol this OJT as an elective - I'd already gotten all the electives I need this past semester - I still feel like I'm taking a summer class. We even have machine problems. Good grief. XP Wish me luck.

Yesterday I was wearing my programmer's dunce cap throughout the session. I came in forty minutes late (my bad ^^) and found I only had fifteen minutes to answer a 25-point quiz about the lectures the day before. I sat down, uncapped the ballpoint pen provided on my desk and started scribbling on the quiz paper. I was thinking, this is ok, I studied last night so I remember the concepts. I answered the questions fairly quickly, and felt pretty confident about all my answers; however, in the pit of my stomach I knew I had had that same feeling of confidence during mediocre exams/quizzes/exercises in the past. I guess I'll find out how well (ie, poorly) I did on Monday.

During the group exercises we were asked to draw UML and sequence diagrams. I know the regular UML diagrams; we used them just last semester. The sequence diagrams, on the other hand, blew my mind. I must have been particularly scatterbrained yesterday, 'cause sequence diagrams are supposed to be straightforward. They outline the sequence of events during a program's execution; each method call is represented by a corresponding arrow from the method's parent object to the object it interacts with. We did the exercises by group; I was grouped with the newly hired employees, who had to undergo training before they could start working with the other developers. Coincidentally all three of us are from UPD, whereas the others were from La Salle. By far, our group had the most hang-ups. One of my groupmates forgot to save her files and had to redo all her work, thus forcing us to wait for all the other groups to finish presenting their diagrams. My other groupmate and I spent too much time discussing our own diagrams, since we had to use the same classes; by the time I began working on my sequence diagram the other groups were already presenting theirs. To cap it all off, my sequence diagram was the worst; it was largely incomplete, since I didn't account for the entire sequence of executed actions. My presentation got the most sympathetic looks from the developers who had dropped in to watch us. ~.~ I singlehandedly brought shame upon my department (Computer Science, no less) and my university. Gah. T_T I guess I was lucky that the other trainees were already bored when it was my turn to present, and didn't pay any attention to me at all.

I hope I can redeem myself (and my department XP) in future exercises, especially during the machine problems. I've just emailed the assigned exercises; they worked just fine when I tested them. Let's hope they still work fine when they reach the facilitator's inbox. XP

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I scrounged up some old things I wrote back in high school. A couple of them seemed decent enough to put up here, so here they are. :)

* * *

Eulogy for my second hamster; also an assignment for English (6-22-02)


"He's dead!"

At first, I couldn't believe my ears. My mother was holding Sean up by the scruff of his neck. His little body was limp, unmoving. I hoped that he would move, even just twitch - anything to prove that my mother was wrong.

He remained still as a tiny statue.

Sean was my second hamster. He was a normal-sized one, larger than my first hamster Clint, who was a teddy-bear hamster. His fur was yellow with a hint of orange; not quite gold, more of a bright orange. It was long and fuzzy, although during the latter part of his life it had started to thin out, a sign of old age. Despite the "bald" spot on his back, I still enjoyed stroking him when I came home from school. He never seemed to mind.

My mother had placed him outside the cage to keep him from the other hamster, Ken. She said that he was still soft and warm; he had probably just died. I didn't want to see him lying there, stiff, his eyes closed. I was crying before I could stop myself. I knew that he was already old - hamsters have lifespans of around one to three years, and he had just celebrated his first "birthday" a few days before that - but his death was still a shock, for I hadn't thought that he would go so soon. I wanted to stroke his soft fur one last time, but I couldn't make myself do it. He seemed so different, when his life had already ebbed away from his body.

An hour or so had passed before I could strike up enough courage to hold him. At that time rigor mortis had already set in, and he was hard as a rock. So different from the usually soft and warm Sean whom I always stroked in the evenings after school. The difference startled me so much that I almost dropped him when I placed him back on the table. The touch of death had changed him, morphed him into an unmoving, unfeeling chunk of hardened flesh. After that I no longer looked at him until my father had taken him, placed him inside a little plastic bag and disposed of him outside. Sean was no more.

* * *

Something I wrote in class when I was really bored; pardon the existentialism ^^; (1-23-03)

Student's Mantra

Sit down in class and perk your ears,
Listen to vacuous words floating in mid-air,
just missing their targets by half a thought.
Get pen and paper and write them down,
Fold a day's worth of information and put it in your pocket.
Stare at the exam paper sitting quietly beneath your nose,
Read over and over again instructions typed by weary fingers.
Wrack your brain for answers long forgotten
To questions whose importance remains dubious and unrecognized.
Work. Toil endlessly without fail, needlessly.
Devour countless books, ingest all information.
Use it to pass tests and get your diploma.
Go to college, sacrifice all pleasure and experience.
Get your degree and acquire a high-paying job,
Indulge in your career, in its mundane pointlessness.
Be slave to your family, slaving for money
The true backbone of your existence.
Face problems whose solutions you didn't find in class.
Receive burdens your forefathers handed down to you.
Aspire to become the most learned, the most lettered
Corpse in your graveyard.

[In retrospect, this poem is awfully bitter. Goodness, what was I so riled about? XP ahahaha]

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Small Things

The linen-white color of nails after a bath at the end of the day, when exams are over and fresh clothes have been laid out on the bed.

Bring offered a seat by a good-looking guy on the bus from Taft Avenue to Baclaran, and again by a better-looking guy on the bus from Baclaran to Casimiro.

Bathing with lemon soap that fills the bathroom with the smell of honey-lemon Halls.

A message from a friend whose advice is simple: get up, move on, forget.

A shared glance with the boy I pined for not so long ago; he still wears his hair long and wavy, still sports the same trimmed goatee, and goes to class in a T-shirt, shorts, and rugged rubber slippers.

Finding a can of tuna chunks in vegetable oil in a kitchen cabinet when I wake up in the middle of the night with a grumbling stomach and no memory of eating dinner.

A pink tongue licking my hand, a wet nose inspecting my clothes, furry ears waiting to be scratched and dirty paws leaning on my legs, craving acknowledgement.

Reading the blogs of friends and acquaintances, catching up with lives already heading in opposite directions, and sharing snippets of conversation that are anywhere from hours to days in between.

An old photo of my brother and his wife before they were married above the TV in my room, which used to be his; their faces are two halves of the same moon, one white, the other black, smiles identical, wide and bright.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


He even has his own prayer rug. :) Lines for a poem come to my mind, but I'm hesitant to write them down...well, maybe later. :D

Monday, March 24, 2008

My final creative work (for CW10! :D)

[author's note: this story/sketch/whatever it is counts as a collection of half-truths. next time you guys will have to guess whether what i write is half-truth, or pure fiction ^_^ and the occasional pure truth, nyahahaha]


The private school I attended from nursery to grade 6 believed in modernization. During my stay there a new playground, gym, quadrangle, parking lot, basketball court and library were built, one after another. Old buildings were given new occupants and functions each time a new, and often bigger, building was completed. At the time I didn't pay much attention to the incremental changes in the school's image; like everyone else I was excited whenever another construction project was begun in some undeveloped portion of the campus. The school went through a lot of phases as it gradually built up its reputation and its real estate; few things remained the same while I was there. One of them was Mang Digoy.

I first saw him in grade 2, right after the playground and waiting area were built next to the parking lot. He was in charge of opening the gate between the waiting area and the campus before the flag ceremony; at his signal the elementary students waiting outside the gate would form four lines and march into the campus. His voice rasped whenever he yelled at us to be quiet and stay in line; his misaligned teeth were stained yellow with nicotine. He was short and tightly built, with sun-blackened skin and eyes that bulged a little. Many of us were afraid of him because he reported directly to Miss Ruby, the elementary level head; one word from him would send an offender straight to her. The boys especially were careful not to bump into him while he patrolled the campus, splintered nightstick in one gnarled fist. One boy had the misfortune of literally running into Mang Digoy while playing at recess. Mang Digoy's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets with fury; he grabbed that boy by the arm and hauled him over to the guidance office, without bothering to consult Miss Ruby. Apparently he promised never to run around again, because for a long time afterward he seldom joined the games at recess. Learning from his example, the rest of us made sure to keep a lookout for Mang Digoy whenever we played games.

Mang Digoy was the first and last person inside the campus. He was there before 6 every morning, and remained even after all the janitors and maintenance men had packed up and gone home. When he wasn't patrolling the campus, he directed traffic by the school entrance, or did routine maintenance jobs like replacing burnt-out light bulbs and electric fans that didn't work. He even swept the grounds when he had time. The way he looked after the campus it was as if it were his own home, and we the transients who came and went with the academic years. Sometimes, in between mouthfuls of crackers and sandwiches, my classmates and I would gossip about whether or not Mang Digoy had a wife and children to go home to. He wore no wedding ring, and none of us dared to ask him about his family. We usually came to the conclusion that Aga was his only family. Aga was the stray dog who lived off people's lunch scraps and slept inside the campus. During his lunch break Mang Digoy went looking for Aga with a large, empty can containing the remains of his meal. Taking care of Aga was one of the few comforts that Mang Digoy (and, apparently, the school's administration) seemed to allow himself, along with his unofficial uniform; he came to work in a white collared shirt, a brown vest with rows of pockets, and denims torn at the knees. In retrospect, he might have been putting away a fraction of his paycheck for his retirement, or sending money to a family in his home province. The thought never entered our heads; having Mang Digoy around the school 24/7 was as natural as the cycle of the academic year, summer vacation in April, resumption of classes in June. Though the buildings and facilities came and went, he was always there, just growing a little fatter, a little slower, every year.

In my last year as an elementary student, the administration decided to hold an employee award ceremony. It was a simple affair; the students would gather at the newly constructed quadrangle after class, and the employees to be awarded would be called onto the stage and given gift baskets of fruits and canned goods. When the teachers announced that collections would be held for the ceremony, all of us had the same thought in our heads. Mang Digoy would win. There was no question of his loyalty to the school; he had become like the statue of the school's patron saint in the chapel. Chipped and weather-worn, but still very much a part of the school's identity. When they called his name (many of us were surprised when we heard it) he climbed up the side of the stage slowly, as if each step of his tattered sneakers stood for a year of his life spent inside the campus. He accepted his gift with a shy smile that none of us had ever seen, or imagined. It was the smile of a content man with no regrets.

I left that school after graduation. I went to a public science high school in Manila, whose virtually nonexistent tuition fees attracted my parents after nine years of annually increasing investments in my education. I seldom visited my old school; like my elementary uniform, I had put away my memories of the place as a part of my past, and I didn't leave many friends to visit there, either. One friend kept me updated throughout high school with stories of more new gyms, renovated parking lots, and bigger buildings. I listened to her patiently and agreed that the school was getting better, one way or another.

Once I visited her during the summer. She lived in a subdivision a few blocks away from our old school. That day the high school students' grades were being released; we decided to meet at the school, so I could tag along and see how much it had changed. When I arrived ahead of her, it took me a while to recognize the school I had spent my childhood in. The entrance had been converted into a wide concrete alcove with painted grill windows and a gate in the middle for pedestrians. The uniformed security guard standing behind the gate wouldn't let me in; he said he wasn't allowed to admit anyone without the school's ID. I scanned the parking lots through the windows. Mang Digoy was nowhere to be found.

Later, my friend told me that Mang Digoy had been run over by a car in front of the school a year before. She didn't know the name of the security guard who had replaced Mang Digoy; in fact, the school had changed security guards several times since Mang Digoy passed away. Along with the elementary building and the playground, everything I had known had either been renovated or demolished, with something new and completely alien in its place. I couldn't imagine myself as a child in my old uniform, running around on the school's grounds. For one thing, there was no Mang Digoy to watch out for.

After that, I didn't visit my old school again.

* * *

This is the revised version of the story, so I don't know if it's any better than the first draft. ^^; It has changed a lot, though.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Poem :) wish it were mine, hehe

Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Ernest Kroll)

The leaves are falling, falling down the air
As though the gardens of the heavens withered;
Falling all with gestures of despair.

And in the night the heavy earth is falling
Past all the stars, down, down to loneliness.

We are all falling. This hand falls through
The loneliness with other things, now falling too.

Yet there is one who holds this falling
Gently in his hands, with endless gentleness.

* * *

Such eloquence is maddening; this is why I both loathe and adore poetry. Seriously, this man said everything I could ever think of saying about loss, loneliness and hope in less than ten lines, and he even said it in a way that burned the words and images in my mind for years to come. The burden of a writer: to be no less than an artist. Really, I can't compare myself with such professionals. ;_;

By the way, I hope it's perfectly legal to post this poem here...I'm not yet sure if it's already in the public domain, hehe. ^_^;;


What does one do when one is plagued by regrets, self-doubt, disappointment and rejection?

Make a careful incision in one's heart and slowly let the painful memories seep out, like poison from a snake bite.

The past is gone forever, graven in stone, immovable. One cannot live in continuous sorrow over mistakes come and gone; one still has the rest of one's life to live, with future joys and trials yet to face. One is given the challenge of picking oneself up and shaking off the dust from one's shoes; one cannot throw away the promise of happiness that lies ahead.

One is blessed to find that one is not alone while one bleeds. One is blessed to be surrounded by those who love while one's wounds gradually heal; the scars left are badges of victory and courage.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Moving On

I've been single for almost two months now. I'm still hurting - I've been through a lot of denial and disappointment. It took me a while to accept that my former relationship is over; the final straw was when I learned that I've already been replaced by another girl. Ok, this is it, I thought. There is absolutely nothing else to do but to turn around and start moving in the opposite direction.

I've discovered that my world is very, very small. Though my ex and I never became very close, he was always the first person whom I told about my day. I have few friends, and even fewer confidantes; when he left I lost one of my trusted friends. I was devastated, but I've begun to heal. The break up helped me realize a few things about myself and my life up to this point:

  • I have not been happy with myself and what I've accomplished; my lack of confidence has kept me from going after my dream of becoming a published writer, and I became dependent on my former relationship for personal fulfillment;
  • I am surrounded by wonderful people, especially my roommates at the boarding house who listened to me and comforted me whenever I was depressed about the break up and needed a sympathetic ear;
  • my mother has always known me best; though she had made me promise years ago not to have any relationships, when I finally confessed my troubles to her she received me with the love and compassion that only a mother can give; and,
  • I must be happy with myself and what I do before I can share that happiness with another person, and in order for a relationship to work the two people involved must have a genuine understanding of one another and be comfortable with one another no matter what.
I have resolved to live a fuller, happier life. I will put the pain behind me and actively pursue my dreams. I'll go out and make new friends; I'll expand my world. Then, when I have found myself and become content with who I am, I will be ready to meet the one with whom I can share my happiness.

Wish me luck :) (Sorry for the cheese, but writing this has helped me immensely. The pain continues to throb, but I can bear it. Hooray for me :D)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blog Noob


I've always kept most of my thoughts to myself. Most of the time I just write them down in a journal, and of course I don't let anyone read what I've written. So why am I here, on the second floor of a computer shop, minutes away from closing time?

Just for a change of pace, maybe. :) Apart from the pestering of a handful (well, less than a handful) of friends, I decided to give this whole blogging thing a try. I use my journal as a dumping ground for story ideas and character sketches; sometimes, when I decide that my life isn't that boring, I try to write about what happened to me during the day. It's good practice for an aspiring writer, but after years of just keeping the contents of my journal to myself, I figured I need to get some input. Hence the title of this blog, Half Truths and Fictions. Future posts will probably be about things, people, and places I've seen - anything I can write about that, after some tweaking, might catch somebody's interest (and hopefully get him/her to comment on my writing :) ).

Well, here goes.