Thursday, November 16, 2023

Ode to the Cat by Pablo Neruda

The animals were imperfect,


unfortunate in their heads.

Little by little they

put themselves together,

making themselves a landscape,

acquiring spots, grace, flight.

The cat,

only the cat

appeared complete and proud:

he was born completely finished,

walking alone and knowing what he wanted.

Man wants to be fish or fowl,

the snake would like to have wings

the dog is a disoriented lion,

the engineer would like to be a poet,

the fly studies to be a swift,

the poet tries to imitate the fly,

but the cat

only wants to be a cat

and any cat is a cat

from his whiskers to his tail,

from his hopeful vision of a rat

to the real thing,

from the night to his golden eyes.

There is no unity

like him,

the moon and the flower

do not have such context:

he is just one thing

like the sun or the topaz,

and the elastic line of his contours

is firm and subtle like

the line of a ship's prow.

His yellow eyes

have just one


to coin the gold of night time.

Oh little

emperor without a sphere of influence

conqueror without a country,

smallest living-room tiger, nuptial

sultan of the sky,

of the erotic roof-tiles,

the wind of love

in the storm

you claim

when you pass

and place

four delicate feet

on the ground,



all that is terrestrial,

because everything

is too unclean

for the immaculate foot of the cat.

Oh independent wild beast

of the house


vestige of the night,

lazy, gymnastic

and alien,

very deep cat,

secret policeman

of bedrooms,


of a

disappeared velvet,

surely there is no


in your manner,

perhaps you are not a mystery,

everyone knows of you

and you belong

to the least mysterious inhabitant,

perhaps everyone believes it,

everyone believes himself the owner,



of a cat,




or friend

of his cat.

Not me.

I do not subscribe.

I do not know the cat.

I know it all, life and its archipelago,

the sea and the incalculable city,


the gyneceum and its frenzies,

the plus and the minus of mathematics,

the volcanic frauds of the world,

the unreal shell of the crocodile,

the unknown kindness of the fireman,

the blue atavism of the priest,

but I cannot decipher a cat.

My reason slips on his indifference,

his eyes have golden numbers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Gamay’ng Pagpatin-aw Kung Unsa Gyud ang Hinungdan Aning Israel-Palestine Conflict

100 years ago, ang foreign secretary sa Britain nagpadala og suwat sa head sa British-Jewish community. Gi-declare didto sa letter nga mag establish og “national home for the Jewish people”  -- gitawag ang letter nga the “Balfour Declaration.”

Kato nga letter -- mubo ra, 67 words -- nag declare nga tagaan og settlement ang mga Jewish people. Problematic to nga letter kay essentially, someone from a European superpower -- Great Britain -- nag promise nga tagaan ang Zionist movement og ilang kaugalingon nga country. A country made up of 90 percent Palestinian Arab natives.

So naghimo og mandate ang British government nga nag-facilitate og mass Jewish immigration -- kasagaran sa mga Jewish immigrants taga Europe nga ganahan mu-eskapo from Nazi rule. Naturally, katong mga native Palestinians kay na-alarm sila kay kalit lang nausab ang demographics sa ilang nasud, ug daghan gi-confiscate nga mga yuta ang British aron himuong Jewish settlements.

Natural, ni-escalate na ang tensions. So ni-result ni sa Arab Revolt from 1936-1939. Ang pinaka major nga resulta aning Arab Revolt was to withhold tax payments and boycott Jewish products, protesta against British colonialism and uncontrolled Jewish immigration. Syempre gi-repress sa Britain ang revolt -- apil na ani ang arrest campaigns ug home demolitions. Mga butang nga gi-implement gihapon sa Israel against Palestinians to this very day.

So in those three years of Arab Revolt, alkansi gyud ang Palestinians. Britain-backed ang mga Jewish settlers. Aside sa home demolitions, daghan gipang bombahan nga Palestinian villages. Sa tulo ka tuig ato nga protesta, 5,000 ka Palestinians ang namatay, almost 6,000 kay na-preso.

After ana, nisulod na ang United Nations. Eventually ang Jewish immigrants ni-balloon to 33 percent by 1947, but 6 percent ra ilang gi-occupy nga land. Ni-decide ang UN nga mu-adopt og resolution, “Resolution 181,” nga mu-divide sa Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. Nipalag ang Palestine, naturally, kay katong Resolution 181 55 percent ang ilang ihatag as Jewish state -- including ang coastal regions, which are important pieces of land.

Didto na nagsugod 100 percent ang pag-empower sa Zionist movement. Nakuha nila ang 78 percent of “historic Palestine,” which was originally Arab lands. An estimated 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes, unya pag May 1948, gi-announce na sa Israel ang ilang establishment sa ilang nasud. A day after sa ilang pag-announce, nagsugod na ang Arab-Israeli war.

Kasagaran sa mga Palestinians nihawa nalang sa ilang nasud, naturally. Almost 200,000 Palestinians nga nagpabilin sa “Israel,” they had to live like second-class citizens in their own land.

Ang Hamas offshoot na sya sa mga resistant movements against Israel occupation. In 1993, with the signing of the Oslo Accords, ug formation sa Palestinian Authority, gi-grantan og interim government ang Palestinian people sa West Bank and Gaza strip -- pero limited self-rule lang gihapon. Imagine, original settler ka sa imong kaugalingon nga nasud, pero nahimo na nuon kang second-class citizen.

Precarious na gani in the first place tong Palestinian Authority nga “government,” gi-reoccupy pa hinuon sa Israel ang ubang parts sa Gaza ug West Bank. In 2007 nag-impose ang Israel government og land, air, and sea blockades sa Gaza strip. Didto pod nila gi-label ang Hamas nga terrorist organization.

Let’s make one thing clear: naa pod baya mga Israelis nga dili uyon anang Zionism. Before pa atong attack sa Hamas kay daghan nila nisupak anang expansion sa West Bank. Ang ilang kahadlokan, nga makasamot sa conflict. 

Daghan pod mga Jews ron sa lain-laing nasud nga nisupak aning gibuhat sa Israel. Ang ilang point kay naka experience sila’g oppression from the Nazis before, karon kay sila na hinuon ang nahimong oppressors. Which is ironic.

Para nako kaning Hamas has parallels to the New People’s Army (NPA) pag Martial Law. Ingon si Marcos ang biggest problem kuno ang NPA, ang mga communists. Of course not; I beg to differ. Ang biggest problem was Martial Law itself. Tungod sa repression, sa kalisud sa kinabuhi, ang biggest recruiter ato sa NPA  were not the communists. Ang biggest recruiter, ironically, was Marcos himself -- although indirectly.  Nanaka og bukid ang mga aktibista to take up arms to fight Martial Law. Ang Edsa revolution, culmination nalang to sa years and years of hardship and struggle by the left. Nibuto nalang to pagka assassinate kang Ninoy. I would argue that ang biggest recruiter sa Hamas kay ang occupation of Palestine by the imperialistic Zionist movement, and pag-displace nila sa mga original Palestinians from their own lands.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Grow Up, Get Paid

I swiped this image off someone else's post on Facebook.

The gist: most of the time we can't really make money off our passions.

I used to write fiction when I was a kid. It started in sixth grade, all the way through high school, and sporadically in college. I even joined the Palanca Awards once, submitted a short story. But I knew early on that I couldn't make money writing fiction. After dabbling for a couple of years as a journalist -- which, at the very least, paid more than fiction but still not much -- I "sold out" and became a copywriter.

Almost 20 years later I'm still "selling out." But at least I'm still writing for a living. At least I can actually earn a living doing my thing.

I still love fiction, although now I enjoy it by reading stories, not by writing them. Who knows? Maybe I'll start writing short stories again -- just for fun. Maybe I can even post them in this blog.

Sometimes you discover that what you really want to be when you grow up is get paid.

Monday, October 23, 2023

The Border Vampire

A long time ago, just at the border between Mexico and the United States, there was a vampire. People were afraid of crossing the border because this bloodthirsty vampire of unknown nationality would jump on people as they crossed and did naughty things to them!

Anyway, in Mexico there was this family. The wife was sick and about to die, and the father-in-law and mother-in-law begged the husband to cross the border because the medicine they needed could only be found in the US.

The husband would not go; he was afraid of the vampire. He was afraid the fiend would do naughty things to him! But one day his best friend came to visit him and told him, "What are you so afraid of, compadre? Listen, I'll teach you a powerful spell in Spanish that will send the vampire away. When the vampire assaults you, say it out loud so that he can hear it and fear it. It goes like this:

 "Vampiro fronterizo que por las noches volaras

"a pesar de tus hechizos mis nalgas no las tendrĂ¡s"

 [Roughly translated, to keep the rhyme]:

"Border vampire, at night many victims you will have,

"but even with your spells, my butt you will not grab!"

 Armed with the Spanish spell, the man went on his way and started crossing the border. Slowly... slowly... when suddenly the nefarious border vampire appeared, moving closer and closer! Quickly, the man shouted the Spanish spell:

 "Vampiro fronterizo que por las noches volaras

"a pesar de tus hechizos mis nalgas no las tendrĂ¡s" 

"Border Vampire, at night many victims you will have,

"but even with your spells, my butt you will not grab!"

After hearing the spell, the vampire kept moving closer and closer... and closer. And even though he advanced with evil, naughty intentions, he looked at the man in a puzzled way and blurted out in English, "What??"

[The vampire was no longer of unknown nationality. Obviously, the vampire was a Gringo. What do you call someone who can only speak one language? American.]

- The End -

Friday, October 20, 2023

Missing Family

It's been five days since I got back to Mexico City from a three-week stay in Minneapolis to visit my sister and her family.

I have to say I already miss the talks and walks I had with my sister, playing with my two nephews, and the drinking sessions with my brother-in-law.

But such is life. We all need to go back to the place we call home -- wherever that place is.

It's been a little less than seven years since I made the big decision to depart the Philippines for good and live with my wife (then my girlfriend) here in Mexico City. It's been great -- don't get me wrong. Mexicans are warm and friendly (like Filipinos), Mexico is a beautiful country, and it has been fun (okay -- sometimes painful) learning Spanish.  

Living here in North America, however, makes it difficult to visit the Philippines regularly -- the biggest problem, obviously, is the expensive plane tickets. And it hasn't helped that this so-called revenge travel has jacked up the price of flights. 

Which is why I'm thankful that my sister and her family live relatively close to me. Needless to say, visiting them in the United States is a lot easier and cheaper than going home to the Philippines. Still, I wish I could visit them more often, but then I don't have a bottomless pocket, and I can't stay away from work all the time.

As my sister wrote in a caption to a Facebook post where she uploaded a photo of the two of us outside their home in Minneapolis, a picture beautifully snapped by my talented seven-year-old nephew who also has a knack for origami and illustration:

Goodbyes are hard.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Criticizing Israel Is Not Anti-Semitism

Let's be clear: calling out Israel on its version of apartheid against Palestine is not anti-Semitism. Land seizure, home demolitions, and forced evictions are crimes against humanity, and the Israel government's system of oppression and domination imposed on the Palestinian people through Israeli laws, policies, and practices should be rightfully condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Since time immemorial, the Israeli government has weaponized this anti-Semitism rhetoric against critics of the Israel invasion of Palestine. It's high time this false narrative is turned on its head.