August 21, 1983

“I have weighed all the virtues and faults of the Filipinos, and I have come to the conclusion that the Filipino is worth dying for.” — Benigno Aquino Jr (November 27, 1932 – August 21, 1983)

I remember it was a sunny and sleepy Sunday. The TV was on, as it always was when the whole family was home. I remember we just had lunch and I think my dad was reading, a tall Nescafe glass of instant black coffee nearby. I don’t remember what I was doing or what any of my brothers were doing. I do remember the breaking news, about Ninoy getting shot, not so much because of who he was, but because my dad sat up, told me to hush up. I remember he said, “Naloko na,” as we watched the news. I remember my mom was suddenly in the room, and both of them staring wide-eyed and riveted at the TV, shocked. I remember one of them said, “Hala, pinatay nila si Ninoy” [“They killed Ninoy”]. It must’ve been my mom. I remember asking who Ninoy was. I remember the grainy TV footage, a man in white going down the tarmac, I remember he stumbled, then toppled over. That was the first I’ve seen a real person getting shot on TV. I remember that everything seemed to be at a standstill. And suddenly quiet, as if everyone was holding their breath. It was an ordinary day. But Ninoy died and nothing was the same after. Change was in the air.

These words are beautiful

I deal in words every day — I’m a writer, after all. But there’s just something about Japanese that perfectly explains feelings we have a hard time with in English. Here are a few that I found beautiful:

Continue reading These words are beautiful

Into the deep end

Creatures from the Black Lagoon? Hmmm… these could be cousins. Meet our fascinating deep sea denizens in The Deep: Illuminating the Mysteries of the Deep Sea

The Deep 21

(above) One of over 40 specimens displayed, this is a Flapjack devilfish, a finned octopus that lives near the bottom of the sea floor. When they are caught, the muscles of the octopus retract, giving them their characteristic flat pancake shape

We had the chance to catch this fascinating exhibit at the ArtScience Museum last June. The whole exhibit is like a sci-fi movie come to life, if the sci-fi movie in question involves strange life forms. The creatures here are what are known as abyssal (from abyss)  because, well, they live deep below the sea, deeper than most divers venture. Looking at them brought home to me the realization that we still know so little about life in our seas, despite the fact that we’ve sent many manned expeditions to the moon, have gone exploring farther into our solar system that we’re now saying hello to Pluto, and have made inroads into technology that we can communicate with anyone in the world at the push of a few buttons. As these pictures show, our seas are still uncharted territory for the most part. They’re our version of terra incognita. Enjoy the images!

Continue reading Into the deep end

What’s the collective noun for books?

A collection? A shelf? A library? How about a discussion or a storytelling or a chapter or a paragraph? Whatever it is, I read a lot of books the past six months. Did I mention this is a (loooong) book post?

Ready for their closeup. The books I’ve read the past six months; not included are the two I wasn’t able to finish. The funky wooden busts styled with them are from Bali

Over the years, right around April or May I used to take stock of what I’ve read for the past months. And the list would invariably show up somewhere — back in the day, it was in journals and then more recently in various social media, albeit in a more haphazard fashion. I don’t know why I do it really, maybe because I wanted to have a record of what I read and also because April and May evoked school vacations in the Philippines, a time when I could just curl up with a good book in the middle of a hot afternoon instead of taking a siesta (afternoon nap) as my parents wanted us kids to do (to make us grow tall, they said). Now of course, I am more likely going to choose the siesta than read a book, because I’m old(er). :)

But at the start of this year, I told myself I would jot down each book I read as I started it just so I have a record of my reading diet — you are what you eat or read, am I right or am I right? I wrote down the titles in my desk diary — literally, an actual diary on my office desk. I am not so particular that I wrote down the title on the actual day I started reading it. I basically scribbled on those blank spaces allotted for each week/month for the diarist to write down whatever existential thought or musing he or she has. I chose to write down what I read.

The results were interesting:

  • 23 books read, 2 unfinished; so 21 books actually read cover to cover.
  • 8 = most number of books started in a month (March). Note that I said “started” because I wrote down the titles as I started reading, but did not really write down when I finished the books. But given that I usually — not always though — pick up a book when I’m done with one, it’s safe to assume that I did finish all eight books in March. Even for me — a fast reader (D says I don’t take the time to savor the books and devour them like fast food, a claim I wholeheartedly deny) — this was, er, impressive… and a bit frightening.
  • 1, unfinished = least number of books read in a month (April). What was I doing in April?? A quick glance at my diary revealed that I was drowning in work that month, apparently.
  • Genres covered: They run the gamut, from historical romance, to thrillers, to a memoir. Was tempted to enumerate the books per genre, but after attempting to classify several of them, I ended up confusing myself and stopped. Let’s just say that many of them can be classified under different categories and I will never be a competent librarian, haha!

So what have I been reading? Here’s a list (as they appeared in my diary) and capsule reviews:

Continue reading What’s the collective noun for books?

The benefits of reading

This isn’t why I love to read — I read because it relaxes me, it’s pleasurable and allows me to travel to different worlds and realities. But it’s great that there are actually health benefits to one of my favorite activities. :)

[infographic borrowed from this link: The Benefits of Reading]

[UPDATED] Monday blues

… in which I log out of this blog and when I sign back in, my header image and front page menu have changed! I tried fixing it but nothing’s happening. So I decided to change the theme, thinking that’ll fix the issue, but still no go. Sigh. This isn’t earth-shattering in the great scheme of things, but it’s not helping my stress levels. I think I will go ask WordPress what’s what.

In the meantime, please bear with the changes. Will try to figure out what’s wrong with the site. In the meantime, do you like the new theme? I’m undecided. It looks too boxy to me. What do you think?

[UPDATE] Well, it looks like everything’s right with the world again. WordPress said that it was a system error and fixed the problem right away. But my forum post generated a lot of responses. It seems like that there was a lot of folks affected by the error. Like I said, it was not really a big issue in the great scheme of things, but why did it feel like it was? The influence of tech and social media into our lives is growing apace, it seems. Anyway, all’s well that ends well.

I also changed the theme so it’s neater and I don’t have to fuss about header images. What do you think of the new look?

While we’re on the subject of cycling….

…. here’s a useful link — Bicycling’s 50 Golden Rules. I’m a newbie, so it’s all I can do to remember the basic stuff. But yes, I need to keep all these in mind!

(image above: One of the deserted spots in Sentosa where we like to go cycling. The bike in the photo is Beast, D’s Specialized Stump Jumper mountain bike, so called because he is scary — to me anyway)