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Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Archive for December, 2011


Foolish Forecasts for 2012! 0

Posted on December 31, 2011 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated January 01, 2012 12:00

This manghuhula never learns. My predictive accuracy last year was dismal, although I did get one thing correct: “Everyone alive will be a year older, blink their eyes, inhale, exhale and eat. All these will cause ecological impact.” It’s that time of year when the right combination of forces makes foretelling attractive, perhaps even inevitable. As we bid the old year adieu and the New Year enters, and as I stare at the third bottle of beer I have consumed in an hour, I am moved to go out on a limb and risk being way wrong, ridiculous or even crazy for all these things I am about to reveal to you, dear reader.

And so, in the spirit of the New Year’s revelry where we are allowed to wipe away all traces of the past year and start with a clean slate, I boldly present my new, fresh predictions for 2012. But I do so with a caveat. If they happen, I take full credit for them. If they don’t, then I will simply say that the beer made me do it!

1. Fed up with traffic, angry motorists in Metro Manila will stage an Occupy EDSA and C5 but will immediately realize they’ve already been doing it all this time.

2. The trend in skin whitening will take a strange turn. Because of the economic situation, Filipino women will apply glutathione only sparingly and partially. The result will be known as “high contrast,” which is somewhere between the look of the rock group KISS, and 1,001 Dalamatians and will land many Pinays on the covers of fashion and beauty magazines all over the world.

3. Kim Kardashan will marry Kim Jong Un. Her presence in the young Great Leader’s life will bring out his softer side and will result in North Korea giving up its nuclear ambitions. In turn, Kim Kardashian will end hunger in the country by breastfeeding half the population.

4. The Corona impeachment will lead to a full, no-holds-barred fight between the executive and judiciary branches, prompting boxing promoter Bob Arum to enter the picture and make this a world event, saying, “We’re back in the heavyweight business, and we’re thrilled to be involved.”

5. Dr. Vicki Belo, famous cosmetologist, will make a bid to improve NAIA. She will give the entire building a facial scrub, have the walls peeled, the front waiting area enlarged, and all the ugliness liposuctioned. This will make for a smoother, softer NAIA. When she is done, she promises that NAIA will henceforth be known as the Gateway to the Stars.

6. Kim Jong Un will be predicted to become the longest living North Korean ruler, outlasting the longevity of the combined rule of the two previous Kims. Pundits are betting on this because, quite understandably, both his father Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather Kim Il Sung were already “Il” to start with.

7. Atty. Ferdinand Topacio will quit being the lawyer of CGMA, and end his law career. He will surprise everyone by resurfacing late in 2012 as a rap artist. He will rename himself Topac after his idol Tupac. He will be a sensation!

8. Publicly known gays will guest on talk shows and shock everyone by openly admitting that they are actually closet machos. They will ride onto the set on motorcycles, expose gigantic tattoos of Marilyn Monroe and Madonna, drink beer and fart, and publicly profess their passion for cockfighting, FHM centerfolds and calendars selling alcoholic beverages.

9. In a highly publicized bid, Lolong, the biggest crocodile in the world, will be bought by Lacoste.

10. Psychologists will seriously study the phenomenon of public officials who suddenly get sick after facing arrest. They will come to the conclusion that not unlike Lolong, the largest crocodile in captivity, they go though a cycle of depression and not eating. But they eventually regain their appetite after two months in captivity.
11. In its bid to be the top TV station, ABC-5, after raiding the stables of its top two rivals, will end its talent acquisition with the signing up of… God!

12. The end of the world as predicted by the Mayan calendar will occur on Dec. 21, 2012. But before it does, many secrets will be finally revealed. Some questions in the long list of mysteries that have baffled mankind will at long last be explained. Among them will be: Are there aliens living among us? Is there an afterlife? And what actually happens when you mix Mentos with Coke?

13. CGMA will finally be allowed to leave the country after her handpicked doctors, spiritual advisers and the Supreme Court confirm that she is, beyond doubt, possessed by an alien evil spirit. After an exhaustive but futile search for the right exorcist or espiritista in the Philippines who can decipher the foreign language she is involuntarily speaking, she will be allowed to board a plane and search for the exorcist who can decipher the alien tongue, and thus cure her. She will then tour the world in search of a “cure.”

14. Since Floyd Mayweather has been sentenced to jail for domestic violence, his eagerly expected fight with Manny Paquiao will not push though on May 5. However, to appease angry fans who have been anticipating this fight, the two pugilists will decide to have it out in a non-titled tussle. Manny Pacquiao will want the fight in Manila with Mareng Winnie as referee, but Mayweather will insist that the fight be held on the Jerry Springer show in June 2012.

15. To speed up the law-making process in both houses of Congress, Twitter rules will be followed. All speeches, deliberations, arguments, cross-examinations should not exceed 140 characters. Only Senator Lito Lapid will fare well under the new set-up. Many will decide not to run for reelection. However, the approval ratings of Congress and the Senate will shoot sky-high, since the public will hardly hear from their elected representatives.

16. The Freedom of Information act will finally be passed into law. People will finally know whether or not the President plays video games, questions about sexuality of certain public figures will finally be answered, and why we suddenly have so many Koreans in the Philippines. With the wealth of such vital information gathered and revealed, we will become a world power in six months.

17. The RH bill will finally be passed into law. In an unsual partnership, the program will be carried out by DOH and Globe and Smart telecoms. Since it has been discovered that Wi-Fi signals lessen sperm production, the whole nation will have free access to broadband as a supplement to the RH provisions.

18. Because of the overeating you, dear reader, have been doing this past week, you will most likely suffer from indigestion today and, already I apologize for this very bad pun, you will know what its is like to be an “Empacho-an” victim.

Manigong Bagong Taon sa Ating Lahat!

* * *

Got a camera last Christmas? Come and attend my first Basic Photography Workshop on Jan. 28, 2012. Document the coming year with great pics. It will be from 1 to 6:30 p.m. in QC. Call 0916-8554303/426-5375 to reserve P3,920 includes VAT. See you.

It doesn’t have to be a bleak Christmas 3

Posted on December 24, 2011 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated December 25, 2011 12:00 AM

I

llustration by REY RIVERA

Mass burials, over-stretched funeral parlor services, a dearth of coffins and formalin. There were bodies that were going to be dumped in the landfill in Cagayan de Oro, for lack of space to keep them anywhere.

It is six days before Christmas as I write this. A pall of gloom has severely dampened the nation’s spirits. The Christmas spirit seems to be farther away than ever. On Twitter and Facebook, there are those who have become very sensitive and see even the President’s attending the Christmas party of the Presidential Security Group as tasteless and insensitive.

I will not delve into anything remotely connected to politics. It’s Christmas, and that’s the last thing I wish to do. But it is important to ask real questions during a situation like this. Should we be celebrating Christmas when there is so much suffering around? Is it inappropriate, insensitive, immoral to have a good time when many of our brethren are cold, homeless, starving — in great need?

My mother used to tell us about a bleak Christmas during the Second World War when there was very little to eat. Of course, it also meant there were few gifts to give and to receive. What they had on the table was a simple, humble meal of fish and a prayer of thanks that they were all alive, unhurt and together. When I heard such stories even as a boy, I felt they had a spiritual dimension.

A good friend of my wife Lydia who spent a year in Iran during the revolution recalls what Christmas was like in a society that did not recognize or celebrate it, and was/is at times even hostile to Christianity and its celebrations. She had just married an Iranian. Everything was alien to her. She barely understood the language, customs, geography, religion and culture of the place. The city of Tehran was experiencing severe rationing and each person was entitled to only one egg a week. Her father-in-law, sensing her discomfort and sadness, went out of his way to buy her a tiny potted tree that she could trim to simulate a Christmas tree so she would feel better.

What also comes to mind are the many OFW families in the Philippines who will not have a complete cast during noche buena since at least a mother, a father, a brother, or a sister will be missing. The irony is, the “abundance” on the noche buena table and under the tree are courtesy of the ones who are not there.

There are also the policemen and policewomen, firemen, doctors, nurses, security guards and others who must render necessary service, spending the night at their stations making themselves available to people who may need help. They should really be celebrating with loved ones, but whether they like it or not, they show up at their jobs and do the sacrifice for all of us.

We all have our different feelings about this season. We all have our reasons — both profound and shallow — to justify losing not just one’s faith but also one’s good cheer during Christmas.

Natural tragedies, calamities and the horrific acts of violence and terror inflicted by man against man can completely alter our perceptions about life. The simple everyday grind of the season — the debilitating traffic, the never-ending expenses, the uncooperative weather — can also make our celebration of Christmas less than perfect. In fact, it can be a big hassle. Such things can diminish our enjoyment of and the meaning of Christmas.

In the west, there has been the trend to secularize Christmas. No religious icons in department store displays and corporate greetings, but only secular ones like Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, mistletoe and other holiday décor are used. This practice has been gaining ground for some decades now, much to the chagrin of Christians. However, while it may be the fashion for many in the west to take away the Christian aspect in the celebration of the season, the message remains the same — and that is to behave differently. Amid the commercial onslaught and the revelry is a call to spread good cheer among our fellowmen and hope for a better world.

“Peace on earth and goodwill to all men” remains the mantra of Christmas whatever your religious affiliation is, or even if you do not have any. I came across a quote whose source is unknown which goes, “The message of Christmas is that the visible material world is bound to the invisible spiritual world.”

The spirit lives! There are people who profess to no religion or creed but work in shelters, or extend financial, material help to the needy for the simple reason that it is the season for giving. That has to be a good sign.

There will always be suffering in the world and the call of human existence is to make sense of it and deal with it as best as we can. Some will find solace believing in a God who has a reason for everything and that these are all for our own good. Others will embrace freedom in the insight that it is useless to fathom the mind of a nonexistent god and that we must simply be philosophical and deal with the meaninglessness of suffering.

Wherever you may find yourself and whatever the condition of your spirit may be, it is my wish that this Christmas you feel a lightness and grace that will open you up to the goodness that is happening amid the suffering you may encounter or witness. As we pack relief bags and send cash donations for the victims of the flashfloods, let us pause to appreciate that the stars still shimmer in their magnificence. The sunsets are still awesome. There are also many good people in the world sharing the gift of service with laughter, love, generosity and compassion.

It may all be a question of where we are at, or what we wish to focus on. I have had good, “perfect” Christmases and some others that I do not wish to remember or revisit. This year, as I am present and humbly accept the gifts of family, closeness, friendship, revelry and love, and the few material things thrown my way, I am focused on the spirit that animates my consciousness and concern for the poor in spirit and those who suffer. And Lord knows, there are many in our homeland today.

On a personal level, I also extend glad tidings and prayers of hope to those I may be have been in disagreement with on many issues throughout the year and those who I do not particularly like, and especially those who may not like me for one reason or another. It may be the only time of the year when most of us can awaken to a little more positivity, bigness of spirit and hope than we presume we are capable of.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love,” the American essayist Hamilton Wright Mabie once wrote.

Amen.

Maligayang Pasko sa ating lahat!


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