28 November 2007

naipaul's half a life

Finally, I finished the book. It has been on my bedside table since June and waited too long to be read. V.S. Naipaul was born of Indian ancestry and just like other Indian writers of note including Arundhati Roy, he portrays wretchedness, you wonder if life is really that bitter and angst-ridden. Naipaul and Roy write of emotions that are in extremes - one moment a shade of gray, the next moment the bursting colour of a ripe mango. That is the reason, I would not touch the book for a long time, I fear what is written - too much a burden for me - self-torture I'll call it - because I know they never write happy endings.

The book centers on Willie Chandran, half-bred, son of a brahmin and of an untouchable. He lived a depressingly marginal life in India (author wrote that he is not 'exact about the countries, periods or situations'), then in England where he led a bohemian lifestyle. Towards the end of the story, Willie had lived for eighteen years in a country that was a mixture of Portugal and South Africa - I would never know the exact country because of the vagueness.

The character of Willie Chandran is so mystifying because he has this 'I don't care' attitude and seemingly immunity to pain that allows him to go on and on to search for life's generosity. He naively thinks that he soon will settle a full life by associating himself with friends who incidentally will fail his expectations. He finds love and passion in cruel ways and he also will willingly hurt Ana (who held a promise of fullness) and escape to let go of all the half-lives.

I have not read any review of this book. Maybe, I will, then I might know whether I am not alone in this perception of Willie Somerset Chandran.

26 November 2007

cine, cine

They say movies become unforgettable and serve their purpose when they are cathartic or when they give you the jolts. They are also remembered for what are said. Often the words spoken by the characters linger on for days or longer. These ones I can remember verbatim:

Dead Poets Society
John Keating: This is a battle, a war, and the casualties could be your hearts and souls.

The Incredibles
Honey: 'Greater good?' I am your wife! I'm the greatest 'good' you are ever gonna get.

When Harry Met Sally
....you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Hope Floats
Birdee: Beginnings are scary. Endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts. So, when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.

The Addam's Family
Pugsley: We're not shy!
Wednesday: We're contagious.

Practical Magic
Aunt Frances: My darling girl, when are you going to understand that 'normal' is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.

The Little Mermaid
Ursula: Well it's time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles.

Stuart Little
Snowbell: Didn't your mother warn you that you shouldn't go out into Central Park at night?
Smokey: My mother was the reason you shouldn't go out into Central Park at night.

The most enjoyable repartees that I really really love are from The Incredibles. Just might watch it again soon.

24 November 2007

mia farrow in darfur

Mia of "Rosemary's Baby" is not afraid of ruffling feathers says CNN. We hope for her to succeed in her attempt to save the children of Darfur. In a way, the conscientization of Hollywood is a plus, with all the publicity that it gets when the likes of Jolie and Clooney get out from their comfortable homes to venture into the troubled lands. Then, we get to see the lonely faces of all those children on our TV screens and examine our sometimes too apathetic lives. I shudder at the absolute unhappiness of those children and hate the world's helplessness.

as i see it (2)

200 lashes by being with someone who is not related to you and then raped many times? I am sure my father, who is himself a judge in Shari'ah will say "@!#@!#@!#; he never did have high regard for those from the Middle East. During his pilgrimages, he had fistfights with them. History repeated itself when my husband karate chopped one during "the stoning" because of that man's rudeness to us, fellow pilgrims. My brothers (descended from warriors) have the same "haj" stories - being in fights with them. Spare the snake in the desert if you have to choose between two antagonists, they would say. Remember the trauma of Sara Balabagan who fought her would be rapist? How can we of the same Faith differ vastly? I hate to overgeneralize and reinforce stereotypes, but I ask, how many of "them" would cry out for justice for this poor girl who may just wish to die from those lashes?

22 November 2007

England vs Croatia

This morning at dawn, I woke up to my husband lamenting on the current state of English football. England was losing to Croatia at Wembley and was on its way to elimination from Euro 2008. "Where is Mickey Rooney?", I asked sympathetically. "Wayne Rooney", my husband corrected. Upsss, I slipped - showed my lack of passion for the game and my bias towards Hollywood. P.S. Mickey Rooney starred in movies like National Velvet, Black Stallion, Night at the Museum, etc.

13 November 2007

unfortunate bunnies

The second pair of rabbits we had lived for over six years. They were named Maxi and Daisy. They never had babies. This year, Maxi passed away a few days after Daisy. So as not to upset Meeza too much over the death of the rabbits we surprised her with another gorgeous pair, who I called Whitey and Blackie. Meeza refrained from naming the rabbits this time, I guessed she did not want to be too attached to them. So, I named them according to their colours. Easy does it. Two months ago, Whitey gave birth to triplet bunnies who died just a few hours after. Apparently, Whitey bit them to death. Of course, Meeza was devastated so I asked her and Aunty Cathy and Uncle Dennis (ever dependable duo) to take Whitey to the Vet in Gadong (for psycho evaluation?). It did not surprise me that mother bunnies may actually like to eat their babies. My childhood saw gorier details of carnivorous pets eating their own. My, what a shocker for Meeza.

Yesterday, Whitey gave birth to quadruplets and immediately Uncle Dennis took them away from her to avoid another catastrophe. Here they are away from their unmaternal mama, and, as of today, Aunty Cathy has been spoon feeding them with milk from (sadly) the tin. They are so ickyyy but I really wish for them to survive.

11 November 2007


It is easier for me to tell of my emotions in Chavacano (a creole lingo that mingles Spanish with two or maybe three of the major Philippine dialects).

As a child, I spoke several dialects, depending on who I talked to. We talked in Tausug, a Muslim and Bahasa Melayu sounding dialect, in deference to our father who spoke in one other language, English, and would not talk in any other dialects. To our Mom, who is multi-lingual, we spoke mostly in Chavacano, because it has more words that convey feelings and emotions. We turned to her, sought her, when we were con hambre (hungry); con dolor (in pain); triste (sad); alegre (happy). We carry on the practice in our adult lives. We speak the respectful Tausug to our father and older brother; Chavacano to our Mom. Well, their grandchildren is another story; Meeza can only speak English to them while her cousins would speak in Tagalog and Tausug. Talk about Babel in one household.

Chavacano was the language of childhood fun, taunting and ruidoso. I remember these proverbs we learned in childhood in addition to those I wrote in a previous post:
De negro si vivo
De colorao si muerto
(Black when alive, Red when dead)
This was in reference to the Christian's practice of 'colouring' their dead.
Cielo arriba, cielo abajo
Agua entremedio
(Sky above, sky below, water in the middle)
This is a proverb indicating the coconut fruit.

The high-browed critics of Chavacano would say that it is 'kastila-kastilahan' or lengua de parian, but it was one language that gave us our humanity, that made childhood a sweet memory, a language of the heart. By the way, the parian or padian (seller in a boat), is one proud symbol of the beloved Kampung-Ayer of the Bruneians.

09 November 2007

lleno y con sueno

It has been five months since I started blogging, thanks to my friend, CK, for egging me on towards becoming a blogger despite my age. I have enjoyed reading other people's blogs too, especially those of the younger ones. The world has changed and I see a lot of candidness, a lot of courage, convictions and even humour in my favourite blogs.

My readers differ too. If I put on a Spanish title to a post, I get readers from as far as Guatemala and Colombia. The stats gets me very curious and I am impressed at how diversified the readers are. I get a sense that my blog is schizophrenic (?). My only frustration is that there is no 'enye' (an n with a wave on top) on my keyboard. Maybe there is a way, but being techno unsavvy, I could not see it.

It seems like Raya is not over yet - talk about the longest ever Hari Raya. People still are inviting us to their homes. The latest visit I had was to a South African home where the food was glorious. Thank you, Aishah for giving me the recipe of your unique salad dressing.

The eating has left us lleno and con sueno. Perhaps because of all the sugar and carbs that we have induged in. I am sooo looking forward to a normal life of less gorging.

06 November 2007

in honour of one great man

Nothing beats a Grand Reunion to demonstrate the vibrancy of family ties. Last Sunday, we were part of an important gathering of two hundred families belonging to the late Pengiran Haji Metassan Rajid bin Pengiran Abd Rahman Piut. From where I sat looking at the Power Point presentation of root and branches and from someone unbiased who became a part of the family by virtue of affinity, I not only see a family that has ties to royalty, going back to Sultan Saiful Rijal and up to Sultan Bolkiah but I also see a family that gives importance to loyalty and giving service to the country. This is a family that produced two ministers, a general in the armed forces, two police commissioners who also served as ambassadors, and a palace chamberlain. Many of us, including me, work in the government in many different capacities.

The Grand Reunion gave us an opportunity to meet with family members who we rarely saw or would have recognised elsewhere. It also gave us a chance to honour a great man who, most of us, have not met. I can only surmise that he lived a full life, because from him descended some of the well-known cheterias of Brunei. This is one person who lived history and most probably gave a legacy of giving to the country.

02 November 2007


Gone are the days when those rowdy children blurted, huevos! (eggs) to anyone who got a zero in his or her exams or lost in games they played. On anything that you lost or failed, you were called huevos! by the arrogant winner (like someone from the Three Stooges). I have not heard of it uttered anymore for decades because my household is such a sweet quiet paradise, no fighting, no fibbing, no rowdiness, no competitiveness. The girls were very well behaved when they were small children, very unlike me when I was growing up. I was climbing trees (my favourite tree was the only 'camias' tree in our backyard where I soaked in sorrow over my losses and ate the small sour camias as if they would expurgate my unhappiness); flying my own kites the colour and design of which I chose meticulously and, of course, playing the 'patintero' or 'balatin' in the late afternoons (to regain lost grounds and composures too).

Many of us, undergo an egg phase. Mine was the psychological distress of losing and being called huevos! Another egg phase of mine was in college, where I mostly got zeros in my Stats tests. Meeza's egg phase (I hope just temporary) is cooking her own egg dish three times a day, sometimes secretly, because she knows how I feel about eggs (the unhealthy cholesterol yolk aspect). It consoles me a bit that she forgets to salt her eggs, though.

I don't have the habit of buying eggs but somehow they get to my kitchen mysteriously. The omnipresent egg actually is necessary for all those desserts that we eat. Generally, though, I would not want the egg to become a staple in my pantry. And, if I do need them, they undergo a scrutiny from me. I learned from my mom that to determine the freshness of an egg, take a simple test. Place the egg in a bowl of water, if it goes to the bottom, then it is fresh; the one that floats is a rotten egg. I also learned by looking, that to remove the shell of a hard-boiled egg, tap it gently all over to loosen the shell, then roll between your hands. Peel off shell and rinse with cold clean water.

Well, loser or not, be egg-happy because it is one of the most nutritious food we have on this planet. Just have it once a week, though, or better eat the whites only.

01 November 2007


There are some things and events on my side of the family that my husband clearly remembers. Just the other day, he recalled the TV interview of my dad at that time when he was acknowledged as one of those who helped in the administration of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (a consequence of the 'Moro problem' as with other autonomy matters). My father was trained in civil law but was called along with other Muslim judges to this momentous event that would put the Shari'ah into perspective.

The interview dealt on the Shari'ah, the codification of the Muslim Personal Laws which is unique only to India and the Philippines, and other pertinent matters. By the end of the discussion, on a personal note, the interviewer asked if my dad would take four wives. My father in reply said, "No, I would not want to have four mothers-in-law".

Of course, it was meant as a humorous riposte.