Welcome to Volume 6 of The Marocharim Experiment. This blog is authored and maintained by Marocharim, the self-professed antichrist of new media.
Marocharim is a 21-year-old college senior from the University of the Philippines Baguio, majoring in Social Anthropology and has a minor in Political Science. He lives with his parents, his brother and his sister in Baguio City - having been born and raised there all his life. He is the author of three book-versions of The Marocharim Experiment.
Most of his time is spent at school, where he can be found in the UP Baguio Library reading or scribbling notes, and sometimes hanging out with his friends or by himself in the kiosks, or the main lobby. During his spare time, he continues writing. When not in school he hangs out with his friends, or takes long walks around Baguio City to, as he puts it, "get lost."
The Marocharim Experiment Volume I: The Trial of Another Mind, Subject to Disclosure is Available Now
The Marocharim Experiment Volume II: The Nevermind Chronicles is Available Now
The Marocharim Experiment Volume III: The Sentence Construction of Reality is Available Now
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September 17, 2007
< oh boy >
Whenever my dad is home, the house is not only spiffy clean, but the air hangs heavy with the smell of mentholated liniment. See, my dad thinks he's old although he's 52 years young, and so far as I know, all old people smell of liniment.
All old people I know swear by the power of Pak Fah Yeow (note the spelling), the trade name for an embrocation made out of oils from eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender. I used to keep a small bottle of it in my left pocket when I still couldn't get by my annoying migraines (they're not necessarily painful: but since I always have a migraine, I am more annoyed than in pain). The problem is, I usually keep my cigarettes in the same pocket, but I don't smoke menthols. The flavor of a Marlboro Lights permeated with the strong smell of White Flower is not very appealing, I can tell you that. Because the cigarettes handle the migraines just fine, I stopped using White Flower. So much for medicine.
Because I live in Baguio City, I've developed a radar for old people in the absence of red spit and the residue of chewed-up betel nuts on flower boxes: if you can make out the smell of White Flower in the cold air of a weekday morning, there's an old fogey out there somewhere who'll share with you some snippets of life. I sometimes talk to these old people, because I still very much regret the very little time I spent with my grandmother before she died over a year ago. Old people can talk about anything: politics, life, showbiz (if you know the likes of Rodrigo dela Rosa and if you appreciate the movies of FPJ), and if you just want to let off steam.
I've asked old people about their liniment habits, and they would stop short of standing up, raising their left hands, spitting over their left shoulders and swear by the power of methyl salicylate (to use a phrase used by Guy de Maupassant). Liniment is everything from an antirheumatic to a topical anaesthetic to an aphrodisiac.
Yes, an aphrodisiac: an old man I talked to once said that applying a liberal amount of liniment on one's genitals heightens sexual pleasure even better than Viagra. I can understand the erection you're going to get from splashing Efficascent Oil on your penis, but I don't understand the sexual pleasure a woman's getting by using the stuff on her privates. The old man swears by it, though: ever the playboy, he says that it works on every woman from the old wife to the whore in some random massage parlor. Talk about stinging sensations.
But for all that liniment is worth (around fifty pesos, or free if you join "Wowowee," lose, and get Liveraide packs along with it), I think it's better suited as a sign that identifies age. I always thought of myself as an old man, but I don't splash liniment on myself like cologne (like my dad does). It identifies every bodily cost that comes with toeing that long gray line to the inevitable conclusion to all our lives: rheumatism, arthritis, hacking cough, gout, the need to heighten sexual pleasure. It identifies the wisdom we get from living life and paying our dues.
But then again, I'm starting with the Snow Bear candies. Liniment, here I come.
Posted at Monday, September 17, 2007 by marocharim
< oh boy >
I remember the shock felt my many of my elementary school friends and acquaintances when one of our schoolmates, Iris Frances Tan, made the cover of FHM Philippines in January 2007. I wasn't particularly shocked, given that I never had the opportunity to really know Iris, but I kind of wonder what necessitates shocking a sectarian institution of primary learning. But looking at those pictures, I'm kind of flabbergasted that someone who already looks pretty enough with glasses, and was actually part of the stratification I was in back in elementary school, could look so hot.
Of course, I did my wee bit of shocking myself: I was a particularly pious kid when I was in elementary school, until such time that I entered UP a full-blown atheist. I think our old principal would be rolling over in her grave right now knowing that I once won all those Religion quiz bees, played Jesus Christ in our First Communion play, and put much of my young life in the service of God. While I've toned down my atheism to a magnified degree of doubt on the existence of an omnipotent divine power, my old teachers are still particularly dismayed.
* * *
Today, of course, is the late first-year anniversary of my life as a schizophrenic.
My parents think that the lowest point I've sunk in at the time my schizophrenia was elevated to a level of near-institutionalization is a message from God. Last Christmas, I was whisked off to a very famous faith healer in Pangasinan in the hope of a cure. I have nothing against faith healers: it's just that I don't have enough in the way of faith. When my turn came to be healed by this "famous" faith healer, I ended up being possessed by some Devil-leprechauns living under my house protecting a treasure of gold. Or so he says: he saw it in the little "trick" he does with a 25-centavo coin and an egg.
The least I wanted to do was to argue with an old man over the matter of elves: I could understand the "message from God" thing, but I didn't think that dwende could metamorphose into demonic beings that take the character of hallucinations that manifest themselves as regular people following you with the sole intent of killing you during those episodes when your subconscious melds with your conscious. But heck, I was actually willing to debate with the guy over his knowledge of folklore, staking everything I learned and read about in my undergraduate career as an anthropologist. So after a crappy smoke on a hot afternoon in some hamlet in the middle of nowhere, I returned to receive a bottle of virgin coconut oil and a bundle of herbs I was supposed to boil with bathwater to make a tea-bath.
Needless to say, that was the last time I swallowed a tablespoon of coconut oil, the last time I bathed with pito-pito, and the last time I ever heard of heathen Devil-leprechauns.
Posted at Monday, September 17, 2007 by marocharim
September 16, 2007
< hmmm... >
Very recently, I came across one of Shari Cruz's entries that actually had my name on it: apparently, my scatological opinions on Manny Pacquiao where I offered Gloria Arroyo the option of orally sodomizing him got her in a bit of trouble with her peers.
It kind of reminds me how much trouble I have caused myself just because I wrote something. The reason why I kicked myself out of the Outcrop (UP Baguio's student paper) was because I wrote an article that completely ran contrary to other people's principles apparently also espoused by the paper. Back in high school, I almost got suspended for calling the school administration "corrupt," way after the English Department finally understood the meaning behind the irony. Heck, this here blog caused a hell of a lot of headaches for my activist friends: if anything, I'm a breakaway rejectionist "traitor."
Never mind all the trouble I caused for writing here about my love life, though. The thing is, I always manage to stir up a bit of trouble for writing about everything that comes to my head in a given hour of blogging. Like I said before, I have the same social consciousness as a Lolit Solis: if I write down my piece, people can have their peace with me. I don't wear my activism on my sleeve, and if I do, I don't give my homily from the pew. My idea of "dialectic" is not something akin to the shallow misreading of some people: it's not a matter of determining the stronger idea, but a matter of synthesis. You cannot reconcile contradictions: you can, however, reconcile differences.
A friend of mine once asked me how I have "moved" through the continuum of ideas: I entered college a Marxist, then I became a true-blooded Marxist, then I underwent so many transformations until I became more of my own man: a Frankenstein of syntheses. Yet if anything, too many people are afraid of a Frankenstein because there's just too much of you in him.
Here's an advice for the young: the world is your apple. There are too many things in this world that you can learn by moving along, by learning new things, by discovering stuff. You're far too young to know everything, but you're never too old to learn. Yes, be active in your pursuits. Do your bit in the streets if you have to. I know I did, but found that it's not my place. Maybe it's yours, heck, I don't know. But whatever it is, don't tread on me.
Posted at Sunday, September 16, 2007 by marocharim
September 15, 2007
< oh boy >
If anything, I'm pissed off whenever I'm surrounded by these poseur hip-hop gangsters who delude themselves into thinking they're black (like right now). Not only am I entreated to the unflattering sight of pants worn down so low that I could make out brand of underwear they're using, I'm also entreated to the unflattering thought of what they really are in this society: pests, nuisances, malcontents, the list goes on.
The state of gang violence here in Baguio is alarming, to the point that the City Government has actually imposed a 7 PM curfew for minors. Still, such a policy doesn't make me feel safe in the streets: they still terrorize the neighborhoods in a state of fear and alarm. Just a few days ago, a young man was almost mauled to death at a street corner because of gang violence. There's just no way anyone can walk the streets of Baguio City anymore without feeling some degree of fear.
In case these "gangstas" don't know, they don't own the streets at all. Our taxes paid for the space they appropriate as their "territories:" if anything, they're not only illegal occupants, they're also guilty of illegal assembly. If there's anything I'm "down" about, it's that I'm very "down" with having each and every gang member in a crowded prison cell doing hard time and living the life of a real "gangsta." I'm "down" with the citizens of Baguio City getting their parks, sidewalks, and street corners back from these miscreants and malcontents. I'm down with breaking a branch from the learning tree and whipping some sense and good into these painfully ignorant, law-breaking charlatans.
If anything, I don't believe in restitution. I believe that the best way to get rid of these criminals is to round them up and put them to jail. I don't buy into the solution offered by the government with regard to signing covenants and "educational programs:" if there's any better way for these people to understand the wages of crime, it's to pay their debt to society. They should be rounded up and sent off in a place where all gangsters from Al Capone to Snoop Dogg spent part of their lives: a good old-fashioned prison. I would rather have it that they be tortured by a flogging or scaphism (death by insects).
Maybe I'm too harsh. But imagine the harshness brought about by living life in fear because of these shameful people. Imagine the harshness these peons bring upon their parents, upon their friends, upon society. Imagine the harshness brought about by reading the local Sunday paper and read about another gang-related death. Imagine seeing a gang violence victim being wheeled into the emergency room, stripped not only of his future, but his dignity and personhood as well.
I have a message for all you wannabees: you won't go to heaven where the sky is blue, you'll all go to hell for your color ain't true. Damn right it will rain, damn right it will flood, when I see another rumble between Crips and Bloods. In words you can understand: shame on you gangsta, try to run game on a gangsta, you buck wild with the trigger, and I know a place where you'll have to submit with your ass getting fucked up, bitch.
Posted at Saturday, September 15, 2007 by marocharim
September 14, 2007
Death by (Friendster) Degrees X
< oooh, number ten >
The prudent thing to do would be to sit before my home computer, type up the concluding remarks to my 114-page draft, print it out, go to a cheap roadside photocopying place and have them churn out the necessary copies, go inside said cheap roadside photocopying place and avail of their bookbinding services, wait for a couple of days, and then pass it off to the faculty. Of course, I've never been known for prudence.
My dossier of public profiles have remained unopened for a couple of weeks, and a few nights ago I had to open all 417 of them again for another round of me vs. Microsoft Excel. I finally got the hang of analyzing data in the most anal-retentive way, and it took me two hours to do so. I finally have a one-round knockout win over the spreadsheet.
Some people at university gave me an odd look when I was humming Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture: it signals that the ghost of Archimedes possessed me, and I just had a "Eureka!" moment that's not enough for me to strip off my clothes and run around campus naked.
It's the intellectual equivalent of seeing Britney Spears losing an inch of cellulite.
Posted at Friday, September 14, 2007 by marocharim
September 13, 2007
Qualifying the Joma Entry
< hmmm... >
It's a distinct honor for me, as a blogger, to be mentioned by Mr. Manuel Quezon III regarding my take on Joma. I've also been quoted by the neoconservative blogger The Belmont Club on that take. I always thought that whatever I have to say about politics is a hill of beans, but to some people, it's not.
Unless something happens, I won't be writing about Joma for a while. But since I've been stirring the proverbial can of beans on Joma inside and outside the blogosphere, I may need to make a few qualifying points on the matter.
The reason why I think "Joma's movement is on trial" is because of a rather simplistic, but I believe to be very valid, idea: again, to talk about Communism in the Philippines is to talk about Joma Sison. As a response to Karlo Mongaya's take, I said that someone else would rise up to take up the helm of the movement if Joma gets arrested, if he gets incapacitated, or if he dies: the outcome of the Joma trial at The Hague will determine, in one way or another, the course the movement will take in the future.
What I need to underscore here, though, is that the diverse opinions on the matter of Joma's arrest only reflects the polarizing effect of a half-century of "protracted war" against "imperialism," among others, in the Philippines. There are so many opinions, but it only would mean categorizing such opinions as "sympathetic" or "accusing:" there is no middle ground. This reflects how immature the political system is in our country: we who opine about the matter are not at liberty of where to categorize ourselves in this paradox of a "binary continuum."
In my entry "The Pink Elephant in the Philippines Nobody Wants to Talk About," and in an earlier entry entitled "Ideological Paleontology," I made clear the matter of "polarization:" the point of divergence is not the theory, but the practice. The polarity, though, is manifested in that of rhetoric: a Communist could make the government sound so bad, and the government can make a Communist sound so bad. You need only to scour the blogosphere to compare entries that are "pro-Joma" and "anti-Joma," and you would be utterly confused on determining who the lesser of two evils is. It's a matter of determining what snake oil cures what.
It is an unflattering and uncompromising position for Joma to be subjected to the long arm of a system of laws he and his movement fought against for a full half-century. Basically, we're dealing here with thicker chains, and more than one chain at that. Joma's trial will basically determine what chain is stronger: noting, of course, that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Posted at Thursday, September 13, 2007 by marocharim
September 12, 2007
< hmmm... >
I'm getting a bit round around the edges, and it's high time I considered working on getting myself into shape. I could care less, but I could only imagine Britney Spears curled up in a fetal position for that horrible-looking paunch in her belly in the Video Music Awards.
For men, it's perfectly OK to have a big belly. My brother, for example, is perfectly comfortable with his body even if my relatives are saying that he should start losing weight. My dad isn't exactly the picture of fitness, either: his love handles quite obvious considering that he tucks in his shirts. As a man, I shouldn't even have a particular problem with a few tummy rolls. However, I happen to be one of those straight men who look like women from a distance.
My sister is particularly bothered about how fat I'm getting in the midsection, saying that given my frame and the rest of my body, the love handles look particularly obscene. I only became quite attentive when I tried pulling on a pair of jeans I haven't used in quite a while, and I finally became convinced that I need to work not only on my midsection, but also on my ass. After a deep breath, I managed to zip up the fly and settled for having an open button, but I kind of felt uncomfortable considering all the flesh filling out the jeans. Yup, I felt like my ass was about to rip out of the seams of the pair of pants, and I can see the outline of my crotch. So I ditched the jeans.
Although I wouldn't be particularly happy with slimming down my penis: there's just no exercise machine out there that can tone the phallus in three minutes.
Posted at Wednesday, September 12, 2007 by marocharim
< i'm incensed >
I always considered the Joseph Estrada plunder trial to be a black eye in the Philippine justice system. I did my bit six years ago: when I was in fourth year high school, me and a group of friends trooped to UP Baguio to join the cause that was EDSA Dos, miles away from the epicenter that was in Metro Manila. It was not a naīve desire to skip classes that drove us to join in, raise our fists and demand Estrada's ouster: in our young minds, we were not blind to the utter display of incompetence and buffoonery in Malacaņang, considering that it was our future at stake.
Erap has been "in detention" for, in his words, "six years, four months and 17 days." Never mind that his concept of "detention" is in a palatial resthouse in Tanay: what I do mind is that the Sandiganbayan's verdict urinated on the very reason why we did what we did six years ago. It took six years for the special division to pass its verdict: that Erap is guilty of plunder but acquitted of perjury, and Jinggoy and Atty. Ed Serapio are acquitted of the plunder charges.
Six years, ladies and gentlemen, six years for that.
I don't have a problem with Erap being convicted: what I have a problem about is that it took the Sandiganbayan six years to do pass judgment on his case. This is not a matter of a "conspiracy," as it is a matter of trying a man for six years for a doubtful verdict. For the first time, I actually feel sympathy for Erap: not because he's going to some arbitrary concept of "prison," but because he was made to endure six years of trial. Worse, the Filipino people had to stand for this for six years: six years of political crap, six years for a crappy verdict, and more than six years of a crappy President.
What makes this a screwjob is because the Filipino people definitely got screwed by a (pardon the related innuendo) half-assed verdict. I need not say more.
Posted at Wednesday, September 12, 2007 by marocharim
September 11, 2007
< hmmm... >
It's not by coincidence that I was reading Franz Kafka's "The Trial" today: it's not that I think Joseph Estrada is innocent, but because Josef K. is the exact antithesis of Erap. Unlike Josef K., Joseph E. knew exactly what crime he's in the Sandiganbayan for. Unlike Josef K., Joseph E. wasn't tortured and treated "like a dog."
I remember joining EDSA Dos from right here in Baguio: along with the throng in Malcolm Square, I demanded Estrada's ouster. I don't think I was a naīve high school student back then: if Erap didn't deserve to go to jail because of plunder, Erap deserved to go to jail for incompetence. Looking back, incompetence is not a crime you can go to jail for.
This is at the root of our whole problem with Erap: we're at that point where we really have to look back. EDSA Dos promised a whole new beginning: a departure from the prophecy of a political Apocalypse brought about by a rotund, tsinelas-wearing, incompetent buffoon impersonating a mandated President. The reason why we joined in the spirit of EDSA on that January day in 2001 is because we also joined in the spirit of change that EDSA represented. However, that change took form in a "departure" no different from Erap: a short, pantsuit-wearing, incompetent buffoon impersonating a President, only without a mandate. That other buffoon is no less than Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: another person who deserves to be tried at the Sandiganbayan.
Personally, I'd rather have Erap convicted. After all, Estrada said that he'd rather go to Muntinlupa, but he never said anything about going to Bilibid. Second, I'd like to see this country degenerate into a few days of chaos and turmoil. Third, I really do believe that Erap is guilty of graft, corruption, and plunder.
But I draw the line at another EDSA.
Posted at Tuesday, September 11, 2007 by marocharim
September 10, 2007
< hmmm... >
"America has acted in recent years as if to be on the receiving end of evil is, in itself, to be good. That being opposed to wrong is not the same thing as being right, that being a victim is not the same as being an innocent are ideas not warmly entertained of late in the land of the free."
- Pico Iyer, "Move On"
TIME, 8 September 2003
Tomorrow, America celebrates the sixth year anniversary of 9/11. It's been six years since that awful sight of an airplane cutting through the World Trade Center. And it has been six years of awful sights of car bombs and dead bodies in the Middle East over the War on Terror.
No, I'm not anti-American, but seeing how Americans deal with tragedy and disaster makes me contemplate on Pico Iyer's essay even more. Hurricane Katrina made international headlines: two years later, CNN's Anderson Copper is still going at it. The sight of helpless Americans in New Orleans is one thing, but it seems that an indifference is manifested in people not remembering the tsunami that swept through South Asia two years ago. The difference is very stark: while the tsunami victims have rebuilt their lives themselves, the Americans didn't.
Yet it isn't just about America's indifference towards the plight of other nations experiencing disaster while showing us a scar in Katrina. This is about America, six 9/11s after the first plane crashed through the World Trade Center in an act of terror, going on with its war and showing us a scar that we've been so grown to seeing. A few years ago, we saw Saddam Hussein's statue toppled in Baghdad. Years later, we're seeing the desert cities of Iraq still under siege: the arbitrary "enemy" looming, but still not there.
The war that America fought has gone through so many changes that we who are not in America's shores no longer know what exactly is the reason why an American soldier in Iraq dons his fatigues and fires his bullets. First it was Osama bin Laden, then it became Saddam Hussein, then we're at that point where the "enemy" becomes a vague idea behind a mask that labels him an "extremist," and even to the halls of the US government itself. Too many of these American soldiers are fighting a war half a world away to protect their people at the expense of innocent civilians who surely have a right to peace.
For the past six years, there is no "global news" that doesn't revolve around America's war on terrorism: if anything, we non-Americans are learning more and more about the way America is. As a non-American, there's a part of me that sympathizes with the loss of life in 9/11, and there's a part of me that blames the loss of even more lives in Iraq and Afghanistan because of how America responded to 9/11. And then there's a part of me that asks if America is still mortally wounded over 9/11, or if it's showing me and the rest of the world an old scar that has already been healed over after six 9/11s.
Posted at Monday, September 10, 2007 by marocharim