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Welcome to Volume 6 of The Marocharim Experiment. This blog is authored and maintained by Marocharim, the self-professed antichrist of new media.

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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."

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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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December 24, 2004
#011: Cut the (Christmas) Cheese

< hope you like cheese >

   Yup, you guessed it right (I wish)... I am about to launch myself into the unknown: the philosophization (hey, that's what they call it) of the Edam cheese ball.

   I don't hate this waxy ball of cheese... hate is such a strong word.  I just don't like it.  I mean, it's a pretty nifty piece of cheese and wax, but that's precisely the reason why I don't eat it.  It's strange... alien, even.  The fact that I despise the object is enough to make me a pariah in Filipino society, which considers quezo de bola to be a very important part of the holiday spirit.  Well not to me.  I'd rather use it as a bowling ball.

   Don't get me wrong: I love cheese.  There's that kinky feeling one gets from sucking on Cheez-Wiz.  Or the sensual passions of cream cheese.  Call me crude, but cheese is one of those sensual, erotic foods, more than sausages or cucumbers or whatnot.  But don't think that I get my sexual kicks from cheese.  That's just... wrong.

   Anyway, this is the one item in noche buena I don't touch.  I'd rather gorge myself in spaghetti and ham and drown myself with liquor than to eat quezo de bola.  Which strikes me as odd... almost everyone likes it, and I don't.  I don't like it as is, I don't like it as fondue, I don't like it grated and put on whatever... it's that simple: I don't like it.

   And Merry Christmas to all of you.  Hey, I have better things to do on Christmas Eve than doing this, you know?

Posted at Friday, December 24, 2004 by marocharim

December 22, 2004
#010: Tae. Spongecola.

<i have it confirmed... only Filipinos read my blog.  so here's one for y'all.>

   Siguro alam ninyo 'tong kantang 'to, no? 

Bumaba ako sa jeepney
Kung saan tayo'y dating makatabi
Magkahalik ang pisngi nating dalawa
Nating dalawa
Panyo mo sa aking bulsa
Buong kahapon ay naroon pa rin
Ang tawa nati'y humahalay
Sa init nating dalawa
Subalit ngayo'y wala na (Wala na)
Ikaw ay lumayo na (Lumayo na)
Naaalala ko ang mga gabing
Nakahiga sa ilalim
Ng kalawakan
Naaalala ko ang mga gabing
Magkatabi sa ulan
Kulay nang iyong ngiti
At tikwas ng iyong buhok
Ang lambot ng iyong labi
Ng iyong labi
Kahit anino mo sa malayo
Ay nais masulyapan
Upang mapawi
Ang lamig
Subalit ngayo'y wala na
Ikaw ay lumayo na
Naaalala ko ang mga gabing
Nakahiga sa ilalim
Ng kalawakan
Naaalala ko ang mga gabing
Magkatabi sa ulan
Subalit ngayo'y wala na
Ikaw ay lumayo na
Lumayo na
Naaalala ko ang mga gabing
Nakahiga sa ilalim
Ng kalawakan
Naaalala ko ang mga gabing
Magkatabi sa ulan (2x)
(Naaalala) Magkatabi sa ulan... (Naaalala)

-Spongecola, "Jeepney"

   Paringgan niyo ba naman kasi ako ng ganitong kanta kung lasing na kayo eh.  Pambihira kayo, sa dinami-dami ng pwede niyong iparinig sa akin eh ito pa.

Posted at Wednesday, December 22, 2004 by marocharim

#009: Why I Hate Celebrity Funerals

<required reading before you read this: "In Memory of FPJ..." just scroll down and read it.  also, try reading "One Step Backward, Two Steps Back" by Vladimir Lenin... but lest you accuse me of being a Communist rebel... well, that's another story>

   I thought I've seen it all when it comes to your run-of-the-mill celebrity funeral: Rico Yan, Rio Diaz-Cojuangco, Halina Perez... but the funeral of Fernando Poe, Jr. was an entirely different thing.  In a Snagglepussian sense, it wasn't just huge: it was humongous, gigantic, colossal, gargantuan even.  Having been glued to the television set due to a lack of sleep caused by a sudden attack of diarrhea (unless you're gay and your name is Alexander [pardon me, Mr. Alejo], you wouldn't eat a raw oyster... ever, I was firmly convinced that the brouhaha surrounding FPJ's death was not due to the fact that he was an icon or anything like that (don't get me wrong: he is), but because of politics.

   Now that's what we needed eh, Mr. Stating-The-Obvious?  Of course it was about politics.  I mean, who cares about the legendary statuses (stati, whatever) of FPJ films like Isusumbong Kita Sa Tatay Ko or Bato sa Buhangin?  I mean, if we can look at the realities of political life (good grief, I have to stop reading political theory) once you dip yourself into the soup of politics everyone licks at you.  And that's not coming from just anybody: that's coming from a political science student (as arrogant as I could be at times, I couldn't raise my academic testicles to a level where I could freely say that I'm a political scientist).  Look at it this way: if Rio Diaz hadn't married to the Cojuangco clan, or if Rico Yan's father (or grandfather... whatever) wasn't an ambassador, their funerals wouldn't be so... grandiose.  As far as Halina Perez goes, full-frontal nudity can only get you so far when it comes to popularity.  When FPJ ran he didn't just dip himself to the proverbial political soup, he swam in it.  I bet that the crowd at the Sto. Domingo Church or the Manila North Cemetery would have been easily cut by half if he did not run for President back in May 2004.

   You see, this is the reason why I hate celebrity funerals.  They're overkill.  I mean, there's absolutely no reason for us to kill celebrities twice, thrice even.  So blame it on the celebrities-turned-celebrity politicos on FPJ's funeral for turning this into a political circus.  Take the likes Erap Estrada (somebody please put him back in a real jail), Richard Gomez (somebody please terminate his TV and movie contract) and Loren Legarda (somebody please wipe out that Vaseline from her teeth), and even if you're not an FPJ fan you would just pity the guy for not getting a well-deserved rest from the frenzied hurly-burly of life (which strikes me as funny that Jose Mari Chan wasn't there).  It's no longer bordering on the pathetic: it's downright obscene.  It's not as if we can lay anybody to rest nowadays without the dead having a whiff of politics... that's unless you're like me and your immediate future is to get paid "interpreting" political phenomena.  But on a side note, I really liked Eddie Garcia's speech... it was so moving, so... Manoy.  And if that wasn't enough, Dolphy was gracious enough to sprinkle a bit of that John Puruntong humor in a relatively gloomy scene.

   What, or to be more precise and politically correct (even though I hate being so) I cannot comprehend more than anything (OK, anyone) is Susan Roces.  I mean, I just have to tip my nonexistent hat to her for being so strong and collected despite the death of her husband.  I mean, is there anything even more strange and creepy than that?  As strong as Susan Roces is, the fact that she could not even grieve properly is sickening, the way the media pokes cameras and boom mikes at her is just... gross.  The funny thing is, I'm wearing this cool National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) "Stop Killing Journalists" T-shirt (that I have yet to pay for) while I'm criticizing this accepted media practice.  I mean, all would have been fine and dandy if they would have given her the chance to grieve properly.  Ms. Roces' will can only get her so far, as far as I am concerned, before she goes insane.  You see, you just don't do that.

   But really, so what?  Now that FPJ's dead and buried we can finally move on to more important things like Christmas.  But nooo, some fans think that the world ended with the death of Da King.  Of course it did: you just can't move on like nothing happened, especially if you watched all of his 200+ movies.  Hmmm... I really want to know what would happen if Keanu Reeves died in Hollywood and people would remember him most for his (cough) moving performance in "The Devil's Advocate."  Boo-hoo.  This is another reason why I hate celebrity funerals: it takes too long.  It took too long for FPJ's horse-drawn carriage (I pity the MMDA) to reach his mausoleum, and the aftermath just takes too long, considering the fact that it's Christmas.

   Hey, this is another reason why I hate celebrity funerals: you're forced to write about it.  Considering that I just had my braces removed, I still have that problem of moving on... and this isn't just about FPJ.  I mean, I'm not a fan of the guy, but he's dead and all, so let's just have a merry (invective) Christmas.

Posted at Wednesday, December 22, 2004 by marocharim

December 20, 2004
#008: And Now, A Brief Message From Friendster

   To a certain extent, yes, nobody likes me at this point.  And I couldn't really give a damn about it.  Love me, like me, or hate me, I don't care.

   Sometimes, however, you just don't take stuff like these (read on) lying down, even if you're as apathetic and manhid as I am.  Somehow, "unfeeling" does not cut it.

   Let's interrupt your reading (if you're one of the half dozen actually reading this) with a brief private message addressed to yours truly (via Friendster):

<<kung si JESUS MISMO, HINDI PINANIWALAAN sa mga katotohanang sinabi nya, AKO PA KAYANG ISANG HAMAK NA MORTAL LANG?? at hindi ko kayang pantayan ang katayuan mo ngayon sa buhay... PARA KANG SI CONFUCIUS... DAKILANG GURO at MIYEMBRO NG ARISTOKRASYA ng Sinaunang Tsina, at LAGING PINANINIWALAAN NG LAHAT NG TAO... anyway, matalino ka... pag-isipan mo na lang ang comparison...>>

dated december 20, 2004

   Tsk, tsk, tsk.  I don't really know whether I should get mad about that, or I should laugh my innards out... maybe I'll go with option # 2.  I'll just sit here in my comfy little chair and laugh.  Yup, laugh like hell.  I'd like a smoke right now just to clear out my head and act rational, but I'll just go on laughing.

   Now that I'm done laughing I'd like to set a few points straight.  I'm as dumb as a rock when it comes to metaphors and other forms of figurative language I do not use... as long as it's not part of Marochalanguage (or, to use my friend Yellow's terms, verbal gymnastics) I do not comprehend it.  Honestly, it took me the better part of ten minutes to actually understand what that meant, and the point was quite simple: it was an attack on my person.

   Now please set the point straight and set me on the high road.

Posted at Monday, December 20, 2004 by marocharim
(1) vomitted  

December 18, 2004
#007: When You Turn 17...

   What do I know?  In a few months time, I myself would be pushing 20.  I should be trying to give advice to myself given the circumstances I have had (it has been the absolute worst month of my life, according to sources other than myself), but I doubt that the dozen people who actually read my blog would really care, given that I'm practically giving my "ex" some advice.

   She's turning 17... on December 20.  What the hell.  I don't expect to be spending my December 20 in front of a monitor.

   Which is even more ironic, considering that December 21 could have been our third month anniversary, but what the hell (I am starting to like that clause... yummy.).

   Here goes nothing...


   It's December 20, and today you are  at the crossroads of your life.  That time of life when you're, in a relatively Britney-ish fashion, not a girl, but not yet a woman.  You grow older, but you're still not old enough.  Nothing's enough for a 17 year old, and do tell... I've been there before.

   I know that what happened between us wasn't supposed to happen.  But it did, and unfortunately, we're not really sure whether or not it's right to hold on or let go.  Sometimes the temptation to leave you there was there, but I couldn't.  I may be angry, to a certain degree, but I can't bring myself to hurt anybody other than myself.

   I don't come here as someone who wants to win you back, because heaven help me I want to but now is not the time to target wounds while they're still fresh.  I know... for the past three weeks I've been doing exactly that, and I brought myself the kind of pain I shouldn't be enduring for anyone, especially people who hurt me.

   What hurts me even more is the fact that people call you names and assume that you're a character you're not.  If anyone knows you better than anyone else, aside from yourself, (well, aside from your parents), it's me.  Having stood by you through thick and thin (and believe you me, this is as thick as it's going to get) I have a good idea of who you are.

   You told me the night before (that was Pasiklaban), the day I gave you Alecxia, that you don't know who you are anymore, and you don't know what love is anymore, and you want to be naive from this point forward.

   Let me remind you of who you are: you are the sweetest, kindest, nicest person I ever knew, the person I fell in love with.  Let me remind you of what love is: love is an experience, it's not definable.  And as far as being naive goes, naivete breeds hate.  And when people hate, they hurt each other.  And when you started to hate, I felt the pain... until I couldn't take it anymore and I just broke down.  I couldn't take it anymore, but I held on.

   Whatever happened is a thing of the past to me.  In a Nietzschean sense, what does not kill you only makes you stronger.  But then again, burning questions start to plague me from everywhere: do I deserve you?  Can I look you at the eyes the same way again after what happened?

   Probably, probably not.  But could I still love you?  That's the funny part: I can, I do, and I have.  Love is unconditional.  Even when the people around us told me that I was a pathetic idiot for having to remedy a situation I didn't have anything to do with, from those roses to that date, even when I was a victim, I was happy being that pathetic idiot.  I loved: that's what's important.  This is a test of the mettle of a person's character.  And I like to think I passed.  I didn't pass because of my strength, as you thought, but because I was.  Just be, that's all.

   The funny thing about love (as if it isn't funny in the first place) is that people hold on to the worst of reasons.  Often, the worst of reasons are the best of reasons.  I mean, I can only take so much, and I can only do so much, but what if I just did?  Any other person would have just let you go.  I didn't.  I guess what they said says it all... that's love.  That's all it is.  No definition necessary.

   My only wish for you is to be happy.  Don't let these things wreck your 17th birthday.  Just remember that when it seems that nobody's there there for you, I'm walking after you.  I'm just behind you.

   Happy birthday.


PS: Neverland never closes.

Posted at Saturday, December 18, 2004 by marocharim
(1) vomitted  

December 15, 2004
#006: In Pace Requiescat

There will be no such thing as forgiveness.
No such object that could fathom the suffering of a tortured soul.
There will be no remorse to what I will do to those who have borne me injury.
Life will be completely and totally changed from what we know now.
No one will ever play the role
   Of the dog who ate from his master's dish
   Of the animal who killed the hunter with his own gun
   Of the monkey who was given a brain
      And thought it was the center of the universe.

You brought this dark transformation upon yourselves.
This metamorphosis will not cease until I get redemption.
There will be no martyrs or innocents, only victims and casualties/
This is where Neverland ends and Malbolgia begins.
No one will ever find
   Silence in the noise that will fill one's soul
   Solace in the changes that will consume one's spirit
   Victory in the challenges that will test one's will...
      In pace requiescat!

(*: In pace requiescat: "Rest in peace.")

Posted at Wednesday, December 15, 2004 by marocharim

December 14, 2004
#005: In Memory of FPJ: The Philippines' Last Action Hero

< i suppose i have to adapt a scheme from this entry onwards... let's have some consideration for people who don't like to read blue text)

   Let's all have a moment of silence to pray for the eternal repose of the soul of a great Filipino, Mr. Ronald Allan Kelly Poe, a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr.

   I admit I'm not a big FPJ fan, though I watched my fair share of FPJ movies: the likes of Panday, Muslim Magnum .357, Pitong Gatang, and Walang Matigas na Tinapay sa Mainit na Kape.  (For the foreign readers of this blog, the latter means: "Day-old bread can't stand hot coffee."  What a name for an action flick... reminds me of Chuck Norris.)  As much as I... enjoyed (in a cosmic sort of way) the way Da King's piston-like fists strike the seven inches of air away from his opponent's stomach, or the way he shot that seventh shot from his six-shooter, he was definitely a Pinoy icon.  When he died of a stroke at 12:01 just this morning, it came as a shock to all.  Regardless of what one thinks of FPJ, personally or politically, the Philippines lost an icon.

   Love him or hate him, FPJ was the Philippines' last action hero.  Think about it: Gardo Versoza sold out to playing the role of Machete and played Carol Banawa's gay guardian in Bituin.  Ronnie Rickets may have been the next FPJ in name only, but his kung fu looked wimpy compared to FPJ's swashbuckling cowboy roles: I mean, FPJ carried a gun.  Even FPJ's best friend, Joseph "Erap" Estrada, was rotund and chubby compared to the chiseled macho looks of Da King: clearly, Erap was overcompensating.  FPJ was the real deal.

   While many Pinoy action stars would be content comparing themselves to Bruce Lee (in the case of Monsour del Rosario) or Nicholas Cage (in the case of Cesar Montano's gleaming forehead), FPJ was one of a kind.  He didn't need comparison: the man defied it.  FPJ was there before Clint Eastwood cemented his legacy in the film industry as Harry Callahan, with his big freakin' gun.  Unlike Dirty Harry, FPJ didn't need guns to be a tough guy: his husky, laconic lines proved it all: "Isang bala ka lang" (literally translated: "You're just one bullet") cemented the action-film one liner way before, "Go ahead, make my day."  FPJ was there way before Bruce Lee's crescent kicks, backhands and flipkicks in the Enter the Dragon movies.  Unlike The Dragon, Da King didn't need to be fancy to fight.  He beat you up, and he beat you up good.  The force of FPJ's hand hitting the air in front of a stuntman was enough to make him bleed in the mouth.  Simply put, you can't compare FPJ to anybody.  FPJ is FPJ, and FPJ is better than anyone else.  Yes, even Keanu Reeves.  The Matrix, my foot.  All Poe dialogue (no, not Edgar Allan Poe) is an exercise in philosophical discourse: the Architect's rant in Reloaded was nothing compared to Panday.

   One may think that this image of Da King is simply too good to be true... but it isn't.  There's a reason why FPJ ran for President, and that's because in the Philippines he's bigger than sliced bread.  There's no actor or actress bigger than FPJ: not Dolphy, not Richard Gomez, not Sharon Cuneta, or even Nora Aunor.  Not one of them can ever achieve the following of FPJ.  If Jesus were alive today he would have accused FPJ of being a false prophet given the crowds he draws. 

   But FPJ does not stop at being a charismatic movie icon: FPJ did justice to being a public figure.  Being a public personality FPJ treated the public as his family, letting fans into his shootings and helping them in any way he can: building them houses, putting their children up through school, the like.  No wonder he ran for President.  Somehow, the lines continue to reverberate through everyone who heard what he said the day he accepted his nomination in the Araneta Coliseum: "Salamat sa inyong suporta.  Hayaan ninyo, balang araw, makakaganti rin ako sa inyo."  English translation unnecessary.

   Sure, FPJ lost the elections, but he continued serving the people in any and every way he can, the last being the calamity at the Aurora-Quezon area following the supertyphoons.  Then, a few days after, in a celebration of life, FPJ lost to Father Time, the one enemy he can never beat.

   I never got to meet FPJ: the farthest I have gone was an interview with his best friend Erap back in high school.  I'm not exactly sure that FPJ would have wanted to die this way.  He would have wanted to die with a fighting chance, but maybe, just maybe, God had enough of good old Rannie fighting.  Maybe God would have wanted FPJ to rest, that he has done his time in Pitong Gatang and shot his last bullet.  Justice was served.

   Hmmm, maybe the angels are yodeling up there in heaven... and one of them's FPJ.

Posted at Tuesday, December 14, 2004 by marocharim
(4) vomitted  

November 29, 2004
#004: Litrato

<...sorry, people, you HAVE to decipher this (assuming that foreigners read my blog)>


   Yun lang naman.  Pinilit ko ang sarili kong intindihin lahat, as in, lahat, ng mga bagay na bumabagabag sa akin nang sabihin mong nalilito ka kung sino ang mamahalin mo.  Ewan, pinilit kong intindihin ang mga nararamdaman ko: galit, selos, pagkamuhi... pero talaga, hindi ko maintindihan ang mga ganito, lalung-lalo na kung kalungkutan ang naghahari sa puso ko.

   Pilit ko mang limutin lahat ng mga nangyari noong gabing yun ay hindi ko magawa.  Lalung-lalo na noong sabihin mo na hindi mo na ako kayang mahalin gaya ng pagmamahal mo sa akin noon.  Masakit.  Nasaktan ako, ngunit hindi kita kayang ilayo sa puso ko gaya ng ginawa mo noong sandali lang ako nawala.  Mahal kita, kahit nagkamali ka.  Hindi kita pag-aaring basta-basta ko na lang maaaring angkinin at solohin sa bawat sandali.  Hindi ko maaaring manipulahin ang damdamin mo.

   Siguro kailangan ko nang tanggalin ang sarili ko sa litrato.  Siguro kailangan mo nga ng oras para mapag-isa.  Siguro hindi mo na kailangan ang pagmamahal ko.  Sabihin na nating hindi mo na ako kailangan.  Kungsabagay, kung hahayaan ko na lang ang sarili kong masusugan ng malisya ngayong talagang alam ko nang nasasaktan ka na, oo, siguro kataksilan na ang ginawa ninyo.  Pero hindi ako ganoon mag-isip.  Mabait naman akong tao... sabi nila.  Tinatawag ko ang puta na "puta," ang tarantado na "tarantado," ngunit hindi kita kayang bansagang "taksil" o "manloloko."  Masyado kitang mahal para gawin yun.  Kahit "love chain" sa Friendster pinatulan ko na.

   Siguro nga, talaga, kailangan ko nang burahin ang sarili ko sa litrato nating dalawa at kayakap mo na lang ang anino ko.  Ngunit hindi ko magawa eh.  Hindi ko kaya.  Kahit sabihin na nating madali lang naman maretoke ang litrato, o madali man itong itapon sa basurahan ay mahirap mabura ang mga litrato sa puso.  Kanina tinititigan ko ang litrato nating dalawa at wala naman akong makitang mali sa ating dalawa.  Saan ba ako nagkamali?  Sa paghawak sa iyong mga kamay?  Sa pagngiti sa lente kahit sabihin na nating hindi siya "ngiti?"  Sa bawat oras na ginugol ko para lamang makasama kita kahit sandali man lang?  Saan?

   Nagkamali ako sa maraming bagay pagdating sa relasyong ito.  Hindi ko ginustong mang-indian kaya lang maraming sirkumstansiya na pumapaligid sa akin kaya hindi ako maaaring nandyan laging nakabantay sa iyo na parang anino.  Kung pwede lang akong aninong pisikal para lamang masundan ka lagi-lagi.  Nahihirapan akong maging anino ng puso mo.  Hindi ko kagustuhang magmukhang insenitibo kahit sensitibo ako.  Ganun naman ang problema ko pagdating sa ibang tao.  Lagi na lang ganito: "Kailangan mong bumaba sa ivory tower mo.  Mag-level off ka."  Ginawa ko na yun eh kulang pa para sa kanila.  Inaasahan kong ikaw na ang makapagpapatunay na kahit hindi ako kagaya nila, kaya kong magmahal...  Kaya kong magmahal ng lubusan.

   Magmahal.  Yun lang naman ang ginawa ko, tapos ganito pa ang mangyayari.  Bigyan mo lamang ako ng isa pang pagkakataon upang mapatunayang mahal kita.  Yun lamang ang hinihingi ko.  Hindi ko na hinihingi ang ganoon karaming bagay: bigyan mo ako ng isa pang pagkakataon.  Hayaan mong sayangin natin ang oras natin sa isa't-isa kahit saglit lang.  Hindi ako mainstream.  Hindi ko maibibigay lahat ng mga bagay na hinihingi sa isang tradisyunal na relasyon.  Ngunit handa akong ibigay sa iyo ang lahat ng mga bagay na maibibigay ko sa ganitong lagay.  Kakalimutan ko lahat ng nangyari.  Mahal kita.

   Pasensya na kung dito ako magtatapos sa kasasatsat at kadadada na parang romantikong nasa bingit ng kamatayan.  Hindi ko mapigilang makita tayo sa ating litrato.  Ayun, tayong dalawa, sa harap ng isang katsa na pinagmukhang pader.  Ayun, tayong dalawa, magkahawak kamay, nakatingin sa lente ng walang hanggan.  Magkasintahan.  Sana ganoon pa rin... masakit tumingin sa litrato.  Lalo na kung naninikip ang puso mo, lalo na kung napupuno na ang mga mata mo ng luha.

   Sana... hindi lang sa litrato.  Sana...

Posted at Monday, November 29, 2004 by marocharim

November 10, 2004
#003: Is There Something Strange... In The Neighborhood

   It would be hypocritical of me to say that I never believed in ghosts.  Back in my elementary school days, we were scared to death to even go near the abandoned hospital at the back of the school because of the "white lady" stirring a glass of milk by the old kitchen.  During class camping trips at Camp John Hay, we stayed huddled in our tents at night, afraid to go outside for fear that the horses just outside the campsite might turn into a horde of tikbalang.  We were witness to classmates getting possessed by demons.  But while I flinch and scurry away at the mere sight of butterflies (yes, I am a tadů troubled, by the scaly, winged vermin), I am not afraid of ghosts.


   I suppose that everyone has the right to be scared nowadays because of the hype surrounding Asian horror films.  I have yet to watch "Feng Shui" or "The Village," but I doubt they could scare me anymore - the last and only time I came close to fainting from a horror movie was "Amityville Horror," and "The Birds" scared the crap out of me.  So hunting for ghosts is supposed to be scary.  What's the deal?  There are far more scarier things out there than ghosts, like, say, Michael Jackson.


   The funny thing is that I live in the perfect place in the country to go ghost-hunting: Baguio City.  Not far from my place (given that everything in Baguio is well within "walking distance") is the "White House," that ubiquitous "haunted" mansion one passes en route to Botanical Garden or Mines View Park.  I lived here for quite a long time now to know that the place isn't haunted, but is frequented by balut vendors at night, for what reason I do not know.  I've passed by the place all the time, and the only strange thing I have noticed passing by the house is the persistent aroma of dama de noche.  Yeah, real scary.  I don't know about the ghosts of Diplomat Hotel, but believe me, after the many deaths resulting from the 1990 earthquake, there's bound to be a ghost in every corner of the city.


   Of course, I am above criticizing people for their taste in terror - there are a lot more sweet spots below the belt I don't mind... well, I can stop there before I turn this sentence into an innuendo.  What I'm trying to say is that there's a different hocus for a different pocus.  Small wonder "spirit investigators" in here make a lot more money than the people carving and selling contraband barrel people.  After all, the fetish for fear must be fulfilled.


   I'm not discounting possibilities for real ghosts to exist, but there are all the more reasons for me to be skeptical.  I have quite a lot of friends who claim to have a "third eye," and then I go looking for a boil on their foreheads.  I've already seen one of them apparently possessed by the devil in a trip.  What's surprising is that I was there when Satan possessed my friendů quite a shocker, especially for the fact that Satan and I can't be seen at the same place at the same time.


   Possession is another one of those things I cannot comprehend.  I've seen a lot of "possessed" people: camping trips, excursions, even seen one flailing about in a mental hospital.  I do not see anything demonic in possession, nor do I vouch for the authenticity of the out-of-body experiences I have personally seen.  I generally dismiss them for delirium caused by the weather or from drunkenness, although once, I was part of an exorcism because the book called for "innocent children."  The ritual worked, but it would have been a bit quicker if I wasn't there.


   Now who you gonna call?

Posted at Wednesday, November 10, 2004 by marocharim

#002: Starbuckization 101

   Everyone knows Starbucks to be a coffee shop.  No, wait, everyone knows Starbucks serves obscenely expensive coffee.


   I don't go to coffee shops as often as others my age do.  I buy my coffee from the canteen or from a street vendor, since I really suck at making coffee.  I'm not really part of Generation Coffee, since I'm still getting my caffeine from Coke.  Of course, they serve Coke at Starbucks.  At least that's what they told me - I don't go there.


   Not too long ago, Starbucks existed in the mind of the average Filipino from "Star Buko" t-shirts or from tales of relatives in America.  Coffee was coffee, and class and status were clearly defined along the lines of whether one uses milk, creamer, or none at all.  Times have changed: coffee is no longer "just coffee" but is reified through chemistry and economics: differences of beans whether they're Colombian or Arabica make or break your wallet.  "Shots" of cream are, well, shot into a basic cup of coffee and turned into "latte," which is nothing more than your basic milk-and-coffee combination with a fancy name, served in a fancy cup.  Everything is fancy.  It is, after all, a boutique coffee shop.


   Which is quite interesting, really.  A country as "poor" as the Philippines is not of want of a Starbucks as much as it is want of meeting its needs.  I'm not just talking about Starbucks but of boutique coffee shops in general: Mocha Blends, Seattle's Best, and all that.  Is this colonialism?  Is this the cloak corporations drape on society to give it a semblance of affluence despite obvious poverty?  Is this marketing gone mad?  This, ladies and gentlemen, is imperialism in practice.


   Yes, imperialism is given a concrete meaning aside from McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.  Face it: both McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts serve basic needs.  Imperialist?  Yes, both conquered this country through food and spawned countless imitations: Jollibee, Chowking, Mister Donut, Plato Wraps, name it.  Starbucks, on the other hand, is an entirely different thing.  While McDonald's addresses hunger, Starbucks addresses status: a completely immaterial social need.  You don't go to Starbucks for coffee, rather, you go there to be seen drinking coffee.  There's a reason why it's in an island in the middle of an airport (a'la The Terminal) or the shop has big glass windows: it's to enclose the person in an atmosphere of affluence outside of the sphere of the masses.  Furthermore, Starbucks addresses ego: to be able to spend substantial amounts of money on something like mocha java not only gives you a dose of caffeine, but a certain kind of high associated with big spending, much like what one gets in a casino, a bingo game, or an arcade.


   There's nothing wrong with imperialism, however.  There's nothing wrong with the more affluent setting a standard of class and fashion for the masses who drink their coffee from a cheap mug or a styrofoam cup.  There is something wrong when vanity and conceit takes over the collective conscience and hurtles society into a state of distorted meanings, of affluence and poverty, of the truth and the myth.  That you're "poor" when you can no longer afford the cheapest cup of coffee, that the reality of coffee is no longer in its physical composition but in its economic manifestation.


   Ain't that a triple-shot bitch?

Posted at Wednesday, November 10, 2004 by marocharim

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