Im sad today. So I had this bright idea to list the things i am thankful for and the things that made my life uber happy.

I thank God for....

1. my family who loves and supports me in all things i do. I really feel loved for this.

2. letting me see life in a different perspective through Seph.

3. all friends who has been with me through thick and thin. For those friends who understands me though I don't speak about my problems.

4. my job. It's not much but it is a job. It is a big blessing for me and my family especially now that my dad needs constant check-ups and medicine sustenance.

5. Mel, Snowy, Inno, Xandra, JB, Dean, Leo, Milen, Daddy and the people at work who makes my everyday happy. They make me smile when I see them.

6. COnference people - Rehn, Alvin, Dex, Ckhoree, Rich, Khaye, Rein. I love you much. I know I am not visible this past few months. Bawi ako pag may time.

7. Powerhouse - Rhaie, Glena, Dette, Kaname, Danz, Verdict, Joy. You are the light of my "masalimuot" college years! You will always be most special. Remember that!

8. KAYABE - I will always be thankful for those things you taught me, especially the "stand up for what you know is right" lesson. You played a great part on my development as a person. Thank you!

9. Dramatikos - I will always look back to the meetings and plays we've done. "Walang anghel, Walang langit!" LOL!

10. SCENARIO - I might not be active, you might not see me. But never think I wont do everything for you guys! Nica, Kuya Richard, Russel, Kuya Roy, I will love you guys forever!

11. Theater Guild People 2005-2006 - Dale, Rhemz, Rhen, James - the memories of the things we shared will always be one of the most treasured in my life.

12. USC / CSC 2004-2006 - for all those overnights, ngarag moments, takbo sa oval - OSSA - Office times. Salamat!

13. Eng'g people so close to my heart - you'll always be a family. Adopted ako diba?! hehe

14. Mommy Anne and Sir Kleng - you taught me many things about running organizations, time management, BS 101s and leadership. Yes, you taught me a lot! But never will I forget that you showed me how it is possible to love what you do, fight for the things you like and make good friends with anyone - friends and foes alike. I love you both! You will always be my second parent.

15. Nica and Russel - showing me the essence of real friendship, tested through time and overcoming differences. You will always be one of my greatest friends.

16. Elias - for being a real buddy. A great friend as always and for sacrifices you did for me (baha moments remember?) Love you tol! you deserve to be happy.

17. Corky, Lea and Chet , for being the greatest ate in the whole world, salamat! Dakal ku pagkukulang pero I know you love me just the same.

Marami pang kulang kaso di nako makapag-isip. uniiyak nako eh.. take note, asa work ako nito ah.. parang tanga lang!

salamat sa lahat ng taong naging parte ng buhay ko.. (drama, tae!) haha..

what to do?!

I discovered something painful. Very painful...

what do i do?!

Confront or shut up?

ugh! I hate this feeling!


William Berhardt Books at last!

Went to watch Angels and Demons last Saturday. It was ok I guess. But what really made my day, no my week even!, was when I saw 2 Bernhardt books at Buy-the-Book store. To those people trying to find books by him, you would know why I was so happy to stumble upon copies of the Capitol Murder and Capitol Threat. I could contain the happiness that i was smiling the whole day!

I hope i can complete all his books. =)

SE USB Cable

Nananawagan po ako sa mga taong meron extra o hindi ginagamit na USB Cable ng Sony Ericsson.. bibilhin ko nalang po. Sa aking katangahan ay nawala ang sa akin.. ugh!

paki-send nalang po ako ng mensahe sa khat_trin07@yahoo.com o sa serenesoul@earthlink.net

salamat po!


Fan Mail for Ryan Buquir

I have been silently following Ryan Buquir's blog at travellerspoint. Uber galing kasi ni buquir eh! sobrang natutuwa ako sa kanya. Also, hindi dumudugo yung ilong ko sa grammar nya unlike other bloggers.. Saludo talaga ako sa taong ito!

Pero ngayon lang ako nanghina at nanlambot sa pagbabasa ng blog nya... My Gulay! Super dalang ako pumuri ng tao lalo na kung kagandahan at kagwapuhan lang ang labanan. Pero mahal ko na sya... haha! I love number 2 sa top ten list mo buquir!! sobra! lol. (eto sya oh.. hanapin nyo si number two)

Nanginig kaming dalawa ni snowy. Ang ganda naman kasi ng katawan ni kuya.. Enge naman kanin dito! haha! Si snowy nga ata gagawin pang wallpaper ng phone nya yung pic ni billy na nakabriefs lang.. hehe!

To Buquir, salamat sa pagpapasaya mo sa amin.. I am your fan. Always! CallCenterConfidential rocks! Buquir is the greatest! haha...

Love Lots!


Meaning of Katrina

You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life.
You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip.
People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.
You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.
You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.


Comments on the Great Book Blockade

I have been reading comments and blogs regarding the issue raised by Hemley at the Mcsweeney's site. I have encountered lots of insights on this matter, especially the in the "legal" aspect. Let me just raise my personal and, i believe, biased opinion.

- Customs Officials are corrupt. This is a fact that every Filipino knows. I am not saying this just because of this particular case but because we have had dealings with these people.

- The Philippine Government needs to straighten this out. Hey, I am a book lover. And I always encourage people to read books. If you will not follow by the rules of the Florence Agreement and let these corrupt officials make the law, we will have few people reading because of high-priced books.

- We learn lots of things from books. It personally enhances my vocabulary and improves my grammar and diction. If we don't protect or create a "book law", we might wake up one day with literacy rate lower than Bhutan! Wake up!

- We are the 2nd most corrupt country in Asia. Wow! It pays to be a Filipino huh?! Ayusin nyo buhay nyo! (fix your lives)

I admire officials who would never succumb to the temptation of corruption- may it be in business, schools, organizations or government. It is a shame to admit that these things happen in our country. Let us resolve to do our little parts in making sure this will be lessened. It is time we work on putting this to stop even if it's just on our own home. remember: great things start from small beginnings.

The Great Book Blockade of 2009

Very enlightening read! - khat


With Issue 31 set for release, there's never been a better time to subscribe to McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. The new issue features Douglas Coupland, John Brandon, Shelley Jackson, and many others, reviving some genres you may have overlooked or previously didn't care for. Subscribe to McSweeney's and get this issue and the next three for the special price of $50.

From Manila.

Robin Hemley is the director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He's spending the year on a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Philippines with his family. Why the Philippines? Read on and find out—he'll be checking in regularly.

D I S P A T C H 6

The Great
Book Blockade
of 2009.

By Robin Hemley

- - - -

Occasionally, my daughter Shoshie announces that she's going to be the richest person in the world when she grows up—this is what living in a poor country like the Philippines will do to a kid. She recently made this remark as we passed a girl about 9 years old, dressed in an odd kind of caftan many sizes too big and holding a limp infant as she begged.

"You should just want to have enough money," I said. "Why have too much?"

"I'm going to give a lot of it to the poor," she said.

"Then you won't be the richest person in the world," I told her.

"But I'm going to have a lot of jobs."

"Then you won't be the richest person in the world." I explained that typically people are rich or poor in inverse proportion to how many jobs they have or how hard they work.

"You only need one job," I told her. "You're a dual citizen, so when you are old enough come back here and be a customs official. Then you'll make a lot of money and won't have to do a thing for it." I'm not sure she got it. It's hard to explain to a 6-year-old. Hell, I don't even understand it.

Few countries can compete with the Philippines when it comes to corruption—it's always near the top of the list of most-corrupt nations and the G20 nations recently blacklisted it, along with only three other countries, for its banking practices. In polls, Filipinos tag customs as the most corrupt department. And for good reason.

Over coffee one afternoon, a book-industry professional (whom I can't identify) told me that for the past two months virtually no imported books had entered the country, in part because of the success of one book, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. The book, an international best seller, had apparently attracted the attention of customs officials. When an examiner named Rene Agulan opened a shipment of books, he demanded that duty be paid on it.

"Ah, you can't be too successful in this country," I said. "If you are, then people start demanding a cut."

"Even before you are successful," she said. "But, yes, I'm a Filipino, but I have to admit this is true. Have you heard of 'crab mentality'?"

I'd been hearing of this so-called crab mentality since I first arrived in the country 10 years earlier. It's the notion that crabs will climb on top of one another to escape the pot in which they are to be cooked, but, instead of letting one crab escape, the remaining crabs pull the other one back.

But most crabs I've encountered in the Philippines are small-time little hermit crabs or dashing sand crabs. The crabs in government are the kind you'd find in an old Japanese horror film, with an entire city's population running in fear as the crabs snip away public works, entire highway projects, intangibles, such as hope and justice, and, now, books.

"Yes," I told her. "I've heard of crab mentality."

The importer of Twilight made a mistake and paid the duty requested. A mistake because such duty flies in the face of the Florence Agreement, a U.N. treaty that was signed by the Philippines in 1952, guaranteeing the free flow of "educational, scientific, and cultural materials" between countries and declaring that imported books should be duty-free. Mr. Agulan told the importer that because the books were not educational (i.e., textbooks) they were subject to duty. Perhaps they aren't educational, I might have argued, but aren't they "cultural"?

No matter. With this one success under their belt, customs curtailed all air shipments of books entering the country. Weeks went by as booksellers tried to get their books out of storage and started intense negotiations with various government officials.

What doubly frustrated booksellers and importers was that the explanations they received from various officials made no sense. It was clear that, for whatever reason—perhaps the 30-billion-peso ($625 million) shortfall in projected customs revenue—customs would go through the motions of having a reasonable argument while in fact having none at all.

Customs Undersecretary Espele Sales explained the government's position to a group of frustrated booksellers and importers in an Orwellian PowerPoint presentation, at which she reinterpreted the Florence Agreement as well as Philippine law RA 8047, providing for "the tax and duty-free importation of books or raw materials to be used in book publishing." For lack of a comma after the word "books," the undersecretary argued that only books "used in book publishing" (her underlining) were tax-exempt.

"What kind of book is that?" one publisher asked me afterward. "A book used in book publishing." And she laughed ruefully.

I thought about it. Maybe I should start writing a few. Harry the Cultural and Educational Potter and His Fondness for Baskerville Type.

Likewise, with the Florence Agreement, she argued that only educational books could be considered protected by the U.N. treaty. Customs would henceforth be the arbiter of what was and wasn't educational.

"For 50 years, everyone has misinterpreted the treaty and now you alone have interpreted it correctly?" she was asked.

"Yes," she told the stunned booksellers.

The writer David Torrey Peters, who once spent a year in Cameroon (which is even more corrupt than the Philippines), wrote of being pulled out of a taxi by a policeman who demanded that he produce his immunization card. David did this, but the cop told him that he was missing an AIDS vaccination. When David told the man that there was no such thing as an AIDS vaccine, the policeman was indignant.

"You think just because there isn't an AIDS vaccine I can't arrest you for not having one?"

This is the I-will-say-everything-with-a-straight-face-no-matter-how-absurd hallmark of corruption. It's what Orwell wrote about in his classic essay "Politics and the English Language" when he warns of the ways in which bureaucrats defend "the indefensible" by twisting words to suit their purposes. Though he singled out English, corruption happens in every language. However, he did make special mention of undersecretaries as being among the worst purveyors of actual meaning. Not that that has any relevance here (cough, cough), Undersecretary Sales.

Moving on.

During this time, the only bright spot for book lovers in Manila, or at least those who wanted to read foreign as well as local authors, came in March with the sailing into Manila Bay of the M.V. Doulos, the oldest operating passenger ship in the world, built only a couple of years after the Titanic. Destined to be scrapped within the next couple of years, the ship chugged into town, laden with books. The Doulos is run by a religious group and sails around the world as a kind of floating bookstore/library with an international crew of volunteers.

What?!! Volunteers?! Have they no shame?

The sheer shock of a boatload of selfless individuals sailing into Manila Bay must have given customs officials a brain freeze, dazing them long enough for the old ship to make it past the Great Book Blockade of 2009.

I visited the Doulos on one bright Sunday afternoon with Shoshie, Margie, Naomi, and two of Shoshie's friends. We walked up the gangplank into a scene of sheer chaos—a frenzy of book-hungry ManileƱos. A heartening sight, but not unexpected—the Philippines is one of the largest markets for books written in English in the world and new bookstores with such names as Power Books and Fully Booked have been cropping up all over metro Manila in recent years to compete with the ubiquitous and aptly named National Bookstore.

Throughout February and March, bookstores seemed on the verge of getting their books released—all their documents were in order, but the rules kept changing. Now they were told that all books would be taxed: 1 percent for educational books and 5 percent for noneducational books. A nightmare scenario for the distributors; they imagined each shipment being held for months as an examiner sorted through the books. Obviously, most would simply pay the higher tax to avoid the hassle.

Distributors told me they weren't "capitulating" but merely paying under protest. After all, customs was violating an international treaty that had been abided by for over 50 years. Meanwhile, booksellers had to pay enormous storage fees. Those couldn't be waived, they were told, because the storage facilities were privately owned (by customs officials, a bookstore owner suggested ruefully). One bookstore had to pay $4,000 on a $10,000 shipment.

The day after the first shipment of books was released, an internal memo circulated in customs congratulating themselves for finally levying a duty on books, though no mention was made of their pride in breaking an international treaty.

As the narrator of Aravind Adiga's 2008 Man Booker Prize–winning novel, The White Tiger, says, "Stories of rottenness and corruption are always the best stories, aren't they?"

Now, once again, Filipinos can read those words from a foreign author and customs can reap the benefits. And Shoshie? We were just reading a Filipino folktale the other night about a certain King Crab and his war with the mosquitoes. She only laughed when I suggested she might like to grow up to be Queen Crab.