apologies, mr dj

I don’t listen to radio much. But since getting new headsets for my Sony Ericsson cellphone (which salved my iPod Nano cravings, for now), I’ve been tuning in more often. I listen on the MRT commute, while reading a book in a coffee shop, or, like tonight, while doing some house tidying (ahem). I stick to FM stations that have not succumbed to the reformatting fad which spawned the exasperating “Kelangan pa bang imemorize ‘yan” tag lines, not to mention the distasteful double-meaning banter.

I know that radio thrives on interactivity. Jocks invite listeners to text in, call via landline, and, more recently, chat via Yahoo! Messenger. The jock I was listening to wasn’t any different; he repeatedly invited listeners to interact with him and his topic (on dreams and their meanings). I don’t mind hearing jocks talk in between the songs–some are fun to listen to, and some do make sense. But I thought this guy onboard tonight spoke too fast for his own good, stuttering and mispronouncing a lot. I mean, a lot. Right into my ears. In stereo and mega-bass mode.

So, in the spirit of interactive media, I thought I’d give him a heads-up. My computer was online, and YM was up. I dried my hands from doing the dishes, and tapped in a YM message:

u have to slow down a bit, man – the stuttering is getting to be irritating ūüôā

(Yep, I put a smiley at the end.) I hoped he would see the message and adjust accordingly. Well, he did see my message. And he read it… aloud! On-air!

If only he’d done a quick (silent) scan of the message, he would have realized it wasn’t for the airwaves. Instead he read it aloud right away, in his perky, modulated voice, almost as soon as I pressed enter! When he realized what he had just done, he immediately (and quite suavely, I must say) segued into the next song. I felt bad for him. So I attempted an apology…

me: “oops – sorry, dude – u didn’t have to read that on air.”
mr dj: “and oops… you had to type that.”

Yikes. I guess I couldn’t blame him for playing ten songs in a row after that. I tried to apologize again, but he seemed to have put me in his “Ignore” list. When he finally got back on-air (speaking a bit slower now, with just a little hint of sarcasm), he said that, “For some reason, I feel like I’m having a bad day.” He stuttered through that line, I’m afraid. Then he greeted “all” his YM chatters. Guess whose YM ID didn’t make the cordial roll call.

Oh well.

reading list

I’ve cluttered my bedroom (and part of the living room) with my new books–none of which I bought, except for one. I hope to finish them all in the next month or so, as they all seem to be interesting reads. Here’s the rundown:

Jack’s Notebook by Gregg Farely. The¬†subtitle¬†says¬†it¬†all: “a business novel about creative problem solving.” I don’t usually read business books, but this one’s pretty interesting. Gave me some good insights to ponder when I read it while having a late lunch at McDonald’s today. The fiction isn’t bad either.

Skin by Ted Dekker. Dekker made my head spin with Thr3e, had me catching my breath with Blink, made me teary-eyed¬†(yeah,yeah) with The Blessed Child, and then confused me with Saint.¬†The last book had engaging portions, but the entire plot left much to be desired,¬†methinks. But I am not giving up on the guy just yet; that’s why I have his newest work, Skin, by my bedside.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Philip Keller. I’ve heard preachers allude to this work, and I’ve skimmed through the spin-off devotional book. Now it’s time to read it for myself. I’m excited to discover the richness of meaning that a modern-day shepherd can elucidate from perhaps the most well-known chapter in Scriptures.

Creative Nonfiction: A Manual for Filipino Writers by Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, and its accompanying Reader. These are gifts from Ram, a friend who’s taken masteral courses in creative writing at UP. He’s leaving for the US next week to take part in a three-month training conference with the Navigators. I am keenly interested in the creative nonfiction genre (a discovery I made after reading all of ten pages of the “manual” just this afternoon!). These textbooks should help put some “science” into my writing.

Chasing Daylight (formerly titled Seizing Your Divine Moments) by Erwin McManus. I’ve been plodding through this book for at least one month. It speaks to me on a very personal level, so that I have to read it slowly, almost as if I don’t want to reach the last page.

So there. Blogging about my reading list should help me remember to shut down Kierk (my computer) more often so I can retreat to good, old-fashioned book reading. I like to read when it’s raining (that is, if I’m not sleeping); maybe I’ll be able to turn more pages now that the rains have come.

one voter’s musings

Last Monday morning, election day, I got a text from a friend who works in media: “TIP FOR THE DAY: Ang sagot sa indelible ink cuticle remover!”

It’s amazing how we Pinoys continuously amuse ourselves, always finding the heart to laugh in the face of the crises and difficulties that beset us. I think this is a great blessing.

While I was casting my vote yesterday (wearing shorts and tsinelas as my voting precinct was just fifty steps from my apartment), I thought about how much of a difference my single ballot can really make. I mean, it’s just one of over 40 million.

Will it really matter much whether or not I make wise choices as to the names I write on this piece of paper? What if I simply avoided the stained forefinger and all the inconveniences of suffrage and not vote at all? Will my vote be missed? And what if my ballot fell prey to the schemes of election cheaters?

Can one, solitary as it is, change the course of a nation?

Sometimes it is difficult to grasp the power of one. It can take great effort to convince ourselves that, yes, the good that we do can be used by God to effect change. Like the ripples that one pebble makes when it is dropped in a still pond, our little deeds of faithfulness — done despite the prevalent sense of hopelessness that poisons our days — have the potential to grow into unimaginable significance. And it takes faith to keep that in heart and mind.

On board the MRT the day after the elections, I noticed that many a hand that gripped the metal pole had a forefinger still stained with indelible ink. Somehow I felt a sense of being one with these strangers. Regardless of political leanings and preferences, we had tapped into the power of one the day before. The indelible ink on our forefingers will fade and be completely gone in a few days, or sooner. But for all Filipinos, I pray God would grant us indelible hope, the kind that seeps through the heart and resists any attempts to wipe it away.

I¬†don’t¬†mind¬†the¬†stained¬†finger.¬†So¬†no¬†cuticle¬†remover¬†for¬†me ūüôā

language gone awry

Pop quiz (for Pinoys): How do you pronounce the word “awry”?

If your answer sounds something like ow-ree, then you’re not alone. That’s how I would pronounce it too. Apparently, the “correct” pronunciation (at least according to the Americans) is uhray — quite like “aray,” the Tagalog interjection/exclamation equivalent to “ouch.”

Strange, no?

Reminds me of “precedent,” commonly pronounced by Pinoys as pre-see-dent; I’ve heard Americans pronounce it in the movies exactly like they would say “president.” I think the Pinoy pronunciation makes more sense, especially when you consider the following case: “The president’s precedent action was misconstrued.” Or some such usage.

In many ways, English is a very inconsistent language. I like the simplicity of Tagalog/Filipino. As the Filipino teacher’s mantra goes, Kung anong bigkas, siya ring baybay (How you say it is how you spell it.) Then again, for non-Tagalog speakers things could also go awry.

bro bonding

We’re ten years apart, my eldest brother and I. You’d think a full decade’s gap is more than enough for people to tell easily who’s the younger bro and who’s the older. Not quite. On several occasions, people have mistaken me for the more senior sibling. And when this happens Kuya Arnel just smiles and does nothing to rectify the unjust assumption, while I fumble for words to correct the rude stranger (hah!). Maybe it’s the height – I’m a few inches taller…

kuyai.jpgGrowing up, Kuya and I were not close. He started preaching at age 17 and so he was away or busy most of the time. Because of his calling, I saw more of him from the church pew than from the living room sofa. When I went off to college and he and family relocated back to Davao¬†from¬†Iloilo , things took a turn for the better. Kuya and I began relating with each other more, mostly during my vacations in Davao. It was a delightful discovery that there was a friend in this preacher-brother; that it’s not just blood that is binding us – our hearts have been knitted together in fellowship.

Last month, the kuya and the bunso were on the phone catching up. Kuya‘s stories are always interesting and many times a source of inspiration. We are the family’s clowns and so we naturally find ways to enjoy laughs with each other. But for months he has been under tremendous stress, growing weary from the pressures of life and ministry, and I could sense this over the phone. He told me he would be speaking at a conference in Dagupan and Baguio end of April. I urged him to spare a day or two after his engagement to spend some down time with me in Manila before he flew back to Davao. I would take time off from work to host him. Nothing grand, just two brothers relaxing and catching up.

I knew he would object to the “inconveniences” that having fun in Manila entailed, but I was patient and firm. He complained when we took sardine-packed MRT rides. He complained when I checked him in a budget hotel, sarcastically muttering under his breath, “Third world!” (Haha!) He complained when we took a long walk on University Ave before dinner. He complained when… oh, for a minister, he was complaining a lot!

And yet all the while I knew he really wasn’t complaining. He was having fun ūüôā As much as he says he dislikes adventure and travel, I suspect deep down he longs for new things. And I think I’m right. “Complaints” and all, he did seem to have enjoyed our time together – enough to blog about it right away.

Grace does come to us in unlikely packages. For that short time last week, I didn’t mind playing the kuya, cajoling a complaining minister to take a break and loosen up a bit. If it was fun for Kuya, it was doubly fun for me. After all, it’s not every day that I get to spend time with family.

Sa uulitin, bro?