Monday, February 27, 2006

This and this...

You know how you can fool yourself into believing that things will somehow get better?

My Mom told me that they've arrested Randy David, a columnist who wrote critical articles about GMA and the government.

State(s) of Emergency...we've had so many, too many coup d'etats... too many corrupt officials clinging to the seat of power.

Inquirer headlines arrests many arrests. The Tribune has been seized... this all looks like Martial Law to me.

It certainly provides enough fodder for my over-active imagination.

My mom says anyone who speaks against the government is fair game. Over here, we wait for news from home, wondering what will happen next.

Is this truly a State of Emergency or merely an excuse for power-mad, corrupt officials to wipe out critical voices?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Been visiting Mutya Power. I just can't help praising the women working on this blog for their initiative in opening up the issue of Mail Order Brides for discussion.

The issue of the M.O.B. is something I find myself confronted with too. While a lot of Filipinas marry for love, there are an equally good number who do marry out of economical reasons.

I do understand about poverty and how the economic situation in the Philippines leads to this "kapit sa patalim" mentality. As one young girl told me, she came here with a man who was old enough to be her grandfather because she wasn't smart enough to land a job and it was her only way out of poverty. Later on, the grandfather type dumped her for a still younger version and she ended up in a relationship with a man who was closer to her chronological age. Her second man was rather bossy, but he did care for her in his way. It was quite a turbulent relationship and when her second husband passed away, she hopped on to the next relationship wagon.

There is another case, which involves a girl married to man who is old enough to be her father. This man - divorced from a Dutch woman - presented quite a docile face at first. This girl when I first met her was a vivacious figure. Once the marriage papers were signed, the man altered. We saw the other side of him.

A typical evening with them would involve him telling invited guests that his wife was worthless, that she was "bobo" (knew nothing/ uneducated ), that he could find a hundred pretty Filipinas to take her place.

Over time, I watched how this vivacious and energetic filipina transformed into a nervous wreck who jumped at the sound of his voice.

We tried to show her that this relationship was an abusive one, but she insisted that unless he hit her, she could not leave him. Her insistence on staying with him stemming from something he'd said about Filipinas marrying only for money and her belief that if she did separate from him, it would justify what he said.

I still struggle with cases like these, and when I encounter situations where I know economics is one of the issues, I can't help feeling so, so, so frustrated.

In a recent workshop given by Stichting Bayanihan ( a support group for Filipinas in the Netherlands ), one of the subjects raised was that of empowerment.

I wonder what a Rik person (as referred to in the Mutya Power blog) would say if his Celine suddenly stood up, brandished a bolo and declared: "I am an empowered woman, Rik. I'm not the submissive you thought I was."

Awesome Blog

Found this blog after visiting The Chatelaine's blog.

A truly awesome blog that grapples with one of the major issues affecting Filipinas the world over.


So, okay, most of the news from home was bad.

One upnote in all the news was my brother passing his board exams :) So, I'm cheering him in public and saying congratulations, Bro.

The youngest in our family, he'll be joining the oathtaking ceremony come March. One thing I admire about my bro is how he's persevered in order to achieve his dream. I think he was about five years old when he announced he wanted to become a Doctor. Since then, he's never wavered, not an inch.

So, yes, this news kind of puts me on top of the world inspite of everything. What I find admirable about him is how he's been so grounded in his desire to use his gifts for God and for his fellowmen.

Can you believe that out of all the board passers this year, probably only 500 will be applying for residencies in the Philippines? The rest will be heading for the US or for Europe...for richer pastures...dollars and euros.

As for my bro, he's staying in PH.

Dr. Joash Pio Ruiz -- sounds nice, doesn't it :)

Nice to know
dreams come
true ;)

news from home...

There's also this.

President Arroyo's reign has been haunted by so much upheaval and so much discontent, I wonder why she still hangs onto the seat of power. It also makes me question why there are people who still continue to back her up.

Two sides to the coin...

I find myself wondering what people backing her up have to gain from her remaining in power.

Then, I find myself wondering who is gaining by a national state of unrest.

Have I lost faith in Philippine Government? Let me just say this: I lost my faith in Philippine Politicians long ago. To my mind, most folks who want a shot at being head of the government go into it with half an eye on profit.

I wish I could still believe otherwise...

I wish there could still be a turn around for us and for our people.

catching up...

Finally feeling well enough to write something coherent. Coming out of an anesthetic haze on Friday (the 17th), I heard news about the landslide in Leyte.

Bino Realuyoblogs about the latest Leyte tragedy, and points to the root cause. I don't know if anyone still remembers the Ormoc Tragedy of 1991.

We can't blame God for tragedies like these when it's our own greed that denudes our country of its natural wealth.

I wonder how long it will take before people realize that in denuding our forests we are robbing ourselves/our nation's children of a brighter future.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Tomorrow's operation, preceded by today's rush...

Joel's school director says farewell.

on to
greater, greener pastures.

Kids will miss
you. Parents


Oom Dirk's wake was held this evening.

One last goodbye
holding back

A great man
we remember

Your welcome smile
embracing this

We'll miss you...


Babysitting for a friend

will come
I'll remember this...


Joel goes off to have a sleepover with Grandpa and Grandma

Kiss me goodnight
my little


Off to bed.
It's been a looooooooong day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Joel writes...

I'm wondering whether we pick up writing by osmosis. Since his debut as a child poet, Joel Jan insists on a regular writing time for himself where he dictates the stories and I type.

Yesterday, I listened to him telling a story to his father. I think I am going to send this story to that man who asked me whether fantastic things come out of a child's imagination.

I wonder what he would have to say to this story wherein Joel Jan paints three rainbows as being the port to another world where God the Father plays hide and seek with unicorns and fairies. Perhaps the funniest section of this story was where Joel Jan tells his father that God is trying to hide his long ears.

I couldn't help interrupting to ask him what he meant by long ears. Is that an animal of some sort?

No, he said. God has long ears. He needs long ears to hear all the prayers everyone is saying.

Ha, ha...okay...that really got me. I'll translate the entire thing into english and post it up here one of these days.
I've been properly diagnosed now. It seems I have three gallstones, which is the reason why I've been having pain attacks, and the doctor says there's no getting out of an operation. I've never been operated on in my entire life and the thought of spending the night in the Hospital sort of scares me. But it's just a minor operation, they assure me. I've been put on the waiting list, but have to keep an eye on my diet.

Top this with catching some sort of virus that's been flying around the country. Arrgh! I hate being sick. It totally puts my brain to sleep.

Valentine's Day was a big surprise. Usually, I make a lot of fuss about special days, but this time, I sort of forgot all about it. But then, don't you just love surprises?

Imagine how I felt when my husband woke me up on Valentine's day with a lovely bouquet :) That was really sweet.

Yesterday, I posted a bit of a rant. During the weekend, I'd had a conversation with a man who is connected to one of the important Christian publishing houses in the Netherlands. This publishing house tests everything that comes on the market ( books and games ) and is responsible for informing parents what to watch out for. Not a bad idea, except this guy was totally against fantasy and science fiction because he says they are not God pleasing.

But what about C.S.Lewis? I asked.

But did'nt you know that C.S. Lewis called the Bible a myth? He says.

I look at him like he's hit me with an elephant. I mean, I don't recall reading anything like that...

Nevertheless, I say to him, I believe that God gave us the gift of imagination and creativity. I believe that we as Christian writers can write fantasy and speculative fiction that pleases God, if we submit our writing to his hand.

To which he replied: Yes, I suppose you are right.

It's things like these that I bump up against in the Christian community every now and then. Like my brother-in-law who still firmly insists that speculative fiction is not literature and a christian has no business writing them. Argh!

Only time can change this way of looking at things I suppose.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

If we told our children to stop imagining
If we took away their books
kept their minds from wondering
and wandering through worlds fantastic
If we told them to limit their reading
to the philosophers, the mathematicians
measured science, and the events of now
what would we be killing?


What's wrong about writing fantasy and speculative fiction? What's wrong about a child who imagines dragons knocking at his door, the advent of a cosmic whirlwind, the creation of a galactic dog.

I still fight for the right to dream and imagine worlds unseen and unexplored. Perhaps my truths are not the truths of another. Does this mean I have to box up my imagination and tailor it to fit another man's perception of truth? I mean, look at how many truths we would have missed if we hadn't read The Brothers Grimm or listened to The Folktales our grandmothers and aunties told us.

Yes, I believe the bible is the ultimate truth, at the same time as I believe that imagination and the creative mind are divine gifts that we have no right to suppress.

Dr. Seuss demonstrates so clearly how we can suppress and oppress a child's imagination just by being too grown up. ( read Murlberry Street ). Which goes to why I love Seuss...I love it that his books encourage children to imagine and explore the worlds inside their heads.

So, when I am writing fantasy, I am returning to the child in me who walks through the park and sees falling stars walking among the trees.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

I feel
I have lived

a hundred years
inside this


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

evil wink, wink

Just couldn't resist posting after reading Mark Young's response to blog tag.

Yes, I confess to dropping by on a regular basis for a daily dose of poetry. You should do it too.

I forgot to post about this, but making up for it now. If you still haven't got a copy of Mark Young's Series Margritte, it's now available at Moria Go read it.

with healing in his wings...

That was the word that wouldn't let go of me, so I had to go and look it up. Once again I am reminded of the power of the word.

The exact phrase is:

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in its wings.

In some translations, it reads...

The Son of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.

I like the second translation better. It brings to my mind this powerful image of the Son of righteousness with his wings outstretched, rising up from behind the darkness and spreading his light everywhere and everywhere.

That's the beauty of The Word.

Monday, February 06, 2006

So, I have officially unsubscribed myself from the Neil Gaiman writing contest mailing list. Good grief! Talk about some people not being able to differentiate a protest against rules as not being something personal.

But this is again something that tells me how much I've changed since moving to this country. It is so weird to see how people can become so offended by a remark that isn't directed at them personally.

On a happier note, I'm pleased about my story Children of the Falling Stars being accepted for publication on Dragons, Knights and Angels magazine" . It's not yet up as I just got the contract today.

This will be my second publication on there. Children of the Falling Stars is more of a human story than a science fiction one. In a sense, I would say this story is the story of a lot of women who move away from home to live in another place. It's a lot longer than the original 999 words...I think it's about 1,800+. Not a bad word count for a short ... actually a good word count for electronic pubs.

My personal observation of markets: while there is still a market out there for dragons and knights and heros...more of contemporary fantasy/speculative writing is an in-between the cracks thing. I see a lot of this coming out in magazines online and offline. To my mind, the line between genre and "literary" is growing thinner.

One book I recently read is Ishiguro's novel "Never let Me Go", and I know why it's garnered so much praise and acclaim. That is a standard worth writing towards.

The funny thing is that while this novel is quite clearly speculative science fiction in nature, it's classified as "literary". So, when does a work move from being genre to literary? That's a puzzle I've given up on. When it comes down to it, what matters is the writers skill at capturing words and shaping them into a work of beauty. Yes, it is beautiful :)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Today -- Bayanihan, Identity, Culture and Empowerment

I'm blogging about this because it's something I've been thinking about a lot. Glad too that I decided to go to this training for a Network of Volunteers that was given by Stichting Bayanihan .

Getting together with these women after a looooong absence made me realize just how much my own personal search has changed me and influenced the way I look at others. I found today's training insightful as among the subjects tackled was that of Identity and Culture and how recognition of the things we face in regards to our uprootment from the land of our birth can be either a source of weakness or empowerment.

This is a subject dear to my heart. Hearing my own thoughts and reflections of the past months echoed in the words of fifteen other volunteers, made me realize just how much we tend to keep silent when it comes to our feelings of loss and longing. I think of how this could have its root in our culture where we are taught to suffer in silence.

In truth, I believe giving voice to our suffering, giving voice to our pain is what frees and empowers us.

And while not all of us do write, the words of these women sing in my mind and in my heart like poetry...

ben ik
my first name

ben ik
my second title

ben ik
So I embrace

I am
breaking down walls

my bridges
opening my doors.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Blog Tag

Oh, I got tagged by Bec , and now I have to invent answers to questions...Yay!

So, here goes:

Three books I can read over and over:

1) Waking the Dead ( by John Eldredge )
2) Reproductions of an Empty Flagpole ( Eileen Tabios )
3) Anchored Angel ( writings of Jose Garcia Villa * which I loved so, so, so much* )

++ ( I tend to reread Ernest Hemingway at least once a year...sorry...old habits die hard. And I do try to reread Noli Me Tangere once a year too.)

++ ( commentary: I do tend to read a lot of poetry, as I find it stimulates my brain waves...then I start writing odd this one I'm working on about a snake that has all sorts of things to do with time travel...vanishing people...and all that weird kind of stuff.

Three Places I've lived:

1) Surigao City
2) Banaue, Ifugao ( for eleven years ) I do still remember pieces of the language. The hateful thing about moving is losing the own experience.
3) Las Pinas City, Philippines

++ ( and now living in The Netherlands )

Three TV shows I love:

1)Absolutely Fabulous **Nutty, nutty show, but absolutely hilarious and as the title says...fabulous **
2)Star Trek ( basically anything along this line, I love )
3)'allo, állo ( a very funny english comedy show, never fails to make me laugh )
++ 4) Super Nanny ( can't help it )

Three highly regarded and reccommended TV shows I've never watched a single minute of: ( okay, maybe just a second...I'm a writer...I'm curious.)

1) The O.C.
2) Lost ( I never could get the viewing time right. Either missed it or overlooked it)
3) Desperate Housewives

Three places I've vacationed:

1) Beautiful Palawan
2) Brugge, Belgium
3) The South of France

Three of my favorite dishes:

**oh, this is tough** only three??? Are you sure?

1) Adobo
2) Pancit
3) Lumpia

** I love them especially when I don't have to cook them**

Three sites I visit daily:

1) The Sword Review
3) The Chatelaine

Three places I'd rather be right now:

1) Home - in the Philippines with Tatay, Nanay, my bros and my sisters...and my little niece, Sjoban.
2) France
3) somewhere secluded where I can write to my heart's content without interruptions whatsoever for days on end...preferrably with an internet connection .

I wonder if these people play tag....

1)The Chatelaine
2) Mark Young
3) My brother, Joash ( hmmm...I have to find that url )

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Shatter the glass
with your fists
with your palms
with the flat of your foot
with the force of your body
with the strength of your voice
Scream it down
Wail it down
Noise it down
there is no glass
no wall

February Issue-Reflection's Edge

My story, World in A Bubble is up on Reflection's Edge. I'm so, so, pleased it's found a home up there.

World in a Bubble is another title for The Man Who Swallowed the World...the same piece that has given rise to a number of hay(na)ku on that topic.


Off to pick up Joel Jan from school. Will post more later.