Sunday, November 14, 2021

Mama’s Story: A Marriage Sealed With A Kiss

(Written by Cymark Ferdinand Mirasol. As requested by Cynia P. Mirasol for her 66th Birthday)

The pendulum swing of values throughout human history is a fact of objective reality – but Marx and Engels were wrong about their prospective vision. The pendulum will never stop because a perfect system does not and cannot exist simply because of the inherently chaotic and indomitably rebellious nature of humanity itself.

On a smaller scale, I have been fortunate enough to experience the dynamic nature of human values as it has swung from one side to the other several times during my 60+ years of existence. It really drives home the reality that in the grand scale of the universe, we are all just microscopic particles clutching onto delusions of grandeur about our own scale of influence and power.

Far detached from these grandiose thoughts, this is a story of a simpler time. A time when the ruling paradigm of human values in the Philippines was ridiculously conservative: this is the story of my Mama a story of marriage from a stolen kiss.

My Mama, Delia Dela Cruz (eventually Paguntalan), was the 2nd child in a family of 9 consisting of 6 boys and 3 girls. She was always considered the kindest and the most obedient and well-respected among her siblings. In other words, she was loved.

This was a time when parents and their children strictly observed the natural order of social hierarchy within the family. The parents, at the very top, were given the utmost respect by their children. Meanwhile, among the siblings, no one ever dared to question the authority of the eldest child. Just as in modern times, sometimes this ultra-conservative setup worked and sometimes it didn’t. In the case of Mama’s family, everything turned out just fine.

Mama lived out her childhood and teenage years during the 1920s and her adult years in the 1940s and beyond. As far as the Philippines was concerned, the pendulum swing of societal values was very much far into the conservative rightmost side – and of course, the Philippines being largely Catholic, this was the norm and was widely accepted by almost everyone. 

Mama and Daddy had known each other almost all their lives. While they were never classmates because Daddy was two years older, they at least lived in the same district of Molo. The truth is that Mama never had eyes for Daddy and only knew him as an acquaintance.

On the other hand, Daddy always had a crush on Mama but he was always too shy to confess. 

Mama would often recall this story to us, her kids and every single time, it never failed to make us laugh because of how ridiculous it sounded to us, who were born in a different decade when women were starting to become more empowered.

One day, while Daddy was playing volleyball along with his buddies, Mama was passing by on her way home from school. It was at this moment that Daddy decided to take his destiny into his own hands and seal his fate with his crush – with a kiss.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Daddy simply rushed over and kissed Mama on the lips. 

Mama was shocked. She shouted “hudas” at her oppressor and immediately ran home crying. She felt that her honor and dignity had been severely violated – very much like how women would react nowadays to having their virginity taken by force.

For days, she would not leave the house and would spend her time in her room crying and recalling the vivid details of what had happened in her head. Modern individuals would see this as naïve – I like to see it as more of a reflection of the times. It’s hard to foster modern progressive rainbow colored values in your head when you didn’t have anyone to tell you about them and constantly reassure you of the overinflated importance of your own existence. At that time, you had yourself, your real-life friends, and your family – and if they drew from the same experiences as you did, then they would most likely hold the same values that you did.

A few days later, Daddy, along with his parents visited Mama’s family in order to formally propose marriage in order to make amends for stealing Mama’s precious first kiss. Nowadays, people might think that this is an exaggeration. After all, who gets married – staking their lives on a stolen kiss? Hello! It’s 2021 – but it wasn’t 2021. It was sometime in the 1930s and things were very different.

So yes, Mama accepted the proposal and they were married after a few discussions and arrangements. 

In the end, they didn’t have a perfect relationship. Daddy was an alcoholic who was sometimes verbally abusive to Mama as well as physically abusive to us, their children. Yet there were glimpses of a debonair and caring gentleman beneath the constant stench of alcohol and his endless vocabulary of Spanish expletives.

Meanwhile, Mama, despite her brilliance as a well-respected teacher, was always submissive to Daddy no matter what because she wanted to keep the family intact.

Honestly, I am not even certain where love factors in into their relationship. From a pragmatic standpoint, I never saw this. Despite my own misgivings however, they somehow made it work. Their marriage somehow held strong for over 5 decades until death separated them. That’s probably a few decades more than some of you have been alive. I’d like to believe that much is worth something at least.

This is my Mama’s story. A story separated from the reality of the modern world by the barriers of time. An ordinary story of a less than ideal marriage -- sealed with a kiss.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Happy Birthday Hayate Ayasaki - 11.11

 Happy Birthday, Hayate Ayasaki -- former butler turned boyfriend of Nagi. You may not have had the best of luck, but you certainly hit the jackpot in the end. Also, he was born in 1988. He's in his thirties now. He old. 

Also, I might update this post with new images later. Current one is a quick sketch on my LCD writing tablet -- that I should review pretty soon.

Oh, and I finally removed adsense from my blog, by the way. I mean, like I've had it on for nearly a decade and I've never had a single payout anyway.



Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Mediocrity of the Filipino - An Anecdote by lordcloudx

Why do we Filipinos often become the butt of the joke in many an online meme and why do we act like we're proud of it? It's like the modern iteration of the infamous "crab mentality."

We make fun of ourselves and make fun of other Filipinos and our own mediocrity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

If we don't respect ourselves, then how can we expect the rest of the world to do so?

The next presidential elections won't resolve anything. Not if we don't change the way we think. In my honest opinion, we need to revamp our culture. Keep what works, discard what doesn't. Keep it simple like Bruce Lee's philosophy.

I believe that the best lessons in life are always drawn from personal experience and not from cold, unfeeling statistics. The experience is different at ground level -- no matter what mathematics might say from a statistical analyst's standpoint.

Here's an anecdote about the mediocrity of the Filipino mindset: 

I had my bike serviced at a local repair shop. The service guy broke my brand-new dual kickstand by accident. 

The owner kept quiet and didn't do anything about it. I was charged for the services and parts like it was business as usual -- for the owner, it was.

I am the customer, it should not have been my duty to do so, but I had to do it myself. I asked the owner of the shop to give me something to compensate for the damage and she agreed and asked me to choose anything. I chose some new handles. The guy who broke the kickstand said he'd buy them himself because the owner was going to take it out of his pay anyway. I refused.

Why, you might ask?

Legally, I am entitled to be compensated since I am the customer and the damage was not due to my own negligence.

Legally, the owner has the right to make the deduction up to a certain extent since the damage was due to the employee's negligence.  

These are crystal clear -- at least from a legal standpoint.

The problem is that with small businesses like these, the employees already receive such a paltry sum and rely only on tips for additional compensation that it would be morally unfair for me to stake my claim no matter what. Furthermore, I can afford to buy a new dual kickstand from Shopee/Lazada (since they are not available locally).

Still, it would have been more prudent of the owner of the establishment to absorb the losses herself and at least offer to compensate me in cash for the damages. 

Unfortunately, this is how unprofessional these small businesses do things here in the Philippines in GENERAL. They merely go by established traditions which sometimes results in corrupt business practices.

On a bit of a tangent, this is why no new president or any other political leader is going to make any significant impact here UNLESS  that person is willing to make wide-sweeping reforms from the ground up in order to:

1. Educate business owners as well as employees on the proper and professional conduct of business as well as their corresponding rights and obligations

2. Aggressively crack down on corrupt and unprofessional business practices.

3. Initiate a widespread campaign to correct the culture of corruption and indolence that has become endemic to the Filipino people. 

We have a chance. People ARE starting to understand that we don't live in a bubble anymore. We are citizens of the world and we need to act as such with dignity and self-respect. 

Stop looking down on yourself and passive-aggressively thinking "Pilipino lang tayo" while maliciously attempting to one-up others.

Start doing things correctly. Respect the queue, respect social distancing, don't be maliciously rude and disrespectful to random strangers. Focus on improving yourself and your own situation and stop drawing comparisons with other people.

We're not mediocre Filipinos -- not if we don't choose to be.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Martial Law Years: From A Person Who Actually Grew Up In The Time of Marcos


 

(My personal thanks to my only son, Cymark Ferdinand Mirasol for writing this personal account.)

Let me get one thing straight -- the Martial Law Years were miserable. This is coming from me – a person who literally grew up during the time of the late President Ferdinand Marcos; one of the most divisive personalities to ever grace the pages of Philippine History.

Ferdinand Marcos was very famous for his intelligence. In fact, he was as close as you could get to being a superhuman. He studied for the bar exams while incarcerated for a crime that he was eventually acquitted of – which he represented himself in as the legal defense. Most Filipinos at that time believed that he would be the best leader that we could ever have.

Thus, during his first term as the Philippine President, Filipinos in general idolized Marcos and of course, as a naïve elementary-schooler, I was no exception. Fortunately, Marcos definitely lived up to the hype – at least during his first few years as President. We were extremely satisfied because life was better. The Philippines was progressive and both my parents were always gushing about how amazing Marcos’ regime was.

Thus, as a child I considered Marcos to be the best President the Philippines ever had.

Because of his achievements, Marcos easily won a second term as President. It was near the end of this second term when life in the Philippines slowly began to take a downward spiral. I only heard it in faint murmurs at first. About how the “power couple” was held up on a pedestal all the time (Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos) and the seeds of discontent were slowly beginning to sprout in the hearts and minds of many Filipinos.

For my part, I was largely apathetic towards the political events in the country at that time, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel their effects at my level. I came from a poor family after all. I was enrolled in a public school and was the fifth child in a family of six siblings. Our Daddy was a government employee and my Mama was an elementary public school teacher, but they barely made enough to support such a large family.

Remember, all of these things happened BEFORE the declaration of martial law. Now, as to the events leading to the infamous “Dekada 70” if you have spent any amount of time surfing through the political posts in Philippine social media, I don’t think you need a history lesson – whatever you’ve seen/read there that can be verified with actual historical data is true. Indeed, martial law was declared to quell an apparent communist threat coming from the New People’s Army (NPA). Of course, we weren’t naïve at this time. Even without any easy means of rapid communication like we have now, rumors and speculations spread quickly among the general populace and most people accepted that it was all a ploy for Marcos to perpetuate his power for a third and possibly, a lifetime term.

I was already in 1st Year College when Martial Law was officially declared – and contrary to what historical revisionists would like you to think – life back then was far from the paradise that young people who’ve never lived through those times like to imagine it to be.

Daddy quickly organized a family meeting and gathered all of us siblings together in order to brief us on what to expect. We were specifically instructed that: Now, we are no longer free. Never speak out against the government and never join any groups that might even be slightly anti-government. A curfew is in place so you need to be home one hour before the curfew and never go to any places where a riot or some anti-government protest might break out. If you get caught outside during the curfew you will be placed in the “stockade.” This was a temporary form of incarceration with dire consequences depending on your situation. Furthermore, we were told never to utter a single word that might sound anti-government even when talking with friends, teachers and especially with random strangers. The government had eyes and ears everywhere.

Basically, we felt like were walking on tiptoes all the time. Freedom felt extremely suppressed. You literally could not do anything that you wanted for fear of being caught by the police. Even among friends in school, no one ever spoke of political events – yet, everyone was silently aware of the abuses that were already taking place.

You had it the worst if you were a woman and you somehow found yourself in the stockade – especially if you were suspected of being an activist, you would be placed on top of a block of ice and violated repeatedly. I heard this from my brother. He was a government employee and the DILG building was right next to the “stockade.” If they wanted to interrogate you, they used “shock therapy” in order to get you to talk.  Of course, even if you weren’t an activist, who would stop some perverted person in authority from having his way with you if you were his type?

Thus, curfew time was curfew time; lights out completely inside all houses for fear of being randomly investigated by the police on suspicion of subversive activities. If you wanted to talk, you did it in small whispers – but we mostly just slept until dawn.

It wasn’t like the lockdowns during this pandemic wherein some thick-headed individuals could still be found drinking, playing cards, or even just mindlessly loitering around in the parks. If you violated the curfew, you were immediately arrested, “stockaded” and sometimes, you just disappeared completely. This was the fate of several people from my own neighborhood.

Remember, you could be summarily arrested and executed on mere suspicion. No trials necessary.

On the flip side, crime rate was almost zero. No one dared to commit even the slightest legal violation.

There were generally no cars around during curfew and almost zero activity outside. If a car passed by our house and suddenly stopped, I felt a sudden stab in my heart.

Everyone lived in constant fear of that fateful knock on the door. Even the radio stations avoided all political discussions completely.

However, after about a year of living this way, things began to change. People started talking and became less and less afraid. Demonstrations and protests became the norm – even though the police were still actively arresting and summarily executing suspected activists in a process known as “salvage.”

I think I have a good idea why it was called “salvage.” You know how things that float down the river or the sea are “salvaged?” That was the fate of your corpse if you were somehow marked as a suspicious individual. This wasn’t an imaginary event. These salvages actually happened and were reported regularly on the radio.

Speaking of the radio, as well as the newspapers, the only things they ever reported was who was killed that day – usually by the police. Sound familiar? Good thing we have social media nowadays.

If it wasn’t about morbid things, then it was all about Imelda’s latest social escapades. Fountains of free-flowing wine in Malacanang, and guest celebrities from Hollywood and other famous personalities abroad. The food and decorations were generally all freshly airlifted from abroad as well.

Pro-government propaganda was also rampant in the media. The radio commentators regularly sang praises about the latest buildings and roads constructed by the administration.

Fortunately, we still had music for entertainment, at least.

I was an AB Political Science Student back then, and it was during the later years of the Martial Law era when our own teachers began openly speaking out about the abuses of the Marcos Administration. Mind you, these were ordinary people. They weren’t necessarily socialists, communists, nor even slightly associated with the NPA. We took up books such as “Today’s Revolution: Democracy” and “The New Society” all Pro-Marcos texts, but taken up with criticism by our own Political Science profesors.

People in general were full of discontent and sick of the censorship and constant government interference with their daily lives… and yet, we all felt helpless.

Remember, one “red delicious apple” cost anywhere between 50 to 75 pesos a piece. Adjusted for inflation, that’s 1241.80 pesos each. (Using a Philippine Inflation Calculator). You couldn’t find these things on the sidewalks – only local fruits in season such as mangoes, bananas and lanzones.

There were no imported chocolates either. The government controlled the flow of goods and services with an iron fist. Our suspicion was that Imelda didn’t want the ordinary Filipinos to be able to taste and experience the things that she had. After all, this was a woman who would go shopping in the most expensive stores in the US and have it closed for the day especially for her own personal use.

However, during the final years of Martial Law, international intervention and constant critical propaganda from middle-class and well-off Filipinos who were just as disgruntled with Marcos’ dictatorship as everyone else had forced the regime to become a lot more lenient.

We weren’t afraid anymore and even though the threat of abuses from the police was still a constant, people were more outspoken and defiant. Long before the Edsa revolution, people had already set themselves free from Marcos’ reign – the death of Ninoy Aquino merely sealed the deal. No matter what historical revisionists may want you to believe – for someone like me who lived through these times, this was the tipping point for years of suppression to finally come to an end.

Personally, I swore that if any Marcos would ever run for any position in government, I would never vote for this person. I made a vow, and so did many of my Political Science classmates. The sins of the father ARE the sins of the son and the grandson and the great grandson and everyone else who flows down from this monster’s lineage. 20 years of living in fear can do that to you. Unlike some people, I don’t have a short term memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Masters of the Universe Revelation - A Review By A Casual Fan


 

Little warning in advance. This is a full review of Masters of the Universe Revelation Part 1 on Netflix, so if you haven’t watched the show yet and you do plan to watch it, then stop watching this video now and come back here when you’re done unless you’re okay with spoilers.

The Bad

Right, so let’s get the things I hate from this show out of the way. First of all, I really hate the central character in this series, who is of course, Teela. Yes, it was a bait and switch all along. If you wanted to hate this show for feminist, SJW pandering, then she is the embodiment of all those things. She’s portrayed to be super capable – a lot more than Prince Adam and basically, she can do no wrong in this show even though she has a horrible personality. When Prince Adam dies, instead of mourning her friend, she’s more hung up over the fact that he didn’t reveal his secret to her and feels justified in basically having a temper tantrum and sulking off because her feelings were hurt.

This seems extremely egotistical considering that she’s just been named the new Man-At-Arms and was supposedly chosen for her competence and responsibility.

The show also plays up just how incompetent Prince Adam can be next to her. Whenever they’re shown together, it’s always Teela to the rescue because Prince Adam can’t get anything done unless he’s in his He-Man Form.

Next, there’s Teela’s pseudo girlfriend. She’s so forgettable that I forgot her name even. Anyway, she’s some black girl that Teela picked up in the events that ensued after the (quotation marks) final battle. She’s apparently some genius engineer but she has zero personality and is basically just there to be woo hoo! Girl power whenever something technical that requires high level engineering skills comes up.

Finally, there’s Evil Lyn’s betrayal. I mean, it was to be expected since she’s always been one of the iconic villains of the show, but when she’s basically one of the main protagonists for the entire journey in Masters of The Universe Revelation Part 1, the plot twist of her defecting back to Skeletor just because she finds out he’s still alive feels cheap and basically erases her entire character development up to that point.

The Ok

The story itself is actually ok. The first episode is especially good and does a great job of seemingly showing things to be as they always were and then suddenly breaking the mold with He-Man and Skeletor’s double KO in the “final battle.”

The plot then follows what happens in the events after and basically shows a dystopian world where magic is scarce and where good and evil aren’t so clear-cut anymore.

Orko’s death was fine, I would say. I mean, they didn’t really find the body so he still could have survived even though they basically already held a small funeral for him in the series. He also had a few moments to really shine at the point of his apparent death.

As for Roboto, well, to be honest, I didn’t really care that much for him so giving him a glorious death was fine I guess… if a bit cheap. I felt like he didn’t really need to die since he’s fully mechanical anyway. Couldn’t genius engineer black girl have figured out a way to retain his memories at least? Do high capacity memory cards not exist in Eternia?

Kevin Smith seems to be taking the taking the easy route by using death to create artificial drama.

The Good

The good thing about Masters of the Universe Revelation Part 1 is that the ending actually shows some hope that this whole feminist woke propaganda was just a setup for showing us a more serious world with actual consequences and then developing Prince Adam into a more competent and ultimately more likable He-Man once he regains his powers. I have no doubt that he survived that little backstab that Skeletor gave him before he could transform after all – but then again, I could be wrong.

After all, even with the little screentime he had in this series, he’s already become a very likable character for me despite not being as seemingly competent as Teela is. First of all, he made that heroic sacrifice at the end of episode 1 and then again, he does it in the finale when he basically sacrifices his chance to enter their version of Heaven in order to return to Eternia and save everyone – again. Whether these events are intentional on the author’s part or not remains to be seen.

One complaint that I’ve seen others make about this show is that there are no strong male leads… while that may be true to some extent, there is actually one strong supporting male character in this series and that would be Duncan, the former Man-At-Arms. Throughout the show he’s seen going toe-to-toe with major opponents with hardly a scratch and I would say that he has some of the highest stakes in this series with Teela now being openly his daughter and the sorceress being her mother.

Going forward, I believe the show has potential and taken by itself, it’s not that bad at all. Of course, if you’re a hardcore He-Man fan and if you’ve been following all the fan drama leading up to the show’s launch, then you might feel disappointed when you see that indeed, Teela is the central character of this particular story arc and not Prince Adam, as it should be.

Myself, I’m a bit more lenient than that… but, do consider that if you think you hate this show that much, there might be a bit of some confirmation bias going on here.

Anyway, I think it’s a decent show, worth a watch at least… but hey, tell me what you think in the comments below and don’t forget to like and subscribe (on youtube). This is lordcloudx out.

Buh-bye, buh-bye~

Friday, July 16, 2021

Hayate Reflections Revival Episode 2: Are Recent Anime Really Superior?


 When I was a child,  I used to love stuff like Transformers, Archie Comics, He-Man, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers... basically, any cartoon or kids show that I could watch at that time.

As I grew older... perhaps around the time I hit high school, I realized that some shows just didn't feel right for me anymore. While I could still watch stuff like Pokemon, Batman: The Animated Series, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and of course, anime, I tried to avoid watching animations that didn't have this mature vibe to them.

At that time, I thought that this was merely a consequence of growing up. After all, I was now a teenager, therefore, my tastes had matured. Those kiddy shows from my childhood just didn't fit with my more adult tastes nowadays.

I continued to adopt this kind of mindset when it came to animation for the next two decades or so. Anime always got a pass since where I'm from (in the Philippines), it was always seen as ok to like anime. For example, the local tough guys who frequent the basketball courts here are all aware of Sakuragi and Mitsui from the anime Slam Dunk. 

It was only when I reached my late twenties when I began to realize that: you know what? I still like cartoons after all. Which leads me to the point of this video.

A few days ago, while surfing youtube, I came upon a particular anime review. While I agreed with the content creator's analysis, there was a moment in that review which had me thinking: wait a minute, that's not right.

Basically, without being too specific, the reviewer mentioned how a particular anime that he liked back then wouldn't hold up to his own scrutiny nowadays. This wasn't the first time I'd heard or read something similar online. I remember an anime review site from the early 2000s that reviewed a DVD release of Magic Knight Rayearth and how it's just not that magical in modern times.

Have you ever thought this way about something you liked from your younger days?  Something like: "It was fun back then, but it just doesn't hold up in hindsight."

Well, because I've been guilty of having such a mindset myself, I'd like to present a different perspective on the matter. It's not that the things you loved back then aren't as enjoyable anymore -- they still are. It's just that you accumulated a lot more preconcieved notions now. For example, I believe that a show like Ranma 1/2 is still just as enjoyable to watch today as it was back then. Then, I started watching the author's previous work, Urusei Yatsura Lum. At that time, the jokes all had that been-there, done-that  feel to them because of course they did, it used the same formula as Ranma 1/2 but with a more likable, less vulgar and crude protagonist.


Still, because Animax-Asia chose to keep airing Urusei Yatsura over and over again, I found myself watching it anyway and you know what, the show kind of grew on me. The more episodes I watched, the more I realized that I shouldn't be trying to draw comparisons between this show and other more "modern" or more "recent" shows because it was in fact funny and quite enjoyable on its own merits.


The reason that I didn't quite like it the first time was simply because I thought "I'd seen better" with Ranma 1/2... but the truth is that there's actually no objective standard for saying that Ranma 1/2 does things better aside from the more modern animation and character design -- which is understandable because the two shows were released a decade apart from each other. It's not that the older show is necessarily inferior, it's just that my values had evolved to be more receptive to the more recent animation quality and the more timely use of comedy in Ranma 1/2.


I think the same thing is happening for younger viewers and readers of anime and manga nowadays. It's easy to look back in hindsight and say that a show that you enjoyed back then doesn't quite hold up to scrutiny when compared to recent shows because of more modern animation quality and writing that's more in-line with the taste of current audiences... but the truth is that it's just your personal taste having changed because of the type of media you have consumed and the type of social circles you've frequented over the years.

I believe it's arrogance to claim that something you liked back in the past has somehow become inferior when it's really your tastes changing and reflecting the values you hold nowadays and nothing more than that. 

Perhaps, of course, I'm just looking at things through the lens of nostalgia -- but then again, do you really think that there can be any objective universal standard for personal taste?

In any case, I invite you to try it. Just watch an older show that you might have enjoyed but never really had the time to watch from somewhere like the early 2000s and even before that. Don't think about how it compares to the current seasonal anime you're watching. Just watch it for what it is and try to discard any preconcieved notions you might have while you're watching. Then come back here in the comments and tell me: was it really that bad based on your own personal experience with it?

This has been Hayate Reflections Revival and this is lordcloudx out.