Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Of satanic cults, LSD laced magic tattoos and backmasked tapes…

You really can’t tell the story of your entire life in one page. Every person’s life details may not even fit a 500 page book. I can’t even remember each detail or if I could I don’t have the ability to write it all down. What I’ve realized about writing blogs is that each post is whatever fills my head at the moment. It is the urge to see what my thoughts are, instead of just unseen neurons zapping across my brain. Having said that, I should start saying stuff related to the title.

I grew up surrounded by aunts who just got converted as born again Christians then. But the rest of my family are devout Catholics. Those aunts of mine were iconoclasts, as in literally not because they broke stereotypes but they broke icons, literally hahaha. They smashed decades old religious icons from my grandma’s house. They threw out the statue of Virgin Mary out the window, followed by the cutie Sto. Nino, pulled the rosaries until the beads fell on the ground then ranted Bible verses condemning idolatry. Poor grandma, she was the one who witnessed all of that. It was just told to me in vivid detail when I was four because I was totally creeped out when they forced me to kneel and pray the rosary with them for my dead grandpa’s wake. They meant it as an explanation on why the statues were cracked. We were kneeling in front of those icons that were obviously put back together by rugby. Those icons were creepy enough before, old and faded, blank eyes staring at you. The cracked faces with dried out ooze of rugby increased the creepy factor.

There was a lot of drama when my relatives talk about their conflicting religious beliefs, I was too young enough to care. However, what caught my interest was their common belief that there are satanists about. It was the early 80s and brit punk rock and heavy metal abound, along with big haired, shoulder padded teeny boppers and glam rockers. The tabloids didn’t help either, with headlines like:


Kids like me were asked by parents to wear the rosary around our necks when we go to school. Looking back, I think it was just a lame attempt to cover up the real issue. Probably the kids who got kidnapped were shipped out in some remote province or another southeast Asian country to work either as sex slaves, sweat shop workers or soldiers for an extremist group. And those dismembered appendages were meant as an example to those who wanted to run away from the gang. Were the grown ups then too na├»ve? Was the press so scared to write anything about the government or our economy that they thought it was ok to entwine the supernatural with reality without trying to dig deeper on what’s behind all of it?

Since the grownups at home were so stressed out about the satanist crap, at school I tried to know more about it. I read the Time Life books and those other hard bound book series like condensed encyclopedias that dealt with supernatural stuff. It scared and amused me at the same time. Same effect when I watch the Twilight Zone. [Hey don’t get the idea that I’m some sort of a witch/Wiccan/goth girl, I’m not.] I even read the Bible’s Old Testament and Revelation at home coz it was so gory, scary and just plain interesting for me, but my aunts thought that I was just being some sweet Jesus-loving girl.

People fear a lot of different stuff throughout their lives across decades and generations. Most have trouble adjusting to what’s new or what others are into if it falls outside the tiny box they comfortably snuggled into. But as kids that’s the point when our box is so big we want to fill it in as much as we could. At home my aunts were saying that there were some satanistic bands or rock stars, making the devil’s work easier, spreading the message of satan subconsciously and that we must be vigilant with whatever we do. You can hear those messages if you play cassette tapes backwards, they call it backmasking. Most of those backmasked messages were so garbled, you can hear anything that you want to hear. I really didn’t get the point with the trouble of backmasking those tapes anyway. Why can’t they just say it outright, it takes too much EFFORT to decipher it. And they say the road to hell is wide and easy…

Again I got interested with something they were warning me against. Punk rockers, their eyes, mohawks and weird hair and boots. I didn’t know the word “ cool” at that time to describe it, but I knew the feeling when you see something “cool.” Same with those metal bands, they sure are noisy, I could not understand the lyrics but I knew they were trying to say something. Their tattoos were so cool.

Enterprising candy and snack makers targeted kids with their cool freebie. Instead of toys from chickadees, some gave out magic tattoos. It’s like stickers for your body and it doesn’t peel unless you wash it off good. It was all the rave for kids, some feel that they were rockers, wrestlers, rebels or gang members. I thought it was cute and wow what an invention, kids won’t have to go through the pain of getting a tattoo. Boring adults thought we were having too much fun, maybe they thought we might actually get tattoos when we get old enough. So they generated this rumor that magic tattoos have LSD, a drug that will make you do crazy things. Will turn you into an addict and become a criminal. It didn’t scare me.

But I was obedient and just kept my thoughts safe in my head and never disappointed them, always looked the part of their nice little girl.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Call Center

Nung bata ako napanood ko sa TV yung pelikula nila Carmi Martin na Working Girls. Sa Ayala sila nagtatrabaho bilang sekretarya, Ayala girls. Corporate outfit, naka-make up, mage-elevator papunta sa opisinang nasa pang-ilang palapag ng modernong gusali. They speak perfect English if needed. Glamoroso ang dating kapag sa Makati, lalo pa’t sa Ayala ka nagtatrabaho, eto ang ipinintang idea ng mga pelikula. Sinasabing, “you’re made!” Circa 1980s yun.

Ngayon, hindi na big deal pag sa Makati ka nagtatrabaho. Naisip ko, ok pala na nagsulputan ang mga call center maliban sa pananaw pang-ekonomiya kundi pati sa pananaw ng social equality. Hindi lang mga yuppies at mga nakakurbatang stockbrokers ang nasa Makati, nandyan ang mga simpleng mamamayang nagko-call center.

Parang mga malls na nagsusulputan ang mga call center maging sa mga rural na lugar. Lumabas sa Metro Manila papunta sa mga probinsiya mapa-Luzon, Visayas o Mindanao. Mga makabagong pabrika, bitbit ng mga empleyado ang pamilya kung saan man sila ilipat o piliing lumipat. O di kaya parang OFW sa sariling bayan nabubuhay sa ibang time zone, nag-iisa. Yung iba hindi nakuntento kundi sa Singapore o Malaysia na pumadpad. Eto na ba ang kayang gawin nating mga Pilipino? Eto ba ang pinangakong trabaho sa mga nag ECE, nag geology o biology, management o accounting?

Ang swerte ng mga Kano, at ng iba pang bansang umaasa sa kanilang rep na maaasahan. Mapa tech support, pagbili o pagbayad ng kung anu-ano, maging sa pagtanong ng direksyon sa kung saan man sila tutungo, may mabait, magalang at matalinong Pilipino silang makakausap sa telepono. Ang galing nating mga Pilipino, lahat alam maski mga taxation at insurance procedures ng US kahit sarili nating buwis hindi natin malaman kung saan napupunta at naliligaw sa kung saan saang opisina pag kukuha ng PhilHealth benefits pag na-ospital. Kabisado ang pagkumpuni ng internet connection o satellite dish tv kahit sa sariling bahay ni walang telepono, computer o cable man lang.

Sabi ng iba, pwede namang magkaroon ng ibang trabaho kung pipiliin mo. Pero napakahirap ng standard of living sa bansa, naglolokohan lang tayong lahat pag naniniwala tayong ang kailangan lang ng isang pamilyang lima katao bawat araw ay 120.00 piso para mabuhay ayon sa gobyerno. Sa isang buwan na may 30 araw, so 3,600.00 piso yun. [I-korek niyo ko kung mali ang halagang sinabi ko ayon sa pinalabas ng gobyerno.]

Ano ba naman daw ang umupo tayo sa isang malamig na opisina para kumausap ng mga foreigner. Mabait nga ang karamihang kausap, natutuwang natulungan sila. Malaki pa ang sinusweldo, nagkakaroon pa ng tirang perang pambili ng mga bagay na mayayaman lang dati kayang bumili. Ano nga ba ang kulang? Ano ba ang mali? Ano nga ba inirereklamo ko?

Iisipin ko pa sa sunod na lang siguro pag naisip ko na ipo-post ko dito.

mula sa isang kaibigan

Desktop ko naaaliw ako kasi bagay ang wallpaper sa icons. Puro mga games na pang paubos oras haha. Mula sa kaibigan kong adik kay Neil Gaiman.

Broken Dreams

When I was about five or six years old, I always had this daydream that I ran away from home riding a bump car. I felt so independent and glamorous in that daydream. I know it sounds foolish now but hey I WAS a kid. But I got scared that a Satanic cult might kidnap me as a sacrifice for their rituals.* Or be borne away by construction workers as an admixer for concrete used for building bridges.** My parents have a weird way of scaring the hell out of me. Those reasons prevented me from actually running away. Plus the fact that I can’t find a way to carjack that red bump car from Rustan’s Cubao [or was it Rustan’s Makati? The place where it also has remote controlled boats, I can’t remember exactly.].
Then I grew up to understand that bump cars really can’t cruise the streets. I was in first grade at that time, and got pressured by my mother to get not just good grades but the best grades. [Will not elaborate on that further, not in the mood to cry.]. In short, I became a nerd— grade-conscious, plagued with realistic ideas for a seven-year old, no social life, low self-esteem. Somehow it killed me. I lost my sense of adventure and felt that the world was too big for me. No matter how I tried, it was not good enough and will never be. I became a frail kid, shunning all the fun, not active in sports, no real friends.
At that point of my life, my new daydream was to die famous for something I have done for the society. Like be a scientist who discovered a breakthrough and win the Nobel Prize. Or have a kick-ass job that will make me and my family rich.
As a kid, grown up stuff got me depressed, it worried me so much. I should have stayed a bit longer on that stage in life where you believed in fantasies and miracles. I was studying so hard to get accelerated and jump grades or win the next quiz bee. I knew that Santa Claus was just a holiday “mascot” of the capitalists. Fairy tales were just tales. There are no fairies. Smoking dries out your lungs and causes cancer. African children die of malnourishment. I’ve read that Waldorf Astoria is a high-end hotel in New York that can deny entry to those who are not properly dressed. Realized that my family is poor. Understood that the very first People Power in Edsa was a display of democracy. Freddie Mercury is gay and died of AIDS. Alice Cooper is a man claiming that he gets possessed by a female spirit (huh?).
My sister was so sick of a disease that I did not understand. Yet I was envious of her because she didn’t have to go to school as often as I did.
I turned twelve. I understood enough not to envy my sister who was in and out of the hospital because of a torn heart valve. She underwent two major surgeries. By then, my daydreams were of teenage boys and love and rebellion. She made me realize how I’m wasting my life on stuff that I cannot do anything about. I needed to loosen up.
[Skip other depressing events in my life, fastforward to my years in college]
I got my free spirit back and the sense of adventure that comes with it in college. For the first two years, my course was Applied Physics, became a non-major on 3rd year, took any subject that caught my interest then by my 4th year I shifted to Interior Design. I still had worries and bouts of depression but the world didn’t look too big anymore. It’s okay to know more about the world outside books and docus. I gained friends, lost friends, then gained some more. Fell in love, fell out of love, yet longed for more love [haha]. I fell in love in art, fiction, literature and cultures and realized how artful a wisp of cigarette smoke can be when you look at it closely.
Please understand that I really didn’t have a steady, smooth-sailing life but I’m okay. I took odd jobs, bad jobs, worthy of another blog post. I’m still poor but not in a shit hole. Oh and yes, my sister is still alive and we support each other emotionally, though she gets in my hair sometimes. I’m living independently from my parents. Still have dreams of becoming noteworthy in history, haha, just a healthy dose of daydreaming don’t overreact.
So what if I had broken dreams. So what if those dreams were stupid and delusional. I believe that people can think of anything that they want to think about and dream about, it makes us human. Realizing what our broken dreams are makes us more human.

[* In the early 80s, presumed Satanic Cults hit the headlines, of tabloids at least, along with reports of LSD-laced magic tattoos. There was a fear of kids getting kidnapped and I remember wearing a rosary and scapular to school which I hid under my uniform.
** There’s this belief that blood reinforces concrete or stone structures, I think it’s some sort of a remnant from our paganistic past that requires blood offerings. If you would observe old school foremen/ construction workers/ carpenters, when they would begin a construction, say a house, they would kill a rooster and drip its blood on what would be the foundation is and roast and eat the chicken afterwards.]


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