@your SiRVis... Simon Francis Blaise R. Vistro wants to be known as SiRVis (an amalgamation of his name, profession and penchant for service). He is a polymath wannabe in the fields of training and education, civic voluntarism, sports, arts, travel, photography and social networking. Born and raised in Dagupan City, he is a staunch advocate of the preservation of Pangasinan language, arts and culture. Follow me on: Twitter. Facebook, Tumblr, Plurk.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

If Rizal Were Alive

If Rizal were alive…

We are wont of Filipino role models in these modern times. We have been looking for someone to emulate because our current leaders are inept and unprincipled. We cannot help but look back to the Filipino heroes of yesteryears. Who else to look up to? Who else but our National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal!

What if he were alive? What would he be doing? What would be his role in today’s society?  I searched the internet for insights and opinions. Google led me to Yahoo! Answers, forums in rakista.com and the P.U.P. website, and the Professional Heckler’s (one of my fave blog reads) blog entry Jose Rizal in the Time of Facebook, Gloria & Hannah Montana. In YouTube, I found Lourd De Veyra’s Word of the Lourd: What if Rizal Were Alive Today episode and was awed. I also posted the question in my facebook wall and in the What’s Up Dagupan facebook page and appreciated the comments of people I knew. But it was Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo’s Looking Back article that moved me. Overall, the viewpoints and comments regarding the question: ‘What if Rizal were alive’ bordered from funny, witty, informative, irreverent, logical, up to the absurd. We really are Filipinos!

Here is my take on what if Jose Rizal was alive today:

On June 19, he will be 149 years old. This would make him one of the Filipino MacLeods. The other Filipino immortal of course is Senator ‘Gusto ko happy ka’ Manong Johnny. A man of nine loves, Jose Rizal will celebrate his birthday simultaneously in the places where he met the women who made his heart go gaga- Laguna, Pagsanjan, Dagupan City, Madrid, Japan, London, Biarritz, Brussels, and Dapitan. He will be physically present though in Dagupan City (the hometown of his longtime sweetheart and debatably true love Leonor Rivera) and to celebrate Agew na Dagupan (Dagupan Day) on the next day, June 20. A foodie whose loves seafood, Rizal whenever he is in Pangasinan would always eat at my good friends Sundie and Marlyn Lorica’s Matutina’s Seafood House and Restaurant or at my high schoolmate Anne Castro’s family owned Dagupeña Restaurant. He loved his bangus cooked as ‘inselar’ (soured broth or sinigang) or ‘inkalot’ (charcoal grilled). For breakfast, he enjoyed ‘sardinas secas’ (tuyo or dried fish) from San Fabian with rice and ‘tablea de cacao’ (hot chocolate) drink. His birthday would not be complete without his favorite ‘pancit’ (birthday noodles).

Jose Rizal in 2010 is a Social Network demigod. His tweeter account has 5 Million plus followers. He was blamed for the six hours crash of twitter.com for his single tweet ‘Fuego!’ last December 30. This single tweet got more than 250 million retweets, which curiously was traced to come from Filipino voters only. This tweet trended again last May 10, five months since it was tweeted.  As a Literary and Travel Blogger, his blog is consistently the top blog in Technorati besting the likes of The Huffington Post and Gizmodo. He recently deactivated his facebook account due to privacy issues. He denies having a friendster account.  According to him, friendster is so 1800’s.

He is a master of 23 languages and dialects including Jejenese. He wrote three novels in full Jejemon parlance under the nom de guerre, P3P3Rz@LMD. These books are now regarded as the ‘Bible’ of Jejemons and are being studied by author Dan Brown for a book project ala Da Vinci Code. He even translated his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo to Jejenese to remind the youth of today about the ills of society that continuously plague us in a language that they understand. To those who persecute the Jejemons, he would say: ‘Man is multiplied by the number of languages he possesses and speaks.’

Like many Filipinos, Jose Rizal is a big basketball aficionado. He never missed the championship games of the Blue Eagles. Ateneo’s cheer ‘One Big Fight!’ is said to have been coined by him. His favorite cager is Chris Tiu who like him is multi-talented and ‘muy amable’ (very lovable). He also admires ‘The Rocket’ JC Intal. His favorite NBA player is Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers. If he were to be an NBA player, his moniker would be J-Riz. A San Miguel Beermen fan, he also frequents the PBA games with former U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney and Valerie Concepcion. A multi-skilled sportsman, Rizal fences with Richard Gomez, pistol shoots with Jethro Dionisio and my kumpare Rob Erfe-Mejia, Dagupan City’s Top Gun. Boxing? Of course he is a Manny Pacquiao fan and friend but not the Chavit kind. He is responsible for the Pacman’s improved English speaking skills.

Jose Rizal as a politician? I would doubt this. There are a lot of people who would want him to become president but in a country like ours, he would never become President even if a hundred Mar Roxases would give way. Not if our criteria for electing a leader is sympathy, popularity and money. He might not even win as ‘cabeza de barangay’ (barangay captain) against ‘has been artistas’ as he is strict, uncompromising and a genuine reformer (making him unpopular among traditional politicos). The Filipino electorate is not yet politically mature. The enemies he faced are still here, only in a cosmic ‘rigodon de deshonor’. Same dog different collar. The slaves of yesterday are the tyrants of today. The oligarchs have inherited the usurping power from the foreign conquistadors. The power of the meddling Church and ‘frailes’ have not waned and instead multiplied into several religious denominations who are now self-proclaimed righteous leaders and political kingmakers. We may be sovereign now but foreign imperialists are still ramming their policies and influence down our throats. A martyr and true hero, Dr. Jose Rizal would still choose to be shot in Bagumbayan and die all over and over again for ‘amor a la Patria’ and love of others.

In 2010 and beyond, Pepe is and would always be a national figure. He is our ‘fuente de luz’ (source of light) and still our kilometer zero, the standard or point of reference by which a Filipino is and will be measured. Being the polymath that he is, he’d be internationally renowned. He is Levi Celerio, Lea Salonga, Charice Pempemco, Cecile Licad, Francis M and Apl. de Ap. of music, Lisa Macuja, Leonor Orosa and a member of the JabbaWockeeZ of dance and FPJ and Dolphy of tinseltown.   In Literature, he is Nick Joaquin, F. Sionil Jose, Alejandro Roces and Lualhati Bautista. In couture, he is Monique Lhuillier and Josie Natori. In sports he is Manny Pacquiao, Batista, Eugene Torre, Wesley So, Paeng Nepmuneno, ‘The Big Difference’ Caloy Loyzaga, Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes and Jennifer Rosales. He is Efren Peñaflorida, Mang Pandoy, Emilio Advincula, the honest cop, the She-roes of Ondoy and Pepeng, the dollar-remitting homesick OFW, the toiling mother who makes ends meet, the father who does odd jobs, the iskolar ng bayan, the pedicab driver, the ‘dumaralos’ (farmers) and fishermen, and all ‘indios bravos’.

Maybe the question should not have been what if Rizal was alive. Because Rizal is alive! He is in you and me. He is every Filipino who loves his country and his fellowmen.
He is not just what we want to become but who we are.

Photo: Photo edited by the author, Simon Francis Blaise R. Vistro  

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ang Beer o Si Dear?

Tough Choice huh? But a man got to do what he ought to do. Read on and let's drink to that! 

Touch Choice: Ang Beer o si Dear? (Mga lalaking beer na beer at ang mga asawa nilang galit sa beer) is published/ posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles Buhay Pinoy Channel

Somewhere in Cubao, at about ‘alak singko’, a trio of minimum daily wage workers hurriedly left their respective workplaces only to meet up again in their favorite videoke joint. Since today is payday, they ordered two buckets of ice-cold beer and sizzling sisig. On an ordinary day, two or three bottles of beer with matching all-time favorite ‘pulutan’  which is peanuts would suffice.

By 8 pm, their missuses have sent several text messages asking them of their whereabouts and if they’ll be eating dinner at home. The first guy replied ‘Ma, nagkayayaan e. Ano pala gusto mong pasalubong?’ to the question: ‘Asan ka na?’ The other guy, rushed out of bar, called his wife, let her hear the honking of vehicles and clatter of the pedestrians and say: ‘mukhang matratraffic ako, inom lang ako ng kaunti dito sa tindahan habang naghihintay…’ The third guy obliviously or even consciously ignores the wife’s text messages and emphatically sings ‘Beer’ popularized by the Itchyworms:

Ibuhos na ang beer
Sa aking lalamunan
Upang malunod na ang
Puso kong na hihirapan
Bawat patak anong sarap
Ano ba talagang mas gusto
Ang beer na ito
O ang pag-ibig mo

By 12 pm, the three friends transform into Jejemons as they keep asking themselves: ‘lAshIng KAh nuah B@h?’ (lasing ka na ba?) to which they answer in unison: ‘iZha pahng rOunD!’ (isa pang round!). After a few minutes, reality sets in and they suddenly remember that their birthdays fall on the 30th of November and are bona fide members of the Sansui Takusa and Tigasin Club (referring to ‘Sang sutsot uwi, Takot sa Asawa and Tiga-saing, Tiga-sinop, Tiga-salok etc’.). Oh, the tale of the angry mad fuming woman with curlers on her hair, ‘tsin tsan tsu’ on her face, rolling pin in one hand and a mouth that can beat Fran Capo is not a myth! They shall feel the wrath of the wife who hates beer and the several B’s that oftentimes come with it (beer-belly, barkada, bisyo, basag-ulo, and even babae).

Beer is the ‘jack of all trades’ if not the ‘mother of all’ drinks. Sorry Bantay, it is beer that is really man’s best friend. Joel, my ‘kumpare’ who passed away last year used to say without fail: ‘I’ll drink my dinner’ (referring to an ice cold beer). Even the late National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin’s penchant for beer is famous and legendary. It has been said that he usually found his muse in writing after downing several bottles of beer. He once had a column titled ‘Small Beer’ at the Philippine Daily Inquirer. For laborers and construction workers, it is the one drink after work that is, to borrow a brand of beer’s ad tagline; ‘panghagod sa pagod’ (one that eases the weariness). It is an energy drink for men who do not have the guts to express their feelings. With a bottle or more, men are transformed into poet laureates and a range of connoisseurs - foodies, political pundits, religious scholars, prophets of doom, and village idiots. It brings out one’s hidden eloquence and loquaciousness. It is a great social icebreaker. Some of the closest friendships started with a ‘tagay’. Sports enthusiasts love beer a lot. According to an article, it is said that beer and sports go together like the Scottish and sheep. Man is inseparable with his beer. Our village’s Pilosopo Tasyo who coincidentally is the sitio’s drunkard intimated to me that drinking beer is synonymous to his ‘pagkalalake.’ He cites the quintessential beer song: ‘Sa langit wala ang Beer that’s why we drink it here’ as his raison d'être.

Beer is also considered a health drink if drank in moderation. It contains 0mg of cholesterol, 0g of fat, 13g of carbohydrate, 25mg of sodium protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins B, B2, and B6. A quote from one of the U.S. founding fathers and lightning rod discoverer Benjamin Franklin says, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Would you believe that even saints loved Beer? Actually there are several patron saints of Beer: St. Arnold of Soissons, St. Arnulf of Metz and Saint Amand. I asked my facebook friends why they loved drinking beer and their answers were: ‘kasi nakapagpapakalma, nakapagpapainit, nagbibigay ng lakas ng loob, at nakapagpapatulog’, ‘it ignites my senses’ and ‘pampaganda din ng buhay- when you drink beer, everything else is beautiful.’ Beer is so famous and in demand that in the Philippines, San Miguel Corporation has built a food, beverage and packaging empire through its flagship product, San Miguel Beer (one of the largest selling beers and among the top 10 beer brands in the world).

I dare you to tell these to the wifey though. Wives definitely hate that ‘amoy Chico’ which their hubbies distinctly stink of after a drinking spree. It is as if alcohol reeks from every crevice of the body especially the mouth. The drunken husband who goes home at the wee hours of the morning becomes naughty, ‘makulit’ and would continuously bug the hell out of the poor sleepy wife. Some crawl or tiptoe his way into the house depending on the intoxication level. Worse, some men who could not put the beer in their stomach and instead put it in their head. They may suddenly turn loco, buoyed by that ‘macho’ feeling (enhanced perhaps by the alcohol) and end up fighting over petty things. Such reasons include ‘kanina pa masama ang tingin’, ‘hindi kursunada ang asta’ and ‘masyadong mayabang.’ Of course, the wife would be worried with all the accidents and trouble (and even death) that could arise from excessive beer drinking. Who wouldn’t be apprehensive when you have the following tabloid headlines: ‘3 hinihinalang lasing naubusan ng swerte, 1 patay sa aksidente, Senglot na naghamon ng away utas, Dalagita niluray ng 5 lasing?’ Or worst, some wives become victims of domestic violence because of beer or the excess of it.

Admittedly, beer and women in general do not jive well. To quote Kaiser Welhelm: “Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world. To bridge the divide, tell your wife that Women created Beer instead of enumerating to her 45 Reasons Why Beer is Better than Women. Remind her that beer promotes romance and is good for male potency. These are two of the 14 Reasons Why You Should Drink Beer.

Heaven for a beer drinker is to have both his beer and his wife in harmony. To have her cook his favorite ‘pulutan’ and let him enjoy the ice cold beer while he hogs the remote control minus the nagging is marital bliss. In Pangasinan they say ‘Agay lay samit na bilay!’ (How sweet is this life!) Too much wishful thinking? Or maybe I had one too many beers while writing this article? Kampai! Let’s just drink to that!


Photo: by Simon Francis Blaise R. Vistro

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