Posted by: Jae | May 13, 2009

Bad trip

Bad trip. Bad trip. Bad trip.

Denied daw ang Second MR namin sa Dusit. Hence, jurisprudence na na pag ang manggagawa ay naglunsad ng peaceful protest action basta “embarrassing to the employer”, strike na yun.

Nagpuyat kang gumawa ng dokumento, at ginawa mo ito sa gitna ng mga meetings at pagpaplano para sa CARPER deadline, pero malalaman mong hindi pala ito nafile on time.

Nag-oorganisa ka ng forum na binagsakan naman at pinagpasyahan pagtulungang gawin, pero parang namamalimos ka ng pansin. As though ikaw wala kang ibang trabaho kundi mangulit sa text at tawag.

Sumasakit na ulo mo may deadline kang Appeal sa lunes, pero may byahe ka papuntang Bacolod sa Linggo. Na by the way kailangan ng powerpoint presentation. Sa Lunes, mula airport diretso Kongreso. May activity kasi. Something like that.

May gusto pang pumasok ng kaso, CLOA cancellation, samantalang tatlong kaso na ang tinanggap mo  sa loob ng isang gabing pulong sa harap ng DAR. Hindi ata naman nabibili ang Petition sa carinderia. Hindi naman ako robot, pabrika ng lomi at pleading, tambakan ng kaso tapos sa ibang bagay ay hindi naman kasali, hindi tinuturing na kabahagi.


Pagod na pagod na ako. Gusto ko na umiyak.

Mabuti nalang andyan si Yoyong Merida, ang magiting (at kunwari ay english-speaking) magsasaka ng Sumilao, na nagtetext ng “i miss my beatifol farm in Sumilao, San Vicente, Bukidnon, which i leave to go to Manila to fight for the right of the farmer,  so therefore that’s why i will work my farmtown in Facebook.”

Sige ako din Yoyong. Farmtown nalang ako. Mas masaya pa. Level 25 na ako. 

p.s. gusto ko lang mag-angst. siguro ay rereglahin lang ako. buburahin ko ito bukas.

Posted by: Jae | May 9, 2009


Women walking alone at night in the Trinoma area should beware. In the corner of Landmark Trinoma, a man in his early thirties would approach you and put his arm around you, while whispering that you should follow him if you do not want to be hurt. He would then force you to enter a waiting taxicab where his co-conspirator would be and they would divest you of your things.

Longer post on this soon. Still shaken. But everything is ok.

Posted by: Jae | May 8, 2009

Manny! Manny!

Nasaan ba ang parada at sasama ako.

Last Sunday was the first time I saw a boxing match in the big screen and in real time. Hell, it was the first time I saw a boxing match, period. You must know that I am the worst person in the world to bring to a sports match. Any sports match (except perhaps Cheerleading.) I’m the bored daughter and sister who would roll her eyes when her father and brother would whoop it up with the neighbors during Anejo-Shell games. I’m the annoying girlfriend who always needs a primer on the rules before every game, and asks explanations for the self-evident (i.e., “what does it mean when the timer buzzes?”)

But Sunday was different. Manny Pacquiao is different. That left hook made me an instant fan of Pacquiao and an instant fan of boxing. IT WAS AMAZING, UNBELIEVABLE AND OVER TOO SOON. I found myself  screaming with the rest of the audience, pumping my fist in the air, running home after to catch the news, watching the reruns, and getting into nightly post-fight loud rowdy discussions with the manginginom boys (i.e., “lupit ni pacquiao! WASAK, wasak si hatton!”).

Other people can get their panties in a bunch and pompously pontificate about the Filipino people’s crisis of hope and how we latch on to false heroes to make us forget our poverty and desperation. I say Sunday’s match was nothing if not technical genius and rare human achievement. Please don’t dilute it with your angst.

And a word about the National Anthem hoopla. Sabi nga ng pinsan kong 16-year=old na nag-aaral sa Saint Scho: CHILLAX. People are screwing our Constitution and the Bill of Rights and raiding the national coffers as we speak, and Martin Nievera’s rendition of Lupang Hinirang is generating national outrage? I’m not a fan of Martin (ayoko ng masyadong participatory body parts when singing), but really, a “test case” against him?

Anyway, all annoying nega vibes aside, Manny’s back! Yay! No, he doesn’t make me proud to be Filipino because I’m already proud to be Filipino. And no, he doesn’t give me “hope”, because ehrm, in the work I do, I live on hope taken with a dash of Gin Calamansi.

But he made me mighty happy last Sunday, and he made a fan out of me. I think that’s good enough reason to go out this weekend, find a Manny Party, and tell him, YOU’RE DA MAN.

Posted by: Jae | May 3, 2009

Coin Toss

It was a rainy Thursday afternoon. I was fixing my laptop and bag and was preparing to leave the day-long meeting at #3 Mahabagin. I was thinking of the meeting I would have in a few hours and the important decision that needed to be made. As I was about to step out, Tone stopped me.

“Tara. Let’s toss a coin, Jae,” he said.

It was a reference to my Facebook status  message at the time, wherein I said something about how I will probably just be tossing a coin to find a way out of a dilemma I had been wrestling with for two weeks now.  I looked at Tone to see if he was serious, and I saw him fishing out a P5 coin from his pocket. “O, game,” he said. “You assign the sides.”

Heads, go. Tails, stay. I said in my mind.

The first toss, I wasn’t able to catch the coin. It rolled to the floor. Tails.

Do it again, Tone said. It’s not valid if you weren’t able to catch it.

The second toss  I was able to catch. Heads. At this point, the others were watching as well. Waiting for the outcome.

It was time for the tie-breaker toss. I took a deep breath and tossed the coin in the air with an even flick of the wrist. And as I watched the dull-yellow disk twist and turn in the air, the wisdom of coin-tossing as a decision-making tool hit me.  It wasn’t the outcome that mattered; it wasn’t about how the coin would eventually turn up. It was about the instinctive whisper that you call out to the universe during that two second period that the coin is up in the air.  What you hope would come out when the coin lands to the ground is the answer that your gut needs for you to hear.

During that time when the coin was spinning, I found myself asking the universe for Tails.  Thus, even before I could see what side of the coin had turned up, I knew the answer with mind-numbing, powerful certainty. I wanted the coin to make me stay.

And therefore, I had reached a decision. I got my best corporate “costume” from the cabinet — a black pencil cut pinstriped suit, three inch, kick-ass, very pointy-toed heels  — and put it on, braved the smog of EDSA to go to a gleaming office in concrete and marble and say  “no, thank you” to a nice Singaporean man in coat and tie.

After a brief and cordial discussion, during which we talked about my current employment and the work that I do, he shook my hand and said, “I understand you perfectly. You are doing this for the farmers.”

Oh, no, Sir. I am doing this for myself.”

He smiled a questioning smile, but asked no further questions and escorted me to the elevator. Had he asked me what I meant, I would have told him this:

 There is nothing I give to the farmers that other people or other lawyers cannot give. There is nothing special in what I do. I harbor no illusions of indispensability; when I am gone, the vaccum that would be created can be easily filled.  I prepare pleadings and research jurisprudence that will help them assert rights that already exist. I attend proceedings when an “atorni” is needed to expound the merits of the case, with the Court oblivious to the fact that they would hear the exact same thing had they asked the farmers. I only translate legal principles into a language more easily accessible to them, and they decide how to challenge, expand, push to the limit these legal principles so that it can approximate as closely as possible that which is fair, just and true.  It is their wisdom that matters, the strength that they find in their own ranks that counts. Naniniwala ako at habambuhay akong maniniwala sa lakas at galing ng hanay ng magsasaka.

So, no. I am not doing this for the farmers. I am doing this for myself. 

I am doing this for myself because this is where I have found my quiet.  During my first trip to Bondoc Peninsula, I went home with the certainty that this is the struggle that I want to take part in for the rest of my life.  I had no previous background on peasant work; have in fact, never met a single peasant organization in my life prior to that trip, but I decided that it was something I wanted to learn and I was going to learn it.  I would find my own mentors, learn concepts that need to be learned, and navigate my way by trusting my gut but knowing who to ask.

I am doing this for myself because I am an advocate of not living by “defaults”. I don’t believe in taking the path of least resistance just because that’s the easiest path to take, even though we know that we could be happier elsewhere. Minsan may mga bagay talaga na kailangan ilaban, kailangan pagtayaan.   We should be where we are not by default but because this is where we chose to be and where we are happy to be.  I don’t know what the future holds for me, or what I’ll look like after ten years.  I wonder if I could, like my classmates, live in a tidy condominium unit and not fret  about bills to pay. I wonder if my health will hold. I worry about the cost of medicines and medical procedures. And — because a grim and determined baggy shirt and dirty sandal-wearing activist I will never be — I will admit that I wish I had enough disposable money to buy makeup, pretty little dresses and lacey-lacey lingerie anytime I want (I can’t be self-righteous about this, . Monica says I will be maarte until the day I die.) But I know that I am not wired to work for something I cannot believe in, and if working for something I believe in means being less than certain about the future, then I say it’s a fair trade.  Gusto kong maging kaibigan ang sarili ko.

I am doing this for myself because  am the kind of person that needs her anchors. After twenty nine years, I’ve stopped believing in a lot of things. Age has a way, I suppose of chipping at our faith. I’ve stopped believing that the unjust will face censure; that if you act kindly towards other people, they act kindly towards you; that “if you want something bad enough, the universe will conspire to give it to you”.  But there are things I still believe in. And one of those things is that I work with people who do the right thing for the right reasons. I belong to a party that still insists on its bottomlines at a time when compromises are made left and right and truly practices the democracy it preaches. Another is that we owe our farmers for centuries of injustice. Akbayan and agrarian reform are two of the anchors of my life. A friend of mine told me recently: “You are in your own way an anchor for other people. You are the most consistent person that I know. Watching you always try to do what is right even in the simplest ways and put your money where your mouth is, help us find our clarity as well.” It was one of the most touching things that anyone has ever told me (albeit quite possibly something I don’t really deserve). I don’t claim to know the great truths or profess to know the right course of action each time , but the few things I am sure of, I try my best to live by. I don’t want to get lost. I am afraid that if I do, I won’t be able to find my way back.

But most of all, I am doing this for myself because I can’t bear to be away from them. I love them with all of my heart and am honored to work with them. They are the reasons I have chosen to stay:














Posted by: Jae | April 22, 2009


I don’t have much by way of material possessions. I ride a jeepney to work everyday, don’t own a watch, and am using a borrowed Nokia 2110 cellphone because mine broke 2 weeks ago.

I don’t have much by way of talent. My videoke song is “Mr. Deejay” and even then, I miss more notes than I hit. I cannot dance. I cannot paint. I cannot cook.

I cannot even swim or bike or stand on my head or do cartwheels. I was six years old when I learned how to jump.

But I think I can write. Not as good as the best of them, but I dare say I can string words together.

This is my original blog entry, dated March 16, 2008. Endings and Beginnings

This is a blog entry that my friend Reggie Aquino stumbled upon, dated July 6, 2008. Endings and Beginnings: The Birthday Post. It also appears here The Birthday Post.

Please do not steal my words. It upsets me very much and I really do take it personally.

Posted by: Jae | April 21, 2009

When the World Ends (Para kay Cheerie)

And then there is “Cheerie” — as winsome, vivacious, beautiful, energetic as her code name implies. Many people in the agrarian reform community and their support networks have fallen in love with her.  Some even manage to hold her hand under cover of dark in Matalino Street, or while navigating the dirt roads of Calatagan. But she always held back, never giving herself completely, always second-guessing herself.

There was a boy from a decade ago, another lifetime, a boy that she liked, a boy that — from all indications — liked her too. Nothing was ever formalized, no promises were ever made. She told him her feelings, but he hemmed and hawed, unprepared to make the commitment. But their love for each other was plain for the world to see. Ten years after, in the middle of the work she does for her agrarian reform organization, she gets an invitation. A thirtieth-birthday gift. A trip to the United States. Her friends “allowed” her to go, believing it was the long-overdue conjuncture at last. When she came back, she had stories of concerts watched, of long walks at the park, chilly bus rides, hand-holding and more hand-holding. But again, no promises were made, nothing was formalized.

Like other people, my initial reaction was that things were going too slow for comfort. I was hoping that Chicago would be the impetus they needed to finally make the crucial decision and that happily-ever-after would begin to unfold. It was important to know the real score once and for all.

But then again, on second thought, maybe I was being too idealistic. Maybe love is not always a crash of fireworks in the sky, something you know then and there, the flash of lightning like in the movies. Maybe love can be a snowball that musters self-confidence as it rolls along, meandering quietly. For some people, love is easy: like my favorite story of the couple who found each other at Edsa Dos. She was riding a jeepney and got hold of a flyer to volunteer for the Oust Estrada actions. When she called the number on the flyer, a young man happened to answer the phone. He met her for a briefing-orientation. Now they are married with one child and a thriving laundromat, laughing at constant jokes that only two couples benefitted from Edsa Dos — the other being the lady with the mole and her First Gentleman.  For others, love is a difficult struggle with oneself: like the other story of the PO leader whose love story took five years to process and a big barangay scandal, but is now enjoying the comfortable quiet of certainty. Love is a creature that feeds on little moments and big decisions, and can actually be made stronger as much by the uncertainties and heartaches and periods of waiting as by the blinding flashes of “this-is-it” conjunctures.

Slow or fast, easy or difficult — the process is one that cannot be pre-determined let alone imposed. Take too fast, and one might find oneself surrounded by the debris of impetuousness. Take too slowly, and one might find oneself alone at the end of the day, with the person deciding that the wait has been too long.

Perhaps the only rule is that when you find out with certainty what you want, you seize it and put yourself on the line, no doublespeak or subterfuge or elaborate safety nets. Because on the day that it’s gone, it’s irretrievable.

Mabuhay ka, Cheerie. Here’s to you and finding the love that will be there for you when the world ends, as the stars disappear to nothing.

Para sa yo, si Dave Matthews:

When the World Ends by Dave Matthews Band

Ah When the world ends
Collect your things, you’re comin with me
When the world ends
You, tuckle up yourself with me
Watch it as the stars disappear to nothing
The day the world is over oohh
We’ll be lyin in bed…

I’ma rock you like a baby when the cities fall
We will rise as the buildings crumble
Float there and watch it all
Amidst the burnin, we’ll be churnin
You know love will be our wings
The passion rises up from the ashes
When the world ends

When the world ends
You’re gonna come with me
We’re gonna be crazy like a river bends
We’re gonna float through the crisscross of the mountains
Watch them fade to nothing
When the world ends
You know…that’s what’s happening now
I’m gon’ be there with you somehow, oh..oh

I’ma tie you up like a baby in a carriage car
Your legs don’t work cause you want me so
You just lie spread to the wall
The love you got is surely
All the love that I would ever need
I’ma take you by my side and love you tall
‘Til the world ends

But don’t you worry bout a thing
Cause I got you here with me
Mmmm don’t you worry bout aaa….
Just you and me floatin’ through the empty, empty
Just you and me
Oh, graces
Oh, grace

Ah, when the world ends
We’ll be burnin’ one
When the world ends
We’ll be sweet makin’ love

Oh you know when the world ends
I’m gonna take you aside and say
Lets watch it fade away, fade away
When the worlds done, ours just begun
Its done, ours just begin

We’re gon’ dive into the emptiness
We’ll be swimmin
I’m gon’ walk you through the pathless roads
I’m gon’ take you to the top of the mountain that’s no longer there
I’m gonna take you to bed and love you, I swear
Like the end is near
I’m gon’ take you up to…
I’m gon’ take it down on you
I’m gon’ hold you like an angel .. angel
I’m gon’ love you [2x]
When the world ends
I’m gon’ hold you
When the world is over, we’ll just be begin…

Posted by: Jae | April 15, 2009


May mga tao talagang uncannily lapitin ng weird freaky little cannonballs of malas. Minsan nakakahalata na ako. Nung nagpunta akong Baguio two weeks ago, biglang nagbrownout ang buong city. Wala lang, as in biglang lights out lang. Nung nagpunta kaming Pundaquit bilang jump-off point to Anawangin last week, biglang nagbrownout ang buong strip ng mga resort. Wala lang din, basta namatay na lang kuryente. At nung nagpunta ako Coron a two months ago, biglang namatay ang tubig ng wala wala lang din.

Kahapon, ginulat na naman ako ng isang matindi-tinding whapaaak, albeit this time not involving basic services delivery. Kumuha nga ako ng insurance di ba, at kahapon ng lunch ang aming pirmahan at bayaran. Pagkatapos ng aming transaction, natanggap na niya ang pera ko at lahat, nauwi na kami sa chikahan. Small talk, ika nga.

Agent: Ano bang province mo?

Me: Laki ako dito, pero yung roots namin sa Iloilo. Ikaw?

Agent: Taga Quezon ako, eh.

Me: Ows, talaga? Saan dun?

Agent: Alam mo ba yung Bondoc Pen?

Me: Hmmm, oo.

Agent: Familiar ka pala. Medyo magulo ang lugar namin, alam mo ba?

Me: (noncommital) Medyo.

Agent: Eh kasi naman, yung mga magsasaka dun, masyadong matatapang at walang utang na loob.

Me: (nabilaukan) Paano mo nasabi yan?

Agent: Kasi yung mga tenants namin, bigla nalang nagboycott ng shares. Hindi daw titulado ang aming lupa.

Me: (knowing the answer before asking the question, recalling the many documented cases of Bondoc Pen lands acquired by mere arrogant say-so, or worse, through the barrel of a gun) Hindi nga ba titulado?

Agent: Hindi. Dineclare lang ng aming mga lolo at lola na kanila yun
nung araw.

Me: (struggling for zen-like calmness) Yung right naman ng landowner to a share in the harvest is premised on their being legitimate landowners. Dapat nga wala nang tenancy sa malalaking landholdings, kasi may CARP na.

Agent: Ang bait bait namin sa mga tenants. Tapos gaganunin lang nila kami.

Me: Ano bang maiden name mo?

At nung sinagot ng agent, nakilala ko agad ang kanyang apelyido at napabuntung hininga.

Hindi ba yun napakatinding kamalasan? Sa dami ng insurance agents ng Pilipinas, talagang kailangan kong mapunta doon sa hindi lang basta galing sa landowner class, sa Bondoc Pen pa talaga. Bondoc Pen! Shet naman. Sabi ng blockmate ko nung law school, “Jae, does that mean na lahat ng katransact mo ay alam dapat ang personal background at ang political positions?”

Hindi naman, pero nakakatambling naman na marinig mong nirereklamuhan ka about yung eksaktong issue na kinikilusan mo, at habang kumakain ka ng beef kebab ay may nagbibitch tungkol sa magsasakang mahal na mahal mo. At higit sa lahat ay naging bahagi ka ng kanyang kumikitang kabuhayan.

I think I will pull out my policy within the day. Sabi ni Dianne, kahit hindi alam ni agent bakit ko ginawa yon, at least ako sa sarili ko alam ko. Siguro medyo OA, pero kaunti lang naman ang mga bagay sa buhay ko na pinaniniwalaan ko ng buong buo. Kaunti nalang ang pinagtatayaan ko ng buong puso. It’s important to have something to commit to, to insist on, to live by.

Hindi ko pa nasusubukan mag stop payment sa credit card. Mahirap kaya?

Posted by: Jae | April 14, 2009

Open Sea


She is a shipwreck/ Feral tide in love with disorder/ Overthrowing life…

She is the brave blissfulness of disarray.


–  by Emman Hizon, 2007. (with apologies)

Posted by: Jae | April 10, 2009


I had no wifi for a few days and wasn’t able to get online, check my blog and approve comments. I’d like to say sorry to those of you (around 10 people?) who posted comments to the blog entry that disappeared, I had to delete the post upon someone’s request. The request was to delete only the last part, but I decided to delete the whole thing.

Hope everyone’s enjoying their Holy Week break.  I’ll shut down now and get back to my vacation again.  🙂


… and the super-OA crying drama queen during her semi-surprise birthday dinner.

 Congresswoman, congresswoman, parang awa niyo na po. Tulungan niyo po ako.  Ang pula at oily po ng noo ko.

p.s. thanks iona for posting this pic on Facebook today. 🙂

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