Counting Potatoes

Quirky Observations, Opinions and Theories on Life

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about not trusting the government about being able to control the AH1N1 outbreak. I hate it when i'm right. Now people left are right are finding themselves infected with the said virus with even one finding out about it while hovering over his own body on the autopsy table.

What's almost funny about it all is the fact that our department of health is always trying to play down the impact of this virus. Like a damned irritating optimist caught with its finger in the proverbial dike, trying to keep everyone calm while the sea reclaims the land.

When the virus still hasnt entered our country: "Ah we got it all under control and we are strictly monitoring everyone who enters the country".

When the first few cases were discovered: "Ah we got it all under control and we are putting everyone who came into contact with them under strict quarantine"

When the confirmed cases ballooned to a hundred: " fortunately only the mild strain entered our country, dengue is far more potent than this. [as if the lower mortality rate was any consolation and the much faster propagation of AH1N1 over dengue was an unimportant point]"

When confirmed cases reached more than 500: "Ah this is because people are more aware now and more are having themselves tested." Followed by an announcement that says "because of the dwindling stocks of AH1N1 testers, only the very young, sick or old will be tested. The rest should just quarantine themselves at home.." O_o

I wonder how far DOH is gonna go with all this optimistic bullshit..

Perhaps if the virus infects more than half our population and Manila starts looking like a ghost town they will say: "Ahh.. at least there will be less traffic on the streets, and less crime too" or "Ah, we are confident that pretty soon everyone will have AH1N1 virus and the fear of being infected with it is gonna go away.. after that things will get back pretty much to the way they were before"

And when people starts dropping dead left and right, perhaps they will say "Ah, this is only Darwin's theory of natural selection at work and pretty soon all that will be left are filipinos with very strong immune systems, making for a healthier country" or "Ah, not to worry, the government is confident that it has enough public lands to ensure that everyone dead gets buried"

And when only a fourth of our population is left, perhaps our government will boast: "Ah, we are proud to announce that the overpopulation problem as well as the traffic problem has finally been solved due to the diligence of our public offices" or "We are proud to announce that poverty rate is down by 50%, crime rate is down by 70% and illiteracy rate by 60%"

and when most everyone is dead or dying: "Ah, polution is significantly reduced and the threat of global warming is erradicated"

As such, I think we are pretty much on our own on this one. So i've compiled some simple tips and strategies everyone can apply to minimize the risk of being infected by the AH1N1 virus.

- Everytime you hear someone sneeze or cough in a public place, whip out a weird looking gadget [anything with an LCD screen except a cellphone will do] and a fake authentic looking badge and ask in a loud voice.. "WHO WAS THAT?" .. Then whip out your cellphone and say "I THINK WE GOT A POSSIBLE CASE HERE, REQUESTING BACKUP AND EXTRACTION UNITS". You can bet your ass no one is going to dare sneeze or cough after that.

- Better yet, always bring a flamethrower around. when someone sneezes or coughs within your immediate area, whip it out, point upwards and press the trigger. As soon as you get their attention through your amazing pyrotechnic display, say in a loud voice "WHO THE FUCK WAS THAT?"

- or you could also go around sneezing and coughing loudly while speaking loudly over the phone about your trip to Mexico, how you feel very crappy and weak and how your relatives are dying like flies. People will give you a wide berth in this case.

- Or maybe we should should just start thinking bout going around in austronaut suits, or diving suits, or fireman suits or whatever.. Public conversations will start sounding like endless reruns of Star Wars III - VI with us going "Hello, I'd like to order... KHAAAAHHHH... Cheeseburger.. KHAAAAAHHHH.... "

- As for those who cant afford to buy these suits, washing machine or refrigerator boxes with cutouts covered with plastic should be enough. Better to look bad or stupid walking around in a damn cardboard box than good and dead in a coffin eh?

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Jun 20, 2009

Changing Paradigms

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lights are closed and silence walked the night.. a sob and a muffled tearful voice penetrated through the haze of my drowsiness..

Pre, ang bukas ba tinatadhana ng panahon.. O bakas lamang ng kahapon? / Is tommorow dictated by fate.. or just footprints of yesterday?..

it's my college room mate mourning over a recent break up.. and my mind went from happily drowsy to O_o wtf??! mode, that godawful cheesy question shouldnt be thrown at someone just about to fall into slumber's sweet embrace.. contemplated pretending to be already asleep but what the hell...

sigh... bro.. just decide forget her.. put all your relationship's shit in a box where you can't see it, throw it away and flirt with that cute girl you were telling me about in your class.. DONT wallow in your pathethic bullshit ok?..

to which he pitifully replied: i want to die

bro, a year from now, you're going to look back to today and feel really really corny and stupid..

i've never been much of a fan of emotional theatrics.. And i figured it was my job to drench him with cold water in this case.. And whadyouknow.. He listened..

He boxed up her things, moved on and less than a year after, he was back to his cheesy/horny self, he he..

I guess even the most painful of heartbreaks become a lot more bearable when you really believe the paradigm that time will heal the wounds, that it wont always hurt as badly as when it was still fresh. That's why i always take the time to remember some of my extremely mushy/drama laden highschool stories when faced by similar circumstances. It's hard to wallow in self pity when you're cringing in self disgust at the same time, ehe he

anyways, on a lighter note..

Setting is 3 years after, different room mate, different boarding house and different story. It's about as far from a love story as you can get but it packed the same paradigm shift experience.. for me this time..

See my room mate suffered from polio when he was a kid. Thus, he walks with a pronounced limp and tires very easily. But if you think that makes him the type that's meek or shy or introverted, you couldnt be further from the truth.. He is one of the funniest, outspoken and prank driven guys i've ever come across. but that's not the paradigm shift here..

It started the evening before with an intense craving for an egg sandwich for breakfast. We went out to purchase the necessary ingredients including a dozen eggs. Boiled the eggs, mixed it with mayo and other stuff. Readied the sliced bread and coffee. Slept early. Eagerly ate our super special egg sandwich and coffee breakfast and was off to the jeepney stop across the road to get a ride to school.

one of mayo's main ingredients is egg.. and we added a dozen more eggs on top of that. plus the coffee and cream.. As we were standing there waiting for the jeep, the forces of darkness were gathering within our tummies.. I could feel the vortex of the storm turning, expanding, rumbling.. little beads of perspiration began popping out my forehead.. I glanced at my friend and saw my own urgent dilema reflected there.. And perhaps in that instant, we both thought of the same thing.. There's only one toilet bowl for the two of us..

Both of us started running full speed at the same time.. I was laughing demonically/hysterically all the while, shouting.. You can't catch up boy! Wa ha ha ha! You and your limp! Wa ha ha! And he was huffing and puffing behind me.

i can never fully explain how he was able to run so fast... It was like he tilted his body forward, with his feet churning like little whirlwinds behind him.. he was like a steam engined locomotive.. building momentum.. Unstoppable.. the next thing i knew, he overtook me and my demonical laughter turned to disbelieving wails of anguish... How???! Whhyyy??!

when i got to our room, he was already inside the toilet.. i could hear gurgling and splattering and he was laughing his ass off... I was reduced to begging him finish faster so i can have my turn.. Serves me right for my previous paradigm against disabled people.. sigh..

Then again, sometimes our paradigm shifts are not all that sudden. Sometimes it takes months, even years. It grows on us, changing our perceptions day by day, until we wake up one day wondering how the hell did we get here. These are the paradigm shifts that usually impacts us the most. The ones that gets etched in our beings, defining our lives.

Like waking up one day, realizing that you have become a full fledged parent. Caring for one little life more than you ever did to yourself or any other person you loved. Mostly tearing your hair out in frustration but also wondering how you ever did without seeing him sleep peacefully beside you at night.. or hear him laugh..

Or suddenly remembering someone you love and has said goodbye, finally smiling, thanking God that no matter how painful it is to lose someone you love, the richness of joy in your life and the memories is well worth the pain.

Or having your fingers hover midair over your keyboard, the realization that you've grown up, have to earn your own keep and striking out to make your own story in this world, washing over you like cold water. No more allowances, no more summer breaks, cramming for exams and the such. Now you have to build, to work, to save with whatever tools and skills you have accumulated over the years. It may scare the shit out of us most of the time but then again, most of who came this way probably felt the same way too and they did just fine.

Or maybe life's paradigm shift can be as simple as realizing that love isnt just a complex web of feelings, emotions and descriptions.. but a verb, a decision and a reflection of the love we have for ourselves and the growth in maturity that comes with time.

you may feel like giving up now, but believe that things will always look better tomorrow or maybe the next year...

that every wind of change carries with it a seed of happiness that could grow if only you'd recognize it for what it is..

that problems cannot be solved in the same level of thinking that got us into it in the first place...

that quarrels, misunderstandings and fights are mostly driven by hurt and pride.. and recognizing it is already half the solution..

that every problem we have, ever had and will have in the future will always have a common denominator... us and how we look at things.. and the gulf between looking at it as opportunities for growth or another burden to carry can make a world of difference..

a half empty glass is always half full..

We can't always choose the things that happen in our lives.. but we can choose the paradigms by how we see them..

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There was a lot of hoopla, flag waving, speeches and celebration today all over the nation. I ask.. What's the fuss about?

Government officials caught with their hands stuck in our cookie jar are not being brought to justice. One of them is even planning to run again for president next year. Moreover, convicted murderers, rapists, assasins, etc are being granted presidential pardon. Is it just me, or is something glaringly wrong with justice in this place? Without justice, are we really free?

The government is spending less and less on education. Opting instead on spending more and more on our national defense. Hoping the militant student groups would just shut up so it can go ahead and privatize even our country's education. No wonder everyone is asking themselves if our country is really moving forward despite the government's indignant insistence. Uhhh.. this train's not moving madam president.. a carabao pulling a cart just overtook us. Without education, how can there be freedom from poverty, ignorance and crime? Without brains, would arms bring about progress? Without education, are we really free?

Those who can turn this country around though are fleeing this land as fast as they can - like rats jumping overboard a sinking ship. The brain drain.. makes those of us left behind feel like we're missing something important.. it's like everyones running away from a bomb, and we're happily munching on potato chips - headphones stuck on our ears, looking at the scrabbling people with a big question mark on top of our heads. Without viable options for our future right here, how can we say we've gained independence? By being forced to leave behind the familiar, our families and our country, how can we say we are free?

Petron, our government owned oil company, sold and the spoils divided among local crocodiles. Meralco, government owned electric company, sold to the highest bidder and the cash promptly swallowed by government blackhole. PNB, Philippine Airlines, Maynilad, NAPOCOR and the list goes on.. Let me ask then... Is there any income earning government owned utility left? And.. How exactly do you fuck up a utility company that has the whole country as its customer base and is enjoying complete monopoly??! O_o Without any safeguards from cartels, rampant inflation and non existent price controls, can we still say we are free?

The nations money handed out in paperbags during a government meeting, our hard earned money traded and deposited under the table in other countries during international conventions, our land (spratleys) sold so that our honorable government officials can dip their fingers through gigantic loans (such as the ZTE deal) now and let us pay later. I ask, without any protection from glaringly corrupt government officials, are we really enjoying freedom? Without any will to vote and choose our next leaders wisely, are we really free?

EDSA shrine, the place that served as the fulcrum of our country's history, now off limits to rallies and demonstrations. Our own police force and military, undergoing urban warfare and crowd suppresion training. Rallyists being beaten to death. Journalists gunned down in cold blood. Outspoken government dissidents hunted like animals. Without real freedom of speech, without meaningful ways of protesting against the government, do we have liberty? Are we free?

And the apex of all hypocrisies regarding our supposed freedom, the constitutional change through the con ass, where congressmen are brought one by one like cheap goods in a flea market. Where congressmen are made to decide our country's fate in direct contradiction to the people's voice. Where our honorable congressmen are joined under one banner to stamp down our basic freedom.. Our freedom to vote.. To choose our next leader.. To choose change..

They say a frog will willingly submit itself to death if the water is boiled in slow increments. We laugh at the frog's stupidity while we submit ourselves to the same fate, being slowly boiled to serfdom through terrorist threats, sex scandals and boxing matches.

So if you, by chance, took part in today's hypocrisy.. waved little flags, sang our national anthem, set off fireworks..

Ask yourself...

What the fuck were you celebrating? O_o

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Jun 8, 2009


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Nothing is constant but change
and in this roadtrip we're all on
nothing is certain but the little bumps, roadside glitches, minor sometimes major accidents and crossroads we've to come across or experience..

like a stray dog that suddenly decides to cross the road and ends up jammed and dying on your front wheel..

or little speed humps that rattle your brain when caught unaware..

or a truck with a drowsy driver smashing into your rear bumper..

or an unexpected turn somewhere leaving your out in the middle of nowhere without gas..

it maybe that most of us already have a specific route in mind..
a roadmap, expected landmarks, fixed turn-offs..
all leading to a particular destination..
and more than anything else, we wish to drive steadily and unfailingly towards it. eyes on the road, foot on the pedal, sure hands on the wheel, and lips mouthing a silent prayer..

O God, I hope nothing unexpected happens..

and most trips usually do.. most people end up where they want to, basically the same save for windblown hair and a few hours of boredom..

but ever so often, fate decides to take the wheel and plow us right into a tree.. or a stray dog.. or maybe it just takes us on a ride to somewhere else..

like a side road we've never intended to take..

or an opportunity to help someone who has been in an accident..

or a breathtaking view of a mountain you have seen all your life...

or a vivid and colorful rainbow that makes you pull over the road and just stare at it in wonder...

a movie line goes..
life is not about the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away..

some of us journey with the windows closed.. to see the world only when stepping out at the destination.. realizing too late that the ride was half the trip..

some stare out the window for the whole duration of the ride.. waiting for something extraordinary to happen.. never realizing that extraordinary isnt out there but in our capacity to see.. to recognize extraordinary in the most mundane of things..

and yet some just happen to be looking out the window at the right place and time.. going on with their lives.. thinking bout the rainbow they've once seen..

no matter what the case may be, when fate takes over the wheel - remember to keep your eyes open..

what happens next may not exactly be what you had in mind.. but you can bet your ass that every single second will define your life..

here's to everyone on the road...

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