quaint little rutted bucket

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Me, my readings, and my music (as well as the obligatory updatage)

Well, as I had thought and felt, it was just a nasty case of infatuation. But it is still nasty as hell, and still hurts a wee bit. :)

Anyway, I am feeling much better now, thank you. But another problem's come to my attention: vacation == boring as hell. lol

I'm really looking for things to do around the house. I've started off with reading, and I'm voraciously devouring all the books I had passed up upon when there were still classes. My Sennheisers-CD Walkman combo is doing a splendid job of keeping my boredom in line too, but music (and reading too) can only do so much. I still need something serious enough to do.

I've also been throwing out older school stuff madly too. Stuff dating back to my second year days. Not that all of those are junk, and being a nostalgic person, I just crammed all of the worthwhile stuff into a big carton box for indefinite stashing. Scratch work got scratched too. :)

That rummaging I did lately was pretty fun, if you ask me. Tiring yes, but I got the chance to see a lot of the older work I did back in high school, dating back to my sophomore year. Essays, poems and other things that could be of interest in the future got stashed, while quizzes, especially failed ones, got trashed. Cool rhyme and logic, eh? Teeheeh.

I'm considering purchasing a roll of general purpose film and a good photography newbie book to satiate my relative idleness. I mean, I'm pretty sure we'll be going places this summer, so a bit of self-taught photography ain't that bad either, isn't it? I'm also working on getting a decent driver's license, as my student permit is due to expire on december of this year.

And oh, fitness is another top priority too. As of late, I've ran a few kilometers off Global City and Makati Park on days I woke up early. Really refreshing to finally do what those exercising folks do when I still had classes and trying to scurry off to school in fear of being late. :)

Other things I'm considering doing this summer:
- Getting a job. Teaching. Again. :)
- Enrolling myself at anything I find interesting.
- Sleeping. Lots.
- Minimizing food intake. :))
- Working on my programming skillz. (Geeky.)

Pretty moronic post for today, if you ask me. Anyway, if you have any other ideas, drop me a line at the usual channels. :)

Ralph out.

Currently listening to: Paolo Santos' "Princess" (Don't ask.)

Monday, April 19, 2004

untitled post (heh. wala na akong maisip na title.)

Double Sigh. I don't know whether to feel happy or not, but I'm at loss for feelings right now.

If my grades are any measure of how happy I'm feeling right now, I'll sure be happy-as-in-happy-to-the-nth-degree. Tis the first time I've experienced a relatively good showing in the three terms I've stayed in La Salle, bolstered by my recent efforts to improve my academic performance and to get things into perspective with my counselor. If that's not enough, I've gotten back to blogging and reading; I've got a much better handle on things now than a term ago. Proof in itself that changes for the good are actually occuring to me. I also have a clearer picture now on what I exactly want to do with my life. Not that I've made the final decision, but there's still time to think through things.

The thing is, if I'm going to be completely honest here, I'm in denial. I am in denial that again, I chose to harbor feelings of affection for somebody that is a complete stranger to me. Sigh. And now that she's going overseas and her return at best, indefinite, I couldn't even be gloomier. I'm thinking a lot of things through right now. "If I indeed tried to get to know her, will she accept me?" "Is she *the* one?" "Is she that unique and worthwhile to be actually worth admiring and pursuing?" "Yes, I know I have to be careful with the things I feel, but is this warranted at all by a person such as her?" Ack. Reality bites. Daydreaming only gets you so far; it still is, after all, a fantasy.

This was the first, and I'm afraid, the last chance I'll ever have to take a good look at her. And strangely, I still find her attractive, both in character and in physique, even with the many jokes KC was cracking all the time we were trying to get hold of their clabart course cards.

I leave things to fate. Maybe, just maybe, the world will get real smaller in the future, and we'll meet at another place and time. Maybe, destiny will have a hand here. I just don't know, and maybe, I couldn't care less. After all, I'm getting pretty used to having feelings that are more akin to a roller-coaster ride than to a relatively flat line in an electrocardiograph. I've got a life ahead of me, and truth be told, nothing's stopping me.

But for now, I'd have to endure this whole thing. Painful as it may be, I'm partly to blame for the quagmire I've gotten myself into.

Take care guys. Enjoy your vacations. :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Album Highlight: Aaron Neville's "Nature Boy"

That's it for smooth jazz. I'm not buying any smooth-jazz inspired albums anymore. Why? For one thing, it sends me into a semi-tranced state that leaves me unnecessarily starry-eyed and affectionate, even without an object of affection. :))

Seriously, Aaron Neville was an accidental discovery that I have more than been grateful for. (KC, thanks a lot! If it hadn't been for the [unnecessary] trip we made to Greenbelt 3, I couldn't have stumbled across this in the listening area of Music One. :) For starters, this is my very first album from this mystical, 60's music virtuoso. I have heard of his distinctly unique crooning voice before, but it was only now that I learned of him: Aaron Neville.

Aaron Neville is another child of New Orleans, a city known for its music-inspired culture. Born on the 24th of January 1941 to a family that made its living on making music, his first big break was in the mid-60s, after releasing "Tell It Like It Is," a ballad that is up to now, still considered a pioneering classic in the American pop scene. After traversing several decades of producing decidedly good music in a myriad of genres like country and gospel, his career eventually turned to jazz--where his voice was highlighted even further.

Now making a comeback in "Nature Boy", Aaron Neville's new album opens an interesting chapter in the life of this musical wonder. While some of his older fans deride it for being on the slow side of things (Funny, that was the first thing that drew me to the album), or for doing another act with Linda Ronstadt, or even because its based largely upon the Great American Songbook, this album is close to perfection. Coupled with the harmonious symphony of jazz guitar and piano, bass, brasswinds, Aaron's crooning virtually enshrines him among the pantheon of legendary jazz acts.

Neville and Linda Ronstadt's rendition of "The Very Thought of You" is perhaps the loveliest rendition I've heard of it yet. "Summertime", another revival, is given a luscious opening flavor at the start of the album. And, unlike other albums released of late, this album grows on you: as the album plays longer, the more you get to appreciate Neville's work. Another positive point is simply the excellent line-up of songs in this album, especially towards the end. The irony of it all is that, personally, the only thing I dislike is this album's carrier single, "Nature Boy", as I find it too... morose. :)) (Maybe I'll appreciate it after few listening sessions.)

While this album nearly drained my honeypot of any funds (LOL. I'm almost clear of money now... :) this is perhaps the best album purchase I made lately, rivaled only by another jazz album purchase I made a couple of weeks ago, "Something's Gotta Give's" Soundtrack.

Overall, Aaron Neville's work doesn't disappoint. Older fans can find great joy in release this, as well as young, fresh jazz music newbies like me. Two thumbs up.

Overall Rating: 10/10 (w00t! Perfect! :)

Interested in him? Read more about Aaron Neville and "Nature Boy" here.

Howdy, folks!

Woohoo! First day of *no* academic responsibilities! Vacation time! w00t w00t w00t! Finally. Some R&R. Yeah.

I did fell asleep in front of TV again last night. Woke up at six, went up to my bedroom and slept for an hour there. Bad, bad, bedtime habits I have. :)

On a somewhat unrelated note, Slashdot geeks here are discussing time and wristwatches. And quite surprisingly, I see a few sentiments that I also feel about time: Wristwatches are evil in such a way that it binds you to time. It has this nasty way of shackling you to time, making you feel pressured and hurried. Gee Ralph, that was what I have been doing for an entire school year now. I guess once in a while, the old ideas that fuel my lifestyle some time back seems to crop up every now and then. Anyway, I still believe in that debilitating nature of having a wristwatch, but the irony of it all is I'd love to have one. A jewelry, not a timepiece. Something elegant as say, a Patek Philippe, Rolex, Omega or even a Tag Heuer. Anything swanky.

Pah. Don't mind me.

It hurts.
After perhaps the last time I laid my eyes on ******* for this term yesterday (when she had her finals in Rizal), that nasty feeling of longing is now creeping up on me. I mean, gee Ralph, tama si KC. I should've at least tried striking up a casual conversation with her or some small talk, instead of being a miserable silent admirer from afar. Sigh. 98°'s "Invisible Man", anyone? :(

Oh, how lovely those gleaming, deep-set almond eyes were. It only lasted for a second or two before I broke my eyes off her, but the memory of it all still lingers. Sigh.

I recall a posting I made a couple of months ago about chance vis-a-vis choice. When you meet somebody who you feel is worthwhile, thats chance. But when you decide to fall for them; to start harboring feelings of affection for them, that's choice. So I guess subconsciously, I did make the choice. Even without knowing her better. Sigh. Why in the world do I continue to make the same mistakes? Oh, Ralph, the pain, the pain.

Last night was the first time I had visions of her in my dreams. Funny, I really never dreamt of the women I admire before.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Here's my final paper for ENGLONE, complete with a few revisions and changes for mostly aesthetic purposes. :) (Gee, I never thought I still make embarassing, little slip-ups like those.)

The Promise of Education and Progress

2004 marks another potentially tumultuous year as our country once again goes to the polls for another national election. At stake is the stewardship of the nation’s highest executive government office, and along with it, the next six years.

This election couldn’t come at a more crucial time: our country is reeling from the bitter taste of a lagging economy, a government that is still marked by unbridled graft and corruption (despite the efforts to combat it), and a populace that is on the brink of a class war: where a good chunk of the population is unknowingly pitted against the so-called “elitist” and rich classes. In these instances, having an election is perhaps the last thing that comes into mind in resolving the crises we have gotten ourselves mired in.

But looking at it in a positive light, an election could very well be the thing we have been hoping for to heal a society that has been deeply fractured by political bickering and to bring about upbeat, proactive reforms to the government, an economic upheaval, even. By electing leaders that at least conform to the ideals we as a society have set, we can at least hope for changes that are finally, for the better.

It is important then that we choose our leaders in the most prudent, responsible, principled manner possible, for it is in our decision that the fate of our country for the next six years rests. We should not only take the candidates at face value, but rather, weigh their capacity and potential to govern and lead on a criteria that not only focuses on what is skin-deep but on other equally-critical aspects as well, such as platform, personality, background, and upbringing. Taking these into consideration, one by one, the roster of candidates that at least conforms to this set of qualifications lessens. In the end, we are pretty much left with a single guy: Mr. Raul Roco.

In these trying times, a man of conviction is just what the doctor had prescribed. Raul Roco’s “character of conviction”, made evident in his tenure as the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) and as a legislator in both the Congress and the Senate, perfectly fits the bill of a leader that has what it takes to initiate reforms that will ultimately lead to progress and positive change.

It can be noted that when Roco took the office of the Secretary of the Department of Education, it was ranked as the fourth-most corrupt government agency in a survey by the Asia Foundation and the Social Weather Stations. He set out to begin reforms, primarily aimed at reducing or even eliminating graft and corruption, by initiating an effort to make the agency more transparent. As a result of this, the DepEd was able to procure significantly more textbooks for use by the public education system—by simply buying them at a much lower price, virtually cutting out any opportunities for a corrupt arrangement to take place, as a result of the transparency policies he had set in place. The DepEd was also able to provide free education to more children, granting teachers’ better remuneration by removing unnecessary “service charges”, and the introduction of the long-stalled basic education curriculum reform, which aims to improve children’s skills in reading, communication arts, sciences, arithmetic, and in patriotism/national history as well, in the form of the Makabayan subjects.

While his reforms alienated some officials and rank-and-file employees of the DepEd, more people benefited from his efforts than those who were disaffected. Roco put his name on the line for what truly matters—the drive to continue and to pursue what is morally-upright and correct, knowing that it will be to the benefit of many, especially to children that will be forbearers of the future of this once-proud nation.

A presidency under Raul Roco will also benefit from his colorful educational background. As a bright learner, Roco finished his studies in advance compared to other students of his age. He soon went to Manila to pursue higher education, finishing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, as magna cum laude, at San Beda College. He also finished his law studies at the same college. His desire to learn was almost never satiated: Roco then proceeded to the United States to take Master of Comparative Law as a University Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. This strong affinity for learning, combined with his conviction, speaks volumes on how valuable education is to him, potentially spelling out how he will put education as a priority, if he is elected President.

As a legislator, a few of Raul Roco’s most notable bills are the central banking system reform law, Intellectual Property Code and the Securities Regulation Code. He also advocates the increasing role of women in Filipino society, by spearheading bills that aims to further protect their welfare. In the past, he was also a part of Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino’s legal staff, where he helped draft the Study Now, Pay Later Law.

While it cannot be denied that Roco certainly had missteps in his career as a politician, his efforts to bring positive change that benefits a lot of Filipinos more than makes up for the mistakes he had done. Some of his critics deride him for his inaction in Marcos’ Martial Law days, but in his defense, he admits that he made some mistakes in the past, that he was honestly remorseful about his slip-ups and says that now he is wiser, older, he hopes to makes up for those by serving his countrymen with all passion and dedication.

His experience in an executive government agency also taught him the ills of Philippine bureaucracy. If ever he is elected President, he would start off by reorganizing the Cabinet and meeting them in smaller, ‘cluster’ meetings. Through this and other similar changes, he aims to maximize productivity and at the same time, push for the reforms that he is aiming for.

Raul Roco’s platform of governance, not surprisingly, puts education into perspective. This is important, as most of the progressive, democratic, industrialized nations around the world need a well-educated workforce for it to be able to succeed and push through with plans to uplift and improve their respective economies. Two of the most popular success stories of education in action happened right here in Asia: Korea and Japan.

Both countries suffered heavily after World War II. Korea was occupied by the Japanese for a good part of that war, and was followed by the Communist revolt several years after. On the other hand, Japan suffered heavily after the war, having lost its war to the Allies, primarily to the United States. Both nations were poor and struggling, and only a glimmer of patriotism saved them from totally losing hope. Through education, foreign help and sincere, genuine efforts to help their own respective nations, both Japan and South Korea helped themselves out of the quagmire that the wars had brought, and both now stands today among Asia’s most progressive, industrialized nations.

We could follow the same success story. It might not have the same magnitude as the two East Asian success stories, but it will surely make a difference. While an investment in education will not pay off immediately, by having our long-term priorities and goals mapped out for us by having education as a priority, we can at least be sure of some semblance of progress in the future, provided that nothing negative in nature happens within a decade or two’s time.

But we should not neglect the present. Raul Roco’s platform also gives focus on the economy, and measures on how it can be improved. Of particular note in his platform is his desire to ask for debt restructuring, push for antitrust (anticompetitive corporate behavior prevention) laws, improvement of tax collection and a policy of putting sustainable development as a priority. All of these, if Roco is elected and if pushed through, could have profound positive effects on the economy of our country.

A platform of governance, in the hands of a skilled and principled leader such as Raul Roco, can very well be key to the revival the Philippines is looking for. Raul Roco’s education and background gives him a well-stocked trove of experiences that he could certainly draw from, and his education more than lends credibility to his desire to be of service to the people of the Philippines. His track record more than speaks for himself. His words, resounding of conviction, reveal an image of a leader that that is more akin with the notable leaders of other nations. By having a President such as Raul Roco, we could be more or less certain of a government that puts service first, through the reformist policies and efforts he is spearheading. Raul Roco may very well be the leader that will lead our country to its first revival in the twenty-first century.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Album Review: Something's Gotta Give Soundtrack

This movie certainly took my breath away when I first saw (and heard) it. The story was pretty unique in that it involved two highly-successful, older people who never thought they would fall genuinely in love. But what's lovelier is the fact that this movie is interspersed with wondrous jazz tracks, some of them, classic works in French.

The album starts off with a timeless Louis Armstrong classic, "La Vie en Rose". (Which was also featured as music in Black Isle/Interplay's Fallout 2 game back in 1998) This beautiful song, with its mellifluous trumpeting and crooning, screams authentic jazz music and sets the pace for the preceding tracks as well.

While a good number of tracks in this album is in French, one cannot deny that the use of the language itself gives that romantic flavor this album has. In itself, the album can attest to what the French used to say, that their language is indeed, the language of love.

Another track I've come to love is Steve Tyrell's "I've Got a Crush on You", which is perfect slow-dance music with that special someone. Really lovely, cheesy even. :) And the lyrics! Gee, reminds me of myself.

Two instrumentals worthy of note is Heitor Pereira's "Remember Me", a jazz guitar instrumental and "Sweet Lorraine", a violin-flavored chamber act. Too bad the former only lasts for a minute and a half.

I'd have to commend Jack Nicholson for his own rendition of "La Vie en Rose" as a album-ender. His French is excellent, and while his singing isn't definitely a stand-out, it brings the memories of the movie back to life.

To conclude, if you're a jazz aficionado and a mush-movie sucker like me, get this. If not, you can pass this on, or just borrow my copy. :)

- Again, cost. Cut me some slack here, this thing cost me another PhP 400 bucks.
- Too much classic French jazz for my taste. Especially for a non-speaker like me.

- Makes reminiscing the movie even easier.
- Lovely, lovely jazz album. I could almost picture myself driving with this thing on car audio.

Score: 7.5/10

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Hello nurses.

Howdy? I'd just woken up around an hour ago after a tiring day of rotc today. Tasty finals. Melikes shooting. :))

Woke up to a rather unforgiving dinner of afritada and cold rice, plus a glass of that nestle lemonade stuff. Followed by a cone of selecta's quezo real ice cream. Yummy stuff. :)

Anyway, got me a 7/10 on the 50m firing range. Really sweet shooting I did earlier. More or less by luck, I got me a bullseye, three headshots and three more scattered around the darkened figure. Three went to the white part of the paper, perhaps due to the surprising nature of rifle gunfire. One went stray; the guy who was firing to my right, paxxi, said i shot the rope/line that affixed his target. Gee, what gives? I was only literally shooting craps earlier today. (Believe it or not, luck got the better part of me today.)

My ears were ringing terribly after i fired. The range was like new year's celebrations, only louder. Teeheeh.

No more updatage for today. I've still got a rush argumentative paper (w00t! final paper na to!) *ralph does a dance 'round his seat* to accomplish for this weekend for monday.

My thesis statement: The best candidate for the Philippine presidency is Raul Roco because of his genuine desire to uplift the lives of Filipinos through the value of education.

Take that. Will post the final paper when I finish it.

Until then, take care, everybody. Me and God loves you. :)