Part- time Superhero

Dear Friend,

You are one of my favorite blind items in my blog. Let me reveal your identity by sharing a piece I wrote for your year book ages ago.

Happy Birthday, Rima


rimaThe eyes speak much of who we are. So when you cover your eyes, you hide one-fourth of yourself. This does not hold true to everyone but with the case of Rima, yes, it does. Not only one-fourth of who she is is covered by her eyeglasses but half of who she is. People portray Rima as someone smart, serious, studious, plain and simple, kind and quiet. There is some truth with how people perceived her but there are greater truths. To add to people’s delusion about her, she sits alone or sits with a group yet she finds herself locked in her wonderland. Then observe her closely, and surprisingly you will discover her mouth moving to speak with no words. And in moments when people think she is quiet, the possible explanation is that sometimes the brain works hard enough that it does not leave time for the mouth to speak. Nevertheless, this is Rima, at least one-half of who she is, or one-fourth rather.

In the qualifying essay exam for shifting in to Journalism, she wrote there that it was her childhood dream to be a journalist. Her self-prophecy might eventually become her reality because now, she thinks like a journalist, acts like a journalist, and writes like a journalist. She can meet deadlines no matter what time she starts her work. She is dedicated to her work that sometimes it leaves her trauma when her laptop shuts off at the night before the deadline. And God knows how many drops of tears she shed to finish an article. Well, all students cram but not all students have much success from cramming. Thank heavens though, that she can work under pressure. She wakes up at 6:30 for her 7am class. And like the speed of the bullet, she now has her clothes on and combs her hair. For all we know, superheroes have to cram and work on the very last minute. For her speed and agility, Rima is a superhero in some sense.

Our heroine then gathers information for the day and begins with who, what, when, where and why. Who and another who, when and another when, where and another where, why and another why are all important to her. That‘s how journalistic she is or that’s how nosy she is. Nevertheless, she searches for more and more facts and details. This also includes spending quality time with the newspaper vendor, the photocopier at the library, the security guard and all the people from different walks of life. And so she is a journalist in the making.

Also, she said that writing for news is an art. Having a pair of glasses for blurry eyes does not necessarily mean having artists’ eye. She does have an artist’s name, though. Rima is a Filipino word for rhyme. A link to her name would probably explain why she finds inner rhythm within words whether it is in poetry or in straight news.

And everybody remembers Rima as someone having wings on her back and a halo floating on top of her head. This is not to say that they are wrong. But she would be happier to hear if you remember her as Beyonce or Mariah Carey. But can you imagine a girl with wings on her back would sing ‘Touch my body?’

So this girl, who acts, thinks, writes like a journalist, sings Beyonce’s song and the next thing you’ll see her do is watching Gossip Girl. But, behold, she indulges herself in business, economics, geography. These sound pretty heavy for someone who has a special addiction for SIMS. While she takes care of her own family, dream house, and love affair in the computer game SIMS, she is also concerned with graphs and figures. Maybe she finds art in numbers as she finds art in words. Maybe numbers and figures have rhyme to her as what her name implies, Rima.

The most lovable trait of Rima is that anybody can make her happy. Her happiness is found on a simple slice of cake, or a slice of pizza, or a doughnut, in short, food. She is fully aware that the most basic need of human existence is food. So she cannot trade a box of chocolates with a new branded skinny jeans . If you ask her why, she would say, “It’s impractical.” For her, fashion, glamour, parties are secondary because the most basic need of human existence is food.

The image of Rima with wings on her back and a halo on top of her head appears again. Someone might describe Rima being pure in heart. “Pure in heart” is such a cliché to describe somebody as if there are no better words left. But this is the true Rima that is visible to others. Her roommates back in Ilang Residence Hall would wait patiently for Rima to come home with the hope that she brings take-home food. She fills their empty stomachs. Also, she is a friend who will accompany you in the narrow streets of Divisora. She will spend the whole day with you in Divisoria buying a single belt while you do the rest of the shopping. To prove that she is pure in heart, she saves her first kiss for her wedding day. A memory of Drew Barryome of the movie, Never Been Kissed flashes. Therefore, “pure in heart” is not a substitute for having no better words.

Behind the pair of glasses is a part- time superhero and a part-time journalist. But the most visible part of who she is is the wings and the halo she do not hide. Some things about her remain hidden. This is when her brain works hard enough and leaves no time for her mouth to speak. We might only see one-fourth of who she is. But the rest of who she is can be seen in her writings, in her true copy of grades, and in the people who guessed and were right in perceiving her as a girl with wings on her back and halo on top of her head.

Why I don’t like Math

I don’t like Math with or without a calculator. When I was in grade school, I struggled to pass my Math subject. As a child, I did not understand why I had to memorize the multiplication table. To me, there was no peace in fractions, remainder, dividends. In college, I could not find significance of algebra in my life. In music, I cannot tell how many beats are there in a measure. In reading a newspaper, I choose to read commentary, entertainment section over business section because of its numerical data. If one asks me, how far is Las Pinas from Quezon city, I will not answer in kilometers. I’ll just say it feels like traveling all over the Philippines. I don’t like anything that has to do with numbers. That’s why I never love money.

Now that I’m old, I change my perspective. I don’t like Math, not only because of my mental ability, but because Math requires standard measurement and a certain level of accuracy. Forever, one plus one equals two, not slightly two or almost two.

I like to see things as relative and as subjective as they are. Because when there is no measurement, no accuracy, one can build his or her imagination and interpretation. For instance, “an endless night” is better said than  “12 hours without sleep.” And when a boy wants to flatter a girl, he might use geometry. Hence, he will say, “You are mathematically beautiful. Your face is in proportion. The proportions of the length of the nose, the position of  your eyes and the length of your chin all conform to some aspect of the Golden Ratio

It might be a meaningful compliment but it is not as romantic as Shakespeare would woo a woman. ” Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day. Thou art more lovely and more temperate… But thy eternal summer shall not fade. Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade. When in eternal lines to Time thou grows’t.”

In practical application, numbers might be involved in relationships. Imagine a husband asking his wife, “Do you love me?” And she will reply: “ We’ve been together for more than ten years. I cook your meals. I wash your laundry. I clean your house. I press your clothes. “ Is it not sad to know that love can be measured by length of time and by number of deeds?

With measurement comes perfection. People become obsessed with numbers. A perfect female body has a vital statistics of 34-24-36. As I watch beauty pageant, I wonder do they really look perfect in my eyes or is it the mind that tells me they look sexy because of their vital statistics? In school, students compete to meet high grades. Academics try to measure one’s excellence in essay, art, performance when in truth these things largely depend on the nature of audience. With the world of  numbers, anything can be quantified. Numbers set the bar. Hence, there is top 1 and top 2.

The purpose of  Science and Math is to understand the world. But I’d rather leave  some things incomprehensible, unfathomable. Without Math, age doesn’t matter.  Transcript of records does not matter. Everything could have been make-believe without Math.

P.S.  I don’t like Math but I happen to love people who like Math. Happy Birthday to my mathematician friend, Sol Mariano.

As I saw him naked


When it’s naked, it’s not wholesome. When it’s naked, it’s beauty. For Oble, when it’s naked, it’s symbolic.

My mom asked me, “Why is UP statue naked?” I’d like to remind my mother that nudity is not new or unconventional. In fact, there are a lot of naked statues. Our province has some naked statutes. And I wonder why they have to be. At least Oble is naked for a reason.

When I entered UP, I did not really care how Oble looked. I accepted that he was naked but I did not look closely on the details. I didn’t bother to know if he had biceps or abs. I did not even know that there was a leaf hiding his manhood.

Oble did not wear any clothes. But as he stood there lifting his hands, it was as if he was wearing a branded wardrobe glimmering in the sun and many people envied him. And I ,who just stared at him, carried his brand name.

As the years went by, I did not want people to know that I saw him naked. Because when I told them that I did, they would challenge me with an IQ test. They would let me solve brain teasers. And when I could not give answers, I felt so ashamed.

They would call me activist and atheist. They would think I  am well-versed with current events. They would ask me if I knew a lot of trivia. They would openly ask me questions that they would not normally ask to other people, such as “Did you have an affair with women?” “Have you done this and that?” They would judge me for every grammar lapse that I made. And they would remark, “Did you really study in UP?”

I’d just like people to know that Oble did not teach me everything but it taught me one big lesson- how to teach myself.  My opinions are not from Oble. They are mine. My skills are not  necessarily from Oble. They are mine. My passion is fueled by Oble but my ambitions and desires are my creations. Oble did not provide me all the facts, formula, theories but he gave me understanding. Oble did not make artists, leaders, activists, innovators. He only gave these people an opportunity to be what they were meant to be.

I looked at that naked man again.

Oble symbolizes selfless offering. His nakedness means giving your all to the country. For some, it means freedom. As a home of free thinkers, it attracts all kinds of people. But for me, the naked man lifting his arms and facing the heavens is a man who offers himself to God. He serves humanity, not only his race. By my interpretation, I am no atheist and I am no member of any patriotic group. I am just a life student who studies, reads, listens, and reflects.

To freshies with love…

As opposed to what others believe, Oble does not change who you are. He only magnifies who you are.