Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Source: tattoogen.com

Source: tattoogen.com

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
NO!
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

*Sometimes this cheers me up.

Other times, this makes me weep. And right now, I think it kinda does.

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To suck the marrow out of life

Source: stockfresh.com

Source: stockfresh.com

Whenever I watch a film, I expect to be moved, to laugh and cry with the characters, to fall in love, to be enraged. To be someone else. I haven’t been to the cinema for some time now. The last time I went, it was Toni Gonzaga and Piolo Pascual’s Starting Over Again. Toni’s antics were hilarious. Piolo Pascual was his usual almost sinfully looking self. I didn’t enjoy it. I dozed off in some parts. That movie seemed unreasonably lengthy. One of its tragedies was that the writer couldn’t make me fall in love with Iza Calzado. I was torn between rooting for her and silently hoping she’d meet someone else, someone who would be fully into her, someone who wouldn’t sleep with an ex. She deserved better. I deserved a better movie.

I have just watched Dead Poets Society on my laptop. I’ve been a Robin Williams fan ever since Mrs. Doubtfire. Mr. Williams could certainly play anyone and own the character. He makes it easy for us to empathize with him, to wish he was our English teacher. This film has the characters you could easily identify in real life: the strict and authoritative teachers/boss/parents, the rebellious rich kid, the snitch, the pretty girl with the jerk, the lovestruck boy after the pretty girl, the quiet smart guy and the aspiring actor whose parents want him to be a doctor.

It was exhilarating when Todd told a story in front of the class, his first time to address an audience and to yawp. I also felt like ripping something when the class ripped Dr. Pritchard’s essay. I wanted to claw Cameron’s eyes after he snitched about the DPS and Mr. Keating.

I was guilty yet hopeful when I realized I’m practically Mr. Keating’s realist colleague and disheartened to be reminded that as you grow older, you meet a lot of Mr. Nolans and Mr. Perrys. But that it’s also heartwarming that I have my Todds and Nuwandas and Pitts and Meeks.

I was floored when Neil took his life. I wept for a youth that will never blossom, for a talent nipped in the bud and for freedom in death. I felt no shame in weeping. For a while, I was Todd puking in the snow. I lost a friend in Neil. His death reminds me of life’s cruelties: like a super typhoon killing thousands, like corrupt politicians who just won’t die, like a president who had to be cajoled in paying respects to fallen soldiers, like being a prejudged minority living in a war zone, in constant fear of the rebels and the government.

The last scene when Mr. Keating bid the class goodbye while the DPSs were standing on their desks took on a different meaning now that Mr. Williams is dead. Thank you for the voices, the humor and for sharing to the world your immense talent. May you have found peace.

Thank you also to my teachers who have guided me and have been a source of inspiration for without them I would have sat through, wide awake, a lame movie like Starting Over Again and missed out on precious naps.

Oh captain, my captain! Life sucks but may we always be reminded to take a different perspective. The view is different on top of your desk.

An Appeal For The Students of SFCS

Mostly Warays, the natives of Eastern Visayas are accustomed to the harshness of the weather but early morning on the 8th of November (2013), they were not prepared for the devastation that was about to come. Internationally named Haiyan, Yolanda was the worst typhoon most people have seen in their lifetime: lives were lost, properties destroyed, hope nearly crushed and dreams almost shattered. The first few days after Yolanda’s landfall were the hardest. The typhoon survivors felt isolated with no electricity and phone signal, food and water almost gone. Surrounded with mountains of garbage and corpses on the streets, most Warays felt as powerless as the remnants of their homes crushed to the ground by the strong winds. But as they say, no adversity can ever defeat the Filipino spirit. Filipinos worked together to help the survivors, not just in Eastern Visayas but other places as well that Yolanda has wrecked. The Bayanihan spirit once again came alive. Donations came pouring in. The spirit of volunteerism was overwhelming. Also, international aid was significant and greatly helped the survivors. Everyone pitched in. Though a lot of political bickering ensued, in the end, the Warays came through.

Life still has not gone back to normal but slowly, the Warays are trying to recover and rebuild their lives. Students returned to school as early as December. Small businesses are trying to get back on their feet. Electricity has been restored. Cellphone signal is back although land lines are still dead. Those who became homeless are now staying in bunk houses, while others are still seeking shelters at some schools. One of these schools is San Fernando Central School (SFCS) in Tacloban City. This public school is situated at the corner of Real Street and Lukban Street, approximately 100 meters away from the shore. SFCS was one of the many schools in Tacloban that sustained heavy damage with 14 classrooms that collapsed and more than a thousand students displaced. After Yolanda, the classrooms that withtood the typhoon became evacuation centers. Until now, some rooms are still used by homeless survivors.

Mr. Ted Failon Image source: Ms. Imelda Gayas

Mr. Ted Failon

My cousin, Imelda Gayas, is SFCS’s school principal. After Yolanda, I was amazed at how she got right back to attending to her duties in school despite what her family went through. Her duties as a leader and an educator came on top of her priorities. Fortunately for SFCS, help came pouring in. Ted Failon, a popular news anchor and a proud Waray, visited the school and with the aid of ABS-CBN helped the rebuilding of some classrooms. They also provided chairs and school supplies for the students. Also worth mentioning is the Adopt A Child program of DepEd that ensures each child is provided with his or her daily needs and can attend school regularly.

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Almost a month ago, Ate Melda (as I fondly call her) and I were catching up on Facebook and I asked how her school is coping after the tragedy. They seem to be on track to recovery and she is grateful for everyone who has and is helping SFCS. She mentioned though that some of their newly built classrooms are still empty because most of their chairs were swept away by the storm surge. The school is asking donations so that the students would not be sitting on cold concrete when school starts again in June. Hence, I am posting this to appeal to generous individuals who may be willing to help SFCS students. These children, early on in life, went through a horrifying experience but slowly, they are trying to rebuild their lives. They realize the value of getting an education and they are desperately holding on to their dream even if Yolanda threatened to take it away from them. Let’s help them hold on to their dream.

Ms. Gayas overseeing the distribution of relief goods at SFCS

Ms. Gayas overseeing the distribution of relief goods at SFCS

Your donation will be used to buy plastic chairs. Any amount will be greatly appreciated. For those willing to donate, you may contact me at:
mobile: +63906-487-3234
email: 7pmtrain@gmail.com
facebook: facebook.com/jobetisonthetrain
Twitter: twitter.com/trainrides

You may also contact Imelda Gayas at:
mobile: +63915-417-8527 and +6349-172-5424
email: melda_gayas@yahoo.com
sanfernandocentralschool_tac@yahoo.com
facebook: facebook.com/imelda.gayas
facebook.com/sfcstacloban

In behalf of Ate Melda and the San Fernando Central School, damo nga salamat!

Note: Photos courtesy of Ms. Imelda Gayas.

Dreams, Nightmares And Reality

Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

When I filled out my college application form and chose film as a major, I failed to consider tuition and film-related expenses. I was a sixteen-year old dreamer who grew up seduced by mass media, especially films. I was so sure back then that if I study film at the premier state university in the country then I could easily be the next Lino Brocka, minus the fatal car accident, of course.

When I got into UP, I was ecstatic. The summer I entered Diliman was probably the happiest summer I had. I was a smart, sixteen-year old dreamer who was going to change the world through my award-winning movies, and then probably marry Keanu Reeves when I turn 28. I was also naive and had been pretty much sheltered when I was growing up.

Then of course it didn’t take long for reality to come crashing down on me. I grew up thinking I was smart and then UP made me realize how average I actually am, sometimes even less. Also, a passing grade was not what you aim for. I actually had to work my ass off to get truly decent grades, UP’s definition of decent. Then while at it, I had to polish off my Tagalog (I am Waray) because the one I knew was classroom Filipino, and my embarrassing vocabulary was not helping my already fledgling self-esteem. But the worst of it all was realizing that my parents could barely afford my studies.

My tuition, board and lodging expenses, daily allowance and budget for film projects were obviously way above my parents’ public school teachers’ salary. When I was a sophomore, I seriously considered shifting to another major for financial reasons but my father forbid me. He made it clear that I had to finish what I had started. And so I did. My parents borrowed money from everyone they know just so their dreamer “not so smart after all” daughter could become a film director.

After five years and one semester (yes, I overstayed in college), I finally got my degree. Bachelor of Arts in Film and Audio Visual Communication. So now I have two Urian Best Picture films, one Oscar Best Foreign Film nomination and yes, Keanu has proposed to me on my 27th birthday. NOT!

After graduation, I helped with some friends’ productions including that Jeturian award-winning film, which actually included my name on the credits. I also worked as a casting coordinator for a modeling agency, which in reality meant that aside from pre-qualifying and assigning models to specific projects, I was also a photographer, videographer, talent scout, telemarketer, among others. I was underpaid and had to pretend that my boss and his business partners were not involved in prostitution.

Then after my stint at the modeling agency, I joined the BPO industry and had been stuck ever since. Pay is good and the benefits are decent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for my job. In fact, I love what I’m doing now. But yes, there are still times I feel guilty about not pursuing film. I still feel like I’ve not only let down my family, but the institution to which I owed my education.

If you have attended UP, you are taught to value the opportunity of attending the “top” school and that you are in fact subsidized by the taxpayers. So after studying, you are expected to give back. So far the only way I’ve given back is through my taxes and signing petitions for various causes. I’d like to believe they count. I also have intangible and not so legitimate contributions like fervently wishing the downfall of the Chinese government and ill wishes on the health and safety of inefficient traditional politicians. But those don’t really count.

So why did I have this sudden urge to confess my college drama? Because just last week, a young bright UP student took her own life because she could not afford to pay her tuition anymore. It was the most heartbreaking story I’ve heard in a while. I’ve pretty much avoided the news due to gore and sensationalism but this one just hit really close. I was once in her shoes. I was once desperate and too poor to pay my school expenses. I cried too many times because I thought my parents won’t be able to find someone who could lend them money or that I was again late for my rent or that I still haven’t had my paper printed out because my allowance is gone.

Well, sure, suicide is complex. Kristel did not simply kill herself because she was no longer a UP student. There are many factors at play here that led to the finale of this tragedy. One thing is clear though, her forced leave of absence was the final trigger.

One of the issues the many isko and iska had been fighting for and taking to the streets for the government to pay attention to is the budget cut on the university. The faculty are not well compensated, which is very upsetting since the university has the best there is in the country. Researches are not funded, and a lot of other cost-cutting measures are done.

Clearly, there is something wrong with the system. UP had been struggling with budget cuts from the government but it had also successfully leased some of its assets to multinational companies. And tuition has tripled since I graduated. Yes, I don’t understand all the facets of the budget issue that the university faces but doesn’t the university have a commitment to educate the brightest minds of the country? Kristel was a young, bright student who dreamed but her dreams were crushed by the very same institution who promised to guide her on her journey to learning and a better life. Her dreams were spat on by bureaucracy who valued profit rather than upholding its commitment to education. Because Kristel could not afford to pay her tuition she was rejected as a member of the academe.

UP prides itself for the eternal quest for knowledge and service to the country as symbolized by the Oblation. Forcing Kristel to file a leave of absence due to inability to pay her tuition certainly does not validate the values of UP. Taking away her school ID so she could no longer enter the premises was the final act of ostracism. They drove her away and so she decided to go somewhere else, maybe a better place. Wherever she is now, hopefully, she is not being judged for her finances or the lack thereof. May she be in a place where she can continue her education without worrying about tuition and student loans. And may she help us pray that UP can soon fix the problem before another life is sacrificed.

Photo courtesy of panoramio.com

Photo courtesy of panoramio.com

Brain B.C.

Darn, I won’t be able to finish this test. Why am I still on the first page? What do I write on the name line? There’s something wrong with my pencil. Can I get a new one? That evil woman is giving me the eye. What in hell is that sound? Does it mean the test is over? I barely answered five items.

Oh, good, it’s the alarm. Why is it dark outside? Am I late? I have to get up now or there’ll be hell to pay. I have to check my messages. What the hell are these people talking about? I’ll just read them again when I get back home. Why does my towel have frayed edges? I bought these like four months ago. Maybe I shouldn’t use this more often. And I have to remember the deo. Did I remember to put my watch back on the bag?

I’ll leave the sheets as is, the bears are sleeping anyway. Why is it dark here on the stairs? I could just easily trip and break my spine. Someday these stairs are gonna kill me because no one bothers to put on lights. Stir fry veggies. Oh yes, I asked for that this morning. Not liking the smell of that one. Need coffee now. No, couch first.

16% battery? Tablet, you’ve been busy while I was asleep? Hmm. I can stay on this couch until my grandchildren’s grandchildren unearth me with the tablet and put me in a museum. I’ll be the archaeological discovery of their time.

These people act like nothing happened when Hugo Chavez is dead. We’re running out of revolutionaries. When I get out of this couch and have coffee, I’ll be a reformist. I have to eat now or I’d really be late. When Fidel Castro dies, I’l wear black for a week and swear off McDonalds for a year. Then maybe move to Cuba.

Mmm, these are good. Hot! Hot! Now my tongue is totally awake. I want coffee after this meal. I have to put the kettle on now. Should I have a second helping? Those kids outside surely make a riot. No respect for Hugo Chavez at all.

Damn that kettle is gonna give me a heart attack. Where’s my mug? Did someone use my mug? Bastards. I love this coffee, I should marry this. Ooohh, the world is alright now. The world is gonna mourn for you, Hugo Chavez. This mug feels so right in my hands. Oh, this is my favorite.

Oh I have half an hour to kill.

B.C. – Before Caffeine