Alex Maskara


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Popong 9



It is funny how one’s stream of thoughts can swerve in so many directions. The Dalai Lama names it the monkey brain. It worsens with age. I try to focus as much as I can but with all the world’s distractions, it is nearly impossible. To keep my mental zone undisturbed, there are a few techniques I have developed. I avoid excessive social media - a quick check of the current events and then on to my favorite daily routine: Contemplation. Meditation is the first order of my day. I call it my Popong’s Contemplation, a combination of prayer and meditation on the world’s state of affairs, more global rather than the small town in scope. Social media is very small town to me. It is alright to get updated with long-lost friends but I don’t want to know what my neighbor ate every night. I can just knock at her door and ask her.

But to each his own. I am just sharing my preference on social media.

After contemplation, I go to work. Aging is disabling. I can not keep up with the heavy lifting or the mental fortitude needed to deal with my difficult patients. Getting old reduces my ‘bouncy’ quick steps, the sharp mind, and the easy memory. So I cut down on work which reduces the money I make. Being single, at my age, I no longer need to make lots of money. To live conveniently is just a matter of reducing my expenses. There is no need for me to travel, traveling alone is not fit for old people. There is no need to buy expensive things because there is no need to impress anyone at old age. I don’t have any vice or addiction or any sick taste to spend on.

After three hours of work, I go home to an empty room, which I prefer because I have things to think about or write about. I live in this house with a tenant who, just like me, prefers to be left alone. We live as housemates without uttering a single word to each other on most occasions. My tenant prefers to drink and watch TV and smoke after work or on weekends. I prefer to sit and stare at the screen and write these sometimes incomprehensible sentences or stories. Sometimes I teach myself to code. Or sometimes I read. Or sometimes I simply stare at nothingness, thinking about things old men think about.

Allow me to proceed with my meditation. I have been wanting to write about things that sadden me about Manila and its suburbs. Youtube documentaries illustrate the quick landscape change in Makati that is widening in a circle until it blankets the whole of Manila. It makes the metropolis a wanna-be Manhattan. There is nothing wrong with that, every advancing city in the world uses New York or London or Tokyo as its blueprint. Every urban dweller patronizes the standing boxes, the higher, the better, and multi-color lights ignited at night to usher a vibrant sleepless city, with its limitless actions, and businesses that completely eradicate the dark and night, equally eliminating sleep and rest. Those of the young embrace cities like these, driven by their high energy and boundless excitement. Those of the old are threatened by it, they prefer the old ways, the old architecture, the old roads and bridges, the old tradition, the keeping of traditions. Some would try to adapt but others like me would rather abandon these newly designed cities in favor of the quiet, low-keyed, cheap, and less demanding fields of green in more far-flung communities. I guess that is the normal way of life. After spending most of my fuel in my tank, I tend to conserve the little fuel that is left.


The other thing that bothers me is the state of the Philippines body politic which, after nearly forty years hasn’t stirred beyond what I saw and heard and participated in as a young man. Today, it is something I fear. My fear can be attributed to aging as well and I do not try to diagnose political illness because I can be way off-tangent. There is nothing worse than determining a disease based on subjectivity. We have been using the term social cancer in the Philippines for what seems like an eternity but we haven’t even attempted a treatment, I think. I remember the year 1986 when we all thought we found the final cure which turned out to be a placebo. The cancer cells we thought we eradicated were merely replaced by other more potent cancer cells. It was simply the same politics, the main difference is the players.

And the script is played exactly the same nowadays. It is a battle between good and evil. It is a battle of colors. It is a battle between guilt and innocence. Popularity versus obscurity. A battle between intelligence and stupidity. It goes on and on. Added to this si the battle of social media influence.

What gets lost is the battle of wits. The battle for reason, logic, altruism, intelligence. I already know the outcome of this game show. One side will win and the first task of the winner is to realign its forces to dominate the political ground, propagate and promote his/her political pets, set the stage for the breeding and spawning of power handed to grandchildren as a menas of solidifyig the dynasty etcetera etcetera. For forty years I hoped for a miracle. I prayed for the one who will save us all. A leader who will slay the devil snares and will focus, focus, focus only on one thing. To make people think for themselves. For people to analyze intelligently the brawn and brain of the politicians wanting to lead them. I have craved for someone who is devoid of entanglements for these can be a source of disruption and corruption. I don’t want no monkey brain. I am looking for a political saint. A political spinster. A sharply focused leader who can surgically incise the cancer from out collective body and calibrate the entire system towards the good of all. Alas, I have already give up since after 1986.

Ha. And the social media and the Internet is used for the same propaganda. If there is anything I can do to protest this farcical game show called Philippine politics, it is to ignore it. Let these politicians live in their fantasy world of dynasty and mafia system-building. Let them devour the country of its wealth until there is nothing left to devour. Let them continually mislead the zombies of their own making to propagate their sinister ploticial ploys joined by their legions of evil who turns evil people into saints and angels. I leave that to them because I have been freed from their clutches.

I have come so far away from the land of my birth. I am defnitely accused of absence in the midst of the country’s crisis created by those who I left behind. The trouble is, no one thinks for themselves anymore, as if it is all about being on one side or the other. Today - it is the battle of crowds. The non-thinking individuals take sides, and fight for which side they have chosen without knowing why. The biggest sign of their stupidity is aligning on one side out of conformity and reasons spouted by the people they admire in Facebook. Yeah, and you truly are a hero in this manner. No, there is no real savior in this kind of politics. Neither one will save you from your ignorance and poverty and helplessness. Only God can do that for you. And God will not anser you in the name of your politician.

I am the happy camper now, I have jumped over the fence of hysteria and political idolatry. What saved me is my Faith and my own brain. I fought being brainwashed. There is no room for a cult in my domain. So who would I vote ? Nobody. I refuse to listen to any of them. I will depart inside my own cave and leave all behind until this system is completely eradicated. I wll never take part in any of it until I get old and decrepit and useless and dead.

Still, my stories linger. I still have stories to tell before all these shenanigans started in the country of my birth.
2022-04-30 20:47:56
popong

Migratory Bird (circa 2005)

Manila Travel 2022

On Bad Blood (Part 1)

Understanding my unique Self on my way to Retirement

Intramuros 1

Pasig River

Proenneke

A Visit to Quiapo with El Fili2

Visiting Quiapo with El Fili

The Very Thought of You

THE DIARY OF ANTONIO PIGAFETTA

Visions of St Lazarus 1

Popong 9

Diary of A Masquerade

Acacia

Brother, My Brother (Ben Santos)

Popong 8

F Sionil Jose

Four Students - 2

Popong 7 - Meditation

Popong 6 - Meditation

Friday Night Thoughts

Current Interests

Bulosan Syndrome

Maid of Cotton

Popong 5

Popong 4

Current Readings 2

Popong 3

Reading: Name of the Rose

Current Readings

Popong 2

Web Projects

Getting Back in the Game – Technology

Four Students

Selya

Last of the Balugas

Introduction To Popong