Friday, August 27, 2010

Zip it


But there is something else that I noticed during the aftermath of that awful, awful tragedy that happened on Monday: a fundamental lack of empathy. It was extremely evident on my Facebook feed, where amid the messages of outrage and disbelief and anger were far more common sentiments of "nakakahiya na naman ang Pilipinas" or "Only in da Pilipins" or "What a shame for our country." I found it really galling that instead of thinking of those poor victims of that bus hijacking, the pain and the torture that they must've went through, those tense hours of what must have been extreme mental and psychological stress, the first thing in a lot of people's heads was "What will this make us look like to outsiders." What a lack of concern, and what a misplaced sense of "saving face." Oh yes, we're awash with self pity and pathos and inundated with a flair for drama. We're very good at being critical when it comes to how our standing is being perceived by outsiders and exaggerating our faults. But at the end of the day, we really don't care much about other people.

Do continue to read the rest of her post as I couldn't help but nod in agreement while I was reading her entry.

My gad, I was completely aghast to find Twitter posts with the tag #ManilaIsSafe immediately after the massacre, together with pleas that not all Filipinos are like that hostage taker, or that it was an isolated incident, or that we are intrinsically peace-lovers—terribly obnoxious. At the same time, I don't think we should keep beating ourselves up, trolling hate pages by Hong Kong nationals on Facebook and posting on their walls, profusely apologizing for what we had not done. (As perfectly summed up in this quote: "Ako ay narito nang naganap ang napakasakit na trahedya. Nakita ninyo wala akong kinalaman doon."; see Pinoys in HK to forego Sunday celebs to mourn hostage victims.) And the third kind: As I tweeted yesterday, we're supposedly a nation that hates Kris Aquino for being KSP; why, isn't everyone being KSP these days with their finger-pointing and 'expert' opinions?

As far as the KΓΌbler-Ross model is concerned, they are still on the second stage. Let them grieve; if your tweet/post can't help repair Filipino-Chinese relations, then shut the fuck up let us keep silent.

* * * *

On the same topic but different perspective, here's a Filipino expat's take:

As a Filipino working overseas, I am a relentless cheerleader for our country, often replying to questions like "Are you from the Philippines?" from foreigners with "Yes! Have you been? You should visit!" I take the pains to send detailed emails full of suggestions and advice to acquaintances who tell me they are considering a visit, and I often tell coworkers about life back home, not just all its absurdities, but all the things I love about it.

Sinisikap kong maging magaling sa trabaho para makilala tayong mga Pinoy bilang magaling, masayahin, mabait at mapagkakatiwalaang mga empleyado at katrabaho. And all it takes is one rotten egg to ruin all the efforts I, and many overseas Filipinos like me, have made.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Huli ka!

OMG, di papaawat si Miss Peru! Forward to 4:57 and see her (lady at the right, silver gown with long sleeves) push the newly the crowned Miss Universe and then strongly pull her back (5:04)! Echoserang frog!

Ang evil! Wa-effect yung pagka-Carmi Martin nya nung prelims at pagka-Luz Valdez nya sa finals. Naku, yung mga ganyang tao, bitter yan forever at never magiging happy, hihi.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Earlier wasn't just a beauty pageant

Updated August 25 at 9:00 am. This is the edited version; I previously posted my first draft.

"Why are we all critical of Venus Raj's answer? Is it because we're envious of her kasi she hasn't made a single "major" mistake in her life? It's a personal question people, and she gave a personal answer. Geeeez..."

Despite the fourth runner-up finish of Venus, I am immensely happy. I absolutely have no idea why certain people on Twitter are at it, ripping her apart for her answer in the interview portion. First off, it's a question that no matter how you answer, you'll never really get crowned for. (I've reviewed Miss Universe's Final Q&A in the last 12 years on YouTube for Inquirer's Miss U special issue; I know what I'm talking about.) It's similar to other cliche questions, such as "What are your strengths?" and "If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be?" I wished she got a far more interesting question so she could have given a far more interesting answer. Second, as I quoted above, it IS a personal answer and you really can't blame Venus for having no "major, major" mistake in the past. Pam asked me how I would've answered the question and I said, probably the same way Venus did.

Last night, the fire in me had died: a tragic incident unfolded on our TV screens and I was horrified, shocked and saddened beyond words. Once again, the national psyche was understandably at an all-time low and it seemed like a signal for us to retreat back from the world and hang our heads low in shame. And we should be ashamed of what happened (and apologetic; and humble; and obliging) but as Filipinos, there are things to be proud of.

It is easy to dismiss a beauty pageant as farce. I can imagine Chinese nationals giving the Philippines a collective 'fuck you' for Filipinos' outward display of rejoicing and cheering on Twitter over a beauty contest. The Chinese deserve their sympathy and undivided attention; but at the same time, Filipinos—those who do not hijack a bus; those who aren't murderers; those who don't steal; those who grieve for their Chinese brothers and sisters; those who shed a tear—they needed their proud moment.

Venus Raj defied all odds. She was borne out of wedlock and abandoned by her father. She was dirt poor. Her home in Bicol never had electricity, at least not until the last 21 years. She practiced her catwalk on narrow rice paddies. The local franchise holder of Miss Universe stripped her off her title. She fought and won it back. Three days before Miss Universe finals, her close friend, fellow beauty queen Melody Gersbach died in a car crash; the night before the pageant, the shame of this country was broadcast all over the world for the international community to witness and judge.

She was the underdog and the fighter; the Filipino psyche personified.

Finally, on the day of the competition, the Top 15 finalists were announced. Initially, the favorites were called—candidates whom I expected to make it were the ones named. I was confident of Venus' chances, until the remaining slots dwindled and dwindled and suddenly there were just three left.

"USA and Venezuela haven't been called yet," I announced to my friends as fear slowly gripped me.

"Guatemala!" the host announced as the 13th finalist, a surprise choice. Shit. USA and Venezuela always make it; there have been rare instances wherein one of them doesn't make the cut but both have never been shut out of the finals at the same time—at least not in the last 20 years.

"Czech Republic!" The 14th finalist was announced, another unexpected choice. Ouch, I thought. That was it; she's done in—it would either go to USA or Venezuela. I resignedly sank into the couch, hid half my face with the pillow and began to process the idea that Venus wasn't making it after all.

"And the final spot in the Top 15 is for... the Philippines!!!" Hell broke loose in our hotel room. My friends and I shouted our lungs out and cheered like we've never cheered before. It was her proud moment and we all shared in that. We won.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Miss Universe Top 10 wishlist

While looking for photos of the contestants for this entry, I realized how hard it is to choose only 15 out of so many beautiful ladies—so now, I'm nervous about Venus' chances tomorrow.


I won't even bother making my Top 15 predictions list because since Donald Trump took over the Miss Universe franchise, my batting average has become so pathetic, lol. In any case, I will be rooting for these girls:

2nd runner-up

Ireland, Rosanna Purcell
She looks like Melania Trump, wife of Donald, and I think it's not an exaggeration to say that she also looks like Angelina Jolie. She's also apparently smart—she has represented Ireland in some European parliamentary gig—and well-traveled. From her casual interview, it doesn't seem like she gives a flying fig (perhaps, because she knows she's pretty and has it all) so I'm not sure how she'll do in the final Q&A. But bottomline, she can easily find herself in the the Top 5.

1st runner-up

Puerto Rico, Maria Vicente
She's like a pop princess whose fame hasn't gotten to her head. I like how bubbly, witty and spontaneous she comes across in her interviews. I'm not sure her decision to curl her hair for the preliminaries will affect her chances on finals night, but in the end, she is the only lady whose win over Venus will be acceptable to me.

Miss Universe

Philippines, Venus Raj 
(Ang objective ba? Haha! But of course, I will root for her to win.)

I admit, I wasn't a fan of her during Bb Pilipinas but I eventually recognized her beauty and how she will shine in the Miss Universe pageant as compared to her would-have-been replacement Nicolette Henson.. And she did shine—thanks to a rocking body, an old school beauty queen styling, a sincere and enthusiastic personality, and a rags-to-success story to back her all up. If she does make it to the Top 15 (she has to!), it will be hard for her to make it to the Top 10, which is decided by the swimsuit competition. But once she makes the cut, I have no doubt she can easily break into the Top 5 due to her amazing evening gown presentation. Now, the final Q & A is another tricky round for her, but I feel that as long as she is sincere and concise in her answer, she could win the crown despite grammatical lapses.

The rest of my favorites are: Dominican Republic, India, Jamaica, Norway, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Peru (chos!) Uruguay.

The overrated girls for me are: Colombia, France, Mexico, USA and Venezuela—I'm uninspired by these girls.


All photos are from

Friday, August 20, 2010


Today is a beautiful day for the Philippines kasi good mood ang lahat ng becky ngayon, lol. The preliminaries was held earlier, wherein judges select the Top 15, and Venus Raj nailed both the evening gown and swimsuit competitions (though I felt, more in the EG segment than during the SS round.)

'Teh, ikaw na!

First off, I love her look: nutribun kung nutribun, lol! Many pageant enthusiasts don't like this hairstyle for her, but it has grown on me: I think it's very old school Miss India. If you remember last year, Miss Kosovo created a huge wave at the evening gown competition for her Audrey Hepburn hairstyle—I think it creates the same effect for Venus without looking costume-y.

For the second round, which was the swimsuit, she did the obvious, which was let her hair down. Her look could have used some improvement, but since her hair was tied up in a bun earlier, understandably, it didn't have that great of an effect letting it down. But nevertheless, she looked great. I used to worry that she'd look too thin in this round—and she did in in her photosbut onstage, it didn't look like it mattered.

At syempre, I had to watch out for Peru. Ever since I heard the rumor, wiz ko na sya type. Na-karma ang lola nyo at nadulas ng slight sa evening gown portion. At tawang-tawa ko sa introduction nya—feelingera! As you may know, Peru and the Philippines are next to each other when arranged alphabetically.

Peru:" Pakitaan ko nga 'tong chaperon na 'to."

"Giuliana Zevallos, 22, Peru!"

"Hahahaha!!! "

*Lukewarm applause from the crowd*

Peru: "Shet, ang dami-dami kong fans, yeeeeessss!!!"
Venus: "Maghintay ka lang, bruha ka."

"O 'teh, ready ka na?"


"Maria Venus Raj, 22, Philippines!!!"

*Huge cheers and applause from the crowd*


Watch everything here:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Miss Universe National Costumes 2010 edition

I can't believe it, I haven't blogged about Miss Universe 2010!

I've been busy with Miss Universe alright, but not on this blog and I'm not referring to my Twitter -- I'll share that here soon.

It took Iggy's fantastic post about this year's National Costume to spur me into writing an entry about my favorite Miss Universe event. So here it goes:

I find the 2010 edition to be generally safe and boring, unlike that of the previous years. The most notable is the costume of Miss Venezuela, which is based on the Abra Solar, a monument in the country's capital, Caracas:

... and that of Miss Kazahkstan, which I initially found weird, but which I now find endearing, lol. I know there are flags surrounding her head but I'm not quite sure what it means, overall.

I also like British Virgin Island,



Korea (So cuute!!! I love the shoes and the feather; I wonder what this signifies),

and most especially Japan.

I'm supposed to like Peru's pero ayaw ko kasi supposedly, mean girl daw sya kay Venus. (Venus was her chaperon when she competed for Ms. Earth here. So sa Miss U, lagi daw nyang ini-introduce si Venus bilang chaperon nya.)

This is probably the first time Switzerland thought out of the box for its costume: it is the Helvetia, who is the female personification of Switzerland, much like our very own Inang Bayan.

A couple of delegates dressed as the devil, but I don't find them innovative anymore because Panama and Peru did it in last year's Miss Universe.

 My worst costume would be Singapore, who came as a slab of concrete.

I suggest that next year, Miss Singapore comes dressed as the Esplanade.

And here's the requisite photo of Miss Philippines.

The manton looks like the cover of a dining table and she could have done away with the tapis and tassels on the sleeves. I'm not a fan of this yet again, Colombian-designed ensemble.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The universe has a message

And yet again. Look at what I stumbled on this morning:

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

From Swift | Kick: Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

Monday, August 09, 2010

A liberating 'diet'

From the shopping 'diet,' there's now this:

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people.
Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.”

So one day she stepped off.

Yesterday, I saw an episode of Oprah on nuns and convents. Of course, there was the amusement over that  monastic value—abstinence—but essentially, it boiled down to how nuns are liberated from materialism and other worldly things by volunteering themselves to sisterhood.

Early this morning, I read this from Jessica Zafra's blog:

What passes for dreams these days? Eight, nine out of ten people dream of becoming fabulously wealthy so they can live in total comfort and buy every luxury the mass media says they want. Quantitatively that’s a big dream, qualitatively it’s puny. It’s just an exaggerated version of survival, with designer trimmings.

And now, that New York Times article I quoted above. (And prior to all this, that idea of simplifying one's wardrobe down to the most basic and essential.)

I feel bloated and my head hurts.

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