Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Child prostitution

October 20, 2009
10:00am

Lately, I was asked by a friend, a graduating nursing student, to help him in his research about the knowledge, attitude and practices among commercially sexually-exploited children on sexually transmitted infections and proposed possible teaching interventions. Like any research involving reproductive health, I readily offered my limited resources and services.

For what use are the limited resources and time if not shared? Only government officials won’t do that, with the exceptions to really some dedicated public servants. I can only count nine among them, all found in the House of Representatives.

With all honesty, I was disturbed that a non government organization in Cebu called FORGE Inc. documented at least more than a thousand children involved in prostitution and counting; because it is really far-fetch from my mind as to the extent of children involved in the flesh trade. I have several close friends involved in the trade (hetero females and males and homos et. al), and never in our constant collaboration did we mention children involved in it. I wonder why.

What is truly disgustful is the fact that rarely government officials talked or even discussed issues on child prostitution. A lip service will do, you hear nothing. Clearly, since this children cannot vote, we cannot hear from them deliver social services.

Ah, but they cannot even provide basic social services for those who can.

Rizal’s lessons are now forgotten saying the youth (let’s include the children) is the hope of our country. If a significant portion of our children are involved in prostitution, is their hope left? Others are sniffing rugby or are part of a web of gang involved in anti-social activities.

Typical of bureaucratic governance in our island-nation, we only hear our policy-makers throwing stones at each other’s glass houses. And the oppressed and exploited people are left scrambling for broken glasses, literally. Exponentially, others are left moving heavens ward looking for genuine social change, which is inevitable.

It is a challenge for all. If a nursing student can find a great knowledge and commitment in conducting research to children involved in prostitution, it is really a great leap forward and offers hope, however dim. I also wish other developmental worker and institutions, the corporate social responsibility of business entities, should also invest in keeping our children away from the flesh trade and giving them the kind of direction they rightfully deserve. For in every child’s tarnished future, is ours too.

With all man-made and natural catastrophes coming our way, the fuss about the need for a reproductive health bill is gaining strength despite the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church and its lackeys. The urgency of the bill that should be passed is gaining momentum and the Church’s stand remains isolated than ever. Like I said before, the world is not flat. And in order to deepen one’s faith, one should question it, before saying ‘amen’. And so, the reproductive health bill is equally important to the children involved in the flesh trade.

Even if these are just band-aid solutions to a deep-rooted, class and historical problem, but it can help for our tactical relief and satisfaction.

For the reasons they involved in the flesh trade is mind-boggling poverty. All of the respondents undeniably said so.

Most of their parents are not working or if working as a tricycle/trisikad driver, with no regular income to support the entire family. It is either their mother or father has just been laid-off from work or they were displaced in the countryside and end up scavenging in the cities.

Hence, they involved themselves in prostitution – the only way they can help buy their daily food for the entire family – said to be the oldest profession. Whoever said that should bear in mind that the long standing solution to a problem like prostitution is actually our continuing (well, in fact protracted) fight for economic equality and social justice.

How do we provide solution to this problem vis-à-vis child prostitution?

Genuine agrarian reform should be implemented and let the parents of this children return to the countryside to till the land and improved their lot without fear of land-grabbing and militarization.

A government supportive of and exist based on the peasantry’s cry for land is a government that can stand despite the onslaught of imperialist globalization policies. Hand-in-hand, providing security of tenure and just benefits to our workforce and establish a truly Filipino industry that exists solely and for the purpose of providing the needs of the state and its people will deter their children (our children) to involved themselves in the flesh trade.

Historically, past and present regimes backed by powerful countries, ignored genuine agrarian reform and providing job security and rightful benefits to workers. Historically too, the oppressed and exploited people including their children are dissatisfied with their current conditions that they find refuge in educating themselves so they will provide radical solutions to their age-old woes.

The problem on child-prostitution included.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Botolan

October 11, 2009
7:40am


1985.

My vacation was perfect. Vivid memories for a six year old kid from Cebu, visiting for the first time the hometown of my father located in the westernmost part of Zambales and host to South China Sea’s peril.

I visited the place in a time of conjugal dictatorship of Imelda and Ferdinand. It was also a time of a social volcano erupting even in the rupture.

And the six year old kid at the time was just stuck how deafening the super-sonic bombs released by F-18 fighter jets of the U.S Air Force hosted by one of US’ biggest military installation outside its homeland in Subic Naval Base in Olangapo City while passing through the dreamland.

Yes, the dreamland.

Walking for an hour from the seashore with grayish sand (a sign of abundant sea creatures) where my grandpa and grandma live, passing the thin and constricted river but nonetheless muddy, the rice paddies ready to be harvested and the passers-by shouting ‘mangan ta pon’, my uncle brought me to the only place, he said worthy of my vacation.

The place indeed brought some realistic awakening. Fine pine trees in hundreds I’ve never seen in Cebu, lake water fish, carabao’s, chicken, horses, goats, age-old trees, kasoy (which can never be found in Cebu), kamatsili (rarely found in Cebu) and several other ‘acts of God’. Surprised, matanglawin are also abundant the locals said, but most are leaving the place due to the rampaging fighter jets regularly disturbing the limited sky.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed eating the kasoy and kamatsili.

Seemingly reluctant, I traversed the scenery of a government-owned dreamland. Touching the leaves as they are about to dry while listening to the whirlwind blowing melodically and me just sitting in the carabao grass waiting for the uninterrupted conversation of my uncle and the care-taker to end.

Still, the F-18 jets destroyed my senses.

We returned to my lolo and lola’s place completely awed with what I experienced. For what is good to keep in a six year-old kid’s heart and mind is just his penchant for what is left a century hence. What the place look like, say in 1885 without the super sonic bombs and conjugal dictatorship. I wonder.

I told my tall, willowy lola with what I saw. She, being of Chinese descent from Fujian (formerly Amoy) is almost reluctant to listen to his favorite apo while playing mahjong, chewing her tobacco and inhaling it smoke from within.

My Ilocano lolo, a US war veteran adopted two Amerasians, remains isolated due to ageing.

Since last August until now, several typhoons and floods ravaged the hometown of my father, destroying what is left to keep, including vivid memories of a six year old kid from Cebu.

My Botolan is now gone…almost completely.

What is next? My Baguio?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What price spam?

October 2, 2009
8:39pm

“Am stranded!!”

The title of the subject seems believable. After all, while we are still experiencing the aftermath of typhoon Ondoy (international name Keshena) wreaking havoc to millions of people in Luzon, and me just traveled from Manila a week before Ondoy arrived, who will not believe that I am actually stranded?

But in London? Perhaps, it is believable if it is in Florida. But that is another story.

The hoax cried like wolf drowning in a sea of mud. And me, while experiencing silhouetted pain, didn’t realize that a spam message sent to my 600+ contacts created disturbance of epic proportions by just reading the responses of those the spam message have caused.

It all started with a message that I can’t open my yahoo ID. While no longer surprise since I’ve experienced for more than a year a routine to change my password often, a spam is still a surprise. In this age of cyberspace, guarding our cyber-home is equally important like guarding our morals.

Significantly, I also realized how important friends are, despite the disturbances the spam caused them (and me) they heartily extended support, believing it was true.

Take it from Mr. R&*(, a friend for more than 15 years, London-based and a graduate of History and Philosophy of Science:

“Hello Roxanne

That sounds terrible. It must be awful to be stuck and not know what
to do next. I'm really sorry though because I cannot help you with the
money. With the best will in the world I simply don't have access to
that kind of money - even to lend for a short time. I just don't have
it.

I find it strange that the consulate would not let you use a phone to
call home. Could you not go back and ask for their help? And the hotel
must have more than one phone line - since it sounds like it is them
who want payment surely they would let you make calls to arrange a
wire transfer?

It sounds like you don't want anyone to know you are here, but I think
you may have to tell somebody back home in order to get out of your
predicament.

Were the police involved? Can they not offer you advice on how to get
home? In any case you should go to the police if you have been robbed.

The most important thing is to stay calm. I am sure it can be worked out.

I'm really sorry that I can't help Roxanne. But I'm sure it will be
fine. People get robbed while abroad all the time and so the travel
industry and consulates are used to dealing with the problems.

Good luck with it

R&*(,”

And after telling him am OK and it was just a spam that I hardly expected. Here is his kind reply:

“Dear Roxanne

I am so relieved that it was just spam. I did wonder since it seemed
so unusual and unlikely. I was very worried when you didn’t reply - I
had imagined coming to find you and putting you up for the night while
it got sorted out, but I stopped short of saying so in the first
message in case it was a hoax.

I am at work now so cannot write for longer - but I'm glad you are OK
and wish you all the best

Your friend

R&*(, “

Someone read his mail first other than me. Fortunately, that someone didn’t reply to his e-mail.

Another friend (a Filipino based in New York) is about to contact his friends in London to ensure that I will get the kind of support needed.

“Hi Roxanne,

Do you want me to contact some folks there in London, so they could at least assist you with you predicament?

I know a couple of people who lives in that area. They may be able to help you with your situation.

Please advise on what else we could do from our end.

Y&*%”

But others are not as polite as you expect them to be. Maybe because of the length of time you overlooked each other. Or they just simply send an e-mail message which look like, well, a spam. Or someone sent the e-mail in their behalf and then end up a spam victim, like me.

Maybe.

“Go to hell it is free”

Said she.

Maybe she forgot me, but we collaborated once in an indie film shown in her department. She’s a college professor and a department chair.

“Kill yourself if this is not true”

Coming from an alternative (progressive) online newsmagazine which I used to contribute several years ago, replied with tremor.

I just hope that the messages “Go to hell it is free” and “Kill yourself if this is not true” are, well spam.

Beyond that, I am glad others remain silent (and end up irrelevant?) And others called up just to ensure I am really fine and safe. Truly, in a wired world, it is better to get wired and avoid electrified than being electrified and yet, disconnected.

Daily, I received the inquisitions of friends so diverse that it made me realize how important and unimportant I am to them. I randomly selected the responses, please read.

From a friend who teaches political behavior at UP Cebu, nailed the scammer:

“Hay roxanne...someone hacked into your account. I'm sure you're not in London kay I was just eating lunch with you today. paet. scammers.”

Unexpectedly, a friend so close to my heart for more than half a decade and rarely sent an e-mail, excite my senses when I received his:

“hey roxanne is it true?? what happened?? wla ko money oi...nag unsa diay ka dha ron sa london??”

A lady lawyer I worked with in saving children involved in prostitution cried like a wolf as her reply to the spam:

“HOHOHOHOHO!!!!”


Below is from someone who loves vasectomy and is an advocate of reproductive health:

“Hi Rox!

You're one of my several friends nga binuangan sad with this kind of letter unsaun kaha ni pag stop! am forwarding this to u in case u didn't know u've bin spammed!

F#^$& “

The truth is it is difficult to stop this kind of online/computer project.

From L.A. to my mailbox, a friend inquired:

“Poor thang! Where did you fly from to London ??
Tell me which hotel you stay?”

From a patriotic independent film makers:

“ok. let me know”

From a fellow who fights for freedom:

“may virus computer mo...”

And from a dyosa:

“ola roxy! your joking!!!”

Below from a friend who writes and edit a national business daily:

“Na-unsa man ka bay? Kahibalo ko naay naka-gamit sa imong email. Ako lang ning sakyan kay wala koy lingaw. Good luck. Will send immediately.”

And again,

“I don't know where you got my e-mail address. But for sure I will forward this e-mail message to all my contacts to warn them about your trick.

I am 100% sure you are not roxanne and that you only used him to extort money online.
Hope you'll die with the storm Pepeng so you cannot victimize innocent people.”

And from a fellow who works as an engineer:

“I'm sorry but the credibility of Roxanne that I know will not stoop low as to beg for money. This gimmick will be ignored will be and reported to authorities. Your IP address is being tracked down by the Federal Government as you are reading this reply.

Thank you..”

It is only now that I realized how important my 10 year-old primary e-mail is and how important its contents are. Maybe, it is true, cyberspace is the end of our species...or mine...

Like what a friend of mine commented in my face book account keeping me cool despite my ordeal and warned for future, identity theft is not far-fetched. I am beginning to wonder how virtual I am in a really imaginary world.

She said:

“Weird. I have similar experience but instead of having someone sent a spam mail, someone deleted my yahoo account. It couldn't be me for obvious reasons.

I recovered the account through secondary email, which contained many notifications that I requested to delete my yahoo account {complete with time and date details}

Some weird things could happen anytime to anyone. What's next mama Rox, an identity theft?”

While I can not paste in this blog all those who replied to my mail, I really took time to reply one-by-one to those who sent friendly and unfriendly messages informing them I am a victim and all are not spared from online hoax. For in the end, the polite and not-so-polite e-mail messages I received is a time consumed on their part and a destruction that wrought havoc to their senses.

So whoever (I am not discounting the possibility of an online project or a computer) triggered to disturbed the senses, time, mode, and circumstances of my online contacts, the obvious reasons seems inadequate, but the incident reminded me as the primary victim and my online contacts as secondary, that in a virtual and wired world we are in, life should be safeguarded carefully.

With the incident, I was reminded of a computer named Deep Blue who defeated Kasparov in their chess match. And what is next after the digital after life? (read: digital afterlife)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Confessions of a pet (dog) lover

Yesterday, around five in the afternoon, the Olympic size swimming pool of Cebu City wasn't cooperative at all. The traffic of swimmers, amateur and pro, beginners and the like, forced me to cancel my 15 laps - I end up going to the Archivus Designs to print the poster I designed for our upcoming activity, earlier than I planned.

Walking through the infamous Junquera St., is a common sight of a family staying in a make-shift outside the unreachable walls of Philippine Christian Gospel School, an exclusive school where, incidentally, one of my closest hetero male-friend, studied. I don't know if during his high school days he saw what I saw and feel what I felt.

Nevertheless, just beneath the mahogany tree beside the unreachable wall lies what I hardly expected to be a source of my proletarian discontent vis-à-vis bourgeois appreciation. The unfamiliar sight of troubled puppies and the much familiar sight of a family who owned the puppies languishing in a petty-sight of familiar awakenings.

Since this is a confession, I might as well confess.

I owned a dog. Not just an ordinary dog, but one banned in several states in the US and feared by many whose only line of defense is subjective fear. I owned an American Staffordshire terrier a.k.a American pit-bull terrier. Her name is Nadem, a quite patriotic one, short for national democracy. The name is taken from an aspiration for several decades by millions of Filipino people's struggle for genuine freedom and democracy. Thus, Nadem.

The inspiration too, stems from the fact that she was born on the 26th of December.

Four years ago, Nadem, owned and breed by a friend and comrade, a doctor of veterinary medicine, whom I aptly called "animal nga doktor" envied me with his pit-bull puppies and I bought one with a comradely discount.

Nadem gave birth to nine puppies almost two months ago after almost four years of being a single “lady-dog”. Unfortunately, only seven survived. Diablo, Nadem’s mate is a perfect father for their puppies, but that is another story. My puppies are well taken care of by the entire family. Even the stud’s owner, is equally excited to see Nadem and her puppies as often as he can, including his younger brother.

As per advised and the random routine of veterinary check-up, my puppies underwent the routine check-up due them. Otherwise, I can’t sell them with a good price.

Which lead me to be distracted by the three puppies, less than six inches each, dirt colored and sleeping, lying beside and above each other below the mahogany tree. Walking achingly slow towards my destination, as if my legs have just been bitten by dogs, I wanted to move back. But I decided to go ahead and not be distracted with what I saw.

Owning a pet, despite the social and economic disparity in life, should never be a hindrance. In fact, I always appreciate people, whose limitations in life (including time), still finds time to be with their “best-friend.” That old moniker referring dog as man’s best friend simply holds true to several familiar sights I saw within the perimeters of a garbage dump skywalk, below the overpass or even within the unreachable walls of a Christian Gospel school.

What struck me was the family who owns the pet, while their pre-nursery and nursery kids were drinking their milk; they also provided milk to their malnourished puppies. The familiar and disturbing sight becomes deeply familiar, moving and painful. I not only remembered my puppies but also reminded myself that my two-year old kid will be brought to a doctor tomorrow for his routine check-up.

Not just on that day, but on the 26th of December thereafter.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pending bills

SPEAK OUT
May 30, 2008
SunStar Daily

The recent (selective) crackdown of pornographic materials nationwide following the spread of the Hayden Kho – Katrina Halili sex videos will just leave the culprits laughing.

Now pending in Congress are two measures seeking not just to protect women but to a certain degree will examine how far the current social system will protect its citizens, against gender and sexual exploitation, oppression and marginalization.

First, is Senate Bill No. 2317 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act now languishing at the House of Representatives after the Senate passed its own version.

Second, is House Bill No. 5043 or the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 which is “being-feared” at both houses of Congress.

We need both laws, which will legally and morally take charge of sex education and the understanding reproductive health issues and concerns.

Without such legislations, we will leave behind a generation of misguided people, whose only source of information and education materials are pornographic in nature.

It is ironic that the current Malacañang occupant, a woman herself, is silent on these two measures. Their passage should be fast tracked, if she really cares for them.

Commendable are groups pushing for both bills, like the Reproductive Health Advocates Network (RHAN-Cebu) and Anti-Child Pornography Alliance (ACPA-Cebu).

It is indeed urgent and timely that the two bills be given the attention they justly deserve.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Unscientific RH Bill

SPEAK OUT
Sun Star Cebu
Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Roman Catholic Church, supposedly representing and guiding the collective morals of its flock in the Philippines, is detached from the disturbing social and moral realities on issues related to poverty, population and all-round development.

The local Church’s stand against Reproductive Health Bill (House Bill 5043), for example, is unscientific.

HB 5043 is based on several scientific studies that say sound family planning program is dialectically related to sound economic policy and poverty reduction.

Among its objectives is to uphold and promote respect for life, informed choice, birth spacing, and responsible parenthood in conformity with internationally recognized human rights standards.

It guarantees universal access to medically-safe, legal and quality reproductive health care services and relevant information even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children.

I am also Catholic and almost all of my Catholic friends don’t subscribe to the Church hierarchy’s insistence that the reproductive health bill is anti-life and immoral.

Believing in the Church’s subjective and unscientific stand and presumptions would be like agreeing that the world is flat.

The subjective reasoning of Church leaders and their mouthpiece is not acceptable nowadays.

Being scientific is being honest. And being honest is the most moral thing to do. That is basically what the good Lord taught us.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Understanding our plight, deepening our faith

QUEER THEOLOGY:
IMPACT TO QUEER COMMUNITIES IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES
USC College of Law AVR (New Building, Pelaez St.), University of San Carlos Main Campus February 27, 2009, 9:30am – 11:30am

Understanding our plight, deepening our faith (Welcome Address and Rationale)


Good morning!

We gathered today to listen, discuss and share our understanding and misconception regarding religion and sexuality.

As we gathered today, we also would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere thanks to Prof. Jose Eleazar Bersales, Prof. Judy Elmira Aguilar of Sociology-Anthropology department, Mr. Gerry Caral and Ms. Jiah Sayson, chairpersons of Psychology and Political Science departments, respectively and to their students for accommodating us.

When I attended the week-long training workshop on Defending Our Faith: Religion, Gender and Sexuality, an excellent project of Health Action Information Network (HAIN) and supported by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation in Bohol almost two years ago, I realized the importance played by the Holy Book in transforming my faith and my relationship with family and society..

Prior to that, Prof. Jennings graced our simple gathering in Minglanilla, Cebu and discussed matters related to faith and hate. It was a perfect gathering between an honest theologian and deeply rooted queers.

It was on that gathering also that we realized deeply the importance of religion to counter the attack of the so-called moralist against the LGBTQ (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Queer) communities. The attack is not just historical and class hatred and bias but more on the theological and moral aspect that goes along with it.

On the other hand, understanding queer theology is beyond queer and theology. We should also dig deeper into the economic, social and political aspect of the LGBTQ communities. Otherwise, the queer that we know is incomplete and the theology that we appreciate and adhere is non-existent.

Doing so, the epochal struggle to free our minds from class, institutional and historical biases can be freed freely. And the misconceptions and hatred will be uprooted in good faith.

Historic

Our gathering today is not just timely and relevant but also of great historical importance. We gathered here at the University of San Carlos, Asia’s oldest Catholic school founded right in the heart where Magellan planted the first Roman Catholic cross in Asia.

We also take pride for sponsoring this ground breaking activity, in collaboration with the queer center of Chicago Theological Seminary with the hope of lighting a spark that will shed light on issues related to our existence and relationship with each other.

The lecture/forum this morning is a product of our continuing commitment to understand and appreciate, internalize and debate religion and sexuality in the context of love – the kind of love Jesus taught us.

Our activity today is also part of the international workshop against homophobia. Homophobia is a societal problem. As long as we live in a society drowned with such fear and hate, we will also drown ourselves into the pit of uncertain faith -- one thing that Jesus doesn’t want to happen.

Challenges

Understanding Queer Theology, is understanding ourselves, our family and society for hate not only destroys reason and human relations but also our eternal relationship with the Divine Providence. Doing so, we are destroying the barrier between hate and religion and nearing ourselves to God – like what He always wanted.

We hope that your presence will strengthen our collective expression to combat homophobia as well as deepen our faith and commitment to transform the word of God into our daily expression of genuine faith and true love, and discover the Oneness of God in each of us.

Serve God and People. Thank you so much!

Firm but vulnerable

I will be celebrating my 30th birthday feverish, alone. Call me deviant, but I am not used to celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or whatever with “significance”. It will just be another birthday, though a historic one. In these times of global recession and mass lay-offs, war and famine, beyond imagination tragedies and calamities, and state fascism, terrorism and poverty, not many will reach the age of 30.

While each is unique, my three decades of existence, perhaps, eludes the rest because I am its sole star.

Mind

Almost half of it, I became politicized and deeply proud. My exposure to intellectual discourse and how to actualize it is beyond compare. I was 16 when I first read the Philippine Society and Revolution by Amado Guerrero and 23 when I spent several months in the Philippine countryside, particularly in the beautiful and enigmatic Eastern Visayas region. Most of my college friends are living a luxurious life then, as in now. They are traversing the world and conversing with one’s psyche.

There I found out what living is all about. What it is like to be human and be treated differently. What it is like to work with life and limb only to be hungry again. Such experience touched my heart and contributed with deep significance as to where I am going and what to do with the roads I passed-by.

To reach my destination, I travelled almost barefoot for four days and slept for only few hours. I climbed the steepest hill and cliffs, crossed the dangerous rivers and streams, and ate newly sprouted coconut palms just so I can still walk an extra mile while the heavy rain is poking at me and the swollen rivers and muddy mountainside provided a 50-50 chance to survive. Not to mention the paper tigers who wish to destroy the scientific souls marching at the beat of the whirlwind.

But that was seven long years ago.

And then not all in the mountains and hills are century’s old trees, lengthy and wild rivers and streams, endemic and endangered animals, and paper tigers but also people, real people. That makes the trip truly heartwarming and breathtaking. You see, it is not just the natural landscape that provides life it is the living itself you met as you walk along.

When you look at the people “disregarded by time” you will realize how important time is.

The wrinkles in their faces, the tired voice and their eagerness to listen to a good-news-bearing visitor provide hope. I am no idealist, but when you look and talk to them, you will feel how important life is. Their day-to-day struggle to survive provides a protracted hope that someday they will be taken seriously by society and they will take society seriously.

Living with them is heartening. Learning from them is truly inspiring.

Indeed, I learned to value every minute detail of their history and struggle to survive. I internalized their hopes, dreams and aspirations as mine. I also learned to appreciate nature more as something that cannot just provide shelter for me but can heal my sickness. No aspirin and alaxan in the countryside, only alugbati and wild weeds.

I became scientific in the process and this is the greatest lesson I learned from them not found in the engineering laboratory during my college years.

Body

Being scientific is not always political but also physical. When one is disturbed emotionally and physically, one tends to take refuge in whatever left in his own morass. Take it from me, I dig my own soul. I realized that my body is my temple whom shall I fear.

I also began to internalize how important my temple is in the realization of my and other people’s dreams, hopes, and aspirations. I begun to value every breath that I take, every movements of my lips and the gawp of my enigmatic eyes should speak of and for other people.

A sickly body can’t think clearly. However applicable your thoughts are, it will remain insignificant.

For the past four years, I end up with several physical regimens to compensate and balance my body and mind. In a week, I end up swimming a minimum of 1500 meters. I walk at least three kilometers daily and weightlifting guarantees a twice weekly schedule for three hours. Vegetarian diet is also in the menu but not as often as I can. Two-thousand ml of water provides a steady stream in my body and yellow fruits keeps me look fit and young. Smoking is strictly prohibited and drinking wine occasionally is a must.

But whose lung can escape the pollutions in our midst? Whose body can’t be penetrated by toxic in the air?

Primarily, it is only in the countryside, and not somewhere else, that I appreciate the value of nature in my advocacies and commitment. It is not just what I read that brought me to realize and appreciate all these. It is what I see, my actual involvement and my daily linkages with ordinary people that brought me to realize the importance of my body, which undoubtedly keeps me young in spirit.

The endless walking of the mind and body cannot be compensated by countless books and information materials available in the cities. I am surrounded with much greater and vast materials waiting to be unearthed and documented in the vast countryside where poetry and song, war and peace takes time to unite.

Firm but vulnerable

“What can I tell you of my past, gentleman (he is saying) I was born in a land where the idea of freedom, the notion of right, the habit of human kindness were things coldly despised and brutally outlawed. Now and then, in the course of history, a hypocrite government would paint the walls of the nation’s prison a comelier shade of yellow and loudly proclaim the granting of rights familiar with happier states; but either these rights were solely enjoyed by the jailers or else they contained some secret flaw which made them even more bitter than the decrees of frank tyranny…Every man in the land was a slave, if he was not a bully; since the soul and everything pertaining to it were denied to man, the infliction of physical pain came to be considered as sufficient to govern and guide human nature…From time to time a thing called revolution would occur…”

I could have dreamed of writing it, but I can’t, Vladimir Nabokov did in his book, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight.

And then there is almost a decade old threat from paper-tigers. That makes my three decades of living and being truly wonderful and remarkable, politically, spiritually and physically. That makes my 30 years of living faithfully firm and my being exceptionally vulnerable.

“30”

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