interruptus

This image was taken from the Mayo Clinic’s birth control guide. For the men out there, read it and weep. For the women, read, and never be fooled.

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It’s funny how you listen or even sing along to a song for the longest time but never really pay attention to what it says. I’ve found this to be a typical reaction of mine to Indigo Girls‘s songs. First the melody would catch my attention, then I would get familiar with the lyrics so I can sing along with it, and then sometimes, much later, the song’s meaning would just suddenly connect.

This morning, “Gone Again” was playing on my mind because Curlytop has, well, gone again. On a trip abroad. I played several Indigo Girls songs until I got to “Watershed”. I like this song but I don’t remember paying much attention to it until this morning when I heard the words, “Standing at the fork in the road/ You can stand there and agonize/ Till your agony’s your heaviest load…”

I looked up the lyrics, and when I read the words while listening to the song, maganda pala talaga. More than just a catchy tune and easy to recall lyrics, singing the song now felt like nodding in assent to what the song had been saying all along. It also feels like one of those “you know you’re getting old when…” moments.

Watershed

Thought I knew my mind
Like the back of my hand
The gold and the rainbow
But nothing panned out as I planned
And they say only milk and honeys
Gonna make your soul satisfied
Well I better learn how to swim
Cause the crossing is chilly and wide

Twisted guardrails on the highway
Broken glass on the cement
A ghost of someones tragedy
How recklessly my time has been spent
They say that its never too late
But you dont, you dont get any younger
Well I better learn how to starve the emptiness
And feed the hunger

Up on the watershed
Standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
Till your agonys your heaviest load
Youll never fly as the crow flies
Get used to a country mile
When youre learning to face
The path at your pace
Every choice is worth your while

And theres always retrospect
(when youre looking back)
To light a clearer path
Every five years or so I look back on my life
And I have a good laugh
You start at the top
Go full circle round
Catch a breeze
Take a spill
But ending up where I started again
Makes me wanna stand still

Up on the watershed
Standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
Till your agonys your heaviest load
Youll never fly as the crow flies
Get used to a country mile
When youre learning to face
The path at your pace
Every choice is worth your while

Stepping on a crack
Breaking up and looking back
Til every tree limb overhead just seems to sit and wait
Til every step you take becomes a twist of fate

Up on the watershed
Standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
Till your agonys your heaviest load
Youll never fly as the crow flies
Get used to a country mile
When youre learning to face
The path at your pace
Every choice is worth your while

Up on the watershed
Standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
Till your agonys your heaviest load
Youll never fly as the crow flies
Get used to a country mile
When youre learning to face
The path at your pace
Every choice is worth your while

And when youre learning to face
The path at your pace
Every choice is worth your while

The clutter we keep

A week from now, in this part of our galaxy, the planet mercury will initiate the universe’s way of including idleness in the natural scheme of things. If we know better, we would do well to take mercury’s retrograde as a cue to sit back, relax and try to sort out accumulated things. Around this time, whether consciously or not, lots of stuff will be disposed, closets decluttered, rooms, offices and homes reorganized.

When it comes to emotional closets though, I am not sure how it can be kept clean, efficient and clutter-free. Not even home improvement guru, Martha Stewart has come up with her version of the “easy steps” to get rid of emotional baggage. Perhaps she has too much of her own and is just as helpless as the rest of us.

Yesterday, I think I reluctantly returned this DVD which was lent to me. I realized, a bit too late, that I should have watched it one more time or burned a copy for myself.

This film which centers on a young Buddhist monk’s journey towards enlightenment, might remind you of Herman Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha. I loved this film and it’s slow, tranquil pace which featured breath-taking views of the Himalayas. One review even referred to its cinematography as zen-ematography — slow, silent and lingering shots of nature dominated much of the movie. Samsara even offers quite a different take on Buddhism, perhaps even religion in general, and for a change gives voice to the women who are left behind by men on spiritual journeys in hopes of trying to find themselves.

Best to watch this film with a friend, as the simply mind-blowing end would make you want to talk with somebody. I’m glad I got a reply (even at quite a late hour) when I sent a text message to somebody who had seen it. Just writing about it makes me want to watch it again.

A brief synopsis at Rotten Tomatoes and several interesting reviews here.

Stacked neatly inside INAM‘s shelves along with all the other herbal medicine, were bars of soap called Mosbar. I have to admit I’ve never heard of this mosquito repellent before but nevertheless I purchased a bar to see if it would be a good alternative.

Dengue cases have surged in the past year, and what used to be a disease that was associated with the rainy season has now become an all-year-round public threat, according to the DOH. And quite recently the World Health Organization (WHO) even warned that climate change will increase the risk of dengue.

When all means of preventing mosquitoes from finding their way inside the house have failed, we usually resort to applying insect repellent lotion. I would often joke that the lotion’s stench, er, scent could repel not only biting insects but people as well. This type of repellent is quite thick, with the scent sticking to your skin for a few hours too. To wash the scent and stickiness (and the taste – blech ) off my hands, I discovered using dish washing liquid to be more effective than regular hand soap. I prepare our meals at home and wouldn’t want any of its residue getting into our food.

I’ve only used Mosbar once, and it’s a bit like Caladryl when it dries though not as thick and barely visible. Unlike organic soaps that use natural bug-repellent plants like citronella or cedarwood, Mosbar uses Deet, a chemical used in insect repellent products. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA), has given this chemical clearance as safe to use but still with all the necessary precautions. A recent Google search has also led me to a few more information about Mosbar. Apparently, it is being used, recommended even, in countries that have recorded high incidence rates of malaria. Its efficacy has been tested — and proven — in significantly reducing malaria cases in Afghanistan. Some travel guides also recommend using this soap when going to countries in Africa where malaria cases are also rampant.

At P35 per bar it is more economical than the commercially available insect repellent lotion that costs around P54 for a 50ml container. Our acupuncturist at INAM shares that she uses Mosbar as an insect spray by simply dissolving some of the soap in water, using a regular vegetable/cheese grater, before pouring it into a spray container. It is also quite odorless.

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Lastly, a photo of the dreaded Aedes aegypti, dengue-carrying mosquito:

from Wikipedia


This past month, for a few days at least during the Holy Week, including the day the transport strike was held, Metro Manila air was given the briefest of respites from the pollutants that are emitted daily by vehicles.

smoke_belching_tricycle.jpg

Our home is not far from a major thoroughfare. While our little house may be ensconced inside a wee little subdivision, our roads are accessible to tricycles whose loud, sputtering engines just obliterate all sound as they pass (quite embarrassing when you’re on the phone, extremely annoying when watching a favorite tv program), leaving behind a cloud of smoke that hangs in the air for roughly a minute or so. Sadly, I notice many people have become accustomed to this, and a familiar sight would be people simply waving off the smoke and dust away from their faces. While others just resort to wrinkling their faces in disgust. I also see many who don’t even seem to mind, just stay where they are and let their kids do the same. No reminders to the children about covering their nose or moving away until the smoke clears. Though I am not sure if such gestures — waving away the smoke or covering one’s nose — even does much in terms of protecting one’s self from the toxic fumes.

My guess is, perhaps not much since Metro Manila was found as one of the Philippine cities that has the largest “health burden” due to air pollution. This is according to the Philippine Environment Monitor 2006 (PEM), a joint report of the World Bank and the DENR released late last year. Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as a result of constant exposure to poor air quality accounts for an estimate of 4,968 premature deaths in Metro Manila each year, the PEM report says. This isn’t any wonder since the report also mentions that particulates are at unhealthy levels in Metro Manila with Valenzuela and Quezon City having the highest health risks from particulate pollution.

While the Clean Air Act may have helped improve the air quality or at least lower the amount of the more toxic substances like lead in the air, as usual, stricter enforcement and better monitoring facilities for the agencies concerned remains our greater challenge.

* * *

For globe trotters, here are some of the cities which landed in the most polluted list.

Statistics are available in the World Bank’s “The Little Green Data Book”.

(I’m paraphrasing) “Whoever the people, through People Power, installs to the presidency, as long as that somebody is not beholden to the oligarchs, even if that somebody is a chimp, then that chimp will be a good leader.” These words were somehow the essence of what former national security adviser Jose Almonte said in Brother Eddie Villanueva’s show, Diyos at Bayan.

In the event that Arroyo leaves her post, the presidency will fall on VP Noli de Castro’s constitutional lap, and nobody else’s. Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial asserts this and even warns that people should be “wary of messengers proclaiming the gospel of snap elections.” To be honest, accepting the fact that de Castro is the duly constituted person to assume the presidency is the bitterest of pills to swallow, without even a guarantee of it being part of the cure.

Despite recent pronouncements that he has always been prepared — not preparing — to do the job in the event that the need arises, de Castro still gives the impression that he is someone who needs to be coached (constantly tutored?) on what to do. Surely if people were to base his credibility on his performance as national housing head, specifically in the relocation of displaced residents for the North Rail-South Rail Linkage Project, it would be less than reassuring.

Back in 2005, a few months after the “Hello Garci” controversy, the PCIJ came up with the story, The Man Who Would Be President. The report provides us insights into de Castro’s character through statements from friends, colleagues and critics. Those who want to give de Castro the benefit of the doubt may find it difficult after reading the report.

It is no wonder that back then and until today, de Castro is still regarded with much ambivalence by the people. Everybody knows he’s vice president. Everybody knows he’s next in line. And yet most people still ask, “Sino ipapalit natin kay Arroyo?”

Noli de Castro is very much a reminder to all of us that removing Gloria Arroyo is only the beginning. There is so much more work to do.

* * *

Neither here nor there. That’s the impression I got after reading Jove Francisco’s blog entry today. While de Castro may insist that, “Nobody! Nobody, can dictate kung ano ang sasabihin ko!”, his actions suggest that he’s obviously still waiting for his cue.