Saturday, November 14, 2015

It's all in the mind (in the ankle and in the knee)

I gotta do something to keep my mind off the pain!

I am in excruciating pain right now. This is the second time I experienced pain of this magnitude The first time  was overpowering that I had to go to the hospital for a check up.

After the x-rays which showed there was nothing really wrong with my bones except I had high uric acid concentration in my blood around 500, the normal level is around 200+. I am not that worried about my knee and ankle like something was broken, except for the pain. 
Focus on symbols like
this while sitting in lotus
position. After a few minutes or hours
or days of concentration, 
the numbness of the legs and
butt starts to set in and then comes 
the sensation of levitating, which
most practitioners say actually happens.
But who needs levitating unless
it can be used to move from point 
A to point B. 

There's nothing much a doctor can do when this "attack" except prescribe pain relievers. I mean, what to expect since this is not a life or death situation, although the pain make it seems like so? 

Take me to the ICU? Or operate on my ankle and knee? In the end it will boil down to waiting for the inflammation and the pain to subside, which is what I have been doing since last night. I have taken pain relievers but it barely gave me relief. So, I am using an old method which has been proven to be very effective in fighting pain: distractions.

Maybe it would be best to engage in some eastern-esoteric-transcendental-meditation thing to ease the pain. But people who engage in this stuffs are people who are gifted with the ability to focus their mental energy to a very fine point. They do this by concentrating on mantras or prayers repeated over and over again or by looking and focusing their minds  symbol or an object like the yantra. Mantra -yantra, makes sense to me, yummy.

Long Namgyälma Mantra.
whatever that means.
What am i saying? I don't know? I'm trying to distract myself.

Anyway, to give an idea of what i'm talking about. Let's time travel two decades back. I was in my early teens when I got hooked with playing the guitar. I practiced and practiced until the skin on my fingers developed blisters but that did not stop me from continuing on and learning the chords and the strumming of the song which I was studying then.

My engrossment (I don't know if that word is even proper English) with learning the guitar was bordering on the obsessive...come to think of was obsessive that I could not even feel the blisters on my fingers. 

Of course, once i learned how to play a few chords, the guitar was relegated to a hobby. I didn't improve to a point where i could play the guitar professionally. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Should Christian students stop studying philosophy and literature? A meandering into the irrational fear of philosophy and literature

I have been thinking a lot...

Well, when its painful to stand up and all I do is sit in front of the computer, there's no choice but to think and to keep my mind off my excruciatingly painful ankle and knee, gout. 

I guess that's why many famous philosophers are either too rich to care about money and the daily grind, or are too poor , eccentric and unmarried to care about anything except thinking of and thinking up crazy stuffs.
Diogenes. He proved that anyone could be
poor, crazy, wise, an a-hole and be
intellectually  intimidating at the same time.
Legends has it that he scolded
Alexander the Great for disturbing his sun bathing.

Anyway, I have always been bothered by preachers on TV and behind the pulpit who say that philosophy is bad. Sermonizing about its evil and discouraging students who are into it as a part of college course. There are even preachers who discouraged reading literature! Whenever I hear this phobic vituperations against philosophy and literature hurled from the pulpit by a preacher, I guess being a teacher, I have this urge to stand up and throw a tome to the preacher's direction (maybe the head) and tell him,: " what do you want us do? Go back to the stone age!".

I am not a student of philosophy. My dose of philosophy was the prerequisite philo I and philo II in college which i heard was already taken off the first year and second year college curriculum for education students.

Nietzsche. Just a mere mention of this
guys name sends shivers down many
pastors asses. Why? Because he made
famous the slogan "God is dead." Which
many Christians believed was the
ultimate blasphemy, a judgment made without
 having read and analyzed some of his books.
Actually, he also killed God but this
death of god is not like stabbing a person
 with a knife and taking his life which
many preachers would like the 
congregation to believe is what this
guy meant. What he meant and what is
actually a reality now is that god has become
irrelevant. Doubtful?
May I ask how many Christians still 
believe that if you curse the name of God
you'll die in your place. 
All I could boast was that I read some stuff about it especially the Greeks because these pioneers were the most accessible read. The only modern philosopher that I could say I read and understood (maybe the more appropriate word is "felt") was Nietzsche and this was because he wrote in bursts of colorful language using lively meter. His writing could shock anyone specially to the first time readers. His attack on Christianity was distilled from his experience with the hypocrisy of Christianity's actions in the background of the political situations of his era that gave birth to his philosophical nihilism (again, he hates Christianity and the clergy, ministers and pastors but he had an affection for Jesus, at least not the same hatred for the clergy). Also, his father was a minister. guess he experienced Christian hypocrisy in the first person. he was not mad, he died mad because he got syphilis.

I tried reading Kant but it's like chewing concrete blocks.

But if there's one thing that endeared philosophy to me, it is inquiry. It's the activity. it's the way philosophy can empower an individual to pursue an idea or anything using pure reason.

Religion has always been hostile to inquiry even internal ones that would challenge the existing status quo, not to mention the tortures and persecutions. It's not because they were afraid of the changes that may come from new ideas or discoveries, it's because the religious feel, which was rightly so, that their authority and hold on the people would be compromised because their power and authority was primarily based on the perceived divinity of their books, hierarchy and lineage and secondly this hold was empowered by the ignorance and the lack of imagination  of the people. They tried to stop the enlightenment but failed. Today, the religious has to take a different tack to spread their religion. They cannot rely on their perceived "holiness" theological dogmas, moral superiority and metaphysics to lure people back to their fold, now they have to engage them in decent intellectual conversations, prove that their religion is relevant to today's settings. 

knowledge is power!

Many preachers love to quote St. Paul in Colossians ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit’ (Col.2:8). What was Paul talking about here? just like today, in St. Paul's time, philosophy could mean a lot of thing. It could mean a specific philosophy like stoicism, epicureanism which Paul had some dealings with. Or it could also mean religions, which in this verse is the case."See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ."

knowledge power! Pinoy version.
This guy knows a lot of stuffs.
He had a lot of herbal formulas
for longevity and preventing diseases.
Ironically, he died of heart attack
atthe age of 56.
Philosophy even the ancient Greeks have very little room for spirits and traditions. This verse is a general warning for anyone not to be hooked on anything that challenges Christ. 

The New Testament was written in Greek, immersed in Greek culture and though many denied but a lot of terminologies and concepts used by Paul in his letters were from Greek philosophies. It's wishful thinking to say that the new testament was written devoid of any Greek philosophical influence.

Many religious will disagree but it is undeniable that most of the language used in the formulations of highly abstract Christian doctrines borrowed a lot from Greek philosophy. Ironic.

(My ankle and knee is killing me.) 

Want some joints? (no, its not about marijuana, it's about my knee...)

Growing a third leg.
I had been feeling a throbbing sensation in my right  knee for years back. It's not really pain but more of a pronounced cardiac pulse. It felt like my right knee was growing another heart. 

I did not think much about it then until my right knee gave out on me while I was walking along the school's corridor. The parents who were there were startled and ran to catch me as my knee buckled. Good thing I did not hit the floor face first, I was able to grab a concrete column and regained my balance. That was a first. I have never experienced something like that before even when I'm lifting or carrying heavy objects.

Having a weak knee connotes old age. Rheumatic knee is identified with septuagenarian grandparents who have worked their butts off working the rice field.  I told myself that I was too young to have rheumatism or gout or what other ailments the joints acquire as one gets older. I'm still in my early forties and most rheumatics I knew were men in their sixties up. I still got a decade or two, I told myself. But, come to think of it, i'm not that young anymore, too..
Ouch! Invoking all the
the supernatural and supra-
natural entities to help me
 ease the pain. Well, that's life,
it's quite selfish to expect
a miracle for my knee when there's
so much sufferings in the world.

The throbbing in my knee progressed to inflammations and pains that  I had started to walk with a pronounced limp. The pain started to affect my concentration and it deprived me of sleep. It came to a point where I had to take leave of absences, like today. Finally I decided to visit a doctor.

On my first visit, the doctor pinched my knee, asked me stand up, sit down, walk, ran in place etc. He told me I had bursitis.  I was x-rayed and my blood tested. I had high uric content in my blood. I was prescribed a lot of painkillers and tablets for the uric acid and advised to change my lifestyle: exercise, diet and drink lots of water. 

Second and third visit, I was given an anti gout medicine.

But how can I exercise when I couldn't even stand straight? 

Anyway, I was reading articles about uric acid and when I came to the list of food with high uric contents, I told myself: I'm gonna die of hunger.

But the thing about it is when the pain starts to act up, the pain that emanates from the ankle then climbs to the knee and ends in my butt becomes unbearable to a point where I feel myself peeing in my pants, dying of hunger becomes attractive.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Pact with the devil: church and the Sublime Politicians (Or why I believe that politics is for the devil no matter how many verses are quoted)

No wonder the president has lost most of his remaining hair!
The nuclear radiation is way above the safe dosage.
The circus has begun. A couple of Sundays ago I was happy to see a new face in the church but my elation turned to annoyance when the visitor was introduced to the congregation as a candidate running for a seat in the municipal council. 

Well, to tell the truth, I believe everybody in the church was thinking the same thing I was thinking about: another political animal out to mingle to gain face and name recognition. Call me negative, but after that Sunday I have never seen the guy's chitinous face again. Maybe he attended another church.

Anyway, as a Baptist and belonging to a church composed mostly of related families and neighbors, the church has never engaged in politics overtly and covertly, maybe jokingly. It is considered a taboo, talked about it most of the time derisively, guidelines and other politically suggestive stuff was never talked about or promoted behind the pulpit. Our senior pastor (and past pastors) always tells us to pray and ask guidance from above when choosing whom to vote for during elections. This is how OUR church do it because the church has never aligned itself to any political movements be it "church oriented" or any other organizations that has shade of politics in it--never,  even when candidates are related to some church members or even when a candidate is or was a church member.

Though some church especially the Fundamentalist Baptists in the Philippines (The Abante group) dabbles into politics, our church and has always had this attitude of separateness and isolation from Caesar's realm. Does this mean that our church does not care for the country? I believe every individual in the church does. But the underlying principle of the church (or for the whole Christian church, I supposed) is that change does not come from the ballot but it comes from a relationship with God. It would be naive to think that if  Eddie Villanueva and his ilks (or other bible toting politicians) won the presidency and other elected positions in the country, everything would be set right, that God would smile from heaven and send manna and quails to the impoverished Filipinos. Unless this belief that change is from God, from inside out,  is already abandoned to a more proactive organized political participation like the other large and organized churches, well, we'll have to find another church. 

The eschatological nature of the church

I sometimes wonder why many Christians get
offended when told that Jesus was an alien. He was!
Okay, I'm using a fancy theological word here: eschatology. In simple everyday english it simply means that the church is not of this world. There are a lot of Biblical images about the church: ecclesia, the called or the assembly; the people of God, the Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit, etc.  The idea is that the church is other worldly, spiritual and it exist in the world to witness and to propagate the message of Christ. The church is also apocalyptic in that it exist as a vehicle for the salvation of the chosen when the end of times comes. 

Prayer rally? Political rally? Praise and worship? or Cory followers?
That is why the church must be understood in the separateness and the alienness. It does not concern itself with the mundane stuff like politics because the basic belief is that this world is already condemned. Saving the state or the planet for that matter is not part of the church's function though it is tasked to be a steward of the earth until such time the end comes, but the idea is that there will come a time when the Christians will leave this world: the second eden is not here. Christians are aliens and that the church is a 'colony of citizens of heaven" here on earth until the living are transported to heaven during rapture and the dead. Well...there's two views about it, but...i'll leave it to the atom splicers..

Taken to extreme, this otherworldly belief is catastrophic. In fact we could attribute  a lot of wars, torture, even suicides or misguided martyrdom, and other social problems, and a bulk of the blame for destruction of the environment to the extremely selfish interpretation of this belief. Christians, i.e. before awakening to the destruction of global warming, had held to the  belief that the planet was created by God for their benefit. this humanity-centered view of creation has justified a lot of ecological and social problems from uncontrolled hunting to slavery. It is only lately that a lot theologians and churches have shifted to the "sharing" theology of creation.

Christians care about a lot of things: environmental, social, moral and even political issues. This is given because Christians are still citizens of the state. part of humanity and they are not yet full citizens of heaven because they are still inside their corruptible bodies . But at the end of the day, Christians must held to the basic belief that this world is not theirs, that this is beyond salvation, that this planet is a temporary abode because if this world could be saved, changed, made better the way some Christian politicians believe,  then Christ failed, all the belief and the dogmas and doctrines are for naught.   Everything is lost. the church has lost its eschatological nature ans has become political--it has adapted a somewhat corrupted view of liberation theology.

Old testament thing

Evangelicals and other politically oriented church leaders (or pastors, to be exact) love to quote Proverbs 14:34: Righteousness exalts a nationbut sin is a disgrace to any people. As any Bible teacher will tell you, Bible verses is subject to context and should not be taken into isolation. I could hack a non Christian to death and quote a bible verse about it: Luke 19:27 "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."

The verse talks about Israel. Israel then was then a homogeneous/monolithic people composed of different tribes and what the writers (plural) of proverbs is referring to was the Jews of the old testament. no one else. Israel as a people led by a king who they believe was directly anointed by God and not as a secular state where the political leaders are elected by the people.

Most modern states are composed of heterogeneous people or nations. States does not give priority to one group or one chosen religion unless it is a fundamentalist state like fundamentalist-monarchila- Muslim states or a caliphate. The thought of living in a "Fundamentalist Christian" state scares the hell out of me.

I don't see God saving states unless the nation referred to in the bible be re-interpreted to mean modern states. these politico-theologians have a lot of hermeneutical acrobatics  to do.

The Reverend Abante-Eddie Villanueva Phenomenon

I don't know about his accomplishments
 in the house. But as a bishop and reverend 
of the largest Fundamentalist Baptist
Church in the country, I assume that he
did well and kept the Fundamentalist 
Baptist's testimony. But if this guy becomes 
president of the republic, the gays,
 the lesbians,transgenders etc. better find
 another country to live in. They'll be pounded 
to hell with Bible Verses against immorality
and sexual deviance the
Shakespearean literary way. 
These are the two best known  evangelical leaders (though Rev. Abante distances himself from the evangelicals and insist that he is a Fundamentalist Baptist) that had run for elected office in the government. Abante won a congressional seat in Manila propelled by his church while Rev. Eddie lost the presidential because, well, he's crazy. Eddie doesn't know how to count his marbles. Abante has a more realistic estimation of the voting power of his fiefdom. (Check the connection.)

These two have turned their church into a political vehicle. But it was Bro. Eddie Villanueva who have created the most politically potent evangelical movement in the country. I don't know how he did it but he was able to unite evangelicals of different traditions and persuasions to join his movement. 

This guy has lost every elections
he had participated in. Now, his son
is running for the senate. What
is it with pastors and big churches and politics?

Villanueva's  TV station air regular political programs disguised as biblical expositions. personally I personally have nothing against these activities like praying and giving out checklists of biblical verses to guide the people who to vote for, but this preacher has a son in government and who is now running for the senate.  How many times have i heard people complained that the Iglesya ni Cristo is meddling into politics because they provide their members guidelines who to vote for during elections but at in the INC their church leaders are not allowed to go into politics. Look at what the Villanuevas are doing! 

Anyway, more to come. I think I have exceeded my quota of meandering for today.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

There's that videoke machine again! and how our soul responds to them...

I woke up with a little hang over. Not from drinking alcohol but from the my neighbor's incessant singing  plus the microphones high pitched feed backs. It's not really pain but more of a dazed and confused sensation, exhausted.

And I'm still drinking my coffee when the damned videoke machine started playing again. Heavens and the Hallways of Valhalla, when will they stop the torture. Congress ought to pass a bill restricting videoke machine operation to 100 kilometers radius away from populated areas. 


The ears is the most sensitive sense organ of the body. I am not a doctor or a scientist but speaking for my own, I say it is. 

The ears do not sleep that's why the noise that we hear during sleep affect our health. It short circuits our neurons and by creating ultrasonic vibrations that hamper the electrical impulses which transmit signals through out our body-like a short circuit, I guess. Whatever... 

When we sleep, these neural activity slows down. The voltage,or the ampere, or the ohms or whatever electrical unit it is they use to measure impulses, tones down. 

They are in a state of dormancy like a TV with the power shut down but the red light is still on, press the remote and the TV pops back to life.

With a videoke machine pumping out those midi-format-drone-like accompaniment plus the out of tune, out of pitch, out of timing and out of space singing, the vibrations excite the neuron transmitters in our head. 

Our body is asleep but our brain is working overtime deciphering what's going on around it, what it is hearing. 

The neurons can't make up its mind if it should wake up the resting the body because it is threatened by a lethtal weapon, a sonic disruptor of some sort,  or to let it sleep and rest, which the neurons also need. 

This constant data analysis spends energy, instead of our body re-charging our body is discharging energy. Which explains why I or we feel exhausted the morning after our neighbors singing binge.

I read an essay about the soul written by a guy who I completely forgot. He theorized that inside  our physical body there is someone o something or an entity that does not sleep. He calls this the soul. Proof of this is that we dream. 

Okay, I'm buying that. 

That explains many things like how I always dream of being having superpowers like flying and superhuman strength yet at the face of the enemy my superpowers falters.

I had this very realistic dream of me at the top of our coconut trees floating in the air a la Superman. I was disoriented first but then realized I could control flight by mere thinking about it. 

I  am afraid of heights, so, I had to slowly rise, rooftop level, then a hundred feet, then I enjoyed it and I flew to the clouds but then got afraid and came back down to our house because I may get lost and land in some foreign country. It was fun. I landed in our street happy , my neighbors in awe. 

Then shit happened,  zombies started coming out to attack the neighborhood, I started to run and took off, but instead of rocketing like a bullet, I ended up flying two feet above the ground, my chest almost touching the concrete pavement. Now, why does that almost always happens in my dream?

Back to the soul thing. According to this guy, it is the soul that wakes us up. It is the soul that travels out of our body to roam around at night. 

And my time is up and I'm going to church. Another aural torture session...

My Freaking Neighbors Singing Hesus on The Videoke Machine!

As of this moment, as of this freaking moment, my neighbors are singing on their hired videoke machine. They are still in tune which could mean these things:

1. They are not yet drunk, obviously.

2. And because they are not yet drunk, I and my family would be tortured until the wee hours in the morning by their deteriorating singing which in a few hours would be nothing more than slurred shouting and moaning. 

Never a weekend without videoke.  I couldn't blame my neighbor because it's a stress reliver that anyone could afford. Most of my neighbors are construction workers, drivers, factory workers and bums, so, I guess I have to give them a little lee way.  They are, by the way, my former drinking buddies, so for old time sake, I do my best to commiserate with them. 

Anyway, even passively listening there are times that I, without really being aware of it, would sing along with them. I think its because they sing every weekend; the lyrics of what they're singing get into my head, even when I'm asleep

At the moment, I could hear one drunk guy singing Hesus.

This song is a Christian Song. I am familiar with this because it is sung in our church. It first crossed over into the pop/rock scene when Alamid turned it into a rock ballad but it did not gain that much attention until almost two decades later when the Aegis Band fronted by two women with built in amplifiers in their diaphragm did their own powerful interpretation of the song.                                                                                                                        
I'm not really an Aegis fan but they are very talented musicians. Forgive me for saying this, one thing i have against about them is that the vocals of their songs are overpowering. Watching them singing on TV, their voices up there hitting the fifth or eight octaves, I can't help but imagine blood and intestines spurting out of their mouth. 

But everybody loves them. They are very popular that PETA created a play out of their music, Rak of Aegis.

Hesus has become a standard. I could hear my neighbors singing about the Lord Jesus Christ while intoxicated it's...hmmmm...not gonna say bad, or blasphemous....ahhhh weird is the word. I guess its irresistible., Aegis' vocals and searing guitar solo has reinvented the boring song into an operatic rock  song ala Freddie Mercury minus the AIDS.

Anyway, I hope that while they're singing the song, the lyrics would somehow get through to them and make them think about what they're singing. Make them realize that they are sinners. That they live a lonely life, a life devoid of meaning and purpose and that only having a relation with Jesus could save them from their predicament. 

I hope that one day I'll see them carrying Bibles, instead clasping shot glasses, saying hallelujah and amens instead of curses and dirty jokes and in the process give the whole neighborhood peaceful weekend nights. 

And now they're singing "Ako'y sayo at Ika'y akin lamang..."

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Baconized Briefs and bonsai

Before I begin, you must be wondering what is baconized briefs? Baconized briefs are men's underwear that have lost their waistbands' elasticity. If you are from an impoverished neighborhood like ours, baconized underwear are common sight. They can be seen hanging from the neighborhood clothesline, or window grills, or even on electrical wires.                                                                                                                                                                                     Baconization is not limited to men's underwear. Women's underwear also goes through the same process. The main culprit is the washing machine. But in many cases it because of overuse, they are worn until they disintegrate. 
                                                                         I remember when we were teenager, since an underwear was not at the top of our parents shopping list, a new under wear was like a Christmas thing, special, it was like having a new hhmmmm...underwear which happens rarely, for economic reason. Or maybe it was because our parents think that we are too young to have proper underwear.

So, we thought of ways to maximize the use of our limited briefs. The most popular method, which I think is still used, was the Side A and Side B method.  It's re-using the briefs by wearing it inside out. We were too young then to think about the hygienic issues of this practice.  

I remember a neighbor wearing a loose shorts and on his shorts' waistband was a protruding safety pin. The safety pin secured his brief to his short. We all laughed at this and made fun of him., We all laughed and had fun not because we were being mean; we laughed because it was funny.

Humorous but it's also sad, come to think of it. 

When I got my first job, one of  the first things I bought was briefs. I remember listening to Vice Mayor Isko Morenos life story. According to him, the first thing he bought when he got decent money was briefs. And when he get out of the country, he buy branded briefs.  

Anyway, I have few baconized briefs. I don't throw away underwear until they have become too worn out to use, until they fall off inside my pants. 

I am using my baconized briefs to promote the growth of roots of one of my root-on-rock bonsai material. The principle is simple, the briefs absorbs the mositure and at the same protects the new roots from direct sunlight.  I have used this underwear for almost a year and the nutrients and other minerals that have accumulated would, I think,  speed up the growth of my material, or it could end up  killing it. 

Maybe after two to three years, well see how well my baconized briefs did.
Anyway...ang cubao nasa highway...

Friday, October 02, 2015

Ako Poe..

Well, I'll leave Al Dub alone. I'm afraid I'll get mobbed or assassinated once I step outside the house.

The election is around the corner and next month the Commission on Elections will be accepting and processing the filing of candidacy for both the national and local elections. It's the same old, same old circus of same old, same old trapos except in this election there's a new player that somehow tilted the same old, same old thing cycle. Grace Poe is running for president. Poe, unlike the trapos, has no political history. She did not come from a political family nor was she experienced in any government positions except for being the chairman of an obscure office that monitors TV shows and her first term in the senate.

Why is she topping the surveys?

She's a Poe. That is why she's running for president, she's taking (or she was advised to take advantage) of the FPJ phenomenon, which I believe is already evaporating and will almost completely dissipate in five to ten years,.the day the coming batch of voters who do not know FPJ except as a trivia will be voting. The baby boomers is a dying generation and the generation X does not care about FPJ.

She's a novelty. She's new. She's a curiosity. I remember when the first toasted siopao store opened in Taytay, Rizal. People are forming lines to buy toasted siopao. I am not saying Poe is a siopao but like the toasted siopao,when the Taytayenos got enough of it, as quickly as the lines formed, it disappeared . After a while, the toasted siopao became just another bread, an ordinary bread. Poe's hot but how long this hotness will last, who knows. I'm afraid she'll just be another trapo because the process of traposization has already began. Notice how well she played her card vs. the other candidates, the wooing, the feeling around; how well she diverted a valid legal issue about her citizenship to an emotional search for her "identity". She's not naive, she knew how to play her cards, which is not really bad, come to think of it.

The other day, I was watching CNN Philippines and I saw Donald Trump speaking and I was surprised to see him bashing the other presidential candidates especially Bush which would make our trapos blush. But the US presidential election known for its chivalry and political correctness, at least on the surface, was turned upside down by his antics. If these things were said by US trapos like presidential candidates Bush and McCain (hmmm...I only knew two) it would damage their image and their ratings. But coming from Trump, his ratings increased. Trump was accused of mixing entertainment with politics and some nasty stuffs was said against him too; he threatened the established politicians in the US. I'm not a US citizen and I do not know their politics, but he was great speaker, he connects even with me not because he was making sense but because he was talking like ordinary folks. The ratings is on Trump's side.

Anyway, I see the parallelism here with Grace.  The opposite. Our politicians lash out at each other like mad dogs, throwing everything from the kitchen sink to the whole bathroom. Suddenly a soft spoken little lady who does not attack, at least overtly, her fellow candidates appeared and we're all thrown off balance.   

Anyway...once president. I can't see Grace outmaneuvering the parasites in government. She might end up like GMA, a good president surrounded by parasites. GMA fed the parasites thinking it would allow her to govern the country. She was too naive, even her family fed on her.

Benefit of the doubt... spent.

Bonsai Material Story (well, not that kind of story, more of a process thing)

Caveat: I am not an expert bonsai-ist nor I pretend to know much about the art. What I am sharing here is limited to my experience with my materials. I'm almost three years into the hobby and I still feel like a newbie. For more stuffs and conversations about bonsai, I suggest you join Bonsai Hobbyist of the Philippines on Facebook.

Bonsai materials that I bought from a hunter in Koronadal City, Mindanao. The package arrived two weeks ago. The materials are not that expensive, it's the shipping fee that doubles the cost. 

Notice how carefully the materials are packaged. The seller has to make sure that the materials are kept fresh and moist during the its travel from Koronadal City, Mindanao to Taytay, Rizal,Luzon.

Unpacked.The first thing I did was to check if the materials were fresh. To do this, I nipped the bark and if it's still green, it's fresh and alive. Though some materials maybe moist, it does not necessarily mean the material is fresh. I have not experienced receiving any damaged or dead materials from the sellers I had dealt with. They were reliable.

I cleaned the materials. Brushed to remove lichens, fungi, insects etc. I couldn't find my fungicides but with my other materials I sprayed fungicides to prevent fungal development during the rooting period.
After cleaning up, I prepared the rooting hormone solution. Before, I did not use rooting hormones but after reading that it helps better the chances of stimulating the materials, I started using it.

Common rooting hormone brands: Hormex and Anaa. Available in garden shops and ACE hardware.

Soak the materials in rooting solution for a few hours. Others prefer soaking overnight but since I had work the next day, an hour or two would do fine.

Next step was preparing the medium: river sand. I used a strainer to separate different grades of river sand

The pebbles are put at the bottom layer in the trainer dish for good drain.

 The smaller pebbles is put  at middle layer and the fine grain of sand at the topmost layer .

Secure the material into the dish with wire to prevent movement and make sure that there's no vacuum or all the base of the material is completely covered by the medium. Here I put "bamboo antennas" around the materials to prevent the materials from touching the plastic cover that I would  put on them, sprouts turn brown and die when they touch plastic.

Covered in plastic. This acts as a greenhouse to keep the humidity high and stimulate the materials. This speeds up the rooting or stimulating process. 

Once the materials have grown leaves and branches that looks healthy enough, the plastic should be removed gradually to give the materials time to adjust with the changes in humidity. First, open the bottom of the plastic cover an inch or two every three to four days and check if the already developed leaves are not withering. once you noticed that the leaves are turning brown, return the plastic cover and wait longer until the materials become established.

 There are those who prefer to not use plastic cover and instead keep the material in shaded area until it sprouted, a little slow but it works too and the materials are already adjusted to the environment when buds appear.

The plastic cover traps water inside so its not necessary to water the materials everyday for two weeks or so.  Check the medium (soil) and check if its already drying up, then if it is,  water carefully. Accidentally bumping or jerking the materials will break the developing roots and could kill them.

I had many materials die because cats, dogs and even rats tumble them. 

I put them in a dog's cage to prevent animals from accidentally bumping the materials.

Two weeks after, there;'s already little leaves sprouting. Of course this does not mean that the material will live. A lot could go wrong, like root rot etc. but this is a good sign. Still a few more months before these materials can be put under full sunlight and many months more before they could be trained.

Some hobbyists compare this to gambling because there's a 50-50 chance that the materials will live or will die. 

Well, the uncertainty makes it more interesting and challenging. Just seeing a material live and become established is already an achievement for me..

Patience is virtue.