Vegetarian Zombies and Other Stories

One might wonder, do vegans remain vegans after surviving a zombie attack? Or is eating human/animal flesh an inherent zombie trait? Must be hilarious to see herds of hungry walkers feasting in broccolli farms.


Just over a week ago, out of boredom in a long haul Amsterdam-Manila flight,  I forced myself to watch this much-hyped sci-fi film called “Hunger Games.” That was the silliest, stupidest plot ever. Maybe it was the effect of the pressurised, dry cabin air or the most unpalatable in-flight meal, but midway I lost interest and zapped through the film, through the unsurprising end. Surprisingly, I did get entertained watching “Breaking Dawn.” Could be because I had so low expectation of it?


By the way, glorious weather today in South Sweden. 26 effin’ degrees celsius! (That’s cold from where I grew up.) The swedes flocked to the beach; towels were overlapping each other.  I witnessed how pale bodies turned red in the middle of the day. Like chickens roasted to perfection. In short, many went home sun burnt. A lot of the Swedes are panicking to catch the last rays of the summer sun before they go back to work. Can’t blame them. The early viking settlers must have had arrived in this part of the world on a weather like today. Little did they know what awaited them for the rest of the year.

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(The April) Fool on the Hill

One of the better covers of the song. Jazzy rendition by Lana Cantrell.



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Atheism 2.0 @ TED

 What aspects of religion should atheists (respectfully) adopt? Alain de Botton suggests a “religion for atheists” — call it Atheism 2.0 — that incorporates religious forms and traditions to satisfy our human need for connection, ritual and transcendence.



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Any Amount Will Do

Please help them help other people in need.

Philippine Red Cross

Tropical Storm Sendong (international name: Washi) ravaged Mindanao, slamming it with devastating rains and unleashing flash floods and landslides that have left a horrifying trail of destruction. As of 12PM, the death toll has reached 720 …. Most of the dead were asleep in the middle of the night on Friday when raging floodwaters pounded their homes from rivers and cascaded
from mountain slopes following 12 straight hours of heavy rains in Mindanao.

There are currently 7,431 persons in 4 evacuation centers in Iligan City, which was consumed by flashfloods last night after the heavy downpour of rains. Cagayan De Oro, which has now been placed undera state of calamity, experienced 180 mm of rainfall in less than 24 hours, which has led to massivefloods in 23 of its 80 barangays, leaving about 20,000 residents in evacuation centers.

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The Anatomy of Infidelity (2)

You see, I have this profound weakness for women with kind demeanors.

And happy dispositions.

And pretty faces and cute smiles.

And shapely behinds.

I like those qualities in the opposite sex (enumerated obviously not in the order of preference.)

I also treasure intelligence (I.Q.), but I don’t consider it (that much) when it comes to building relationships. In that aspect the emotional quotient (E.Q.) has more bearing to me. Besides, in my line of work, it is (almost) a given that a reasonable amount of I.Q. is possessed by everyone.        

Thalia (let me call her by the name of one my childhood fantasies from a mexican telenovela), represented one of the Latin American countries in the Ms. Universe pageant sometime in the 90’s. The political climate in her home country was unfavourable to her family, so they moved to Sweden for good. She was only 18 that time, and I could definitely imagine her looking like Thalia then, with the big hair and much bigger curves. Boy, she still does now! A certified 40 something MILF indeed.

I don’t like generalizing people but in my limited experience, Latin culture is definitely more open/sociable than the Nordic ones. No shit, Sherlock. It is the weather to blame, of course. Now, myself coming from a country that is touted as Asia’s Latin America, I easily got along with Thalia. I was even surprised that she knew about my country’s fucked up history: 300 years in spanish monastery and 50 years in hollywood. She told me she had to read a lot back then on international affairs, both past and current, as part of her preparation for the pageant. As a sidenote, I must confess that I always had misgivings for beauty pageants, fashion shows, and anything that has to do with exhibiting oneself under the scrutiny of subjective eyes, with subjective ideals. Nowadays, I view these shows as kind of artistic expressions, much akin to looking at and judging paintings in art galleries.

Going back to Thalia, we indeed “found” one another thru a common culture. During coffee breaks, we would talk about fiestas, siestas, santos, santas, penitencias, etcetera, etcetera. Although, my present atheism is known to her, she still finds it charming that I was once a sacristan (an altar boy) in our local parish. Of course, I brought her to giggles with my stories of how me and the other boys would drink the wine used in the mass (I can still remember the brand of the spanish wine, Mompo) at the back of the church. Or when we wandered out at night out in the fields wearing our white robes triggering rumours of white lady sightings in the entire village.

We both would have wanted to continue that platonic understanding between us, until of course that fateful shower incident.

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Prolonging The Agony

Before I continue with the “Infidelity Series”, let me just say some words about the ongoing Greek tragedy.

For those not in the know, Greece is currently on dire straits for one simple reason: the Greek government and its people have been spending beyond their means since ditching drachma for the euro as its currency in 2002. Joining euroland enabled Greece to easily borrow money, which triggered a cascade of spending spree by the government (one concrete example was the humongous expense incurred in preparation for and during the Athens 2004 olympics). The already bloated state bureaucracy further ballooned into ridiculous proportions. Redundant and completely unnecessary government functions and offices were created. There is reportedly a committee established to admininister a dead lake. And sub-committees to such committees were also formed. To make matters worse, the wages of state employees were also increased. The Greek government coffers simply became the milking cow of politicians wanting to appease the electorate to keep their corrupt asses in office. Meanwhile, anecdotes from within Greece and Greek expats abroad reveal about the gross corruption in the citizen level. People not reporting dead relatives so that they can continue receiving the deceased pension money were not uncommon.

Worse came to worst when the country was hit by the economic downturn. In addition to widespread tax evasion, government money dwindled further, as the socialist welfare state had to provide for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed Greeks. The flow of money in the government coffer was now uni-directional, akin to a water tank with holes that get bigger and bigger. By the first quarter of 2010, the “water tank” completely dried out and there was not a euro cent left to sustain government expenses. The Greek government therefore had to be bailed out by EU and IMF to the sum of a whopping 110 billion euro.

EU and IMF agreed then to fill up Greece’s water tank with the condition that the Greek government shall patch/cover all those holes or at least decrease the size of the outflow pipe draining the tank. That means reducing public spending and saving up through a number of bitter measures directly affecting the common man.  However, apparently the holes were not sufficiently patched. It was also revealed that there have been gross mis-reporting of government finance status for a long time.

The first bail out was just roughly a year ago. Much of that money went to paying previous debts. Today Greece is again on a brink of financial bankruptcy. Thus the second appeal for new bail out money from EU and IMF. Again with more stringent conditions and demands. More cuts in public spending, more tax, lower pension, increase pension age, and other measures affecting the common man on the street.

It might sound very harsh but from where I see it, let Greece go bankrupt. This constant bailing out is just prolonging the agony of the Greeks. Most of the bail out money will anyway just be used to paying previous debts. Indeed there will be a domino effect on other weak economies in the euroland, but this is in fact what you would expect when governments and its people are spending money they do not have.

The water tank has dried out and the pool party is over. Welcome to years of misery in murky waters.

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The Anatomy of Infidelity (1)

“May I put my arm around your shoulder?”

It was (in retrospect) a very innocent request.  The rain was intense and the late spring breeze was still bringing chills to the bones. I thought it would be easier with my left arm around her to keep us both warm and dry within the perimeters of my umbrella.  

I didn’t wait for her reply. It was after all, just a friendly and gentlemanly gesture. Until I noticed my involuntary sniffing everytime her long hazel hair was getting blown into my face.   

Despite my valiant attempt to keep us from getting wet, we were soaked from waist down upon reaching the lab. We thought it was better to proceed directly to the locker room down the basement to change into dry clothings. Luckily, our lab shares facilities with the more patient-oriented clinical department. There were plenty of  hospital garments in the locker room usually worn by doctors and nurses.  

We parted ways upon entering the basement corridor. Me, to the left and she to the right. As I was deciding which clothings to use (should I go for the surgeon’s green or the usual plain white?) I noticed that we were out of towel in the men’s changing room.

I dashed out of the room, to ask her if they got extra towels before she could get into the women’s locker room.  Unfortunately, she was already inside.  I knocked on the door and casually asked if they got extra towels. She said I should come inside and  help myself as there was no one else there but her. She was already in the shower and thus unable to help me. 

So I carefully proceeded inside the room while consciously avoiding taking a glance towards her direction. I went directly to the pile of dry towels in the open cabinet, took one, mumbled something that sounded like “thanks” and walked towards the door.   

But she called out my name as I was going out.

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Here is an excerpt from a poem called “Youth”, by Samuel Ullman (1840-1924), emailed to me by my japanese host “Otosan” (“father”) when he learned I was leaving Japan for Sweden way back 2001. A very beautiful poem, which alongside Desiderata, continues to be of great influence to me how I perceive myself and the world.

Youth is not a time of life;
it is a state of mind;
it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees;
it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination,
a vigor of the emotions;
it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty.
Nobody grows old merely by a number of years.
We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Interestingly, the poem is very popular in Japan due to it being a favourite of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific during and after WWII, who had the poem posted on the wall of his Tokyo office. Here is the link to the complete poem: Samuel Ullman Museum.

And here’s my own translation into Tagalog/Filipino (2007):

Ang kabataan ay hindi isang antas ng buhay;
ito ay ang kalagayan ng pag-iisip;
hindi ito patungkol sa mabuburok na pisngi, mapupulang labi, at matibay na tuhod;
tumutukoy ito sa lakas ng kalooban, uri ng guni-guni, sidhi ng damdamin;
ito ay ang kasariwaan niyong malalim na bukal ng buhay.

Ang kabataan ay ang pangingibabaw ng katapangan sa kahinaang-loob,
ang kagustuhan sa pakikipagsapalaran imbes na sa kadalian.
Madalas itong nakikita sa isang animnapung taong gulang kesa doon sa dalawampung taon.
Walang sinuman ang tumatanda dahil sa haba ng panahon.
Ang pagtanda ay nagaganap sandaling
lisanin natin ang mga dakilang hangarin.

Maaaring mangulubot ang balat sa paglipas ng taon,
subalit ang pagpapabaya sa sigasig ng buhay ay nakakapangulubot ng kaluluwa.
Ang pag-aala-ala, takot, kawalan ng tiwala sa sarili ay nakakalagas ng puso
at ang diwa ay nagiging alikabok.

Maging animnapu man o labing-anim,
sa bawat puso ng isang tao ay may umiiral na pagnanasa sa kamanghaan,
‘kumbaga batang paslit na laging sabik sa magaganap,
at sa kagalakan ng laro ng buhay.

Doon sa kaibuturan ng iyong puso at ng aking puso
ay may antenang nakahimpil;
habang ito ay nakakatanggap ng mensahe ng kariktan,
pag-asa, tuwa, tapang, lakas mula sa sangkatauhan at
mula doon sa Itaas, ikaw ay mananatiling bata.

Sa panahong nakatumba ang antena, at ang iyong diwa ay natatakluban ng
niyebe ng pag-aalinlangan at kawalang pag-asa,
ay doon magsisimula ang iyong pagtanda, kahit na ikaw ay dalawampu pa lamang.
Subali’t habang nakataas yaong antena,
at handang sumagap ng kalatas ng kinabukasan,
ay maaring isa ka pa ring bata sa iyong paglisan pagsapit ng walumpo.

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Between Marriage and Death

Another positive thing about the death of one of the world’s most wanted terrorist is that it virtually erased everything that pertains to the marriage of some privileged individuals from my newsfeed. Kudos to all journalists who still know the concept of newsworthiness. Things that matter, that is.

Now I can check the news again.

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Are You On A Crossroad?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

The above, I dedicate to all the people out there who find themselves in a crossroad and are too afraid to make a decision. North. South. East or West. The choice is yours. It doesn’t matter as long as you don’t stay in the middle of the crossing reaching nowhere. Eventually, you will realize that there is no right or wrong choices in life. What matters in the end is how you made the most out of it; how you lived your life towards the fulfillment of your dreams; how you strived to get out of your mediocre existence; how you learned to care, love, and even forgive those who hurt you along the way. 

The average human lifespan is about 80 years. The first 15 years of which you spend with your parents. If you are lucky and still have a clear head by the time of your death, that gives you 65 years of having most of the decisions in your life by yourself (provided you don’t marry a dictator). If you sleep 8 hours per day in that 65 years, you are basically asleep for about 20 years, leaving you only  45 years of waking hours. 

Forty five years. That’s barely half a century! The age of the universe is around 14 billion years. Humans have been walking the Earth since 195,000 years ago. And what is 45 years compared to that? Not even a blink of an eye in a person’s lifetime, if I may borrow that tired cliché.

So in 45 years of your waking existence, are you then willing to just stand on the harbor and watch the world go by?

Regrets are for losers. Just effin’ do it, man!

Last Wednesday (27/4) was exactly ten years ago since I received that confirmation email from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg that I was admitted to one of their International Master’s Programmes. Ten years hence and I’m still in Sweden. The only regret I have is that I gave too little time in nourishing the friendship I made with people I have met along the way (both in real life and online). This is something I am continuously striving to change about myself.      

The entry above is a repost and was originally published on 2007-08-30, I was cleaning my email account and found that old email from the coordinator of the master’s programme and somehow it brought back that feeling of uncertainty as I was weighing options whether to move to Sweden or not. Then I remembered that Mark Twain quote, leading me to the blog entry.  

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