When I die

I was motorbiking at Rizal St. in Laoag when I passed by this funeral carriage infront of the Aglipayan church.  Although the sun was sizzling hot, I just had to go back and take a pic of it.  I want to be in that vehicle when they bring me to to my grave.

I hope you do not find it morbid, karikna.  Death, they say, is the only sure thing in life.  While no politician is assured to win the election (unless unopposed), everybody is bound to die sooner or later.

When I die, I do not want any of those bands which will destroy the solemnity of my wake and burial.  Some bands even perform green, sex-laden songs during ‘last nights’ would you believe?  One song they performed at a wake I attended goes, “Sisid marino, naglaing toy nobyok, iyunana toy baba santo ngumato. (Marine dive. My boyfriend is so good, he starts down below then works his way up).

I also do not want those annoying speakers playing religious songs at my funeral march, I would have had enough of noise during election periods when I was alive.

My remains I pray brought directly to the cemetery, no stopovers at the church.  I would not want to make the church richer by my death.

I want all the Ilocano rituals and practices for the dead observed.  And please don’t call Atong King, no gambling please.

Continue reading “When I die”

Musings of a motorcycle crash survivor

I AM, in true fashion, a bicyclist, but I bought a motorcycle last May to keep up with my burgeoning responsibilities at work.

I always knew then how treacherous a vehicle it is, but I got enamored by the sense of freedom the ‘motor’ makes me feel that I even bought another one in July.  So I have a Yamaha Mio Soul Automatic scooter and an EM-100 motorcycle.  I bought two so I can use one in Laoag, where I reside, and another in Batac, where I earn bread and some butter.

I always thought I was a very careful driver.  My Laoag to Batac drive takes me almost thirty minutes while other riders swear it only takes them fifteen.  But accidents choose nobody, and no matter how good a driver you may be, you cannot always expect others to be as careful.  Worse, much as you wish, you cannot always trust yourself to be as cautious as humanly possible.  There are times when deep thought distracts you, and, occasionally, your senses simply betray you.  Or it could be the weather. Or the infrastructure.  Or the vehicle itself.

I have always prepared myself, psychologically, for the eventuality of an accident.  At one point or another, a driver meets one, minor or otherwise.  Accidents happen, and the catch is you’ll never know when until it strikes you like lightning or like a Manny Pacquiao left hook, whichever is faster. Continue reading “Musings of a motorcycle crash survivor”

Happy 1st anniv, karikna!

AROUND this time last year, you and I gave birth to this humble column.

While I was not exactly new to writing—having previously published my works in newspapers, books, and websites—the thrill of composing an article on a weekly basis was unparalleled.

Among all the columns written by local journalists, Riknakem has appeared most frequently and most consistently in The Ilocos Times. In the past one year, I failed to pass my weekly article but once.

I still wonder how I do it. Teaching, we all know, is a very demanding job. In addition, I also work at the media office of MMSU, carry out research projects, and serve other publications either as writer or consultant.

Of course, it is not without sacrifices. There have been many times of whole nights spent out of bed, and vacations spent in front of the computer. Having this column also meant less time for my bicycling, which I used to do during my free time.

There are times when I am tempted to miss a column, but my friend Ianree Raquel always reminds me of my responsibility to readers, and I oblige.

But, no, I am not complaining. I have never looked at writing as a burden. Continue reading “Happy 1st anniv, karikna!”

Song insults humanity

ON TOP of the radio charts today is “Who am I?“, a gospel song performed by a Christian rock band named Casting Crowns.

The other weekend when I had to stay in the office to help my students polish their degree papers, I listened to the song 43 times (yes, I tallied!) in two days, not exactly by choice, I assure you, as all radio stations were playing it incessantly.    To the vulnerable, it would seem a perfectly inspirational song.  For me, however, it brings much discomfort. The song insults humanity. It insults me… and you.

The musical piece sets off on a nice note though.  It poses the most important and meaningful of man’s questions.

Who am I?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”, posits Socrates. All inquiries must be rooted in the self, and so I honestly like the first line.

But then the insult begins… Continue reading “Song insults humanity”

Kapag masungkit ko ang jackpot

Ang ‘IN’ na pag-usapan ngayon ay kung ano ang gagawin mo kapag nanalo ka ng jackpot sa lotto.

Tinatayang mahigit 340 million ang maaaring tamaan sa 6/49 Super Lotto jackpot mamayang gabi.

Hayyy, ang sarap nga namang mangarap.

Ang mahalaga sa mga usapang ganito e nababatid mo ang mga bagay na mahalaga sa isang indibidwal.  Malalaman mo kung sinu-sino at anu-ano ba ang kabahagi ng kani-kanilang mga pangarap.

Hayaan po ninyong ibahagi ko sa inyo ang aking mga balakin. Continue reading “Kapag masungkit ko ang jackpot”

Legalize Marijuana


So, Michael Phelps, that guy who won eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, the most in human history, was caught on photo in an apparent act of smoking pot.

The photo (which I am not posting here out respect for him) was met by mixed reactions of disappointment, dismay, and puzzlement.  For why would a legendary athlete, who has the world on his hands and history on his side, resort to Marijuana?

Michael did not disown the picture and in an admirable fashion atypical of real drug users (like the Philippines’ Alabang Boys), he says: Continue reading “Legalize Marijuana”

Who is Bob Ong?

bakit-baliktad To say I have been asked this question over a thousand times is not an excess.

Eight years ago, the writer sent me an e-mail asking for my permission for the inclusion of one of my essays in a book project he was working on.

I said, “yes, go ahead”.  I was not aware then how big he was in the Internet and how phenomenal his first book, ABNKKBSNPLAko?!, has turned out.

Bob Ong was so thankful.  He said he had long been looking for me.

A couple of months after, BO e-mailed again to inform me that his book has been published.  He invited me to get my complimentary copy, and the rest is history.

“Sino ba talaga si Bob Ong?”, I always see a sparkle in the eyes of those who ask.   Continue reading “Who is Bob Ong?”