The current controversial headlines are hard to ignore - corrupt bishops receiving money from the PCSO purportedly to buy SUVs they needed in serving their communities. One bishop, going so far as to request the SUV through a letter to former president Arroyo as a "birthday gift".
Out of the disgust I felt, I thought I'd write something also as a writing exercise which I haven't been doing much of late. The challenge or exercise: write a social commentary in the form of a chain letter using current events as the subject. The letter should be satirical and preferably stinging. A cap on word count is set at 500 words maximum. As added assignment, you have to actually send the letter out. Evaluate how well the letter is written by how extensive it gets circulated.
Anyway, my obvious choice was the Pajero bishops controversy. Below is what I wrote:
A Fund-Raising Campaign in Support of our Beloved Bishops
The recent controversies surrounding the so-called "SUV-shops" are needlessly overblown and are the result of a concerted government campaign to discredit our beloved church leaders. I call on all Christians to unite and support our suffering bishops.
The bishops are our humble shepherds and they deserve to drive luxury vehicles as they tend to us meek and unquestioning flock. SUVs are critical to highlighting their aura of holiness as leaders of the faithful. You cannot wear a miter if your car doesn't have enough headroom.
A lowly used sedan simply won't do – it is much too common and cheap. Yes, while it is true that poverty is one of Christianity's religious vows, it should not be viewed as a strict obligation but rather a right that the clergy can choose to waive. Is it too big a deal that we cannot allow our bishops the convenience of choice?
If our president can buy a Porsche, why not SUVs for our bishops? While it is true that Noynoy used his own money and not the government's, he does not hold the moral high ground because he is not a member of the CBCP
Everybody should know that morality is the monopoly of the church. This is the reason why rapists in government service get jailed while child-molesters from the clergy only get reassigned. The church should not stay silent on these and other controversies hounding it. We can understand when they stayed silent during the "Hello Garci" scandal because we needed to maintain order and the status quo. But when forces threaten to change things for the better, such as the RH Bill movement, the voices of the people must be raised to the high heavens.
As laymen, we should express our support for our beleaguered church. Let us help raise money to buy new SUVs to replace the ones the bishops returned to the government. Although returning birthday gifts are insulting to the giver, the church needs to be firm in its position. Really, the bishops wanted Mitsubishi Pajeros, not Monteros. How inept can the government be?
Spread this message of love sent to you. You will receive salvation within four days of receiving this letter provided in turn, you donate P20 to your bishop, the same price as a PCSO lotto ticket. Then send this letter on to other Christians. This is not a joke. Send copies to people you think need salvation and enlightenment. Don't send this letter to members of the clergy, especially bishops as they are already saved and fully enlightened. It's only your money that they need.
I have not posted anything here since the last entry because I had moved to a different company. My new role does not require me to manage a team or writers so I don't have any need to continue this weekly exercise.
I've decided to keep this blog up anyway. It's free and who knows who might stumble into this blog and find it useful. Yes, I still entertain such ideas. Also, I thought that if and when I do come up with interesting work, I should have a blog to post it to.
Which brings me to this piece I would like to share. A few weeks after I moved to Lexmark, an open invitation was circulated through the company email to join an essay writing contest sponsored by the company's writers' club. I jumped on the chance. The theme was "Printers and the world today." My piece ended up winning the top prize. Yes, I won some cash for my effort. Thank you. Sharing my piece below:
Print's not dead
Have we lost our sense of appreciation for the printed page?In this day and age when content is mostly viewed on glowing screens and displayed with millions of colors, have we forgotten the romance of old-fashioned paper and visceral ink?
What saddens me is not that the possible answer to both questions is a big yes.It is that few people actually care to ask anymore.But can we blame them?
This is a changed world after all.Today, what is the point of a complete collection of the Encyclopedia Britannica when Wikipedia is way more accurate?Today, why thumb through dirty pages of newsprint when the latest breaking news can be neatly browsed online?Today, the yellow pages no longer mean actual yellow pages.Today, research no longer requires fingering through neatly filed index cards in the library, merely the almost innate ability to infer the best keywords and hitting search.
The page has been transformed into what is essentially clever code with interactive and user-friendly features.It glows like it brags what it can now do.Today, content being real is no longer enough; it needs to be augmented.Admittedly, information is faster to search, sort and filter.How can you argue with that benefit?
Digitization has truly come of age, yet why is it then that we still see glimpses of the old and familiar in the way our content as well as content delivery is designed?
For example, current graphic design trends show less and less of cold computer precision, polished grid and tight balance. Instead, they are more organic; show more texture and more character.Rough and grunge seem to appeal more to audiences than the refined and polished.
User interfaces are laced with contextual sound and animation.We see more and more interfaces that involve natural hand gestures such as page flipping.Kindle, the leading e-reader, touts its screen view as a great approximation of the printed page – e-ink technology, they call it.
I believe all these show we are trying to recapture some of the warmth that we lost in the digitization process.I believe that collectively, we still long for the personal – to touch and to feel our content, to print on fine paper and to read on real crisp pages.Printers fill this stubborn need.We are human after all.Content can be diced and digitized to death but the overall human experience stays analog – a feast of the senses – not entirely what current user interfaces can deliver.
Books still look nice on shelves.Newspapers don't need power or a wifi connection.Presentation handouts, calling cards, certificates of appreciation, and wedding invitations will always be printed.And with the ever increasing quality and diminishing costs of printing on demand, desktop printers have further democratized publishing.Printing is becoming the personal medium of the masses.
Lost your cat recently? Go print flyers!
David Carson, the trailblazing graphic designer who birthed grunge typography, declared The End of Print in his seminal book of that title published in 1995.I still have a copy of that book, frayed yet very real and personal.I will never trade it for an e-version.Did you recognize the irony in that – that Mr. Carson pronounced print as dead on a printed medium?The book was a best-seller by the way.Maybe because in its irony, people recognized a stubborn truth, which is that, the printed page simply cannot die.
Revived at long last!Our busy office schedule had put back our
writing exercises perennially down the priority list of our to-do’s.Well today we finally got around to doing a
quick exercise, and by quick I mean 60 seconds quick.This one was hosted by Maya.She pointed us all to a website:http://oneword.com
where a single word is flashed and then you have to type down whatever goes
through your head.Extemporaneous
writing if there is such a thing.
You should try it out yourself.Don’t say you don’t have time for a 60 second
exercise.Nobody’s that busy.
Today’s word was ‘Idol’.Below is what I wrote. I had wanted to end with "...Cory Aquino's life and humility." but had to respect the time limit.
There are people who consider
themselves an idol for others to emulate. More often than not, those who fall
in this category are those the least deserving of that title.
more punctuated in the light of Cory Aquino's example.
I hosted this week’s writing exercise.The instructions I emailed are below:
The Philippine election season is nearing.Trapos (traditional politicians) will once again be in the spotlight.To be expected will be the mudslinging, character assassinations and dirty politics that follow the perverted golden rule – He who has the gold (and the guns, and goons) rules!
Enough of that!The Filipinos deserve better.In less than 400 words, write a speech announcing your own candidacy for the country’s highest post on a platform of ‘change’.Be convincing and inspirational.In short, do an Obama.
Turns out, this exercise was much harder than I thought.Our reading ended up getting delayed by one week.Our heavy workload didn’t help.Below is what I put together.Exactly 400 words by the way.
I am a Filipino -- inheritor of a glorious past, hostage to the uncertain future.So starts Carlos P. Romulo’s famous ode to our nation.The opening line was written many years ago.With the bleakness of our country’s future, it may as well have been written yesterday.
Yes, we are inheritors of a glorious past.But nothing about our present is.Just read the news.This in spite of a president named Gloria.If anything, it is exactly because of Gloria that our future is uncertain.Then again, that is exactly what being hostage means.
But we can’t give up and remain hostages.True, the Filipinos did elect Gloria for a full term in 2004.We deserve what we get.Then again, there is the argument that we never did vote for Gloria in that election.It was stolen from us courtesy of Garci.But what did we do about it?We decided we wouldn’t let another actor sit in Malacañang and collectively looked the other way.We deserve what we get.
I say now we are hostages only if we choose to be.This coming 2010 election, we need change. Out with the trapos, in with new politics.Out with corruption, in with transparency and genuine good governance.
My name is Orven Enoveso and I offer myself in service to this nation as president if given the honor.I am not a traditional politician.In fact I hate politics in the traditional sense of the word.But I would like to see the government working again. I know you do too.
One of the things I’ve learned in the corporate world is that if you can’t trust others to do it right then do it yourself.Here I am now, eager to do it myself.
I don’t lay claim to an Ivy League economics degree nor am I of elite pedigree.But I know I can do better.A lot better.For starters, I won’t steal, I won’t cheat, and I won’t kill journalists.Just doing those will be a huge improvement.
Let us heed the call of the times – volunteerism, understanding the issues of the public, being involved in politics, sacrificing personal careers to serve the people.Our times call for true public servants.And I would like to be one. Together, we can do great things, and this nation can be glorious again.
week’s writing exercise was given by Mark.Below was his emailed instruction:
Use an anagram for inspiration.
Visit http://wordsmith.org/anagram/ and
enter your full name to generate a list of anagrams. Now choose one of the
anagram results as your title and use it as an inspiration for a poem, short
story, or essay. Word count should not exceed 350 words.
name, Orven Enoveso, yielded only
less than a hundred anagrams.Too
few.Probably owing to the two v’s in my
name.Others here who’ve tried it got a
lot more hits because of their longer names and low score
‘scrabble-letters’.One got more than a
ended up having to develop my own anagram because I didn’t like what the
website produced, hence my title, and work, below.
Noon’s Eve Over (350 words)
of the chandelier grew stark.Zoe liked
it that way.Staring straight at the amber
glow strained her eyes, just as she wanted it to.It helped her stay awake.She tugs at her crumpled blanket, pulling it
to her chin to shield her fragile frame from the icy November breeze blowing
through a half-opened window.“I must
not fall asleep.Not yet,” she whispers
to herself as her eyes trace the soft undulations of the curtains dancing to
the breeze. Her faint words echo in her thoughts, like a lullaby floating softly
across the room.
creeps in. “Aaaaah!” Zoe wakes up shaken.
sigh, a quick toss of the blanket and she is off the bed.The tiled floor feels cold against her bare
feet as she shuffles towards the ornately framed mirror.Brushing aside unkempt hair, Zoe is shocked to
see her weary eyes.Her now gaunt face
shows the strains of her nightly distress.
It is day
forty of her ordeal.The dream, always
the same dream, had been haunting her every night at midnight, the witching
hour, or as she likes to call it, noon’s eve.There was no escaping it.She had
tried every night to stay awake just long enough for midnight to pass but
always failing, always waking up to her own horrified screams.
an open door, and tracks the faint moonlight marking the end of a long
balcony!Need to reach the
balcony!”Her walk quickly gives way to
a sprint.The air caresses her
determined countenance.She reaches the
open door at the end.The moonlight
bathes her pale skin in a faint glow as she pulls herself onto the railings in
one fluid motion.She pauses and stares
straight down.The wind here is fierce
and bites at her sallow cheeks.
creeps in. “Aaaaah!” Zoe wakes up shaken.
balance and steps into the night.She
falls to her end.Thankfully.
will no longer haunt her because it has finally come true.
This dialogue exercise evolved from a previous one by Luida. It involves writing something that is made up ENTIRELY OF DIALOGUE, but in short story form (NOT MORE than 350 words). That means, you absolutely CANNOT adapt the format of a play (e.g. JUAN: Good morning...). Also, you absolutely CANNOT use speech modifiers (e.g. ...said Juan, Juan said...). Your piece should be made up entirely of sentences in quotation marks. And your piece must reveal something about the characters, the setting and the conflict/plot only through dialogue. A tip: One way to distinguish each character is to make them sound unique in their lines of dialogue, that way your reader won’t be confused who’s saying what. Here's an example:
"Sure, sweetie. Grab some of that and put them on this tray. Then put mayo on top of each one. Don't pick the burned ones."
"Okay. So, what do you think?"
"About what, dear?"
"Come on, you know what I'm talking about."
"You mean, what do I think about that schmuck sitting on our dinner table back there?"
"Mom! He's a nice guy."
"You said the same thing about the last guy you brought here. And look what that jerk did."
"That was different. I was young then. I didn't know any better."
"And I supposed you're older and wiser now? Tell me, have you ever thought about what you're getting yourself into? I mean, just look at him! God, what will the neighbors think? And your Dad--how am I ever gonna tell him we raised a doofus with the worst taste in men in the universe?"
"Will you keep your voice down? He might hear you."
"I doubt it. Done with that? Get more from the fridge. And some mayo, too, this one's almost empty."
"Could you hand me that other tray? Thanks. Look, Mom, I know he doesn't look like it but he's a great guy. Once you get to know him, beneath all that arty stuff, you'll like him. I know you've got some kind of phobia about people with alternative means of livelihood, but believe me, this one's different. He's actually opening his own tattoo shop next summer."
"Oh, I'm absolutely jumping with joy hearing that."
"Mom, please, I could use a little support here. I'll deal with Dad but I need you on my side on this."
"Whatever. Here, you take that while I take this one. Careful with that."
"Wait. How do I look with this on?"
"Gotta hand it to you, though. His folks are filthy rich."
Be creative. You can use any genre (horror, comedy, sci-fi, detective, fantasy, etc.). Remember, not more than 350 words.
Below is what I came up with:
“These chairs can’t stay still.”
“They’re meant to do that.They’re called swivel chairs.”
“I’m guessing that’s so you can turn to your seatmates for more intimacy.Hi, I’m Michelle.”
“Sherwin, nice to meet you.”
“So? Aren’t you gonna ask me if I come here often?”
“Actually, I was…”
“So ask me already.”
“Ok.Do you come here often?”
“No, this is my first time here.And I’m thinking I should if you come here often yourself.”
“Thank you, I guess.”
“You can thank me by buying me a drink.Sorry, maybe that was too forward of me. ”
“Not at all?”
“Listen, this place is swell and the food smells great but I live nearby.Maybe you’d like to crash at my place for a little party, just you and me.What do you say to that?”
“You heard me.Good times, but a little more private.So how about it, cowboy?”
“Tempting offer but I really was just about to leave.Paid for my tab already.Busy day for me tomorrow.”
“Aw, too bad.Are you sure you want to pass this up?”
“I’m afraid so.Hope you don’t take offense.”
“You’re so proper.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Ok, here’s the thing.My name really isn’t Michelle.And I don’t really live in the neighborhood.I’m from the university and we’re doing this psychology experiment about flirting.Behind me on the table over there is my associate with a video camera and right here in my bag, is a tape recorder.”
“A psychology test?”
“Yes, we’re conducting experiments on how males respond to ostentatious flirtation from females.And let me just say that you’re our first test subject that hasn’t responded positively to my invitations.”
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Actually no.For everybody else we tested, it was all so predictable.So tell me, am I not your type?”
Imagine a life cut short into 750-1500 words. This is a
writing technique called the personality sketch, which is commonly used for
feature writing in paperbacks but has gained popularity in more mainstream
media such as newspapers, magazines, periodicals, etc. Here’s an example of a
special section published in the New York Times featuring the lives of people
who died during the September 11 terrorist attack.
Glenn Kirwin was fit.Triathlon fit.
Over the years, he competed in a number of triathlons, and
though he stopped the endurance events after the children arrived, he kept
himself in enviable shape.“He was a
fitness freak,” said his wife, Joan.“He
did 50-mile bicycle rides.” When they
were dating, she tried to keep up but it was hopeless. “I once did 30 miles with him,” she said, “but
I couldn’t sit for a week.”
Mr. Kirwin, 40, lived in Scarsdale,
N.Y., and was up at 5:15 in the morning to
catch the 6:30 train to New York,
where he was the head of product development at the eSpeed division of Cantor
It was usually 8 at night when he arrived home.It was his practice, though, to always do
something with the children, Miles, 10, and Troy, 7, before they went to bed. He would read them a story or play checkers or
engage in a game of Go Fish. Sometimes
they would go outside and play catch or shoot baskets…
Choose a person that you know (or create one using your
imagination) and write a glimpse of his or her life, personality,
idiosyncrasies, etc. Personality sketches usually use anecdotes, direct
quotations, physical description, etc., but for the purpose of this writing
activity, we can be more “creative” or “imaginative.” Write as you please,
and introduce us to that person in no less than 200 words. :P
Below is what I was able to put together.
is a great rock singer.Probably the
best in the band scene right now.“Deep
and soulful” was how his manager, Eddie Velasquez, described his voice.I discovered him playing Stone Temple Pilot
covers in this small club called Smithereens in uptown Cebu.Becoming an instant believer, Eddie has since
orchestrated and managed Jess’ successful career spanning eleven years, six
albums, numerous singles and countless club appearances all over the country.
Jessboy to his close friends, he is currently the lead singer for Ang Miserables, one of the most
respected acts in Cebu’s band scene
most band vocalists, Jess James started out singing ballads in school
programs.Hard to imagine now, but he
actually sang pop songs popularized by Martin Nievera when he was still in
elementary and high school.
to rock music came naturally to him.Although he had that voice, he clearly wasn’t a balladeer.Underneath was too much attitude and edge.Jess James eschewed wearing anything with a
collar and much preferred jeans, sneakers and tight shirts.
songwriter also, Jess James writes pastiches of pained emotions and struggles
that reflected his troubled past.But
his music is not all dark and emotional.His pop sensibilities show in lyrics that paint love and
celebration.Jive magazine writer Anne
Hillcox sums it up aptly: “He is an amazing and playful lyricist.What set him apart though is how he connects
with his audience.”
The writing pool has been swamped of late with projects.So much so that we've kept postponing our writing exercises only to find out in horror that the last one we did was five months ago! We've since vowed to do it every Wednesday morning instead of Friday afternoons. Wednesdays being a less busy day of the week for most of us. So far. Hope the trend holds. And hope we can get back on track to keeping this regular. Millions of my writing brain cells have died of atrophy. Time to get back in shape.
This week's exercise was hosted by Jovir. Below is his email:
Supposing you or someone you know, or a character has been given something new to wear (clothes, shoes, etc.).
Describe it, showing how it feels or what it means to you. Here's a sample from M. Scott Momaday's Novel House of Made of Dawn in which shoes the character thinks at first are beautiful, begin to feel ridiculous to him:
He was wearing a pair of brown-and-white shoes which fat Josie had given to him. They had belonged to a man for whom fat Josie's daughter had worked as a housekeeper in the city. The man died and his widow gave away his clothes. The shoes were beautiful, almost new, thin-soled, sharply pointed, with angles and whorls of perforation. There were metal taps on the heels, and the leather creaked. They were too large for Abel, but he wore them anyway, had waited a long. Time for the occasion to wear them. And now and then in the bus he looked at them, would slide the instep and toe of one and then the other along the backs of his legs to removed the dust and bring out the shine, would flex the soles to hear them squeak.
But the shoes were brown and white. They were new, almost, and shiny and beautiful; and they squeaked when he walked. In the only frame of reference he had ever known, they called attention to themselves, simply, honestly. They were brown and white; they were finely crafted and therefore admirable in the way that the work of a good potter or painter or silversmith is admirable: the object is beautiful in itself, worthy of appreciation as a whole and for its own sake. But now and beyond his former frame of reference, the shoes called attention to Abel. They were brown and white; they were conspicuously new and too large; they shone; they clattered and creaked. And they were nailed to his feet. There were enemies all around, and he knew that he was ridiculous in their eyes.
Fire away with 200 words minimum.
Below is my effort.
Dark blue never looked so good.Dark blue never felt so good.I had always wanted a pair of Levi's 501 jeans ever since I outgrew my 511 baggy jeans and my silvertabs.I know, what was I thinking?Bootcuts and skinny jeans have cycled back in style over the years but baggies probably never will.That would be a heinous fashion crime if there ever was one.
Now, buttoned-up and in front of the mirror, I like what I am seeing.Snug.They hugged my thighs like an inflated blood pressure sleeve.They felt new and they were.I had saved and spent a small fortune – P500. That was a lot of money back then, never mind the exact year.
Shifting my weight to one side, I notice how the pant twists on one leg bringing the side seam smack in front.This nuance is normal I suppose.I bend my knees almost to the point of a full squat and conclude I still needed to get used to the tightness on my crotch.It wasn't uncomfortable, just different.I'm liking different.
The ads proclaimed that no two pairs are ever alike because jeans grow on the wearer the longer it is used – creases, color fading, the eventual wear and tears on the tough fabric and all.This piece of clothing needed breaking in and I decide to start right away.I grab my wallet and my pager and head for the door.
A drunk sits next to you in a bar, thinks you are his or her close friend and starts confessing “the truth.”Write about what “the truth” is in at least 200 words.
Below is my effort.
Stepping into the bar, my eyes take a moment to adjust to the dimmed lights.The familiar smell of nicotine greets me while I scan for a good spot.Someone was sitting on my favorite stool at the far end of the room – an executive like me, judging from his clothes –hunched over his drink.Too bad, I particularly liked sitting at the end where no one bothers you.
Suddenly, he swings around and walks away from the bar.He walks right past me and exits through the front door momentarily flooding the room with an orange glow from the late afternoon sun.
“Mac, I’ll have one San Mig Light,” I declare while walking to the just vacated stool.
A quick hiss and a pop later, the bottle lands with typical efficiency in front of me.“You want a mug?”
I flip my hand up slightly to decline.Mac knows I enjoyed my beer without the conversation and smartly leaves me to attend to the other patrons.There aren’t many at this time.
I scanned the room and count maybe five or so people all nursing lonely drinks.Probably all avoiding the rush hour just like me with a drink or two before heading off for home.
Then she emerges from behind the corner that led to the toilets.You had to notice her because not many girls come in here, but also because she was a real looker.As she strode across the floor, you couldn’t help but notice how stunning she looked.
She had wavy cropped hair that perfectly framed her angelic face.Her short but brisk strides bring her to my side where she sits down.I feel slightly panicked at my unbelievable luck that she chose to sit beside me.Her eyes kept wandering across the room like she was unsure of herself.A perfectly manicured hand rests near mine.Her skin is flawless even in the dimly lit bar.She leans close towards me making me feel awkward at the invasion of my supposed solitude.
“I thought you’d left already, sir.”
“Sorry?”I manage to mutter.
“Listen, sir, I know this is awkward, you being my boss and everything but I didn’t mean for this to happen.I didn’t plan any of this.”
She obviously thought I was the executive who was sitting here earlier.Looking at her admirable profile, I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I wasn’t him.Not yet at least.
“I want to be with you.That’s all I want.Even if you can’t be all mine.I think – I think – ”
“Uhhm, miss, sorry but –“
She looks at me and stares.Her doe eyes are deep and magnetic.Yet they betray nothing.“You’re not my boss –”
“Yes, I think you mean the guy who left a while ago”
“But you’re cute too.”A long uneasy pause as we gaze into each other’s eyes.“Where is he?”
“Uhm, he went that way,” I point the door behind me with my thumb while keeping my gaze fixed.
She stands up, and opens her purse and fishes out a calling card.“If you find him, tell him I left already.”She slides the card on the table with a finger, then walks away.
I am left frozen, not knowing what to say.
She turns around to look at me one last time.“Call me,” the hints of a smile breaking on her face.
This week's exercise was to write a press release on any event.I suggested to the group to add a twist on the exercise by making our press releases about an offbeat or humorous story or event.We all agreed.Below is what I wrote:
iComm joins the PBA
After just one season with the Inter Call Center Basketball League, iComm International has announced that its young basketball team will be joining the Philippine Basketball Association, the country's premier basketball league and the most prestigious professional club in Asia.
"Because our fledgling team has shown lots of promise in just its first season, we have decided to take a quantum leap forward by going professional. What better showground is there to showcase our team's talent?" Mike Tyler, iComm's president explains.
The team is headed by Arman Colina as head coach and features All-Star players Jeffrey Padernal and Filomeno Villaruel.
iComm's new testing facility for applicants in AsiaTownI.T.Park.The basketball court features multiple video cameras to record candidate's tryouts and scrimmages for better evaluation of applicants.
iComm announces new hiring policy
To reflect the company's growing shift of focus towards building a strong company basketball team, iComm International recently announced changes in its hiring policy.The new guidelines released in its website require male applicants to be at least 5 feet and 10 inches in height and with prior experience in playing amateur or professional basketball.
"While work-related experience will still be an important criterion in filling our human resource requirements, prior experience in basketball will now be a critical consideration," explains Divine Golingay, iComm's HR Manager.
"We've always been on the lookout for winners.Now, we're just making sure our candidates are winners both on and off the basketball court," Ms. Golingay adds.iComm's focus currently is on shooting guards and power forwards but those with experience as centers are still welcome to apply.Female applicants are also encouraged to apply as team muse which is still open.