Four to five years ago I bought a book written by Harold Keith titled Rifles for Watie, which is about a teenaged farm boy who joined the Northern cause during the US Civil War and later learned that such chaotic mess was no fun and no good, especially for innocent farm boys, and that such devastation never produced winners.
Along with my John Grisham and J.R.R. Tolkien books, it’s one that I’ve read more than twice, though not always cover to cover, just the parts I deem interesting at that moment.
It’s not fantasy, it’s not a thriller, and to be honest it’s not even that exciting. I jusy like it because it is a good piece of story telling, humanizing the effects of war and racism but also highlighting its impact on history. It’s historical fiction, for those who ask. You can borrow it too if you like.
In summary, it was about Jeffrey Bussey, who wanted to follow the footsteps of his father, Emory Bussey, who was a badass soldier during the Mexican War but was rendered lame after carelessly dropping a hammer on his toe. The old Bussey was outspoken for his support for the anti-slavery movement of the North, making him a regular target of pro-slavery bandits from the Missouri.  One afternoon, the Bussey house was attacked by the bandits, so Jeffrey deemed it was necessary for him to step on his father’s shoes and help end the war. Of course, as a protganist he has a good heart, and wants to help end the war for the safety of his family but deep inside his man-child mind he also wants to be a hero. He later becomes a spy, and upon spending time with the soldiers of the Confederacy, he realized they were boys too, fighting for what was taught to them at an early age.
History tells us that the Union won, that slavery was made illegal and America became the greatest empire the world has seen since Rome.
But to the boy in the story, with all the deaths and destruction he witnessed and all the politics he went through, it was all a Pyrrhic victory.

Fast forward to today, a similar tale is slowly creeping into America in the form of  someone named Donald Trump, with his wig-like golden hair (it’s not a wig, and it’s not even a brushover) and his outrageous and misinformed foreign policies.
I get it, he is scared. But closing your doors to the world, especially to the displaced and the needy is not a very American thing to do.
”Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Know where you can see that? That’s written in the plaque below the Statue of Liberty. Make Trump read that.

That great country is built on the backbone of immigrants from Europe, who wanted to travel to the Novus Mondus in search of a new beginning  in life.  Those settlers warred with the natives as the first Americans (who are immigrants, allegedly including the Trumpf family, which later became the Trump clan) expanded their territories, eventually winning the war and claiming America as their own. So in reality, the land that Trump and his supporters want to selfishly isolate is not even theirs to begin with.
All educational books call USA as a melting pot of nations and as the land of dreams and possibilities, where one can find a new lease on life just like the war-ravaged Europeans did all those centuries ago.
What will Jeffrey Bussey say if he found out that the sacrifices that he made along with the millions who died during the first Civil War went for naught? That the land he wanted for the free is now being barricaded to keep out war-torn refugees and impoverished neighbors?

This issue of travel ban and erecting walls on the border has struck a chord too deep in America that even the timid sports celebrities speak up.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who lost his father in Beirut in 1984 because of terrorism, said he has seen the effects of vile acts, and being divided with the rest of the world is the wrong way to go about it.
”I would just say that as someone whose family member was a victim of terrorism, having lost my father, if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by really going against the principles of what our country is about and creating fear, it’s the wrong way of going about it,” said Kerr. His father’s murder was claimed by the Hezbollah.
”If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror. So I’m completely against what’s happening,” added the coach.

This week PhilStar published an article that my brother called mind blowing and mind opener. (He f’d with redundancy too.)
It was as ‘real talk’ as real talk can be, though I wish it was written in Tagalog and littered with pictures of stars so its intended audience will give it a try.

Here’s the story!
It’s about ‘entitlement mentality’, a trait most Pinoys ( including me 😥 ) deny that they possess. Included in the story was Topher, an ice cream vendor who lost his leg to cancer but continued to work without complaints, without asking kung Natutulog ba Ang Diyos or why did fate allow cancer to take his left leg despite him having four other mouths to feed, three kids to send to school and buy them medicine if they get sick.
The author also listed some numbers that made me somehow guilty of my whining, of me wanting too many things, and of course, feeling entitled to better things in life. In the article, he said just having access to simple stuff like electricity, water, internet, and a bed to sleep on and a roof over my head make me a priviledged person, since I have things that more than half of world’s seven billion people don’t have.
And it’s true. Some parts of Africa are decades behind in technology, and tribal wars still rage on that continent. Food, clothing, water are in short supply. And they dont even dream about electricity. It’s the same for the refugees from middle east too. Because of the Syrian Civil War and the almost eternal strife between Israel and Palestine, many of the victims don’t even know if they should be happy to be alive, since many of their kin has been slain, or are lost.
Heck, even here in the Philippines, people who dwell deep in the provinces live without electricity and clean water, they don’t even have solid walls to protect them from heavy rains and flash floods. During a hike with my girlfriend, we saw one of the most rural parts of the country. In the dry, humid, and burak-covered deserts around Mt. Pinatubo we saw three kids walking on what must have been a three-kilometer stretch of  ash-scorched land, carrying a plastic bag full of rice. They must have been burning with the sun at their bare necks, since no trees can grow on these plains. But once you take out a camera, they beam with wide smiles and jump with glee, waving at us while our ride passes them. Pure happiness, despite their living conditions. Thanks to this article I look at life a little different from before.


Thanks to all those who read the first post, and a special thank you to those who shared it.

I wanted to publish this post last night, but I had a headache and just slept after Ginebra lost to Star and went down 0-2 in the series. 😦

To true Star fans, congrats, as your team has been fully revived by the trade for Paul Lee and the drafting of Jio Jalalon (who I really wanted to pair with Scottie Thompson as the new  ”The Fast and the Furious” but I am happy Ferrer is getting more and more comfortable in the PBA). But to bobong Star fans na hindi marunong tumanggap ng pagkatalo, wag kayong magbibitay ng sarili pag nanalo Ginebra, well sa pagka bobo nyo iisipin nyo bigay un. F yourself.

Extra Extra:

Something you don’t need to know but I want to put pressure on myself: I plan (and will!!!) to lose weight again. I am around 175-180 lbs right now (wtf), gaining what I’ve painstakingly lost while exercising in 2014. I hope ( and can!!!) I can slim down to 150 or 140 in three months!

Like the PhilStar article said, I ain’t entitled to be slim, and that I need to sacrifice and suffer for me to lose weight!