Monday, July 17, 2006


A storm is brewing. The affection of friends and family as well as the exigencies of work can shelter us from lashing winds or cold nights. As a writer, I am thankful that the pathways of work and comrades and kin converge every now and then, though, of course, being mortal, I often want more and constantly hope that the congregation of ideas and affections can take place more frequently.

So. Here are a few of such convergences, via letters from readers and friends.

Cesar Torres, a reader on this blog's mail list, wrote again last July 5 in reply to my lengthy response to his earlier letter: "Thank you sir. Of course, I shared your piece with some e-groups hoping that the members would read, pause, think, and act accordingly about the profound issues you raised.... You are not the snotty intellectual that I originally perceived you to be."

You are welcome, Cesar. Thanks for writing.

The other week, Judith Lacandalo, who belongs to a fine group called Peace Advocates Zamboanga, emailed a letter with a thank you note for the essays sent her way. "A friend of mine lost his son on a car accident last month," wrote Judith, who added that she "got some excerpts" from the Perpetuity and Impermanence article I dedicated to a good friend who passed away some months ago, Arlie Nava. The work that Judith and her organization is doing is difficult but thoroughly inspiring and I was only too glad to tell her that I was happy I was able to give back something to her by way of words.

Across the seas, writer Melody Kemp, whose writing ship has been berthed for some time in magical Laos, tapped me on the shoulder the other day to say that she had just re-read this one" [Perpetuity and Impermanence]. "It glows and I am totally delighted by your talent. It's the ineffable Filipino muse fine honed to 'delicato'. Now let me know what your travel plans are so I can lay in supplies." I intend to see her soon but I am hoping that a brewing storm does not acquire mega-gale force winds.

Logistics for Melody, my correspondent friend, being a choice between merlot grapes, cabernet sauvigon, shiraz, cab shiraz or syrah, I confessed early in our exchanges that I possessed the wine expertise of a barbarian, which is perhaps why I am looking forward to seeing her since, apart from expecting a sumptuous exchange of foibles and nearly noble adventure stories, I am looking forward to taking the first step in reaching -- through a real connoisseur such as her -- the status of Wine-Barbarian-Tolerable-Enough-Not-To-Be-Thrown-Out-Of-The-Room-In-Two-Minutes.

The letter Melody sent regarding the Perpetuity essay is very much welcome since it reminds me of a letter that she had sent around February last year in reply to a chronicle I had written about Kyoto. "I sip at your words like a fine cabernet. Well, after seeing Sideways I can hardly drink merlot..." Reading her letter again gives me a smile bigger than Ernie, the eternal buddy of Sesame Street's Burt. Melody maintains a column for the Cobra Post, an online South Asia-based news site.

You can read about some of the Laotian wind blowing on the sails of Melody's writing ship by clicking on this link.

Well, fluid's flowing; I end this now so I can work on other pieces of material with hopefully little hesitation.

The nice photo at the top of the page was emailed by Butch Turk, who is based in the US and who has still not been sent a copy of my book (sorry... coming soon) and who, among his more proper, notable attributes, is a man abundant with good friends. In the picture beside this text, Butch is the guy wearing shades, behind the beautiful, frail Crizel, one of the many victims of the huge cancer-causing toxic waste left behind by the imperial US armed forces in many parts of the Philippines. Butch and Crizel, along with the Tunisian mechanic, Mehdi, ship captain Pete Wilcox and Danny and other activists, are seen here riding one of the inflatable boats of the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, which was on a campaign tour of Asia about six years ago. It was one of Crizel's last wishes.


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