29 November 2004
Wow, it has been a long time since I last blogged! I've been pretty busy the past weeks with the Eid-ul Fitr (End of Ramadhan Feast), enrollment and school, transferring from SRH to another dorm, my Japanese batchmates' coming and our batchmates' wedding, and working for Bok. It's fun to be busy, though, because I seldom feel bored. And, everything has transformed me into a "normal person" (as
The Eid fell on the 12th of November. The date changes every year, you see, because the Islamic Hijrah Calendar is a few days shorter than the Gregorian Calendar. Every Eid, we would have a special prayer (one of the most important optional/special prayers in Islam). This would take place early in the morning, about 7 or 8 o'clock. Chanting of the Takbeer Mursal (God-praising) would start at about 5 or 5:30 in the morning and then the two rak'aats (rounds) prayer would start at 7 o'clock or 7:30. After that, khutbah (sermon) would follow. And, by 9 o'clock, we'd be ready to start celebrating. Food would usually be served and everybody would kiss, hug and ask forgiveness from everyone else. We'd go visit, have parties and catch up with family, relatives, friends and neighbors. It's really fun. In Islamic countries, the celebration would last for days.
Anyway, in the morning of the 12th, Dean came to pick me up at the dorm because we wanted to go together since both our families are back in Mindanao. He came at about 7 o'clock because we were thinking that the prayer would start no earlier than 8 o'clock. So, we went to the Balay Kalinaw, where the UP Muslim Community usually held Eid prayers, and got there just before 8 o'clock. To our surprise and embarrassment, the aleem (Muslim scholar) was already halfway his khutbah when we got there. Dean went to the males' area and I proceeded to the females'. I saw friends from MSU and went to join them. I was a little embarrassed. It was the first time in my life that I ever came late for a prayer. It was crazy! Because Dean was so embarrassed and we couldn't stop laughing at our stupidity, we decided to leave after the hugging, kissing, crying and asking for forgiveness. So, while some of our friends, acquaintances and the other UP Muslims were there having a feast, Dean and I were at Jollibee munching on burgers and laughing non-stop!
Ramadhan came and went again. I sure hope that the next time it comes, we'll all still be here and be healthy enough to enjoy it. And, may the lessons of the past Ramadhan remain in our hearts and minds forever.
From Sanggumay to Ipil...
This semester is my 7th in UP Grad School (that's a result of one year at the Asian Center, another one doing undergraduate course work, and a year and a half in my current field). Since the contract with Sanggumay says that a resident has a maximum of six semesters to live in the said dorm, whether I liked it or not, I had to pack my things and start looking for a new place/dorm to live in. I wanted so much to live in the International Center, but they didn't have any slot for me. So, I was left with no choice but Ipil. As of the moment I have been living in Ipil for more than three weeks, but not once have I ever felt at home there... yet. In fact, right now, I think Ipil is a nightmare! I am staying there as a transient, so I live in the "transient room" which looks more like a stock room and seems like the last time a living human being stayed in it was before I came to this world! Because of the "strategic location" of the room, I have the best acoustics! It feels like being in a room with digital surround sound system! The residents are sooo noisy that they, sometimes, give me headaches! This is weird because I've never really been sensitive to noise. I guess the noise in Ipil is just too much for me! There was even this one time I was dead tired and all I wanted was to get in bed and sleep. I hadn't been asleep more than thirty minutes when I woke up to loud banging (of doors, I realized later) and women shriekeing like banshees! It turned out they were having a mini party and were teasing one another. I felt so disoriented that I just totally forgot where I was, I thought there was a war going on or something! It took me a few minutes to recover from the shock and remember that I was actually in a dormitory for graduate students!
Having come from Sanggumay (one of the most well-maintained and tidiest dormitories UP has), I swear I feel like I was sent to the dungeons. Ipil has the worst bathrooms ever! The only good thing about the dorm is that water runs 24 hours everyday! But, it really makes me wonder why, despite the abundance of water, they can't clean the bathrooms! Don't even get me started with the toilets! God, they don't even have locks! The hallways are really dark! We have cats everywhere. While I love cats more than any other kind of animal in the world, I do NOT like to see and find cat poop everywhere! It's crazy how the Ipil janitors and janitresses just walk around as if they don't see or smell cat poop! I could actually clean the hallways out for them if I had the time! Grrr!
As I said, I'd like to see the positive side of everything that happens to me. Right now, the only positive thing I could think about being in Ipil is, well, at least I have a place to stay and I'm not in the streets! Aside from that, I don't know what else! Any ideas, anyone? :)
As I mentioned above, I'm currently working with and for my friend, Bok. It's a 2-3 weeks thing. She works for the ESSC (I don't really remember what that stands for), which has its office in the Manila Observatory at the Ateneo. I think they do research on environment, some indigenous communities and government projects for these indigenous peoples or something to that extent. For this, one of the regular things they have to do is conduct interviews.
Some months ago, they interviewed people from some communities in Bohol. The interviews were done in Bisaya (the main spoken language in Bohol). And, that is where I come in. My job is actually to translate the interviews from Bisaya to English.
The job can be tough because the people and the interviewer (most especially) spoke native Bisaya or a variety of Bisaya that we don't normally hear or use. Sometimes, I'd have to text my dad or aunts (who all speak very good Bisaya) or YM my Cebuano/Bisaya friends to make sure that my translation of certain words is correct. I love what I'm doing because I get to learn so many things and improve my Bisaya tremendously. It's a great chance for me to also think of the dynamics and mechanisms of language because while doing my job, I encounter language phenomena like code-switching, code-mixing, etc. I also get to listen to and learn of different dialects or varieties of Boholano Bisaya. The phonology is just interesting! I also get to see and recognize language problems that we usually discuss in class. What I'm asked to do is to translate and that's what I do. But who says I can't study how language works for them as I translate, right? And, another plus factor is that we are going to discuss translation in our Colloquium class this week. I just love how God works things out in perfect timing. Alhamdulillah! (Praise be to God!)
Lost mobile phone again...
I lost my mobile phone again last week when I left it inside a taxi cab. I was with Bok and Donna. It was too bad that I was the last one to get out. One of them could have seen that I left my phone had I gotten out before them. But as fate would have it, I was the last one to alight and I left the phone. I was holding a little container of my Chinese menthol ointment so I thought it was the phone that I had in my hand. Obviously, I was wrong. :(
My friends say, "let's just think that that phone just wasn't for you." Okay, let's think that... Let's not dwell on the negative and feel miserable about the whole thing. And with that, I end this entry. :)
Abi (my dad) and my cute niece, Trixy. :)
It's my dad's birthday today!!! Happy birthday, Abi! You're the best father anyone could ever have! I love you so much! :)
04 November 2004
Sahro Ramadhan Al-Mubaarak (the Blessed Month of Ramadhan) is, as everyone knows, the most important month in the Islamic calendar. It is my favorite time of the year. It is when I am at my best. Yes, my best because during this month, I would always have such a nice and happy disposition. The Ramadhan spirit would always make me feel like nothing in the world could really bother or irritate me. Sure, I still lose my temper at times, but it's never as bad as I usually do at other times of the year. Not a single good deed and beautiful thing go without my being thankful for them even if these deeds are not directed to me and these things not for me. I just can't expalin it, but Ramadhan gives me peace of mind and makes me feel like I am at peace with everything and everyone in the world. It feels great.
During this very special month, Muslims fast, i.e. abstain from taking in any kind of (solid) food, liquid whatsoever the whole time the sun is up- roughly from 4:30 in the morning to 5:45 in the evening (that's in the Philippines because sunset differs from one country to another, in some countries sunset may be as early as 4:00 in the afternoon and as late as about 8:00 in the evening in others). It is not only food and liquid in-take that we abstain from. Smoking, thinking bad and dark thoughts about anything or anyone, speaking bad words/speech to and about anything or anyone, gambling, sexual intercourse (this is why newly-weds may be exempted from fasting), telling lies are also not allowed or may break one's fasting. Not even the intentional smelling/sniffing of things with strong odor and/or food is allowed. I say "intentional" because there are times that one's in a situation where s/he can't help but take in all the smell around, like when one passes by a food store or a restaurant. But, when one is in such a situation, s/he should immediately leave so as to avoid taking in the smell. It is not only a person's mouth that fasts, but his/her whole system, his/her whole being.
Ramadhan is a month of discipline and training. It trains Muslims to be as disciplined as disciplined could be. It trains Muslims to be as honest as honest could be. And, it trains Muslims to be as devout as devout could be. A Muslim, when fasting, will never cheat about his/her fasting. We could easily break our fasting if we wanted to, especially when nobody is watching. But, this thought will never occur to a Muslim while fasting. Besides, God is always watching.
"Why do you fast," a non-Muslim friend of mine asked me once, "what's the purpose?"
From what I learned from the madrasah (Islamic school) and the wasi'at/khaatib (sermons), aside from developing a person's self-discipline and devotion to God, the purpose of fasting is also to make us feel how the poor or the underprivileged feel when they cannot eat because they have nothing to eat. This way, when we see poor or underprivileged people, it wouldn't be difficult to extend help and support because we have felt how difficult it is not to be able to eat. It becomes natural for a good Muslim to help others out because of this. Before the month ends, each Muslim is obligated to give an amount (depends on how much one earns) to the poor. This is called the 'sadaqatul fitr'. During this month too, all good deeds and words will be rewarded twice as much. And, all bad deeds and words will be taken against a person twice as much. Even a good intention or thought will be rewarded twice as much. Prayers, as well. These are some teachings on Ramadhan.
Probably on the 12th or the 13th, it depends on the sighting of the new moon (the Philippine government has declared the 15th as the national holiday, though), Ramadhan will end and we will celebrate the Eid ul-Fitr, one of the two most important days in the Islamic calendar. We will be celebrating, with family and friends, because we have had another Ramadhan pass in our lives. But, with the celebration also comes a sadness- sadness for the end of the Holy Month. Although we can fast in other times of the year and we can do everything we do during Ramadhan anytime of the year, no other month is like Ramadhan. No other month is comparable to Ramadhan because during this whole month, you just feel the magic.
As most ulamah (Islamic scholars) say, Ramadhan is the best teacher. We are supposed to learn so much from it. And, yes, I agree because Ramadhan leaves such a great impact in my life every single time it passes. Ramadhan always leaves a mark in my life. If I could REALLY take every single lesson that Ramadhan teaches, I would be a person less prouder, more understanding, less irritable, more reasonable. If I could make myself the way I am during Ramadhan the whole year round, that would absolutely make the world one problem short. And again, I believe this will really happen... step by step. And, one day, I just might pull it. Insha-Allah (God willing). :)