Friday, September 22, 2006

The Story of Avdohol

It was, yet again, another great after dinner coffee with Mac. The Macchiato tastes good as we both exchanged "how-are-you's", "what-have-you been-up-to"and "what's-stressing-you-at-the-moment".

He confided his heartbreaking and shocking end of a lovestory. I never thought it culd be that shameful but I guess, it is all for the best -we never know. I told him that my application for the Asian Youth Forum 2006 (Jakarta, Indonesia) on October 12-13 stands so little chance of making it since it was handed over a week later of the deadline. (....... I really want to be part of that forum).

Then after a while, well, to be honest, we were arguing about the importance of one Millenium Development Goal-Promote Gender Equality andEmpower Women. I see his point that the issue can get annoyingly cliche since in our country it is not much of problem but I think the issue still needs to be adresssed globally -think about the women from Sudan, Egypt Somalia and the rest of the 28 African Countries who are bound to "cruelty" due to custom and religion but I guess in the end, he feels my cause and began to tell another interesting story.

This time, he relayed the life of one African girl. Born into a life of a nomadic and poverty-stricken land of Somalia, the young Avdohol still had the freedom to enjoy nature's best wonders --watching fierce lions napping, running with the zebras, giraffes and foxes. As a child, she was happy.

Growing up as an African woman is hard. At five years old, Avdohol had the most excruciating experience of having her clitoris cut with a broken blood stained razor blade. The remaining flesh were poked by thorns and sewn together, leaving only a tiny hole (similar to a circumference of a matchstick) for peeing and (later on) menstrual blood to pass. That being said, she was still lucky for many African girls suffered complications, infections and some died because of this practice.

At the age of thirteen, she was arranged to be married to an old man of 60 by her father in exchange of five camels. Avdohol did not want to be married and decided to run away.

One night, her mother woke her and told her to run away to escape her marriage while everyone is sleeping. She left and ran across the desert. She ran even faster as her father managed to find her by following her trail on the sand. She stopped until she realized that her father did not chase her anymore.

Tired, hungry, thirsty and beaten by the African sun she rested under a tree only to be awaken by gnarling sound -that of a lion. The lion eyed her and Avdohol stared back at the predator. Then feeling that her journey across the desert has come to an end, unafriad and ready to die; she said to the lion, "Come and get me, I am ready." Thinking of how the beast would crush her bones and tear her flesh apart, it was odd that the lion turned and walked away.

Avdohol realized that the lion was not going to kill her, she knew that God had plans for her. She sought for that reason and carried on with her journey.

She lived from relative to relative, did household chores in exchange of her up keep, even worked in a construction site -carrying heavy sacks of sand and gravel. Then lived as a maid for the Somalian Ambassador in London. In London, she was seen by a man and was given a calling card (although, at that time, she could not understand English yet so she doesn't know what the man wanted from her). The time came when the Ambassador's term ended and had to go back to Somalia. She stayed behind, not knowing where to go and what to do but she managed to survive and educate herself -she learned english.

One day, she chanced upon the old calling card the man gave her and contacted him finally. He happens to be a photographer. Avdohol went to his studio and he took pictures of her. When Avdohol saw the herself, she did not recognize herself -she could not see the Avdohol the maid but what she saw in the polariod was a different person, it was Avdohol the model.

After that, life came sweeter as a super model but still haunted by her past-her most deepest secret: her circumcision or what we call now Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She went into a surgery to end her agony. Then she learned the reason why she survived the things she went through.

Avdohol, who is popularly known as Waris Dirie is the UN’s appointed Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. She has decided to break her years and years of silence to speak out to help save the lives of millions of women, young and old, across Africa and many other far eastern countries.

"Female Genital Mutilation has nothing to do with culture, tradition or
religion. It is a torture and a crime, which needs to be fought against."

Waris Dirie, UN-Special Ambassador

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Essay Essay Essay

Oh shit, deadlines! My paperwork is overdue. My application is overdue. My topic tips me off balance. Ghaaaaaaaaaaarsh, will I survive?

On the other hand, I only have 1 more task to do (so, I might as well top the cake with cherry anyway), My passport is ready and inspite of how my topic makes me nervous, I think it is the kind of nervousness brought by great anticipation.

So I am pushing for it.

Wish me luck!

Feed you the details some other time. I got some serious essay to do.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Be Miserable To Get Paid

"Unfair daw to pay the teachers na nagstay sa Island Cove dahil nag-enjoy lang sila" (It is unfair to pay the teachers who spent two nights minding the Korean-without Dengue-students at Island Cove because the designated teachers seem to be enjoying it) --a context taken from a chit-chat with an ex-colleage from an English Academy suffering from bad karma right now as he quotes the words of the academy director.

I was one of the teachers assigned to mind the Korean students at Island Cove, the other teacher was Issa. Neither of was told or addressed directly regarding the academy's concern on our discetion and management.

I thought of approaching her to discuss the matter but I don't know...I have to find a way not to sound like a pompous ex-employee and make her sob. But I'm just assertive and it is often misinterpreted as arrogance. I take only what is due to me and nothing less, and the first thing due to every employee is respect from employers.

Going back to the comment, we don't deserve to be paid because we seem to be enjoying, I think that's a ton of bullshit. Since when can "enjoyment" be commanded by an employer? I certainly do not like to be commanded when to enjoy and when I can not. If so, employers should be regarded as individuals who minds and controls another's judgement and pays the employee for being miserable. I guess, in that academy -it rings true.

If all employers are like that, it is hard to tell who the real devil is even if it is snorting in front of you already. If all employers are like that, I'd rather go home and plant kamote (and be my own boss).

The English Academy hired me as a teacher and I earned that profession through acquiring four years of study and PRC license --and as that, I demand to be respected and appreciated and not insulted simply because I prefered to have a pleasurable time than worrying about something trivial. On the same note, I'd like to state that during our stay there, I never forgot about my duties and responsibilities as a teacher, and the same goes with Teacher Issa.

We had fun; the teachers as well as the adorable Korean kids. We maximized our stay at Island Cove. Toured the place, rode horses, swam, played a lot, tried outdoor chess, ate decent meals plus dessert too. We really took good care of them. The kids shouldn't not feel how miserable the conditions are(having four cases of Dengue Fever). It is just not right. Why make the rest of the kids suffer?

We had fun but it is no one's business but ourselves alone.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Birthday Eve Virus

I was about to write how terrible my eve of birthday came to be. I planned to watch BMR tonight because tomorrow they won't be anywhere in Manila. Then things got so screwed up to the point of cancellation -damn asthma and allergy. Usually, during one's birthday, the celebrant(or celebrator..kung ano mas trip mo) gets to blow cake candles --I, on the other hand, gets to sneeze and blow my rosy nose to the 24th bout (maybe more, but I stopped counting upto my 24th candle..i mean sneeze)

I need comfort food. I want to eat SHAWARMA!! somewhere near, say, Ababu and Shan (my nearest neighbor) is nursing a bad cold din.

I got to take medicine for allergy and asthma but I can't take it on an empty stomach. Took milk but I know it isn't enough. Nothing around here interests me, so I had a silly thought of dialing 8-mcdo and get some spaghetti, burgers, chicken and fries to fill my stomach. How tragic to spend my birthday eve this way.

But I don't have to...

Titan and Lei sent an sms [happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you ... you know how the song goes then ends with...we love you *muah*, dito kami Sams, BMR ka?]

So I won't be really spending the eve alone. Titan and Leins called then I found out that Candy and Toti are also with them...Deno to follow. Wooohoooo! Ababu na to!

I don't care what virus I'll spread there. Let's just call it, The Birthday Virus. I'll nag Toti to drop by 7o's Bistro just to peek who's there and who's not.

So cheesy to say this but....sniff sniff.... i love my friends.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

All is Fair in Love and War

During times of international conflict, Soldiers justify their slaughter of other people by believing "all is fair in love and war". In such war, it is "fair" to destroy Hiroshima because Japan would have done the same thing to the opponent.

This isn't a post regarding world history or war. Just a few thoughts on how "all is fair in love (and nothing to do with war)"

This is what I know, we have individual conflicts that we battle every minute. Each second is an instance to make a decision or an instance to waste undecided. There came a time when I was through with security -of just not taking a risk because I am scared to be left hanging, to be found needy and left unassisted. I wasted not only seconds but years before I decided to love again.

I know what I am laying on the line of fire. My heart and my emotional stability (that took me a long time to put back together after devasting breakups, one after the other and another). I know that, at some point, it was all a ruse --the attention you are showing me, the wanting, the passionate moments. I told you, I would never ask if all these were real because that would not be fair. I'll just wait and see. Then found your desire fluttering and I chased it while I still can but I never asked for you to retire your wings and stay. If I asked that of you, it would be unfair too.

I know your inner battle. Each second is an instance to make a decision or an instance to waste undecided. Like I, you have wasted years of holding back and the time has come for you to take your most desired moment -to have her by your side. There are three simple rules in conquering; 1. If you do not go after what you want, you will never have it. 2.If you do not ask, the answer will always be a no. 3. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place. Taking and losing is a matter of decision.

Without an inch of sarcasm and loathing, I'm at peace with how things went. All is fair in love and war.

Letting go of an unrequited love is not really hard to do, it only takes another second to decide to end the misery because wasting a few more seconds of indecision is self mutilation.