My first foray into the written world of Michael Crichton was Congo. James, who loves the man as much as Dan Brown, never missed to mention his works whenever we talk about books. So I guess this is where curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back comes in.
The 1980 sci-fi novel centers on an expedition searching for rare blue diamonds and investigating the mysterious deaths of a previous expedition in the dense tropical rainforest of the Congo. At first I was worried that I’d be stuck in the complicated science and technical jargon but as it turns out, Crichton is a great de-jargonizer. I found myself immediately engaged in the story that capsulized science, history, and geography in each and every page.
Which brings me to this week’s WQW, Iron and Ironies. Congo left me emotionally, mentally and morally disturbed. In a simple story it raised provocative questions that I found hard to answer.
To what extent is animal cruelty? Is it limited to performing experiments/animal research? How about throwing lobsters on a boiling pot? Sticking pigs on bamboo poles? Exterminating rats? Do ALL animals have rights or just a selected few? Does man get to give them the reason to stay alive as a species?
These questions led me to reflect on our deeply ingrained habit of meat eating, on the equality among animals, and man’s idea of speciesism. I know there are multiple sides to these multifaceted issues and I would love to hear a thing or two from you. 🙂
We all handle plot twists a little differently. There are those who sit meticulously to plan their next steps. Others don’t give a second thought and just hope for things to work out. There are those who stop dead in their tracks and try to muster the courage to make things happen again. Others can’t handle the change and run away. We can be planners or takers. Drifters or runners. We all put ourselves out there. Sometimes it’s full of regret, but most often it’s full of surprises. Just like this recent hike.
To end the year 2019, my friends and I decided to climb the Philippines’ highest, Mt. Apo (via Sta. Cruz – Kidapawan Trail). We had our activity booked, our itinerary mapped out. Everything was in order for the coming November 21 to 23 — or so we thought.
After months of rehabilitation from the recent El Nino, Mt. Apo reopened its trails for climbers. However, we received a news that travel agencies, guides and tourism office reached an agreement that there will be no more exit to Kidapawan Trail starting October. LGU Kidapawan has declined all exits from Davao. This was our first plot twist. We were given two options instead: 1) opt for the Kidapawan entry and exit [backtrail] or 2) opt for the Sta. Cruz – Bansalan Trail. Despite our anticipation of the majestic Lake Venado in Kidapawan, we chose the latter for a better experience.
And just when we thought there’ll be no more hurdles, a series of shocks followed. By mid-October, an earthquake swarm struck the province of Cotabato. This raised our initial unease because it might trigger the active volcano that we were planning to climb. Unease turned to fear when successive tremors jolted Davao where Mt. Apo is. That was the last straw. By November, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Davao Region and Davao LGU announced the closure of Mt. Apo until further notice.
When you’re in a bad situation, are you going to back out, wait or figure out a solution?
Shiela, the founder of Shiela’s Mountaineering Society or SMS as we fondly call it, would not concede defeat. With the help of our kind guide, Kuya Babu, they worked on a tedius Plan B (this is already Plan C, rght?) which is to climb Mt. Kalatungan (the country’s 5th highest) and Mt. Wiji (Mt. Lumpanag). A much harder challenge with a difficulty level of 8/9! But this was not the end of our endless plot twists. A magnitude 5.9 earthquake rocked the province of Bukidnon where Mt. Kalatungan and Mt. Wiji are. Two typhoons were wrecking havoc in the Philippines. With only a few days before our trip, we had no conclusive destination.
Still not backing out yet? SMS says no.
We found ourselves in the airport at the dawn of our flight. All our bags were packed for a five-day vacay. We packed and repacked so as to not exceed the maximum baggage limit. We were jittery and excited at once. Yet again, another plot twist followed us until the very last minute. Our organizer got too disorganized that she forgot her ID. Of all the things that Shiela must forget, she chose the ID. With wary minds, we went ahead and checked-in since our names were paged one by one. Can Shiela catch up?
Never say never! With Shiela finally onboard, we took off to Davao – only to be welcomed by another problem. One of us, who was on a separate flight, was nowhere to be found. All our messages and calls were met with silence. Time was ticking and following our itinerary is important. In the end, we agreed that he may not be coming. He may have backed out for valid reasons but we never really got to know as of this writing. We were ghosted.
Anyhow, a 3 to 4 hours roadtrip followed and we finally reached the tourism office in Pangantucan. Ms Joy presided the orientation and discussed about the do’s and dont’s.
We then presented the permit, signed the waiver and headed Brgy. Mendis.
It was almost 5 pm when we arrived to the jump-off area. We were welcomed by Datu Eryong Inahan and were quickly introduced to our guides and porter guides. It was getting dark and we still had 1-2 hours trek going to the View Deck. We didn’t have time to appreciate the open field we passed by since the rain started to pour. Hard. Even with our waterproofing and rain pochos, we were soaked. The world dimmed at there was nothing but our headlamps to light our way. After an agonizing hike that seemed like forever, we arrived at the View Deck. It was a a treehouse built by locals that serves as a stopover for climbers.
Time check, 7:oo pm. What started as a hot and scorching day ended with a full blast gloom.
Will tomorrow be a better day? Find out!
For the meantime, here’s a glimpse of our hike from CJ’s vlog. 😉
It’s easier to laugh it off. To pit women who put on a full make up against those who don’t. This culture of incriminating women of their choices — the way they look or the way they dress — must end. Women can put on make up or choose to bare their freckles and dark spots. They can wear LBDs and stiletto or just plain shirt and baggy pants. Truth is, we can always do both if we choose to. So stop this duality, this sick comparison of nonsense. Because we are our own expectation and reality.
For people who walk hand in hand with anxiety, it will always come as a surprise when someone tells us that we are the missing puzzle in his or her life. Everyday we spend precious seconds tiptoeing, walking on thin glass — afraid that one wrong move would break our hard-earned peace of mind. For us, it will always be a question of why. Why me? Why leave? Why stay? We keep a long list of why’s on our pockets so whenever we feel like we took a bad step and notice the slightest change, we know what to start asking. Why did his tone dropped a little lower? Why is she touching her ears? Why did it took him extra 2 seconds to answer?
People say that we should learn to trust others. But, truth is, they are not the problem. We can hand them all the trust we have, but we can never fully trust ourselves. We will never be a good enough reason for anything. Not smart enough. Not kind enough. Not talented enough. Not pretty enough. Sooner or later they will realize that we are the not the missing puzzle. We are the puzzle. And that is the hardest thing.
There is, I assume most of you would agree, a long list of reasons why physical copies of books are better than their eBook counterparts. However, not everyone can bare the temptation for too long. A peak at a sentence that reads, IT WAS A PLEASURE TO BURN, could lead you to the very last page. And that’s what happened. I read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 online.
This classic dystopia will take you to a time when books are banned and burned. In Guy Montag’s world, lives are dominated by televisions and literature is on the brink of extinction. Books and freethinkers are burned without a second thought. The storyline is good enough that it could stir the minds of many, but perhaps I was looking for more. More hard-hitting satire, more stimulation. Maybe a stronger revolt.
Nonetheless, it’s still a commendable piece of writing. This quote, for one, is very timely.
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
Are you a Summer person? A Winter person? Or one of the other seasons suits you best?
The climate of the Philippines is divided into two main seasons: the rainy season (from June to the early part of October) and the dry season (from the later part of October to May). Despite its melancholy and all its drama, I have never been a fan of the rain. It always makes me sad for some reason. This is why I prefer sunny days. It somewhat calms the chaos inside and makes me hopeful. Though, I hope it don’t get brutally scorching whenever I’m outdoors.
What is your favorite summer time clothing?
Nothing in particular. I’m a regular t-shirt/jeans/cuff shorts kind of human being.
Do you find yourself eating out more during the summer? Or making ‘cold food’ like salads and stuff you can heat in the microwave?
I always think big when it comes to food. I “think” that I can eat a lot but whenever I eat, my stomach can only accommodate a few. Recently, I find myself craving for mango float. Does this count?
Do you like watermelon? What’s your favorite summertime treat?
I like watermelon but I like mangoes better. As for the summertime treat, for me buko salad would be best! It’s a Filipino fruit salad dessert made from strips of fresh young coconut with sweetened milk or cream and various other ingredients. If you want to learn how to make one, check this out!
Are you thankful it’s finally (sorta) dry and warm?
PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 14 on my side of the Earth. However, I am still thankful because the country has experienced a severe drought and it took a great toll on our farmers. Farmers, in general, celebrate rain showers, but not typhoons, as a sign of good harvest in the future. Now is the time for them to get back on track.
“What do you do when there is an evil you cannot defeat by just means? Do you stain your hands with evil to destroy evil? Or do you remain steadfastly just and righteous even if it means surrendering to evil?”
Just recently, I was thrown into an alternate world where a philosophical and moral battle strongly exist. The quote above is taken from the Japanese anime, Code Geass. I’ve heard of the series years ago but I never had the drive to watch it. James successfully lured me into the anime this time. No regrets. 😀
The story revolves around the Empire of Britannia who conquered Japan and now call it Area 11. Its residents lost their rights to self-govern and are now called Elevens. The Empire uses destructive robotic weapons called Knightmares to ensure control, but someone is about to stand up against it. Lelouch Lamperouge, a Britannian student, seeks to use the power of the Geass to build a world based on his ideals. Unfortunately he finds himself caught in a crossfire between the Britannian and the Area 11 rebel armed forces.
Back to the question, I have this weird feeling inside that has been weighing me down. As an INFP whose choices and decisions are tethered on emotion and idealism, I find it hard to agree with Lelouch’s ways. For him, the ends justify the means. This just doesn’t go right with me. However, by the end of the series, I felt like loosening up to his approach. It’s a dilemma still. Can’t one just remain righteous and destroy evil instead?
To some, this might just be an ordinary statement of inquiry. But to those who have read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, these four words carry too much weight.
Originally published in 1985, Atwood’s dystopian novel takes readers to the fictional Republic of Gilead. It follows Offred, a Handmaid assigned to a high-ranking commander and his wife. In an age of declining births, Handmaids are valued only for their capability to procreate. They are held prisoners — stripped off their past and future. They are forbidden to read, write, or interact with the outside world. They are meant only to bear children for their assigned commander and failure to do so warrants death.
The book ends with Professor Pieixoto’s final line, Are there any questions? To me this seems a rhetorical question asked not to get an answer but instead to emphasize a point. It forces us to question our role as witnesses, both of Offred’s tale and of our own history of oppression.
Do we forget and stay silent? Do we remain neutral and indifferent? Do we stand up and fight?
There is more than one kind of freedom,” said Aunt Lydia. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.
Would (or do) you stop to help (presumably) stranded folks by the side of the road?
As an empath in nature, I would. Of course this does not mean that I don’t feel a tinge of fear or distrust, but I still want to believe that there is goodness in each of us. That, despite all the negativities, people can be kind to one another.
Do you think the world is less mannerly today than in past times OR are we just more touchy and manners are as they’ve always been?
Truth is I’m morally scarred. I would not zoom out to the rest of the world because even just the current situation of the people here in my country, the Philippines, is enough to trigger my cynicism. There is a prevalent disrespect for women and much more disregard for life in general. All these are led by none other than the head of the state. His brand as a populist leader has enticed many Filipinos. Whatever he says, believes or does, people will follow. His rape jokes ripple throughout the country and his bloody war ensues at the expense of the poor.
The Philippines has gambled for an actual medicine-man to cure the nation but I fear that we might have taken the wrong prescription.
What happens if you’re scared half to death, TWICE?
HA! I wouldn’t even try to do the math but I’d probably end up doing the first thing I always do when something scares me: freeze.
If ALL the world’s a stage, where does the audience sit?
This reminds me of a piece I wrote one the first Monday of July a year ago. Maybe life is one big stage, maybe it isn’t. But one thing is for sure, we all have a part to play. The audience don’t just get to sit.
Share your thankful comments here. It’s a gorgeous day most places, so celebrate!
I’m grateful to God for surrounding me with beautiful people who keep me anchored to life. My family, for being my strength and motivation; my friends, for reminding me that the beauty of life can also be found in people; and the boyfriend, for sticking through my anxieties, mood swings and existential days.
I’m grateful for the comfort I find in words whenever I read or write. To my books, for taking me to different worlds; and to blogosphere, for allowing me to have my own little world. As most of my friends here in WordPress know, I haven’t been writing much — by writing I don’t mean blogging about my escapades out in nature. What I mean is gone are daily poems and flash fictions.
This is why I am also grateful to Melanie for this prompt. SYW for me is a chance to introspect. It allows me to get in touch with my inner self and my muse. Who knows, one day, writing may come easy. 🙂