Jose Carillo's Forum


This section seeks to promote and encourage the felicitous use of English in expressing ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It welcomes well-thought-out compositions in English, particularly original essays, articles, short stories, and verses written by the Forum member himself or herself. Forum members and guests are welcome to contribute to the Forum.

Members who wish to contribute material to this section may post it directly in the “My Thoughts Exactly” discussion board. Nonmembers may send material by e-mail addressed to The Moderator,

One Final Autumn
By Fred Natividad

The sound of trees in the neighborhood rustling to the rhythm of cool breezes of dying summer became more pronounced. Red, brown, and yellow leaves fluttered in slow abandon as they fell to the ground.

It was time for college again.

The boys - with their mother and her credit card - had done their final shopping. They bought enough new jeans and shirts and music tapes and whatever else. They did not buy any school supplies because they said they would buy what they would need at campus stores.

And so it was time - the annual trip 130 miles south of Winfield into deep corn and soybean country in the middle of which is the sprawling campus the University of Illinois straddling the twin towns of Urbana and Champaign.

I had to give it to the boys. They were able to cram the motor home that served as their hauling truck with incredible mountains of their stuff. Pots. Pans. A dorm fridge. A guitar. A boom box. Pair after pair of jeans. Sneakers. Jackets and sweaters with the orange logos of the University of Illinois. A typewriter. A computer...

And, yes, books. But not the kind of books of their academic disciplines.

I don’t remember which of the boys volunteered to drive first. He nosed the groaning motor home out of the subdivision towards the country road that will lead to the ramp of the highway that will touch the outskirts of Champaign 130 miles down. They took turns driving and they talked ceaselessly while munching potato chips and slurping pop. They didn’t seem sentimental about the fact that this was their last trip to Champaign. This was their senior year.

The first thing Kikay did when we arrived at the dorm was to come up to their prearranged room. A Catholic outfit runs the dorm. Their room was already clean but Kikay, the perennial mother and housewife, insisted on dusting things before we brought up the stuff from the motor home. She insisted on arranging things in the room even if I told her that the boys will rearrange things their way anyway after we leave.

Then off we went to some Chinese restaurant for lunch, after which we drove the boys back to their dorm. We tarried as long as we could. Then it was really time for us to go home. The boys didn’t seem to have any intention of hugging their mother goodbye. But Kikay did not feel any affront. She went to hug them with all kinds of trite advice that they have heard a thousand times.  I went and waited in the motorhome dreading the prospect of a three-hour drive back to Winfield without the boys taking turns at the wheel.

Dark came early, so it seemed, when we reached the house in Winfield. It was not a big house - it had only four bedrooms and its total square footage was only about 2,400. Yet it seemed so large when, as we entered, we switched the lights on. It was so empty. There were no college boys sprawled lazily in the living room watching some football game or some comedic sitcom.

Kikay quietly heated up some leftovers for our dinner. We ate in deafening silence. Our two boys were not around. For all we know at that very moment they were out at some college joint having some fun - or what to them was fun.

After dinner I opened my second can of beer and tried to watch TV in the living room. Kikay went upstairs. My mind, strangely, was not on the TV show that was on. I don’t remember if it was a game show, or a comedy sitcom or a newscast.

Then I realized that Kikay was unusually quiet. Normally I could hear her nagging me about how loud the TV is. Or I could hear her tinkering with her pots and pans in the kitchen or stacking plates after removing them from the dishwasher. Perhaps she was doing her rosary beads but she usually did that before going to bed.

I went upstairs to find her leaning by the doorway of one bedroom staring intently at an empty bed. She was sobbing quietly. When I came up behind her she turned to face me and she led me wordlessly to the other room. Both rooms, of course, were empty. The beds were still unmade from last night.

Two semesters went fast. The boys graduated and they came home. But they did not come home in the context of really coming home. They merely came to use their beds as a way station on their way to strike on their own.  They were always out. And then they left for good.

So it came to pass that we had to sell the house simply because it was too empty.   

Every now and then we think of that autumn evening when Kikay and I stared at their empty, unmade beds in Winfield. We can’t forget the last time the boys slept in their beds with any feeling of home.

It was our last autumn as a family.

©Fred Natividad
Livonia, Michigan

Revised August 29, 2010

Click to read responses or post a response

View the complete list of postings in this section
(requires registration to post)

My Two Love Stories
By Fred Natividad

When I learned that one woman I once fell in love with was diagnosed with breast cancer, the tragic news brought me sadness that at the same time triggered pleasant memories.

She was not my first love.

But I fell for her. For some years we dated, old-style. Mind you, this was in the Fifties. Sometimes—actually, most times—we were chaperoned by her sister whom we chaperoned in turn, double-dating style. I am surprised to recall now that even if I was in love with her I—we both—maintained the illusion that our relationship was nothing but platonic.

I never had the nerve to steal a kiss even during our intimate moments alone. For one thing, such moments happened rarely. Kissing was normally forbidden conduct in courtships in those times. The most physical romance we ever had was harmless holding hands or dreamy cheek-to-cheek dancing to slow music at dinner dances.

It was at one of those affairs—some sorority ball—that she said we should enjoy the night because it might may be our last dinner-dance date. She did not elaborate and I did not even ask her why. I was too in love to pay attention. I was dizzily mesmerized by the slow music that was so popular in the 1950s. This was the age when entertainers like Frank Sinatra and Patti Page were then the rage with their sweet-and-slow love songs.

Our “romance” was the poor-boy-rich-girl variety. Not a very original scenario, I admit, but hey, it was my love story... Well, maybe, it was not totally that kind of a scenario because even if I emerged from very poor peasant roots, I was already holding a job along the lines of my college major. I was not just like any fellow who remained a janitor for some years even after he passed the Philippine bar. So I was no longer exactly as poor as my peasant grandfather.

And she was not an heiress either. She was a high school home-economics teacher and her family was not really that rich. That her family was certainly more affluent than mine was, however, true; in a small town, a family with, say, half a dozen hectares of rice land, is “rich.” Its members are counted among people in what passes for “high society.” I did not belong in that stratum. She did.

Anyway, eventually, I proposed. Twice.

The first was during our town fiesta. There was the usual carnival at the town plaza, with sideshows complete with a Ferris wheel. We rode the Ferris wheel and, at the dramatic moment when our seat was at the highest point, I asked her if she would consider marrying me sometime in the very near future. I did not even ask if she loved me. I arrogantly presumed she did.

“Whoa, we are not even engaged!” she said feebly. It was her feeble response that gave me hope.

“Then let’s get engaged,” I said, clutching one of her palms in mine.

“Give me time,” she said, without attempting to withdraw her hand.

I enjoyed the illusion that we were an “item.” We were oblivious of small-town gossip that we were such. Maybe she did enjoy the illusion, too. That was not impossible. After all we publicly continued our platonic dates even if, for now at least, she had rebuffed my proposal for an engagement.

We were both working in Manila. One holiday weekend we agreed to take an early evening four-hour bus trip to our provincial hometown. For the second time I proposed. She passively allowed me again to hold one of her hands. I whispered, “Let’s get married.” I was more audacious. I asked her to marry me, unlike at the Ferris wheel when I merely asked for an engagement first.

It was another disappointment for me, a deja vu. She clasped my hands with her free hand and with slow, deliberate, friendly but patronizing emphasis she said this was our last date. She cannot accept my proposal. She firmly said that we should not see each other again.

“I am not trying to be hard to get. I know you will find a better woman,” she said. She knew, and I knew, that she merely mouthed a hackneyed line.

All the way to the end of our night trip, still holding hands, we sat in silence as our bus monotonously droned forward, its headlights slicing the darkness soundlessly.

For weeks I pouted, deliberately staying away from her. I thought we had a temporary falling out and that things would be all right after a while.

But, not long afterwards, I heard she was engaged to someone else! Just like a corny movie plot! I didn’t know I had a rival, not a serious one anyway. She never mentioned any serious suitor nor had I heard of one from our mutual friends. Then I remembered that at our last dinner dance date she did whisper that we should enjoy our last moments while we danced cheek-to-cheek to some slow music.

She did not have a long engagement. In a few weeks she got married in a presumably posh setting. I say presumably because I was not there. That I was not invited did not surprise me. She explained to a mutual friend that the reason for the absence of her “best friend” at her wedding was that it was too late to send out a new invitation to me because, she said, she discovered that the original one was accidentally crumpled and discarded along with some other paper trash.

It was quite a shallow excuse, so it hit me hard.

But I did not get drunk like some jilted character in a movie. I put out a brave front even if memories of our dates haunted me. I flirted with so many other girls and it did not bother me that most of them rebuffed me. In other words, my attempts at being a gigolo did not help me in my misery. However, as another trite saying goes, it was not the end of the world after all.

Two things happened.

First—call it sour grapes if you will—I realized that I was not in love with a girl with a next-door homeliness. I was unconsciously in love with what she represented: a trophy from “high society.” I self-inflated my ego with the thought that I was able to get to first base where no other suitors had even come close. That was an illusion. It was shattered when I was outed after first base.

So, with more realistic eyes, I began to see other girls again. This time I appreciated them as human beings, not as trophies nor as attractively packaged mannequins.

Along with this fresh perspective something else happened.

I had a cousin, a nurse, who dragged her brother and me to an excursion and a picnic to historic Corregidor Island. She promised that I would be meeting lots of her fellow nurses she was working with, quite a few of whom were single, attractive and unattached. No red-blooded, single man nearing thirty like me could ignore that kind of a carrot.

She admitted, however, that she had another reason for inviting me. She needed me to help her brother carry boxes of food for the picnic!

My cousin made good on her promise. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened in my life. She introduced me to a lovely creature, a pediatric nurse who was to become my wife. Being a nurse, she got me to tag along and immigrate to America at a time when there was an acute shortage of nurses.

But that’s love another story.

Suffice it to say that it is a love story that has endured for 45 years now—and still counting... So in my mind I keep the violins playing not just for this ongoing love affair but also for a past unsuccessful love affair with a woman whom I later learned was afflicted with breast cancer.

Livonia, Michigan, July 15, 2010, © 2010 by Fred Natividad. All rights reserved.

Click to read responses or post a response

View the complete list of postings in this section
(requires registration to post)

Afghanistan: The Longest, Hopeless Invasion
By Hill Roberts

This essay began as a thread that I originally started on June 26, 2010 on Facebook, based on my comments as posted on BBC 4’s The Today Programme. I decided to put it into essay form here for others interested to know what’s going on in one of the poorest, most inhumane countries the world has ever seen in recent memory. The essay retains the original wording of my comments on the BBC 4 Programme, which can be found on the BBC4 Radio page on Facebook.

Five years is a hell of a long time to get out of Afghanistan. It's not a proper war the Brits and Americans are fighting for; rather, a culture and a deep misunderstanding and ignorance about the country's culture and thinking. This country has always been tribal, insular, with deep-seated beliefs no Western mind will ever understand. Forcing these people to think like the West is like forcing forceps into their bodies. It is the West's quest to insist on their own passion for "democratic principles" that will always remain putrid and unwanted by the Afghanis. Resistance has grown twenty-fold for the very reason that the West's presence was forced upon them... and why should they?
Who are they to do it? There are equally worse countries doing the same, inhumane things to their citizens—Somalia, Yemen, the Middle East, Burma, etc., yet, the meddling into Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq pale in comparison. We know why, don't we? Burma, thank goodness, is one stubborn country not to give in to the US and the UK. OK, it's human rights record is pathetic, to say the least, but by not allowing the West to meddle in its affairs, problems are localized and no spread of so-called revolutionaries have been formed. Too bad the CIA has failed in its attempts to meddle and plant their own self- proclaimed democratic new leaders (wide grin). Shame they managed to do it in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines. Haven't you noticed that each time the US meddles, trouble brews and worsens? Does the US really expect Afghanistan to change when all throughout the centuries, they've always been insular? 

Barbaric or not, it's how they want it to be—the West just can't barge in and impose their so-called "democratic principles". So, why force it on them? The US/UK have their own backyard to clean and clear, too. They should start there. Look at the billions of dollars and pounds spent on a country that has no wish to adopt their "democratic principles." The Russians tried it for twelve long years, to no avail. No one will ever succeed in Afghanistan. No one, not in a million years!
Above all, look at the needless deaths of young soldiers—and for what?? For what?

Indeed, it may be very frustrating to see Afghanistan that way, but there's no one who can do it than the Afghanis themselves. The West are just wasting their time, money and effort—a futile exercise in the 21st century. Time to rethink their policies as well as their mindset re eastern culture.
I don't think it's a question of victory. This is where the problem lies; that word is, in itself, a subscribed arrogance. Just what kind of victory do we expect from this when this war has nothing to do with Western values? This war has all to do with protecting the West's interests, so let's not be fooled into believing that they care about those ordinary Afghanis. If they do care about people and their rights, we only need to look at India's catastrophic Bhopal accident, where, to this day, those poor people haven't received a penny. Why on earth do they have to be in Afghanistan when securing the individual's country's borders is a better answer than a stupid invasion? This inexplicable invasion for the good of "democratic principles" is one big rubbish heap! Are the Western countries really there because of democracy and to impose it on them? For starters, democracy is an idealism that would need to be updated in the 21st century. Like it or not, democracy is a bad idea—it is corrupt, time-consuming, pretentious, arrogant.
Democracy, for me, is a misnomer. Look at India—boasting to be the world's biggest democracy. Oh, really? 650 million with no proper toilets and houses? Why?
Democracy would need countless people to approve a single economic project, and politicians waste their time signing/making legislations—better not to have elected political officials. Things move on an awful lot quicker. China, Singapore, Vietnam come to mind. Let's not pretend that democratic countries do not have torture chambers. Whatever we say, no one, but no one, can solve Afghanistan's problems, ills, and the way they treat their women. Frustrating to the core but that's the way it is in that country: the more the West meddle, the worse reaction there will be from them—it’s as simple as that—and it has nothing to do with anything, just bloody human nature passed through each Afghani generation, and never to change, ever! As for their women, the majority close ranks with their men for fear of reprisals—and for fearing fear itself. They, too, have helped encouraged their men to be what they are, or what they have become, since they allowed these narrow-minded folks to control them. It is control and obedience they impose.
As for victory, there are no victors in this—only victims on both sides. I'd say "subscribed arrogance" because this is what the Western governments employ, pretending to be something else. The long view would be OK, if governments worldwide update, and I emphasize the word "update"—their  policies and rethink how to deal with countries dissimilar to their own. Somehow, their policies are so 19th century!
"Subscribed arrogance" is what they employ and have been employing to justify their reasons for invading Iraq, Afghanistan, and other poorer countries. Result? Needless death, billions of dollars and pounds wasted, and they are nowhere near their planned agenda and rhetorical hummings. 
Will they ever learn? I doubt it. They want to rule the world, that's why—with tragic, tragic results.

(Note: Union Carbide supposedly settled with $500 million—but the money hardly went to the victims of that horrendous accident in Bhopal, India.)

Click to read responses or post a response

View the complete list of postings in this section
(requires registration to post)

Five lay bare their thoughts on language, suffrage, carnage

Beginning this week’s edition of the Forum, we are relaunching the “Pour Your Mind in English” section under a new name, “My Thoughts Exactly.” This is to better capture the spirit and intent of the section, which is to promote and encourage the felicitous use of English in expressing ideas, thoughts, and feelings. As in the past, this section welcomes well-thought-out compositions in English, particularly original essays, short stories, and verses written by the Forum member himself or herself.

Five Filipino contributors from as many points of the globe have contributed to this maiden edition of “My Thoughts Exactly”; four of them are Forum members and the fifth a keen observer of its language goings-on. The contributors are (in the order of appearance of their articles) Fred Natividad of Livonia, Michigan, in the United States, “Medjugorie, Here They Come”; Arvin Antonio V. Ortiz of Davao City in the Philippines, “149 Minutes”; Raul S. Gonzalez of Mandaluyong City in the Philippines, “A Day in May”; Isabel Escoda of Hong Kong, “Some Tangled Tropes that Annoy Me”; and Hill Roberts of Marbella, Spain, “A Philippic Against the Social Obsession with Guns.”

Here are their thoughts, exactly:

Medjugorie, Here They Come
By Fred Natividad

They chatted noisily at the international terminal at O’Hare airport. To non-Filipinos near them they sounded distinctly talking in a foreign language, in some kind of pidgin notoriously common in the Philippines as Taglish.

Actually nobody really paid much attention to the chattering group except a few white ladies, beyond middle age, who did corner-of-the-eye glances. Either they were in transit to, or from, some hick town where they have never seen nor heard chatty Filipino women, or they were just nosy characters accumulating some gossip stuff to tell their neighbors over the fence back home.   

Chicago, for one thing, is full of immigrants. And since O’Hare is an international airport, the sounds of all kinds of strange languages are not unusual. To mainstream Americans, Taglish is no more unusual than Swahili. Unless they are trained CIA linguists, the gossip-over-the-fence women can’t understand strange tongues anyway.
“Ay, comari, yo ar heyer, olso?”
“Aba, op kors! Si maring Chuchi ay nag-tor na sa Lordis kaya tayo naman sa Mediogori.”
“Pero, mari, magsa-sayd trip ata tayo sa Pompi...”
“Pompi? Sa Itali yon, ah.”
“O-o. Magsi-siyaping tayo ng pornityior.”
“Ya, huwag lang nating kalimutang bumile ng stetiyo ni Mama Mary sa Mediogori.”
“Di ba marami ka na niyan?”

Click to read the full article

149 Minutes
By Arvin Antonio V. Ortiz

Nervous, I inserted my ballot into the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scanner) machine. I was nervous because what if the PCOS would reject my ballot like it did to the woman’s before me. The PCOS didn’t reject her ballot at all, but she inserted it six times before her ballot was counted. Less than a minute passed when the words “Congratulations! Your vote has been counted” finally appeared. I sighed.

What the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) said was really true. With the automated elections, the counting of the ballots would no longer take a long time, unlike the manual elections. But it’s too early to celebrate.

Lest we forget, the searching of polling precinct, the lining up—all those, too, are part of the election. And there are so many things that can be said of them. So many, in fact, that I don’t know where to begin.

Perhaps I’d begin with my arrival. If the election were manual, I would have arrived at the polling precinct very early. But no, the election was now automated. Which, as the COMELEC promised, is faster and more efficient. There was therefore no need for me to hurry.

Click to read the full article

A Day in May
By Raul S. Gonzalez

How did a day in May, than which—poets sing—there is none livelier, ever evolve into Mayday, which is what sea and air craft in distress signal to seek succor? This one case of those word quirks that fascinate people with a feel and fondness for the language of Shakespeare and Wordsworth, Gibbon and Churchill.

Take, for instance, the word “scapegoat,” which is very much in vogue these days, thanks to the Contemplacion execution. I bet that you can’t find another word that contains within itself 10 other words that appear sequentially, without the change of a letter, thus: “scape,” “cap,” “cape,” “ape,” “peg,” “ego,” “go,” goat,” “oat,” “at.” Then there’s that adjective that sports all the five vowels—a, e, i, o, u—in that order: “facetious.” I dare you come up with another such.

Was that “Contemplacion execution” I wrote in the preceding paragraph? That makes me as guilty of inaptness as such impeccable writers as Teddyboy Locsin, Canete Demain, J. V. Cruz, Adrian Cristobal, and Conrad Quiros, who should have known that “execute” means “carry out” and, therefore, what is executed is not a person but an order, a verdict, a sentence.

Click to read the full article

Some Tangled Tropes That Annoy Me
By Isabel Escoda

Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I find much of the current lingo these days irritating.  The linguistic gymnastics, as it were, reminds me of how much more serious and logical the language sounded a few decades ago—before the Americans (probably the ones who coined these weird, often pesky words and phrases) came up with their clichés.

Admittedly, much of the current verbiage is pretty colorful, sometimes funny.  Take “belly up”—this was surely coined by a naturalist who wanted to make a point by reminding us what happens to animals when they expire. So, describing a company gone bankrupt as going “belly up” certainly conveys the right mood. But it’s hard to think of executives lying prone on their office floors, with their legs up—their faces covered by negative balance sheets!

The true authorities on all this jargon are certainly [the late] William Safire, the erudite New York Times language maven (that marvelous Yiddish term!), and the brilliant Briton Lynn Truss whose Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a witty, often hilarious compendium of today’s English terms,  expressions, and correct punctuation.

Click to read the full article

A Philippic Against the Social Obsession with Guns
By Hill Roberts

Guns. What exactly are they for? Why are so many in this world obsessed with weapons? Are we to believe that they are of so great a benefit to us and everyone that every Timmy, Dicky and Hairy must have at least one gun? I have no dislike for guns. It is those people who use guns to hurt, maim or kill that make me angry. As for gun control, this is a debate that will have no end. No matter how we shout to ban guns or other arsenal, they will be around and no amount of rules and regulations and laws would prevent “those others” to acquire them by any means available, legally or illegally. I, myself, do not believe that banning guns would solve the enormity of the problems that beset every village, town, city. This is a sad fact but it must be accepted by us.

Five days ago, in Cumbria, England, twelve people were gunned down and twenty-five others hurt and were in critical condition. I know this place so well since this is where my husband was born. I have driven the length and breadth of the beautiful countryside, breathtaking and idyllic in the best of times.

Click to read the full article

View the complete list of postings in this section
(requires registration to post)

Copyright © 2010 by Aperture Web Development. All rights reserved.

Page best viewed with:

Mozilla FirefoxGoogle Chrome

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!

Page last modified: 20 November, 2010, 5:50 p.m.