jocel de guzman

#MeetMatt and the meaning of #blogging

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It was more than a year ago since I put my thoughts into words after realizing the fact that I can no longer write the way I used to. Perhaps, it’s because I already abandoned the anger, the angst and the non-conformist attitude that defined my existence during my youth, during my Philosophy days as a student in San Beda College.

I became a grown-up.

The motivation that fueled my passion in expressing myself either in the form of poetry or prose was suddenly channeled into the Sisyphean reality of my more-than-eight-hours-a-day of “making a living” as a yuppie. I traded my metaphors and narratives with PR strategies, communications plans and other cost-benefit project proposals for the companies that I worked for through the years. And I want to believe that I became good at it.

I sold-out.

I stopped writing.

I am now making a living.

Until last week after having a small talk with a guy named Matt Mullenweg when our company, Globe Telecom, hosted him for a bloggers meet-up. Matt co-founded WordPress.com which is the popular blogsite that houses countless of blogs like this one under my namesake. This guy, who reads one chapter of a book every morning to jumpstart a creative day, paved the way to make writing available for everyone. This is a tribute for Matt for giving us WordPress.com.

Anyone can write but not anyone can get published during the pre-digital age. The limitation of the print medium because of commercial considerations made writing available only to the elite few whose hegemony discriminated what should be written and what should be read.

Writing exists to be read regardless of the form. Writing needs a reading channel to have its true form. It seeks an audience otherwise the thought behind it can be forgotten.

But thanks to digital mavericks like Matt who opened the door to those who aspire to be published. For as long as one wants to express individuality, shares interests and passion, or fights for a cause, a writing medium is readily available. People like me started to pound the keyboard and published our thoughts in WordPress.com and became writers in our own little right.

Anyone can now be read.

Anyone can now be published.

Anyone can now be a blogger.

That night after Matt’s visit at The Globe Tower, I shared a few cold beers with an old friend from San Beda who attended the WordPress community Meet-up and we exchanged some ideas about the event. Being a former campus journalist and a sell-out like me, he said that blogging has become the alternative press for many who can’t get thru traditional media. True, but I said that the basic principle of blogging is that it’s always subjective. Blogging is supposed to be based on the experience of the blogger with the thoughts made into words and then shared among us. However, a blog can go bigger than what the blogger intends and even bigger than the traditional press because of the reach of Internet.

Blog content nowadays can go beyond the experience and opinion of every blogger thanks to social media. Blog content no matter how subjective can project a perception of objectivity when shared and amplified using social media especially if readers can relate to it. Relevance of content can generate traffic and establish a fan-based of readers which can make a blog popular. Popularity means acceptance by the readers whose judgement can build content credibility for the blog and blogger. Content consistency is also important as it can slowly elevate the blogger into a subject-matter expert of the chosen topic or theme that the blog carries.

Blogging has democratized writing. It made editors and critics irrelevant. The opinion of readers is what matter most than the selected few in this digital age. Blogging has set writing free from the critics and editors. The number of likes, shares and comments (be it negative or positive) shapes the credibility of a blog. The readers will be the judge if the content is good or if it sucks.

In the Philippines, blogging has gone beyond personal. But this blog is already too long. I will tackle that in my next blog: The state of Philippine Blogging.

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Tribute to Wislawa Szymborska

Tatlong Kakaibang Salita
(Three Oddest Words by Wislawa Szymborska, translated by Jocel de Guzman)

Sa tuwing bibigkasin ko ang salitang kinabukasan,
bahagi na kaagad ang mga unang kataga nito ng kahapon.
Sa tuwing bibigkasin ko ang salitang katahimikan,
pinapatay ko kaagad ang kanyang diwa.
Sa tuwing bibigkasin ko ang salitang kawalan,
nakakabuo ako ng isang kamalayan na di kayang hagkan ninuman

The Three Oddest Words

When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.
When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.
When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no non-being can hold.

LBC Ronda Na!

Sixty days before the biggest road bicycle race in the country, the organizer of LBC Ronda Pilipinas will conduct a family fun ride and a test race for the 16 teams entitled “LBC Ronda Pilipinas: Ronda Na!” on July 24, 2011 in Luneta, Manila. 

“LBC Ronda Pilipinas: LBC Ronda Na! ” is for the benefit of the Bike Patrol Unit of the Philippine National Police-Manila Police District (PNP-MPD) Tourist Police where the organizing sponsor LBC Express, Inc. shall donate bicycles from the proceeds of the family fun ride.

The LBC Ronda Pilipinas: LBC Ronda Na! shall also feature the 13 regional teams, 2 commercial teams and the Under-23 Philippine Team competing against each other during the said test race.

The route will start and finish along Roxas Boulevard at the Kilometer Zero across the Rizal monument.  It will cover a distance of 4.6 kilometers per lap from Roxas Boulevard to Burgos St. until the Quirino Avenue junction and back to Roxas Boulevard southbound for the finish.  Number of Laps will vary according to different categories.

There will be four categories composed of the 1) Family Fun Ride which is opened to all ages and all types of bicycles will cover 3 Laps  will start at 9:00AM, 2) Men’s Sportive Class for Non-professional ages 15 to 40 years old with Road Racer bicycle will cover 5 Laps , 3) Men’s Sportive Class  for Non-professional ages 41 yrs old and up with Road Racer bicycle will also cover 5 Laps and 4) Elite/Professional  Race for the 16 teams competing for LBC Ronda Pilipinas will cover 8 Laps.

 Participants in the Sportive Class and Elite/Professional Competition will pay an entry Fee of P300.00 and a chance to win medals and cash prizes. While the participants in the Family Fun Ride will only pay P 100.00 and chance to win in the raffle prizes.  Onsite registration will start at 7:00am Luneta Park in front of Rizal Park.

My Rule of Thumb: THUMBS UP

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Boycott Starbucks Coffee!

So there I was, looking from left to right and vice versa as if I was doing something illegal, something criminal. When the coast was clear and found no authorities watching, I lighted a stick of Marlboro on the sidewalk of Pasong Tamo Extension in front of Starbucks Coffee which is a very busy street in Makati and considered to be a “public place”. Since July 1, 2011 smoking in public places in the Philippines has become illegal.

So yes, technically, I was indeed doing an illegal activity. I was breaking the law.

But it was not my fault. It was Starbucks’ fault.

After being a patron of Starbucks brand since the time they first opened in the 6750 Building in 1997, I was shocked and saddened to find out that all of its branches nationwide have no longer a smoking area. As in all, even the one inside Resorts World where the entire building is practically a smoking area.

Starbucks Coffee just lost one customer who consumed one to two mugs of brewed coffee a day for more than a decade. I used to hold almost all my meetings outside the office in Starbucks because of the smoking area they used to have.

How many Starbucks customers like me who are now seeking nicotine refuge while enjoying a cup of coffee in Bo’s Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tealeaf and Figaro?

Coffee is the perfect match for smoking and given the number of smokers among middle class working men and women, Starbucks is losing at least 40% of its customers in all branches nationwide. Convert that in sales value and I am telling you, they are losing income.

Smoking may be bad for my health but it is good for my soul.  It keeps me sane from the madness of this world. Since time immemorial like two to ten centuries ago, man was already smoking and it is only in this time that the health issues have been raised. It’s not smoking nor second hand smoke but the pollution caused by deadlier smoke emission in vehicles and factories that contributed to the increasing number of lung failure fatalities.

Speaking on behalf of all smokers, we respect the rights of non-smokers and that is why we patronize coffee shops with smoking areas.  With the new regulation of Starbucks Coffee, it only means that its management doesn’t want our business and so we will take it elsewhere.

Thus, I urge all fellow smokers to boycott Starbucks Coffee and let us bring our business in coffee shops with smoking areas.

Boycott Starbucks Coffee!

My Rule of Thumb for Starbucks No Smoking Policy: TRIPLE THUMBS DOWN!!!

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Azkals vs. UFL All Star: A victory for PH Football

Perhaps it can be considered as the most exciting exhibition game in the history of Philippine football. The PH Azkals fell short against the United Football League (UFL) selection with a score of 3-4 last June 5 at the University of Makati. It was a see-saw battle filled with suspense as both teams tried to outwit and outplay each other with UFL All Star scoring the final goal to break the deadlock with less than a minute left in the game. 

The venue was filled with an estimated 5,000 spectators and the match was televised live on Studio 23 earning a 1.9% ratings considering that it was on a UHF channel and it was not really advertised. Ofcourse, the crowd drawer was the Azkals but people were treated with fanstastic football game.

Many were expecting the Azkals to walk with an easy victory but the UFL All Star were more determined to win considering that the game was their opportunity to showcase the quality of football of their league. It was the UFL’s coming out party proving that there is an abundance of football talent in the Philippines outside the national team. 

Although the UFL All Star won, the real winner of the game is Philippine football. The UFL is the only club based football league in the country started by LBC Express, Inc. long before the rise of the popularity of the Azkals.  Half of the members of the Azkals are playing for a UFL team including its team capatin, Aly Borromeo who comes from the Kaya FC in the UFL.

UFL is a training ground for future Azkals and with the quality of play that was witnessed last Sunday, the future of Philippine football is very promising.

My Rule of Thumb on Azkals vs. UFL All Star: THUMBS UP.

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Recycled Poetry: Old man & a cradle

There, in a darkened little room

An old man racks an empty wooden cradle while

Humming an out of tune lullaby

To calm his crying soul

His memory is slowly fading

Like the orange sunset every afternoon

He can only remember the

Sad thoughts of an absurd existence

And the illusion of a meaningful life.

He weeps as he struggles to recollect

In his dying days

The only happy moments he once had

When he was still being comforted

By the warmth of that old cradle

– Jocel de Guzman

April 12, 2002

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