Thursday, December 20, 2012



JACK: "We certainly have luck rubbed into us. Remember that procession in Mission Street and the inauguration ritual in Chinatown?

OYET: "Ang cute ng mga flower girl!"

ABET: "Pityuran ko kayo mamaya para may souvenir."

[Oyet disappears, Jack admires the colors of the wedding retinue, Abet look around for the best view].

OYET: (Rushing and extremely excited) "Halikayo! Dali!"

[Jack and Abet followed up the choir loft through the unlocked barricade of the bell tower to the claustrophobic winding stone stairs].

OYET: (Squeezing on a tower hole after reaching a dead end) "Kuhanan mo ako ng pityur!"

ABET: "Okey pero silhouette ka lang dahil wala akong flash at against-the-light."

[Jack disappears].

[All three in the churchyard now and puffing on charcoal-filtered Mild Sevens].

OYET: "There's an African Christ, an Indian Christ, etcetera, but I have yet to see a Filipino Christ."

JACK: "Is that the Virgin Mary?"

ABET: "The legislation of the RH bill is a watershed."

[Another round of Mild Sevens is lighted].

JACK: "Why is she surrounded by these vagina representations?"

[Abet and Oyet looks at the seashells, agrees, and wonders why too].


In a place called Old 37 along Bonifacio Street...

...over beer, crispy kare-kare, kinilaw, pansit, sisig, patatim, adobong kambing, and butter-fried chicken...

...the faithful gathered and paid their respects. 

[They were 4 pairs {Oyet-Jack, Tolits-Tita, Odang-Temyong, Abet-Nene} one loner {Jun}].

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Doha made me skip Balong's first communion.

Just what did he told the priest during his first confession?

He has not missed a midnight mass so far...

I made it to our second college reunion.

I have grown smaller, they bigger.

We compared notes on cholesterol, uric acid, and blood sugar levels...

PHOTO CREDITS: Juan Gabriel Ciencia for the top photo and Rhodora Inocencio-Dela Rosa for the bottom photo.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

THE LONGEST LAST NIGHT (or an autopsy of a dead toe nail, blistered feet, and busted shoe)

It's almost a kilometer from the shuttle drop-off to the security clearing area to G77/China's Plenary Room 7.1 and we have to walk the whole stretch at least twice a day plus the daily shuffles from one numbered room to another and to the East or West restaurants for survival nourishment.

By the third day, the numbing pain crept from the ankles to the humerus.

By the fourth day, the side seams of my under-a-year-old right shoe split.

I changed to sneakers as the informal negotiations became frequent and drawn-out with that on the work program on agriculture ending in a stalemate after at least 24 hours of talks and that on adaptation in a disappointing outcome after logging at least 16 hours.

We however won big in the battle for addressing loss and damage after several lengthy discussions with one lasting 16 straight hours and the outcome decided in a late night ministerial-level consultation.

We won a little on the national adaptation plans which also logged an estimated 24 hours, and lesser on the adaptation committee report which compiled the least time with 6 hours at the most.

In between were coordination meetings, the late lunches and dinners, the snatches of cat naps, the 45-minute shuttle bus rides, and the reports written and submitted.

Then an unexpected lull.

Before the anticipated drama of a closing plenary that unfolded into 48 hours of informal ministerial stock takings, suspension of sessions, cancellation of schedules, and last-minute wrangling by ministers and negotiatiors in some secret rooms.

It was one of my longest last nights ever.

And I again failed on my promise to finish a COP in my lifetime (after having to leave Cancun in 2010 in the middle of the plenary, and Durban in 2011 while the infamous Indaba is still on the second of its 3-day marathon).

The black-as-death nail on my little toe and the punctured blister on the other little toe were only noticed while dressing for my flight out.

It was death and injury by walking where, as expected, the rich countries, the rich-countries-disguised-as-poor, the almost-rich-countries, the something-in-between, the truly-poor-countries, and the dirt-poor-countries pummeled each other on every word, punctuation, and brackets.

We might have won just 55% of what we want but we were the stars of Doha...  

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom): [1] one of the huddles of a fractious G77/China during the negotiations for agriculture; [2] the last stab for a compromise language for adaptation; [3] the headline grabbing Yeb Sano meeting the press; and [4] an early morning pose from the Philippine negotiators on the Kyoto Protocol, shared vision and legal form, adaptation and agriculture, and technology transfer. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

of [brackets] & {options}: AN ODE TO SUOQ WAQIF


I say we bracket the options
and red line all contentions


Wrap ourselves in gutra
or sniff a bowl of zaatar


Why not a lunch of tangine
drenched in cups of karak tea


Perhaps then we can deal 
stamp our badges with a seal


Or we can go home frazzled
options and brackets frozen

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Nights in the UN climate change negotiations can be long and grueling.

With varying degrees, depending on the place.

Like warm in Cancun (COP 16), almost humid in Durban (COP 17), cold and windy in Doha (COP 18).

Except for the tense taxi rides in Durban, the long late bus rides in Cancun is almost a deja vu in Doha.

Doha's buses are just smaller, and the police unarmed compared to Cancun's marines and snipers in full battle gear.

The exception of course is the lingering sensation of the yogurt from breakfast, the hummus and lentils from lunch, and the chicken biryani from dinner. 

Then there's the usual negotiators with their lap tops and tablets.

The usual advocacies that became muted and subdued.

The usual side events.

The usual reception ceremony. 

And the usual late lunch and dinners.

In the cold Arabian nights, I search for the genie in the lamp who alone can unlock the Doha expectations.