I’m on Team Coco!

On January 22, Conan O’ Brien bade farewell to his 7-month run in “The Tonight Show”, making way for Jay Leno to take back his old time slot in NBC. As of this writing, Conan is a free agent and free as a bird.

“Every comedian dreams of hosting the ‘Tonight’ show and, for seven months, I got to,” he says. “I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not regret a second. I’ve had more good fortune than anyone I know, and if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-Eleven parking lot, we’ll find a way to make it fun.”

Of course, he quickly adds, “I don’t want to do it in a 7-Eleven parking lot.”

I started watching Conan, Leno and Letterman not too long ago. My husband, on the other hand, has always been a fan of Canon and Letterman. He would always tell me that comparing the 3 late-night comedians, Jay Leno always seemed to pale in comparison.

After a few months of regularly watching the 3 comedians and gaining a better understanding of their brand of comedy, I started becoming a Coco fan. He is a gifted comedian. Au naturel. No pretensions. Upbeat, quirky and downright witty.

Jay Leno was a hit-or-miss. On some days, he was hilarious. On others, lukewarm. On some, downright awful. Some describe Leno to be “old” and “dated”. Well, I don’t really know what about Jay I didn’t like that much… maybe sometimes it just felt like he was always trying too hard.

But Coco… Coco always just resonated more with me. It must be the red head with a humongous forehead. The unrelenting humor. The gift of gab and charisma that never falters. I don’t really know.

Here in Manila, we get to watch the “Tonight Show” roughly 12 hours after it airs in the US. That means less the time difference, we also get to watch it at around 11:00pm on weekdays through JackTV.

Conan always brought such a positive force into our home. On bad days, Conan was always a temporary escape from the humdrum of surviving in the urban jungle. Every single show I’ve watched has made me alternate between smirking, chuckling, giggling, or outrightly roaring with laughter. It wasn’t enough to permanently wipe the cobwebs off my mind… but it was always enough to somehow give me a lighter step for a couple of hours. For my husband, it was one of the very rare few shows that could send him into fits of uncontrollable laughter. And that’s saying a lot.

All Coco wanted was to have fun, and to bring fun and laughter to millions of viewers around the world. At the end of the day, that’s all we really need to get through this thing called life. It’s people like him who teaches us that we can actually choose to just…  laugh at the world, laugh at our problems, laugh away the blues.

And so… although it still elicits a tug in my heart everytime I think about it (my husband spent several hours on our couch the other night batting pangs of intense sadness with the thought of bidding farewell to the man who brought him joy since he was still a young boy), I know this is not the end.  It can’t be the end.

Coco, if you ever get to read this, the world still needs you. So you’d better be back soon. We’ll be waiting.


“I hate cynicism. It’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” – Conan’s Swan Song.

Watch more here.

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The Reproductive Health Bill

This is the story of the controversial bill, which provides for universal access to information to empower women to take charge of their reproductive health. It covers provisions to arm women with information on family planning, sexual health, and providing sex education for teens, among other things.

This bill is being opposed by the Catholic Church with the presupposition that providing universal information to people will further encourage church-prohibited acts, i.e. pre-marital sex. And heaven forbid, sex (among married couples) for pleasure rather than procreation.

This (to me) is just another indication of how outdated the Catholic Church is on their policies and restrictions. While their role is to supposedly safeguard the spiritual growth of its constituents, they do so in context of old beliefs and a time long ago when the world was simpler.

The world today is so different from the world as it used to be.

This is not to say that the Church should relax its standards on morals and personal values. But would it be such a bad thing to adjust their principles and beliefs on the basis of what is more real to the world today?

To put it plainly and simply…

Teens today are having pre-marital sex. They will keep having pre-marital sex, whether we like it or not. Teens today, compared to teens during my time (I was born in the mid-70s), engage not only in pre-marital sex… but even casual sex.

Personally, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the emerging lifestyle of the generations after mine.

Nowadays, I see the younger girls in my office going on a night out with skirts shorter than my shortest pair of shorts… matched with 4-inch heels and heavy make-up (and these are girls in their 20s, they aren’t 14). I jokingly tell them “if I were your mother, I wouldn’t let you out of the house dressed in that.” — and coming from me, that’s a lot. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a prude. I used to wear skimpy clothes too in my younger years… but compared to my standards of “skimpy” back then, my outfits in my younger years were still conservative compared to today’s standards.

A few weeks ago, I watched a feature on TV about this. It was an investigative show that studied the behavior and attitude of teens regarding sex today.

In the show, a young teen couple was featured. They were both 14 years old and had been dating for just a few months. At 14 years old and just a few months into their “steady relationship”, they were already sexually active.

The show also featured anonymous interviews with teen girls and boys who had multiple sex partners. And if that’s not enough, casual sex is something they don’t hesitate to engage in as well. Their motivation? Because it’s “what’s in today”. It’s what “most of my friends do”. Most of them don’t take precautions because they don’t think they need it.

It’s a far cry from my teenage years.

In fact, I remember being 21 years old, a fresh grad from College in genuine shock when I found out some my closest girl friends lost their virginity when they were still in College. At that age, the thought was unthinkable for me to even think about risking having sex when I was still a student. At the very least, I knew enough to wait until I was old enough to support myself if a bundle of joy and diapers suddenly emerged from an intimate encounter.

If the thought of boys and girls whom I knew engaging in sex at 18, 19 years old already shocked me… imagine my greater shock contemplating the thought of 14-year old girls just casually having casual sex!

So yes, I too am affected by the drastic change in society today.

And that’s why (it’s no shock)…. I am fully supportive of the Reproductive Health Bill.

Frankly, I think most kids are not aware of the repercussions of their actions. Some kids still think having sex just once can’t get a girl pregnant. Some kids don’t even think about sexually transmitted diseases, nor consider the possibility that it could happen to them.

So providing universal information, while it would not encourage complete abstinence, would at least arm them with the information to take precautions. The best thing we can even hope for… is that a handful of kids are actually brought to their senses and decide to stop whatever they’re doing (or planning to do), being mindful now of the repercussions of their actions.

And then, there are also those adult couples who have no current access to information. The married ones who don’t exercise family planning, so they end up with 5, 10 kids to feed. Sadly, most of them live within the poverty line who can’t even feed themselves three full meals a day. A little information and access to counseling and family planning methods would greatly them.

Now, with all of this… here’s what I’m wondering.

While I know that they have an obligation to safeguard the country’s spiritual growth… doesn’t the Church also have the obligation to confront and address the world in context of what it is today, and to provide moral and spiritual guidance in context of all of this?

To stop the Reproductive Health Bill will not stop young people or married couples from having sex. If  parents can’t even stop their own kids, how can the Catholic Church expect to stop millions of young people from doing what they want to do simply because they say so?

Perhaps they are hoping that by overtly opposing  this bill they are able to take a solid moral stand… but in context of this bill, that’s just like… well, it’s like doing nothing.

Its almost like just letting teen pregnancies continue. Allowing poor families to keep having more and more kids, more kids whom parents can’t even feed nor send to school properly. Allowing young men and women to acquire sexually transmitted diseases… sometimes potentially fatal diseases.

It’s mind-boggling.

This is just another one of the many reasons why I’ve felt so disconnected to this same religion that was instilled in me since I was a little girl. As an adult, going to Church would always remind me that there’s a vengeful, judgmental God who frowns down on me and all my sins and imperfections. The priests in homilies made sure we always kept that in mind. They talk down on their parishioners and preach endlessly about dogmatic issues that we must strictly follow, or else suffer the fires of hell.

This works in a black and white world. But we all exist, all of us, in shades of gray where morality is ambiguous at best. So tell me. In a world of gray, where does the Reproductive Health Bill stand?

Oh, by the way, there are also a lot of civil rights and church-activist groups opposing this bill. The only thing I can say there is — if you can propose a better solution to protect people from the repercussions of irresponsible sex (when you all know deep in your hearts that this will keep happening no matter what anyone says or does), then by all means, do share.

Reproductive Health Bill Resources: The Reproductive Health Bill, Wiki’s simplified definition.

Gleek!

Yes, I admit it.

Over the holidays, I have become a certified GLEEK.

It started with just a few glimpses of the show on JackTV. The episode I watched fully was the “Jump” episode with the dozen of mattresses as pay-off for doing a free commercial for mattresses. (See, that wasn’t a spoiler, was it?)

Anyhow, within the realm of a world riddled with problems and dilemmas, this has become my moment of escape. So easy to escape from the real world when you can escape for 45 minutes into the  cheap thrill that is beholding the wonders of a dozen teenagers singing and dancing to excellent choreography; with the adolescent problems of high school kids in an era filled with ambiguities, to boot.

Besides, I like music. And I love watching people dance. (I don’t dance myself, you see.)  Of course, my husband snickers in our living room while I shut the door to the bedroom and put the TV volume close to maximum when I indulge in continuous episodes of GLEE. But heck, it’s my cheap thrill.

For good, light entertainment at the end of a long, tiring day – I highly recommend an episode of GLEE to lift the spirits. Enjoy!

Random Election Thoughts, ver. 2

So after the holidays, the election fever is back.

On hindsight I don’t think it ever died though.

Over the holidays, we were bombarded with ads of Manny Villar, Gibo Teodoro and the Gordon-Bayani tandem. It evokes mixed feelings, I would say.

Manny Villar‘s self-promotion, clearly with the intent of discrediting Erap’s long-held claim of being “the people for the masses”, now highlights the fact that he’s the true champion of the poor, owing to the fact that he himself, was poor and worked himself out of poverty to become the person he is today. “Manny Villar…ang magtatapos ng ating kahirapan.” What a noble thought. One wonders – can he really pull this off? Changing the landscape of the Philippines today seriously needs a miracle. At least, it’s not something that  one administration and one term can achieve. Just take a look at history to see that it takes decades to turn the tide of a country riddled with problems.

As another thought, his ads of late are starting to feel a little bit like political brainwashing. As an advertising practitioner myself, I must admit that his campaign is gradually becoming more and more convincing… if you didn’t know any better, you could actually believe that this lone man can change the course of our history.

Now, on the side of Gibo Teodoro, unconfirmed rumors have reached me that his latest TV ad that uses a popular song composed and written by one of the country’s famous musicians – did not receive the proper licenses. Hmmm. I have no thoughts about this.

Needless to say though, over the past few weeks, I know he has been rising on the polls. From his position as a faltering number 4 or 5, he’s now climbed up in various polls and is battling head-on with Noynoy and Villar for the number one position.

And then, now there’s the country’s supposed Transforming Duo, Dick Gordon and Bayani Fernando. Incidentally, I got to watch an ABS show hosted by Boy Abunda. In this episode, he interviews Bayani Fernando.

This duo… especially Bayani Fernando, is one who inspires either extreme like, or extreme dislike. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. Watching that Boy Abunda special, I realized why. Bayani Fernando is a man of action. He spends little time in puffing up his image with the press, the media and the Filipino population as a whole. I think to some extent, Dick Gordon is the same way. Yet if you think about it, this tandem represents action and results. Sure, their decisions and actions sometimes veer towards the unpopular choices.. but sometimes, admit it. Someone has to make and enforce the unpopular decisions.

Part of me actually wishes they had decided not to run for the President and Vice President positions. We all know that though they are extremely qualified, they won’t win. Which is truthfully, a loss for the country. People like these are people we need to become a part of the decision-making body that dictates how this country progresses. I wish they had just run for Congress or Senate instead.

Frankly, I think the same goes for other equally qualified Presidentiables.

Many good things are being said about people like Nicanor Perlas and JC delos Reyes. But come on, these guys are not gonna win. Lacking the machinery they need to mount a big campaign; lacking the reputation and the big, solid fan base – it’s a huge contest enough as it is with 4 powerful names in the election roster.

The truth is, just as we need a good, competent and trustworthy President, we need equally good, intelligent and competent legislators. Many of those competent people are currently running for the top 2 positions in the country. But voters can only choose one. Therein lies the dilemma of discerning people.

On the other hand, this year’s elections feels somewhat different than the other Elections I’ve voted in. In the past, somehow we always somehow knew who would win.

In the 1998 elections, we all knew (even if we fought tooth and nail against it), we knew Erap would win.

In 2004, we also somehow knew that it would only be either GMA or FPJ.

This year’s elections is a wide open field. The polls today could drastically change tomorrow. The great thing about this is that maybe a hopeful part of me believes that the voting population of the country is indeed becoming more intelligent and discerning. I think it began in the 2004 elections, when showbiz personalities were no longer a sure-win. It’s very heartening, and it fills me with a more hopeful spirit.

Catch up on the Presidentiables’ plans, platforms and paraphernalia. Their websites are live!

Noynoy Aquino, Dick Gordon, Gibo Teodoro, Nicanor PerlasManny Villar, JC delos Reyes