Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for December 2012

92 Days

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Outrage Magazine | 25 December 2012



It all started one fast Tuesday morning. Everything was supposed to turn out ordinary that day, but it didn’t.

The previous night was one of his usual; he was out with his friends, enjoying an unlimited glass of strawberry margarita while ranting about the problems he encountered – on how hard the dating game has been ever since he broke up with his ex more than one year ago.

It was a regular drunken night for him. The only thing that wasn’t regular, for some maybe – it was a Monday and he was drinking, and he needed to be somewhere first thing the next day. He went home around four in the morning; feeling blank, feeling numb, feeling happy – even if it was just temporary and real because of the strawberry flavored potion.

Tuesday morning quickly started, just like usual, he finished a landslide of two Caramel Macchiato’s as he made his way to his appointment. It was supposed to be an ordinary errand, but there wasn’t anything ordinary about it.

As he made his way inside the room; slowly turning the knob open, holding several pieces of paper and his smartphone on the other, trying to look relaxed, donning a smile, he pushed the door.

That moment, that hour before lunch, stood still. It wasn’t because he’s suffering from a hangover, it wasn’t because he forgot what he’s supposed to do to accomplish his errand. It was the moment when he reached for the hand of The Artist.

He introduced himself to The Artist.

He was greeted and reciprocated with a smile. The smile, yes that smile, it brightened not only the room but it also awakened him that Tuesday morning. It was not a perfect smile, but it was during that time. The smile he will think of differently for 92 days.

For a while everything was a blur to him.

It was a slow and one of the most memorable two and a half hours of his life. He listened to the stories of The Artist, it felt like they’ve known each other for a long time. The pressure to impress each other was not present, everything flowed smoothly. It was all smiles, laughs of agreement, curious questions – questions that he continued to throw so that the conversation wouldn’t run dry.

He was talking continuously so his nervousness wouldn’t surface. That’s just him.

But the meeting ended, like any other good things. He didn’t want to appear like he was trying too hard to extend the moment, but deep inside he wanted to. He left the The Artist’s place, thinking that it would be the last time that he would be able to see and talk to him, that it would be the last that he would be able to marvel at his smile.

Lo and behold, their communication continued days after. And he didn’t knew that time the he had to make a decision after 92 days.

He didn’t lie to himself that he’s already falling for The Artist, but he stayed quiet. He didn’t want to ruin a growing situation by spoiling each other with motherhood statements that involves his feelings.

They shared intellectual conversations, details about each others craft, personal things and silly jokes in between.

From where he was coming from, The Artist was a breath of fresh air. He brought him back to life. Maybe that’s too much to describe the whole situation, but it was one of the first moments that his friends saw him light-faced and smiling most of the time even if he’s faced with really irritating problems.

His friends kept asking him what or who was the reason behind it, he didn’t spoil them the details, instead, he kept everything to himself. And for someone who has so much to say and suddenly stood quiet – the silence, was indeed, deafening.

A month and a half passed.

The good rapport with The Artist continued. The Artist’s smile still makes him smile. He still yearns to listen to their conversation every time they had the chance. He still gets thrilled every time he reads his messages.

But the questions to himself had started already.

Suddenly he felt different. And The Artist didn’t know what to do and so he just ignored the warning signs he was being signaled.

How far is one willing to go to show someone what he really feels? How much more waiting and unanswered questions can one take? How can one know when enough is enough? How much longer are we willing to stay in a situation even though we’re unsure of what’s going to happen next or what benefit we will get out of it? Is happiness enough?

And the questions continued.

There was a time when they were together every night for several days; sharing a bottle of red and exchanging stories in every sip.

He didn’t want to keep asking questions, but something inside him continued to lean towards his sanity. He didn’t want to lose it along the way, but he didn’t want to lose the feeling that’s making him happy.

Ninety-two days later, he made a decision.

The Artist was still his usual self. He was polite, responsive and still smiling at every moment. The good rapport still continues between them. But he’s slowly reaching the edge of patience. And The Artist is still there.

Ninety-two days later, more questions came to his senses.

He connected the dots of the entire situation. The Artist only wants his company, his good company, and maybe nothing more of him, he doesn’t know if it was only for a meantime or for good. And for the first time after 92 days, he felt blank and numbed, but only this time, he didn’t want the influence of the strawberry flavored potion to blur his point of view.

He wanted to feel everything.

But nothing really ended, only his questions. The good rapport between The Artist continued. The exchange of intellectual messages and conversation still challenges them. And the questions he had were answered one by one – by himself not by The Artist.

For 92 days he was smiling, feeling happy and thankful that he met The Artist.

And on the 93rd day, when he read The Artist’s message, he was still smiling, knowing that there will not be any expiration date, but rather a challenge not only to him but with The Artist too – to keep what they have and make it stronger.


(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)


12 business success tips from Nanay Coring

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 15 December 2012



Nanay Coring photo

The success story of Socorro Cancio Ramos includes incidents of failure.

Ramos is known more as Nanay Coring, founder and general manager of National Book Store,the leading retailer of school supplies, academic and various kinds of books and everything in between.

“I think it’s everybody’s purpose to achieve more,” said the NBS matriarch.

At a very young age, Nanay Coring displayed a remarkable interest in the world of retail. At five years old, she was selling bananas, vinegar and wooden shoes to help her grandmother and mother in a wet-market stall in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

But it wasn’t long until the family business failed. They decided to move to Manila, where she and her siblings worked while they were trying to finish school. To sustain her daily expenses in school and to contribute to the family’s meagre income, Nanay Coring worked in a candy factory, a cigarette factory, a garment factory and then as a waitress in a small restaurant.

After she finished high school in the 1940s, she began working as a salesgirl in a bookstore in Escolta, owned by her brother. After she showed exceptional selling and management skills, she was assigned to be in charge of the store.

“You must be interested in what you are doing. You must love what you do so you will continue doing it, in spite of a lot of hardship,” Nanay Coring said.

It was only after Nanay Coring married Jose Ramos, when the dream of finally establishing their own bookstore materialized. Thus began the National Book Store.

Noong una nagtindera muna ako, hindi ako marunong sa bookstore. Nagtrabaho ako sa kapatid ko na (may) bookstore. Natuto ako about the book business. Noong nag-asawa ako nagbukas ako ng National Book Store,” Nanay Coring recalled.

The business faced a lot of challenges during its early years; it was built and rebuilt three times from scratch. Most notable was during the Japanese occupation, when they were forced to stop selling majority of the books because of censorship.

Today, 70 years after the first National Book Store branch (in Escolta) was opened, the company has branches in over 125 locations in the country, plus its first overseas branch in Hong Kong.

As part of National Book Store’s continuous growth, it expanded its variety of offerings to include: a convenience-type of store named NBS, another book store named Powerbooks, publishing companies named Cacho-Hermanos printing press, Anvil Books and Capitol-Atlas Publishing, and a department store.

The achievements of Nanay Coring as an entrepreneur have been recognized by institutions like SGV & Company, which named her Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005; and Ateneo for her contribution to building literacy among Filipinos and her commitment to making education more affordable.

To inspire more entrepreneurs to continue following their dreams, Nanay Coring gave the following 12 tips on how to be successful in business and in life:

  1. Know what you want to do and believe in yourself. If you want to be a salesman, make sure you are the best salesman you could possibly be.
  2. Find out what your customers want. Ask them. Ask around. Sell them what they want.
  3. Make sure every customer feels important. Be humble and always be willing to serve them.
  4. Buy something from one centavo. Sell it for more, but always less than the people who are selling the same thing.
  5. Be frugal. Live simply.
  6. Always be on time. Never be late.
  7. Don’t be afraid of anyone. Speak out when you have to. All people are the same.
  8. Work hard, very hard. There is no express elevator to success — you have to climb the stairs.
  9. If you have the love and passion for what you do, hard work will not be a sacrifice, but a joy!
  10. There will always be hard times. There will always be failures. If you fall down, get back up. Never give up.
  11. Invest in your mind. Read more. Know more. Earn more.
  12. Buy lots of books.

For Nanay Coring, the key to being a successful entrepreneur is to improve and develop the work that you’re most good at.

“I wish I could be a good example to them (entrepreneurs). Money does not come easy. You have to work hard for it, and also, you have to love your work, that’s important. And you have to go to school to study, because you have to learn more. If you want to earn more, you have to know more, and you have to read more,” Nanay Coring stressed.


(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)


Viva San Pedro Calungsod!

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 02 December 2012




Cebu’s son has come home.

Last Friday, Cebu held a National Thanksgiving Mass, to welcome back the statue San Pedro Calungsod after it was canonized last Oct. 21 by Pope Benedict XVI.

An estimated 1.2 million people filled the 27- hectare reclaimed South Road Properties (SRP) open field where a small temple was built for the occasion, displaying admirable discipline and patience as they braved the noonday sun.

The celebration started with a foot procession followed by a fluvial procession in the early afternoon. Devotees of different nationalities, the wealthy, the powerful  and the masses marched together to bring  the image San Pedro Calungsod to the Templete carrying their own San Pedro Calungsod statues on one hand  and a rosary in the other hand.

Devotees from different cities and provinces travelled to Cebu just to be part of the event; to have a brief look at the exact image that was brought in Vatican to be blessed by Pope Benedict XVI.

“I didn’t have the money to take the airplane to go to Cebu, but I really want to attend this event. San Pedro Calungsod is an icon for the Catholics. He is a testament that we Filipinos, have a very strong faith,” Aling Malou said raising her voice to be heard in the midst of the crowd chanting “Viva San Pedro Calungsod!”

Aling Malou is from Mindanao. “I took the boat from Mindano to go to Cebu, it wasn’t an easy trip. And after this event, I will stay Calunsod2here until dawn and go back to the boat station to catch the first trip going back to Mindanao to save on paying for  a place to spend a night,” she said adding that even if she is tired, “God will give me strength.”

And as the statue of San Pedro Calungsod emerged from the crowd to its stand in the main altar, the crowd turned quiet. It was an astonishing moment for everyone.

Aling Malou together with the other devotees, who were several feet away from the stage, slowly and softly started their chanting again, “Viva San Pedro Calungsod! Viva San Pedro Calungsod! Viva San Pedro Calungsod!”

It was the only thing you will hear you will hear that afternoon. The heat of the sun suddenly didn’t matter. It was very solemn.

Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal presided the celebratory mass, with more 50 bishops and over 700 priests joining the entourage. The high mass lasted for two hours.

“Pedro Calungsod is an example of a young Filipino, who through his faith, became a beacon of what a true devotee should be. And thus, being a martyr, sacrificing his life for his faith,” Cardinal Vidal intoned.

He continued: “This one remarkable gathering can be a principle for everyone. It was 340 years ago when a young Catholic martyr died not for himself but for the welfare of other people. And now the inspirational act the that Pedro Calungsod did is blooming like the flowers of May.”

“San Pedro lives on in all of us. We are compelled by the love of Christ, not only to have a good faith but to practice it. Pedro made many sacrifices before he made his final sacrifice; he left home and country. He didn’t experience the carefree life of being a youth. He spent his youth acquiring the basics of faith,” Cardinal Vidal added.

President Benigno Aquino together with Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of the cabinet, Senate, Congress and the local government were also present at the event.


“The gathering today embodies the ideal Filipino. Pedro chose the difficult life, of being a Jesuit. And in the face of danger, Pedro did not stop and fulfilled his duty as a missionary. Truly, San Pedro reflects the kindness of the Visayans. An outward offering of oneself to the greater good of many,” the President said.

“We now stand in the image of a young Filipino, who gave up his life for what he believed was right. May his story and what he did be a great inspiration, not only to the Visayans but to the greater Filipino,” he added.

Governor Gwen Garci thanked the organizers and all those who joined celebration: “It was an extraordinary event because never we have seen beautiful blue skies, never have we seen such orderliness and solemnity though the people in the entire celebration. Today will be forever be etched in the minds of the Cebuanos and the Filipinos, as this is a historical event.”

“And this event only justifies Cebu as the cradle of Christianity,” Governor Garci stressed.

Very little is known about Pedro Calungsod.

Published account said he was born in the Visayas and served as a catechist when he was a boy. He went with some Spanish Jesuit missionaries to the Ladrones islands, later known as Marianas to evangelize the Chamorros in 1668. He was killed on April 2, 1672 in Guam, which is part of Marianas by islanders averse to Christianity. He was only 17 years old.

San Pedro Calungsod has come home.


(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)


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