A roach crawled into my bathroom this morning. It measured about two inches and was wholly disgusting. I don’t know why the sight of roaches trigger those sensations. They just look damned awful. Luckily for me it wasn’t airborne. In fact it was dead still – which gave me ample time to briskly walk to the kitchen to find the Baygon. At last I found it. Armed with a full can of roachkiller spray, I made my way back into the fray. The roach was right where I left it – just at the corner of the shower door. I fixed the spout of the Baygon spray and configured it to fire in a stream (as opposed to a mist for mosquitoes). I squeezed the button and jet of white liquid shot out of the spray and covered the roach. It came alive. Despite being covered in Baygon spray, it managed to crawl to the wall behind a stack of drawers. This roach knew how to find cover. After moving the stack aside, I aimed the spray and squeezed a second time. Another jet of white death rained on the roach, which was now on its back. It was still alive. Its legs were still twitching until bit by bit the Baygon spray kicked in and the twitching gradually halted into a dead stillness.
It was a strange sensation to watch that roach die. I wondered what was in that Baygon spray to kill insects. After a quick google search, I found out that the spray actually had some neurotoxins that caused spasms on insects. Perhaps it was of the strength of the spasms that caused the roach to flip over on its back while it slowly attacked the roach’s neurosystem. Life to death in a few seconds. The whole episode struck me. To think that chemists in a lab created that neurotoxin that killed the roach. Remind me not to mess around with chemical engineers. (!)
Earlier this week in response to the proposed conferment of an honorary degree to the Du30, reactionaries deployed their deadliest weapon: the hashtag. By the time I got wind of #DuterteNotWorthy, he was already in the news declining the degree (how anticlimactic). My news feed was also flooded by a “I’m against conferring an honorary degree…etc.” template. Years ago this would have been a chain text (pass to five friends and your dream will come true!). Some cried he wasn’t worthy while others, after the customary tirade of ad hominems, cried that he was worthy. UP, after all, boasts the badge of “Honor and Excellence” on its lanyards and baller bands! This was sacrilege (in a secular sense of course). After fomenting rage at the comfort of their twitter feeds, the reactionaries then decided to put up an exhibition in the AS steps. Surely, if these reactionaries raged over bestowing honors on a dead dictator in the LNB, a living one was no exception! A few days after the incident, the rage, and the protests, what do we have? Business as usual and a messy news feed.
The whole event passed over Manila like rain clouds – stopping by to pour, and then shuffling off into the sunset. But what struck me was how it struck my fellow schoolmates’ sense of honor and excellence. Here’s a question I’ve been mulling over since my freshman year: is there even a place for excellence in our halls these days? And I mean it: excellence as virtue – the practice of virtues. Once upon a time, people argued over the question of “WHAT IS GOOD?”. Once upon a time, when Aristotle wrote that the supreme good as acting rationally in accordance with virtue, a.k.a. excellence, areté. Now ask anyone what areté is and they’ll likely say it’s just that building under construction in AdMU. Once upon a time people knew the weight of the word excellence, and now as Jack Nicholson said in A Few Good Men we “use it as a punchline!”
Uncontroversial: that’s the word I could use to describe the events of #DuterteNotWorthy. It’s not uncommon in law school to have a few students just slipping through the cracks here and there to graduate. Some who deserve to pass fail and some who deserve to fail pass. It almost feels like living in a Homeric epic where profs, the mythical gods, hold our lives and balance our fates on their crooked scales. Yet we must believe, if only to create a fiction, that those who get the degree worthy. Life, after all, has many fictions. For example, one of them is that we all know the law in Article 3 of the Civil Code, but if everyone knew the law we wouldn’t any lawyers now would we? We live in many fictions – and it’s helpful to tell what are fictional and what are not.
It was the memory of rain that came to me as I scooped the roasted coffee beans and poured them into the burr grinder. The sound they made as they slid along the plastic walls reminded me of the rainmaker back home in Cebu. It made me feel safe. I closed the lid and punched the button and the grinder came to life with a roar. Bit by bit the smell of freshly ground coffee beans rose up and filled the kitchen.
It was the first time I was making a blend of coffee beans. For the longest time I had always stuck to one kind of bean – either the Moka ones that my dad brought from Vietnam, the Barako beans from the grocery, or (on those chance occasions) Arabica beans. This time I tried a 50% Moka and 50% Arabica just as an experiment and because I was curious. After the grinder had finished, the ground coffee aroma had already filled the room. A couple of minutes, two tablespoons of the fresh grounds and a big mug of water into the drip came next. What follows after is either I take the coffee black or I add a little cream and sugar. As to why I would choose one or the other, I don’t know. There’s a system for making coffee all up to this point. The rest is guesswork or a flip of a coin. But hey, this works for me.
For once, though, I could take a breather in brewing coffee. Back in 2nd year my torts professor mentioned in class that the most interesting subjects had all been taken already in freshman year and that the rest would get progressively more boring. More than a year later I wouldn’t quite say that it was boring, but that it was absurd. As the chore of bar review and graduation loom in the future, I wouldn’t say things have gotten boring but just increasingly more absurd and perverse. Some profs are still out to get us as if they were the incarnations of Phobos and Deimos. Others are trying to preserve some kind of dying culture of excellence that we millenials just can’t help but fuck up. Others just lecture all of class time and share jokes. And yet the same students still have roughly the same results come the departmental exam. A 5-unit class assigns a hundred or so cases while a 3-unit class assigns over 300 and allows only handwritten notes. I would complain but nothing would change anyway (you know us millenials ha ha).