"Shit happens," neophyte senator Bato dela Rosa said, defending policemen - who he used to lead - who conducting an anti-drug operation that killed a three-year-old girl alongside her father.

For days this has been the subject of new outrage amongst the critical crowd, leading, of course, to his remarks being amplified further and further.

"Shit happens," you are constantly reminded.

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Keep it to yourself

To be frank, I never thought I'd still have to write one of these entries, the sort where I just write because I have to hit that self-imposed four-entries-a-month quota. Certainly since I closed the other blog writing here just felt a bit more natural, so that's one goal achieved, at least. But, well, things have a funny way of turning up, or, perhaps, a non-funny (but not the complete opposite) way of reminding you that, hey, the world isn't going back to the way it used to be when you had all the time in the world.

But of course I've had a lot of thoughts I've been trying to pull together into a coherent essay. There's one about the weather, which is typical; there's another about Mandarin in restaurant menus, which is tricky, considering the climate these days. Sometimes it feels like I'm just trying to live up to my former reputation as a guy who writes really long things online - and I emphasize on online because it can be much longer in print. I've done that too, so I'd know. And, again, I mention all of this because lately it just doesn't come together. It still doesn't come together.

I don't know. Perhaps it's because I am also getting weary of the culture of hot takes that I have certainly taken part in when I still wrote frequently over here. As the supposedly wise ones say, you shouldn't waste all your time on overthinking these things. That, and the society I am apparently part of frowns upon analysis, even casual analysis. Just accept what you're given and don't question anything. Do otherwise and you're either paranoid or a paid agent of the enemy.

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New York daydream

In a not-entirely-implausible alternate timeline, I would finally have a different answer to Jeany's occasional pleas. "Sure, I can fly to New York."

Normally this is when I'd talk about how going to the United States is something you'd really have to save up for. It's not easy, despite my home country having been an American colony for five decades. It costs a lot. Then there's the visa application to think about. Buying a one-way ticket never crossed my mind, but I can't help but think immigration authorities would think otherwise, if only because other Filipinos have done the same. And then there's the general anti-anybody-else air you get from that side of the world these past couple of years.

But, no, I'm daydreaming. I have a visa, and I have the money to fly to New York. I'll be there two weeks. I don't know if it will be enough time. There's this mindset that, if you fly to the US, you might as well do pretty much everything, because you don't know when you'll be back. I might need a month, but that would also mean other stops. My cousin lives in one coast; my aunt lives in another. My father's aunt lives elsewhere in that coast. And then there's Jeany in New York. Jeany's been begging me to go visit her, and my answer has always been along the lines of "money" and "visa". But, no, I'm daydreaming. I have a visa, and I have the money to fly to New York, and somehow two weeks will be enough because I can always fly back.

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"Ang hirap mong mahalin"

Well, it's Independence Day, which means my social media feeds are filled with somewhat tokenistic "happy Independence Day!" posts, complete with some rumination on whether we are truly independent. You know, like this one.

And I know my feeds are not necessarily your feeds, what with the way our Internet overlords have deployed algorithms so we only see only the things we supposedly agree with, the better to sell us stuff we really ultimately don't need like, say, online courses for self-awareness and that zen bullshit. But that's what I'm seeing, and so that's where I'll be coming from. My friends, whatever that means these days, ruminating on whether we are truly independent.

The last time my feeds seemed united on an existential concern of national importance - and, again, this is just my feed, not yours - was around the time the winners of the last elections were announced. Now, while I'd like to think what I see represents opinions from different sides of the issue - which explains why I still see posts from my cousin who hinges his entire self-worth on whatever Rodrigo Duterte says he does - our Internet overlords have somehow decided that I'd be more interested in seeing posts from the so-called "dilawan", those who are critical of the current administration and would much rather have people of the same persuasion win.

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It might not surprise you to learn that I have the radio on almost constantly, considering what I've done for the past seven years, but maybe it will surprise you to learn that I have it on when I sleep. The station varies - it can be the usual pop-rock stuff I tune in to, or maybe I'm in the mood for French pop, or classical, or talk from New Zealand - but, most of the time, I find myself drifting to sleep with something in the background that's not just the humming of the electric fan.

I'll say I do this because it keeps thoughts out. It hasn't always worked, but for the most part it keeps thoughts out, the kind of thoughts that tend to enter your head when you're at your most idle, perhaps when you're trying to fall asleep. That sounds sad, especially to all of you well-adjusted people, but it is what it is. But then the more traditional purpose of having the radio in the background - having some sort of company - kicks in during the day as well, especially when I'm working at home and the music library just doesn't cut it.

This, I learn, is a potential sticking point with Shalla.

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