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'Better Days'

If symptoms persist, insult your doctor!” Now, before members of the medical community attack me with scalpels, let me explain that what I really mean by citing that joke I picked up sometime back is that, if nothing else works, perhaps we should consider laughter therapy instead. 

Ula Ilnytzky writes in her article “Patients Treat Serious Illness as Laughing Matter,” “While the verdict is out on whether laughter plays a role in healing, the American Cancer Society and other medical experts say it reduces stress and promotes relaxation by lowering blood pressure, improves breathing, and increases muscle function.”

Indeed, humor and laughter have been shown to give people a natural high by releasing endorphins, neuropeptides, serotonin, and other feel-good chemicals into the bloodstream. Laughing also makes you breathe more deeply which causes you to inhale more life-giving, oxygen. In fact, there are now some hospitals in the US that have initiated monthly laughter sessions for patients diagnosed with cancer or other chronic diseases. Their programs feature joke sessions, clown appearances, and funny movies. 

I am tempted to tell these US hospitals to simply tune in to our government from time to time to get their regular dose of joke sessions and clown appearances. For if there is one thing that is really sick in the Philippines, it is government. And as we look back at 2008, I think many will agree that this is one year when the rottenness really showed. More than all the scandals, it’s the brazenness and total lack of shame of our leaders, at both the national and local levels, that has really been numbing. 

Six years ago, I brought my family back home from abroad partly due to the promise of Edsa II. I wanted my children to grow up as Filipinos and close to family. If there was one thing that I truly envied during the time I lived abroad, it was the sense of national identity and pride that people from other countries had. I wanted my children to have those things when they grew up. And by “pride,” I do not refer to the joy in the accomplishments of a Manny Pacquiao or an Efren “Bata” Reyes. Rather, it is the self-respect that one attains with the knowledge that the Filipino can also live honorably in his own country just like he has proven many times over that he can in other countries. Alas, I now wonder if it is still worth it.

“God put us here by fate, and by fate that means better days,” goes a line from one of my favorite songs, the 1987 hit Better Days by Dianne Reeves. I am listening to the diva sing this great song as I write this article for some much-needed inspiration (for those of you who haven’t heard it yet, you can view a free MTV version in YouTube, just type Dianne Reeves Better Days in YouTube’s search bar). “You can’t get to better days,” she croons, “unless you make it through the night.” The song ends with the promise and the admonition that “Oh, you will see those better days. But you gotta be patient.  Be patient.”

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So, for all of us who feel depressed about the state of our country and who worry about our children’s future, let us follow her advice and try to be patient. And if laughter is the best medicine for surviving this “dark of night,” I then prescribe to you this collection of “joc-jocs” (jokes-jokes) from my high school past (Go 4B ’81!). Like the fireworks that some of us will be lighting up in a couple of days from now, some of these might prove to be duds; some may elicit curses rather than guffaws; but I think all of them together can at least smoke out a tiny chuckle:

• What is the English translation of mashed potato?

This one is whiter.

• What is the Tagalog word for flying saucer?


• What is the Japanese translation for “You have a tear in your pants”?


• What is a big pusit?  


• Use “devastation” in a sentence.

If you want to ride a bus, you go to devastation.

• Use “effort” in a sentence. 

The place where airplanes land and take off is called an “effort.”

• Use “papers” in a sentence.

Before you get off the jeep, you have to “papers” the driver.

• Use “Toronto” in a sentence. 

When playing baseball, after you hit the ball, you have “Toronto” first base.

• Who drove the Bear family when they visited Goldilocks?

The DriBear.

• Who fixed the Bear family’s car when it broke down? 

Si MacGyBear. (Note to the young ones who might not get it: Search “MacGyver” on the Internet!)

• What do you call a black extraterrestrial? 


• If nunal in English is mole, ano ang tawag sa maliit na nunal? (What do you call a tiny mole?)


• Eh yung malaking nunal? (How about a big mole?)

SM Megamole.

And finally, if you are wondering where all the witnesses in those government inquiries learned how to come up with all those incredible answers (as well as where the senators and congressmen learned how to ask all those equally fantastic questions), well, they might have overheard this hilarious true-to-life story from my Practical Arts high school teacher as he confessed his desire to wring all of our young necks to the Jesuits. 

Our teacher had just specifically asked one my classmates named Mon a question when another classmate, who is now a coach in the PBA and was the former coach of the Philippine men’s basketball team, interrupted and asked, Sinong Mon? (Which Mon?)

“Bakit, ilan ba ang Mon dito?” our teacher irritably retorted. (Why, how many Mons are there in this class anyway?)

Without missing a beat, my basketball-coach classmate emphatically declared, “Sampu!” (Ten!)

Not wanting to lose the argument, our teacher confidently challenged all of us to identify all 10 students named Mon in the class (there really were, at most, only three). In true “Your honor” fashion, we then proceeded to list them all down: RaMON Lopa - 1; RaMON Abasolo - 2; Raymund Fernandez, aka RayM(O)Nd - 3; Edmund Yabut, aka EdM(O)Nd - 4; Emmanuel Gabriel, aka EmM(O)Nnuel - 5; Geronimo Latinazo, aka GeroniMO(N) - 6; Maximo Esguerra, aka MaxiMO(N) - 7; Tony Montemayor, aka MONtemayor - 8; Raymond Ramon, aka RayMONd RaMON

— 9 and 10, dalawa yun!

Here’s wishing all of us Better Days soon. In the meantime, don’t stop laughing and don’t forget to have a wonderful and “joc-joc” New Year!

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