I’m A Male.

American Chronicle: My Enabler, My Encourager

I subscribe to male dominance. You know, I’m an A Male, A for Adam, an Alpha male. You know, A before E, E for Eve, Man over Woman, and I’m not talking only about superiority. Did you notice? Even those 12 years of the Chinese zodiac are dominantly Alpha male: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig – Rats!

It’s a New Year, and this is the Year of the Ox. But I’m a Dragon, and a romantic. When was a Dragon a romantic? This one is. Let me tell you about my romantic heart, falling in love with one after another week after week, as God is my witness and American Chronicle is my Enabler, my Encourager. Glad to have made that acquaintance.

My very first was my sweetest and best. I knew. First love never dies. I thought. And I had at least 1 love every week since, almost every one a prolonged encounter, only 1 or 2 affairs being almost fleeting, one-night stands. But the first one that happened in February 2006 (Year of the Dog) had stayed the best until #160 came along some 146 weeks later, in December 2008 (Year of the Rat), my last as I write this Saturday, 3 January 2009 (Year of the Ox) 0500 hours Manila time – and it has been the best, and it has been a blast.

I feel that I have taken the ox by the horn already. Is this Alpha male exhausted? No. It’s been 3 years and the going’s easy. I had savored every minute of whatever I think it is. I had surprised myself even. The A Chronicle has been a godsend.

Now about My Hit List – Thanks, American Chronicle!

With the A Chronicle, I have been lovestruck. My very first I called by the sweet name ‘Fuzzy Logic’ – she first appeared on 11 February 2006. Sweet, because in 5 days, on 15 February, she already had 741 hits, and I was in Heaven. Fuzzy Logic was my first essay that the A Chronicle published 11 February 2006. That was a record, as far as I was concerned – I had no record before that, right? By 26 February, it had registered 2,196 hits. By 12 March, it had had 3,002 hits. By 28 March, it had had 4,023 hits. By 12 April, it had had 5,064 hits. By 27 April, it had had 6,004 hits. By 10 May, it had had 6,877 hits. Go on.

I can’t. Something crashed. Was it Microsoft Windows? It wasn’t. Was it my hard disk? Nope. I think it was American Chronicle’s. From 6,877 hits 0n 10 May 2008, I was now counting only 1,528 hits for my dear Fuzzy Logic on 20 May 2006, minus 5,349. That’s counting backwards. And then the A Chronicle really crashed to the ground on 5 June or thereabouts, zero, zilch, nada, nothing, and when it came back online in the early morning hours of 30 June, I was now counting only 41 hits for my beloved Fuzzy Logic. Only 2 digits; what happened to my 4 digits?! It was like I was hit with a ton of bricks. Did I hit the ceiling? No, it would be like hitting my head against a brick wall. Did I hit the panic button? No, I thought it happened to the best. Yes, it happened to the A Chronicle. Yes, I was part of that Paper Tiger by then, so it happened to me.

Let me go back to that wonderful 11 February 2006 because, really, I was lovestruck twice that day, courtesy of the A Chronicle. My #2 was ‘Google’ – no kidding. You see, when I saw Fuzzy Logic online, published, I got really excited. I was so enervated immediately I did a color printout of the web page and soon after that I uploaded my 2nd manuscript, this time for ‘Google Is Genius.’ And the genius came out on the same day, 11 February. 2 essays published on the same day; my genius? No. It’s the international dateline, like Manila is ahead of Los Angeles by 16 hours. So, I had at least 12 hours to write a second essay. (I have always been prolific; with Windows Vista and Word 2003; enthused, today I can write 3 essays within that time, first drafts. I always go through at least 3 revisions. This one went 5.)

Actually, my very first essay hit a snag: I made a mistake calling Relenza and Tamiflu ‘vaccines for people’ and Jeanie Fournier, an RN in Dakar, Senegal wrote to say that they were actually ‘anti-flu virus drugs’ for people who have been exposed to the bird flu virus. I thanked Jeanne and revised my essay accordingly. (If you ask me about the difference, I will have to hit the books.)

That was how the Year of the Dog (2006) began for me. Thanks A Chronicle; all in all, it was a great beginning!

As it was, Essay #2 (Google) just happened to be my #2 hit. Well, 2nd best; Essay #1 (Fuzzy Logic) was 2 times a bigger hit. On 15 February 2006, my Google had registered 402 hits. On 22 February, my Google had had 503 hits. The next day, on 23 February, it had had 1,010 hits – that was a fluke. On 10 May it had had 1,491 hits. Then there was the crash, like I told you. I’m sure Google could have done better.

Notwithstanding, my long list of American Chronicle essays – 160 – has resulted in lots of unsolicited, positive feedback that encourage me to write more.

Thanks to American Chronicle and Manny Pacquiao.

Then my biggest hit happened on 27 December 2008. ‘Son of a Box!’ I was flabbergasted, to say the least. 7,673 hits in 2.5 days for 1 essay (unintentionally) gave me a reason to celebrate the end of 2008. Is Manny Pacquiao an Alpha Male? It doesn’t matter; he is an Alpha Boxer.

I do have a higher number than that, 11,139 hits, for the essay ‘I, Moviegoer. Daniel Craig? Not Bond, James Bond.’ But that’s a total for 2 years! It was published 26 November 2006 yet.

For November and December 2008, the only 2 other number of hits worth mentioning are 1,529 hits for ‘The Little People. Creative capitalism calls for new risk takers in science,’ published on 27 November 2008; and 723 hits for ‘Water lessons of Adarsha. Education began with what scientists didn’t know,’ published 02 November 2008. The other essays in those 2 months have less than 500 hits.

7,673 hits for 1 essay in 2.5 days is probably puny compared to those of other posts by other authors in some online newspaper, but that was shocking to me, as I never had any number of hits even near 300 a day. 3,000 a day is definitely a monster hit for me! What can I say?

The essay was about Manny ‘PacMan’ Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya and their non-title bout in Las Vegas 6 December (7 December in Manila). It was also about PacMan transforming himself from brawler to boxer, and becoming a gentleman, and a firmer believer in God in the Roman Catholic mold. I am a Roman Catholic myself, so I could empathize with him. Sportswriters of most kinds, including the Filipino variety, had not given PacMan the respect he deserved as a human being, not the less a boxing champion. Creating hyperlinks to and citing many sources, in ‘Son of a Box!’ I described the ‘Dream Match’ and related how the smaller man defeated the bigger man resoundingly. Shockingly.

How? By becoming a better human being, first of all. That is why in that highly unusual essay, I said PacMan had found the Jonathan Livingston Seagull within himself, and flown, and learned, and have come back to teach others. To read is to believe. He defeated De La Hoya yes, but first, he had to defeat himself: the proud man, the impulsive slugger, the insensitive person.

We can thank God for a humble boxer from the Philippines who is only a high school graduate, if only we have ears to listen. (To read, click here: ‘Son of a box!’ americanchronicle.com).

No thanks to print media.

For myself, I thank God for American Chronicle, for being there when I need it most.

In my country the Philippines, my frustrations with printed media go a long way, starting 1975, or 33 years ago, as the newspapers and magazines had consistently refused to publish my popular articles in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, animal husbandry, farming systems, education, word processing, marriage, family, faith, creative writing, creative thinking … Of course, I had been Founder & Editor in Chief of many a publication myself, such as the quarterly color magazine of the Forest Research Institute that I called Habitat and patterned after National Geographic, so I was being published – I was the one publishing myself, not another Editor saying I was at least worth the paper the ink was printed on, not even that they could publish me and I wouldn’t ask for a fee. Even today print media have their own politics and they don’t want me in it. Should I thank them?

Writing for American Chronicle, more often than not, I have found myself doing background research via the Internet and, since my mind is open, I have been learning more. For ‘Son of a Box!’ I probably read more than 100 reports on the Dream Match.

Most people couldn’t believe that Manny Pacquiao defeated Oscar De La Hoya dramatically, beautifully. They couldn’t believe PacMan is now a new man, an artist. Manny Pacquiao is the new Muhammad Ali.

Like Muhammad Ali, I have always believed in what I shout my mouth about. I am passionate about many things, including PacMan, who is not just another Filipino, who is not just another boxer. This fellow is remarkable, nay, astounding, as he had risen from the dirt of the streets to the gold dust of Las Vegas, first by sheer guts. His parents were dirt poor. Now that he has the glory, he has learned humility next. Worthy of emulation.

My good friend Naz Malacaman had watched PacMan’s very first 10 fights and he had thought that this boy, as he was young then, would go places as a professional boxer – if only he could get rid of his boastfulness. He didn’t have style then, but he had pride; he was too proud of his boxing prowess: 11 straight wins (eastsideboxing.com). In his fight against Rustico Torrecampo 9 February 1996 at the Mandaluyong Sports Complex, a counterpunch in the 3rd Round knocked PacMan down and he fell flat out, and that must have taught him a lesson: Don’t underestimate a counterpunch. PacMan was probably wary of that when he fought Golden Boy for 8 rounds, until he would not answer the bell for Round 9.

Naz has more to say about the Dream Match, where they said it was a Round 8 TKO. What’s the matter with those judges and/or referee – they don’t know how to count? The bell had already sounded Round 8 out; and it had rung Round 9 in. Why, they did not want to tell the world that Freddie Roach had been dead right when he predicted that Manny Pacquiao would knock out Oscar De La Hoya in Round 9?

I don’t see the logic of declaring it a Round 8 TKO, but I forgive them. Anyway, I’m familiar with the absence of logic. I don’t use logic when I start to write. I said start. Why am I prolific anyway? Actually, I’ve always been creative – but in the last 3 years or so, unbelievably very much more, dramatically so that even I noticed.

How do I explain my higher creativity?

What has made the difference in my creativity as an author I attribute it to being published by American Chronicle. When I tell people I write for American Chronicle, their ears invariably perk up, not that I’m looking. Imagine that! American Chronicle: The name says it all. Don’t forget I’m in Manila, and ‘American’ is a much-valued sound. Is that colonial mentality? I don’t mind. The Big Little Man Tony Meer says in his book A Lawyer’s Fate & Faith (2003, p397):

I believed then, as I believe now, that I am no less a Filipino because I speak in English. Patriotism emanates from the heart and not from the tongue. Language is primarily and essentially a medium of communication. A Filipino can speak in English and defend his country’s interest. He can, with equal ease, speak in Tagalog and betray it.

We Filipinos are excellent handlers of the English language, especially the American idiom, so we ought to capitalize on it all the time. That’s why we have call centers in the Philippines with American capital. The Americans know where the talent is.

Enabled and encouraged by American Chronicle, I attribute my higher creativity also to my having reached, discovered, explored – and having done all that, gave it a name to make it real for others: virtual thinking. (I have just found out I forgot to submit that essay to American Chronicle.) That was on 8 May 2008. (For that story, see my ‘Virtual thinking. The day I reinvented the blog,’ frankensteinmindster.blogspot.com). Virtual thinking has been my road to a virtual treasure island of creativity, and it’s not isolated as you think. The trick is to connect; creativity is all connection (see my ‘Frankenstein’s Rules of Virtual Writing,’ frankensteinmindster.blogspot.com).

I have always been creative, since high school, and that would be 50 years ago, especially when I first read the Reader’s Digest. That explains some 200 long essays I have written and uploaded in my blogs so far, especially ‘The Franciscan Journeys’ (frankahilario.blogspot.com). But I never reached that realm of virtual thinking – which allows the mind to roam unhampered by formalities or conventions, which explains my heightened creativity – until I began writing for and American Chronicle was forever publishing me as me, my genius intact. (That said, may I remind you that there is a thin dividing line between genius and insanity?) Virtual thinking, you don’t know what that means if you’re only an occasional author.

Aside from the encouragement arising from being published by American Chronicle, not unlike Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I began not only to fly but to soar in the sky of creativity when I learned to clean up my act, like Manny Pacquiao has cleaned his. In fact and in faith, trusting God more and myself less. Not only mouthing Catholic theory (dogma) but also practicing (living) it, if imperfectly. I do not believe – I believe more.

Would you believe? I have forgiven my wife for not having forgiven me 100% all these years. Even now, when she calls me names (not endearing ones), you know, I smile and am not miserable anymore. Imagine that! Sometimes I just think I deserve it, and that’s that. I’m imperfect myself, so why can’t I learn to accept others who are?

And I have learned to cast all my cares at the foot of the cross. I will be 69 in September. Thank you, Lord, for another day. And I have forgiven myself for being a bad husband and father. No, I don’t drink, I don’t gamble, I don’t womanize, I don’t steal, I don’t corrupt people – I never did and, going on 69, I’m not going to start now. My fault is just being there but not being there, not caring enough. A lesson I learned after 41 years of marriage. Life’s better lessons are harder to learn.

Enablers and Encouragers

What happened to Frank Hilario with American Chronicle as Enabler and Encourager, I can imagine happened to Manny Pacquiao with American Freddie Roach as Enabler and Encourager. American Chronicle enables one to publish almost at will, unlike printed media known or unknown; and the instant sight of one’s byline and the feedback serve as encouragement. With a perfect game plan, the American coach enabled the boxer to train to perfection, and even when he made a mistake, he encouraged him.

By the time of the Dream Match, Manny ‘PacMan’ Pacquiao had changed, in case nobody noticed, and (almost) completely. No, it didn’t happen overnight; it took years, but it happened. From good to better to best; from fast to faster to nimble; from draft to fine to finesse; from slave to master to guru. PacMan had achieved his level of genius, even if people ignore it because they look down on this high-school graduate.

On 27 December 2008, American Chronicle published my 3,244-word long essay with my patented 2-title title (this time, with a beautiful alliteration to boot, unheard of in sports journalism): ‘Son of a Box! Manny finesses Pacquiao, finishes Golden Boy.’ I never expected I myself would score a knockout, not even a technical knockout.

What happened was that when I had gathered my wits about me, 22 days after witnessing Oscar De La Hoya hit rock bottom – and he sat on it on his stool – I checked on the A Chronicle reader statistics. I always hated statistics, so I don’t know what hit me that day.

And what did I see? KO in Round 1. My Pacquiao had 7,673 hits in the first 2.5 days, or an average 3,069 hits a day!

Imagine that. That would be a monster hit for me as I did nothing except submit it to American Chronicle for publishing. I didn’t promote it in any way. And to think that the fight was on 7 December yet, and I uploaded my essay 27 December, a good 20 days after the fight, when it was already very, very old news. It just goes to show that good old news never dies – it just needs to be written well, or differently, or both.

It also shows that hundreds of thousands (1 million?) were shocked to see PacMan humiliate Golden Boy, someone whom they had no respect had defeated audaciously someone whom they much admired; PacMan had demolished a legend, and with elegance. Unbelievable! Unacceptable! Folks, allow me to assure you that when a Filipino is good, he’s the best. It takes one to know one. (When he is bad? You have to forgive him.)

Before this, I have published 160 essays in the Chronicle (for the list, click here: americanchronicle.com), at least 1 essay a week, for the last 3 years, starting February 2006. Only 1 or 2 of those essays are short, the shortest being 633 words, published 30 December 2006; even the title is the shortest – ‘We.’ A great many of the essays are very long, the longest being 7,676 words (including title, excluding name of author): ’13 Lovers. Like Tony Meers’, True Love stories never have endings’ published 23 December 2008. Except 2 or 3, my essays have 2 titles each, a main and a subtitle. I try to make the main title catchy as well as original, like ‘The Messiah Phenomenon. Or, The Great Philippine Search For A Redeemer’ (7 April 2006), ‘Call Me User. Or, Maxing Microsoft Word 2003’ (31 May 2007), ‘100 in 100. Celebrating Centennials & Counting’ (2 January 2008).

And now I’m going to add more to My Hit List.

And along the way, I hope it will help explain why my essay on the Dream Match in Las Vegas was a bit of a show.

My ‘Son of a Box!’ was such a hit because it hit all the right notes, if I may sing my own praises and mix my metaphor.

In summary, Golden Boy was hard hit by the tropical cyclone called PacMan. Why, right in Round 1, PacMan hit the ground running.

If you didn’t notice, immediately in Round 1, I tell you Golden Boy got hit right between the eyes, literally.

PacMan hit Golden Boy with everything he had, except hit below the belt. On his part, in one instance Golden Boy held with his right hand the head of PacMan and tried to hit him with his historical left, but history refused to repeat itself that night.

I wrote that Manny Pacquiao had patented and used it on Golden Boy PacMan’s Brownian Movement. It wasn’t white, it wasn’t black, and you didn’t know where it was going to hit next.

Pacquiao had been completely changed by Freddie Roach as by himself as far as boxing was concerned. Finally, trainer had hit it off with boxer perfectly, that’s what I know.

PacMan was now the best boxer he could be. That explained why, even if Golden Boy could hit a brick wall and knock it down, the problem was that this particular brick wall in that particular night kept moving, and fast!

Then at the end of Round 8, it hit Golden Boy: ‘We can’t go on like this. He can, but I can’t. I have to hit the sack.’

It wasn’t that he couldn’t throw a punch anymore. Golden Boy would not hit back much because he was conserving his energy for 1 big punch that would knock down a guy bigger than himself. He waited 8 rounds to do this. The problem was that he couldn’t hit his stride as PacMan had befuddled him right from the start when he hit him hard and right between the eyes too, in Round 1 yet. It was a bewildered Oscar De La Hoya from then on.

Right up to the morning of the Dream Match, 18 out of 20 journalists didn’t hit the brakes in ridiculing PacMan; they also predicted that they would hit pay dirt by betting on Golden Boy to win, and handsomely too. When Golden Boy got hit where it hurt most – his lofty status as a boxer – I suppose those journalists hit the ceiling.

Before Round 9 had even started, this thought of Golden Boy hit home: ‘Freddie Roach, you were right. I can’t hit it anymore.’ No Sir, Golden Boy, you can’t hit a moving target!

They expected PacMan to hit the dirt, bite the dust. Instead, Golden Boy hit bottom and sat on it on his stool when Round 9 came. So, those who bet on PacMan hit the jackpot. That included PacMan.

What has writing for American Chronicle done for me so far?

I like to think I hit the jackpot myself writing for American Chronicle. I’m glad I can tell it like it is, like I like to tell it at A Chronicle.

As Enabler and Encourager, American Chronicle has given me the prestige and the privilege of being contracted to write 2 books in popular science that are of international relevance and written in what I call the style of the Franciscan essay: personal, passionate, pedantic, prosaic, practical, protean. 2 books written, edited, designed and laid out by me with Word 2003 as my desktop publisher – imagine that.

I have another book to write – at this stage it’s just a proposal. If I get the contract, I said if, I expect 1 million – whether pesos or yen, it would make me a millionaire. I can dream, can’t I? If not for American Chronicle, I can’t dream anywhere like that.

I have 3 other books in the offing to write this year, to be co-written and produced by long interviews with 3 males of the species in different fields: science, management, statesmanship.

I’m sorry I never wrote anything at all about Steve Irwin. I was fascinated no end by his tricks, traps, techniques and tips in dealing with animals, alive and kicking. I was saddened by his death, so sudden. Steve was passionate about what he was doing, and that was everything, and I could relate with that.

Of what have I written about so far on American Chronicle? Everything, including pearl millet – I don’t think I’ve even seen it myself. Name it: creative capitalism, George W Bush, smiles, Revolution, mind-mapping, Word 2003, watershed, Word 2007, 3-finger fertilizer, writing for a speech, popular science, Al Gore, harvesting rain, University of the Philippines, creative writing, William Dar, praying for rain, paradigm shift, James Bond, technical writing, computers, family, UP Los Baños, the illiterate’s Internet, creative thinking, ICRISAT, Christmas, Microsoft, the Messiah, global warming, Yahoo, democracy, the audacity of love, sweet sorghum, damaged academe, politics, Edward De Bono, plant breeding, Mexican boxers, lateral thinking, Ray Bradbury, management, Google, Loyalty Day, pigeonpea, Bill Gates, floods, research & development, George Will, the 4 freedoms, politics, American minds, people, attitudes, Kama Sutra, entrepreneurship, graffiti, metaphors, population explosion, PowerPoint, water cycle, the Perfect Commandment, grounded science, reproductive health, Manny Pacquiao, Barack Obama, Brown American, NASA, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Steven Curtis Chapman, Tony Meer, Waiting for Godot, Atlas Shrugged, Fatima, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, peanuts. 

That’s about half of it.

2009 would be a much more exciting year for me. Thanks American Chronicle, thanks family, thanks friends. Thank God.

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