Sunday, November 04, 2007


I planned on getting a haircut right after lunch this Sunday. A really short one is how I'd like it done so, before heading out I decided to go through a back issue of Vanity Fair. I was hoping there'd be a picture in it of a guy whose short hair style I could just show to the barber. This way, I'd spare myself the trouble of giving instruction, though simple, some would still find too convoluted to follow anyway.

Vanity Fair certainly has fine writers and great stories that before realizing it, the article, City of Fear, caught my attention and got engrossed by it. It's about the shutting down of Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo. Operating by cell phone, a highly organized and secretive prison gang, Primeiro Commando de Capital, or P.C.C., launched a series of seemingly amorphous attacks last year in May. The authorities found themselves powerless to contain this volatile situation that went on for days. For many in Sao Paulo, this vast criminal network is the only government they have. Its leader, Marcos Camacho, operates from inside one of Brazil's brutally violent penitentiaries. He is an intelligent and careful student of Sun Tzu's Art of War.

Over the first two days, the attacks which occurred in irregular waves, without discernible patterns, forced the police -- highly despised in Sao Paolo for corruption and brutality -- to retreat and abandon their posts, but only to be ambushed in the open.
More than 40 police officers and prison guards were killed; several were wounded. Many passersby were caught in the crossfire and died. The police struck back with death squads and uniformed agents against the residents of the slums. At the end of the week, at least 450 of the city's poor were killed, many with execution-style shots in the head. The state disputed the figures and claimed only 100.

Most of the gang's leaders expressed little fear for punishment, for most are already languishing in jails. In the end, the authorities conceded to a singular demand for 60 flat-screen televisions. They were for the incarcerated gang members' enhanced viewing of the upcoming World Cup soccer matches. Such petty purpose cannot explain the madness -- an orchestrated, though shapeless, crippling assault on an entire city -- but it did highlight the gang's strength and ability to inflict a measured blow against the country's rule of law

Now, for those folks who think Manila is a dangerous place and its poverty-stricken areas nothing more than breeding grounds for criminal minds, they ought to check out Sao Paulo's. Its densely populated slums turned this global business center into an archipelago of little fortresses for the rich. God forbid a similar nefarious network should emerge in Manila.
Nonetheless, stories like this one makes me appreciate even more the city of my birth.

It's quite a long article by William Langewiesche that by the time I finished reading it, I succumbed to a nap. However, upon waking, I felt too lazy to go out for a haircut. Maybe tomorrow.


posted by Señor Enrique at 6:22 PM


Blogger pusa said...

lol i always find myself in the same situation every sunday, not with just a haircut but anything that i already planned to do gets scratched from the list of to do once i take a nap =)
somehow i've associated sunday as sleep day

am just too glad that manila or any other city in our country aren't as bad as what was in the article about sao paulo

November 04, 2007 9:16 PM  

Blogger g_mirage said...

Now thats a nice array of disarray!

Do you know Senor, the last time I had a haircut was Dec of 2005! Lol...well I never had a problem naman with it, pwede (daw) pangcommercial ang buhok ko! Long,black and nga lang buhok lang...hahaha.

November 05, 2007 12:33 AM  

Anonymous bernadette said...

nice Sunday set-up you have there!

just to share with you another anecdote...I once met the brother of Robin Padilla (no, not the gay one :-)). Sorry, forgot his name but he was also one action star. Anyway, his movie image falls short of his very nature. This guy is witty, philosophical and artistic. He also served time in the Muntinlupa penitentiary. There, he stayed with the celebrity prisoners like the Laguna mayor, a former senator's son, etc. He told us that the keenest minds are all in jail! And he quipped, he thought he would be the most intelligent! Maling-mali daw siya :-)

BTW, once my husband sported a long mane ( because of a deep personal conviction.) He grew his hair long for two years. Of course, he's back to wearing a nice "manly" haircut. He finally decided on this because we had to save on shampoo.:-)

November 05, 2007 9:14 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Bernadette,

If only I have a long thin face, I'd grow my hair long, but then again, it'd be too hot for Manila. By the way, virgin coconut oil does wonders for my hair.

I can somehow understand why some of those folks would consider themselves intelligent; only problem, they got caught.

This article and your comment also remind me of the film Inside Man by Spike Lee.

November 05, 2007 10:10 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Whoa! That has been two years, G. Mirage. Must take forever to dry completely after bathing, huh?

By the way, it's amusing how some women here in Manila would go out while their long hair is still wet from having just taken a bath. Better not be seated behind them in a jeepney, unless you want your face whipped by wet hair because of the wind ... hehehe.

November 05, 2007 10:13 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

So am I, Pusa. Manila is not at all that bad.

On Sundays, I prefer to start the day early if I have to go out or something. Late in the afternoon I'd usually get too lazy to do anything else other than lounge around inside the house :)

November 05, 2007 10:15 AM  

Anonymous cacofonix said...

I'm the same when I'm house cleaning, my attention gets diverted by books and magazines; before I know it, I'm lying down engrossed in reading. by sundown, I've lost the will for the housework..he he. there's something about morning sunlight that perks us up for activity, by midday it wanes...

There are days I leave my hair wet when I'm running late for work (yep, even in cold weather - uhuh I get the headaches!) you've got a verrrrrry typical hurried Pinay walking on a busy street of downtown Toronto there...he he...

November 05, 2007 4:18 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...

It happens all the time whenever it's a Sunday! I was supposed drop by the mall and get some things but I felt lazy so I skipped!


November 05, 2007 5:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You described a weekend mood very well! I am reminded of my own weekends.

It is also not surprising about the city of Sao Paulo and maybe Brazil as a whole. Despite Brazil growing economically and in their world standing, this country is one of the leading examples in the world of one that is rising and higher and developed in standing (it's not first world though) yet has so much corruption, gang warfare, injustice, and a really huge wealth gap that is affecting the society and how the people live. Brazil is great though and a beautiful place whose problems may be somewhat exaggerated in the media, but that's how it is.

Manila and Philippines is not like this, and is quite far from being a Sao Paulo. To know that Manila and the country is nowhere near the worst and deprived places in the world, you don't even need to be a Filipino who has never traveled out of the Philippines. Unless you are one of those nagging, ignorant people who keep acting like all bad things are happening only in their country and just whine and whine while condoning bad practices without instead doing their part to make it a better place. That kind is also one of the nuisances a country can have.

Anyways, the point is that every place, every country in the world from the lowest ranks in development and wealth to the highest ranked ones, all have issues, corruptions, problems, some bad people and challenges. And also, countries can also become victims in the media by them making things look much worse than how they really are.


November 05, 2007 7:53 PM  

Blogger Aura said...

Same situation here SE, i´ve been planning to cut my hair for sometime now but keep on postponing it Hubby keep on telling me he does not like my hair," better have it cut" he said. Pero tamad pa rin akong magpunta sa hairdresser.hahaha!

Brazil for me is far more dangerous place than Manila. They really have a big problem down there,Rio de Janeiros "Favela"a place where there is always shootings between the police and the drug gangs or lords,Same situation about that shootings you read about in San Paulo was terrible! It was really war out there, all because of a Drug lord being transfered to another prison.The police were ambushed to prevent that transfer. Many more died after that inabot yata ng more than hundreds dahil hinde nila na solve agad ang situation. Mas grabe problema nila dun kesa dyan sa atin.
I even receive a mail about a party in "Favela"(name of shanty town in rio) that people are lining up for a free "cocas" ( cocaine)given to them by the birthday celebrant. Police cant do anything about it.

November 05, 2007 9:38 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I was all set to spend a couple of weeks in Brazil, Aura; a much anticipated vacation. I was supposed to spend the first week in Rio and then rest traveling north to Bahia. This was many years back when I was studying capoeira and batukada percussion instruments in NYC. However, it had to be canceled when I had a freak accident during a capoeira practice session. I had pinched a nerve at the bottom of my spine. Things got incredibly busy for me thereafter that I had to put my planned travel to Brazil in the back burner.

I have many Brazilian friends in New York, some from Sao Paulo. They even warned me about visiting their city without a group of people with me. It wasn't that safe back then.

Sayang talaga -- with their sensuous music and lovely people, you'd think Brazil would grow to be forever a wonderful place.

November 06, 2007 6:28 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Ignorance is bliss as the old adage goes, Alejandro, and many countries and cultures will, unfortunately, produce such people no matter its economic status. But then again it is the consciousness that is positive and creative that our elders must nourish and allow to grow abundant.

Mabuhay ang Maynila!

November 06, 2007 6:32 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I'd rather take up crocheting, Kyels, than spend my Sundays in a mall. The traffic going in and out of one is often horrendous not to mention the lack of a nearby parking spot without walking a mile to the mall's entrance ... hehehe.

November 06, 2007 6:35 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Naku, hope you don't do that during wintertime, Cacofonix! Hehehe!

Yes, that happens to me often -- I'd plan to do a major clean up but only to be derailed by an unread magazine article or unfinished book :)

November 06, 2007 6:37 AM  

Blogger ScroochChronicles said...

You used to study capoeira? Wow!! I've always wanted to do that, despite my age and rayuma. And I'd love to visit Brazil and skip around Ipanema beach in a yellow polka dot bikini. And then maybe tomorrow I will wake up and get real :)

November 06, 2007 11:21 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's right, Scrooch. That was when I was much younger and used to study karate and tai-chi as well. With capoeira, I was mostly influenced by my Brazilian friends in NYC who studied karate with me.

Nice dream, though, but know what? There was a time it got a little scary to vacation in Rio because it was reported to have very high incidences of AIDS cases.

November 07, 2007 6:16 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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