Author: Pao Alfonso

“I Will Work Harder”

Tonight’s journal entry is about my favorite character in George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm. Boxer is a noble, loyal, hardworking horse at the Animal Farm. He was respected not just for his great strength but for his willingness to take on more than his fair share of the work. The farm was built on the  back of his labors. He was the driving force behind all constructions in it, and for the positive attitude of the long-suffering beasts that work alongside him. No matter how frivolous or ill-conceived the job may be, he worked to make the visions of Napoleon the pig a reality through his sheer strength and size. He, like most of the animals in the farm, subscribed to Napoleon’s cult of personality. He never questioned him and his posse of pigs and dogs, he took his word as truth even if he had doubts. “Napoleon is always right”, he says.

Whenever the farm gets damaged by war, or there’s a food shortage (and there always is), or whenever it becomes apparent that the quality of life is not improving for the animal workers at the farm, his only answer is “I will work harder”. He woke up earlier, worked longer and harder, hoping that the lives of his fellow animals will improve and the promised utopian farm will become a reality. Every time there is a great need, his response was always the same “I will work harder. Napoleon is always right.”

He only realized that he was nothing more than a means of production to Napoleon when he was dying and instead of being sent to the doctor, he was sent to the butcher for profit.

Boxer was strong, noble, loyal. He didn’t complain, he was always willing to take on more work to the detriment of his own well-being. He subscribed to the cult of personality because he thought it would make him a better citizen of the farm. He didn’t understand that even if he worked himself to death it would not make a significant improvement on the situation of his fellow workers. He was not inching towards a utopian Animal Farm. For as long as the leaders are greedy and self-serving, and the system is designed to benefit only the few, and the few are indifferent to the suffering of the many, then the animals will continue to be oppressed and expected to be grateful for it.

Oftentimes the system is so broken that no matter how hard you work, it doesn’t open doors or make opportunities available. People who are born with the privilege of not having to fight for survival each day can find it easy to tell struggling people to just “shut up and work”. They can never understand the struggle of being born into abject poverty in an oppressive society unless they really work on understanding it.

These days, with the current situation of the nation’s economy, I come across so many people on social media clamoring for the poor to just shut up and work. A lot of people still subscribe to the over-simplification that people are poor because they are lazy and they complain too much. Not all poor people are lazy. In fact, an overwhelming majority do backbreaking labor for a pittance. The success of a lot of people, the smooth operation of businesses and households rely on the willingness of these people to do the work nobody else wants to do and be paid a pittance for it.

To berate them for speaking out and voicing their discontent with how the system works is just incredibly cruel. To make light of their daily struggle is insensitive and narrow-minded. It’s like the well-fed, comfortable pigs in the farmhouse telling Boxer and the other animals to just shut up and work while they sit back and do the “difficult” job of overseeing everything.

KleverCase for Kindle Paperwhite

Finally, after weeks of waiting, I finally got my KleverCase. I ordered this on August 21, and it arrived at the Las Pinas post office on 9/7 but (our post office being the black hole that it is), I didn’t get a notice that it has already arrived. Good thing I called them this morning, and I was told to just come by and pick it up. I was really looking for a Kindle Paperwhite case that looked unique and old-school, and something I can personalize. I thought this is perfect for what I wanted.

The cover was packed securely, and I love all the little details on it. It even shows who made the case (thanks, Lotty!). This is a small business that hand-binds the covers as they are ordered, so I am really happy that they shipped out the case two days after I placed my order.

I had “The Serial Doodler” printed out on the spine, and I specifically asked for the bookplate to be patterned after something I read in one of my favorite books when I was young. I used to write this on the first page of my books when I was young. I chose this because it brings back happy memories of my childhood, and how my mom encouraged me to read at an early age.

The case is not textured, it feels like a hardbound book. As it says on a sticker on the cover, don’t bend the flap back. You need to hold it like how you would hold a real hardbound book. It’s also not a smart cover. It has no magnets anywhere but it closes the book just fine and it lays down almost flat too.

I thought it would be a bit heavy but turns out it’s even lighter than my current smart case. Here is what it looks like with the Kindle inserted in the holder.

I think it’s pretty neat. It has limitations, things it can’t do that smart covers can do, but I guess that’s part of the analog charm. I like that it doesn’t bend all the way back (because hardbound covers aren’t supposed to). I like the auto-sleep function of my old smartcover but I have a feeling I won’t really miss it that much. I’m curious how long this will hold up, considering I just pop my Kindle in my bag whenever I leave the house.

I wish it didn’t take soooo loooong to get here but I honestly think that it’s worth the wait. Also, it arrived a week before my birthday, so I guess it got here just in time.

Comrade Napoleon

Today’s journal entry is about my thoughts on the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. How a story filled with barnyard animals can be so terrifying and poignant is very fascinating. The character of Napoleon the Berkshire boar is particularly interesting for me. I’ll probably write a longer journal entry about the book and the many themes that it touches on. George Orwell’s story and the way that he wrote it is haunting. Especially these days. I read some of his works before but they never resonated with me as much as they do now.

The world will always need to contend with Comrade Napoleons, I suppose.

Eskimo Mouse Trading


Farmer Mouse is a hard worker. ^_^

In Peter Jenkins’ book, Looking for Alaska, I read about two Eskimos that he met at Deering–Millie and Gladys Iyatunguk, who practice what they call “Mouse Trading”.

Every early September, they look through the fields where little field mice have been gathering mussu root and storing them in little underground food caches so that they can have food for the winter. Gladys and Millie would look for slight disturbances on the ground and they would very carefully open it up and take out the cache of mussu root. Some mice would clean up the roots of little strands of hair before stacking them neatly in a pile. Some would just stuff them every which way. Mice aren’t all the same, just like people. Then, instead of just taking the mussu root that the mice have gathered for themselves, Gladys and Millie would replace the cache with potatoes, carrots, and celery, then carefully cover back the food cache so the mice would have something to eat for the winter. They trade instead of just take.

How awesome is that?

This kind of kindness shown towards little creatures show how beautiful their connection is to the world around them. I only hope to be more mindful in my ways as well. What a gem it is to meet such people.

Everything Calligraphy is Turning 3!

Everything Calligraphy is celebrating its 3rd anniversary this coming September 22-23 at Ella and the Blackbird in QC. Check out the event details here. There will  be mini-workshops, demos, ink buffet, and discounts on their products. If you’re anywhere near the area, come drop by and join the fun. 🙂