Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ang Dura at Ako

Recently while in a café, I found myself bowing and shaking in front of my laptop screen. I was smothering my laughter. It started really random. Sick of my solitude, I decided to chat with a friend also in another café on the other side of town, taking a break from the office. After the usual pleasantries, both our bodies started quaking as the conversation unfolded. We stifled our laughter, afraid that we get kicked out of our respective cafés if we let go. Here’s the semi-edited transcript:

JM: bonbon, question lang… about ships…

Bonbon: ships?!

JM: pano naliligo ang mga tao pag-nakasay ng barko? As in, may tubig na tap water?

Bonbon: LOL

JM: Haha! Naisip ko lang kagabi…

Bonbon: They rappel down a rope and dip themselves in the sea.

JM: Haha! Hindi nga. Paano ‘yun, e andami-daming tao… May dala silang sangkaterbang tubig?

Bonbon: It depends on the boat, I guess. If it were a cruise liner, rooms are equipped with showers. That’s why it’s important that boats have docking stations so that they can refill their water reservoir. Just like planes, they also need to refuel.

JM: so… may mga drum sila sa loob?

Bonbon: uhmmm… siguro, may mga boats din na may drum at tabo.

JM: Haha! So, may-estimate sila kung ilang beses maliligo ang mga tao? Wala lang… balang araw, tatanungin ko sa boat people ‘yun.

I guess so. ‘Yung cruise that I got to ride once had hot water pa nga, but the shower stalls were really small. Pero I remember when I took the Super Ferry to Manila in high school, wala nang ligo-ligo. We stayed in an open area, where there were bunker beds; ‘yung tipong kailangan mong matulog with one eye open lest manakawan ka.

JM: Ilang araw ‘yun? So, pag ‘di ka first class, wala nang ligo-ligo?

Bonbon: It takes a day. I guess may banyo sila, pero baka may bayad. Or there’s a common bath, where you take turns and all.

JM: Common water din? Haha! So, wish mo na sana first batch ka palagi… Haha!

Bonbon: Ooh, did I tell you about an experience I had with that trip?

JM: Hindi pa.

Bonbon: It was night, so I went over to the veranda to enjoy the lovely breeze; to make muni-muni.

JM: Hehe… tapos?

Bonbon: Then I felt some droplets hit my face; and I was like, ‘Oooh… refreshing!!” Then, I began to wonder why the sea spray smelled and tasted minty. Pagtingin ko sa taas… May nag-totoothbrush! LOL!!!!

JM: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkk!!!!!

Bonbon: I’m chuckling now!!!!! AHAHAHAHAHA… gusto ko tumawa ng malakas!

JM: Hindi mo ba nahalata na may bula-bula??? Hahahaha!

Bonbon: AHAHAHAHAHA… hinde. Another similar experience was when I was younger, we slept with mosquito nets.

JM: Tapos?

Bonbon: So, my bed was right beside the window. Each night, I would be lulled to sleep by the wind and the rustling leaves of the nearby mango tree. There were nights when I’d feel some droplets touch my face…

JM: Yesss… Calming… Tapos? Hahahaha! Ano na naman ‘yan?!

It made me feel nice, thinking na I could feel the evening dew touch my face. Kaya pala… tinataihan ako ng hinayupak na butiki every night! LOL!


Bonbon: Shet… gusto ko tumawa!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

JM: Kadiri, Bonbon!!! Nakakahiya, naka-smile ako mag-isa… hahaha! Hindi ako pwede tumawa…. Hahaha! Sa umaga, walang kulay tae or something???

Bonbon: Siempre, hindi ko malaman na tae kase gabi. Atsaka, the tiny tae gets caught on the net; so, yung liquid lang ang napi-feel ko!

JM: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkk!!!!! Hahahahahaha!!!! Kadireeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! Ano ba yan, Bonbon!!!!!

Bonbon: And I remember, when I discovered it, I had a tantrum and ran to my parents’ room, insisting that I sleep there. But no, pinagalitan ako.

JM: Hahaha! Pa’no mo na-discover?? Ba’t ka pinagalitan??

Bonbon: Feeling ata nila na nag-iinarte lang ako. I kept getting curioser and curioser every night, wondering where it was coming from. Sabi ko… hmmmm… ang layo naman ng mango tree para madapuhan ako ng dew from its leaves.

JM: Hahaha!!!Wala ka ba katabi matulog dati?

Bonbon: My brother slept beside me in another bed, pero may sariling mundo ‘yun e.

JM: Hindi siya natataihan?? Ang malas mo naman! Ahahahaha!


JM: Hahaha! Nakakatawa ka!...

Bonbon: Oh, and another… when I was younger, we always heard mass from outside church kase ang init at punong-puno ang simbahan. I would stand under the balcony, just by the edge where I was shaded by it. I was restless with my hands, so I started fiddling with my shirt, pant pockets…

Ang hilig mo kasi sa shade-shade e!

Bonbon: Then, I discovered something sticky on my clothing… LOL!

JM: Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii… Ano ‘yun????

Bonbon: LOL! Dinuraan ako from the balcony!!!!

JM: Ahahahahahahaha!!!! Anong color? May bubbles?

Bonbon: LOL!!... clear lang naman… Ahahaha! I WANNA LAUGH OUT LOUD!!

JM: ME TOO!! Tawang-tawa na ako!... Ang hirap magpigil!!! Ahahahahaha!

Bonbon: Speaking of dura, eto pa isa. Maraming mga aeta sa Iloilo, bumababa galing bundok para manlimos. E, bata pa lang ako, mahilig na ako mag-shorts…

JM: Haha! Tapos?

I was approaching a groupof aetas sitting by the curb. Unbelievably, swak na swak, dumaan ako right in time na dumura yung isang aetang matanda!!

JM: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Tumatawa na’ko… I don’t care na!

Bonbon: Natamaan ang legs koh!!! YIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!! Golly, hindi mo na mapinta ang mukha ko as I was shock!

JM: Hahahahaha! Baka may nganga pa ‘yun!

Bonbon: It was as thick as a silver bullet! Ok, I’m bowing and shaking now in laughter!

JM: Ahahahahahaha!!! ANG MALAS MO, GRABE!!!!

Bonbon: I KNOW!!! Huhuhuhu…

JM: Kadireeeeeeeeeeeee Bonbooooooooooooooon!!!!!... Ano ginawa mo???

Bonbon: I remember standing in front of them, desperately trying to wipe the sticky spittle with my hanky, while they looked on, staring at me blankly!... When it did dry up, biglang kumati ang area… LOL!!!


Bonbon: I KNOW! I’m surprised myself na hindi ko ‘to nakuwento pa before!

JM: For someone so… pristine… nakakadiri ang mga experiences mo!!! Hahaha!!

Bonbon: I know… so, I actually get grossed out very rarely! Pweh! LOL!

JM: Pweh!! LOL!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hair: A History II

By college, my hair began to have a mind of its own. There were days that it simply was stubborn, refusing to be managed or styled. The hair grew coarser, resembling a twisted nest of piano strings. I looked like I wore a black helmet on some days; and on others, it seemed like I propped a mat of dark wire on my head. Some friends even thought I looked like Astro Boy or that cranky cartoon ladybug. I fit the bug role to a tee as I had a lot of grouchy moments, especially defensive when it was about my sexuality.

An annoying period in college was undergoing the required military training. I hated having to sport the 3”x4” hair prerequisite. I hated how it made me look stupid. I hated how it reminded me of how much testosterone was shoved down my throat. I hated how raw my naked scalp felt, relentless in its itch under the cruel afternoon sun.

My hair did grow eventually. At this point, I got to go on trips to Europe. I have always loved taking showers no matter how cold it was. I enjoyed how the warm water stripped my skin fresh and new. It was interesting that every time I got back, gone for several months each time, friends would always ask me if I had cancer. Perhaps there was some truth to that myth of avoiding warm showers. It did not help either that my pallor was pale and sickly, telling of late nights studying and cramming papers. Yes, I did look like I had undergone several sessions of chemo.

My mother got concerned that I was starting to look like the man she married. With her and my sister’s help, I got to visit doctors and hair-restoration clinics. I took pills to help my hair grow; religious with the topical solution I had to apply on my scalp, morning and night. It’s interesting that the pill was supposed to suppress my libido, lessening my body’s production of testosterone. The doctors said that the hormone ate up my hair follicles. It’s even more interesting that my libido continued to soar. It’s funny to be considered emasculated but still overflow with manly hormones.

It was only when I was out of college did I begin to shave my hair. There was the cautious 1-inch length, testing the waters if I could pull off the “bad boy” look. I decided to have it shaved at a nearby salon. I knew it would be agonizing, so I looked forward to the good neck, shoulder, and back massage they offered after. I remember how my worry surged as I saw the hair fall frailly with each swipe of the electric razor. Now, I get why models in a certain reality show bawl at sudden makeovers. I would have done the same then.

Stepping out of the salon, I remember feeling a strange mix of worry and delight. I felt exposed and raw, just like a fish out of water. I expected gawking and jeering, even when people actually minded their own business. But there was that delicious freshness I couldn't deny, sensing the breeze glide across my near-naked scalp. Instantly, I felt lighter. It was as if a weight had been lifted. It was liberating to think that I was done with hour-long styling sessions, suitable shampoo shopping, and being consciousness about losing my tresses.

Shaving my hair proved to be a novelty to my friends too. Like a baby, I remember everybody “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over the prickly stubble on my scalp; always touching and petting me, constantly asking what possessed me to shave my mane. Answers varied from the evasive, “I just felt like I needed a change,” to the blunt, “I’m losing hair; so this way, it’s not so obvious.” But nothing beats the time I likened it to a “hed-geh-hog”… But that’s another story.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hair: A History I

I had hair once. When I was younger, I remember the fringe of hair that hung a little below my lashes. I remember pulling it down whenever I had to sit still. Restless, I would savor how the bristles tickled my cheek. I also remember braiding it, drawing them apart like a curtain, weaving the two bunches into my own version of a French braid. I even grew a tail, a thin cluster of longer hair at the back, considered by many as some paean to rock star glamor. Unfortunately, even that got braided as well. I was adamant that my helper go through the task of twining my tiny tail before I left for afternoon class.

Early on, I already had a penchant for aesthetics. I styled my hair in a one-sided fashion, sporting a long fringe in the front. When I did get to discover gel and its other variants, I tried shaping the fringe like a small cap visor. I remember loving the holding powers of gel, how it kept my hair in place. It annoyed me that each time, post-shampoo, my hair would puff up like a pot of ferns. Gel and pomade made me feel complete, slick and neat.

Then when other hair began sprouting in various nooks and crannies, my voice started to crack and deepen. I remember having the thickest hair on my head. I parted it right in the middle, happy that its ends framed my round face. I was happy that it kept abreast with the current boy band culture; especially that local trio of handsome, scrawny adolescents. But having thick hair had its own share of irritations. I had to contend with the occasional pimple, several bouts of dandruff, and unkempt moments.

The day came when my schoolmates began to notice a faint spot on my crown. It did give me some anxiety as I was aware that thinning hair ran in my genes. But I think I was more worried about the taunting. I was proud of my hair and felt it part of my persona. I refused that it be taken away. My mother began to worry also; and I remember we both tried to remedy that faint crown by adhering to local superstition and other myths. I had to be sure that my hair was not wet before going to bed, stayed away from caps, avoided early afternoon showers lest I wet any roaming entities, shampooed less, and shunned warm showers.

to be continued...

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Faggot' Encounters II

There was a recent encounter with an aunt whose husband my mother thinks to be homosexual. Jokingly, I observed my stance in a photograph she took to be “too gay.” I was coming from that humorous and familiar place shared by me and close friends in the city. Immediately, as kindly as she tried to put it, she reprimanded me for mentioning the word. It was as if she took offense, saying that she found the word demeaning.

I tried to explain that I was fine with it all, that the word was mine and it was who I was, but she insisted. She continued that such a word condescended people like me, that it was an unnecessary label; that I should love myself more, and be done with word.

Her eyes were dripping with concern and sincerity, and I felt her motherly warmth come through. I decided to back away from the topic. When I eventually told my mother about it, she responded with sentiments similar to what I felt early on. I also considered what she thought about that aunt’s husband’s sexuality. I’ve never met him, but it may be that she’s speaking out of her own trauma with the word. It’s fascinating how words take on a variety of meaning for other people, tinged with emotions and memory.

The other night, while hanging out with two of my high school classmates, I was put on the spot once again. Not only was it about my sexuality but of another whom I had an encounter with in one of our many school trips. Apparently, though it’s been almost ten years, they’ve all been wondering what exactly happened that night; and whether the object of my first kiss was actually gay.

I was grateful for the flowing alcohol, the bar shrouded in shadows, and the loud music. If it were not for these distractions, I imagined the conversation strewn with awkward and guarded moments and uncomfortable lies. I actually expected such a topic to come up, and ended up really pleased at how everything went. In a nutshell, they knew already since before of my being gay, never doubting it. It was better even to know that they were cool with it all, affirming their respect for me. It’s interesting though how the word “gay” always came from my lips that night, and they’d always refer to it with either with a point of the finger or a nod of the head.

Perhaps the province is still trying to come to terms with the idea of homosexuality. Fine, a lot of gay men here have been creeping out of the woodwork, but it seems they really haven’t been addressed accordingly. We either have become fodder for gossip, silently accepted, or seemingly ignored. The word always seems to be handled with care here, often perceived as a possible affront to sensibilities. Perhaps it’s some form of delicadeza, that genteel trait that always gives prime to tact and propriety. Perhaps the province continues to sleep as the world keeps turning, suspended in space and time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

'Faggot' Encounters I

I remember hating the words “fag”, “gay”, “bakla”, “bading”, “agi”. I remember always cringing, my defensive ramparts raised mighty high, and my seething temper rear its ugly head whenever I’d hear them. Then I grew up a little more, loved myself a little more, and the vicious power of these words seemed to wane. Or so I thought.

The other night, at my childhood friend’s wedding reception, I found myself in some disconcerting circumstance. Glad to have met and reconnected with several friends of yore, I ate and drank the night away; noticing myself more confident and less conscious than ever before. It’s always this way. Each time I go home, I find myself gaining more strength, letting go of the baggage I used to lug around in my childhood and adolescence. But this night, I was just caught off-guard. I almost ignored what happened and thought nothing of it, till it clung to my memory, prying my eyes wide open when I wanted to sleep.

After all the activities during the wedding reception, the lights dimmed and the lounge act made its way on stage. People started dancing. Bottles of scotch, wine, and vodka made their rounds on every table. Many of us got even wilder after each cheap rendition of current pop tunes. I kept going in and out of the hall with friends, glass of poison in hand, socializing while smoking cigarettes by the hotel veranda.

By the nth glass of vodka and cigarette stick, I found myself tired and sitting by myself. Soon, several high school mates, a year older than me, made their way towards my space. They were in some inebriated romp, dancing like those drunken uncles we usually recoil at the sight of. I actually found the scene funny and silly, till they got closer and one started straddling me. Then the other joined in, rubbing my head. It was fine at first, I joining in the fun, until things got long-drawn. The fun of it all seemed to subside, and I found myself mocked; and ultimately, offended.

Not one to wear such feelings on my proud sleeve, I smiled away and pretended that I was cool amid it all. But I caught another school mate laughing and the rest of the people by the table in some unsure gaze, their smiles crumpled. I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. As soon as they stopped dancing, I gave myself another glass of vodka and twenty minutes till I left the hotel.

On my way home, I felt like I was an awkward adolescent again, running away from taunts and cruel peers. That dance kept repeating itself in my head. Till I got to the shower, till I brushed my teeth, till I crept into soft shell of my sheets, the dance teased my thoughts like a mischievous imp.

I shared the incident the next day with my childhood playmates, and I found my gay friend’s quiet anger rise as he drove his car. Like me, though we’ve lost contact at some point in our adolescence, he’s had his own share of cruelty. He was surprised and vexed that such an asinine attitude towards homosexuality happened again, considering that we were all adults already. He shared a similar experience, adding that he had to say something acerbic to put the bastard in his place. Immediately, I hated that I found myself bashful and silenced last night. I hated doubting my courage and strength as a gay man, having always thought myself a rabid bitch when the situation called for it. I hated playing out the scene in my head, me berating them and putting them in their place. I hated that that was all I was left with, raw feelings from the night before.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Leviathan 3


Josef's hand was vigorous on Felix's shaft, rubbing hard but gently. Josef savored its firmness, while Felix let out short and quiet gasps, surprised at the tenderness of such seemingly inexperienced fingers.

Soon Felix thought it unfair to not return Josef's favors. He was curious and wanted to give too. His own fingers began searching for Josef's stiff member. A tinge of anxiety invaded his thoughts as he reached over. Did it make him different from the other boys, this pleasure of receiving and giving? And what of the girls, those moist crevices and perky breasts, he fantasized about while alone in the bath? Was it all a front? Was he changing his mind about his desires?

Both held each other in the tightest of embraces, hungry for the other's manhood. There was more stroking, kissing, and muffled moans. They had not a care that their heads pressed heavily on Paul's stomach. He was deep in sleep after all, his body quiet and still except for the grumble of his faint snore.

The excitement at the novelty of their familiar bodies did not wane. It was all the more delicious for it was clandestine. Their classmates and teachers were at a nearby hut, rowdy and drunken. It electrified them knowing the possibility that they could be found out. It thrilled them to be in on a secret, their semi-nude bodies covered only by the warm blanket of a dark night.

Soon, temperatures began to rise, their breaths more fiery with each succeeding touch. Their kisses grew unquenchable, their grasp on each other more voracious. The bestial dance was reaching its apex. They felt their spirits soar higher and higher, as familiar tremors grew even louder from within. They both knew what was next and held their breaths. Their senses began to implode. Closer and closer, they approached the molten core of each other's center. Finally...they erupted.

Spent, they both quivered in each other's arms. They turned towards the night sky and felt a calm begin to settle. They lay side by side, not moving, not speaking; their minds still raw from all that transpired. Slowly, they welcomed sleep.

Above them, there were countless stars in the dark firmament. They were like eyes, like a multitude of angels looking down upon the leviathan washed ashore.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Leviathan 2

I couldn't help but blush reading through the succeeding portions of this story. It's shocking for me how I've managed to write such sinful and lewd prose when I was just a teenager! Raging adolescent hormones and hyper-imagination maybe? Perhaps I've toned down as I've grown older. Perhaps sex has lost its novelty now that I am in my twenties, constantly bombarded by overt obscenities.


The feeling as both their mouths caressed one another was exhilarating. Lips met and parted, only to be joined by a fragile string of saliva. Their soft wetness was unbearable, sending an explosive arousal between the two. Tongues explored and tasted insatiably. Cheeks, lips, chin, gum, tongue.

As this communion drew faster, their hearts kept up in high tempo, the warmth of their breaths spreading onto each others' skin. The bullets of sweat that gave their limbs a malicious glow in the moonlight came with a sour odor that mingled with the sea's salty perfume. Josef relished this sensory assault, joining Felix in his muffled moaning.

Josef's right hand could not contain itself any longer, and soon it began to crawl like some spider to the lower reaches of Felix's body.

His fingers slowly unraveled Felix's shorts, revealing his underwear. The feel of the garter and cotton alone sent an electric current across Josef's arm. It was the fulfillment of a fantasy that had long been subjected to suppression, control, and frustrated self-touching.

Even more slowly, Josef's hand slid beneath the garter. The hair was a tangle yet it satisfied his curious touch, his fingers finding it perversely wonderful. Felix's penis was a surprise, too. It was now throbbing, erect to the fullest; its head immensely warm and firm.

The hand moved down towards the scrotum. The hairs were sparse but they were enough to send tingles down Josef's spine. It had tightened as Felix's shaft continued to throb, while Josef's fingers eagerly searched for more sensory pleasures.

to be continued...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Leviathan 1

Found this story among the loose sheets of paper inserted in one of my dusty journals. Found several drafts and poems alluding to this too, and picked out the better version that I wanted to share.

I wrote this just fresh out of high school. I studied in a strict, Catholic all-boy's school, so you can imagine all the stifled raging hormones that gushed on to these pages! It was inspired (fictionalized, if you like) from a senior class trip, one of the last ones till our graduation from secondary school.

I've changed the names (I actually used the real ones when I wrote this!) and tweaked some areas just a tad bit.


Like some leviathan washed ashore, their three bodies were sprawled on the cool, white sand. Paul was on his back with Josef's head resting on his stomach. Josef hugged Felix tightly with both his arms, his head nudged on Josef's neck.

The night was fervid. There was an accumulation of moist almost everywhere. What added to this wonderful hell was the drinking spree earlier that caused reality to steer off its tracks. Fantasy was creeping in, Josef and Felix falling slowly to its ecstasy.

As they lain on the beach, each enjoying their own private thoughts, a sheet of twinkling stars hovered quietly above them. The moon, as if ashamed, hid part of itself behind a patch of shredded clouds. Its remaining half gave an enigmatic glow to the surroundings as darkness waited in every corner for the clouds to disperse, waiting to eat the light into its different world.

There was a breeze that offered respite from the warm night, caressing the coconut trees till they bent gracefully. Animals hidden amongst the shadows crept about. It was not only a sight to see but a world of sounds as well. The waves gently splashed on the shore, making a lullaby against the symphony of crickets. All these gave life to a world seemingly dead.

Paul was in his own world. He was half asleep, his thoughts invaded by memories of high school life. Opening his eyelids from time to time, he caught glimpses of the glittering sky. He felt he was floating in space, amongst the billions of stars that seemed so nearby. Yes, he was drifting into the abyssal world of dreams.

As Josef and Felix lay entwined together, a fever began to rise between the two. Josef began putting gentle kisses upon Felix's forehead, his arms holding him even tighter and closer to his breast. His kisses were soft, Felix thought, as he felt Josef's tender lips discover his face. They touched his furry brows, warm forehead, eyelids, nose; and finally, Felix's wildly wet lips.

to be continued...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sa Aking Iniibig (To My Beloved)

Was going through my desk drawer earlier, and found old journals from when I was younger. Goodness! A lot of interesting stuff in them! Pages were dripping with insatiable, sexual, angry,and confused feelings. A lot were written in metaphors and poetry, and much of what they pertained to I've already forgotten.

It's amusing and hilarious, I found a Filipino poem I wrote for a freshman college assignment! I admit that it is awkward and pretentious (even using the pseudonym, "Eros"!), as I struggled with the language and its novelty. I wrote the poem in English first and brashly translated it word-for-word. I remember my left hand aching from the weight of the thick English-Tagalog Dictionary. I remember working till the wee hours of the morning. I remember that my brain nearly exploded.

The title is not mine as we were told to re-interpret some famous poet's work. If I recall correctly, the original poem was a paean to a loved one. Still raw from all my adolescent angst, I took it upon me to distort its veneration with a dose of unrequited love, bitterness, and sexuality. Masturbatus frustratus, if you will.


Sa Aking Iniibig

Ngayong gabi,
Sa aking malawak at malumbay na kama,
Ako'y nakahigang nag-iisa--
malamig at ulila.

Ang aking pagod na mga mata,
Walang humpas na naghahanap
ng 'sang anino, 'sang imaheng bumubuo
ng lunggating tamis ng iyong katawan.

Samakatwid, nadarama ko ang kumot,
Halumigmig sa pinapawisang likod ko.
Ang mga unan, kasing lambot
ng iyong makinis at maka-rosas na dibdib,
tila'y nilunok nila ang aking kabuuan.

O, ako'y nakahiga't nasusunog para sa'yo--
isang bulkang malapit nang sumabog!

Kay labis kong hinahangad muli,
ang gabing lumipad tayo patungong buwan--
tayong dalawa lamang, nag-iisa sa puting kapatagan.
Nakita kaya tayo ni Luna?
Binuhay ba natin muli si Adan at Eba?

Ngayong gabi,
Sa aking malawak at malumbay na kama,
Ako'y hindi na nakahigang nag-iisa--
mabanas at nasisiyahan.

Ang aking mga kasama?
Mga binhi ng aking kasalanan,
kalat na kalat sa aking paligiran.
Kagaya ng imahen mo--
kalat na kalat sa utak ko.


I've lost the English translation. At the present, here's what I could make of what was written.

To My Beloved

on my vast and lonely bed,
I lie alone--
cold and orphaned.

My tired eyes,
restlessly search
for a shadow, for a likeness
of your body's fervent sweetness.

Instead, I feel the sheets
clinging to my sweaty back.
The pillows, as soft
as your smooth and rosy chest,
seem to have swallowed me whole.

Oh, I lay burning for you--
a volcano close to erupting!

For I've longed once more,
for that night we flew to the moon--
only us two,
one in that white wilderness.
Did Luna perhaps see us?
Did we resurrect Adam and Eve?

on my vast and lonely bed,
I no longer lie alone--
torrid and happy.

My company?
The seeds of my sins,
scattered around me.
Just like your image--
dissipated in my head.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Fear

In a few hours, I fly home. A childhood friend is getting married; and as much I had offered to sing the “Lord’s Prayer” for the mass, she prefers that I simply be a guest. I’m quite relieved actually, considering that all the weddings I’ve been to had me singing, reading scripture, or being the host for the reception. But I digress. I’ll be flying home in a couple of days, and there is a tinge of anxiety hovering in the air.

It’s the thought of being confronted by my mother and father that makes me gnash my teeth and my stomach ache. I expect feelings of insignificance and being a disappointment coming my way. Even across the miles, I feel un-welcomed. My paranoia predicts a brewing storm, possibly coldness from my mother, or another huge argument with her and dad. I foresee my spirit being torn into pieces with each confrontation, while I, silent and seemingly stoic, implode amid all their accusations. Perhaps another bout of boils is on its way?

Dramatic and paranoid, yes. But it’s undeniable that such events do actually happen. Perhaps it’s my trauma speaking. It’s interesting how no amount of pragmatism and dissociation from family drama, meticulously prepared prior to coming home, can compete against the magnitude of my parents’ presence. Each time I go home, it never fails at some point that I revert to my angst-ridden adolescence. It saddens me how they can perceive me in a certain way, filtering everything I say and do unfairly. And what vexes me all the more is that I can’t seem to explain myself clearly; always in some disappointingly desultory manner. And I often end up emotional, frustrated, and feeling bad about myself right after.

I’m aware that much of this madness is all in my head; that my parents and I are merely reacting to each other’s ways. A lot of what is said and done is lost in translation. I am aware that these are just “stories” and justifications I’ve concocted to relinquish myself of any responsibility. I realize that if I continue dwelling in these thoughts, they shall stain the way I will be with my parents. It would be ironic and exasperating that I end up filtering them as well, causing even more drama.

I’ve to let go of the idea that I am worthless, pathetic, and insignificant; that I have lost their love. I have to let go of the expectation that they should pity me or that they should be more understanding. I have to forgive them (as cruel as their love can be). I cannot blame them entirely, especially when you think about it, issues are of our own doing. I shall take responsibility of my own ways in dealing with mom and dad. What I can do is forgive myself and love myself a little more.

I’ve decided to stay for more than a week, craving for calm from the city’s chaos. To save myself from idle time and unnecessary negativity, I’ve thought of activities to keep me creative and preoccupied. There are books to read, more writing to do, friends to see, and the return to sketching and drawing (which I’m excited about). I figure the quietude of the province will do me some good.

The anxiety seems to ebb already. In a few hours, I fly home. Like a thirsty gazelle, I look forward to the satiating waters of my home. But I too shall approach with caution, keeping an unflinching eye on the dangers that may lurk in the murky depths.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Silent Night

The night is black and clear. There are no stars in the sky, but wisps of fragile clouds. The streets glisten under the orange lamps. Cars and people go about their way, sharing the main avenue in slow procession. The night air is cool and calm, restful in its silence. The storm has just passed, and I feel much safer in my room knowing that the tempest is over.


Looking out my window, I realize how much I love my friends. Earlier I was riddled with anxiety, wondering if they were alright, hoping that they all be safe and sound. I hated that the streets were in a standstill. I hated the howling wind and the pelting rain. I hated watching the news, and how it exacerbated my feelings of unease. I wanted to go and visit each of them to offer my help. I wanted to be with them to lighten the moment with laughs and random topics of conversation. But I was stuck at home. Instead, armed with my mobile, I settled on calling people, sending out texts of prayers, hope and love.

My friends matter so much for they have always been there for me, witnessing and supporting my existence. Like them, my life has its own share of disappointments and frustrations. We turn to each other in such dire times. They see my humanity as I see theirs. We pacify each other’s egos, offer respite, and are always ready with the best of intentions. At the end of the day, we know we have each other.

My birthday is nearing, and I have been in a sentimental mood lately. While recounting fond memories (both good and bad), watching movies and listening to music, I find myself tearful and overjoyed. Though I am present to the anxiety that I may have turned into an adult without accomplishing anything substantial, there is the love I have always shared that reminds me that my existence is not insignificant. The love I am surrounded with, so warmly generous and humbling, makes all the self-doubt go away. The thought of all of my friends fills me with the deepest gratitude and wonder, knowing that having made their acquaintance has expanded my heart and soul.

My spirit is full, whole and complete.


News of various friends slowly surface, telling me of their fortunate circumstances. I am glad that they are all alright. The havoc of previous events is in the past, and the night is still once more. Pregnant with hope, this quietude heralds a bright new day, a clearing for even more love to share.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tall & Beautiful

Cabin fever nearly got the best of me today (unfortunately for me, there wasn't a single hair to pull out!). So I rifled through my boxes of memories here at home, posted a lot of old pictures online, and found this essay that made me smile. I remember writing it for some straight male friends in the past, them clandestine and craving for fashion advice. I sent them this for their perusal(!). The piece is a peek into some of my own philosophies on style.


I've always hated leafing through men’s lifestyle magazines. Well, that’s a lie. I admit I get great ideas on dressing well. I fantasize about wardrobes that distinguish me from the hoi polloi . I also fantasize about the men. But that’s another story (don't worry, my dear hetero reader).

So what am I saying? Many times, I find men’s lifestyle magazines ridiculous. There are the clothes that cost a regular employee’s minimum wage, the promoted lifestyle that require a five to six-digit monthly income to sustain. And oh yes, not everyone can be that tall and beautiful! I say this with all my bitter heart. Though I exhaust myself lifting barrels at the gym, secretly watching suspicious growth pill infomercials on the shopping channel, and admiring the Adonis-like men who strut past the coffee shop I hang out in, sometimes I feel I fall short in my attempts to be in some model's shoes.

No. I will not surrender to the thought that only in fantasy can I enter the seeming impenetrable world of men’s lifestyle magazines.

I, even only 5’4” in height, can still be tall and beautiful. Yes, men like me or even those who try to claim to be an inch taller that what they actually are (you know who you are), can make fantasy a reality. It is my goal that post-digestion of this article, I have imparted and shared some possibility, some hope, some knowledge on discovering or resurrecting the giant Adonis in all of us beautiful and petite men. Here are some basic styling tips, to heighten ourselves beyond the prevalent standard of men's high fashion.

• First of all, stay away from common and mass-produced International brands. They cater mostly to men of their race; where a small size for them translates to a large for us. Would you believe that I actually fit in what they label "For Kids"? Leave the baggy style to the adolescents and the real hip-hoppers. Nobody wants to drown in an excess of fabric right? Well, unless you’re Elizabeth on her coronation day. Besides, if you resort to mass-produced garments, you’re bound to meet a twin somewhere in the mall. Being an individual is always important.

• When you’ve finally settled with the fashion aesthetic you’re comfortable with (e.g. preppy, casual, sporty, S&M), consider either local brands or products from our cute Asian neighbors like Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan (yes, ukay-ukay included). In most cases they carry the size just right for us: a small is really a small. Be wary of department stores because aside from having the same shirt with the guy across at the far end of the MRT, many of their fashion lines come in safe and bigger sizes to accommodate mass consumption of their products.

• Take your time when shopping. If many optimists urge us to live each day like it were our last, then dress up like it were so. I don’t mean deck yourself with boughs of holly, silly. I’m referring to keeping in mind the same urgency. Hence, to anticipate the end, time is of the essence to prepare for it right? Try on the items you like and don’t just pick them out like bread in a bakery. Take note that though it may look delicious on a mannequin or a hanger, it does not necessarily mean it will on you.

Taking one’s time also allows the consideration of price. Unless money is no object to you, go ahead and do an Imelda. For those conscious of a budget, keep in mind that there is always a cheaper alternative somewhere. And it’s great if you’ve got your girlfriend, sister, gay friend, or mother with you so that you consider endless comments and ideas aside from the ones running through your head.

• Make sure that the fit is just right. If it’s too tight that you find yourself constricted and uncomfortable, stay away from it. Pigs in a blanket are yummier served on a platter. Remember that most items shrink further after washing and drying. And there is the issue of the silhouette or what is commonly known as the ‘cut’. Ask yourself (and whomever you’re with) if it flatters your body type. Does it shorten your legs? Does it expose your child-bearing hips? Does it make you look sharp or like a hobo? Does it conceal your jelly-belly? And the most important question, Does it look like you're wearing the clothes or are they wearing you?

• What’s your favorite color? I say mine is green but it brings out the dark circles under my eyes. And sometimes, if I'm not careful I could look like a grasshopper or a forest patch. Though you’re itching to have that indigo shirt, to your friends it may make you look like an aubergine. Keep these in mind, and consider that it may be better to look at your favorite colors than to wear them. You’ll be surprised at how you’ll actually like how you look if you just try on a color other than your favorite.

Do pick a color that compliments your skin tone. If you’re on the fair side, light colors are great for a fresh and preppy look and dark ones accentuate what you’ve worked so hard to shield from the sun. Darker guys should stick to either light colors to lighten their complexion or dark colors that flatter and not clash with their skin tone. If you’re a black beauty, stay away from those tangerine and burgundy shirts lest you disappear by twilight.

Remember that colors have a life of their own and can swallow you alive unless tamed. Remember Big Bird? What comes to your head when you think of him? YELLOW and not the bird right? Do not let the colors you wear speak for you. Use them to work for you. And that includes extending your height vertically. Keeping tones close to each other when mixing pieces creates an illusion of continuity, thus lengthening the wearer. Juxtaposing clashing colors between a shirt and a pair of pants only cuts you horizontally, announcing how petite you are to the world.

• Someone once said that shoes are not mere accessories but an extension of your whole outfit. And by this, he was pertaining to the tip of the shoe. Thus, the usual options: Square-toe? Pointed? Round? Consider this first: how does it balance your whole look? Does it lengthen me in my ensemble? So, Square-toe? Never! Unless you’d like to look like a robot or worse, have the misfortune of having all your toes hacked off by a butcher. Round? Too round and all you’ll need is a tutu to frolic with a basket of flowers. Pointed? Careful with this one or you can look like Santa’s long-lost helper. The safest choices are the varieties that subtly elongate to a not-so pointy end.

• Lastly, WALK TALL. When one is comfortable with his chosen ensemble, confidence will simply flow like the rivers of the Amazon—--in all directions. Clothes do not make the man. You do. The right fit, the right colors, and the right shoes wouldn’t matter without the right attitude. So, taking charge of one’s fashionable life and making the clothes work for you makes any glossy magazine fantasy a reality. Great things come in small packages right? Really, they do.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Can't Have It All

For the restless...

Can't Have It All
music and lyrics by Jay Brannan

applying moisturizer in the microwave window
for the tenth time, he should've called me an hour ago
would he be here with flowers if I lived in Arizona?

they say there's no love left in the big cities, its kinda true
I guess you'll find me coming soon to a small town near you
I'll sell my guitar so i can by myself a tractor

fuck this, this cant be my life
i moisturized ten times tonight
why cant i sit down and write,
bring this question to light?

do you want a lover, or do you want a life?
one hand or the other, the butter or the bread knife?
do you choose winter, spring, summer, or fall?
its driving me crazy that I can't have it all

if these walls could talk, they'd probably cry out for mercy
til I'm outlined in chalk, I'll be romantically thirsty
so I drink and drink from the proverbial time sink

fuck this, this can't be my life
tears flowing in full force tonight
why can't I sit down and write,
bring this question to light?


do we hold the future, or does it come in peace?
and if it's in my hands, are you sure it should be in brittle hands like these?
life, love, and the pursuit of all the things they promised me
can I have all of the above? are the best things in life truly free?


© 2008 great depression publishing

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Forgetting The World

I'm at my sister's place somewhere in the recesses of Alabang country. I must say that the quiet solitude I'm currently surrounded with is a far cry from Makati's mania. I'm so glad to have space, silence, and the deliciousness of a care-free tomorrow.

Caught "Into the Wild" with Emile Hirsch (slurp!) last night. Was quite taken by its insight and rawness. The thought of running away from everything; immersing one's self in primordial living sans issues with, constraints, and expectations of the modern world... To be in it would be most interesting indeed!

But would I survive it perhaps? Me, with my careful use of bacterial soap; the nightly facial moisturizer; the importance of dessert and a cigarette after every meal... Can I actually kill and slaughter a moose? Mr. Hirsch did it half-naked in the movie. Yes, I can go half-naked with my tummy-tum, pasty skin (Thanks to Safeguard Papaya...haha!), and all...but a moose?!! Gracious!

I remember immersion in college when my group and I were assigned to an aeta village in Nueva Ecija. The goal of the three-day activity was to "immerse" students in a life other than their own, with the hopes of achieving certain insights, epiphanies on humanity and spirituality. I had all that, especially with my solitary moment underneath a starry night sky, framed by the towering bamboos surrounding me. But there was that one incident when I couldn't help but bring out the worldly in me.

There was a river behind the bungalow where I lived. I promised myself total "immersion" with the aetas, understanding and emulating their way of life while I was there. But after two days without a shower, my face was sepia from my generous sebaceous glands. I was desperate to wash. So down to the river I went, clandestine, hiding my foaming facial wash in my pocket. As soon as I got to its shallow pools, I quickly took out my facial wash, anxious that no one witness my vanity. And by the river, my god, I scrubbed my face with Nutrogena till I felt reborn again.

The idea of letting go of all worldly constraints for a freer being is a beautiful thing. But such lofty goals call for humility and integrity. As a friend said once, if you choose to live under the bridge, do so without the safety of your house nearby. Let go, and stand by it. Only then perhaps can one behold the "light" of a new world.

I wouldn't mind being in Mr. Hirsch's character's shoes really. Just as long as I've got my toiletry kit handy, of course.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Remembering Home III

I always wake up as the sunlight hits my body. After a visit to the bathroom, I would hurriedly change from my pajamas into my house clothes, unlock the door to my room and rush to the dining table. In the morning the house is brightly lit, the floors shining with the light from the open windows. The ceiling with its molding pattern of squares seems friendlier, and the anahaw and vine carvings that frame each room compliment the brightness around me.

Breakfast on the molave table is a sight to see. The pieces of crispy beef tapa pounded into thin brown sheets; the greasy scrambled eggs mixed with sliced tomatoes and onions; the steaming kettle filled with bittersweet chocolate tablea; the salty pinakas, dried fish fried to a crisp; the overripe slices of papaya; the stout pieces of pan de sal, stuffed with cheese, mounted on a wicker basket. Yum!

The day is just starting, but I cannot wait for later to come. After breakfast comes a hearty lunch, and another interesting lazy afternoon. Then the evening arrives with yet another scary tale to tell. Time and again, home is like this. When I am away or tired from the chaos of the city, I always go back to places familiar and endearing. I always go back to my old, old house along M. Jalandoni St., near the Jaro Cathedral. Back to my house made of wood and stone.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Remembering Home II

Time doesn’t exist with the sights that passed along M. Jalandoni St. Yet when the cathedral’s giant bell tolls, the afternoon reverie stops. Somberly, the coming of the evening is announced with the Angelus. Passersby would all come to an abrupt stop, some bowing their heads, others clasping their hands in prayer. It gets quiet, and even the mongrel dogs scattered about cease with their relentless sniffing. Slowly, as the bell counted one to six, darkness took over. The miserable street lights are turned on, and the shadows come out to play.

At night, a certain gloom pervades throughout the corridors and spaces; and the lamps seem timid with their light. The decorative carvings of vines and fan-like anahaw leaves that hang from the ceiling give the illusion of some sinister forest. The shiny burgundy narra floors take on a more darker hue, like a river of blood.

As the night advances, the house grows quieter; and my imagination gets wilder. The ceilings seem higher, the shadows more immanent, and the sporadic sounds seem more deliberate. I start remembering the ghost stories yaya told me, the ones I found scary but loved to listen to anyway. There is the tale of the old man without a face sitting atop our staircase, the invisible visitor who rattled the maid’s quarters’ doorknob, the single footprint found in the basement office, the heavy footsteps heard walking across the kitchen roof, the full-sized mirror in the sala that is said to show your reflection and a demon behind you at midnight. And there is the huge balete tree in the garden said to be home to malevolent dwarves.

All alone in my room, I was too small for a bed I thought safe to be by the open window. The lonely nightlight from my neighbor’s backdoor was too weak in stopping the darkness from creeping in on me. The blanket I covered myself with, even in such humidity, eventually became unbearable as my stiff body began breaking into a cold sweat. I would shut my eyes tightly and pretend to sleep; and try to think of other things, but darker, more frightening thoughts would prevail.

As I count more stories and scary images instead of sheep, the crickets slowly play their eerie symphony to a hush. The stillness of the night begins to ease with the blowing of the cool morning breeze. The leaves of the mango trees outside rustle, while the ceiling creaks as the winds go about my house, as if driving all the night’s malevolence away. As I look out the window, what was once the blackness is now a vast sheet of purple melting into yellow. The stars are still out, but I know it is already morning. Somewhere in the neighborhood, a rooster crows, followed by the thunder of a passing jeepney in the street. Iloilo is slowly awakening, while I, tired from all my mind adventures during the night, begin to relish the comforts of my blanket and my broad bed. All the familiar noises—the helpers scrubbing the floors, doors opening and closing, footsteps of family members—lull me to sleep.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Remembering Home I

Along M. Jalandoni Street and a stone’s throw away from the Jaro Cathedral, my house is what historian’s call Antillan. Hybrid models of the Spanish casa found in the colonized islands of the Antilles, the locals call it balay nga bato, “house of stone.” Two stories high, intricately carved balusters and cornices below windows strewn with capiz shells sit atop coral stone overlaid with stucco. My mom says that it was built long before Rizal, and is at least over two hundred years old. I am proud to live in such a museum piece!

During early weekend afternoons, when the sun was at its brightest, staying indoors would be such a joy. When I was younger, always defiant of the three-hour siesta imposed by my parents, I would roam the house, raid the fridge, laze about in the sala with a book in hand, and reach the wide windows checkered with capiz shells. These windows always drowned the light outside, leaving the inside awash in a soft yellow haze. Sliding them apart revealed a layer of slats; and peering through them was a great way to stay hidden from the garish sun, or from prying eyes.

The street, without the usual crowd, was a river of eccentricities. Sometimes ati, aborigines from the north clad in bright mismatched clothes, would pass by. There would be the dark-skinned woman with her bila-o, a flat wicker basket she balanced high up on her head. From the window, I always had the perfect view of the merienda she yelled out to entice the sleepy neighborhood: steamed corn; sticky rice tightly wrapped in coconut leaves; the hard candies loaded with peanuts, cashew and dried coconut shavings. Yum!

There too was the old, old spinster who dragged herself to church, her steps ever careful and fragile. The nanny of the ex-congressman living adjacent to my house, I remember she made the most delectable biscocho, crumbly toasted bread glazed with sticky dried milk. Always zooming past her were the “speed demons” who pedaled away in their skeletal trysikad, belch-less and quieter versions of the tricycle. Then there were the angelic-faced seminarians, who added splotches of white on the drab gravel streets, walking along street children excited for another day’s play at the cathedral’s grotto. All this beats living in the city, hours spent online or mindlessly surfing T.V channels.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Awakening

Sita was on her way home. It was a warm night. The breezes kept still and the air hung about like a heavy cacha blanket, causing her brown skin to moisten from the walk. Her worn out daster clung helplessly to her tiny frame, unflattering to her firm breasts, her round hips and slender legs.

The road before her was quiet. All she heard were the shuffle of her rubber slippers on the river of crushed rock beneath her, the occasional twig that snapped, and the redundant whirring crickets that surrounded her. The darkness that shrouded both sides of the road hid from the scope of the yellow light emanating from the bulbs atop rows of bamboo posts.

Sita’s steady steps brought her back to the supper at Natan’s balay, the tiny nipa hut that she was so familiar with ever since she was a child. Natan had just arrived for vacation from his amo in the city, and she was sent through word of mouth to join him, Tatay Andoy and Nanay Etring for supper.

The meal was quick. The tiny salted fish that swam with pieces of ginger and red pepper in a sour coconut sauce, the steaming brown rice heaped on the worn out tin plate, the red fleshy tomatoes mounted together with the salted eggs on a plastic platito, all laid out on the bamboo floor, were eaten quietly.

Sita looked down on her plate most of the time, raising her head only when she brought a pinched handful of rice towards her pink lips. She was more careful with herself this time, arranging her fingers into the shape of a duck’s bill, her slim arm stretched gracefully whenever she reached for the fish or the blushing tomatoes. Though her back was trembling, she insisted on sitting without hunching, her legs folded to a slant, toes tucked neatly under her bottom, and the trunk of her body slightly bent to one side.

Natan could not help but glance at the lissome image before him. Years have passed since he last saw her. The memory of their childhood games together, the awkwardness in her that defied her sex, allowing her to play rough, flourished in his thoughts. He liked how her daster revealed only an imagined suppleness of the body beneath it. He smiled as he chewed, savoring the juices of the salty fish and tomato in his mouth.

When the mound of rice diminished to a shallow scatter, and the plate of salty fish left in a puddle, Sita raised her head but kept her eyes wandering on the floor.

“How long will you be staying Natan?” she asked.

“Not very long, Sita. Maybe just a week.”

She quivered upon hearing his baritone voice. But it was the sound of her name that brought a warm rush running across her arms, nape, reaching her ear lobes, and then her cheeks. Sita. Her temples began to sweat.

“Tatay Andoy says that you found a good amo to work for in the city. He must treat you well.”

“Yes, Don Manuel is a good man. He has a very pretty and kind wife, Doña Corazon. Their four young children get rowdy sometimes, but most of the time they are little angels.”

“Ah, it’s good to know that they are all very kind.” Sita replied indifferently. She was not really interested about Natan’s life in the city. Instead, she found herself missing the games they would play on the front lawn till night fell. She remembered the climbs up the calachuchi, and how vigorously they would shake the branches of the old mango tree, waiting till the beetles fell to the ground. She wanted to go back to it all, to the leisure of playing, to the unbridled comfort of friendship. But most of all, she longed to cast away the fervid caress of her name on her skin.

“You’ve grown a lot since I’ve seen you Sita. You look so different now.” Natan said, his eyes catching a glow as his lips curled to a meaningful smile.

“You’ve grown also Natan,” was all Sita managed to reply. A feeling of unease welled up in her, her mind interpreting the possible meanings to the sudden glow in his eyes and his pregnant smile. She felt as if Tatay Andoy’s nipa hut shrank in size. It imprisoned her with an overwhelming warmth and a man before her whom she remembered only as a boy.

“Let’s go out and get some air. It’s getting warm in here.” Sita proposed.

Outside the stars were sparse. Tatay Andoy’s small lot was lit by the weak gleam of the kerosene lamp inside the hut. Beyond was a world of pitch-black shadows. Hidden among the acacia, ipil-ipil, calachuchi, and mango trees that bordered the front of the lot was the lit road that looked like a snake of yellow embers.

Sita and Natan stood side by side facing the trees and the road, their bare arms barely touching.

Placing his palm gently on her shoulder, he asked, “Sita, so how have you been all this time?”

“Fine.” Feeling the gruffness of his touch, Sita closed her eyes as the wave of heat surged once again through her body. She had to escape him. She walked a few inches away.

“Tatay bought some carabaos last week. One of them was pregnant. One of them was pregnant. It just gave birth the other day to a pink calf,” she said, urging something different to talk about.

“Really? How’s Nanay Pering? I do miss her ibus. I love how sticky it gets. Oh, to dip it in brown sugar! Mmmm…” Natan slid his tongue across his lips.

“Nanay is well. I think she shall be making some sticky rice again. Maybe… maybe… you can come by tomorrow.” Teresita closed her eyes once again. She hated herself at that moment for being so coy, for being so inviting. She hated herself for wanting and not wanting. But it was too late.

“That would be really great Sita!” Natan’s voice seemed to have leapt out from his throat. “And maybe we could catch up about more things we’ve missed,” he continued in a sudden subdued manner, careful at not giving away his intentions.
More? More things we’ve missed? Sita tried to smother other thoughts with the smiles and laughter she expected from reminiscing with a childhood playmate. But they persisted. Things missed? Is there more? More of what? She hated these questions that prodded her mind, questions that teased her. What more did we miss? More sticky rice?

“I think I should take you home now. It’s late, and Tatay Lando and Nanay Pering might be worried sick for you.”

“Oh, it’s not necessary. I’ll walk myself home. It’s not too far really. Besides you might be exhausted from your trip home.”

“Tired? No, never for you. Besides it’s dangerous for someone like you to walk all alone at this hour. The spirits are out now, you know.”

“No, really, I’ll be fine. The road is well lit, and what can a spirit do to me?”

“Many things.”

“Then I shall pray hard while I walk.”

It was indeed late, about half past the hour of eleven. Sita did not expect to be on her way home at such a time, and actually wondered about her safety. She was also bothered with thoughts of Natan. So much he had said seemed cryptic to her, yet somehow she knew and felt what his words meant. Her heart softened when she remembered the boy she held hands tightly with while at play. Yet why was her heart different, tightened in fact, even to the slightest touch of his rough palm on her shoulder? What was it in his voice that made her hear her name so strangely? These thoughts of Natan made her think of her mother’s sticky rice. Lifting her daster’s skirt, Sita bent forward and wiped off the sweat that made her face, arms and neck shine in the yellow glow of the light bulbs.

As soon as she reached home, Sita rushed to the fat rubber jug that sat idly by the kitchen’s ashen kilns. She squatted beside the black container, lifted its conical lid up, and ladled out its content with her hands. As she felt the cool water splash on her flushed face and trickle down on the seething skin of her hands and nape, she let out heavy sighs. After, she stood up and sauntered towards her bed.

Her body ached upon laying herself down on the firmness of her bamboo-laden mattress. Sleep awaited her as she was feeling the warmth and heavy stillness of the midnight air. She kept thinking of the supper at Tatay Andoy’s house. She kept thinking of Natan.

Slowly, as her eyes began to close, she began to dream. She dreamt she was helping her mother make ibus. She felt its stickiness smeared on her fingers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Daddy tells me he loves me very much. i love him very much too. So i guess it’s OK that we play games many times. He loves me and i love him, and the games are OK, i guess. But sometimes i’m not really sure.

It’s the games we play at night that are different from the games we play during the day. When Mommy’s around, Daddy plays daytime games. They’re all fun actually, but sometimes i just don’t get it. Daddy tells me that i should keep the nightgames a secret. He looks funny every time he puts his pointing finger on his lips and says Shhhhhh. Why can’t i tell Mommy? Daddy says we share something special. He says we’re boys and Mommy’s a girl, and she won’t understand. Daddy’s smart, so i guess he knows better. Well, maybe it’s OK to keep some secrets from Mommy. i know Mommy will understand. Daddy and me love each other, and we love Mommy too, so i guess it’s OK to keep secrets from her.

When i feel like it, the nightgames we play are OK. But there are nights when Daddy gets bad. When i don’t feel like it, he hurts me. He pushes me on the bed real hard, he gets very heavy; he starts sweating, and makes funny noises too. He also whispers in my ear again and again that he loves me very much. When Daddy says that he loves me, i try not to mind that it hurts. It’s just that sometimes it gets really painful. i cry but Daddy doesn’t hear me. He keeps pushing my face hard on my pillow, and sometimes i can’t breathe. That’s when i start to close my eyes and pretend i’m buried underground.

i’m waiting for Daddy now. i hope he won’t be bad when we play later. If he hurts me again, i’ll just close my eyes. i'll play dead.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rising to the Occasion

After another disaster earlier, attempting to un-inhibit myself in a tryst, I caught a bus with another commuter who seemed interested in me. Lanky with black-rimmed glasses (real, by the way), he was actually handsome upon second glance. Skimming through the seating arrangement in the half-filled bus, I caught the eye of a seemingly cute guy in the upper rows. My insecurities rendering me to shrink, I immediately took on the empty two-seater right behind him. “Nerdy”, following behind me, took the empty space beside “Cutey”. With the both of them cramped together, I was to witness their quick-forming relations all the way home. Left already with a broken ego earlier, the sordid duo in front of me made the long way home almost insufferable.

I began recounting how dirty I felt, post-tryst. I couldn’t help feeling down as the other issues I thought I sorted out already began rushing in. I felt uglier than usual, smaller and insignificant. All these exacerbated by the duo in front of me, quickly hitting it off, as I could tell through their furtive glances and guarded movements.

Trying to drown out my thoughts and the scene playing in front of me, I turned up the volume of my i-pod, opting for some loud house music; while curiosity and envy swam in my head. To make things worse, thinking that the cute guy would get off alone, it surprised me that the other dude followed in haste. Then I thought to myself, why shouldn’t he? The guy was indeed cute, and you’ve got to hand it to the other guy for his courageous pursuit. Through the oily window, I watched them scamper along, imagining what else the evening had in store for them: an exchange of numbers? a tryst? a brewing future relationship?

As always, I got to the sanctuary of my unit alone. I got my mail and opened my phone bill hastily while riding the elevator, attempting to convince myself that I had something important to look forward to. It was due next week. Great, more money to shell out. I felt all the more down on my way up.

After quickly stripping my clothes off, I almost swallowed my fast food takeaway in front of the T.V. After a cigarette by the window, I jumped in the shower to wash away the day’s excess, and sang to myself melancholic tunes, relishing the womb-like safety of the bathroom's accoustics.

I got to bed, cushioned my head with pillows, my mind still hard with thought. Even with the T.V. glaring in front of me, my fingers relentlessly surfing channels, I wasn't really paying attention. I couldn't stop thinking. I couldn't help bashing myself for reverting back to my dismal distresses. I couldn't help feeling frustrated at my current space: stuck and petrified. I couldn't stop feeling... hungry!!! Oooh! Martha Stewart started baking in the Lifestyle channel!

As soon as she was done, I put on a jacket and a pair of shorts, took the elevator and bought me a pastry downstairs. Though it almost tasted like hardened papier-mache sprinkled with sugar, it made me quite happy. After smoking a stick, watching people pass by, I couldn't help but smile. I couldn't help thinking that all's well really. Life's still good, even when you've got a pathetic pastry in hand.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Over It 2

Here's the second installment to yesterday's bliss:

"The card reader says, 'Listen to your heart...' And though the pessimist in me thinks it such a cheesy cop-out, the romantic and optimist in me finds it all too delicious. Truly, I've been too concerned of what other people think, exhausting myself in trying to look good, over-thinking to justify my ways; all of this, swimming in my head, forgetting to hear my heart. Interesting how she tied my current stasis, that palpable dead feeling that has burdened me, the loss of inspiration and vitality---all of this, to how I've silenced my heart's voice for so long."

"Yet still, I hear my mother's voice in my head. 'There is a reason why the head is above the heart', she says; her voice dripping with pragmatism. Nonetheless, one cannot discount the heart's existence nor it's power to induce our thoughts and decisions right?"

"The card reader continues that it's high time that I live outside the box I've quartered myself in. True. I've been inside it for so long, even describing it in the past as how 'petrified' I've become---deadened and scared. Living is a risk, and there is no other way but to take it on. Great if one succeeds, but if not, then try again. One thing never fails... you learn."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Over It

Amid all the negativity I've found myself swimming in lately, I decided to accept my friend's invitation to meet with his psychic-therapist. Though things have gotten better these past few days, the glimmer of happiness and hope shined a little brighter today.

Last night, I found myself exhausted from all the depression that I decided to start taking on a new paradigm.I got up from my bed (the cocoon I've long languished in), stood up, looked at myself in the mirror, and began singing a happy tune.

Today, after seeing the card reader, I couldn't help but feel much lighter than before. Buoyed with a new sense of self, I walked around the mall with a lighter stride, excited to settle down and write in my journal.

On a dusty, lop-sided table, beside the chaos of the adjacent streets, a full cup of coffee across me, and my trusty ipod playing, here are several musings for today (direct from the pages of my journal; with a little tweaking, of course):

"I guess it all boils down to my having a conversation with a stranger. Without the filters of familiarity and consequent judgement (brought about by well-meaning friends), I felt freer sharing myself; saw my reflection clearer, and felt the tempest within me ebb."

"Similar to the card reading I've had in the past (with another psychic), I was told of my greatness, power, and fiery aura. But this time I was made aware that not only is my fire innate, having the ability to create and make a difference, I also had the power to destroy. And for the past months, I have taken on the destruction of my own self with fantasies of ineptitude and desperation (what can I say, it's the drama queen in me)."

"I got present to my recent despondent feelings, in search of some messiah to whisk me away into a brand new life. And I realized how it was all a futile attempt at not taking responsibility, feeding the childish in me to whine and pine. The card reader urged me that since I was more of a 'fire element', that it was never in my personality to be saved. Apparently, though I may have seemingly reached my weakest point, my kind remain strong and powerful."

"Truth be told, beyond all my bitching and negative musings, I remain optimistic and aware that only I can take myself out from all this. I may have made bed, yes, but I can choose another or even make a new one to lie on. And my recent disappointments whenever I seek refuge in a friend's company (constantly left wanting for solutions or a sympathetic ear) all seemed a petty excuse to point the blame elsewhere."

In deference to a particular friend generous enough to take a look at my blog, I'll cut this short for now; and continue in another entry. I wouldn't want to vex any eyes with too many words (teehee!).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Swimming (in Shit) 2

Am I satisfied with my life? A constant topic amongst friends, either over coffee or buckets of beer, many of us find ourselves defending jaded and cynical answers. Though I often find myself espousing optimism, waxing lyrical and composed retorts, I cannot shake off a pestering thought: do I truly believe the words coming out of my mouth? I try to ignore it, even taking pride in having shared some glimmer of hope amongst a sea of negativity, but it revisits me whenever the question comes up.

Indeed, I am keen on believing that life ain’t all too shabby; and that there are many things one can truly be grateful for. Yet it seems un-happiness is a much easier thing to grasp. I tried writing happy poems once, but I ended up either cringing at the cheesiness of my metaphors or twisting the entire opus into a more dismal offering. Whenever I share how pretty things turn up in a film and wish my life to be similar, expected reactions include either a raised eyebrow or a mordant, “it only happens in the movies.” Speaking of, don’t you notice that even in the Oscars, serious movies have more heft; depressing dramas and tear-jerkers praised highly for their substance and truth? Why does tragedy weigh heavier than comedy? Why is it so hard for many of us to be happy? Have we all become that jaded and cynical?

We all seem too swift to resort to any possible drama and complication, keen on sharing and sometimes even imposing on generous hearts that lend an ear. Maybe because the pain is too comforting and real; and whatever all this shit brings us, we ironically find comfort in it, in its palpable familiarity. Maybe its that insatiable search for love that renders us to unnecessarily dwell in shit. We seek some messiah, some knight in shiny armor, to take all the pain away, whisking us to some "ever after", granting our wish of starting anew. The bigger we ache, the bigger the love we need. The human condition? Nah, Too easy an explanation...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Empty Plate

After aimlessly surfing channels on the telly, narrowing my eyes from the glares of random flashy images, I finally had the courage to turn the thing off. I worry not only that it has taken much of my time, affording me even more sloth and inactivity, but that the circles under my eyes have begun to darken and quiver from all the stress.

An empty plate sits beside me. The metallic scent of canned tuna I had minutes ago wafts up my nose as I examine the dried up remnants of the tomato sauce it swam in splattered on the plate. I remember how almost crimson it was earlier, how it offered me the promise of a delicious and nutritious meal, but now a decrepit orange crusts on the porcelain. The lingering odor has become rancid and annoying. A pang of discontentment and regret, as acrid as an impending attack of heartburn, settles.

This is how it is. I, with all my optimism and the best of intentions in tow, eventually end up with gnawing regret, doubt and dissatisfaction. I am well aware that the answers to whatever it is that troubles me lies so close and obvious, and that only I can take on a solution. However, isn’t it that whenever things are nearer, our sight of them falls even shorter? It is our great expectations, our dreams of grandeur, our pining for what things should be that catapult us to an expansive panorama of possibility. Yet why do we feed ourselves when the experience more often than not is overwhelming, exhausting and ultimately, disenchanting? Is it hope? Wanderlust? Wishful thinking?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


There is some sense of in-authenticity which pervades the back of my mind whenever people tell me good news of their personal lives. I know it is right and kind to reciprocate with a positive or optimistic response, to verbally support them in whatever journey it is they have undergone; but I cannot help shake off that cruel side of me riddled with envy and self-pity. I cannot help but compare myself with them. I cannot help but see the lack and emptiness that pains me, causing me to pine for some semblance of the glimmer that they’ve achieved.

Maybe “cruel” is too strong a word. Maybe I simply am human to want what others have. And I know that having such a comparative view can be ruinous to my self-esteem, but I cannot help it. Or shall I say, I refuse to do the opposite. Am I a phony? What is it that I get out from all this positive reinforcements for the people around me, when I end up always feeling on the losing end? Perhaps, if one cannot be happy and content with one’s self, one can never be truly happy for the others around him.

I cannot accuse myself of over-thinking, or even over-feeling. I may be a drama queen, but my current space of unemployment and inactivity has rendered me pensive and terribly bitter.

The other part of me, that which I claim to be more generous and loving, finds my offers of buoyancy to my confidants sincere. Indeed, it is a beautiful thing when someone finds somebody special; when someone finds their true calling; when someone garners praise and recognition for their talent and achievements. I guess it isn’t cruelty really. It’s not that I wish ill of those who’d like to share their joys with me, nor am I conniving enough to aspire to covet what they have. It is the cruelty to my own self that feeds my unhappiness. Indeed, whoever that was that ruminated and said that loving one’s self was the hardest thing hit the cold truth. I’m sure he must have felt like the loneliest and most resentful man in the planet then.