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.