Influences (or Why I Write the Way I Do)

Natalie Goldberg (free-flowing writing)
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (wild woman writing)
Jane Hutchison (direct-to-the-point writing)
Ernest Hemingway (simple words writing)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kung Fu Panda and One Life Lesson

i am just psyching myself up for the task ahead. but if i will sum up in one word what the story of kung fu panda is, it's 'FAITH'. funny, i take this for granted, in my own travails --- in the write-up that i'm supposed to write, for instance. but when a friend is in trouble, can't get out of a rut, what do we say? 'kaya mo yan, i have faith in you.' well the story of Po, a big, fat noodle server of a panda turned 'accidental' dragon warrior is just that. paniniwala sa sarili, kahit napakalayo ng pangarap sa katotohanan, one's own reality. there are no seven habits to be successful. it all boils down to the well of faith that you have inside and draw strength from. so ako ngayon nandito sa bahay when i should have been writing like 6 hours ago. am just about to start and still had this blog to finish. i have the materials, have all important points playing in my head since waking up at 7:59 this morning. it's only a matter of organizing them, making these thoughts coherent, tight. only. but i will believe.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Story Telling

(The shoot before the story.)

was supposed to blog at 11pm last night. but motherhood called and i had to accede to yaman's request for storytelling - cinderella and kung-fu panda. again and again and again. nakakasawa na din pero yun na lang nga ang hiningi, sa sampung oras na nagkawalay kami maghapon, ipagdadamot ko pa ba? so yun sa may lampshade nagsimulang isalaysay ang legend ng kung-fu warrior na si Po.

(it's Yaman's habit to stir my bedtime tea)

so we can began the ritual by me finishing a cup of green tea. then i sat cuddling yaman close to my chest and realized this is what i really looked forward to at the end of the day. too precious to miss writing a blog.

(Our feet together tells it all.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


kahit lipstick
di naman maputla
budhi ko
a little blush
on the side
and why?
i don't need red
to smile
mag pedicure
ka naman
eh anu ngayon?
paa yan ng
ng buto
manicure kaya
plain nails
can write as
ganyan ka ba
yah, sorta
simple lang
pero wow

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Feng Shui Rituals

am a feng shui believer since 2000 when for the first time, at 29, i had my own room in a rented apartment in pasig city. every year, i follow rituals as recommended by feng shui master lillian too and carol yap until this tapered down to only 3 on this year of the ox, 2009. the first would be this 3-coin bracelet. my original idea since lillian adviced to wear these coins close to the body and preferably, jiggling as one moves. so, i thought, why not make a bracelet out of it? i've been wearing this since 2003. the second would be putting an ampao containing similar 3 coins face-up (or 4 sides up) on the bottom of our rice bin in guijo. to not run out of rice and symbolically, to not run out of money, the source of physical nourishment. the third would be to pray over and cleanse with incense 3 chinese amulets for personal luck and protection, all-round luck, and wealth. same really pero type ko kaya binili ko na.

if there is a word that i could use for feng shui and chinese astrology overall, it would be BALANCE. feng shui infuses harmony in our placement with the world. diba the golden rule in marketing is location, location, location? it's the same thing. para balanse ang pakitungo mo sa mundo. you're balancing the elements (earth, fire, water, metal, wood) signified by each direction (NSWE and all combinations) with their corresponding colors, shapes, and symbols. the same elements rule our personalities and that's where chinese astrology comes in to advise what our lucky and unlucky elements are, and how we can use the elements to our advantage. but then, not to the disadvantage of others. may karma pa rin kasi. everything comes around that goes around. so no good investing in the negative, kasi babalikan ka lang. so balance din diba?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Dilemma of a Development Worker (kuno)

Working with numbers
Adding up days, projects, and ratings
As if quantifying them will satisfy
Development partners and justify
More aid, more aid

Working with numbers
I a number among the million
Living in comfort
While in a microscope
The specimen of the poor I see
Whose poverty
Justifies my existence
Are they the ones poor, or me?

Working with numbers
A paradox of a life
Dissecting development
As the 'problem'
Going round concentric circles
As 'problems' magnify
By the day
While we seek solutions
Linear with targets
And even more numbers

So we run around in circles
Chasing the ever-elusive numbers
When these are not the cure
Perhaps it is in waiting
In being patient
In going down
Immersed in the fields and the mud
Not here with the numbers

But with brown toiling hands
Living the 'problem'
Eating as the poor do
Sweating as hard
And crying the cry of ordinary women
And men
Not under this dome
Protected against the sun
Breathing in conditioned air
And working frustrated with spreadsheets
That could never mirror reality
Of 'problems' that lie out side, out there
Beyond the reach of numbers

Sunday, January 25, 2009


erving goffman in his book, stigma, studied people with physical defects and how they are marginalized in society. Goffman has a subtle way of linking the obvious with the nön-obvious and went on to conclude that stigmatization is culturally, other than physically, ascribed. The way stigmatization occurs insidiously lends to its danger. Stigmatization is accepted as second nature, endured by the stigmatized and perpetuated by the oppressor culture. The oppressor can come both from within and out of the culture.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Strength and Happiness

I was in Australia in 1998 when Jelena Dokic burst forth the tennis scene as a 17-year old wunderkind. She had this earnest look matched by a playing style that can deliver with blistering and accurate groundstrokes. No temperament on court. Just her hard stare and her hard groundstrokes. She takes and plays tennis seriously. But in the coming years, Jelena did not deliver. Has yet to deliver. Until now, I think. In the 2009 Australian Open, when after 10 tumultuous years with an overbearing father and a 2-year bout with depression, she decided to strike it out again. On her own. Away from her father, away from her family. But back in Australia's arms. Jelena is now playing for Australia, her adoptive country. Gone the representation of Serbia which was her father's idea in the first place. At 25, she finally made her own choice. At 25.

It is this kind of player I admire. The one who is able to cast away her demons and face herself as the ultimate test of superiority. Who says 'I don't care' when asked how she'll play against Caroline Wozniacki in the 3rd round and just gets on with it. Jelena went on to brutally defeat Wozniacki 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 last night.

It is very hard carrying the weight of people's expectations, not less your father's, on your back. The tendency is to fashion your style and your beliefs accordingly. The weight of people's advice could drown one's own voice. We lose ourselves. We become just mere shadows. Liberation comes when one gets down to the pits --- of loneliness, despair; some get through depression or one through hibernation. Being alone, choosing to be. Frightening at first but perhaps the only gradual yet best antidote. One has to go back to self. To rediscover one's scent, one's howl, one's path. One's style of writing, studying, thinking, talking. One's likes, hates, uniqueness, peculiar habits. Along the way, one will find the sturdiest and truest of friends; the most well-meaning and trustful of mentors. Eventually, one will find one's pack. Strength is relearned, not imposed. Strength is recovered, not bestowed. Happiness is rediscovered in what is. Happiness is reclaimed in what one holds true.

Who says Sampras or Federer is the best tennis player of them all? I stake it all on Andre Agassi. Why? Because neither Sampras nor Federer, and not even Borg, could have survived the kind of path Agassi traveled from prodigy to obscurity to greatness. It was all a straight line for the first three, but for Agassi it was a beaten path with a lot of struggles with instant fame, image obsession, a flank of advisers, not to mention, a ravishing actress-wife. Agassi was written off sometime in 1996-1997 and laughed out when he humbly played Challenger Series all over the US in 1998 just to earn points to qualify in ATP tournaments! He started 1998 sank to a career-lowest rank of 122 only to catapult to No. 6 at year-end. Agassi went on to win the 1999 French Open to become 1 of only 6 male players to win all grand slams in tennis (Australia, French, Wimbledon, and US Open). Until his retirement due to injury in 2006, Agassi will go on to win 1 US Open (1999) and 3 more Australian Opens (2000, 2001, 2003), not counting 16 more ATP tournaments. It is said that the way Agassi waves and kisses the crowd (on all sides) with his two hands is his humble way of saying thank-you. Along the way, he learned grace as well.

This is the ultimate sportsman, sports-player. The one who played tennis as he played life; over the edge, missing the lines, foot-faulting, tripping, falling, cussing along the way, dismissing the umpire. Yet never breaking the racket (strangely, the best tennis players I know never ever hurt their rackets) perhaps because the racket is none but one's extension, the representation of oneself. Crying, hurting, but on the mend, never breaking.

I think this is where Jelena is now. The path to painful relearning, recovery, rediscovery and reclaiming. Along the same breath as Agassi in walking over a crooked path to finding self. Jelena may not win the Australian Open; she may even lose in the fourth round. Yet in testing herself, in demonstrating her will to play and her love of tennis; she has shown enough of the strength and happiness to be the winner in my heart.

(Photo courtesy of the 2009 Australian Open. Andre Agassi bio from Wikipedia. Andre Agassi pic from BBC)

Friday, January 23, 2009

What's the Weather in Your Side of the World?

here in manila, it's perfect to just go outside and bask in the sun. even if it means waiting for a taxi, showering your newborn with a dose of healthy sun, vending the last few cups of taho, jogging or marathon walking with your beer-belly friend, or taking your apo in tow at the market. funny that because we have so much of it, we tend to take the sun for granted. go to a place with winter weather and you'll see what i mean. once you experience the worst of winters, you will never curse the sun again. in perth, the highest suicide rates register during the winter months of april-july. in canada, the sun peeks through for only 2 months; so much that camping has become a pastime for one filipino family i know in toronto. during this time, they just couldn't bear staying home again after a long long hiatus of the weather. just last december, in my 14-day stay in naga, i only saw the sun and blue cast skies for 2 days; the day i arrived on 24 dec and the day after new year, jan 2. that day, i took yaman, yumi and ira out, just to have coffee and laze around at bean bag. no hassles with umbrellas or wet feet. it's just us holding hands under the sun.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vienna 2:39am

living most of the future in today
shaping things to pass
living another now
looking forward to another today

life's lessons learned
when a twin soul is found
time is never straight
but a spherical continuum
of yesterdays and todays
compressed into now

life's lessons learned
when twin souls meld

(copyright by Old Man. sometime in 2004)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Men in Waiting

i'm betting on barack obama, not to sow a miracle, but to just show plain solid leadership in these very uneasy times. i hope too that he finishes his term without incident...the association with Abe Lincoln understood to be symbolic of the Negro's emancipation from slavery but still giving me the creeps.

i'm betting on rafa nadal to win on hardcourt this time. good that you didn't follow the advice to go clean cut all the way. it's not you and you should allow yourself a little slack. not all great men are straight or straight-laced all the way.

i'm betting on pio to keep his feet planted on the ground. to be able to grow spiritually and reach his desired highest purpose. finally we spoke. it was a relief to me too, and a simple light blessing to know you too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


i started out doing yoga in 2000, in fb harrison under jose arando. it used to be 'only' P250 per session and what we do is just follow the yogi (jose) doing his pose in front of us. there is rarely an explanation made about the pose. the atmosphere is so serene, with subdued orange and yellow lights in the background, that we dare not rustle it with a question. what jose taught us though was to breathe, a technique drawing incredulous stares from non-yoga practitioners ''what is there to know more about breathing?'.

there's actually a big difference. yoga breath absorbs and flushes out air from the nose only. the breath is passed through the throat, half-closed, like 'whispering with your mouth shut', as our vinyasa teachers used to say. it's like heaving a deep sigh of relief but slowly and with the consciousness to let this air run though your every vein, every sinew of your body. it's like pouring air over your body just as you do with water. jose even taught us the breathing technique using our thumb and middle finger.breathe in with the left nostril while closing the right with your thumb; then close the left with your middle finger while breathing out through the right. this technique is said to be cleansing. i try this everytime my nose is stuffed by sinusitis and it works.

jose is the first yoga teacher i saw with every inch of muscle defined showing while doing the yoga pose. that holds true for all yogis. if you recall the boysen commercial now showing on TV, there's this woman there whose muscles are showing while doing the 'cobra' pose. that's what i mean with how muscles get toned in practicing yoga.

so i discovered yoga in 2000 and less than a year i forgot about it. yet, i have since become flexible. despite the fat, i could reach my toes, can do a full bend from my waist. when i was still working out, jason, my gym instructor, would be amazed that my head could touch my shin or knee every time we're stretching.

i rediscovered yoga just last year. i was doing my usual after-lunch walk in emerald when this poster on the vinyasa yoga center i saw in front of strata 100. what a relief it was to me; and such joy to be in touch with body-mind workouts again. if there is one thing i like about yoga, it is how rejuvenating the stretches are.
unlike gym workouts that leave me so tired and hungry afterwards. after doing yoga from 7:30-9pm, i could write a proposal from 10pm to 3am the next day. busting stress is one thing; but letting you do more despite the stress is reward enough.

i thank vinyasa for being just close here to me in ortigas. i've been aching for yoga for months now. the mind-body connection was what i just needed yesterday. i have a new instructor named pio who is also a monk and who looks like a star from that's entertainment but is already 40 and counting. his style is very much different from jose. he does the pose with you. you feel the connection because he talks you right through it; explains the movement, explains the benefits and lets you move according to your own pace. he looks like a very easy soul to be with. very light, very relaxed.

i hope you get to do yoga too. i can't do justice to it in words. you have to learn to share the strength of the breath, and the strength of the pose with me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

When All I Wanna Do is Nothing

I'm at work, and I've just unpacked the black bag. 4 files held by binder clips. Output over the weekend: 0. During weekends, work should really end. I should have caught up on my reading, on the history of languages, the silent language of culture and 2 more van guliks. But I protest, work and even everything that comes close to using your brain cells should be no-no in the weekends. Mondays, moon days. Half crazy and half protesting that work came too soon. OK I'll start once I sip this coffee…

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Twin Souls

Twin souls belong to the same soul, split from the Light and ultimately from itself, to live out an existence in an earth bound plane. Why the split in the first place? To experience affinity with the Light by going through what and where it has been, to undergo the same process of discovery, catharsis, release, rejuvenation and ultimate union with the Light. It’s like the quest of Jesus Christ. To be one with the Father, He had to live out his mission on earth where He was able to experience human-ness to its full and was able to transcend it and ultimately, earn his place as God beside the Father. I believe that in the lost 30 years of Jesus Christ, hidden to us by the Church, lies the life of Christ that experienced, dealt, and survived all temptations --- of the flesh and of the spirit. I believe that Jesus Christ was not at all spotless but instead, was also sinful, had his share of human sin and what makes him magnificent is the capacity towards self-healing and forgiveness. As He said it, let the unblemished cast the first stone. Did He?

The ultimate aim of twin souls is to be one with the Light and be one with each other. To do that takes a lot of soul work, for both twins. They would not only complement, but also unite as complete souls. Remember that separation took place eons ago so just imagine the ‘baggage’ or the weight of experiences that one soul could carry through several lifetimes, with each lifetime providing the chance to elevate oneself one notch higher towards the Light or bear the risk to go further down. It is especially difficult for souls that have undergone too much pain and trauma. Experienced is the dark night of the soul. To break the cycle, there should both be forgiveness of others and of the self, unconditional forgiveness.

How different are twin souls from soul mates and karmic partners? Karmic partners are those that are within the same soul family. They may be encountered as family, friends and even enemies. It said that any person that could draw hate from you, even just by sight, is your karmic partner. That soul engages you to look within yourself, to process feelings of hate, and ultimately grant you the opportunity to forgive. Soul mates are separate souls where mutual feelings of love are shared; be it as best friends or lovers. No tensions exist between soul mates; instead feelings of tenderness and belongingness reign.

Twin souls tend to evolve on a higher plane than soul mates. When twins meet, the atmosphere is electric. One does not need to explain, both know and both acknowledge it. Oftentimes, when one twin is not yet prepared, the relationship is bound to be ‘explosive’ and short-lived. They could inspire the best within themselves or resurrect a monster from the deep by the intensity of their hate. For how can one really face one’s mirror image? It’s like contending with an ever-present dark past, especially if that one soul is blocked in the path by trauma, the death of spirit through hurtful childhood experiences, rejection, abortion, neglect and abandonment --- feelings that bury awareness of self. What ever soul work that the one twin does will also benefit the other; but it takes time, much of it especially if there is no forgiveness. Meeting in time is one step forward but ending it in hate is two steps back, a regression that requires more work double-time.

Once in a tarot reading, I asked what past lives did me and my Old Man share. It is said that we lived the Crusades but I was left by him in a convent. He never returned. I lived the life of a nun and had a cruel death. It was probably torture because the reader had to close her eyes and cover her face while saying it. So the theme is always like that. It’s like history repeating over and over the same play. Is it surprising that I call myself Solitude, because I am always left alone? Is it surprising that he is Old Man, the more senior, supposedly mature but always leaving, never facing up to his responsibility, over me? When will we ever forgive each other, to end the cycle and progress in our soul work?

I used to say to my Old Man that I will meet him on the other side. Hah! My pride hasn’t left me as if I am the one better-off. I still hope he gets there ahead of me. And if it requires me to live another lifetime alone yet to forgive despite of it, then so be it. And I ask for forgiveness too. And I wish for that forgiveness to shower the universe of my Old Man with all the light blessings to help him appreciate love and nurture it this time. And may he learn how not to bottle up hurt feelings inside and act unperturbed, na parang wala lang. I wish for that forgiveness to envelop him, make him grieve, make him release all those emotions, and cry, cry, cry. Cry for what is lost, but is not lost forever. For one of us will be on the other side, waiting.

(Note: The psychology of twin souls I took from my various internet sources. I am writing them from memory so any inaccuracies on soul mates and karmic partners, just kindly look up na lang. What really stuck to me was of course, yung tungkol sa twin souls so more or less, that’s accurate.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

To my Old Man before Our Story Dies

i miss us.

before you die out on us, i'd like you to know that for 3 years past, i missed us more than i missed you. just sit still for a moment and think back. don't use your head now. forget the passion. just look back to what marked us as twin souls even though now, a part of us is trying to forget, trying to ever deny that.

it's what we did together. when we used to sing together over lamp cast walls at night. when we used to laugh till our stomachs hurt, over eat bulaga, bubble gang, and pugad baboy. when we used to eat out hearts out at max's; you with your fresh lumpia and mine, just the half-chicken. when our idea of a fun saturday or sunday was to allow our feet to lead us to any place in manila where public transport can take us. remember pasig, quiapo, avenida, chinatown? when we used to dream of our vocation together, to run a shop of volunteers where every service is given for free.

it's the little things we shared and had in common. from the same 3310, the same blue nokia casing to the same small brown leather wallet. we could be mistaken as brother and sister, especially if i'm wearing my glasses. one time, we shared the same haircut, had the same gay hairdresser. i wore spiderman in red while you wore bugs bunny in blue.

it's what we never run out of. endless conversations. hugs and deep embraces. a lot of laughter. a lot of good food and endless chatter with my family, your sister's family. a lot of 'i love you's' before leaving, even at work, and more as we reach home. home was guijo, the street of many trees. home was having dinner with you and manang. home was finding you with arms outstretched as i enter the door. home was you.

it's why we call ourselves twin souls. because it's as if, we've known each other for so long. because even in a crowd, without us touching, people would feel our vibes and automatically say we're man and wife. because even if we're apart, we could feel each other's loneliness. each other's danger. thoughts of you hark back the past, like old leaves. making love is not enough. as if we wanted our bodies to just melt and blend together. because time was our friend. because in us, the past, the present and the futures meld. it was in our poem, the poem you wrote; about us twin souls.

i now understand why having loved someone is a million times more important than being loved. it's the only feeling one can own because to ourselves, we cannot lie.

soon, our story will die out. it will just be one of the many for you. but relax for a while. don't hate me too much.

i just don't want to miss this chance, of writing down how i remember you, of how i remember us deep down to what was essential. because despite all these hurts, the invectives that we hurled against each other; against the jealousies, the denials, and this tenacity of forgetting, even in vain; in time, at one time, there was Old Man and Solitude who shared a life together. and they shared this with all the love that they know from innocent free hearts beating. i saw the best in you. i saw the best in us. we were real.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Queen of Pain

it's friday and i'm almost beat. i've reached my limit, finishing 20 technical assistance and 11 loan project assessments in what? 30 days. my back is groaning, having to absorb tension from the tendons up, over the spine and from the neck down. i need a massage, a hot bath, one dark warm body to hold and steamier imagination. i've got loads of it and what to trigger these than rolling stones' keys to your love, start me up, let's spend the night together, beast of burden, and losing my touch, running over and over. inundating my ears and stirring my soul since 936 this morning as i drum over the keyboard like a concert pianist gone wild. yes, i have a crocodile's mind. the left processing technical data on projects and my right, wallowing in the murmurings of a heart broken long long ago. i am surrounded by the ghosts of now darkened corridors and a past that i thought has been buried deep deep down. coincidence would resurrect it and a flood of occurrences in span so short as 3 days. it's my aching back, my savaged mind, and my bruising heart. aggravated by songs of long ago that aptly captured my history, our story. i have to get out of here before tears streak through the screen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Lash Against the Backlash

a blog is a space. As i blog, i claim every right to that space. To express. Raw emotions or subtle hints. I could name names just as i have the right to censure, but as i wish. On my terms. It is still open to debate whether bloggers deserve to be suspended, accused of libel, or threatened with closure. Just as QCSHS students, Bambee dela Paz and Brian Gorell (even Wikileaks!) are subject to. Perhaps because of being published, blogs are as vulnerable as the written word. Or is it because of this exercise in responsibility? Which places me in a quandary. I cannot be free in my own space? Note that bloggers have every right to republish whatever blog they withdraw amid the the threat of censure and punishment. My blog on woodfields i can repost any time as it suits me. Because i declare absolute claim over that space i call my blog. It is my view that the backlash against blogging is borne out of total fear. Total fear borne out of blindness to what cannot be controlled, to power that is inherently absolute. It is fear against claim-making and fear because the act of blogging can expose any side, any side of truth. Libel, suspension and even physical threat are just consequences. But still, these do not excuse the accuser. It does not excuse the deed, the muck, the treachery to which the blog is directed. It does not excuse the QCHS principal, the Pangandamans, the Montanos, and woodfields from the ire that brought forth the blogs. Theirs is the burden of proof, and the burden of guilt. So why don't they just blog back? Allow truth to surface and be sifted by a wide, wide audience of public opinion. Let the sides of truth be exposed and laid for all to see. So you see how blogging can be so powerful an instrument because it can only be the fearless who could dare. Those who hide behind the veil of libel suits and suspension threats are the fearful.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My First Love

Perhaps I should be ashamed of this. I didn’t have 5 boyfriends. I had 6, and I forgot the first, perhaps the one who should have been. His name is Jujun and he's my first love.

Perhaps the reason I didn't count in him is that back in 1990, he's reluctant being called and calling me his first love. What we had he counted more as puppy love – the love between two 'puppies', two beginners, two neophytes drinking into this heady tonic called 'luv'.

We started by just walking together paduman sa waiting shed, sa may niyog. Then by 5pm, every school day, he would wait by the same spot under the coconut tree. He came from a well-to-do family. His father and my father were not friends. My father is domineering, his father looks domineering with fierce eyes dominating a bald head.

Suma total, we didn't make it. We didn't even date; well, not when 'we were'. Our conversations were limited to what could transpire from less than a kilometer of walking from the niyog to my house. But he would shower me with gifts that suggested he knew me after all. An ink pen with the head of panda because I love writing. A pocket book because I love reading. A beauty bag with a mini mirror and comb because then I had long hair and had this habit of brushing my bangs over and over. Then a pink stuffed bear because that time, I was leaving for Los Baños, insisted that I should call the bear 'Junjunito' so that I will not forget him.

I haven't and until now, tender thoughts as tender as Junjunito register every time I think of Jujun. We dated in 1991, it was July, a time when we consider ourselves already just friends. It was in Wendy's Makati, just by the side of Park Square 1. He was wearing a blue-striped tee, regaling me about his forays in the kitchen as a budding cook who also happens to be independent Med Tech freshman at CEU, and a young entrepreneur running a printing shop at Sampaloc. That was the first date, and our last too.

Jujun now has a family, a very pretty wife (who is also a nurse) and three kids, I think. He still lives in the same neighborhood, in the same house although now coated with pink and yellow colors suggesting just how happy and content the family living there is. I rarely see him every time I'm home but by the time I did last year, his head was getting a little bald like his father while I also got a little pudgier, also just like my father.

I don't care Jujun even if you consider me only as your puppy love. I loved you then. Hummed 'Lost in Love' by Air Supply for the two of us and held your gifts very close, even slept with them tucked under my pillow. I don't know how you could discount that kind of love as 'puppy-ish' as I cried when we broke up and I was distraught, threw dagger looks at your new girl, way back in 1989. And I never dared corrupt you in my thoughts, not ever. You were too different. Too right. Perhaps too precious for me, even now. Even now that we just call each other friends. Your puppy love, that is just OK. Never the less, it is with rare pride, compared with the rest, that I honor you, My First Love.

I shall forever long.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If I were a Car

i'm starting out a new series, the 'if-series', next to taxi tales and naga by nose. no, there is no event to mark this. i'm just missing my dad and how he used to drive this rover while he was still in fsdc. i just got to thinking then how if there is anima to things normally thought of as inanimate. how animating and relaxing. so then, endure!

If I were a car, I would be:

…low maintenance
…a land rover – very functional, spacious and for sitting, yet with presence
…hiking up the peaks of makiling, isarog, mayon, and apo
…going cross-province from batanes to sulu
…shacking up with a sweet funny Beetle
…hanging out with jeeps and jaguars
…breathing in more sunsets
…retiring in batanes nonetheless

How would you be?

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Monday, January 12, 2009


The dead of yesterday
Like revisiting a wake
Only it’s yours
And now
The tears have dried
One can smile mocking one’s
The smile fades to a stop

There is no joy
In the death of love
Two people
Years, even moments shared
Breathe with life
That deserves some testament
Some proof that it mattered
Death so swift
So undeserved

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Inspiration from PIP

Life is not about how bravely you struggle. Oftentimes, it can be about how willingly you surrender. Allow God to embrace you just as you are, and let his love heal you and make you the beautiful, happy person that He made you to be. (PIP's text, 11 Jan 2009, 7:44am)

how much have you struggled this week? this month? for the past year? since time immemorial? indeed, surrendering seems to be the best defense and the best offense too when life acts out as it is, and unravels you to face the most dreaded - your reality. when i was in perth in 1998-2000, janty, my indonesian housemate and bestfriend would always blurt out 'this is not reality, vitti. our reality is washing our toilet bowls not by flushing, but with pail-water!'. he he how sordid but how true.

the text does not say that we should give up. but rather, we should let events flow and unfold. to let go and let go of controlling.

when my ideals dashed as i forayed into consulting in 2000, reality set in that i have no control of who my employer is or the work i do. i struggled against proposal writing in 2000. i hated it! i hated the pressure, i hated the working hours and the clerical work involved. but the choice for me that time, was to either hate and age prematurely or to age with grace by learning to love it for the elemental satisfaction of researching, and writing. when i took the second route, proposal writing became a new world to me. it is not just template-filling or a routine rundown of statements to convince. i enter deep into my proposals. that is why proposal winning is such sweet victory to me. until now, i feel sweet victories with the 300-MLD proposal for schema and the agusan for woodfields. even for proposals that did not see the light of day but filled me with a lot of inspiration writing - the arcdp-ia and bohol wsp for sds, and disaster-preparedness and bridge-sia for woodfields again, are just examples. and i do not mind writing cvs and datasheets altogether. once you learn to like methodologies, you'll know that expertise and capability have to blend in with these.

as written here, i've struggled too with motherhood in the beginning. until i let go by giving my chance to stay single, back to a single life in two weeks, and just experience what missing yaman would be like. now, i could not imagine not being a mom. i could not imagine being without yaman. even if distance will separate us soon, i could not imagine defining my life without her. i hope soon julia clarete reads this because i've seen her on TV once about her struggles and how she misses the old single julia immensely.

yes, i've struggled with men too, especially as the world does not make men as it used to. not that i've such high standards, i don't, really, with the men i've loved. perhaps it's due to struggles with my ideals of best-friendship. i assume too much and give in too easily. everytime i fall in love, i fall. because i struggle against my reality. i have trouble seeing when i am in love. that's why it is not uncommon for me to be a little amissed with my focus - in work, my social life, and my entirety of priorities - when i'm in love. so now i'm learning to let go by not rushing. to let men unfold, yep, bare themselves to me even if it takes a long long time. i'll take single-blessedness with my sweet sweet time.

so thanks PIP for this text, for making my sunday. my sweet, old, imperfect yet real constant friend ever. from the bottom of my heart, i love you very very much.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

a love story: the start

'will you marry me?'

after washing his crotch, wiping his bottom and patting him dry every day since march, the moviestar hopes to regain a little dignity by staking his claim, over me. so i torture in retort, 'sure, as long as you walk me to the altar.' the half-smile fades and his eyes look far away. fresh wounds brushed over. or a reality too much to bear. losing his legs to an accident and after that, a bright promising career for one touted as the next big thing. bright men and bright women have a way of sabotaging themselves.

i've seen all of his body, the mass of body hair at strategic places, everything. but he doesn't give anything of what is inside away - his history for the least. no immediate family except for a cousin, his agent, too many girlfriends and the press, whose numbers have dwindled as it seemed the moviestar is no way seeing recovery, not anytime soon.

what he gives away - it's just with me. with me, he doesn't spare words. one day he would be civil, the next flirting, then apologetic and sometimes, just mocking. he talks and talks to no one else in this 1500-person facility but me.

good that i don't have time to unravel him, for now.

Friday, January 9, 2009


It’s yaman’s first, but it may as well have been mine. Her first assignment, in her first school, at 3. cut-outs of vehicles in sea, land, and air. Chicken! Until I realized that at the age of internet, the only ones I have are fortune magazines --- glossy, expensive FORTUNE magazines. So much to my dismay, I had to rummage through 16 issues last year and look for either cars, bikes, trains, trucks, planes, jets, helicopters, ferries, cruise ships and plain old bancas not at the back of articles on warren buffet, the power women of silicon valley, and the market on luxury watches that I have yet to read. My backlog! And I am to look for only 2 pieces of both. 6 cut-outs but it took all 16 issues to browse. Much decision-making on whether this jet over a gray background would look better than the one with real clouds in the background. Hmmm, so it is this difficult…

We did it on the second floor while watching ‘twilight’, our 3rd time and my 10th++. The magazines strewn across the floor, we started working. Mabait naman ang anak ko. She didn’t interfere with mommy bent over the pictures and snipping here and there. She made cutouts of my cutouts and eventually pasting them over the top like a mosaic. I wanted her to do the pasting sa notebook but yaman was too bent on her mosaic to care. Hay, so this is really my assignment after all.

So how many of us went through the same ‘rites’, the same ‘bonding moments’ between mother and child, or with a father or a sister or a brother or cousin or kaibigan? Lahat tayo, may naging katulong gumawa ng assignment and the one that tops it is perhaps the one done with our parents. Mommy did a special one for me when I was 8. She made a whole script out of the beauty and the beast fairytale for my drama assignment in English-grade 2. Daddy on the other hand was in charge of all scrapbooks, whether it be about landmark sites around the world (Taj Mahal, Banaue Rice Terraces, or even the Eiffel) or transport outside of the Philippines (like cable cars!).

As I am writing this, a soft tug in my heart I feel. Enough to replace all hurts that I may have harbored as a child. To top all my Dad’s frustrations at work and which he thought were important to us too. I’d like to tell him now. No, Dad. You’re being a manager or not did not matter. What mattered is that you were there for me on moments like this, simple lang, no sweat pero meaningful sayo and from the heart.

Which brings us now to why we do it as parents. ‘tong assignment na to which one friend likened to adults brutalizing adults. Pagpapahirap daw ng teacher sa magulang. Pero, come to think of it, we like it too. I like it. I like doing this for yaman. We’re spending time together and we’re both enjoying it. I get to feel like a child again as I carefully cut through invisible lines over a glossy blue page; as I cut through borders squared or a little rounded. Yaman and I are both totally lost in our worlds. Sharing invisible bonds over space and time.

And discipline is not lost. After I’ve pasted the last picture of two planes immobilized over a snow-driven tarmac, yaman turns to me and says ‘mommy, dami mong kalat. Ang kalat ko din!’.

And we both clean up; tiny bits of paper picked up by tiny fingers. So we collect, browse over, sit down and cut and paste, and clean after. We start well and finish well. Assignment finished. On the TV, Edward and Bella just kissed, their first.

We embrace and I look down to her ‘maganda ba, anak?’. Yaman replies, ‘ang ganda-ganda, mommy’ with her melodic voice. You know and I know, she didn’t see, she didn’t judge with her eyes.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


480++ minutes
360++ min sitting
3 usual breaks
5 detour websites
250 correct words per minute
100++ paragraphs
400++ sentences
20 pages max
2-3 projects likely

Vivaldi on the background
The light as inspiration
Praying as the fingers drum
Faith, inspiration, passion
Hold on. Never never quit.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Who says loving is easy? It’s so hard hard to love if you’re idea of loving is to kill with kindness, to give much, to be tolerant enough, be patient enough, to endure shouts, flailing arms, and still keep your voice low. Love is never unconditional. It is not essentially ‘despite of’. Rather, there are ‘buts’, ‘ifs’ and ‘whether or not’ in between. Ask any mom. To love also means to command, to set limits, to shout, to be angry, and to destroy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ang Bihon na may Sardinas ng Nanay Ko

Masarap magluto ang nanay ko
Sa lahat ang paborito ko ay paksiw na pata at rellenong bangus
Pero ano man ang pwedeng kainin ng umaga, tanghali at gabi
Ay wala nang tatalo pa sa bihon na may sardinas

Akala naming magkakapatid noon ay ordinary food lang ito
Yung typical na hinahain ng sinong pamilya sa pilipinas
So laking gulat na lang ni yumi nang malaman
Sa isang kaibigan na nag-immersion sa iskwater sa maynila
Na ulam pala ito ng mga maralita
Nakakadiri daw at halos di makayang kainin ng kaibigan nya
Nang ihain ito ng pamilyang iskwater na kumupkop sa kanya
So sigaw namin - ‘how cheap the matapobre!’
At di lang sya, pati housemate ko dati sa pasig
Di makatingin sa akin pag kumakain ako nito
Animo’y nasusuka din, kulang na lang magtakip ng mukha
Isa ding cheap!

Simple lang naman itong lutuin
Sa isang tulad kong ang hilig una ay kumain
Ganito lang yun
Igisa ang sardinas as usual then lagyan ng konting tubig
Para lumambot ang bihon
Then voila, ayan na! maghain ka na ng plato at kanin
Don’t forget the kalamansi please!
Best pa rin siguro yung sardinas with tomato sauce
Kasi masarap pag nag-aagaw
Ang lansa, tamis at asim ng isda, sabaw at kalamansi
Mag-enjoy ka sana
And never think na degraded ka
Be proud na isa kang simpleng tao
Marunong tumanggap ng ano mang grasya
Maging bihon man ito na may sardinas
Pagkaing katakam-takam at totoo

Monday, January 5, 2009

walking yaman to school

one of my many dreams, i'm still giddy over it. i walked yaman to school today. at around 11:45am, we left the house and took the left and right turns to ipil street where footsteps learning center sits along the corner to tindalo. yaman was not anxious, just all a wonder why mom is so fussy with her bath, instructing her to say 'po' all the time to her teachers, to make friends, and to just 'enjoy'. 'enjoy' she repeated while i was dressing her up in a pink tennis dress. it was her own initiative to go to school. she would wear her barbie backpack and say, 'mom, pasok na po ako sa school', just last year. and while she would really be starting out in naga this june in prep, i decided that a 'preparatory' 3 months at footsteps would help her familiarize with a school setting and yes, help socialize an only girl left in a household with 3 adults, including a senior citizen. taking company with these three may explain why yaman speaks tagalog fluently and reasons like a 35-year old. just earlier while i was calling out to her yaya, ate mai-mai, to get her c-2, she blurted out 'mommy, ikaw na po kumuha ng c-2, kasi inaayos ni ate yung mga plastic'. which indeed mai-mai was doing while clearing the kitchen cabinets. ah ok, i should have been more considerate; thanks anak for reminding me he he. she's independent-minded. would insist on eating by herself than being spoon-fed, would fold her own clothes, and brush her teeth. all at 3. walking back home at 230pm, i noticed a star tattoo on her left hand. she's not telling the story behind it yet. i'll wait till she rests, sleeps and gets in the mood. i just want to relish this day. God, may there be more days like these.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

death and 3 I's: a case against ABS-CBN NAGA

while 2008 passed away last dec 31, so did the soul of geocarn 'kukay' rentoy sabalbaro. he was due to leave for london this jan 25, already with a plane ticket and the waiting arms of his mom who didn't get the privilege to raise him as a child. reports tend to conflict. on radio, the police implicated in the shootout claim that kukay's group started it all - the dirty finger, the first shot, and the car chase around naga from around 2am-4am. kukay's side gave the opposite and for someone who's on the outside, i beg for the truth from an objective point of view. This is where ABS-CBN NAGA failed and should instead close down for incompetence. At 530am on Dec 31, no news on the shootout was aired by the station. ok, so there must have been a news blackout.

the next day, January 1, i was more expectant and my expectations fell hard. no news at all on kukay . the top 3 headlines, if i may recall, instead revolved around the falling prices of fruits post-new year, the rising prices of fish because of the weather and stranded ferry passengers in masbate because of an lpa. except for the third, the first 2 are hardly news but rather, events naturally occurring that it does not merit saying, 'ay iyo? i didn't know that? more please!'. these were mere examples discussed over econ 101. still, ABS-CBN persisted in its incompetence. come the police report. aired was about a dayo from albay, the windshield on his car damaged by who-knows-whom. so this is news from the self-proclaimed no. 1 broadcasting station in naga city? why indeed should there be a news blackout for an issue involving no less than civilians and the police, in this era of supposed democracy where civilian power is upheld more than military power?

how could the station be this irresponsible, by entrusting itself to neophytes? those seemingly without insider contacts and networks? those who seem to rely more on (wo)man-on-the-street interviews and police blotters? those whose idea of good reporting is merely --- vocalizing? the news are so amateurish as the faces of cub reporters giving them. we do not deserve this from ABS-CBN NAGA. so much sinful than being incompetent and irresponsible is being irresponsive, its apathy is unacceptable. ABS-CBN NAGA just showed us that one way to withhold justice is to simply ignore the crime.

one priceless moment

at 1130pm, i was counting my chances. 3 min to dial up, 5 min for inspiration, 10 min for the write up and 1 min to publish. Less than 20 min and i'll gonna beat the natalie meter! So after feigning sleep and giving an abbreviated version of kung fu panda, i was supposed to have left yaman's side by 1135pm. Until one priceless moment intruded. The rainy weather invited sleep, other than today being the coldest day ever since our vacation. But seeing yaman asleep, huddled between my blanket and her malong, i just couldn't. Wrapping my arms around her small frame and nuzzling close to her cheeks, the warmth of my baby is just un-ignorable. I couldn't leave her. Ditch the meter. I'll just pay up than leave this moment.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What Would You Do Today?

today is...

just blogging day
nothing to do day
eat lechon and be merry day
smell the spaghetti cooking in the kitchen day
watch endless tv till you memorize spiderman 3 day
wash babad linen since yesterday and leave the rest for tomorrow day
resign oneself with the bleak gray weather day
have green tea the rest of the day day
time to change passwords day
take a bath later day