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)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Time's Up!

it's tuesday, and as in any other day, i'm calling it a day after 8.5 hours of work. it's hard to condition one's self from not working and not bringing home work. i've been a workaholic all my working life. i recall doing a 9-5 job once and working still from 9pm-3am on the side (moonlighting). but not anymore, ever since yaman came, with her eyes boring into me pleading for attention. likewise, yaman now can express herself clearly, 'mommy, pakibaba nga nyan, please!', while pointing at her mom texting on the sofa. now, i've succeeded keeping my sundays truly holy. i 'got' God's point when after 2 consecutive Sundays working here at this grand work place, He downed me with fever and tonsilitis. so, while i stash policy papers inside my bag every saturday, i rarely get to read them come sunday. hah, marunong na. just last sunday, my day was highlighted attending children's mass with yaman at st. joseph and watching, while holding her between my legs, the last 2 series of LOTR on video from 4pm to 9pm. she's fascinated/ terrified by the orcs and uruk-hai would you believe?

so, one gets to mellow, one gets to impose too little demands on one's self, one gets to sleep without an alarm clock, one gets to spend a day lazing about and still be truly satisfied, one gets to blog after work, before going home to the arms of a child beloved.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Poem for Lilian

As she knelt in prayer
The pursuit started
While clasping the rosary
He was clasping the wheel
Mindful of the police headlights churning
His daughter beside him distressed
'What's the problem, daddy?'

As she made the sign of the cross
Gunfire slashed the van
Darting bullets took him by the side
While holding the poor child now screaming
Blood mixed with the tears
Blood mixed with hers
Both their eyes questioning
Words unspoken over the silence
Of death

What did she pray for
That them did not embrace?
What blessing desired
That them did not reach?
What did she evoke
That Him was not moved?
In prayer, but
In the darkness
In injustice
In senseless death
The man and the child

I question death
In deaths I do not understand
For lives to
Be sacrificed
For deaths to
Be undeserved
To make sense
Of what -
A dying country
Dying laws
Dying citizens
Dying hopes of ordinary
Decent people

The graves of man and child
Are marked by hate
By retribution
Of fates tied to the unjust
But if in earth ignored
May the heavens oppose
And hear her prayers
The doors open to man and child
Made whole and unsullied
By the Light
Awaiting her…

(I read today the case of Lilian de Vera whose husband and daughter were victims of police brutality on 05 December 2008. For details, I'm copying Lilian's appeal below. Initially, my reaction was 'Mabuti na lang, hindi ako…kami…'. But no, this can happen to any of us and we may not have the same well of courage as Lilian in facing up to find justice for her family. This poem is dedicated to her and those people and families suffering the same fate as her. In this crazy country where lawlessness is not confined to the lowly, it may be us wearing their shoes one day. I thought of Lilian and why, why, why did she get these in return for fulfilling her panata in Quaipo? I was angry at the start of the poem, not knowing how it will end. But at the end, somehow I realized that perhaps, the prayers are still for her loved ones after all. That no matter how savagely they were treated on earth, the heaven up, 'the Almighty One' there welcomed them with open arms. So Lilian, my message to you is keep up with the fight but know when it is time to let go. Live your life to the full pa rin and let not this tragedy be an excuse for you to live in misery. Live with love and light as if tomorrow you will see dear husband and your baby in heaven. They are waiting for you. So please LIVE so you will truly be there.)

RE: An urgent appeal for help from Lilian De Vera

------------ --------- ---------

Two months ago I considered myself as one of those blessed and happiest
people on earth. Why not? I married a guy who was an epitome of kindness. A
guy who worshipped even the footsteps I made. More importantly, our union
blessed us with a daughter who not only became the main source of our
happiness….more so; she was the center of our lives.

We’re simple folks who led a simple life. We felt the happiest even about
mundane things and inconsequential ones that most people would only take for
granted. Our joy mostly revolved on simple pleasure like a sudden trip to
Jollibee or a late night marauding of the fridge for any leftovers. A
family, which shared plain happiness, humble dreams, and modest aspirations.
Everything was fine…*Until that fateful night on* *December 5, 2008*.

In keeping with my ritual or “panata” on every first Friday of every month,
I went to Quiapo Church , to pay homage and respect to the Almighty One. My
husband and daughter were supposed to pick me up in Pasay City after which
we planned on giving our daughter a treat to Jollibee. I tried calling my
husband’s cellphone, just to let him know I was on my way to our meeting
place. He wasn’t picking up.. Despite my trepidation and wonder, I took the
next jeep going home and prayed that everything was alright.

I felt relieved when near our place my phone rang. It was my helper. And the
words I heard will forever change my life.* My husband and daughter were
shot to death by “men in uniform".*

The "men in uniform" were allegedly on a mission to take some gang of
robbers victimizing people at large. The police shot the crosswind van my
husband and daughter were riding Based on some witnesses' narration, the
police sprayed bullets into the van despite the lack of provocation or shots
coming from the crosswind van. In his last effort to save their lives, my
husband grabbed my bloodied daughter and shielded her with his body while
trying to run away from the police and tried to get cover from a parked
jeepney My husband and daughter were so defenseless. How can you mistake a
child for a robber? How can you shoot at someone who was already kneeling
with head bowed, an indication of helplessness. .*

These men, who were sworn to protect innocent people from criminals,
had *brutally
slain *my most precious ones, *Jun and Lia*. These men, whose avowed duty
was to preserve the lives of the public against all harm and danger?
They*murdered my loved ones in the most cruel, savage and pitiless
My husband’s face was unrecognizable because he was shot in the head at
close range, while he was kneeling with his head bowed down. My daughter’s
young body was riddled with bullets, one hit her head. Those “men in
uniform” killed my baby. They aimed and fired powerful weapons at two innocent
and defenseless individuals. * My husband and daughter are gone*…….forever.

I miss both of them so much. My heart bleeds in pain. My sorrow is deep.
Their loss is too much to bear. I am alone..
The only thing motivating me to go on with life is the mission to seek
justice for the senseless killing of *Jun and Lia*. All I want in life right
now is to see the people who were responsible for their death be convicted
and punished, that *Jun and Lia* be given justice, and that their death will
not be meaningless. My pains will be alleviated. The misery I feel will be
lessened. My husband and daughter will be vindicated.. I will learn to live
the remaining years of my life…without *Jun and Lia. *
I am asking and begging *everyone *who will come across this letter/e-mail
to please *forward* to all your relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Help
me bring my cause to the eyes of the people capable of steering the wheel of
justice to the right direction. Help me make the loudest cry worthy of
attention by those people in charge in rendering justice…*for Jun and Lia*.

Strength comes in numbers; it is where the impossible becomes possible. It
is also where the unattainable becomes achievable.

May God always protect and bless each and every one of you.
Lilian de Vera

(courtesy of Sir Butch Travino)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Country for Old Men

Saturday night is my night. I stay up late, up to 4am one time, just doing whatever i want. Last night, i saw 'no country for old men', oscar best picture for 2007. It's not your typical popcorn movie. A man who's into hunting becomes the hunted after running away with drug money left after a drug sale ran awry in the desert. It is a cat and mouse chase, allegorical of how futile it is to escape one's past, one's actions, and just simply, one's fate.

The movie capitalizes on the emotive strength of the characters. From how moss and wife, with their shrugs and stares, portray the childless weary years in between them, and in the end, by the silent strength of their love. The sheriff, portrayed by tommy lee jones, just by his eyes and the droop of his face, betrays his instinct by waning vocation to his job. I know now why javier bardem, the guy who played chigurh, a cold-blooded assassin who decides the life of innocent people by a coin toss, won oscar best supporting actor. The will to kill portrayed in how his eyes dilate as if aiming the target, looks down a split second and flashes those lashes before pulling the trigger (or gas plug). The pacing of his dialogue, his voice, the sureness behind the terseness, carried the tense gasoline station scene, where, in the balance weighed the life of the old male owner by how well he endured the questioning of chigurh and made the right call on the coin toss. In that scene, even the sound of the chocolate wrapper unfolding spoke of the tension between the two. I may not understand why critics raved about this movie. I was even left hanging by the ending. But its dry humor, the primacy of acting out mood and intention thru body language and micro-sociology, the absence of protagonist-antagonist and the weaving of the story around the fates of ordinary people got my vote.

'No country for old men' could be a poke to how men (and women) die early everyday not only to physical frailty but more so to temptation, the sins of the world. The drug world as backdrop could've not been more appropriate because in it, all 3 evils unite - the flesh, the world, the devil. But then, NCFOM could also mean the ordinariness of death. It negates the law of karma as death can come any time, even undeserved, even from an act of charity, even by chance. Without reason or sentiment as the flip of a coin. And perhaps that inconsequence makes death very painful indeed. To die for nothing. To die out of nothing. By NCFOM's questioning, so death matters as much as life. After all.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

Earth hour. We're spending it by turning the lights and ref off. I have been prevailed over by yaman, so barbie's movie stays on. Mom's complaining about the heat, so the fan is on. Last year, by myself, the house was all dark except for a puny candle. Too small a feat, and partial compliance. Ok, time to post this. I have but a minute.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Four Hours to Midnight

i have the license
to play, read, and just be
funny that i measure
the privilege
from readings finished
from notes accomplished
from the work of my hands
precious time left
in four hours
to midnight

day spent working
daughter makes do
with the night
sacrifices taken
in broad daylight
the scourge of
motherhood revealed
in time spent and not spent
to love close yet from afar
to find time and strength
in what's left
in four hours
to midnight

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The House in Guijo One More Time

i left the office early today to accommodate the visit of an old friend, kuya hec, who's interested to move into the apartment we're vacating in guijo. hay, who would ever think that i lived in this apartment for 5 years? i have not stayed long in any job for more than 3 years so it's quite an event to have imprinted myself here in this apartment longer than that. so in a span of 5 years in this house, i moved into 3 different employers, had a baby, and grew white hairs crowding my temples. the house has grown old with me, the blue paint less blue and the white walls now dirty white.

as i was touring kuya hec upstairs, i realized how lucky i was to have lived here. only a 5-minute walk away from the talipapa, st. joseph church and the lrt station in anonas. the place is surrounded by schools - elementary, high school and college that i even joked, should yaman grow here, she need not go far to find a place to study. engg? there's TIP. nursing and medicine? there's WORLD CITI. business and arts kamo? there's NCBA and PSBA. a catholic school? take your pick between st. joseph school and st. bridget's. 'elite' schools you mean? take a tricycle ride via xavierville to ateneo, and miriam or a jeepney ride to philcoa for UP, the grand university. the hospital is just at the corner of anonas and aurora boulevard. a complete food fare one can enjoy from mcdo, jollibee, chowking, and andok's and the lesser known but more delicioso, ana lisa's crispy (pata, liempo and chicharong bulaklak). yes, i could describe a place, an event or even an experience without the reference of food.

it is an old neighborhood where everyone knows each other after seeing each other grow from infancy to childhood to adulthood. my landlady lived here starting when she was a battered wife, running through the streets in ripped clothes, and years after, empowered, forcing her husband out through the gate. yes, everyone here deserves a loyalty award. that's why it's also a safe neighborhood. everyone looks out for each other and while there are occasional brawls, it occurs within the same cliques and pacified by the same people within.

so kuya hec and kids are lucky. they will be bestowed with a house strategically located and with a history of good fortune. the family before me moved to their larger and own home in valenzuelaville (marikina) in 2004 while i am heading off to an educational opportunity in the land of Oz this 2009. my sole advice for kuya hec is to keep the kamias tree in front. it's the green dragon, my lucky charm. the house is lucky too. hopefully, i'll be leaving it in good hands.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Commute in the Blood

i start with a jeepney ride to v. luna. yes, in the morning, this girl from project 3 rides a fairview jeep and stops in front of jollibee-v. luna. my first tip for all you out there. kasi sa v. luna, naglipana ang taxi. ikaw ang titigilan. you can choose even to hail a company or white taxi and bear whatever risk. starting from the driver's mood that morning, his stench or his cologne, his ka-macho-han, ka-kyut-an, and his street-smartness (or lack of it). hmmm, just realized now that i haven't yet encountered a lady taxi-driver! the taxi goes all the way to my grand workplace via 3 routes: tuason-edsa, aurora-white plains or tuazon-greenhills (the most horrendous!). the tuason-edsa route costs about PhP110 (PhP92.00 by meter), aurora-white plains PhP125 (PhP110 by meter), and tuazon-greenhills PhP150 (PhP140 by meter). on a blessed morning, the ride could take 'only' 20 minutes and on a horror day, 60 minutes. so taking their averages, a taxi ride costs about PhP3.20/min. compared to my tricyle ride below, it's not at all cost-effective given how precious time is.

after work, i ride the bus along edsa. but first i walk the stretch from the back of megamall to the front. now, with this silly mmda scheme of putting up bus bays in between mega a and b (horrible talaga!), i have to walk 100m more or so and suffer the confusion of deciding where the cubao (fastlane)-fairview bus is! you see, tip number 2 is this. it's better to ride an ordinary bus to the north end of manila. unang-una, hindi puno so definitely you'll have a seat:) secondly, the open air is not at all a problem kasi gabi na, ma-presko. thirdly, it's relatively safer kasi being open and all, ang holdaper takot at baka kuyugin ng mga pasahero, majority of which are macho hard-bodied construction workers. fourthly, it's cheap at PhP11.00 to kamias. and finally, this is what i like the most, it's very fast. within 10 minutes, i could reach kamias from megamall. so that's about PhP1.10/minute!. just as long na FASTLANE ang sasakyan mo. so take note, FASTLANE. so just imagine my consternation yesterday since i cannot distinguish, after being wedged between the rails, kung saan nga ba dadaan dito ang FASTLANE. grrrr!!!$%&^(&%$^%#%^#!!!!

so after alighting in kamias over a breezy ride in a bus plying the FASTLANE, the 3rd leg would be the jeepney ride from kamias to molave in project 3. by this time, i sit in between passengers with greasy faces, haggard looks and drowsy eyes. magkakamukha kami. the jeep has this uncanny social world too. the one nearest the driver is obliged to get any other person's fare and hand it to the driver. try objecting at baka kuyugin ka ng mga kasakay mo! he he. the fare costs PhP7.00 for a 15-minute ride, the cheapest at PhP0.46/minute but it gets me very very weary just looking at all those faces around me.

the last leg would be the tricycle ride from molave to guijo which takes about 5 minutes for a fare of PhP16.00 or about PhP3.20/minute. bah, it's more expensive than an ordinary phone call! oh my, i should consider walking from now on. but i am too weak. funny, how weariness of the brain and hands naturally comes down to one's feet:( that's called laziness i think.

so there you go. the bicolana is a quasi-manila girl na rin. i don't consider it impossible that a laidback person like me could endure manila. any one can endure manila just as any filipino can endure living any where. arte lang to say that manila and its pollution and its dirty streets are intolerable. just look at us ordinary people braving the commute every day; our lungs fortified by the air of manila. we brave the lines, the heat, the crowds. but we survive. we get home.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Morning Today

ever had a swell morning?

i don't want to raise a fuss with the taxi driver this morning. so when he suggested that we take the white plains route to ortigas, i let him on. though with a warning. last week, a similar driver took the route and ended up cussing himself for not taking edsa. after encountering this horrendous traffic jam from greenmeadows all the way to meralco avenue. but on a rather unusual day, the same route we took today without incident. the traffic flowed eagerly from santolan and left to the gardens of white plains. ang bilis, the sights made even greener by the row of garden shops along the avenue.

it was a light and breezy morning; the birds were even chirping along the fountains of this grand workplace. ever had that kind of morning? i feel my heart smiling to every face i saw at work, and interestingly, all faces were smiling back too, with their hearts.

Monday, March 23, 2009


off at work today. pacing myself anew by finishing work on the dot at 7pm. tomorrow, i hope to do more. perhaps finish the 7 projects for ARD and go on reading on what? 12 lang naman na projects in 6 sectors. but pace pace pace since i don't want to get sick needlessly. i'll yoga by thursday. am off to a toystore at podium to buy yaman some paint. then to national bookstore to buy re-learn econometrics for the second time around.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More Days to Live, in Naga

my grand workplace has given me until may 15 to 'live'. that is, to enjoy good bread and butter till i leave for perth again this july to do the phd. so, the days in between i will maximize to live LIFE to the full. now on my pace and with those whom i CHOOSE to be with. i feel a little quirky because only now, in 9 years, could i bestow myself this privilege. and strangely, i had this privilege only once before; also by the time i arrived from perth after finishing the masters on march 2000.

ahhhhh, i'll have more time to spend with yaman and yes! fulfill that tiny wish to take her to her 1st schoolday at village montessori; then fetch her, every day, as long as i can, until i can. we'll have pizza afterwards at greenwich, or ice cream at cold shack (shocking prices mind you!) or even ma-ki at bicol lunch or siopao at naga garden. basta, enjoy lang kami ng anak ko. i'll take her to carmel, to colegio where i'll visit, for the first time, in so many many years miss perez. i'll have time to do my research with the NCUF and not hurry mam flor of the federation. i'll be able to pretest with obelle and make arrangements with upao and city hall officials. have lunch with angeline and talk endlessly with my dear old bestfriend over a hundred coffees (mine) at kopi roti. i'll take morning walks to basilica to visit dad and perhaps take a time at civic center (only if it's clean). i'll firm up the naga by nose series with accounts of kinalas, banana-que sa culgante, the bbq at barlin, the ensaimadas and coke sa irarum kang sentro (iyo po, i forgot the name again - dairy queen ito?! masupugon ako talaga?!), pansit sa moderna, lomi sa graceland, lechon sa cocina conchita and pansit sa oyster. hay siram! i'll touch base with my very warm old friends at cssac and take yaman to this school much like the philippines in promise. i'll just make random tours of the city and the laidback lifestyle that best defines this nagueƱa who hails from concepcion, near a famous cockpit arena now gone.

before i embark on another life, i want to breathe, taste, listen, embrace and witness THE REAL ONE to the full, on my own rhythm, and as i will. i want to experience naga, my home, with all the loves of my life, as it is and as will be. its memory, their memories, i will take wherever i go and to where my prayers will lead, always. then on, i can take on the challenge. to take the journey once more to finding self, to better defining self. another pilgrimage of the soul where pain and pleasure will meet and where the endless toil of days is to be endured; the nights to be tided over. the winters in australia will be a little warmer, the autumn less dim, the spring more welcoming, and the summers bearable. naga will vest me enough of the strength, enough of the fortitude.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Taking Care of Moi

perhaps i should really
take good care of moi
so i need to adjust
with life and my realities
i resolve therefore to
eat more natural food like fruits
(sige na daw...)
sleep not less than 6 hours a day
if i need to report late for work i will
(pwede man so why not use the privilege)
will not take the taxi ride home after yoga class
(iyo ta napapasma na ang lola)
so the work inside
has to be equalled
by work on the outside
bless me
i don't want ever
to feel 40

Thursday, March 19, 2009


a great sum-up word for how i feel today. caught the colds yesterday, my joints aching. i am not sure how i contracted it. until now, i don't feel like doing anything. my eyes hurt looking at the screen. my head swirls lying down. my throat is parched. and now i'm coughing. pretty tough luck. i am where i'm supposed to be, but i don't understand why.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nicole, the Sworn Statement and the Lowest Point of My Being a Filipina Today

What I read in between the lines are these:

1. The SS was of a different language, probably coached and/ or written by someone else's hand other than Nicole's. As much as the letter tried to sound casual, the choice of words like 'lingered' and 'intoxication', including the way the sentences are written, "I had no opportunity to deny in court…' sounds to me, legal verbose.

2. As much as Nicole calls it a 'tragic version'; the reference to 'my version' sounds again like 'legal coaching', where statements are made to establish culpability of the accuser; and take away attention from the deed of rape by the accused.

3. The SS is too assertive that sexual advances and even sex was consensual between Nicole and Smith (Para 6-9) with the obvious aim of absolving Smith of any responsibility while heaping to Nicole all guilt from the encounter

4. Collective absolution is even heaped on American servicemen portrayed in the letter not only as acquaintances but part of Nicole's and her family's 'crowd' since childhood (Para 2 and 12). Kulang na lang lumuhod at humalik sa lupang dinadaanan nila ang sumulat nito. American servicemen are put under a 'good light' perhaps to steer any culpability not only from Smith but also to his other American companions that night.

5. In the last sentence, 'I would rather risk public outrage than do nothing to help the court in ensuring that justice is served', I would want to ask, 'Who's justice is it Nicole?" Yours or Smith's? Do you really think you deserve to be treated that way just because you were drunk, out of your mind, without inhibitions na? Do you really believe you deserve to be treated like these because you look like a 'bitch'? Or is this just another rowdy sex-capade blew out ugly into the open? Pero, why did you say, you didn’t feel right? Bakit? Perhaps because you know, na kahit pa gaano ka ka-mukha or umasal na cheap, within the boundaries of character and your relationships with men, you deserve to still be treated with respect.

Perhaps what happened between them was nothing but a sex-capade blown out of proportions.
Perhaps nagpagamit na lang si Nicole to move the VFA forward.
Perhaps Nicole wanted a life out of here.
Perhaps this is not about our justice system.
Perhaps this has nothing to do with 'the Filipino people' na sa totoo lang, na-aagnas na ang meaning sa kare-refer rhetorically.

But this has a lot do with brainwashing.
This has a lot to do with disunity and separation by sowing confusion.
This has a lot to do with dividing Filipina and Filipina.
This has a lot to do with 'imaging' by segregating the bad Filipina and the good Filipina
This has a lot to do with sanctioning a lot of abuse and perpetuating more of the abuse in ages
Ok lang na bastusin ka kung mukha kang bastusin
Lalo na kung ilalagay katawan mo sa glossy magazine tulad ng FHM
Ok lang ipagpalit ang puri at dangal sa pera, perks at passport
Ok lang na gagahin ka kung magpapaka-gaga ka nga

Gaga tayong lahat.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

For Cristina

yesterday, i did something unusual, out-of-character. in my facebook account was an invitation from a former classmate in highschool whom i have not been on good terms with since i left our shared rented apartment in pasig city in 2003. it was not a good way to part since we both had misgivings for each other. in the years that passed, she would text once in a while to make amends but i was hard on her. i was not prepared and i meant to hurt her deep with words. i am thankful now that she endured it all and despite this, continued to reach out to my stubbornness and my anger.

at 38, i already feel my years and lately, you may have all noticed my issues with my memory. perhaps if there is one thing i should forget, it should be how to be angry. perhaps i should forget how to hold people against my expectations. perhaps i should forget resentment, bitterness, fault-finding. perhaps i should forget my self-centeredness and this resistance to believing that karma applies also, to me. perhaps i should forget the mean old me for the rest of my life.

that day, when cristina invited me still to be her friend, she did me a favor that i never allowed myself, for all these years. she allowed me to take a hard look at myself, to open a part of me that i thought has long been gone from my years of disappointments with people. one long hard look at the mirror of character where i saw the soft side of vitti long gone. i saw the liberating quality of forgiveness. i have been forgiven more than i deserve to be and i have forgiven more than i could allow myself to. my heart is free, all cares released. there is joy in my heart and i am flying.

i hope that where ever she may be now, cristina felt the same release and liberation. in your world, may you have more shade against the sun, experience cooler winds against your face, your heart easy and embracing all happiness to overflowing. thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Losing It/ Breaking Through

I lost my mom's earrings today. Or rather, I realized that I lost it, only today. The other Saturday, March 7, I had my ears pierced, again at The Beads Shop (Mega A, 3rd Floor). I wore my mom's earrings that day as a 'reference' point, to avoid getting pierced at awkward points to the original one, a mistake made in Perth and which I was bent on not repeating that Saturday. The lady at the counter said that it was no longer necessarily so I took off my mom's earrings and the lady placed them inside a plastic packet. For me not to forget, I remember making a mental note of tucking it in the secreta of my pants. Not inside my bag because I have a habit of throwing bits of paper and plastic away without inspecting them. So you know what happened. When I got home, I forgot the mental note. But what I remember is feeling my secreta, taking the plastic out and throwing it inside the bin. (Isn't this surreal? Remembering how I forgot remembering?)

So goodbye mental note, goodbye earrings. Those were Singaporean gold studs which I had since college. The only real piece of jewelry I had left that was my mom's. It breaks my heart to lose that part of my mom although she took it really well today. She was even comforting me before I left the house this morning since I can't seem to let go and I can't bear to live anymore with this failing failing memory.

Up to now, inside this grand workplace, I cannot concentrate. I cannot bear losing my mental faculties. Not this way. Not at this age. Not ever. My mind is what I have. It is what I am. From it, I make a living. With it, I connect with my heart. My hands are just an extension. Over the internet I took some 'comfort' and a little bit of humor. One MSNBC article said that those who are concerned that they are losing their memory are the least likely to be losing it since they are still aware of it. I laughed because yes, it comforted me a little, although the guilt and heartbreak is still there in losing the earrings. How can one resolve not to forget? How can one get hold of one's mind as tightly and as sharply as before? Is my loud snoring the culprit? Do I really need to eat more brain food like eggs, alfalfa, sprouts and broccoli? Is this dementia or cognitive mind impairment? What more do I stand to lose? Where do failing minds go from here?

Perhaps I shouldn’t worry. Perhaps I should really take comfort that I am aware of it and I am resolved to recover whatever I can the natural (no supplements) way. Unless I forget. But no, I will not forget. I am tired and guilty enough to forget.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Yaman's Brushing her Teeth

At 3, yaman has shown an independence so unlike me and uhm, the other one. uniquely her own and i hope it would turn out good for her. she'd learned how to brush her teeth. at all angles. down, at the side, up front, and her tongue. she had no choice when her two-front teeth ached for about 2 weeks. so as not to hurt her, i asked her to do her own brushing to be able to 'estimate' how much pressure she can take while brushing her front teeth and her upper teeth which makes her gag. let me share you some of the pics and the fun we had:)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Peanut-Butter Sandwiches

i design my peanut-butter sandwhich with the whole face, every corner, of one slice covered by peanut butter, topped by the first slice of the whole roll, yung matigas and medyo makunat. i press the loaves together for the peanut butter to squeeze over, my fingers making their mark on the bread, then i lick on the squeeze and take a bite. peanut butter sandwiches will always be a part of my childhood. i prefer the local brand, like ludy's and lily's, which are very oily, such that the oil concentrates on top and you have to mix this all together with the brown stuff to get a teaspoonful oozing with sweet buttery goodness. one sandwich gets me by before i head on to cerebral stuff like preparing a framework to this new paper i'm working on, and i'm at home.

it's like a diversion; transporting me back to my childhood in concepcion where i just sit by the stairs going to lolo's room, the wind pressing on my back, my hair flowing, the sky cast in blue and ricefields a-green at the south side of the house. when all day, my only obligation at home as a teenager was to shut up and read a book. when my cares were occupied by how materese circle would end and would parsifal mosaic be just as good. or perhaps by the thought of helene when she was still my crush or jujun who still hangs over the front of their house every time i pass by. it was a world totally separate from what i have now when wishes come true but attached with obligations to fulfill. nothing comes for free, everything has to be worked for and waited on. and sometimes, you may not get what you wish for despite working hard and waiting endlessly. reality beats you with a stick and you absorb everything with your inner armor.

it's good that we have peanut-butter sandwiches to hold on to, from time to time. it's like home getting refuge amid stubborn storms and wavering faith. i get to put my elbows on the table, and enjoy every bite while my feet dangles from the chair and swing to and fro, to and fro. for minutes i let the world pass. i surrender with a smirk and a shrug with peanut-butter sandwich on hand.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Financial Status et al.

after my entry, Snowballs, called up my agent and had my investments halved, both the one paid for monthly and the other quarterly. so i'm keeping my finances only for the insurance. after these, no more investments. i'd rather keep money in the bank or sandwiched between the mattress. i lost about P200k+ which would have been enough show money to bring yaman and mom with me to australia. this is an opportunity loss that i have no choice at this time kundi ikibit-balikat na lang. i'm taking a different tack than the one being inspired by salve duplito in her blog, moneysmarts. she's asking about the shadow benefits one is able to enjoy by having enough. in contrast, there are some shadow losses incurred by not having much. one time, cousin dimple's son, my inaanak, jet, got sick and while she did not say it, i regretted not being able to help her. that month i was on the edge of my finances since where i work, we bill only after the month worked and get paid about 2weeks after. right now, my finances could hold only after 1 month and that is not really much, especially here in manila. so money is really important and for those with standing obligations, it's a must to stand your word on it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Passwords and Limits

in my grand workplace, we were prompted to prepare a new password for log-on and access to lotus notes; the administrator emphasizing that this time, we should put effort in conjuring 'strong' passwords. as in, unhackable. my emailbox has been 'hacked' twice, in gmail and yahoo, for fault entirely mine since i had the stubbornness then of keeping only one password; for say, 2 years. over the years, i had to struggle making intriguing yet unforgettable passwords if only to accommodate my failing memory. so i stuck on 'themes'. the passwords change every so often (like weeks or 2 months max)but i could remember them because of the themes. so i started with words ending in 'tude' like fortitude and solitude then moved on to the world's seven peaks (my favorite was aconcagua and least, vinssonmassif, obviously). being a tennis buff, i stuck too with my favorites in the tennis world starting with monica, then agassi, goran, nadal, rafa and back to monica. two months ago, i changed themes to my favorite dogs starting with statistics but since getting lonely being reminded of my furry friends, i branched out to subjects in school. so after statistics, i adopted algebra as a password. i've changed since yesterday though and with the emphasis on 'strong' through an alphanumeric style, i bet the one i made is as unhackable as the pentagon. if only, i could remember the combinations.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


i got my visa today. a welcome change but unlike before, the tug on my heart is unavoidable. parating na ang inevitable. that i will be leaving yaman soon and would see her after many many months pa. tiyaga muna sa phone. the only chance i'll get to see her is on the web, and sana, sana it can bridge the distance. just the other night, while in bed together, i watched her sing 'my hands are praying, praying, praying...' and while mumbling the rest of the words, i saw how delicate my abalantung is and why i did dare to sacrifice witnessing her grow while i pursue my ambition elsewhere. mahirap talagang mag-lugar ng sarili for a single mother like me. aim short and limit your potential as a person. aim high and contend with the sacrifices. the phd i have to do, no matter what, it's something carved out for me that i have to take. i know not how this new turn will affect me and my abalantung. i will not justify. this is the road i chose. paninindigan ko as i pray for more understanding, more kindness, more courage.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Danger in the Tube

i was in grade school when i saw arnold schwarzenegger's movie, 'total recall'. i was uneasy with the whole film, not only with the ghoulish looking and badly customized characters of what would be left of our species in the 20-nth century. anyway, the movie 'saw' how materialistic humans have gone to the point of joining game shows (played no other than the smooching host of 'family feud' being shamelessly emulated now by goma) where one man was climbing up ropes stuck with money, snatching how much he could , while trying to ward off snapping dogs down below.

i never thought i'd live to see the day.

i never thought i'd live to see the day where 1-million anything - pesos, dollars and even would you believe, bente-singkong barya (P0.25)- would cost men and women their decency, sense of shame, sense of cleanliness, sense of class, integrity. that is, their worth. just look at these series - fear factor, takeshi's castle, and survivor, and how they are being copied to the core by gma (extra challenge, tok-tok-a-tok, eat bulaga) and abs-cbn (local fear factor as far i know - cause i don't watch this station). courage is akin to how much the stomach can take, and how much you can overcome your phobia. survival is akin to surviving alone, battling wits and if need be, under-cutting and exploiting the weakness and trust of others. human beings are taught the self-centered, merciless, greedy, shameless, and wrong wrong wrong ways of achieving --- and achieving what? things. just things. that P0.25-cents million challenge? this was in abs-cbn. random men on the street were asked to down a whole potful of wasabe. a whole pot costing about P5000 in total to blow your head out. how low can we get?

i could accept tv as entertaining but without us knowing, it's teaching us to be more attuned with our raw natures than our disciplined upbringing. not strangely, i ask, how was marlon (of survivor) raised as a child? how deep is this disguised misogyny of tito-vic-and-joey? perhaps paolo (bediones) is not as spotless as he projects he is? we become less of who we are. so physically we may not be, but our values, our sense of humanity are being warped and perverted. we are mutating to the worst level possible, in destroying our selves and our human and spiritual connections. how low can we get? we got there in time, much faster than i imagined. the age of 'total recall' came too soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Filipinizing the Telenovela

you know you're watching a filipino telenovela if:

1. it's a complicated storyline usually starting with family lines branching out sa kabit, sa anak sa labas, sa tito ng tito ng tita nya na pinsan pala etc. (e.g., All About Eve, a beautiful straightforward koreanovela bastardized just to accommodate a star-studded cast)

2. the story wraps around vengeance wreaked by a hero with a devil-may-care attitude who can kill 7 armed goons with a short spurt of gunfire (e.g., the quite-very-weary-OA-talaga-si-Binoe Totoy Bato)

3. the enemy turns out to be the sheep in wolf's clothing in the end (e.g. the character played by Jean Garcia and that horrible trying-hard sci-flick Gagambino)

4. a clandestine security agency is peopled with so many staff and all walking around to boot in plainclothes (e.g., that equally horrible series Asero)

5. the strategy to evade the police is to draw attention to yourself by dressing up backless, painting your hair with golden streaks, wearing make-up for a guy, and then, seeking cover in a restaurant that gives you no room to escape (e.g., Ang Babaing Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang and the dismaying plot woven by headwriters on Caparas's borrowed script)

i've so many complaints while enduring these in the living room, to the consternation of my mom.

i still maintain that the best telenovelas i've seen in GMA are "Encantadia" and "Mulawin". original storylines woven systematically with myth, history, and human dimensions of frailty and hope. now the telenovelas are just rehashes and over-estimation that we can branch into sci-fi. what has happened to the imaginations of suzette doctolero and company? where has the real art in storytelling gone?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Older than my Gray Hairs

astroplus has this 2+1 and 1+1 promo which prompted me to buy 5 vcds yesterday, 2 of which i've watched before - men of honor (cuba gooding jr. and robert de niro) and remember the titans (denzel washington). i've seen them sometime in 2000 and in 8 years, i've noticed that i haven't retained much. some connections in the storyline and the significance of scenes i can understand only now. like why carl brashear (cuba) had to walk 12 steps to get reinstated as senior navy driver. or why the hall of fame was such as issue to coach yoast of the titans. my memory is failing me i think. just like now in my re-reading of the rings trilogy. although now i'm more conscious of the names, the geography, and lineages, i wonder how i could have not registered these in my first readings. the hesitance of aragon to be king, the significance of bilbo in the rings saga. just last friday, while commuting on the way home, i returned P5 of a P13 change and asked for a P1 instead. i was thinking that i should've had a P9 change. a fare of P11 for a bus ride. but i was on board a jeep, the 2nd leg of my commute. the fare should be P7. the driver counted correctly. this silly passenger is out of her mind. last feb 10, i forgot bestfriend cora's b-day, thinking this would instead fall on march 10. and she has been my bestfriend for 8 years now, and for the past 7 years, i've never failed greeting her, always, on feb 10. so could i be having alzheimer's at 38? once i forget my birthday and the commute home, let me know.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mom's Love in the Cooking

mom loves us differently.

it shouts in the smell and richness of her cocido, bangus sinigang, nilagang baboy and paksiw na pata; where just the broth poured over rice is already a meal. it caresses in the nostalgic memories of laughter and stories exchanged while eating her home-made corned beef, bangus relleno, kandingga, bopis, dinilan sa iba, ginataang crabs in langka, spareribs adobo and talbos ng kamote salad. it regales in her daily forays in the kitchen where with ordinary peppers, salts, spices, and sauces she turns ordinary porkchop, fried chicken and even sinangag na shrimp and sardines extraordinary.

only today as i gobbled the last spoonful of my favorite, bihon na may sardinas, here in my alcove and here in this grand workplace, did i realize this. her way of loving may be different but it serves its purpose just the same. for my many misgivings over how cold and undemonstrative she is, here in this spoon and in every meal she prepares , mom has never failed to show how much, how truly and how deeply she loves us.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Isagani and Francis

so much for the talk of death. francis magalona passed away at 44, the same as my father 15 years ago. i was just struggling with my fasting a while ago. i was close to chilling and while drinking water, my hands were shaking. but in another universe, francis was struggling just to breathe the time my mind was wrangling with the thought of food. sorry francis ha? and sorry for calling you by your first name as i don't even know you, wasn't a fan, and still not. but sorry pa rin since i was too absorbed with my 'grief' to notice that this is just a speck of what countless others contend with on the face of poverty hunger, deprivation, and yours, death. i struggle with my pride and my insensitivity.

my prayers to you and to all those who die young. in my penchant for standards, to those who die before the national life expectancy, at 71 for filipino men and 73 for filipino women. yes, that's how objective and insensitive i could get. but to the heart of it, perhaps that's the reason why you became the francis magalona that you are. the quest for life and art compressed so fully in 44 years, as if there is none to be achieved for the remaining 40%. my daddy was a workaholic until his heart condition caught up with him. always on the move. even at home there is work. he rested only in the remaining days. at noon before my dad died that april 1, he cooked misua for us with chopped malasugi. by the time of the heart attack, he was reading the bible while listening to the seven last words. he died on good friday at exactly 3 pm so we're pretty sure where he is now.

perhaps we shouldn't be grieving for the loss of those who have gone ahead of us, and gone ahead of their supposed time. like francis and isagani, we should be able to use time as if there is no tomorrow, as if our talents and gifts override time itself. but not so much as to let wisdom escape. one has to know where and when to say when. at the last few years spent with him, my dad became more subdued and learned to love his God a little better. that was the time i was able to reconcile with him in my bitterness of being passed over as the favorite daughter. i was not as that is not my place. i learned to accept that nonetheless, favorite or not, i was loved by my father. till now, the only man i know who ever loved me unconditionally is still isagani.

perhaps the same happened with francis. i haven't been to his blog but in doing so, perhaps he has gone to mellowing too. because blogs have cathartic effects. you expose yourself to the world and in turn embrace your truth.

so the rapper and the manager are going to meet in heaven na. peace be to you francis. i love you dad.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

If I Should Die

once i die, i wish for the following:

1. lamay for 3 days only. those who cannot afford to come on that period, i cannot afford to wait
2. clothe me in brown. until death i believe in feng shui. i want to wear my lucky color upon entering the pearly gates
3. no eulogies please. if you want to say something good about me, tell it to me now that i'm still alive
4. do not quarrel over my will. i leave everything to yaman until she is 21. after that, yaman will have to build her own yaman; with her own blood, sweat and tears
5. please don't cremate me. i changed my mind. i wish to undergo the process of returning to where i came from (in the biblical sense)

please don't take this as morbid. i'm not attempting suicide or is this a pamamaaalam dahil may pangitain ako. no, no, no. it's very simple. if here i could write how much i love life, couldn't it be the same for death?

so now it has been written, so should it be done.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Taking it Easy and Organic Writing

just a while ago, i felt so un-satisfied with my day, at work. i was supposed to finish one section of the sector assessment. wrote about 3 intro paragraphs to integrate my thoughts and establish continuity, only to realize that i'd better chop them and make them concluding statements of earlier sections. so virtually, the target section was left untouched.

but i shouldn't really be hard on myself. writing is like that. to go through the next phase, one has to go to a self-evaluation phase. how did i really understand my writing? was it tight? where are the loose ends and what should i do with them? in these ways, your ideas for the next phase are getting 'fertilized' as ideas get threshed here and there. parang kanin, ini-in-in muna bago kainin. let your ideas play around. before you know it, the seeds will germinate into fresh insights into your topic. as natalie says, writing should be organic. that's one way to go.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Dream of Dogs and Death

i long had this notion that i will die in my sleep. it runs in our family especially along the valenzuela line and specifically, in the clan of lolo leon. one uncle and one lolo died in slumber, the former still in his 30s. i thought it way back when i was living in perth when i got wakened by my landlady rapping at my door. when i opened it, she gave me a glass of water. panghimasmas since she claimed, i was moaning long and deeply. that time, i was dreaming. i was dreaming of my 5 dogs who were left behind when i left naga in jan 2008. all of them died while i was away in australia. upon my leaving, arinkingking, my favorite then and now, tried his very best to reach my side of the car door. i can only stare back to my dog who saw then our final parting. has one ever came upon the poem on rainbow bridge? soon, i will post it here. rainbow bridge is the bridge between life and death. our pets, those who die ahead of us, do not cross the rainbow bridge until we come along and cross it with them. it tells how loyal pets are until death. so back in perth, i swear that at the time i was in deep sleep, i was dreaming of my dogs. till now, i could still visualize how aringkingking and statistics looked like, and how vanilla was so excited upon seeing me she held her arms so close in longing. could it be that i was already being fetched by my dogs at that time? could it be that i have been to the field going to rainbow bridge although now the background to the dream is black as night? could it be that my dogs are as faithful as ever and are still passing their time playing and running and smooching while occasionally looking over and sensing my scent through all these years? i hold these all to be true. the next time i dream about my dogs, we shall cross rainbow bridge together.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Out of Sorts

i could not think of a topic so i'd probably write about the white wall. of running out of things to write. my issue is more on forgetting on the spot. on board a taxi, i would chance of 10 topics for the day and lose it at the day's end. i will have an inspiration this second, and lose it after an hour. like now, i want to write about the gallant taxi driver, who braved edsa this morning, unlike the first 5 i flagged down v. luna and refused for the simple unacceptable reason na 'ma-traffic ang edsa'!gosh, what do they expect? a breezy drive? but then, i forgot or didn't have the sense to get the name of the driver, or even his car plate. but he was very good as i did not, not once, feel the brakes. not once did my body swivel as he rounded a curve nor did i lurch as we were negotiating the traffic with the car in front. i rode a bus once that had that kind of driver. oh, they are both magnificent. ah, and me less because i could not acknowledge them in any way. so there you go, a blog about what not and what have not been done.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Aspiring God

i was humbled out today. the priest who delivered the sermon today couldn't have said it better. his is not an eloquent sermon. it was a direct practical rendition of what lent and fasting is for. the necessity of going into the desert of one's soul to see what one is worth and the worth of the Lord, above all, to you. fasting should not just be about food but of all things that are just temporal - vices, hurts, and anger. the beauty of Lent because what could surpass the depth of the love of God for humankind than his death on the cross? in that pew, i was thinking, i'm fasting for the wrong reasons. why was i deflecting from its spiritual worth and hanging only to what i can get out of it, physically? perhaps because...i do not want to touch again on the subject of forgiveness and how i am constantly defeated by anger, over and over again. and the priest's words ring again. temporal, temporal, temporal so why hold it in? and i am torn again - how can i forgive when it does not come from the bottom of my heart? how can i forgive when i am not true to myself doing so? but the thought of Christ weighed down on me. how did He find cause to forgive not just one but the whole of humanity's sins? so there need not be any reason for one to forgive. it is not Law or Justice or even Karma. one just should forgive. i can't deny the weight of responsibility. the reason perhaps why they say, forgiving is a divine act. only one who has the magnanimity and the unconditionality of love could bestow it and ask of it, whole-heartedly. i will aspire to be God.