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)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Not worthy

yesterday, in my pre-period sulkiness, i missed the overseas absentee voters' registration in bedford and mass at bateman. well, i had an upset stomach from drinking up the about-to-expire milk at 355pm. so is that an excuse? dai. i'm so apathetic, apolitical, a-Filipino. so unworthy.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


a room overlooking a garden or trees. sunlight streaming down the windows in the morning, shady in the afternoon, and moonlight in the night. with a balcony where a writing table could fit or a futon. enough privacy so i could raise my legs on the rail without a care or just sip coffee in silence, pen in waiting. a glass sliding door so i could have scenery for a wall. large room, wooden floors glistening. enough space for to hold my books and luggage and shoes. enough room for sun salutations in the morning. enough for a TV so i could see grissom again or just friday specials in sbs. a room kept unkempt or spotless, as i want to. with a wall mosaic of yaman's pictures, and my diagrams, mind maps, and reference trees. where i could dance freely and just lie in at times vulnerable and i just want to let be. where are you? find me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Of Lists and Limits

i'm taking a break. from now until midnight, i don't want to see and read anything on tenure, the urban poor, land rights, migration and urbanization. i don't think these are in hemingway's farewell to arms. i'm still stuck on chapter 23 like 3 weeks ago. yeah, i wish to finish it tonight. to be able to move on to deaver, hitchcock, rodriquez, and van gulik which i found just this afternoon at the lib. then i'll have my fill, again, of tenure, the urban poor, land rights, migration and urbanization then perhaps of social movements, citizenship, state-civil society relations, and urban law. and oh God, rowling's coming.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Writing Blind

have you ever come across writing a piece but had to go back over and over again at the words because of wrong spelling and so lose your train of thought? especially in using the computer. why not try blind writing? do not look at the screen, just type and just go over it, once you finish to correct your mistakes. just like this:

have you ever come acropss wriginb a piece but had to go back ove and over again at the workds because of wrong apel,ing abd so lonse your train of tough? especially in using the computer. why not try blinf eritying> donot look at the screen just type and go over once you sinigh to corecxt your mistakes. just like this:

Early this morning, I was into writing the Diagnostics and had to put myself in the mood first by writing all my thoughts down on the page, the major ones to guide my exposition. i could not go through by correcting the spelling over and over again so i said what the heck! i'll just type and care ko sa red lines na mag-appear?! here is what i arrived at:

Whay wa sit implementrd:
1. Ecomic dynamics – demand for housing and land – migration and rtise of squatters but there was limit
2. Social – animostoy, sw2uatters in the m,aring n economy and pokticis, cannt bvent their wants
3. Potivcial – where UPF cam, tise pf people and the ionstpirasiton coming form it
Essential omelot 0- secutoiry fo tnure sya , no poverty alleviation, social amelioration; confusion with housing
Not poveryu ballecviation although in swtting esligibility iof the por ioncope was a critiwal compentn
Policy for enagagementl; you ahevkland tenute problem, you are oryanized, there Iis no loout and you aheb top pay bequity

– it did not provide hosing per se although hoiusing loan assixdtance given to beneficiaries on a viluntayr basis
Basic process employed
Forces converged as its pro-poor program helped naga operationalize lgc 1991 and other governance initiatives. So it did not operationalised udham buit even preceded it inclouding 1991 lgc. City government was vested more authority anf thus the poer to eofrce its will which was alrso the will of the people. But lgc instrumental because it laid transdfer of reposniblity from nha to lgyu. Prio, socialized hiusing was gthe purvewiw only of nha. Authorigtuy even came from the creation of pcup in 1986 and the authority tio crwate mechanisms lije crewaitng the urban adffair committees to look over urgban poor concerns

So why don't you try it? it's so liberating and carefree at the same time. you're able to capture your thoughts and keep your hands at pace with them. sarap, and when you return to the sentences, you'll gather fresh ideas so madali na lang amag-edit and magdagdag.

If you came across the forwarded email on garbled words but where the spellings of the words retained the first and last letters correctly and still remained understandable, you'll know what i mean.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gray Signs

i'm chatting with elaine about my gray hair. here invading the sides of my head. i used to pluck every gray hair i see in the mirror so this is what happened. so the lesson for today is: don't pluck your gray!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writing on Sanitary Napkin

i understand it all too well
just like sanitary napkin

padded in white
akin to being virginal
clean, crisp, concise
hiding secrets dark and awkward

smothered with perfume
akin to sounding fresh, insightful
to elicit nods and claps
masking foul realities with theory

packaged to conceal
akin to being delicate
to maintain poise and stature
obscuring truth from sight

To contain the bleeding
To ignore the stench
To downplay the unbeautiful
What an injustice to writing

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Choice

two card mishaps
a diamond slip
willows kissing water
seasons turn inward
sun dies out

Monday, August 24, 2009

What does it take to be a Bestfriend? (Dedicated to All My Bestfriends)

nothing really, in the sense, you don't have to work for it. you just become one to one person, even if sometimes, it is not vice versa. for instance, i treat helene as a bestfriend although her bestfriend is jennifer (or jeff in know). but that's just fine. what is important for me is i treat her as one. and with helene, i could just be me. the same way with angeline, or liza, or doc, or julius (not that one) or cora or verj. liza and verj are already in the states. angeline and cora are in the philippines. while doc and julius? hmmm, let's say we are in different sets of mind these days. i'm not in sync at the moment with these two but nevertheless, i just let it be. by the way, helene is in london.

i believe that it is better to lose a boyfriend than a bestfriend. until now, i grieve not having liza and verj around. these two keep me balanced because they are my complete opposites when it comes to patience and grace under pressure. i miss liza and her clear mind, her sense of logic, her composure. she never got her BS here but even after that, she knows what to do with her life. even while in the states, i used to chide her for studying nursing (what nursing?! you can't even hold a live chicken much less deal with blood?!). but she is very determined, in 3 years she finished, in a special curriculum designed for student achievers. despite the distance though, i know i could reach out to her. it only takes one memory to remind, one angry letter from her demanding why i did not confide one heartache that killed me so in college. how could we not be bestfriends then?

then there's verj. verj will always be my sun. the one who makes me laugh all the time and who knocks me out crazy by her antics. like when she stood me and lza up at max, the night before she was about to leave for the states. in megamall-max, we were the last sitting customers by 1130pm and where was verj? there, held up by this insurance agency on the 4th level, promised with an offer, only to get iced tea and one large umbrella after 4 hours of sales talk! oh, i would have killed her! but verj will always be verj. at one tension-filled time in gonzales when nasty rumors spread about me from a supposed 'friend', she said, 'but jing, how can i believe her? i know who you are.' so bestfriends are like that. at the end of the day, they are the ones standing by the benches, waiting for you even if you are the last in the marathon. they know your spirit. one time in december, i think in 2002, verj was already in the US then when i got a cryptic email from her. she said that while she may no longer write, or call, i will always be her bestfriend. she's alive then and now, i know. deep inside, i understood what she meant it is beyond words. occasionally, i search for her on the net, in facebook, myspace and friendster but no. no verj. her email adds are also no longer working. i miss her so much. how i wished i had the presence of mind to answer her then that no matter how she decides, she will always be mine too, and i will forever miss her. i really really miss verj.

angeline is the first although she is third here. i'm just keeping with the flow. so where did we start? when did we become bestfriends. we are part of a barkada named JOAN ROAN-CO. there are five of us, the first two letters of our names making up the name. Jopen, Annabelle, Rodonna, Angeline and Corazon. Oh, the four are also my bestfriends! each one of them is unique but angeline will always be the special buddy. we went through together in teen-hood, student-hood, singlehood, pregnancies, births, birthdays. and we never run out of things to say and discover about each other. in books, in conversation, in style, in child rearing, in cooking, in dealing with the batch. angeline is cariñosa. even if you leave her alone she will not be alone. she will find an acquaintance, a friend, in anyone. i could not help notice in parties at home. as hostess, even if i leave her on one nook, she can blend in and be in tight conversation with another. angeline is also my unofficial librarian. she holds all my left-over books, has read them all, we could actually start Fort Vitti running within a month! she doesn't know it but her power, compared to now, is just the tip of the iceberg. i could still remember when i gave birth to yaman, at mother seton hospital just after 5pm, seeing angeline with my mom as i was wheeled out of the operating room, was such comfort, such warmth. it brought me a lot of peace. to behold two of the precious women in my life as i crossed the line to motherhood. thanks gie.

as i've blogged here before, helene used to be my "MU" in highschool. her brown eyes used to floor me dead. but after highschool, perhaps after getting exposed to boys and stumbling on 'love', my feelings for her just dissolved and solidified to friendship. i was supposed to write 'only' but how could it be an 'only' thing with friendship? it matters a lot. helene walks the mile for a friend. she will do everything for you. care too much that sometimes, she could get misunderstood. that's just the way she is. over a drink, if you spill your beans to her about a failed relationship, a career gone rotten, or the death of a dog, she will endure you. if you get busted out, lying on the ground, no more knees for walking, she will hold you up and bring you home. that is helene. looking at her, i wonder how many good times i've missed in highschool, seeing her more as a love than a friend. i'll always be grateful that she took me as one, never had any qualms, never had any baggage about what we had in highschool. helene will forever be a blessing.

cora is my conscience. she is so straight she's the only woman i know who wears a sando underneath her blouses, even in office polos. she's very good with handling money, very professional on the job, and when she doesn't like you, she doesn't like you. that's why i'm wondering how she endured me? ha ha. she is straight as i am weird. she is straight as i am green and stupid and bold and reckless and spendful and weird, really weird. with cora, i know i'm still a good person. although she said before that i am not mabait. 'hindi ka mabait, salbahe ka!' and that's what made me like her. i really don't like people to kowtow or are eager to please. she saw the muck in me and still liked me anyway. i can't lie to her. one time she told me this secret but beforehand, i said, 'cora, for me, this is not a secret. i will tell'. and i did tell. we did not talk to each other for about two months. on my end, i deserve her anger so i let it be. although i did not guarantee my silence so my conscience was clear. but still, cora forgave me after that. because she could not bear not having me for her birthday. i was the one at fault but she reached out nonetheless. cora's really something. i trust cora enough to carry out my will and take care of yaman should something happen to me here in perth, or wherever.

doc delfin and julius, i'm not angry at them. it hurts what they did but i've gone past seeing people in black and white. life is not just black and white. it's a symphony and a cacophony of colors. just look at white. it's not just white. there's off-white, cream, ecru, eggshell, cloudy white (just ask any wedding coordinator!). sometimes we blend, sometimes we don't. whatever happened to me and doc, me and julius, i believe is due to the circumstances. it is bound to happen and not at all useless. it has lessons. like seasons, i let it pass and let time just pass for knowing to evolve. our time together again will come.

so bestfriendship is like life. bestfriends come for a reason to lift you up, cast you about, smack you right in the face but never leaves. they're always there to remind you of who you are and why you matter, you count much to be a part of, to share with, and to just be with. they mirror your own personality, your other selves because like the yin and yang, they fill and magnify parts of who you are, in parts that are incomplete, in parts that need enhancing. so to my bestfriends and to friends who consider me one of their best, i love you all and thanks in exos for keeping up, trusting enough and doubting none. with you, i see and touch and feel and shout and heckle and complain and cry and laugh with my better self.

(Photo courtesy of

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Sunday Monday

in my world, sunday is monday. it is not rest day but the day of doing other things than just work. the first in my list is laundry. it takes me the whole morning. while clothes are in the laundromat, other small stuff like underwear, socks, and light shirts are hand-washed. one time, while using the laundromat in the old village with coin slots in the new not working well, i had to walk to and fro to check my wash and haul them over the dryer in two batches as i separately wash clothes from pants and towels.

after lunch, i usually head to the shop for my week's groceries. then, i get to stand and walk to not get a pot belly and i just get to enjoy the nice cool wind along south street and the nice cool brick houses in line. late in the afternoon, i could surf, cook mi-goreng (or whatever stuff comes to mind with the ingredients at hand), read left-over books, watch usual suspects in youtube or nadal's win in wimbledon in dvd, then chat with yaman.or i could just lie down, raise my legs 45 degrees and stare at yaman's pictures in the right wall.

it's not a holy day but enough to rest the brain, look at the week's harvest and start anew on a tuesday monday.

Thanks to for the pic

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Stuck with blue
In grief yellow
Fuming red
Seeing black
In a space white
I walk in grey

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trouble with the Typing

in my office, i share a room with a scotswoman named lee who has a dog named sprite and studying religion and philosophy. today, she told me in the subtle and mature way that good adults do that my typing bothers her. not when you were using your laptop, you see, but now in that new PC...the keyboard is a bit loose.

i think it began with my writing frenzy last week where as i was writing, with headphones and all, i could sense her agitation, feet drumming and she would really open her filing cabinet with force that i thought something's wrong with her. an occasional side glance but i did not catch her eye so, i ignored it. not more than 30 minutes to my writing, she harriedly packed her bags and gave me a soft but serious, see you later.

i thought about that. that my drumming on the keyboard was a bother. just like now when i am filled to the brim with what to say, i just couldn't stop. like the thrill is there, in the chase between mind and fingers, the fingers always losing the battle of speed and wit and fearlessness.

her approach to me was gradual. yesterday while i was typing, not the write up but notes on a City Hall document, and at the same time, a yell was heard from outside, oh, i just can't concentrate with that noise. it's so contained, so specific. in less than 10 minutes she was gone but in a fairly good mood. today, as i took my chair and opened the pc, we started talking about sprite and concentration and to the type of music i listen to. i said i like classical and rock and my pearl jam's my favorite. how could you do that? she asked but she was unwinding her own white headphones now. i don't know, loud music is just like a wall to me. boxing me in. then wham! to my typing. but for me vitti, it's different. any contained noise bothers me, just like when you're my typing bothers you?...yeah, but don't worry i have headphones now...oh, sorry i'll keep it light this for the next four hours, i typed my notes like a ballerina.

so, for the first time in my writing life, the frenzy of my writing has become an issue, an externality for someone. will i adjust to her? i feel that i should since we're roommates. i'm not sure how it will affect my writing but i'm reminded of monica seles (the best of all time! better than steffi graf) of how she lost wimbledon to steffi in 1991 (?) because she refrained from grunting, her signature style. okay, i'll find a way. i'll find the way that suits me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I dedicate this to all the Jacobs out there. Loving only one woman and knowing His place.

you caress me
like the weather
raining love heaps
shining soul brave

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Circles for a Title

i can't think of anything to write but in writing this i am writing about something, which is nothing at all. but in means something because it is here, written and expressed. could heroism be the same thing? that is, not of the act of bravery but of doing something despite the nothingness, despite impending defeat, just shooting at the dark for the sake of fighting. much like this, cutting through white space for the sake of writing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


what will i say? i won in oz lotto here! 3 main and 1 supplementary number. ha! enough to buy slikpik 18 for powerball on thursday. i still don't know where the mailbox key is and to give me direction, i'm writing all references that i have to read, in the next 3 months. i've only started with 2 after reading 2 harry potter books, 1 janis joplin bio, and 2 hemingways. it will take me until friday perhaps to type all my references!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Unbearable Katangahan

at 3pm today, a strange thing happened as i took our flat's mail from mailbox 145, i remember plunking our mailbox key inside my sling bag. after about 5 minutes queueing and getting my packages, i just like, instinctively, rummaged through the bag to check the key, and voila! it was gone! i went back to the admin office, inspected the counter, back outside and checked the grounds and the key was nowhere. back at the flat, i poured out the contents of my bag, the grocery bags, and it wasn't there! went back to the admin grounds and nada! as if i'm playing hide and seek with a ghost. with a heavy sigh, and a pu@t@ng@$%$#, mulled the grim possibility of shelling out A$25 again for a stupid key from a stupid me. if i could only slap myself! i just did.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Reluctant Reader

I have not read since mid-2008 after learning from a colleague that my tarot teacher is not as transparent as she seems and has been biting my back so to speak.
I have not read because my querents have forgotten that it is their will and not mine which creates their future
I have not read because as I transfer energy, none is coming back and the imbalance is causing me ill-luck.
I have not read because while I believe in the tarot I do not have that much faith that I could carry on my 'work' for it while having hang-ups with my teacher and my practice.
It's going to be a long wait.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Know You By Heart

i believe that bestfriends make the best lovers and the best partners for life. i've written about this before here. this song reminds me of just that. while doing my notes on the urban poor today, youtube is on so i can listen to old old love songs, like those in the 80s (grabe, magte-30 years ago na pala ito!). here's one that i like between dolly parton and smokey robinson. the lyrics are light but meaningful and you should hear the two sing! although the song was not a hit, i think that no duo sang it better and with that breadth of anticipation than dolly and smokey.

Everybody wants to find a love
Somebody somebody
who would always care
We get locked up in our own worlds
With feelings and secrets
We're afraid to share

But all I have to do is see your smile and maybe
Just maybe if I brush your hand
Something happens
I cannot explain and somehow oh somehow
I can understand
I think you're good
Gonna find gonna find you
I'm reading your mind

I know you by heart
And you're so much a part of me
I know you by heart yes I do
There's no wonder
I can love you the way that I do
I can finish any sentence you start
I know you I know you by heart

I know every time you're gonna call
I pick up the phone before it ever rings
And when you need some loving
I'll be there beside you anticipating everything
It's like I always said you're the one
I want I'm inside your head
All I want is you

I know you by heart...
I know you by heart...

Song from
Lyrics from

Friday, August 14, 2009

Naga by Nose: Beef Mami sa Naga Garden

Naga Garden Restaurant does not have a garden. It is one old 'restaurant' in Naga City, in quotes since it's not that big to be called a resto, a diner perhaps it looks more like. It is old judging by its dirty-white tables and there, waiters in white polo still take your orders holding a small pad, enough to hold in one's palm then after tuck their ballpens on top-behind their ears. But eating in Naga requires eating at Naga Garden if only to remember that before, it used to be a popular hang-out among local reporters, and I think until June, I could still chance the old ones, now with gray mustasches and balding heads, sipping their coffees at 10am. One morning, I think it was June 3, I stepped inside, took a detour really, and ordered one beef mami, with matching siopai, before heading off to my destination. I'd like to remember the view I got from my chair at the right side wall so I took this silly photo.

In less than 5 minutes, this blessed mami was in front of me, ready to eat. They no longer make toasted siopao like they used to but you can't have this anywhere in the Philippines, right? The soup is not that glorious, tasting like chicken or beef stock boiled over and over but what the heck? The meat does not taste fresh and already stiff (taken from stored cuts perhaps) but I don't mind. The noodles were soggy but then, I'm partaking of a social memory of food for Nagueñas, am I not? So as Mr. Kobayashi would say, 'Fire away, Mr. Macmanus!' (Usual Suspects), my insides were shouting --- Eat away, Vitti!

So in 10 minutes, I slurped, twisted, munched, munched, slurped, slurped, slurped, twisted, ooops! twisted, munched, munched, and slurped and slurped and slurped some more. Siram! I've forgotten all impressions about the siopao, soup, the beef, and the noodles. I ate with my nose to the point that I may have eaten the mami with eyes closed. Satisfaction, as I dabbed my mouth with the napkin, said a little, 'Thank You Lord' (an expression me and my siblings got from our Dad), released a small controlled burp --- my compliments to the cook. So raising my hand, and tipping my finger upwards, I asked for the 'chit'. That meal was a just a little below P50 and I went through the door smiling. Smiling and happy after eating in a garden without a garden.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time's Out

time out
for busy fingers
time out
to move back
and grasp the whole
time out
strength recovered
sleep unencumbered
lie happy reading
while time is out
gone harrassing
somebody else
before coming back
for me

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thinking with My Fingers

i wrote so much today i lost my voice late in the afternoon. realized it when i was about to web-chat at 620pm. first came a whisper, then a raspy voice. i felt so weak i could not speak. at 10am today, i declared in YM: THINKING WITH MY FINGERS. which put a flurry of messages hurtling, as if edging me to fall over the edge by breaking my concentration. but concentration i kept and while the body stood still, the fingers were afire, running a marathon. i guess to make sense of my manuscripts and what i've been through in naga before i left for australia deserves a little saying. it's my diagnostics study on the urban poor situation in naga city that fluctuates to being a research journal and a travel diary. as i began writing it, without any preconceived structure or flow, i discovered that ideas were forming as i drummed into the keyboard; and the faster i drummed the more the ideas became robust and firm. it's true. to be able to write is to think and to be able to think is to write. you cannot have anything, conjure anything by just thinking about it. one must concretize the thoughts into real words. express it and watch it take shape. along the way, destroy, discard, isolate, accommodate, group and consolidate. along the way, just keep on building, building and building. then admire the confluence of art and imagination and science and technology and faith. writing is like this!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ako Naman: Ycalaua's Story

alam nyo, yan si vitti, lab ako nyan. kung si Uno ang unforgettable first, ako naman ang Unleavable Second. di bale nang ikalawa (Ycalaua nga 'no, hello?), ako naman ang di nya maiwan-iwanan sa mga lakad nya. siguro kasi ako lang ang kasya sa bag nya (obvious ba?). ito kasi si vitti, ayaw magdadala ng malaking bag. gusto nya sling o body bag or backpack to keep her hands free daw. masakit man aminin na bansot ako, i'm proud to say na ako ang kasama-kasama ni vitti LAGI (within hearing distance of Uno) sa mga meetings, sa 'office' nya, sa pagpunta ng lib, sa refectory, sa Guild, sa Murdoch Bookshop, sa Coles, IGA at K-mart, pati nga pagsimba, bitbit ako nyan. small yet handy ika nga.

hoy Uno, may authentic mark din ako ni yaman akala mo? napag-laruan minsan at muntikan nang madale lahat ng katawan ko. pero lab talaga ako nyan ni vitti. rather than deface me, she chose to let my imperfections hang
(marunong din akong umingles, Uno).

unique si vitti sa hilig sa multi-colored pens. mahilig syang magpapalit-palit depende sa idea at kung may gusto syang di makalimutan like names, dates, phone numbers or idea kung nagkahalo-halo man yun. pero minsan, sumasablay din. kahit pa gamitin nya red, green, or blue, makakalimutin kasi sya. nakakalimutan nya kung saang page nilagay ang address, cell number or bank numbers (meron lang naman syang 2 sa intsik at 3 sa manila --- ewan ko lang kung may laman...). kung pwede nga lang akong sumigaw --- hoy! nandito hinahanap mo! pero di ko carry. baka ihagis ako. malamang, i have to recommend to to make notebooks with page numbers?!!!!

sari-sari ang hawak ko. heto, di sya mapakali isang araw kaya nagcompute ng nagcompute ng ipon at gastos. sa pera kasi, vitti is more of a micro-manager. every penny earned and every penny saved is counted. buti na nga lang may nae-earn at nase-save. natuto na rin ang bosa ko kahit papano. kaya nga, lab na lab ko si yaman.

heto nga at nilagyan pa ako ng mapa. Uno, kasama nya ako sa pag interview ng urban poor so natural may hawak din akong info sa kanila. wag ka nang magtampo. may mga apat pa ditong drawing...seryosa bosa natin. buti na lang, ever reliable tayo.

pero huh, Uno, wala ka talaga nito. wala kang hawak na datung like me he he. talo! talo! talo! sige na, sige na, mas malaki ka, panalo! panalo! panalo! (whispering...pero totoong talo, talo, talo he he). nagsimula ito ng suklian si vitti ng P500 na tig-P50 sa mall. P50 as in red, crisp, brand new P50s. naisip nyang wag gastusin so sakin nya nilagay. i have a useful backflap you see?! (meron ka din nito Uno, wag ka na maingay). useful kasi may nahuhugot sya pag walang baryang pambayad sa taxi (sa manila po ito) at may napaglagyan din ng di nagastos na philippine money nung july (sa NAIA airport po ito).

all in all, i serve one God-damn purpose and i'm proud of it! andito ako ngayon sa perth --- lamig! it's winter, man! at alam ko, kakailanganin ako ng bosa ko ever sa pagbuo nya ng libro. windang nga lang sya ngayon sa dami ng babasahin (books at journal articles daw) at naaabala pa ng pagbasa ng pocketbooks! itong isa, buhay ng isang 'rock legend' (janis joplin daw ang pangalan). minsan, tatawa tawa habang patindig binabasa si hemingway (nagpapaliit ng tyan bosa ko so 30min-1hour after eating nagbabasa syang nakatindig). gaya ngayon, nagba-blog nakatindig! so, pano? kita-kits na lang at magsusulat na si bosa tungkol dun sa mga meeting at interviews at mapang nilalaman ko. as they say here, see you around mate!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Moleskines Story: Uno, the First One

My name's Uno, Vitti's first moleskine notebook. Before I came in to her life, Vitti had no idea what moleskine notebooks are in the first place. Nothing. Not that they are writers' notebooks, or that they have a sense of history. Good that somewhere her past caught up with her as she reconnected with MaryAnne Moll, her once student in Economics and now an accomplished writer in her own right.

Vitti did not have the presence of mind to get MaryAnne's autograph so to mark the event, her first ever writing on my pages was to acknowledge the gift, moi. I through MaryAnne changed her life, you know.

This girl is an adept tarot reader (although she shuns reading at the moment --- ask her why) and still committed then, and she so valued me, that she pledged, in case I get lost, my 'founder' a lifetime service of tarot reading. I may never know how good she is in making promises, but Vitti sure has excellent handwriting.

It was also not too late in knowing that in almost all notebooks she had, this prayer is found in the first page. The Serenity Prayer. Her way to find a middle ground I guess between her dreams and her realities.

I am filled with her notes on the urban poor. That's how I'm special to her. She started writing practice but can't commit on everyday hand writing so elevated me to a more formal, academic use. Vitti likes color coding her notes --- would you believe, she notes on her notes! Strange girl yes?

One time she had this ambush interview over the phone. Actually, she didn't expect the one on the other line to talk as glibly and as openly like face to face. So she had to scribble this over whatever paper was available. It's my honor to hold this here, securely.

Other than her, the only two people allowed space in my pages are two beautiful girls, Yaman, her daughter and Ira, her niece. Those are Yaman's scribbles at 2 years and on the side, is an affirmation card drawn at the crossroads of her career in 2008. Below is Yaman's first colored drawing.

Ira may have forgotten how much, but Tata (as Ira calls Vitti) loves her so much. Ira doesn't know that Tata kept all her scribbles as early as 3 and keeps them safe in her drawers back home in Naga.

My journey hasn't ended. I have yet to witness Vitti's progress to what? Researching and writing her truths, perhaps. Or just facing the demands of a day. Being her confidante, her secret-keeper, her lone friend in the night. Do you know that Vitti likes to hand-write in the dark? Lying on the bed and just me and her and a lone desk light on the background. Often, she kneels as if to pray, but no, she doesn't pray. She writes. I am blessed and privileged to be with her, to be not just a part, but to have blazed the trail for my other fellow moleskines to follow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

One Eternal Memory, One Eternal Question

i just had dinner today with good old aussie friend, sally. while we were in the car and talking about the old days, the topic switched from my MA thesis on divorce to her now waging divorce battle. when i asked, 'is this with the same guy living with you in 1999?'. she said, 'yes, i lived with him for 21 years' and there on goes the litany of how fruitful promising relationships turn bad, turn sour, and crush,...just like that. earlier, i wrote about my earliest memory as that became a topic of conversation with acacio, lorenza and elroy, an east timorese family; and of janty and eldo, an indonesian mother-son team over dinner. as each of us took turns sharing our memories, i could not help but just wander off and think about the good old times i had with yaman's dad and how, why, did it ever crumble. so in loving, we have memory. that's why at random and unexpected moments, we smirk, make an occasional silly smile, shed a tear or bite the insides of one's mouth in contempt. i am fascinated though by this --- what is your last good memory from your greatest failed love? what was it? what triggered the 'downfall'? when was it? how did it feel? isn't it fascinating? one day, you love a man so so deeply, hug him tightly under the covers, your naked bodies entwined, desperately cry just with the thought of death or separation, and just don't care a bit. would you care to know too, how he sees you right now? yesterday an angel and now, just an ugly fat bitch. i mean, how could it change just like that? then you take comfort that you meet and loved and had a life. because then, you will not have this heaven named yaman, or sam (sally's) and even chandler (as i cannot help but think of maryanne and glenn while writing this). and that, makes all the difference, makes all the pain and heartbreak of remembering bearable. but still you cannot help it. i cannot help it. i had to look back. dig back the bones of memories and still i cannot see, i cannot yet comprehend why it has to happen to all of us, humans.

What's Your Earliest Memory?

Early evening, close to the salog, or the Bicol River, as vendors call it, at the time when my Lolo's stall, "Ciano's Store" was still standing and holding house next to a rice supplier and along the sides, people sold charcoal. i was with my lolo and lola; my lola the one holding my hand since I could see lolo a few paces ahead, wearing his white hat circled with a black band. he looked very young, a chinese mestizo, tall but with a stoop. these rings, yellow, green, pink, strawberry pink caught my eye and we had to stop because the colors looked so lovely. lola brought me the strawberry pink, long and thick like pili nut. and as my fingers were too small, she wrapped the band, around the middle, with plastic to fill the space. my mom said it was impossible for me to have such a memory. because then, i was barely two.

Friday, August 7, 2009


i was supposed to spend the whole day in my 'office' today, to write a write-up on the urban poor orgs i'm researching on. until, splendid, 4 minutes to leaving, i had to use the bathroom. was it a premonition? is the day telling me not to go? but i still went. from the village to my office is a walk passing through the worship center over a brick road, gray to adobe brown to gray again. passing through gum trees, the smell of eucalyptus bathing the air. in 5 minutes, i was in my office, shared with lee whose presence is just her cardigan strewn over a chair. so the netbook opened, i braced myself --- my first write up for my research! until eng-eng-e-eng-eng! the profile needs notes gathered from UPAO. the naga city reference provides adequate background on the program. the tapes need getting back to. i have to go back to my tapes and confirm what people said. okay. back to the flat, pronto!

so the excited me forgot the basics, the material, the flesh to the bone. or even just the marrow to the bone. sometimes as writers we forget this. we think that one material, one experience is enough, when the essence is the total material, the total experience commanded to the writing. sige na nga, so i went to my flat and listened to my tapes (got to listen to only one though), gathered my materials and decided, no, tomorrow's saturday, i'm sleeping till-God-knows-what-i-don't-want-to-use-an-alarm-clock-time, but i'll still be writing, okay! i don't need the office to inspire me, or even the weather, or whatever premonition to not writing gets in the way. whatever happens tomorrow, i will work, and i will write.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

No Perfection Just Write

the journey to
one perfect
is crooked
the ghosts of
past writings
in the sidelines
no time
no opportunity
no inspiration
like frogs
pushing you
to the edge
of fear
but they are ghosts
wisps of yesterday
overcome by
just writing
just writing
just writing
because there is
no other road but
and there is
no one
but you
hand to heart
body and mind
write crying
write crazy
write half-awake
write on!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Weariness of Time

time stands till
whites go unwashed
blacks sprint
bushy reds
square magentas
a stomach growls
the heat on my left
and the rumble of fingers
passing time
as time knocks
and is gone

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


hoy, ika dyan na nagmamagaling. don't you know that i always read your blog? it's a part of my day, no my nights pala since i get to surf without the double-charging sa gabi. reading you makes me a part of you. sometimes i'm impressed, sometimes i feel you're just too tired. weekends bring out the best in you. that's when you are the most critical, the most haughty, i am close to thinking you' how could you think you're ever invisible to me? i am the one invisible because i use the web as a refuge. my mask so you will not know that i am here. i read you everyday, i hover. i care.

Monday, August 3, 2009


i wonder
should i be beautiful
stay up late to wait
for you
bear you many sons
discipline daughters in waiting
for you
shall i make cooking a career
or interior design
home improvement and even
first aid
for you
for me to deserve
your praise
your generosity
your will
but these are all
for you

Sunday, August 2, 2009


i wish i was as fearless as i think i am, or as i think i might. but sometimes, apathy just gets in the way. i thought it was fear. i realized, it was just apathy. i care only to a point. i haven't gone yet fighting for a cause to the point of activism. at 38, i have no real cause to fight for except for those i join to in facebook. but somehow, i wish i had the same courage as my good friends linda and stephii, and that guy named harvey keh. theirs is the courage that i haven't mustered even now, at 38. i think it's time to howl.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cory Passes

So Cory is in transition now. From earth life to a higher plane. My friend, Mam Bennette, quipped, she must be in heaven now. No, most probably in purgatory, I answered. She has sins to account for, like those in Hacienda Luisita. But the prayers and masses dedicated to her in the past few months should see her through. I just hope no one recommends her to sainthood. Sobra naman. Let the dead rest. History will do the rest and the Church better not meddle.