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)

Friday, December 31, 2010


what's in a year? this blog speaks for itself. if there's one wish for 2011, and that is, for it to just come, and come on.  the blessings and challenges altogether. chances to love and forgive. to stay or just stay away. to find new ways of learning, doing. to be new. to start anew. then to continue. another year to live and be. come on 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year of Michael

a miracle in front of my eyes.

the boy whom i've lost, now here, with me, a man, totally.

tired from driving 377km since 559am today.

but here alive in conversation, smiling, laughing, coaxing me to our january plan. in some ways, a little boy still.

yet a man unleashed in heart, vision, and character.

i have much to be thankful for this 2010.

thank you for bringing me back my Michael.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


i'm my batch's outsider. who would not be if you're odds with the batch president? today, i got two invites for lunch and dinner. my close friend in highschool, dinah, matter-of-factly urged me to go to lunch with her and the BP.  had to beg off and explained in short sanitized terms that no, i might be an unwelcome presence with BP around.  by dinner, bestfriend angeline dropped a line if i could follow her, jopen and five other batchmates to dinner. i had a legitimate excuse since i'm writing and gie knew it beforehand. the possibility of BP coming though became a real deterrent despite the writing commitment here.  ahhhh, to be part of and yet isolated at the same time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Writing and New Thoughts

i ended by typing 'Thus,...' to keep my thought hanging on the chapter while taking a break to blog.  i am now writing the chapter on the Kaantabay program. a continuing chapter started way back July in the icy cold clime of perth that time.  i went on to write for several reasons.  first, after reaching the exhaustion point for household interviews. second, to commit to my promise to jane to hand over a chapter while here in the philippines. third, to help me think. because one effective way to engage your brain cells is to tinker with it, with your hands. to work with facts, find connections and gaps.

in this way, one finds an informed way forward. informed in such a way that i am able to hold on to new or additional questions in probing further the urban poor organizations and local institutions involved in Kaantabay.

like last night, i was able to identify an error in one book article on Naga City's urban poor. there it was cited that Panganiban is a barangay. i readily took that fact as a fact in the thesis proposal submitted last Dec 2009. until in the process of reviewing city statistics, i discovered that Panganiban is not a barangay at all here in naga.  Panganiban is an avenue, a long stretch of road connecting the central business districts to its outskirts in Del Rosario to Pili.  but still, in which barangay does Panganiban belong? Lerma? Triangulo? Concepcion Pequeña? just by this book error alone, i've found a point of clarification, albeit small, for the resumption of fieldwork next year.

another is my 'discovery' of our urban poor's collectivity or mobilization as a collective even before Robredo came to power; its collective initiatives harnessed, in my view, by the new democratic spaces opened by President Cory Aquino's rise to power in 1986, three years before Robredo became naga city's mayor.

so see? i didn't have a sense of this collective movement just two days ago. but now i have because i'm working on the data. i'm writing.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Today

today is Gab's birthday
Yaman is working on two activity books

our neighbor's son invited Mom to his marriage tomorrow

we had yellow cab NYC pizza for the first time
Yaman's cough and colds manifested more late in the day
and one boy is overtaking me in the wedding altar
i'm fighting off sadness for the love i left behind in manila
worry over a daughter's poor health
by starting with a chapter
checking facts, numbers, and references
tomorrow is indeed another day

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Hoods

first my sincere apologies for not blogging for 2 days.  

caught up in a pre-full time motherhood and wifehood role and blogging just can't within the 24-hour daily schedule he he. by evening in the last 2 days, i'm either too beat to blog (after cooking 4 meals on christmas eve!) or just plain forgetful (hitting the sack at 1130pm by december 23). it's not easy and the paradoxical thing is, it (wifehood and motherhood) is considered so devotional it must be free. but no, it's a full-time as any job and too hectic to even fit writing within the 24-hour cycle.

but it's more than money that could keep any woman going.

it's love. great deep love.

so bring it on. the writing, the blogging will follow. 

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yaman and Jastin (Justine B) Part 2

i just can't let this pass. as early as 4, yaman already has a crush, and what could more to attest to this but the one below. sent by sis just last week. mom reports that in her bedtime prayers, she never misses dedicating a prayer to justine b --- for them to meet someday, for him to be ok wherever he is.  two nights ago, she looked at me squarely, asking what 'slacks' and 'polo' is. after i explained, she blurted, well tomorrow we should buy justine slacks and polo shirt! huh?! if not for her being 5, i would've taken her seriously by how her face looked. it's just a crush anyway. just a crush.

Note that according to her, it's her heart on the left, the larger one, while the smaller one is Justine's. Good. In psychoanalysis (char!), it helps to know (for a freaky mom like me) that her love for herself is still way greater than for any other boy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Posterity Bench

just along Swan River in Perth are a row of benches that i call Posterity Benches.  these are not just ordinary benches. these benches are dedications, attestations to lives not necessarily well lived, but definitely well loved.  to loved ones these benches are dedicated. to be placed beside the Swan River is apt enough. the division of land and the sea reminds us of the eternal but bridgeable divide between the now that we can stand on, and the future that we cannot even hold on to. the divide between life and death, to where life and death resides is in itself interchangeable.  I've mentioned this to ShadowMan before. to our great love, i will dedicate trees and benches and trees and benches to etch into eternity a love in full circle. 

On the east side of the Swan River is a row of benches such as this.
I see two old people lovingly holding each other's hands in heaven.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yaman's Prayer

Lord, sana hindi ako mamatay, hindi ako tumanda. Si Mommy, na hindi tumanda, hindi mamatay. Si Daddy din. Keep us all together. In your will. In your time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's in a Gift?

yaman gives 'gifts' to us, family members; yumi, mom, and myself, by wrapping bric-a-bracs stored in her numerous bags. it could be her comb, pencil case, towel. or stuff found in closets like old wallets, hankies, or old boxes lying around. this afternoon, after seeing me wrap presents, she nonchalantly asked for the last piece of wrapper. after i finished, she went up to me with this shy smile, hands on her back as if hiding something. i had to ask, 'what are you up to little girl?'and she presented me this 'gift' of an old box wrapped in after my style of wrapping presents. what melts my heart is not the gift but the love behind it --- the effort of her little hands, the thoughtfulness of giving, the creativity in which she decorates her gifts, like her innovativeness in using clay, instead of scotch tape, to hold things together; the twinkle in her eyes as she hands over each gift, insisting that it be opened  right there and then. with complaints against a materialist christmas, where do i stand? gift-giving is ok as long as we don't lose the honesty and innocence in giving. the issue is not affordability.  one can afford to buy a thousand gifts if one can afford to. but to give to show off one's affordability is the one contemptible. still, no one can beat the heart when it gives.

Clay is what holds this gift together and a lot of big love.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


i used to hope for yaman to get tired of it. being held and carried. in short, and in bicol, karga. so by the time she turned 3, i thought it was over. this karga thing. until much recently, we're doing this full standing upstretched one, my hands stretched up and yaman just hanging in there like a teddy bear. then this newborn karga. holding her by her side, her head rested on my shoulder, her face facing my breasts. we could never get enough. before she takes a bath, sometime after dinner (had to let her stomach rest after eating) or just when she likes it. and i kind of realize, yeah, this is one thing i'd miss once she gets taller and heavier. so now that i'm here till march, karga we go my abalantung.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Body Toll

returning from singapore last night, i knew the immunity has gone down with this sore throat and labored coughing.  the toll of traveling, and coping with the alternating heat (sunday) and remaining wintry weather in perth (monday-tuesday). now i feel a little sick. tired, fat, unmindful of my appearance (well...because the hubby's not here also), and just wanting to lie down if not for yaman, now still busy drawing and earlier, played boxing and wrapped 'presents'; namely, used bags, wallets, and boxes out of closets. i was planning to go to the gym tomorrow for a new workout program but how can i when i haven't had a good night sleep and an un-alarmed morning wake-up since last friday? my body is aching for rest now and yaman has just begun drawing a circle.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Raya and the Barefoot Queen

home is just 8 hours away. the smell, and the sight of raya. the browns of the interior and the warmth of the man that like me, calls it home. raya is so distinctively him. simple, no pretensions, all embracing. like i just want to leave my shoes out and give homage to the place by walking on it barefoot, totally me. totally for the man who love without condition.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


i'm going home. there's no advice from tiger airways of a cancelled or diverted flight. i'm going home to my Yaman and my beautiful hubby...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


last night, my dreams were almost real. seeing sheryl festejo, quite big now, and letting her know that maryanne has been looking for her for ages now. then this dream about an invalid, left wasted because she had no legs to carry her to and fro. which reminds me, i have to be careful crossing the streets wherever, and just be plain vigilant with safety wherever i go. dreams dreams dreams. whichever is real really? the waking or dreaming time?

Monday, December 13, 2010


the study of politics could be daunting for a greenhorn like me. i'm attending a conference here in perth and while i marvel at how good the analyses of presenters are, at the same time, i shirk at the responsibility vested now on these fat but not necessarily able shoulders. it's not being as good as them the question, but rather, how can i make justice with the methods on one hand, and the situation in naga that needs telling. how far can i go with the telling and would i be as authoritative and credible? i stand on the shoulders of giants but i'm a midget compared to them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


perth during summer is unbearable. it's not the sun but more the humidity which will kill you. went out today to buy janty's ingredients for lunch and it's sweltering. i miss my daughter. i miss my hubby. i miss naga. i miss my mom. what am i doing under this sun?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


i'm in singapore. first time to see the lion city by the day. while still in transit, but not on transit. let's see.

Friday, December 10, 2010


for christmas, Yaman wishes for a gift wrapped in pink with a purple ribbon. got the perfect pink wrapper. the perfect purple ribbon. the box i got her was wee bit complicated for someone like me who likes gift-wrapping but more used to squares and fine edges. so today, i started around 10am. cut the wrapper in neat lines, the tape in neat short rectangles. but i side-stepped one thing. i had to connect two and 1/4 wrappers together but did so by liking the sides with cut tapes; not as whole long ones which would hold these more strongly.  but perhaps because i'm not having the whole day here in raya, and i was watching tv, took the short but sloppy shortcut.  and i don't know what got into me. after wrapping so many many presents, when the sides got too bulgy, i cut wrapper to the sides. what the hell? it didn't take a while to realize my mistake. ooking at the giftwrapper, with many cuts here, salvageable only by an army of tapes which would make it look like a bandaged box. accepting defeat, the wrapper is now a pathetic bunch inside the garbage bin and Yaman's mommy would have to swallow her pride and be reminded, again, there are no shortcuts for people you love.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Places I am

i've been juggling three homes: naga, pasig and perth. in each, i live and leave a part of myself. the sadness of leaving different for each, the anticipation of return as well. there must be a reason why i chose perth as my home; as naga is my native place while in pasig, i am starting anew. perth is part of the future as it now forms my present.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bonding over Bubbles

Can you make bubbles as big as this?
The trick of catching a floating bubble!
Here Yaman makes two bubbles from one blow.
 it was a tip from Tinkerbell magazine.  the making of home-made bubbles. i knew immediately what Yaman was thinking when she woke up around 8am today. i promised to make it last night so without further prodding, she gave me the magazine and step-by-step we mixed the ingredients (soap flakes - Tide will do; hot water and sugar --- to make it sticky?). i am an adult really now.  after dipping the straw with cut ends on the mixture, i immediately got disappointed and blurted, 'no bubbles man baga'. but Yaman was already very happy with soap suds coming from the end of the straw, yun lang happy na sila. as if the effort was more worth it than the end product. the key here is 'gently'. gently blow through the straw after dipping it in the soap-sugar mix. then lo! i made out one small bubble, then another and another. Yaman upped the ante by learning instantly how to blow so gently one can make out long and bulbous bubbles. after a while, she was doing tricks already like catching one big bubble with the straw and holding it until it bursts, naturally. here are the pics of this one unforgettable today. when mommy and Yaman bonded in the prismatic crystal world of bubbles.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm Home

after two months of adjusting, i know i'm home to Yaman. home as in the old mommy she knows, who tolerates, shares in her nocturnal habits (sleeping around 10am), never nags except talking sternly when pressing a point, wouldn't compromise with not teeth-brushing every night, and makes it a point to talk about her 'busy'-ness when asked, not brushing it off as 'nothing'.  after we prayed 'Angel of God' together just half an hour ago, Yaman hugged me in a way that made me feel like a true-blue mother to her. it was her 'i love you' as mom's is with her cooking. i'm so happy i'm here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

When the Food Fails...

go get weights. today is my first day at the gym. suddenly, everything else is familiar. the presses, extensions, abdominal exercises, even the rancid smell of sweat and alcohol permeating its very air. perhaps because i've been doing morning walks and sun salutations, my body did not rebel against the beating it took this afternoon. rarely was i short of breath, except for the 20 repeats of stair climbs because of the humid air waiting on top of the second stairway.  the gym is unavoidable. whatever i do --- eat less rice, fruits in the afternoon, fasting after 6pm --- my weight still hovered from 148-152.  the past 4 days in manila when sharing dinner with the hubby became unavoidable, i went home sporting a 152lb-heavy frame, the initial weight since returning from perth last october.  the need for exercise no longer was a fad, a craving, it became a necessity. like a staple.   excuses no longer work as indeed. no excuse is not inexcusable once your health demands it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


i saw this tele-movie, 'America', today. the story of a foster boy, teenager now, named America struggling with his past in foster homes, the sexual abuse on the hands of an uncle, his suicide attempt at 16, his dreams of mt. everest, its peace and supremacy of domain.  how would my daughter fare should i die early, if my support networks die down and she has to live with others to survive? one can only shudder at the fates unknown to us. how a good God could make or allow this to happen?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Worth Missing the Blog

for 'technical' reasons, i missed blogging yesterday. one would go impatient after waiting nearly 2 hours.  for a concert to start at supposedly 7pm. i nearly blogged about my impatience and this annoying filipino habit of being persistently late.if not for the cranky wifi connection at the araneta and perhaps because of the crowd already getting a bit rowdy (heckling from the bleachers, occasional clapping, in less than 20 minutes before 9pm, an opening number of acoustic and lead guitars swayed and the stars of Pinoy folk rock rocked and rolled over the stage (one, as in literally!).  words are not enough to capture the experience so tomorrow a picture blog i'll make, it's enough for now to explain how in the world i've been to miss blogging for the nth time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Daddy and Pinoy Folk Rock

it's my daddy's influence. our then cassette player at home played not only beatles, elvis, the mamas and the papas, jose feliciano, neil diamond; but also freddie aguilar, sampaguita, banyuhay, asin and florante. it must be with how my ears were attuned to such music that when i became a cd collector (not avid though --- mahal! thanks youtube!), i took a liking to pinoy folk rock bands, in particular, Juan dela Cruz Band, and Pepe Smith.  the first time i heard Juan dela Cruz's Ang Himig Natin, my feeling was...'I've heard this song before'.  i wasn't awakened. instead, i was reawakened. as if i was hearing the song, the beat that was really me.  it's no wonder i take myself as a cowgirl. my preference for the old, the earthy, and no frills is not whimsy at all. 

this taste for old pinoy rock extends to even foreign music.  i'm so into Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones. Jimi Hendrix's rendition of the 'Star-Spangled Banner' left me breathless. the unorthodoxy of old jazz in BB King and its extensions in Lenny Kravitz's music made me realize the soulful connections of music from the 1950s to the 1970s.  the associations of rock with drugs, unbridled sex, and orgiastic lifestyles i will not contest.  but it must be the realist approach to music writing; the fearless explorations of tune and rhythm out of the ordinary; the parallels of violin's peaks and maximums with the lead guitar; and the practical musings of old rock music to age-old issues of love (Janis Joplin's 'Ball in Chains), sex (Juan dela Cruz's 'Balong Malalim'), heartbreak (Rolling Stones' 'Losing my Touch') and even nationhood  (Pepe Smith's 'Mighty Great Big-Hearted Love Song). 

i am leaving for Manila tonight to attend a once-in-a-lifetime experience --- the UGAT concert at the Araneta Coliseum, featuring the legends of pinoy rock --- Pepe Smith, JDCB, Sampaguita, Banyuhay, Florante, Gary Granada, Coritha and Asin's Lolita Carbon --- which also begs the question, where's Freddie Aguilar? my Dad is no longer here to be with me in person, but i'm taking his influence along and the deepest gratitude for allowing me space within the soulful earthy renditions of pinoy folk rock.  my Jesuit will be coming along and i hope he would enjoy it, rather than just endure. i miss you so much Daddy. this is for you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Past

to say that the past is past is to acknowledge a chapter survived in one's life, notwithstanding how many battle scars worn. it does not mean that the past is buried. for if we are to believe that a person is made up of her time in the universe, then the past is as much a significant part of one's personality and character, as what she is in the present, and her aspirations for the future.  to be in a relationship means not shunting out that past from scrutiny simply because it is impossible. to be in a relationship means exposing one's broken heart and soul fully, all of these a product of one's past, even if unwillingly at times. that is why it is important to choose that person, with whom to share one's past with, carefully. for although past is past, it is still a part of who you that is worth entrusting to. it therefore also takes a lot of responsibility to be able to handle one's past in a relationship. although one could say, the past is over now and i've learned to deal with it, it may not be for the people surrounding us, the people we love. so we are responsible. we are responsible for helping people navigate through the sordid realities of our past. in a relationship, this past is shared.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exhaustion Point

so far, since march 2010, i've finished 81+15+5 = 101 household interviews. at around 328pm today, just rounded up the 101st interview at barangay lerma, one of the oldest squatter communities here in naga city. incidentally today, i was able to catch the president of a community organization in barangay igualdad, one who has been eluding me since april. he has primed his members that a researcher from the 'urban poor' (meaning Urban Poor Affairs Office in naga which is really misleading) will be interviewing them soon. at the back of my mind, i know the interviews would be conducted in january next year. i also know that these interviews would now just serve as replication-tests of whatever finding about community mortgage programs needs to be validated. meaning, i'm no longer that eager to cover them now. as of today, nov 29, i am conditioned to covering the org in lerma-austria to cover the last community in the original list of 10, prepared since last march.

i feel like i'm done now with the households. statistically, in organizations exceeding 100 members, i've covered 10.  in organizations less than 50, more than 5 has been covered. technically, i'm done with interviewing both positive and negative cases, the former pertaining to normal cases (fully paid, partially and never paid original awardees) and the latter referring to those households not fitting the norm; namely, non-original awardees, households affected by future city demolitions, those undergoing work-for-pay programs. i've also covered comparison organizations, two of them, who are not directly assisted by the city and are under a national-government mandated program (community mortgage program).  although in qualitative research, the truth is that it is impossible to cover all that you need to know, i know that at the household level, i have covered the important issues that need to be given the time provided, and the capacity i possess.  i feel i have done enough, within the opportunities given and environments dealt with in naga city.  if next year, i need to add more household interviews, these would be minimal and only if i encounter unique households as i now venture into org-level interviews.

the org-level interviews are a new mountain to climb. although i have been dealing with community leaders as far as 2008 when i was gathering data for proposal preparation, now i had to engage with them anew on issues dealing with their relationships with members, city government, and among themselves (as federated entities).  but like a wise mountain climber who will not force herself to hike up a mountain without studying its terrain, boundaries, threatening elements, the weather; i too am stopping this coming december first to review the household data for its value; and likewise, the talking points i could gather for org-level discussion.  like now, i'm being offered new fodder for thinking about the city's tripartism strategy (which on paper speaks of partnerships that go well beyond negotiation but in reality has gone pfffft as far as org-member-city relations are concerned) and the effectiveness in which organizations work to protect the welfare of members not only vis-a-vis the city but also among themselves.  my guide now is this: don't ever assume vitti. always, always test and check your assumptions.

before i leave for manila this coming thursday, i will have the satisfaction of wrapping up one of the most grueling 5 months of fieldwork on households. five months. God, help me. help me make it worth it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crazy over a Lock

i bought a cabin bag for the trip to perth. at sm-naga.  the deciding factor was the TSA lock. the lock is recommended for international travel because in airports using stringent security measures. in case your luggage needs to be inspected, with a TSA lock, airport officials have the standard key so there's no need to ransack the bag and leave it precariously open. i could not reset the number combination in this TSA lock and it's driving me crazy. i could not get over it, even now that ShadowMan told me to leave it alone. i could not. it's driving me crazy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yaman's Colors

 Yaman's art is truly her own. no genes, no special inspiration. just her innocence and genius at the highest peak. 

I still can't figure out why she called this Dora.

The best start drawing ever, and not because it's my daughter's.
A gem on the side of the computer table. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Desperately Being Lady

i am a woman inside although i'm more comfortable with shirts, pants, and i wear my hair short.  now that i'm on fieldwork, my get-up is more defensive, 'tomboy-style', of maong and ordinary shirts. this is intentional, to be less confrontational when on the field, to be less academic ang dating, and invite cooperation rather than haughty stares. as much as possible, i just want to blend. the only time i get to be a little more girlie, formal is in church. two sundays ago, i attended the 7am mass in mt. carmel. it must be with how i look as the church usher asked whether i could assist in the offertory procession, assigned to carry no less than the Holy Water!

ShadowMan wouldn't say in straight like i do but he slipped when en route to the airport last monday, he asked, if possible, for me not to have my hair cut like this, this short...and that, well, he preferred that i be more ladylike...

ladylike. ladylike. one thing i haven't been, well sort of, since i stopped working in adb and wearing those smart tops and leather shoes. my wardrobe then wouldn't even be considered really ladylike as there's no skirts or dresses. i even compromise with pink, present in only one polo blouse, which incidentally Shadowman likes.

ladylike. it's quite difficult given my frame now. and as i know me, i may be ladylike in one season to just revert to my simple, laidback and mannish style in a while.  i don't know, let's see.  true love has a way of changing people.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


by accident, i moved the frames on the wall in front of me while arranging framed collages of yaman's pics over the years.  after reviewing my supervisor's paper this afternoon, i was left exhausted. so just earlier, at about 755pm, slumped back here in my chair, facing the white wall again. until in a serendipitous moment, my eyes fell on the cross in front of me --- The Serenity Prayer.

have it ever occurred to you why Serenity needs to go with Courage and Wisdom when it comes to dealing with change? perhaps because it is evil to just end in stasis, choosing to be blind or to be selectively blind, not finding the words when one has resources at one's disposal, embracing meekness. but truths need tempering, tact, a deep thinking over of lost causes and causes that matter.

in this PhD, i thought i will rest until the last period is punched. there's no resting from now on. but i know where i stand.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stopping and Instinct

because this is phase 2 fieldwork, i am filled with new data collected for the past two months and the old data carried over, gathered last march to june.  i know i have to move up to the study of organizations now. but i feel like stopping. to think through the data, write and find a more strategic way to gather org-level data in the coming 4 months. actually this december, since only 9 days would be spent here in naga, i'm planning to organize finally the household data, read through the transcripts and immerse into the experiences of the orgs i've selected. no, i am not following another standard method in the field. i'm just doing this by instinct. after experiencing such a heavy load on my chest since monday. as if there's something wrong with immediately immersing into the org-level in-depth interviews, with the household data left hanging.  lately, i've been having insecurity dreams: being caught bathing in public, being heckled while reading out my poetry in public. in both dreams, i am fighting off the antagonists. the first, i nearly strangled to death, and the second, who happened to be william baldwin, rammed in the head by the folder in hand.  i am insecure but i know what i'm doing. i'm ready to defend. so now i'm stopping.  not to hibernate and do nothing. but to work deeply with my hands, reconnect, refill the spirit of my bones.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Caleruega on ShadowMan's Day

last november 21 was ShadowMan's birthday. perhaps because we were so tired, heading from Tagaytay to Manila; he dropping by Ian's still, and me left at home to cook spaghetti, around 9pm, blogging time, my brain cells were no longer working ok, thus the 'ek-ek' blog that failed to capture the highlight of the day --- my hubbylabs' birthday!  and perhaps to show how burned out we were in our worlds --- me struggling with headaches, vomiting and an upset stomach in naga; and he, with a big conference to handle at smc, there was no blog at all for nov 22.

The view we come for in Tagaytay...

ShadowMan drove all the way to Tagaytay. Here amid a raging sunset on a Saturday.
it's the first of many birthdays spent with him at 41.  ShadowMan has this morbid idea of dying at the age of 65, which what? would leave us 24 years to spend his birthday?! no way. no deaths this time, we have 24 and many more years to celebrate life, we two 'ancients' who know more this time. the pictures here attest to how Nov 21 was spent, the highlight of highlights of which was a visit to Tagaytay and an old Church ran by the Dominicans called the Caleruega.  our love is as old and renewed as this church.

The Caleruega is actually not in Tagaytay but Nasugbu, Batangas. According to Wikipedia, the name actually comes from the birthplace of St. Dominic in Spain.


The magnificent altar showing Jesus's Transfiguration. As such, the church is also called the Transfiguration Chapel.
The Holy Chalice, an unmissed detail, at the center.

Resurrection and Transfiguration in symbolic form.
The Birthday Boy in bloom...
The Caleruega is also a Church within a park of pine trees such as this one. ShadowMan found the place 'too bright' on what appears to be a dusky day.
Hungry na? I bet you too...
Take this call muna from Cel...Relaxing amid the breeze and view of the mountain ranges...
My Michael surrounded by angels. This is the winding staircase inside the Old Seminary.
We'll have fish for lunch then?  Here's the pond below the winding staircase.
And a sip of mountain water...
We'll always be together my love...Happy Birthday!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Love, Hot, Down

there is a time to make and not
to get and not
to just lie and not
wake up, be the same
even without

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Being a Wife

i have been a mother for 5 years ago (a year of it absentee/ cyberific) but i have yet to be wife, fulltime. the times i could be for Shadowman, here in Manila, are still few and short (at most 3 days) to even attest that here i am, really taking care of a man.

for indeed, a wife takes care of the husband in the private and informal sphere established by society. we occupy the private and informal, away from the public work sphere that the husband occupies. the husband goes off to work, in charge of bringing home the bacon so to speak. while the wife ensures that the home is taken care of, with hot meals to come home to, clothes washed and pressed, house cleaned, bills paid in full and in time and the food stock always full. and the children bathed, well-fed, and at home.  one joke we're found off at the ARC is that among us female postgrads, we should get a wife to make our lives easier. that the luckiest is luky, the indonesian, who has a wife to come to. he need not about cooking, the laundry, budgeting, and even minding kid stuff.

i'm just talking here of the economic sense and not yet the values, and morality that goes with wifehood. i have yet  to blog on this as this still have to be experienced. but i'm getting a taste of the other side, a whole new world ventured primarily out of love. so yeah, now i blog as the hubby is still sleeping soundly like a baby in the other room. and i have to go. got to make breakfast.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Home is a Christmas Tree

home is where a christmas tree is
made by hands, small and big
hearts still alive and innocent
the holidays an occasion
to both forget and remember
forgiveness that knows no territory
love that always finds a sanctuary
the tree is my homing place

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Visitas

around 9am today, i rounded up my 10th interview in abella. at so early a time, did a spur of the moment thing. decided to do a Visitas Iglesias; at first, at only Cathedral, Basilica, and Mt. Carmel, until after passing by it, San Francisco Church was added to the list. so starting 930am, trekked around Naga on foot (San Francisco-Cathedral) and commute (Cathedral-Peñafrancia-Mt. Carmel-Immaculate Conception Church-Holy Cross Parish-Tabuco) until 1148am.

it is so easy to be puffed with self-importance when doing a phd all by yourself. without an assistant, i do my interviews, transcripts, data processing, and secondary data gathering to the simple tasks of buying supplies, filing, and working up daily and weekly fieldwork schedules. it's so easy to think that you're doing the phd all by your lonesome. self-pity and hubris is not far behind.

although a spur of the moment thing, the Visitas, especially the quiet of the church this regular workday, and the one-on-one commune with God as embodied in our beloved Ina and Jesus on the cross, could grant a whole new different perspective in what i'm doing.

for one, i'm not doing this phd all by myself. one gross mistake on my part. my support networks are so rich to the point that i could even go out on the field without worrying about yaman and her needs. i am away from ShadowMan but every time he hovers and asks how i am. even from a distance, i need not worry over losing him to temptation because of the trust he assures me every day. i think of my mom and her many sacrifices, of elvie's patience, in allowing me to immerse in work even after coming home from the field. my little girl Yaman is growing in understanding and is back to her usual self of now drawing and designing cakes online especially 'for mommy'. i think of her school, village montessori, and the intellectual and emotional care they're adding on to her.  my bestfriend, Angeline, whose experience in mothering, reassures me all the time amid my doubts on my capacity for mothering.  i remember old friends like Joey who never fail to ask how i am almost every week. Dr. Galicia and Dr. Joson, whose diagnoses on my breasts have saved me from worrying on yet another thing in doing this phd. my brother and sister who become pseudo-dads and moms everytime yaman needs extra care when sick, stuck in school because of heavy rains, or just plainly being a kid. and there is jane and carol who are helping me now work from theory to empirical evidence to my own theory-building.

i am not alone. i fly on the wings of others and stand on others' shoulders. i am truly humbled.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To My Love, Asleep

while the night is still long for one who has yet to sleep, in my heart i'm satisfied with the love shared with you today. no man makes my day complete but you. 100 interviews do not measure up. i may have my moments but i still chose to start and end my day with you my beloved, my ShadowMan, the true love of my life. there's nothing left to wish for but for a lifetime shared with you. there's nothing left to wish for but for our wishes to come true...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We are All Mai Mislangs

we are all mai mislangs. our hubris and recklessness take the better of us, sometimes out of sheer carelessness, or just complacency. i could still remember in 1999, i was interviewed for my request for a straight phd promotion by ausaid. how do i assess their work in the philippines, i was asked. and i answered, well with the poverty overwhelming mindanao, it appears ausaid's impact is shallow. i did not lie. but the occasion did not call for the truth. so i kissed the straight phd goodbye when the ausaid officer exclaimed, 'such an interesting assessment for an agency funding your studies'.

so who am i to throw the first stone? even though it's so easy to hate her, and her actions further smeared the below-par and inexperienced staff of the current president (reflective of his poor political record), i'd rather leave her alone. it's enough to suffer from your own mistakes. it's enough pain to think twice before you speak, write, endure being a public persona for the next 6 years. it's hard being the real mai mislang already.

what we should never forget is that one time in our life, yesterday or the future, we will all commit a mai mislang. for a few words not even exceeding a paragraph, we would be held accountable, riled at, ridiculed below the belt, or withheld the best opportunities because we failed to think wisely before releasing them. and like mai mislang, we would wish for the noise to go down, for prolonged sympathy, and certainly, more than one chance to bury our wrongs with many many rights.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sexy as Bald

the day i saw bembol roco in the flesh, in the grounds of Colegio de Santa Isabel, at 12, i knew i like bald men. bald men hold a certain aura, of confidence and self-control that can only be had after enduring stares to an absent crowning glory. i'm not saying bald men do have these qualities, but it sure do takes some guts to wear none but just your head to the world.  my advice to my brother is to shave it all off, ala bruce willis or andre agassi, in case the thinning could no longer be reversed by shampoos and tube formulations. for me, hair has never been an issue. losing it is even a come-on. lucky for Shadowman.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blessed Little Children

what seems to be is not
forgiveness a simple but brave act
from little children we learn
how to just forget and move on

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blog Hate

lately i just don't want to blog. it's taking a toll on my momentum. like, after note-taking, preparing interview guides, at the back of my mind, i would still be reminded --- the blog! i'm definitely taking on too much with so little time, in 24 hours. i come to the point of not finding what to write. while before my mind is a tabula rasa, white space; now, i refuse to be white. i refuse to think for this blog.  blogging is no longer light work. i'm hating it.

Friday, November 12, 2010


now i blog because i have to, and not because i want to. tomorrow would be better than today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


i hope the little headache
is  not anything serious
because if with the headache
comes forgetfulness
what other cause
there is to fear?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holy Now

i'm waiting for a call
that will never come
for now
i am awake
surrounded by sleepers
for now
toiling until the last hour
making sense of script
for now

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Weight of Blogging

blogging is the one constant thing i have been doing since starting Natalie's challenge in 2008. it's been a duty, hard and daunting, as i've realized that committing to a task every day, is one of the most difficult commitments ever. since january 2010, i've missed blogging 11 times already, and this does not count the 'daya' when ShadowMan would blog for me. in this fieldwork, where i've learned from phase 1 the hard lesson of transcribing and keeping one's notes in order, i could hardly blog without reminding myself everyday that i have to do. it's becoming a chore i'd rather not do. but because i commit i'm here. and sometimes, i blog with a sad, angry, tired disposition. forcing myself to, with heavy hands.  how i wish i could commit as staunchly to other physical essentials like walking, watching what i eat, eating fruits and veggies, and holding a hobby other than reading.  how i wish i could commit as deeply to the values of patience, tolerance, self-control, and trust as i seem to be losing my hold on these. blogging is a duty worth taking after all. i may learn to do more, be more, give more.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Memorable Specks After All

just a week ago, i learned from my brother that a fellow Bikolano UPean, straight from el-bi, is now battling with stage 4 cancer. indeed, it is very easy to say, let him be, stage 4 cancer is incurable anyway. that was admittedly my first reaction when i heard the news. i even thought, he must be killing himself because he intends to do at least 4 major 'projects' (a book launch, a piano concert, selling of shirts and postcards, selling of his private manuscripts) to raise money for his chemotherapy.

but after taking yaman to school and walking along the windy subdivision where their school is, i began to wonder, how does one really approach the reality of dying early?  early as in half a period earlier than the national life expectancy. early as in your only child is only 3. early as in you'll be leaving your wife to take on the role of father and sole provider soon. early as in, you will never have the privilege of being able to take things for granted. like getting a smoke, having one bottle of beer, reading a newspaper without thinking of yourself, pausing to take pictures here and there. blogging just for the heck of it. just allowing time to pass by unnoticed. when one gets sick and terminally ill, the intangible and precious commodity that is time could no longer be had.

you want to compress everything in an instant. if your life can fit a scrapbook then so be it. one aims to an act of heroism by leaving an imprint of the life spent in so short a time.  in a paradox with my thoughts yesterday, faced with the prospect of death, we yearn to find a bit of instrumentality and importance to our existence as specks in the universe. we are memorable specks after all. that we mean something to someone after all. in this way, death can be defeated.

death can be defeated by memory.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In Your Will and In Your Time

strange, but it must be how the universe works.

i failed to attend mass the past 2 sundays, first because of sickness on the first and of a skin regimen that needs resting on the second.  i have been feeling low for the same past 2 weeks ---balancing relationship needs, tending to Yaman and her impossible thoughts at 5, and this frustration over fieldwork. i went to mass today to just attend mass. the priest may have just been there to give one. but in the mysterious workings of the universe, his sermon on the women with 7 husbands and how Jesus was tested by the Sadduccees on a question on the afterlife, brought me back to my senses.

The priest's challenge was for us not to concentrate on the question but on the motive behind it. that our tendency is in questioning God of the events unfolding in our lives.  the motive in our questioning is the pride innate in our being human, but at fault nonetheless. because our pride leads us to think that we do not deserve to face these defeats and disappointments. that we are so puffed up with self-importance we forget our place as mere specks in the sands of time.

i have been to a lot of questioning and to less of praying lately that i have forgotten one mantra that i keep repeating every day i get to pray, 'In your Will and in your Time, Lord.'  I seem to be forcing a lot of issues even though they are still in their inception stage. I have forgotten the glory in unfolding, the prize of patience.

Last night on TV, i saw this old lady, the lola of a 12-year old kid with Morquio syndrome. i think she was asked how she learned to accept the fate of her grandson. she surprised me when she answered, 'kailangan tanggapin ang ganitong sitwasyon dahil basta tinanggap mo ng maluwag, Sya na ang bahala. bakit hindi tatanggapin ang isang kaloob ng Diyos?' what is there not to accept from the God who knows all things?

the answers i seek were in an ordinary Sunday mass and a grandmother whose serene face i could not forget since yesterday. there would never be a God this good. Thank you Lord. In your Will and in your Time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


there are times when i wish i have not been a mother. as a mother i suck. i don't know how to pacify my daughter. to the point, she now raises her fists to me. she no longer says 'i love you'. no longer makes drawings of hearts, or mommy and daughter together. perhaps it is wrong to say 'my'. it is just wrong to possess her this way. better not expect.  i do not deserve anything.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lost to the Challenge

i have reached a point where preoccupation with more important things has pushed the blog to the margins of the mind and of time. mea culpa. natalie's challenge has been lost for 2 days. i'm now writing without my right foot.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Forgiveness and Candy

my nephew, Gab, just had a run-in with Yaman this morning. this led him to cry on end, 'long-playing' as we call it. burying his head on the sofa, he just couldn't stop wailing until his lola brought him this tupperware full of cookies, candies, and lollies. not long after, Gab was still and moments later, was already coaxing Yaman (who apologized by bringing Gab a lampin to wipe his tears) to pry open his lollipop.

it is amazing how kids like Gab could be comforted with a piece of lolly. how children with their pure hearts and kind innocence readily forget a fault, release burdens of guilt, and just embrace forgiveness indeed as simple as candy.  is it possible to retain this kind of simplicity among adults after encountering injustice, betrayal, and just open hostility? can battle scars be healed indeed by just one bar of chocolates, one serving of skyflakes, one piece of lollipop enough to make us trust again our once-enemies?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Negotiating a Relationship

the phd is reaching a point where ShadowMan and i had to adjust. adjust on the times we spend texting each other. the times when long silences and unanswered texts are becoming the norm (usually from my part). when sometimes talking over cyberspace is not enough to bridge divides brought about by one mind working on other things than just skyping.

long before this started though, i told him already that i will reach a phase, in doing this phd, of absolute crankiness, moodiness, aloofness. in short, i will slowly be showing my horns. as much as i try to balance, i would inevitably be imperfect, and in due course, hurt the people i love.  and i am talking not only of ShadowMan, but also Yaman, my mom, my bestfriends, my siblings, Elvie our household help, people within sighting radius.

because i need to be selfish once in a while with my time. because time is a valuable resource when it comes to doing a phd.  i do not want to use the excuse --- because i'm just human. because i'm naturally human. i could not be anything more. instead i say, because it just happens. it's an inevitable part of being in relationships. the give and take is not always 50-50 as sometimes the pendulum bends a little bit deeper on the other end because of the circumstance. 

change is a constant but also conditional state. we adjust because of the conditions.  in my relationship with ShadowMan, i do not proclaim to be a God(dess). but i will always be me.  perhaps that is the more important thing. the essence of the woman Shadowman loves is there. she happens to be just doing her phd.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

No Growing Up for Yaman

yaman doesn't want to grow up. she's afraid of having her mens. her desire is to remain of the same height, same weight. that it is alright for kuya giane and gab to overtake her. she just wants to stay at is.why at 5 would she carry such thoughts i do not know. perhaps she knows more about life than i care to know.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tulog Na

ang taong tutulug-tulog
di nangangahulugang
tamad, walang-kwenta
ang tulog siksik sa laman
ng pagod na kalamnan
bumubunga sa pangarap
di mapitas na katuparan
pag aalinlangan sa hinaharap
ang di masuring bukas
isinasantabi sa susunod
kinakalimutan ang ganap

Friday, October 29, 2010

Glorified Mummy

after 10 more so years, i finally had warts removed from my face, chest and body. it's easy to take them for granted; them being small dark spots you would mistake as moles. had enough of it as lately i could find myself scratching in my sleep. the warts have become annoying. so for about 4 hours this afternoon, with the brother volunteering to pick up yaman from school, i went to this derm clinic in centro for a full-body removal ops. in the first hour, i looked like a mummy with gauze covering half of my face. that was how bad warts have invaded my face. after cauterization 40 minutes after, my body looked pox-infested. with small burnt needle points, some reddish on the sides. now i have to fight off the itching and had to endure without a full bath until 6pm tomorrow. but better this than the conditions to worsen. enough of my old skin.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Half-Daddy, Half-Mommy

i didn't tell him last night. how i was hurting with yaman's 'distance'. when the week started, he too was sad about his son, of the gulf existing between them lately. i did not mind the connection until tonight. we are both half-parents. me, eversince, i left yaman to the care of my mom since she was 3 months because of work, and now, intermittently for 3 to 9 months because of studies down under. and he, because of a forced circumstance which requires him to keep a residence away from his son. both us of live in separate physical worlds from our children. and while that physical distance ould be bridged from time to time; that same distance has the inevitable power of creating social distance such that despite the togetherness, we still could feel alienated from our very own children. a great but too real irony that your flesh and blood, there in front of you, could be so alienated from you. the alienation is what kills, second to the guilt.

somewhere in the Bible, it has been said that children are not ours, but rather, are beings passed on through us, but not ours. whoever wrote this must be one insensitive childless lout. no religious pronouncement could take away my, call it self-ish belief, that my daughter is mine. for the simple reason that it existed because of me, it came from me.  in its body and spirit lies a % of who i am, however, small or insignificant it may be found out through science, psychology, or even religion. thus, it is a dagger through one's heart to not be acknowledged, to be laughed at one's expense, ignored, taken for granted, considered secondary or even nothing in the eyes of one's children. especially for those among us, who despite the physical distance, try their best in compensating in other, but no less important ways.

what would ever happen to us, half-parents, who are losing our children this early? whose sacrifices are held to naught by indifference, and insinuations to our inadequacy? in what aspects could we consider our children our very own? in what ways could we recover the love? after how long would time provide healing? what would the reckoning look like? will our children realize our worth as parents in their age of knowing? or will it be a fruitless disappointing wait?

so where do we go ShadowMan? the same road perhaps 'no hubby? the same road we know of just, and still loving our very own creations. when it comes to our children, we could not respond measure for measure. the answer is not neglect for neglect. for isolation to isolation. silence for silence. for somehow, the balance would be corrected even if it comes with a lot of compensating, with bated breaths, and silent crying on the side. perhaps we are growing into a different kind of love. better than heroic, better than sacrificial. something sublime. divine. borne out of deep forgiveness, i think, for who we are.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Beckoning

to be pregnant or not to be?
when will the right time unfold?
when's the perfect season?
how prepared is prepared?
how old is old?
when is it too late?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


ever since i got here last october 6, yaman has yet to utter the words 'i love you' to me. i used to believe that i am not a listening person. that i don't care for declarations as long as gestures are there. but i am mistaken. when it comes to my daughter, i want to hear her say it. those three words are important to me.

perhaps i am still alien to her. someone who just left three months ago and is here again. this alien who nags her about toothbrushing and doing things on her own, and not always relying on her yaya, to be fed, bathed, clothed, doted. this alien who monitors her every brushing, the direction of the toothbrush (up, down, side, tongue) and makes her repeat strokes already done. this alien who just this morning ordered ate elvie not to spoon-feed her, her favorite carbonara. this alien who insists she puts on her own panties, shorts, sandos, school uniform, socks and shoes, rather than be clothed like some stage actress.  someone who gave her a birthday party, with a big cake, but an alien still.

for yaman, perhaps, i am not yet home.

Monday, October 25, 2010


lightworker has just started rolling the ball for her fieldwork preparation
sidelined for 3 days by a stomach bug that refuses  to leave
not to mention yaman's own bout with on & off fever and stomach ache
the past week was long and slow and exhaustive
and switching hats from time to time can take its toll on her
but this time lightworker is ready
off she goes to visit her contacts one by one beginning tomorrow
shadowMan can only hope for the best and wish that from hereon
everything runs smooth

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our Simple Plan

to live simple
spend only for what is important
to do away with the scholarship
and take loved ones
wherever we want to go
money will lie around
but it will not rule us

Saturday, October 23, 2010


im lying in bed, sick.
Without cable internet, i'm blogging
courtesy of the man formerly in the shadows.
There's so much to blog about today.
The misery in company as my sister endures the gripes and conversation
of colleagues, to the point she truly misses her bestfriends.
Better lose a boyfriend than a bestfriend i told her.
How i hate missing the fiesta in Pili tomorrow, Oct. 24.
In such a long time, after more than 15 years, i'll finally
return to Angeline's place now with a daughter in tow.
How this illness is also caused by eating less carbs
for the past two weeks. How can i lose weight without
getting sick? And finally, how i wish i could teleport
back to raya and my hubby. Then i wouldn't self medicate,
someone would fuss around me, take my temperature and
give me a sponge bath. Not like this self-service feature
in Naga. How i wish i could be taken care of.
I need big love right now

Friday, October 22, 2010

Official Start

today marks the official start of phase 2 fieldwork. the cowgirl left for the City Hall at 9am and returned home a little later than 5pm. in between, office interviews were conducted, files photocopied and bounded and one half of an article read. a late but good start nonetheless. padayon, vitti.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blogger's Block

it's like a mile
between thoughts and my hands
my brain can't suck
the bright lights on the ceiling
the well of inspiration dry
from scattered sleepy randomness
worse than not writing
is defeated by the nothingness

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't Ride on Tiger Airways

i spend for my own airfares going back to and from naga twice now in 2010. so such convenience budget-wise to have budget deals for international trips.  i took my chance in tiger airways last june. in less than six months, i've regretted it. not that budget airlines don't provide the same food and amenities (movies on board, wine-on-demand etc.). you can't expect them to, kaya nga budget. what is disheartening is their gall and limited accountability when changing flight schedules. in so doing, you could be spending more like i did last october when i left perth. when my oct 19pm  flight was canceled without notice, i automatically missed the 10am flight back to manila on board cebu pacific. tiger airways did not refund for this missed cebu-pacific flight; reiterating that it's not their fault anyway if connecting flights are missed. they are only responsible for their own flight schedules. i ended up getting a new booking on cebu pacific or a wasteful PhP8000 that would have been spent for more needful things (yaman's tuition for three months na). today, i am enduring the same disappointment as i got advanced notice from them of my dec10-11 flight being moved to dec 11-12. might as well not fly to perth then if i could only attend 1 day of a 2-day seminar. patience patience. but i can blog. so i warn you. stay clear of budget international airlines. spend your hard-saved money on trusted full-fare airlines that really deliver.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grazilda and One Hard Lesson

as a child, i was raised against reading komiks ('too bakya'), listening to radio dramas ('bakya pa rin'), and even singing songs by imelda papin, eva eugenio and claire dela fuente ('bakyang-bakya'). the only time i was able to watch a tagalog movie was on the sly. i was i think 10 years old, with jungee and yumi and two maids who took us with them inside the very old Jade moviehouse along abella street. it was a 'bold' movie (then) with a lot of kissing, starring mark gil and deborah sun! with all these no-no's, i was raised against appreciating what pinoy is as it is trending and changing with the attitudes and mores of the society around me. not that komiks, radio dramas, jukebox songs, and 'bold' flicks define philippine culture then, and in such adequate measure. i felt a bit estranged from what is happening, surrounding me. i felt indeed like a filipino out of touch with my philippine-ness. i'm writing this piece after getting a sermon from my mom about why and how could i tolerate yaman's watching of 'grazilda' tonight. grazilda is a parody of cinderella on tv. a sort of re-telling of the cinderella story from the point of view of a kind, patient but wily stepsister named grazilda. not that grazilda has moral lessons to teach my daughter in the style of barbie but very very white movies. it doesn't, in the proper mold, and it's even too magulo for a kid to comprehend. it's just that unlike me, i would have wanted my kid to just watch what she wants to watch because she likes to, and not because mom told her to. and if i allowed her to watch grazilda in lieu of reading a book, it's not a big deal really since books are just a pick away and i'm sure yaman would not be getting fixated with this grazilda stuff all the way. unlike my childhood where i felt left out of things curious to me, perhaps it's not wrong to allow yaman to indulge on her curiosity even if it means watching grazilda. but like me, yaman lives within the structure of moral persuasion and like me, we may buck the system but tradition would always rule.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bakit Nga Naman?

at 5, yaman is already asking 'why' questions such as:

1. Bakit malayo ang moon?
2. Bakit itim ang buhok ko?
3. Bakit thermometer ang nagsasabing may sakit ako?
4. Bakit October 17 ang birthday ko?
5. Bakit nakatira sa ibang bahay si Daddy? (ngek!)

Nakakatakot pala ang lumalaking bata.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

As Yaman Turns 5

as Yaman turns 5 tomorrow, i look back how far we've come since our days in guijo. our conversations are heavier now but we laugh more. just days ago, i had to explain to her as she asked, why her birthday falls on the 17th of october. i had to pretend that not a near 5-year old is asking me the question. rather, i saw her as an adult requiring a straight (and straight-faced) answer.

she was born on october because like any other baby growing on a mommy's tummy, she had to stay there for 9 months, having been 'put there' around february. so counting nine months with my fingers, i translated my answer to its math equivalent, and led her to counting. i managed to divert yaman from asking, why was she put there around february, when she instead she wondered, from what tummy i came from. this ended our conversations with me running down the names of brother and sister, the others coming from lola's tummy after me. 

i know as she turns 5, there would be more questions from Yaman that could be more uneasy and hard to answer for a mom like me. in 5 years i still think i have not cared enough for her, i've not been hands-on, and i'm not giving her the best answers, at all. but i try to be, i strive to be. i try to learn from my mistakes. then perhaps as Yaman becomes older, i could grow a little bit wiser, with her.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blogging in the Dark

grappling in the dark
for keys learned by memory
punctuating the air with sneezes
one two three four and more
i bleed no more for a topic
so i settle on an illuminated page
and blog about the dark, the din
and keys that go click, click

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Muchos Gracias Shadowman

one advantage of having a lifetime partner with the same emotional, intellectual and spiritual wavelength is having someone to blog for me; finding the perfect words, even the perfect topics which i would chose to blog for the day. it started while in perth, specifically during sunday visits to janty whose house has no internet connection. ShadowMan would blog for me, thus, saving me from the penalties self-imposed under Natalie's challenge.

lately, he has been blogging for me during my travels, and at times when he senses, i am just too busy to have to worry about blogging in the evening. these voluntary blogs come as a surprise for me, the gesture poking my heart and making me weak all over. for someone whom no other man had done more without being told to.  ShadowMan seems to know my needs before i even articulate them; sometimes just anticipating my need to have a wall, or a cushion, to rest my weariness. in many intangible but noble things ShadowMan enforces that indeed, i am no longer alone. no longer the one lonely lady wishing for someone to reach out to across the dining table, across the bed, across the miles separating work from home.

many previously single women would quip how hard it is to adjust having a man again in one's life. with ShadowMan, i go through periods of adjustment as well. i still decide on my own, belatedly telling him of my decision, not consulting, like this job offer i got while still in perth last august. but more than usual, i am grateful that a man, the man has finally come. not only for filling the emptiness but also for bringing to life the sparks that have long been dead, like someone breathing fire again to an age-old worn-out chimney. one book i read said, it is not enough that we are completed by someone. instead, we should make sure that we are complete as we are before committing with someone. as if completeness is a requisite, and that being incomplete while committing makes one undesirable, undeserving. where do i stand as when i finally said yes, i am taking on life with you, my ShadowMan, i was still an incomplete restless soul?

i could not help admitting that ShadowMan is here, completing me, filling the missing pieces with answers, with assurances, with acceptance, day after day. putting the beliefs i've forgotten and taken for granted back to the surface, day after day. in essence, being complete is not a defined static state. completion is an endless process as we contend with our changing selves. pieces of us forever shifting, looking for the mold, the partner pieces rendering us stable.  this is ShadowMan as he completes me, in every aha moment, and in every day that i discover more about this man i first set eyes on 26 years ago.

ShadowMan does more than blog for me. as he writes for me, we are continuing our history, our sense of the future that only our shared lives together would complete. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Triumph of the Human Spirit

today marks the triumph of the human spirit as the 33 San Jose miners
are slowly being hauled after 69 gruelling days of entrapment half a mile underground
this is a very emotional moment not only for the miners, their families and the whole Chilean people
who have struggled to bring solutions to the seemingly hopeless case of resurfacing them
but a moving sight to see a multitude including the country's highest leader
welcoming them one by one with a tight embrace
as if meeting them back from the dead

one can't help but think and wonder at how some people can easily absolve self-confessed,
arrogant, erring buddies after professing "walking in the right path" for the country's sake
Chile as a nation has chosen the right path for the right reasons
and bringing the entire nation in figurative unity in the process
while a people rejoices in the hard-earned triumph of preserving life
some would rather talk of righteousness, primacy of life and unity
and just remain blubbering them

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


the right breast lump is benign. i need not have it excised. the only worry is the 'suspicious' lump on the left. it's so 'suspicious' it did not appear last week in dr. joson's examination. so 'suspicious' that i wonder whether it decided not to manifest itself, or it's just one of those lumps that chose to appear only to disappear forever. i hope there's nothing more to these lumps. so i can move with my plans, our plans, without fear of getting sidelined. because i'm not the only one waiting. a future generation is.

Monday, October 11, 2010


with my schedules here in naga permitting no fixed time for writing, i'm slowly homing into just writing whenever. not yet wherever as i only have a desk at home to do some quiet writing. i felt a bit tempted to bring my laptop to sm this afternoon but decided against it after weighing the number of words written against the weight i have to lug around while taking yaman to school, going to mcdo for the bday arrangements, and then to sm. not worth it. the laptop stays at home. i'll just let my thoughts fertilize away from it. for the past 7 days, ShadowMan has been getting lesser texts from moi, even lesser airtime as writing fills our nights as well. yesterday, at 10-10-10, is started my writing around 1132pm and ended at 3am. it's not even chapter writing but bullet-points writing to help organize my thoughts and it seems, i'm getting some fresh ideas with my fingers moving. one word at a time i guess to volumes ahead.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Church as Social World

at the 9am mass today in san francisco church, there was this woman, apparently 'crazy', who would come up and literally walk over the pews already occupied by people. we were standing in preparation for the gospel reading when she came by the pew in front of us. she would repeat this until the last two columns of pews on my rights. anyone 'normal' would use the aisles, and by a show of respect, walk a little stooped to not disturb the space and concentration of people attending the mass. the last time i saw this woman, she was going back, and again, passed by the pew in front, and the same pew on my left, which did not sit well with an older man already there as he frowned and gave the woman a scornful look.

indeed, we are small social worlds, even here in this church, filled to capacity at the seams as even the entrance and the left side were brimming with people. as a social world, there are standards of behavior followed. break them and you notice 'yeah, it is really wrong to act this way in church'.  but if you will see, what the woman did in breaking decorum was to magnify how simple acts of just walking through could actually be considered deviant behavior. because of course, has it been written in black and white that it is wrong to walk over pews already occupied? microsociology here says, well, it does not read writing at all because these are social cues, that we, as normal people, just know. but to see someone break it, we realize that in church, as in other public place, we tend to establish strict private personal spaces that no one should transgress because it just is. 

we know admonitions against going to church in slippers, sandos or even in shorts. wearing see-through blouses for women are considered a no-no, then what more low-cut blouses showing cleavage? we are told to talk in whispers, and even if one is raring to shout back at the priest for the church's hypocrisy on the reproductive health bill, one just had to control and bear the 4-page pastoral letter (in place of the sermon) read over sleeping and blank faces of church-goers. in perth, we follow orderly lines in taking communion, one pew at a time. no overtaking. people at the back are definitely the last to receive communion. here in the philippines, many lectors still begin the mass with a reminder to parents to keep their children still.  in perth, there is no such reminder, as it is believed, infants and toddlers have a world of their own which no adult could control. but whether in perth or naga, personal spaces in church are set in that 3-inch radius from where we stand or sit.  people mutter excuses while entering occupied pews, and some even wait and enter when everyone else is already seated. we no longer hold hands during Ama Namin (except among lovers or relatives) perhaps more for health reasons although before this was encouraged to promote 'unity' starting with the Cory Aquino administration. then after taking communion, we expect to return to very same pew we occupied, and it's a no-no for this space to be taken by anyone while the mass is ongoing.

so by breaking the rules, the woman did a huge favor by presenting the hidden social cues, learned not from instruction but from the culture, this 'silent' unwritten known knowledge that holds us to our place and personal space amid a crowd of strangers.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Waiting for Take Off

since i got here in naga last wednesday, i have written perhaps less than 30 sentences, most of these under the Glossary portion of my report to Jane and Carol. i'm not writing a chapter yet and have yet to process 81 transcripts, worth about 400 one-sided pages.  this is just a report of preliminary observations from phase 1 fieldwork which as usual, i promised to submit last week and may not even be ready next week. just finished unpacking one big suitcase, one big knapsack. kept everything else i need one trolley knapsack/ laptop bag. at the side table beside my work desk are all references, papers, and books. what i still need though is an open cabinet, a name card wallet, and extension cord but of course, these are just side necessities. only to make me feel ready. although i should have been ready since wednesday if not for the headaches, the rowdy long hair, the lack of sleep, the globe phone not working and so many others the corny me just had to go through. then after i'll be ready. wishing ready would come any time soon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Losing Weight at 39

how does one lose weight at 39?
let me count the ways
no or half-cup rice-meals
drinking lots of warm water
walking from lerma to diversion road
learning to eat fruits
if not, just swallowing them
foregoing extra portions of meat
finding enough room for fish
starting a before-7am walking routine
enrolling in a gym if i have time

i know what to do
but this is half of the effort
for one who has gone on yoyo-diets
and yoyo-weight for the last 23 years
i know that discipline is the key
but i know not how much i have left
after saying much about it in the past
i don't want to die in my sleep
it's not a fair way to die
so there must be a way out of
of these 50 lbs

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sleep Apnea

eversince i've gained the bulk of weight at 140lbs above, two years ago, i have been snoring, loudly. in guijo, mom would complain about how embarrassing it would be to our neighbors as my snore could be heard from the street as late as 6 o'clock in the morning. right then, i would not mind as i wake up ok. my mom likens my snoring to someone running out of breath, of the raucous intake of breath through my mouth and the almost 3-second lapse before breathing again.  as if i am breahting my last.  because of my snoring, yaman would learn not to hug me while sleeping because it's useless. my snore scares the night and daylights out of here. one time, she switched positions, her pillow by my feet perhaps because she just can't stand another night of frog chorusing beside me.

now at 152 lbs (down from 160lbs in perth last week), i'm beginning to take snoring seriously. just this month, i'm beginning to have headaches upon waking in the morning. this is not every day, the headaches. but to have a headache while sleeping more than 8 hours is not usual, and not healthy. just last monday, i complained to ShadowMan of having trouble breathing. i didn't know i was snoring then. but ShadowMan said i was, a dangerous sounding kind of labored breathing.  last night, my first night here in naga, had a headache as i wake up to urinate, one around 2am, another around 5am. by 9am, my head was spinning again and i wanted to cry from the frustration. this is sleep apnea. headaches are caused by the obstruction of the steady flow of air through the brain. more than once, my fear of dying from sleep is no longer an impossibility.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Angst Over You

letting go always brings me to my lowest, saddest point

it may be likened to a feeling of an abandoned kid
at the prospects of not seeing his father return from war
it's very much unlike swallowing a bitter pill 
where, after a blink or two, the bitterness leaves 
as water empties the glass  

if only i can fly like a bird
be a pilot or an FA
or disguise as a stuff on your carry-on bag
there will be no room for this agony
as there are no goodbyes, no letting go
no sulking in endless sorrowing

it is not a big deal after all
but to someone who truly loves
it is bigger than the world itself
but one has to go in order to come back
ShadowMan takes comfort in that
nevertheless this will pass
all shall be well
all shall be well

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Room 301

Around 3:12 PM Lightworker was at the doorstep of Rm. 301of Manila Doctor's Hospital
At the waiting area three women were patiently, anxiously waiting
At 4:21 PM Dr. Rey Joson, oncologist surgeon came at 301
Lightworker was second in the list
When it was her turn to see Dr.Joson
Shadowman could only wish for heaven's grace to fall
A little after 5:18 PM Lightworker came out, gesturing it was over
Shadowman was looking at her face, trying to figure out a little hint of what was yet to come
Some blood samples were extracted from her and it was 90% sure to detect any suspected
cancer or non-cancer invasion
The result should be out by Saturday
Everything will be known from Rm 301  

Sunday, October 3, 2010


left with nothing but my soul
body has dispersed, rendered invisible
if i could only touch my scream
it will slash my hand like lightning

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Coming Home

in a few hours
Lightworker will be home to ShadowMan
it may not be the ultimate homecoming
it may not be the total union
of  two souls
separated by time
brought together by destiny
but it it is one of the many
worth seeking and aspiring for
welcome home Lightworker

Friday, October 1, 2010

Off to Heaven

i'm off to my own heaven
where grass is thinning
skies gray of monsoon rains
existence may be toxic
for those not used to traffic
where to be laid back is to be lazy
to relax granted only
on declared public holidays
it is my own version of heaven
where my loves are waiting
un-ideal and even shunned
but now, i come back, i come back
and will always choose to stay

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last Night in Loris

the first thing i would do tomorrow, after sun salutations is to tuck up Yaman's pictures (one including me) and Shadowman's.  tuck them in the box for personal collections. i wonder what memories i would hold after 6 months, taking them up again and posting them on another wall, or another shelf. yes another one. because yes, i'm leaving loris and this ensuite i called my territory since november last year. i'm giving it up because for the next 6 months, i don't want to pay monthly rent equivalent to the upkeep of yaman, me and my mom for a month in naga (obscene!). second, because though this is my territory, i could never call loris my home. it is just a transit point to a place i hope would finally be home for me after 6 months until i finish the phd by 2010 (at the most). yes, so this is indeed my last night here. in this room big enough for a foursome with australian guys according to bic-bic; a retro room according to jom; my own sanctuary when every one else is unbearable. this is the room where tears were shed for an atenean from the past, unfolding as ShadowMan in the flesh. the walls and floors the lone witness to two long-lost lovers bridging 26 years with the maturity, patience and tolerance only 40 year-olds could muster. indeed, this is the room where the love of Lightworker and Shadowman materialized. but unlike guijo, i would not kiss its floors when i leave tomorrow. i will just clean it and leave it fresh for the next one coming in. as i am in transition, so i am leaving this place. i'm going to somewhere more permanent, my real home.

 My loves on the wall including the never-too-late addition, Yaman's Daddy, my Shadowman!

How retro could this house get? Room light comes from this spherical orb, the surface designed like marble icing.  Below's the carpet typical of old Aussie houses for its loud designs and offbeat colors.
Stephii gave me this one and I'll never forget. The only big that matters is one's heart.
 Vitti's most profound discovery at 39.