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, April 30, 2010

On Alert

about two weeks ago, i interviewed a household in san felipe where one of the children, the youngest son, have began spurting fresh new boils of chickenpox.  i could not leave the questionnaire behind because like my previous interviews, i do not stick to the questions in print but allow the conversation to meander, and in the process, new questions come to mind. the latter is what's important in the 'truth' i seek.  so in more than 30 minutes, i interviewed the father just by the small visitor's table in front of the house. 5 minutes to then end of it, the boy went over to us and playfully took his dad's cellphone to play with it.  after the interview, i did not head straight home, and when i got home, i forgot to wash my hands. i even put on fresh house clothes and only when i told the san felipe incident to the sister was i advised to bathe.  iyo palan. now i feel giddy and hot, and with a sore throat from last night. i've gargled bactidol and now observing my skin for red unusually painful boils. what a worst time indeed to have chicken pox. but me being me, i just told Him up there that if it's time, then it's time. back when yumi was 17 and i was 19, she contracted chickenpox. took care of her and even slept beside her. it was summertime and i could afford to get the boils. but no i didn't. at the time i wanted to, i didn't get chickenpox. so why argue with the One Up There? the one who sees the macro while we navigate the micro. sabi ko na lang, let it be Lord. the fieldwork will take care of itself. and i would be taken good care of.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sick in Our Worlds

we are both feeling sick. he from staying in the cold and suddenly affronted by the heat. me, alternating between heat and rain, assailed by both within a day. he got drenched in the late afternoon while i had to suffer a little earlier, with the humidity and the traffic. now we're both sleepy. he already with a stuffy nose and me, with an itchy throat. by 11pm we'd call it a day. after comforting each other in cyberspace. doing whatever we can except touch, when touch would've made the difference.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bad Hair Day

how i wish my hair was non-negotiable. but it is. and i promised to wear it long, for him who never asked for anything but just this. it's like undergoing withdrawal symptoms. withdrawal from the freshness of cropped hair. withdrawal from the fury of seeing unruly and unwanted waves. withdrawal from the normality of short and low-maintenance hair. so be it. i will just imagine. that there are no mirrors. and i will stop caring about the curls and the waves. i will just wear the hair long and not care.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Trouble with Fat

it's the weight when walking
the heaving after an abrupt stop
zippers that won't close in a snap
bulges front and side while sitting
this constant paranoia with messy hair
something to do with the heat
bringing out lousy fat consciousness
to bear upon a hot sticky day
of not fitting and discomfiting
the worry of the field nagged
by the worry on fitness
the fat lady trumps along
not only by the weight on one's back
but the weight on all nooks and folds
screaming out as fat!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Boy named Igo

about three years ago, in my first year in sds, i learned the case of a little boy who accidentally drank liquid sosa from a red C2 bottle. liquid sosa is a toxic liquid used in bathrooms to clear clogged drains so just imagine it working on the stomach of a 3-year old? the boy loved red C2 drinks so much that when he saw one at their laundry station, he had no qualms with opening it and dunking its contents thereafter. the yaya was just beside him when it happened. a slight oversight, an unintended mistake that would cause the boy's family millions in treatment, not counting the emotional turmoil of seeing your boy enduring countless visits to medical visits in a year, ingesting food from a tube, and no longer able to eat chocolate. the family appears to have gone financially broke, the grandfather literally begging for financial help through text and emails to his network of friends and colleagues in the consulting world.

last april 19, monday, the boy named Igo decided that he had enough. enough of the treatment, enough of the visits and enough of the pain to withstand the trauma of three years in medication. in that three years, Igo had shown enough bravery not common to a three year old. around 2008, he was still able to serve as ring bearer to the wedding of a family friend. Miguel IƱigo is his full name, the combination of a name I have grown to love and be fond of and one by St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus.  by april 22, thursday, Igo was cremated, his ashes not enough of a testament to the life of a brave little boy.

live at peace Igo wherever you are.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hating Leaving Him

i wish for the end of this
the constant leaving
lifetime lived for
only four days
terminals testifying to
endless goodbyes
the stretch of edsa
witnessing him go
the other way
another way
a way i am not taking
when is the end to this?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Question

someday you will
confront the question
of being alone for
the choice or the lack of it
of shielding yourself from
pain out of bravery or convenience
of what constitutes enough
and whether that is really enough

Friday, April 23, 2010

Meeting the World

it is a social practice never been observed with the others before. introducing my flame to friends. previously, it would be a hit and miss thing. if in any social occasion, my flame and friends meet, then they meet. if they don't, it doesn't matter. but it's different with ShadowMan, my husband-to-be, in principle, or in waiting (in paper).  yesterday, i got him to meet over lunch one of my male bestfriends since post-grad days in LB.  a man very hard to please and very critical of people. yet i knew alvin liked him on the spot and ShadowMan felt the same. alvin being alvin, he left a pang-asar parting word for us. he just suddenly blurted out, 'ingatan mo sya'. for which, i had to clarify, 'are you talking to him or to me?'.  with a mischievous grin, alvin said, 'you. take good care of him, lest he lose his helmet!'. ugh. for alvin, i always be his little sister.  and like any other older brother, he wonders what ShadowMan would have seen in me he he. but seriously, he texted me back within an hour congratulating me on the choice of the century. finally!

by noon today, Shadowman met up with cora, ruby and myself , during lunch again. cora was the skeptic. the one who could not believe a loveless vitti by new year could end up love-ful by the end of january.  and ShadowMan would have the same response as with alvin yesterday. it's a love cooking for the past 26 years and only now has it come to fruition. while married ruby got the point immediately, cora the spinster did not. she was still insisting, but it's been a long time, this 26 years, her hands out in space to drive the point. to which ShadowMan still has the perfect answer. 'actually, nothing with her (me) changed in 26 years'. it was the sense of history, the social memory of the relationship, the essence of the person as found in her or his eyes. cora fell silent after. i'm not sure yet whether her skepticism has mellowed but in the sense shared by bestfriends, i knew she understood. she would now agree to be our maid of honor.

this afternoon, he's coming over to meet my friends at work. a very cool guy doing it all for me, just because i asked him to. tonight, we'll see how it goes with joey and ms lynn, my true blue friends in the world of consulting.  they're very excited with ShadowMan and like alvin and cora, i know they will understand why this choice is THE choice. there's no one ever to love, cherish, be proud of, listen to, obey, follow, heed, serve, wake up with and end the day with. the world deserves to know the man whom i would do all these for.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Left Temple Scar

this scar has a story. i was a little girl cleaning the stairs in the house in bulacan. i was perhaps 5, wiping the 5th step of the upper rung when i mis-stepped and fell down to the landing below. my wails were coupled with curses and shouts from mom as there, blood trickled from the gash in my left temple. by the time i woke up in the afternoon, band aid was over it. a lone flesh-colored piece of band aid signifying how insignificant the gash must have been. because if it is, then mom would have had it stitched at the nearest hospital. but no, band aid was enough. i traced the edges while looking at the dead tv screen. too lazy to look at a real mirror. but how insignificant could a scar be when it's the most prominent feature of my face that people ask of me? like when he asked, for just one more time since 26 years ago. so here is how it goes. this scar has a story...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


 away from my writing
i find solace in scribbles
in short unreadable form
in bicol, tagalog or broken english

i make indelible what memory
will erase later on
in red blue green or black
within the confines
of a jeep a coffeehouse
a xerox shop or along the road to colegio
i make do and commit amid fears
of still not knowing
of still not getting there
of still navigating from blank to black

keeping my world steady amid turbulence
stopping tears from silencing courage
fighting restless despair with uneasy strokes
finding sanity in the lined page

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reading, Weaning and Memories

as a newborn babe, yaman was used to being swayed to sleep. manang milet fashioned a duyan and hanged it in the center of the sala in guijo, with one side latched to the stairs and the other to a window brace. there yaman would be held fast asleep, with a thin brown cord slipped through the webs of the duyan, moved  to and fro to keep the duyan swaying.  to this swaying, yaman got so used that until now, at 4, she would still insist being lulled to sleep through karga, or by carrying her. while yaman's thin, she's a bit heavy so me being me, i would insist back to just sway her to sleep by sitting, bouncing my legs under her to keep her earth moving, swaying.

most recently, i've found the proper weaning formula, the alternative to carrying her.  and it's simply, reading.  for three  straight days this week and starting thursday last week, i've been reading stories to her before she goes to sleep.  as her pa-cuteness goes, yaman would insist on sleep around 8:30. within 10 minutes, she finishes brushing and as she mimics a sleepwalker, i tell her to pick any storybook she likes, and i would read to her. her face lights up and i know i found my 'winning' formula, to weaning her from karga.

so from last week, we've read Three Billy Goats, The Hare and the Tortoise, The Frog Prince (2 versions), Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, and Toby's Bark. yaman would absorb it all and by the time i say the classic 'and they live happily ever after' or 'and that he was gone, just like that', she would just hold clutch her small pillow, turn on her back, and sleep. this technique has saved elvie, her yaya, precious time to catch up with ironing, or just plain resting after a hard day's work. including the 'agony' for those having to carry her, we no longer at the prime of our bodies (i've gone past middle of my life expectancy you know).

but save the agony, it is perhaps the joy of having her beside me, enthralling her with the thrill of the story, holding her warm tiny and firm body close, the smell of her hair nearby, that is significant. we are one in earnest in the listening and exchange as i point to her the animals along toby's track, the tricks of the cat, including the outrageously named characters thing 1 and thing 2. mother and daughter are happy although sometimes silence dominates and my voice rules the dim surroundings. we are one in the story and our hearts are in rhythm. and as my baby sleeps, she holds the memory of mom putting her to sleep through stories. and the stories could pass, and change in form and sound, but mommy will always be there, alive in her memory.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tulo't Basa

laki sa sipon
bahing na ng bahing
parang milyang taling walang pigil

laki sa pawis
tumatagaktak sa init
lunod na ang panyong bitbit
sa mapa ng tubig na nakaukit

Sunday, April 18, 2010


This afternoon, i went to the parlor to have my hair dyed. Red brown. An hour later, as the chem set in, got dizzy with the smell. It did not help getting sneezy as i rummaged thru ukay. That's the price of vanity you see. For covering up the obvious and looking for clothes that don't fit

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Headache and Hot Water

the bad thing is for it to recur
the worse is to persist
the worst is for death to take you
it does not seem fair
i am the one helpless
longing to hold the head that aches
grappling even with the right words
suggesting nothing more but hot water
but hot water it is
for there is no way to go down
and take what you carry
no way to soothe
the exhausted you from within
no way to recover
the unbreakable strong you i know
so bear my weakness
i, the helpless
half of who i am
half as you are

Friday, April 16, 2010


without bathing
without CHu-CHi
without the cologne
without the lipstick
without even
combing my hair
he pledges still
unconditional excess

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Field CowGirl

now that i am away from it i miss my fieldwork so much
i miss testing my hunches.
i miss the jeepney ride,
brushing the sweat from my forehead.
feeling sweaty and dirty at the end of the day
but still happy because a brave soul dared to talk to me
about disconcerting truths about the emperor and his clothes.
i miss the dread of questioning.
i miss pining for time to do my transcripts.
i miss being snooty and pushy for appointment over text.
i miss the empty unknowing looks of people at upao
and how they must have not like my presence
for disturbing their dry, monotonous day at work.
i miss conjuring up ways to reach Cararayan.
i miss looking over my notes
and jotting down eureka statements that i will soon forget in a minute.
i miss the sky, the air and the ground i walk on as a fieldworker.
i realize this is my vocation after all.
i am a field cow girl.
i am born and bred to do this.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


with the pressure i'm in to finish a sideline by friday, with fieldwork put on hold (grudgingly!), i imposed this form of isolation from ShadowMan which would be considered 'normal' in most other relationships. limited texting through the day (at most two in the morning and the afternoon) and at worse, no replies at all to his texts.  then comes the calls with permission (because i could not be disturbed with no reason - suplada talaga!) until ShadowMan got to the point of saying, OK, i'm not texting you unless it's in reply to you. it nearly reached the point of zero chatting until i gave in. out of the need to rest from a writing marathon of 2 hours this morning, 6 hours by afternoon and 3 hours ago. i need to see, talk and just listen to my ShadowMan who has been my fuel, my spiritual energy ever since our reunion last january. one needs love to be sane, i guess. to be saved from self-imposed cruelty and the silent hurting toll of writing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Not the Day

i feel that i shouldn't be here. but not with ShadowMan. i need to be enclosed in four walls and alone with my thoughts, my ideas so that this sideline will immediately pass. then, i would be where i want to be. home amid the shrieks of children and the constant prodding of yaman and her drawings of hearts entwined. on the field sweating all over but glad to have fished vital info on how the emperor wears his clothes on naga. home again in the gaze, arms and constant love of an unbelievable man which i nearly lost to the shadows. but i am here. grappling with the structure and framework of a baseline study which i will not do. enduring my acer on the verge of saying goodbye from constant hanging and delays. stuck with the heat under a ceiling-less roof. while afar, i long to play with daughter. i long to lay out fieldwork for the week. i long to be in constant touch, hearing, and sight of the man i love. this is not the day of days. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Wooden Chest and Three Kids

Need a great idea for a bonding moment? Try doing crafts with kids like the one I had this morning with Yaman and Gianne, my first nephew. It's all about a Wooden Chest (bought from Toy Kingdom), bare and tiny, longing to be filled with color, with happiness. I'm not sure whether I wanted to do it at first, crafts being my waterloo since Grade School. But when you're contending with kids demanding a full-colored chest but with tiny little and still unsteady hands to play with paint and the paintbrush, would you be able to stand abandoning them? So with a heavy sigh, Mom/ Auntie went out the backyard to look for newspaper, and in the kitchen, empty cups. With a little help from the one-side instruction booklet, I was able to learn that to paint with a new color, one need to dip the used paintbrush in water and primary colors could be mixed to arrive at even grander colors (like green my favorite). I was just not sure of the 'red' paint referred in the booklet as what the box had was a shouting color of fuschia (can't you see?). But still, mixing this with yellow still generated orange so, could fuschia then substitute for red? From experience, I think so. So look on and be amazed what three kids had conjured. Not bad for someone aged 4, 5 and 39. We all think the same. We love the world in bright bursting colors. We live the world as happy, contented kids.  Only if we desire to.

The props for painting the Wooden Chest. Five paints, 1 paint brush, water, and empty cups. Yaman and I had a first-hand experience of mixing colors. How could we forget that Green=Blue + Yellow, Pink = Fuschia + White, Light Blue = Blue + White, Orange = Fuschia + Yellow?
The Little One putting the finishing touches of blue on a fuschia background. Yaman is very patient and even insists on painting the insides of the drawer before Mommy said no-no for fear of running out of paint.

Our theme is just to mix colors and precisely to use the color of paint that the majority (which means Yaman and Gianne) wants and the shapes that come to mind (hearts, stars, lines, diamonds, dots) thus  the psychedelic look.

These flowers are my idea. Followed the instructions of first drawing the figure using a pencil then painting it over. Had two cups left of orange and light blue thus the color combination. For who has seen flowers with blue stems?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Rings (Tale of Two Rings Part 3)

Because we are meant to no one else
Because it is time for sorrows to end and joys to enfold
Because the past is through and our lives are just beginning
Because God has found cause to answer our prayers
Because it is time for us to make good on them
Eternity spuns in the universe of light and shadows

Friday, April 9, 2010

First Movie Date

just a married couple out on a date. probably leaving the kids to the yaya to have time together in the movies. so like old couples they were but still holding hands, the lady resting her head one time on the his shoulder, engaged in sweet conversation still. but they were not ordinary couples, but highschool sweethearts out on their first movie date in 26 years. hoping to enjoy a laugh on tina fey and steve carrell, only to be taught that love has to be worked out consciously. it is not familiarity that breeds contempt but resignation and indifference. now they know. and like old married couples, hoping to know better.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

That Man There

the serious face reads
brows arched in concentration
the sip soothing
engrossed in the waiting
this is the man i take
whose heart i am taking all

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Home to You

to your arms i'm headed. working may be the mind but the heart is all yours. corny na, but true.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Last and First

have you ever been last in line in your doctor's list, that you got to see her past 930pm already? have you ever been dulled in the head you forgot to advise the receptionist you're just here for the reading of your tests so you should have been first in line? have you ever waited so long you had to eat pili nuts for dinner? have you ever been loved by a man who patiently talked the whole time with you, past 6 to 8:41, then from 9:10 to 9:37, from his office to makati then back to his haven in pasig, just to keep you company? last in line but first in love. ok na.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Beaten by the Sun

i was supposed to penetrate the 3rd case study community today. i was supposed to search for the community president by digging up his whereabouts at the barangay hall. but around 12 noon, when i got home, all sweaty, feeling sticky and my hair in shambles, i decided to call it quits. the sun conquering the lonely warrior. called it a day at 12:01pm. after one failed appointment in the 1st case study community; and, after one interview refused at the 2nd. after mini-'successes' for an interview granted after finally stumbling on a sought-after interviewee about two weeks ago, and after finalizing tickets for the manila trip this wednesday. ugh, poor me, poor researcher, poor woman, lonely along the road. who said it's lonely at the top? it's equally unbearable just by the sidelines.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


the cough is back and i don't like it. by april 1, the meds have stopped. but now, for just lack of sleep, i have to take it again? nah, i'll let fern-c work this time. to fight off cough that's so incessant. i have to take a rest, i think, from field work before i'm worked off the field by this nagging cough. wait for me this time, my love. i will rest in your arms.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What Now with Woodfields

this blog has seen the worst of my emotions with woodfields, it is but just for it to witness the coming together. i have reconciled with them, on technical terms. i'm on texting terms with doc medina, but only special occasions; namely, new year's day (jan 1) and chinese new year (feb 14). the same with bus development where two of my colleagues are my facebook friends. other than that none. but it's an inviting calm. it pays for me not to feel my heart jump in disgust or contempt once i hear the name, or to feel a tug in my heart for past betrayals. i choose not to. i try to unmind the feelings. and the distance helps. keeping distance helps. this is enough for now.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Growing Old With You

someday i will not
see you as clearly
recognize your voice
walk with you as fast

someday i will
forget your name
pass you by
jumble the stories

along with the gray hairs
and cataracts that blind
only the heart will stay

with my sight
my memory
my voice
my words
my strength
as long as it's beating
there i'll be


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jarred and My Two Forevers

yesterday morning, i woke up to the alarm of 7:30 for my meds. my cough has been going on for two weeks now and i had to repeat the 8-hour cycle last and since march 27, the day when i missed the 3:30pm take-up. but yesterday was unusual. must be because of age or the sudden jolt my body experienced to the alarm, i felt jarred. like i was taken out of my balance and my eyes absorbed it. my eyes will never be the same for the whole day. i could not focus long on the computer. it was painful. in the afternoon, i labored through finishing my 58-minute transcript as all the time, i felt nauseous already. it was not just plain eye strain. my eyes were really out of focus. at 6pm, i had to call it a day.

while i had given up for the day, the two most important people in my life didn't --- Yaman and ShadowMan. without me in the sala, Yaman as it turned out, searched for me in the bedroom. seeing me there on the bed, she would peek, close the door gently, and look at me with worried eyes. this i saw as i held out one weary arm and explained to her that mommy needs to rest early. i don't know what else happened after. at one time, i woke up with my little girl embracing me standing up; the other time, at my left side of the bed, she would cradle my head as if she's the mom, and i'm the helpless child. i remember mr. nora telling me then that i am very lucky with Yaman. that she's the kind of daughter who will take care of me till old age. i had a glimpse of that last night, of my brave girl taking care of me. so thin but so full of heart. around 2am, i woke up and on the table beside me, just next to my cellphone, is a piece of paper with a drawing of 2 hearts --- one big, one small. the other drawn all over by blue ink, and the other none. that's Yaman, as if crying out --- 'i'm here with you, mom!'

 Yaman's drawing near my bedside.

 The Church of Gesu in AdeMU where ShadowMan was yesterday.

in another world that is manila, ShadowMan just finished work and was already in Ateneo to attend the Seven Last Words at the Church of Gesu around 6pm. he knew of my complaints early in the afternoon. he would know that i was talking to him with eyes closed as i could not stand the pain. like Yaman standing close to me, this man was texting me all along since 6pm, just to comfort, console, and at one time, to tell me simply he's going home. ever the constant one, at 1:23am, his last text came. i thought, how come ShadowMan's still awake at that time?! this morning, i would discover that by 11:29 last night, he blogged for me, a sweet heartwarming blog of his love amid the fears i take issue at. ShadowMan is a simple yet resolute person. so when he says forever, it's the simple meaning of forever, just forever. but it's also with the grandest of meanings because in these times, who would still know what forever takes? i believe ShadowMan. he is man enough, and even much much more, to mean forever.

in one difficult moment when i could not even see them, i saw the love of my two forevers. i am so blessed. i love you so. thank you, thank you, thank you.