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)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Perth Freezing!

hasn't been this cold before. last year, i didn't get the chance to wear a beanie and while i did wear gloves, that was in the later part of september. not at this time, late june and winter season's just started! at 8am, i negotiated the walk from loris to murdoch uni wearing gloves for fingers about to turn numb. at quarter past 8pm, braved the cold with elaine, now protecting my head with a beanie. it will be colder in the next months and i wonder, how can i hold.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Finally! A Cooking Blog!

i have 'warned' long ago that the danger of vitti-blogs proliferating is when finally, i decide to launch a cooking blog. and now, finally, i am with The Writer Learns to Cook.  no, the Chicken Teriyaki is not my 'launching' dish as elaine has yet to send me the pictures from early this year when i indeed cooked a dish for public consumption. it's just that the link has been idle for the past months that i decided whaddaheck! i'm going to blog na now! so on the spur of the moment, just dropped by the shop to buy one green bell pepper and the rest is now blogstory.  i got this chicken recipe from nisa, janty's housemate. being indonesian, she makes this with a lot of chilli so pipol, we could experiment on it. try other vegetable combies like snowpeas, carrots, asparagus, spinach et al.  i still haven't discovered the wonder of herbs but if you do, perhaps you can add a little zing to the recipe but adding your own herb. gusteau is right. anyone can cook but only the fearless wins.  here cooking is not about winning. but a start to conquering one's fears. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our Rings Part 3

while on the other side of the world, a trying hard actress has called it quits with her much younger basketball player-husband, here i am about to tie the knot with the man of my life; symbolizing with the wearing of formal engagement rings, topped by the commitment rings we started wearing last march.

rings spell forever and while it is so sweet to pledge one to someone you truly love, it is quite hard to fathom in advance how much commitment it takes, and the challenge to it, as the both of you face life together.  this life, this world, which oftentimes, is not so kind.  the rings spell the never-ending hurdle with the downturns and the upturns; and as we all know, all separations and divorces all start with a promising beginning, either from the point of one or both of the lovers.  even in arranged or shotgun marriages, the promise lies, in making the marriage work.

i still am in the throes of being in love and being a 'veteran' of failed relationships (which i can still count with fingers of one hand) still does not make me an expert.  being in love at 40 is also not enough of a guarantee for love tests even the oldest of hearts, and the most wary.  it is not simply saying 'bahala na' or leaving it up to the future to unfold. 

so how indeed would i make my marriage work? where shall i draw strength, inspiration, patience, forgiveness, and balance? how can i draw the line between what my family need and what i need and how should i manage both?  perhaps the rings show the answer.  i would just not give up. i would not call it quits. i will stay up until midnight and morning; the whole day until another night unfolds, even if i need to meet him halfway. i will go round the circle even if i should be the stronger one carrying him.  there will be no death as long as we are alive, and even if only one remains, in this physical plane. 

the rings spell forever, and that forever is the courage to bear anything that life throws in its tenderness and fierceness.  our rings are in strong hands.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Past Three Days

where was i for the past three days? i was in a place full of loving, and more loving. it was so private , the internet cooperated. it just didn't work. so i had a decent excuse not to blog, despite the deepening hole in my pockets. the third day was the flight for perth and still, without access to wifi in singapore, i still couldn't blog. the hubby blogged for me instead, my ShadowMan, the man whose life and love matters.  today in perth, the atmosphere is as cold as the weather. i am wrapped up in a shawl, trying to keep warm from the 10C degrees outside.  i am the oldest in this house of four, but being private people, conversation is brief. it's not the place to be for a lonely heart but the heart beats anyway. this morning and about 730 tonight, i was with Yaman on skype, ShadowMan on SMS and one phone call, and thereafter, the cold night and the incoming winter has become bearable. ShadowMan says, he's just counting the days. more than days, i will be counting words, pages, and God willing, chapters.  but i will be there with you and Yaman. i will be there.  which is then my reality now? life with my two great loves or life with the study that defines me.  for the past three days, i suspended all this kind of thinking and just let it the days and nights flow. perhaps, i should not thinking too much but just love love love freely all the blessings that come in the wide-eyed smile of a daughter, the staunch committed love of a husband, and even, the persistent knocking of a research question for an answer. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Now Is The Time

when you said you wanted to pray
there was silence between us
the radio play had to be stopped
but found inspirational music in between
that was the time i felt very strongly
the moment coming so close

you were indeed leaving
it was like yesterday when everything was
to my reach
to my comfort
to my joy

now is the time to loosen up
now is the time to rid the grip
now is the time to say yes to the test (of love so effortlessly seen and felt)
now is the time to let go

goodbye for now my sweet forever
i will be seeing you in no time
do what you have to do
but when the time comes you need me
i am there, i am here, i am everywhere

see you because you said so
and see you because i said so

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


the shifting of worlds
from love one to another
from the carefree to fearful
from belonging to fitting in
vistas changing under one sky
here i bring the self
of a thousand faces
and one soul to keep
the permanence i seek
is just here inside me

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

As if It's Yesterday

in a few more days, i will be going back to perth. back to my work station where there are a 101 things to do in about three months. by this time, perth is already cold, winter setting in now, a cool 15 i'm expecting this sunday. 

the past 4 months have gone, and it felt only like yesterday. the difference is now, i will return feeling so much a wife and a mother. my phd still remains a milestone but it is now becoming a bridge to my future with the man i truly love. i am now a new daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt and friend to ShadowMan's circle --- a life within a life.  i've seen yaman grow taller and a little weight here (although still relatively thin at her age). i've seen yaman's malambing side, her caring nature, her helpfulness (she helped me pack!), her coolness (pacifying me to not get angry as i was cursing all the way to fixing my load to a flat 20kg).  mom and i are on a  mutual truce, and taking angeline's advice, to just take everything as is and to respect her pace. i've gone to almost all north-east-west-southern points of naga but wasn't able to spend much time with my bestfriends. gained weight but it's worth it after downing almost all soups, finger foods, and native bicol specialties the stomach could handle.  levelled off with yaman's yaya that although she could be one of the best in the world, she's still expendable. learned the joys of walking in naga city although it has yet to become pedestrian-friendly and how i've wished i've gone to carmelite.

there are 1001 things i did in naga and how i wish my memory is as keen, my hand as patient to write them all down here. i'm leaving my yesterday soon and tomorrow will be bittersweet. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

At 39

at 39
the cholesterol's good
blood sugar normal
UTI contained
repro tract intact
ovaries healthy
except for 8 breast lumps
hopefully benign

i don't hide my sorrows
i laugh deep
i've long accepted my defeats
i cry unabashedly and even on simple things
i refuse to die inside first
before the physical one

the next 50 years
i hope to live happily
with old, extended and new families
i hope to see wrinkles and gray hairs
walk until i need a cane
and be called 'lola'
i hope to see you
here again as i blog
at 78

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bites on Father's Day

on father's day
for you i wish
death for the inang bakulaw
rape for the sister bakulaw
car crash for the brother bakulaw
fatal heartbreak for the amoritis bakulaw
who started this all

sometimes fatherhood and motherhood requires hard decisions for self-preservation. for above us being fathers and mothers, we are persons to be treated, if not kindly, then even just fairly.   how much unruly behavior can one take? what straw will define the breaking point? at what turn could one just let righteous anger rule, and take cover? sometimes, stopping does matter. sometimes, people's pride need to be tested, for them to walk the walk, and really talk the talk. let love rest and take its course. if love lives, it will show.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Not Doing Anything

i was being cocky. before i left perth, i boasted to steph and elaine that i will be writing while on fieldwork.  one thing is accurate now though. trust the advice of people who have just been there and on the way back from the voyage. i could not even write one decent paragraph a day nor could i muster the strength to do anything related to the phd after a day of fieldwork. in the heat of doing interviews almost every day, my plans were to write notes in the evening or prepare transcripts outright.

but no, i don't have the strength once i see our front door, yaman's outstretched arms, the bed, and Shadowman's texts.  i have no more strength to stretch my brains or even just my hands. i am so beat at the end of the day.  after about 3-8 interviews, i feel like a mother confessor. the experience is just like reading the tarot. listening to and immersing into people's challenges and despairs could be so energy-zapping, draining.  the only 'miracle' is that i didn't get sick anymore beginning may. one thing i owe from a weekly massage that has also helped rid my morning sinusitis.

by the time i get home, i'm already numb to the point that my mind can only take on the TV. i would go from channel to channel --- the news, CNN, AXN, CI, then blank.  i'd rather play with yaman, look at her collection of drawings, talk to her about her classmates, about the lizards in the house, her love of gianne and gabe, her penchant for collecting flowers, and her pointing out of fave toys and bags  from avon, natasha and toy kingdom catalogues. in the evening, i'd rather bond with ShadowMan, feel him over the air and shower him with the same intensity, get a hold of my sanity and affirm the love i live and surrounding me.

a week from now, i will be preparing my transcripts, about 70 plus of them. if i get too serious with it, i will transcribe even the silences, the hesitations, the 'uhms' and 'ano' statements. transcribing would consume about a month. although at the back of my mind, i want to boast now and say, i will write a chapter along the way. but no, i'll set my plan to transcripts and whatever i can do on the side.  whatever. and that includes not doing anything after. not because i deserve it, but because i can take no more.

Friday, June 18, 2010


in my thesis, i hoped to focus on development effectiveness, to escape from the analytic rigor of studying development impact. i tried shooing out the thought that dole-out mentality persists despite the city government's and community organizations' exhortations of broad-based consultations and community organizing. the advice of michael pinches persists. instead of doing away with the study of impact, why not engage in-depth with the meaning of impact? similarly, the more i ignore the notion of dole-out mentality, the more it raises its ugly head. what other 'others' would manifest in my search for truths, my version of it, that remain elusive? how can engage the search for their alternative meanings? how can i render these meanings defensible? how can i retain truth-seeking within the discipline of politics or in such matter that still remains relevant to it?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


times like this
i don't know what to write about
my hate of sanitary pads with wings
my wonder if robin padilla really wears condoms
as much as he advocates them
the third day of walking
whether i should fight my confusion
or immerse on it
as i mull over words like
tenure security, impact, effectiveness
my sadness of leaving
my yaman and shadowman
i don't care now for sense
this is who i am now
like a top swirling here and there
but swirling to find
one's stable point
to finally earn the right
to rest and stop
one's hands, feet, and voice
to just stop
and cherish deserved endings

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

JingJing Walker

aware that i've gained about 10lbs since i got here last march, i'm making it up, in the fitness department, by walking long distance.  since yesterday, i walked from san francisco church (downtown area) to the waiting shed of sister therese subdivision. with my pace, i timed 75 minutes, at a start time of 5:38pm, taking the route from panganiban to the intersection of magsaysay and diversion, then turning right to the diversion to sister therese.  today, it's more or less the same route but longer since i started from the public market down to panganiban drive then turned right at hope christian school to this small access route connecting the new gma-7 station to the diversion road.  unlike the others though, this access road was still unpaved but being late afternoon when the route was less taken by vehicles, i was saved from the horror of dust blowing. 

i'm conditioning myself to walking long distances once more, my usual thing in perth since loris is a long way off from murdoch.  i chose to walk in the afternoon because the scheduling of interviews as early as 830am has robbed me of the privilege of doing morning walks.  although in this subdivision, our house is less than a km from the waiting shed, i have not done much walking since i got here last march. padyaks, or light pedicabs, are available and have spared me from walking under the scorching heat. in the urban poor sites visited, the issue is not the distance walked from house to house (they're either bunched up or just separated by a firewall) but the heat, not to mention the receptiveness of households to the interviews. 

i'm lucky because as i've discovered, it's a relatively downward slope from panganiban to diversion road. traffic may still be heavy past 5pm but the cool breeze and the absent sun makes the walk bearable. wearing crocs are also a plus. crocs are easy to walk in because they're light and the rubber has a cushioning, bouncy feel. the fieldwork bag may be heavy but wearing it on a sling helps in distributing weight across the body so i don't feel the burden.

walking long distance, although along panganiban, a busy and traffic-congested street, makes me see anew the city i love and leaving again very soon.  from panganiban bridge, i saw the bustling trade of motorcycles and bicycles, lending and insurance companies, bakeshops including one siopao center, laundry shops, mattresses, guns and ammo, and the medical profession in naga city.  we are a people on the go and truly entrepreneurial.  my soon-to-be breast surgeon, has another clinic here along panganiban, other than the one in elias angeles.  i saw the row of houses lying just beside the pnr tracks (about 750m long) that i wonder how true it is that pnr operations in bicol would revive by june 25 given this risk to the population (or is the population a risk to pnr operations?).  i saw that despite how much the city regulates traffic along panganiban, still, tricycles turn on 'no u-turn' signs, people cross outside of steel barriers, vehicles still don't stop for people using pedestrian lanes, while the opening of access roads from st. joseph and plaza medica will create two more choke points in the future, together with the existing two at lerma and blumentritt streets.  street hawkers (of green mangoes --- which is in season) could be also be found alongside its neat rows of commercial buildings. one can also eat log-log and kinalas along panganiban now in this resto with an awkward name, 'roamer's restaurant'.

i wonder what i will see again tomorrow, although i'm expecting to take another route and another scenery since i'll be coming from the city hall close to magsaysay avenue (after a very late 430pm interview).  so i'm shedding off pounds (hopefully) and building up a walker's perspective of naga city in my last week here. less of naga's beauty but more on its reality. enough reason to just keep on walking.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Punto de Bista

ang pag field disiplina sagkod pagpursigi. sa arog ko, disiplina na magmatang amay para maka-amay sa kakaulayun. para makaluwas na presko asin dai magadan-gadan kang init. pero sa aspetong pisikal man lang ini. ang disiplina garo iyo man ang pag-stick sa kahaputan na kaipuhan ning kasimbagan, sa dai pagbalga kan etiko na pag-hahapot asin pakikipag-ulay, sa pag-respeto sa kuro-kuro kan iba asin sa dai paglampas sa responsibilidad arog kang dai paghambog sa kaulay na ang tabang yaon sana sa ginigibong pag-adal. ang pagpursigi nagluluwas sa pag-ayon sa schedule na ginibo, sa mga planong kaulayon sa aldaw na ini, maski pa nagkukurahaw na ang bitis asin piad ning dikit na pahingalo. sa paghanap asin pagkua ning makakaulay. si pagtiyaga kan init, gutom asin ihi ta may importanteng kaulayon. nalingawan ko palan ang pagkamoot. dai man garo makakanuod ning disiplina sagkod pagpursigi kung mayong pagkamoot sa ginigibo. na mamutan ang mga hapot, asin proseso. na maglayon maghanap ning sadiring boses na mabalingibog kan sadiring pag-intindi sa katotohanan. ta ang katotohanan bakong itum saka puti lang. ang katotohanan dakulon kulay. entonses, dakulong paagi para hanapon ang katotohanan. dakulong katotohanan man talaga. iyo ini ang dapat dai malingawan kan sarong taos na nanaliksik ning katotoohan.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Doing a Ferriols

i've seen him only on a tribute sometime around 2008 posted in youtube. but the stories said of fr. roque ferriols sj is enough to put me in awe and wish, that for some time, even for a short time, i have studied in ateneo de manila. ferriols as one claimed is, 'the philosopher of meron'.  one story relayed to me, however, by a former jesuit and philosophy student (whom i love very much) was how ferriols would take off his sandals, and shake off the dust from it in case he's left dissatisfied by the performance of students in his philo classes.  like the apostles shaking the dust off their sandals in places where they are unwelcome. 

i did the same today. to this household, headed by policeman, who refused to accommodate a request for interview, in a manner unbecoming of the office and badge he carries.  despite my explanations that i'm a legitimate researcher, and that i've obtained clearances from the community president, UPAO chief and the city mayor, he would not budge. he refuses to confirm my identities with these people, even with the community president and his respective org president, because after all, he answered, he doesn't want to talk to me.  he even challenged me on how i would feel if the tables were turned and he suddenly appeared before me requesting for an interview. i had to explain again the reason why i'm handing him my name card and mentioning the names of people who referred him to me, to show him that i'm there for a study, and a legitimate one at that. that such a gesture is totally different from someone just butting in in front of him and demanding an interview without proper credentials.  but he would not take it.  so taking my name card back, i turned away, didn't look back, and had to resist, at my very best to contain my very worst, telling him how he burned away one hundred pesos for a lot he would never own. 

after reporting to the org official the incident, i went back to the house. in front of it, i took of my sandals, shook the dust of it, unmindful of the young men playing basketball witnessing the act.  i'm no apostle, and i'm not saying my study would solve the problems of the urban poor in naga city. i don't even know whether the city government would care to read my thesis.  all i know is that all negative energies of things unwelcome have to be left where they are.  that this is fieldwork. that of course, all is not smooth. not all will be cooperative.  that this is part of the experience. and that there is a way to express hurt on one's terms. do a ferriols. get mad but let it go. shake off the dust like mad and never return after doing so.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Man in the Shadows

To the Man in the Shadows
Spare me a few years more
For me to fulfill my dreams
And make those of my parents come true

Spare me the years
For me to enjoy OMD and Michael Jackson
To bask in the freedom of hawking
Over Paul Alvarez and Bud McGyver
To weave endless experiences
And unbroken tsismis
With Angeline and Josephine

Spare me the years
So I could enjoy my freedom
My youth, and the delights
That go with my age

To the Man in the Shadows
Please rise when the time has come
When it is time to leave my fantasies
And enter my reality

Do not be afraid to shine
On that fated day
The signs will appear
That you and I alone will acknowledge

Don't get disappointed with my fats
They will disappear in due time
Disregard my boyishness
I am a total woman inside
My glasses are no hindrance
They haven't dulled
The sparkle in my eyes

To the Man in the Shadows
Save yourself for me
For I am here waiting
Still waiting
Unceasingly waiting
Come to me when the time has come
When we need these shadows no more

This morning, my old diaries were found by Mom as she was rearranging, in the nth time, my Dad's files in our spare room.  My diaries are not dainty sophisticated notebooks with locks; but those company diaries (this one from Manila Bankers) Dad receives as gifts during Xmas or New Year.  The year was 1989, the first time I wrote about my idea of the ideal man, which I later on idealized in the poem above. My penmanship was steady that's why I knew, it was one of those rare moments when Grandfather Time and Grandmother Wisdom sat with the 18-year old and her deep longing for Shadowman who has yet to reveal himself. And that is just the beginning of the story...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Last and Forever

my love drive all the way from manila to naga to be with me. 8 hours or more of driving since 4am and his body was shaking still at around lunchtime. still, we managed to find and see each other in centro, after three weeks of being away from each other. forthcoming is a longer time of separation of about 12 weeks in the next months. we are one already. we think alike. talk alike. like alike. love alike. no two people have been more at ease, and totally effortless of each other than us.  i will die with his name on my lips. i will die with him owning my memories of now and the future. he will be the last face i will see, human or ghost. it is him. there is no other.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Selfish Me

lately, i have been so absorbed with how tired i am, or how hot the weather is in naga it's so energy-zapping that i have lost my sense of empathy to the people i've been in touch with for the past 16 weeks. i mean, my urban poor respondents. compared to their problems, my tiredness and complaints with the heat are miniscule. i complain of temporary discomforts while they, the partially and never paid and especially, the most indigent of them all, contend with so much more that could last their lifetimes, and even become a burden for their children and even, grandchildren.  suddenly, i am aware that i am just a speck in this entire existence, i should not dare complain.  am i learning to build empathy? am i finally learning to listen to the 'voice of humanity' calling?  am i really learning to care? am i really changing, for the better perhaps?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Defending my Daughter

when yaman's biological father chose not to fulfill his responsibility to her, the field was open for my decisions to thrive.  a day old, yaman was legally declared without a father. the item 'Name of Father' in the NSO birth record is marked 'UNKNOWN' upon the advice of the NSO representative regularly making rounds every morning in Mother Seton Hospital just to make sure their birth records are properly accomplished. i felt a bit insulted with 'unknown' since it could mean that i have bedded so many men to the point i don't know who the father is, an accusation wrongly hurled against me by the biological father just to bypass his responsibility. a cowardly act indeed.

thus, half-hurting and half-joking, i asked the NSO rep whether she's serious or not. then she explained that 'unknown' is the technical term officially approved by NSO for cases whenever the name of the father, and even the mother, is omitted in the records. the NSO rep pointed out that my initial answer to the item was wrong: 'not applicable', which on hindsight would further be inappropriate as it defies reproductive logic.

later would i realize that the decision not to name the biological father effectively relinquished his right over yaman. i realized this when i included yaman in my medicard application in 2006. being a single mother, i would not have been allowed to do so without the biological father's consent especially if he is named in the child's birth record. so without his name, further on, i was able to secure yaman's passport, enroll her in school, buy her life insurance without this very ironic complication of securing the signature and approval of a man who never wanted to do anything with her anyway since day 1 of my pregnancy.  yaman and i have been released and saved, from a harsh brutal coward.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

16-Week Old Thoughts

after 16 gruelling weeks, preliminary insights gathered from the micro-perspective of households are as follows:

1. tenure security is not just a function of the capability and/or willingness of the poor to pay but also by the State's handling of land and property transactions. as such, the State determines the conditions under which tenure security could prosper or not. this goes beyond regularization or formalization as tenure security would have to be sustained in time by strategies in land and property administration

2. the gap between Kaantabay policy formulation and implementation could be seen by the disjuncts in communication and the understanding of information.the gaps between expectations and actual output could be seen in critical points of difference in information provided, received, understood, and the corresponding responses of the urban poor. confusion lies on the many inconsistent ways in which policy is implemented based on the 1998 Kaantabay ordinance and how implementation compares by the time there was still no written policy before 1998

3. related to #2, organizations are therefore very critical in laying out policies on the ground to their members especially at the time when Kaantabay policy has not yet been formulated.  the control and monitoring of members' obligations and observance of do's and dont's appears to be an essential function of these organizations. in no way has this organizational authority been subverted or corrupted than in the selling of occupancy rights in the community

4. changing demographics such as the ageing of original awardees, the death of working spouses or breadwinners, have implications on how repayment performance would improve on the long run especially in lots, where for the past 20 years, have remained partially or never paid

5. tenure security, for the urban poor, manifest in more ways than just having a title: (i) keeping up with their obligations, and showing the willingness to pay their obligations; (ii) having been allocated with a lot to their name; (iii) absence of any threat of removal whether government or private entities; (iv) payment of taxes on the lot even if amortization is still unpaid; (v) verbal promise of non-removal by government officials; (vi) having a collective identity or strength in numbers through their respective organizations

6. the extensiveness of local governance mechanisms in naga city, especially at the barangay level, shows the extent in which the urban poor are able to manifest both their 'power' and 'dependence' on its political leaders. however, their power as a voting bloc has not translated to effective administration of Kaantabay. i think this is my entry point in studying the 'development effectiveness' of the program (as opposed to its development impact). the questions are why noble intentions have not been sustained into effective tenure security for the poor? why the city has remained good only to exploring options to accommodate entry of the poor in land and property markets but not on facilitating their eventual ownership of lots occupied?

7. collective identities tend to be threatened by the individualization of payment and titling although in some organizations, the leaders/ members are using their fully-paid status and even titled lots as enticements for members to do the same but to no avail as differences in financial capability remain insurmountable for some

8. the reason why lot amortization have the potential of being set aside or forgotten could lie on the absence of a mechanism that could enforce payment on one hand, and the bulky/ costly form of removal for non-compliance.  while lot amortizations could be considered an expense similar to water and power bills, the latter have regular notices of payment that could enforce compliance and where withdrawal of service, at non-payment, could be easily executed.  shelter is a good not easily given up, with attendant physical and emotional costs, that makes it hard to dispense with. there is therefore a double bind as far as shelter is concerned.  the difficulty of imposing payment is magnified by the difficulty in withholding or withdrawing service.

Community Leaders

two more organizations to go and i face the toughest of them. up to the 8th covered, the leaders were all amiable, willing to cooperate to the point of one disclosing more than i expected and helped change the course of this study as early as the 1st month. in these last two, the leaders tend to be either tight-lipped or busy or both. one of them gave a curt reply that no, he doesn't know which of his members are fully paid or not; and that, it would be better for me to look up their names on the UPAO list, the last thing on my mind since this agency happens to be utterly inefficient when it comes to recording.  in the other organization, the president was cooperative but busy so he referred two officials that could help me, one of them hesitant because they happen to be at odds in the political parties they're supporting.

my entry to any community in this study is dependent on its leaders as i strictly abide by the hierarchy operating in each. before talking to any household, i make sure that i have the permission of their community leader. not just to abide by ethical regulations, but also borne out of the respect for authority prevailing in a study area that i think is standard protocol in any research.  the receptiveness of community leaders is therefore critical at entry.  receptiveness therefore whether i could progress or switch to another community; a choice slim now as i have barely two weeks to go before flying off to wintery perth. hay, the tribulations of research!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


my mind is blank
refusing to think
leaving tomorrow
to tomorrow
and for events
to unfold as is

Monday, June 7, 2010

King Rafa

Hail to the King of Clay, World No. 1, 5th-time French Open Champion!

In an interview leading to the 2010 French Open Men's Final, Rafa, in reply to a query, declared that he was not playing for the title. That the finals would be a match he had to play, and had to play well. It did not even matter who his opponent was, turning out to be Robin Soderling who ousted him in last year's fourth round. No vengeance. Just plain master-class play. A real gentleman. The master of his class.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happy Love Nest

for the 2nd day today, ShadowMan has been busy packing and unpacking stuff in boxes, going up and down four floors non-stop, carrying heavy stuff, moderating the transfer and placement of things here and there, up and down here and there, boggling over door knobs, curtain rods, bathroom mirrors and what-have-you's to build a nest for little Wifey and the future brood.  women are supposed to fuss over these things but being on fieldwork and a tight schedule, Wifey  could do no more than just wait for updates and watch the progress of building-up in mms.  below are the pixes of the love nest of ShadowMan and his little Wifey, a first step towards our future togetherness, built step by step by firm hands, steady feet, and staunch hearts. 

The condo east of Manila.

 The living and dining areas a motif of whites and browns blending in for both Earth persons

The kitchen in progress. Yellow candle burning in line with SJ tradition.

His and Hers stuff in the bathroom.

Where love finds a resting and birthing place.

A breezy porch for stories and laughs over cold beer and hot coffee.

Thanks ShadowMan, for the first of many starts and continuities after 26 years...I'm so in love with You!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Claiming Alone-ness

this is the best time to be in perth. where i am not obliged to be with anyone. i could elect to disappear any time, and no one would care. i am done with my 50th interview, and i'm beat. no matter how much i planned it - that the first two months would be on interviews and the third and fourth on transcripts and validation - these never came to pass. little but pestering illnesses interfere, the heat, love commitments, sideline work, family, and the just natural law of everything not falling into place as willed, takes its course. i am beat, and exhausted, and a little sanitized already of the stories i'm hearing and absorbing. on two jeepney rides, i would hail the driver to stop and i would not alight. i sit rooted on the spot, mind elsewhere. as i leave the house and walk the 500 meters to the waiting shed, i do so with heavy feet. i had to muster a lot of concentration in every interview. consciously, i am thinking, listen to the story, listen to the story, care, care, care. because i know, at these times, i am hanging by a rope, now at the end of it. i need another rope, to swing by, and find my rhythm anew. i want to drown in the solitude of my aloneness, find my breathing space.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sleep My Sweet Forever

as you lie down in bodily exhaustion for a long day's work
shadowman is taking over
how he wishes he can just be there with you
to care and share
to nurture and cure
to mold and hold
to heal and feel 

sleep my sweet forever
tomorrow is a new day
tomorrow is a new promise
shadowman will be there as he is now
sleep my sweet forever

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Allerednic Story

i'm no rich kid, but i have this fear of falling from riches to rags. the reverse of the cinderella story by virtue of a bad decision, mistaken judgment or just plain destiny gone sour.  those that depress me most are stories of learned, capable, and strong-willed women who, because of the lack or resignation to it, opted for the choice of losing. of leaving fate to the wind, the vicious wind who care not what dreams it carries away.

i met such a woman today on fieldwork. a woman who once brokered houses and lots in naga city, sold jewelry, was a community leader and made friends with people in government, whose children were going to prestigious schools but now lives in a 4x8 skeleton of a house. with cardboards for a bed; her three grandchildren sleeping on now black dusty pillows. they were sharing the house with a host of cats and rats such that the house reeked of their urine and dung. on the floorboard below my feet, rats were walking to and fro.

but still it amazes me now how the 77-year old woman could still speak with pride of her lost years, her diction suggesting a schooled tongue although she was quite harsh in cursing one of her granddaughters for meddling during the interview. she betrayed no sense of shame of her condition, just her regrets that as a woman who has helped a lot of her neighbors in her prime, is now left to fend for herself, alone, lame, and unsupported. she lives in a shack while in the four lots next to her, four of her children live in the luxury of cemented solid houses.

is this poverty self-imposed? a kind of self-lashing for misdeeds of the past? living with her is her youngest daughter, the mother of the three, out on work joining a trucking enterprise for quarry materials. as she recounts her daughter's misfortune in marriage, i was wondering they are on this together, this self-imposed poverty; the mother enduring whatever fates befell the daughter because she deserves it too. am i a cynic for thinking this way? as i am still ruled by my belief on karma although there is a nagging thought: what if fate is also undeserved? what if we are not rulers after all of our fates? that we are as helpless to the elements of life - the scorching sun, the harsh winds, raging storms, and icy winters - and that God plays dice instead? amidst all my spoken questions to this dear old woman, i have found no answers to those left unsaid. these are fears that i could not fathom, do not want to face yet, at this time.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pag-Ibig Kong Kama

ako na lang sana ang unan
sayong ulo'y pahingan
ang higaan na sasalo
sa pagod mo't
ano mang pakiramdam
ang kumot na babalot
sisimot sa iyong piling
sasamahan ka buong gabi
magdamag na katabi
hangga't iyong iwan
handang maghintay
ngayon at sa darating
na bukas at wagas
sayong-sayo lamang

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lumps in my Breasts

there are 8 masses in my breasts, 5 in the right and 3 in the left. the mammogram taken around april registered only three, mainly on the right; with the left, filled mainly with small globules. too many to tell said the analyst/ lab assistant. the breast ultrasound taken yesterday was more refined in showing the formations now shaping up in each breast.

with one mass an exception, the seven others have been declared 'benign', based on the sonologist's expert opinion. still, my OB-gyne was not pleased as the sonologist described them as 'solid' masses. she was hoping that these would be described as 'cystic', as it would mean the masses are just membranes filled with water, which is no big deal. the solid lumps dominate the right, with the largest measured at 2cm.

 Lumps in the Right Breast

the problematic mass, for now, is in the left breast. specifically lying at 2 o'clock, the term doctors use to locate the position of the lump with reference to a standard clock. it is a very small lump, barely traceable, just beside the left armpit. unlike the clearly-defined boundaries of solid masses, this mass is a bit dispersed, with no discernable walls at 1 x 0.6cm.  although the OB-gyne was careful at first not to hint at it, she let herself away when she asked whether our family has a history of breast cancer. a question i took jokingly by answering that no but if there's ever one, i would be the first.

 The 'intermediate nodule' is on the second row, right.

no, this is not cancer. the biopsy which i have scheduled by october this year would determine whether it is. for now, the diagnosis is just lumps, with a suspicious one on the left. in writing about it, i am sort of breaking the 'bad' spell by declaring it to the world. much like what people do when they have bad dreams. on waking up, it is said, one should break it open by telling the dream to anyone who could listen. in some, the bad dream is told to a bark of wood to absorb the negative energy. superstitious as i am, i am doing the same thing. i break it out to you in advance, this is not cancer.