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)

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