Influences (or Why I Write the Way I Do)

Natalie Goldberg (free-flowing writing)
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (wild woman writing)
Jane Hutchison (direct-to-the-point writing)
Ernest Hemingway (simple words writing)

Friday, December 31, 2010


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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year of Michael

a miracle in front of my eyes.

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

tired from driving 377km since 559am today.

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

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

i have much to be thankful for this 2010.

thank you for bringing me back my Michael.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Writing and New Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Today

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

our neighbor's son invited Mom to his marriage tomorrow

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Hoods

first my sincere apologies for not blogging for 2 days.  

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

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

it's love. great deep love.

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

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yaman and Jastin (Justine B) Part 2

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

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Posterity Bench

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

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yaman's Prayer

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

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's in a Gift?

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

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010


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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Body Toll

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Raya and the Barefoot Queen

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


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

Monday, December 13, 2010


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

Sunday, December 12, 2010


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

Saturday, December 11, 2010


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

Friday, December 10, 2010


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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Places I am

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bonding over Bubbles

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm Home

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

When the Food Fails...

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

Sunday, December 5, 2010


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

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Worth Missing the Blog

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Daddy and Pinoy Folk Rock

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Past

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