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, August 31, 2011


fr. jerry orbos related the story in one homily about love. it was about an experiment on two babies, one separated by the mother and given the best that hospital care and technology had to offer in terms of food, 24-hour attention, adequate ventilation. the other baby was left to the care of the mother, also in hospital. the sad ending was, the baby nurtured by artificial forms of love died (which makes me think what a ghastly and unethical experiment it is to sacrifice the death of a child!) while the other one lived. 

on the emotional side, my life here seems to be that of a baby dying under artificial forms of love, in a country that is not mine. indeed the air is fresher, the skies more blue. i have none to ask in terms of material comfort and studying with a scholarship provides perks and less financial worry for an international student. but as i've told the hubby last night, i feel like i'm thinning out inside. i feel like my herbs who without my daily touch on their stems and leaves, and water that sieves through my fingers, they die or in danger of it. i need my family - my daughter and my hubby, and my whole family, imperfect and rowdy they may be at times. i need laughter in the air. i need smiles enough to brighten a gray sky. i need the touch of love, from forms that the senses can feel to the tug in my heart from gestures unexpected. i need to be home. i long for home.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yaman's Working Out! (Part 2)

Yaman looks very excited here. Naka rubber shoes pa yan.

On the move na with Tita.

Changed position to give them enough space for kicking.

Doing simple aero now.

Doing side stretches for cool down.

Lunges to stretch those shoulders and knees.

Arm reaches naman for about  3 times.

Goofing off na with Tita!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Yaman's Working Out!

barely 6, my daughter is already 'working out'. with her tita in leggings, she is in shorts and matching rubber shoes. they're doing simple aerobics with kickboxing, an exercise promoted by anne curtis and luis manzano. at 6, yaman detests the thought of menstruating and is claimed to like exercise so she won't get fat. i won't get judgmental at all with this. she has the right to keep healthy (now is why not working --- can't upload the pictures! what a shame!)

Sunday, August 28, 2011


only if one can love in and despite the pain can one give unconditional love. and unconditional love can extend not only to family, or close friends but also to one's beliefs, one's sense of politics. if we cannot love as He loves, then why were we ever made in His likeness if only to fall short of being?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Far Away Family

today, the daughter and hubby saw each other for about 3 hours. i wonder whether yaman asks herself why they need to sleep in different houses. why as her daddy, he could not be there where she is? does she wonder why mommy stays in the same house too when she's here in naga, but not him? these questions could be answered but not in the way perhaps that is normal, but which to the mind of a child would suffice. in set-ups brought about by parent absenteeism and de facto partnerships, children contend with environments that just are. it is us conditioned by the normality who question.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Political Mind

the steady hand, around 245pm, started typing, churning out connections and meanings from here and there, stopping to really check the premises and positions, then within an hour churned 197 words for the day. a measly proportion on the absolute but a feat nonetheless on the relative space of one hour. you can do it vitti. you can write with a political mind. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Paos sa Pagsulat

it's still an aberration. ever since i started doing this phd in 2009, i would lose my voice every time the writing becomes intense and heavy. why is that? indeed it is unusual. i remember elaine laughing when she asked me. 'bait ka paos' and i replied, 'nagsulat kasi ako'. that was in 2009. and indeed, in a day spent with just my pc and writing away, by 5pm my voice would just fade away. just like today. the hubby has already gotten used to it. after writing 1049 words today, here i am with labored husky voice. i don't know the connection. must be the lack of vocal exercise while the hands are drumming away.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


My notes are beginning to record how I deal with low self-esteem.  I look forward to looking back with pride to this note dated 15 August 2011 at 10:29 am.  The time is far off but I would like to believe I'm getting there. Below I wrote, "I start from the very beginning because I should know the beginning." This refers to the need to study politics and political analysis from scratch. At 40, still doing Politics 101.

As much as I have to learn how not to be easily convinced, so should I develop the faith to be convincing in the directions being opened up by reading the literature on development.  Convincing others, and not just myself, is one way to go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


if stupidity is a crime, then our jails would be consumed by the lot of couriers, phone officers and officials of Citibank.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Writing Will Save

the start is the hardest point in writing. so the key is not writing the perfect argumentative integrative sentence. it is to just write whatever comes to mind, even crap. the perfect argumentative integrative sentence will not come barking out from the window, but from out of ideas and sentences thrown into the page, and edited, and refined, and perfected. don't worry so much vitti. writing will save.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A One-of-a-Kind Jane Austen Collection

found myself early in Fremantle today. went to Elizabeth's Second Hand Bookshop to look for a Dr. Seuss book for Yaman until i found these on the front display. in entering the shop, went to the left side and upon turning to my right, saw the green stacks. so these are why i held off buying jane austen online. these ones are just perfect. an early christmas gift for me.

The most popular writings of Jane Austen in leather-bound in green. The entire collection costs only A$60.00.
The entire collection is gold-rimmed, with threaded bookmarks.
The books are relatively unread. Pages fresh and crisp.
The book just fits my hand. It can be carried anywhere and even in a sling bag.
In readable script too. So it fits the ageing eyes of the old Vitti.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wika ni Yaman

how does one translate 'i miss you' in filipino? how about 'good night'? does 'mahusay na gabi' sound good to your liking? Yaman is speaking filipino today, carried over from their school's celebration of august as the 'buwan ng wika' last friday. she'd asked, 'kasal ka ba mommy?' while deciding whether to address me as 'bini-bini' or 'ginang'.  i'm proud to have raised my daughter in tagalog. english she picked up later in school. i resisted the urge to talk to her in english while she was still very young; in my belief that being filipino is founded strongly on one's ability to understand and command the language.  not the least, of the brain's ability to stay alert and focused when enriched with 'exercise' on more than one language.  now, she's also comfortable with bicol and could speak straight english as she talks to her teachers and classmates. it is my wish that someday, we'll learn a new language together (spanish may be because this i can still catch up with).  tonight in bed, i bet she's singing 'Ako'y Isang Pinoy' by Florante for the nth time. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Heavy Works

i named this blog LIGHTWORKS because i want my writing to flow without judgment, especially from me. i want to write without the conditions of propriety or primness, or the desire to please. the mood will dictate or how the experience for the day unfolded. i can talk radically about any mainstream issue or just go with the flow because i believe. the only condition therefore is honesty to me. 

i am now at the stage of my PhD of developing my own theoretical framework for the study, the initial strategy of which is to frame an existing framework by which fieldwork and secondary data could apply.  but as of today, none fits; which is both a boon and a curse. a boon because it reinforces my study's uniqueness but itself a curse, because at this time, i am still not sure how unique my study is. a hazy outline i can see but the contours are far from perfect.

i have not been writing since submitting section 2 of chapter 5 last july 21. constrained from doing do by the need to read, and to re-read with different eyes. which means not just serious appreciation but an overarching view of what authors are saying (about housing policy, tenure reform, reform in general, state-society relations and the middle ground), what they're saying means to the case study, and where i would position myself. further meaning, from what position will i agree, disagree, and establish the concrete directions of the thesis. 

a thesis is of course incomparable to a blog. but i do would like to emphasize the shifts in gear with the writing style, the writing discipline and the writing-thinking mind.  to argue in a thesis is not to rant as in a blog. to make a point is to cite and not to vaguely refer to that 'someone' or 'something'. the perhaps is replaced by saying, 'to suggest'. to open and articulate arguments that would be factual but at the same time contestable and falsifiable.  the key is consistency in theory, arguments, claims and evidence.  these constitute heavy works. time to roll up our sleeves and get on with the dirt. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yaman, Salamat sa Diamond!

it's like magic. yaman asked what our (her mommy and daddy's) favorite shapes are.  it's a circle for her daddy. and for me? i asked her, 'do you know mommy's favorite shapes?'. yes, mommy - heart, flower, star...(but there's another one, i said to myself)...and...diamond! the pride in her face apparent for having 'guessed' rightly. but it was not a guess i know. it was from her subconscious, her social memory, etched by the uniqueness of our relationship and her memory of that. perhaps when she was still very much young, we drew diamonds together. perhaps i pointed it out in one of her shapes books. but she remembered. yaman remembered. only a daughter could remember that way, just out of nowhere.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've Found My Framework

cupped my head after finishing the last paragraph on another but less technical and easily accessible essay on structure and agency.  my mini-analysis of this article and the highly technical jargonized one yesterday are tucked the folio of draft chapters and supe comments.

these would be the guides in outlining the form and direction of this thesis.  it helped. writing parts of a major chapter first. because the writing unearthed turning points in strategies and relationships (actor-oriented and thus, agency-focused) as well as the socioeconomic and political conditions under which these materialized (condition or structure-oriented). 

initially, for the past three weeks, i couldn't find where i'm going to situate my findings and arguments. made diagrams, drew the linkages and environments enveloping the units of my analysis (households, urban poor organizations, Naga City's institutions), alongside studies on social capital and structural political economy. 
finding out the 'structure-agency' framework was like being bitten by a snake. it has been there all along and my slow old mind was no longer that adept in discovering.  in several ways, the tone of structure-agency parallels the building blocks and political pathways to social capital formation elaborated by Jonathan Fox (also one of the frameworks in which my chapter 5 was based). 

so here i am, tired, somewhat prepared (braced for the challenge of 'defending' a framework against self-doubt) but happy. because now i have an anchor for which to ground and build the thesis. the structure-agency framework is like the foundation in which a house is built. it determines not only the size of house, but also whether it will be made by wood or cement, how many storeys can it support, how resistant would it be to nature and for how long the house could stand without considerable repair. 

i know i can finish this thesis. i will.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Manic Monday

i forgot to blog yesterday.  by the time i discovered it, i was well tucked in bed, the cold not enough reason to get up, including the need to sleep before, at most 10pm.  my mondays here are a whirlwind and yesterday was no different. after preparing a long biblio on a sociological text on the topic of structure and agency, the cooking started around 330pm already. with lord of the rings part 3 on the telly, had to rack up lamb nilaga; beef giniling with zucchini, green beans and bell pepper; and shrimp sinigang before 6pm, with a little experimenting on pumpkin-green beans fritters on the side.  by the time the dishes were washed and the stored in plastic containers, discovered upon entering the bedroom that there were dried clothes to be folded and a bed to be covered with fresh linen.  this is just me. without the hubby and daughter. and still i just couldn't stop, can't. as much as i want to.  the only window for resting was the 1-hr wait for the lamb to soften. 1 hour in an 18-hour working day.  and i'm just caring for me. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Virtue of Deafness

faced with all this negativity, i remember the fable of the frog. who ran a race blind and hobbling on one leg. her fellow frogs were croaking and taunting her throughout the race because of her condition.  but nonetheless, she went on and finished the long hard race.  over mountains, raggedy cliffs, turbulent rivers, scorching sun and hapless rains (wow, the race took days really!). she may have finished last but finish nonetheless she did.  and those at the finish line wondered how she was able to persist with all that raucous croaking, meant to disable her spirit. it turned out that the hobbling blind frog was not only blind and hobbling, but also...deaf. 

as much as we meant to listen with our ears, so too must we learn to discern good from bad advice, raucous cry from encouragement. and should the croaking drown the good words, the best way out of defeat, out of succumbing to low self-esteem is to shut out one's ears from the rabble. 

serena and venus williams did not reach the heights of tennis by succumbing to racial slurs while they play.  rafael nadal could play and win in any surface because he did not mind the crowd.  billy mills won the Olympic gold in the 10000-m run in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics despite biases to his native American-ness. 

focus is achieved, sometimes, not just by looking ahead but by blocking noise from the outside world.  being deaf has merits in that long hard climb to fulfilling our dreams. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Short-Term Memory on Things Political

import substitution, export-led industrialization. crony capitalism. i have read them all before. but have been forgotten.  the many treasure chests in my mind have buried them, deep deep down and it's taking a while to plumb the depths. i must have known all these by heart but have forgotten and now at 40, i'm not only struggling to remember and understand, but to also retain.

Friday, August 12, 2011


i am not even worth one peso to my mom...
kung mangumusta di magawa
pisong load pa kaya ipauubaya?
wala, wala
tanggapin ang katotohanan
ang pagiging ina ay sa salita lamang

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Home Invasions in Perth

gone are the days in perth when front doors were left open, including screen doors.  for the past four weeks, there's been a spate of home invasions, not only targeting the elderly but young couples alike.  ten years ago, a similar pattern could be recalled. juvenile thugs breaking, entering, and stealing from the homes of the elderly, usually in the daytime. although i live along a busy street, i'm still not comfortable. it's the brazenness i'm afraid of.  stealing is not done in stealth but with outright menace and violence.  as if the law would not catch up with them.  and indeed where is the law when on tv, the chief of WA police announces that people protect themselves by making sure their doors are locked, windows have grills etc.  and what are the police  supposed to do? wait until the next home invasion? it's not reassuring to be told to self-protect. it gives the impression of the law as reactionary. we need active protection from the state. for a country that counts violence as not home-grown and therefore, alien, blind policies rule.  hey australia, watch out for your youth boiling in anger. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


hubby had a nasty rhinitis
roxanne left for taiwan
Yaman grew 3cm taller
and the readings remain...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On to July 2012

how far is july 2012?
11 months
44 sundays
330 skype sessions
8 chapters
100,000 words

Monday, August 8, 2011

Creamy Chicken

Saute chicken in garlic, white onions and ginger.  Simmer for 5 min then add chicken stock (1/2 cup).  Season with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika.  Simmer for another 20min in low heat.  Add thickened cream (3 tbsp) then the veggies (here we have pumpkin, green beans and bell pepper). C'mon, let's eat!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Poor Mom

i've missed skyping sessions with yaman for the past 3 days na. i should be tough but this time, i am melting in my own insecurities.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My First Roasted Chicken

For this recipe, you need 1-kg free range chicken (the meat is sweet, I guarantee).  Pre-heat oven to 180c fan-forced (200C if not).  Stuffing is made up of crumb mix (1 cup), lemon juice (1/2 cup), lemon rind (1/2 piece), thyme, salt and pepper. Just combine and stuff into the chicken cavity.  Add chicken stock should a wet mix be desired.  Tie the tail, legs and wings with long string.  Spread olive oil (2tbsp), thyme, salt and pepper over the exterior.  Cut pumpkin and carrots in quarters and toss into a separate bowl of the same olive oil mix.  Lay out the veggies around the chicken.  When the chicken is ready, cook for 1.5 hours. Every 15 minutes, baste the chicken and veggies with chicken stock (available in stores).  Basting will produce crispy and juicy chicken skin.
This is the finished product (half of it he he).  Roasting finished well after 12pm. The hungry me immediately tore the thigh off (left side), wing and neck before taking this picture. So pasensya na. But the picture still did justice ano?  It's really juicy and mildly tasty. Di nakakasawa. Try it! C'mon, let's eat!

Friday, August 5, 2011

With Wide Open Arms

the Hubby got his aus visa today! our itinerary has been mapped out --- the food trips, the nature cum church trips, the walking tours, the sydney foray and the nesting place at windelya...welcome my hubby...can't wait to share australia with you...

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I take cos lettuce every other day, for breakfast.  I find it better than coral lettuce because it's greener and crisper. This bunch costs about A$2.99 (PhP134.55) in the regular shop but only A$0.99c (44.55) at Stock Road, a farmer's market where Roxanne usually buys veggies. 

The lettuce is prepared by cutting across the leaves and storing them in plastic containers like this.  At breakfast, I just get about a bowlful (about 6-7 bowls), top the leaves with tuna (fresh from the can), fresh lemon juice and cherry tomatoes (about 6 pcs).  I have an instant yet healthy and complete breakfast na.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Monkey's Off!

i feared approaching the theoretical framework. instead of avoiding it, faced my fears instead. and went on to read. it's not much but it's a start. i too accepted the possibility that it will be a long, rigorous process.  conditioned myself that my brain and eyes and resolve would be tested to straining. it's ok. i should have more to worry if this phd turns out to be easy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Gut Speaks

You cannot pretend to be what you are not. 

Go back to your original position. 

There you will find your theory.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What's in a Monday?

Monday involves...

doing the laundry
vacuuming my room and dusting desks and furniture (every two weeks)
vacuuming the whole whose starting from the common spaces (including toilet and bath) fronting the bedrooms, the dining, the living room, the receiving area, and the kitchen
scrubbing and disinfecting the toilet clean
mopping the floors...

cooking lunch
cooking lunch baon for the next 5 days
cooking dinner
bringing dried clothes in and folding them
putting on fresh bed linens...

ay kapuy...