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, March 31, 2013

Dreams and Doubts

i dream of airports.
in a hurried state, mistakenly taking one's luggage

i dream of playing with the daughter
taking care of the sister's new baby

i dream of working in a foreign consulting firm
yuppie professionals around, quite irresponsible

i dream of men with poking questions
why am i not moving on with the thesis?

quite close, but not as yet
doubts will be silenced as soon
the last major chapter closes

Saturday, March 30, 2013


in the spirit of the Holy Week, there are no intentions to raise as the Church is in mourning. one can only submit to the Wisdom of the One Up There as days unfold and end with alternating relief and frustration. there must be something at work here. something that has yet to manifest itself.

Friday, March 29, 2013

No Surrender

it's like being dipped in cream and chocolate. one day you're hot, one day you're tentative and the panic button gets to screaming again. more than once, i look forward again to my walks along South Street. where i can brood over how my writing has been for the day, what needs to be done, and how i'm going to get from one week to another, like tracing an arrow to a virtual calendar up the sky, backgrounded by the setting sun. there are times when the spirit just wants to give up. times when the thinking strays to perhaps this thesis has to be finished elsewhere. but until i'm here, entitled to this chair, this space, this log-in access, i will stay here. and i will write here. even if i bleed. even if the deadline is like death ready any time swallow me in whole. i will not surrender. i will keep on writing. until there is no more left to do but step out of this door and pack my bags for home.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Smoking Hot

if dearth defined the past few days, today it's 1583 words in five hours, and that's only with the last major chapter. Thank You Lord! there's enough energy to plumb from the depths of desperation.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


vitti, there is no shortcut to the process. in a day, you should write your last major chapter, revise your intro, read, then end with your revisions.  you have to write, read, and write at the same time. that's the sequence, and that's compulsory.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beginnings Soon

on mornings along south street, airplanes would come in sight, leaving perth and going up up up there in the air to the place of home by people on board. on day soon, i will be among them. it does not matter what emotional loads i would carry on the way back to the philippines, the reason to go back is now heavier than reasons to stay further on here in perth. i long to start my life over, and that would begin on the first step on my native soil.

Monday, March 25, 2013


if the best way to solve a problem is to face it,
then the best way to finish a thesis is to write it.
yun lang.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Longing for Family

today my family just had a sumptuous dinner at max, to celebrate gab's graduation. i long for the company of family. if not for the next three months of harrowing writing, i would be excited by now. but there's no excitement in the air, only heaviness for what remains to be done before the luggage up there, and down here will be taken out, for the packing to start.  to be with my family is a long long wait.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Over Skype

[7:31:21 PM] Yaman Valenzuela: pag bumalik ka na dito pag umaga mag rest ka muna para pag hapon pupunta tayo sa SM para charged up ka

- Opo anak. Please pray hard na matapos na dito si mommy. Ang hirap na ng sinusulat ko. Kinakaya ko na lang.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Surviving Calvary

on the way to a long weekend, the attitude is to just endure the process at it unfolds. although time is slowly passing by and running out, sometimes in a phd writing life, one comes at a point of accepting that some things had to be written first to be able to start with one and conclude the last major chapter. when will you shape up, my last major chapter. let's hope we survive the calvary of writing in my last Holy Week, so far, this year, in Perth.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In-In Pa Din

i know. the place of the socioeconomic profile is outside of the main thesis. but it still has to be written for me to appreciate better what the people i am writing about are going through. for household tenure that has yet to be written in two sections, the thought process is ongoing. nag in in pa din si vitti.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Best of What Is

in the face of a deadline, one could be very hard on one's self. it takes some sense to consider that in working on a first draft, the strive to perfection may not be the better goal. rather, it is better to aim for writing that flows in terms of what is 'best' to do with the data at hand. and that 'best' need not mean writing within the 10,000 word-limit in one go. it may even mean letting go of the word limit, and shutting out the incessant editor that leads to the idling of ever-flowing thinking. so in a very first draft, better take inspiration at heart and have it manifest in the writing. it would be easier to cut in later stages, than to regret not writing about this and that when the opportunity presented itself. hang on for dear life, vitti, but give it the best that you can, always.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


just get it done. the best for every day. the best analysis that you know how. the best that you know through experience. don't care about what they say muna. just write on and iron out the kinks later. now it's time to go home. stop in the middle of the sentence. you will continue tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Content with Today

not the speed of writing that counts, but the care in writing when numbers are involved. may have been slow today, but the words were sure and the numbers are accurate. tomorrow the writing will flow as is.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

No Wife

soak and wash flags
prepare breakfast
take out cold cuts from freezer
prepare for mass
prepare lunch
cook two meals for the week
cut cos
transfer meals containers
wash utensils
prepare dinner
wash utensils
still to fold dry clothes

i need a wife.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pang Asar

Yaman: mommy wag ka na magpa-kalbo...

ako: bakit naman?

Yaman: paano kung pupunta ka ng neptune, eh kalbo ka!

ako: hindi naman ako pupunta ng neptune.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Inner Voices

keep it simple.
control yourself.
don't think too much.

it takes a lot to strength to swallow one's pride. that if the writing is not working, the thinking is also not working. on to the last chapter vitti. you will finish it. let go of this week's hassles and face the challenge of the intro tomorrow. you can do it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

No Perfection

after getting through the structure and the strategy of how the discussion will flow, tomorrow, the editing mode will be off. until the second section is finished. until the last two sections are drafted. done with perfection. there is no such thing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


have scarf and
will wear a turban over
this head as protection
from the winter
cold as ever now in
march where the
sun suddenly
elusive, too early

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Our Colors Two

someday the truth will be told
in your drawing pad
the sun will mark the day
two figures in crayons
one yellow, heavy with a baby
and a heart of love in between them
the one in black
so the other thought
the other one left behind
to love anew
the beautiful baby out of her
the new green
and then comes
another one in blue
who will send hearts
and more hearts over the paper
until in time they fade and fade
dulling into loss of memory
and too, the one in blue goes
it is not the black or blue
no longer do they matter
the yellow and green remaining do
the truth of life that throbs
in real color
that never doubts
never fades
and never forgets
only the two of us remain
and so shall it be

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stats and Furies

tomorrow, the stats will be dealt with for the first time. i will engage the furies again and work in between compromise and accommodation to get what i understand of the truth, across.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Facing Tomorrow

another work week. an ongoing struggle with the last chapter. how to write clearly, cleverly and concisely in 10,000 words about the urban poor in naga city and what tenure security is in their experience and its meaning in their place within the larger society. how to take my mind off going home; and instead, what must be done to rightfully get home. home is such a long way. the distance measured in three months, 7 chapters, 100,000 words and 1 writer.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


i should be reminded that in the stage of revisions, not only my thinking is changing, but also my supervisors. especially with the full draft in view. time is the only concern then. i accept the harrowing process of revising, but whether i have enough time to engage in continual repetitions, that is uncertain. perhaps in may or june we will know. i do not aim for the perfect thesis. passable is enough.

Friday, March 8, 2013


ang layo pa ng umaga
kailan kaya matatanaw a
ng bukang liwayway
ang kapatagan
ang daang palabas ng kakahuyan
na kung saan maluwag
maaliwalas at maaraw
ang tanawing sasalubong?
hanggan saan
aabutin ang  buntong hininga,
ang malalim na pag-iisip
saan ang patutunguhan ba?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What Is Your Standpoint?

Clarify your understanding, clarify your writing.

My standpoint is, how does the political process actually improve the lot of the urban poor, in terms of: (1) their needs and interest on land; and (2) the representation and embodiment of their interests by others?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Prepping Up

it's shaping up. it's not a perfect phd. but the evidence is consistent with the arguments. the writing still has to be improved in ways more direct to the point, with more punch (according to jane), just the right detail and less of the footnotes. the last chapter can't wait to be finished. but we're there now. we're there now.

Monday, March 4, 2013


survived until chapter 4. the entire thesis has been restructured from 9 to 7 chapters. chapter 3 has been reorganized to consist of political economy before self-administration. chapter 4 now combining the political economy of self-administration and naga city's model of it. to deal tomorrow with the questions and arguments for chapter 5 and 6. and then chapter 7, which will just unfold. just as chapter 6, which have yet to be written. but it is shaping up. in my bones, i am whining to pack, to book, and fly out of here. but endure  the abstracts i must, the chapters, the revisions, the formatting, the finalization, the submission. i have to stay put.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Abstracts and the Valley

after abstracts made for the intro, review of literature, and a background of the Kaantabay program, there is a sense that the framework is solid and the arguments likewise. tomorrow while a public holiday here, the routine continues. to write the last major chapter (no longer in denial - it's no longer a section) and while allot 2 hours, one in the morning and another in the afternoon to finalize the abstracts for chapters 4 and 5. as it is organized so far, the thesis will contain 7 chapters, including the intro, lit review and conclusion - which leaves four major chapters in all. surviving the thicket of this mountain is a rough process. while i can see the valley from where i stand, the path downhill is more tortuous, more sinister, more testing. but in four months time, a secure landing is expected. the valley is home, and it is not just perth.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Strong is a Conscious Choice

it is possible to bawl and cry like elaine. it is possible to stop writing chapters just because. it is possible to cry endlessly until tear ducts dry out. it is possible to choose starvation, depression, compulsive eating, or wanton drinking. it is possible to even shack up with druggies, sex maniacs, smelly hippies, any loser. it is possible to hollow out by living in regret and shame. but these possibilities could all be erased by choice, a conscious ever-present decision to always remember that like writing, the only way to move forward is to construct the day with small to-do's, targets too short-term but with meaning as it accumulates in the long term. being strong is a conscious choice. the strength is in not ever losing sight of how important it is.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Own Truth

tomorrow i confront the chapters and the structure of revisions. although i am not in the revision stage. butterflies in my stomach on whether i'm really doing it right. how ironical, to finally confront the question whether i am really answering my question, after having written more than 100,000 words. how ironical to finally assess the framework, amid this strong self-belief that it is solid and consistent. a deep long sigh that i get to survive my own truth.