28 December 2003

Fire Play

I treated myself with Catch-22, Pesto, Four Seasons and Fire in the Sky.

Straight from a mediocre day at work, I hung at the Town Center to wait for the fireworks display at 7:00 pm. I came there at 5:30 and went to PowerBooks to engage myself in book-hunting; and the gold I found was Joseph Heller's Catch-22. I'd been wanting to read this book for four years already and it was just a while ago that I took possession of it. Scouting the bountiful bookstore took much time, but it seemed to have flown so fast as I clearly immersed myself in the wanderland of words.

After the book-hunt, I went to Seattle's Best to taste their new fruit juice concoction. The Four Seasons wasn't disappointing. I finished my snack then checked my watch: 6:30 pm. Time slowed down.

I stood from my chair and readied myself to leave. Passing by the town plaza hallway, I saw the pack of people at the center of the square. I was wondering if there was a concert ahead, or other performances. I asked someone what the fuzz was all about and he mentioned the fireworks. Without thinking, I sat on the bench and stilled myself for a while. I browsed through my new book, and what do you know, it's a few minutes before seven.

And then it was 7:00 pm. An announcer introduced the fireworks display and a number of firecrackers were set ablaze. I was amazed by the unabashed display of excitement of the crowd. They were wowing from the onset of the sky show.

In my view, the sky wasn't a clear slate. There was a tall tree at the forefront and so there were leaves and some branches overlapping the display of fire play.

Marguerite Yourcenar tells of the stars' light that often only astonishes and enlightens, but doesn't warm. I didn't find any enlightenment by the dazzling and distant lights I just witnessed, but I was absolutely indulged in delight. I was spoiled by the fancy display of fire. More than anything else, I felt a strange warmth. A strange relief. I figured it was sourced from the oohs and ahhs of the people around me. I was one with them in that minute and minor pleasure. My bones softened at the sight of colors fusing, with cold and black as their backdrop--with people with different businesses to mind afterwards. I felt that no one among us there--at that moment--was shallow. Euphoria is difficult to quantify. Pleasure is in itself its purpose.

At that point when I realized I was enjoying myself, I looked at my watch to see the time and hoped that there were still more to come. Like with all good things, I became afraid of the fireworks display's conclusion. Like many good things, it was for free. My watch read 7:04. Fast. Fast gone as the embers erased by air, immediately after the fire. After the light.

The warmth lingers. And that is why I am writing this. To extend its life.

25 December 2003

A greeting, a wish

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves

—Robert Frost
May the gift we give be the beauty that is ourselves, the way Jesus did.

01 December 2003

Gestures of grace

What you have is not yours; what you give is yours.

—From the cartoon, Committed
Thought doesn't count for me. Good intention is a quarter of a good thing. The well-thought-out and well-prepared gift is what truly matters.

Gift-preparation is one of my favorite activities. I consider it a project. I even love it during my college days when my budget is at its littlest. I get to be creative. More than that, I get to test my ingenuity and intuition about the person whom I intend to give something.

What urges me to give is the idea of letting someone know that they are remembered and loved. Not only that, since gifts are symbols, it is also important for me that the they not only feel remembered and loved, but seen. It's like silently saying, From what I understand of you, you might need and like this.

It's nice to open this month with the gift of attention. Attend not only to your friends or yourself, but to your environment as well. Do the curtains need washing? The study desk, polishing? Mind to plant another tree in your front yard? These are all in return, gifts to yourself.

How about the gift of reconciliation? That's another smashing idea, but it is so much easier said than done. Perhaps one of the grandest things money can't buy.

I love making people feel that I have seen them the way they wanted to be seen. I also love finding in their faces the expression of surprise and delight. And of course, affirmation. The last thing I would want to make them feel is guilt—that they should reciprocate the act. I'm not a fan of utang na loob. Often, after giving something with the extravagance of pure sincerity, the receiver would say to me, Oh, you shouldn't have done that, or You shouldn't have bothered. I think they forget that gestures of gratitude, admiration and tenderness are non-obligatory.

14 November 2003

Toy, Lolo

There are just some people you get along with even without words. Relationships without words. How about that?

Lolo Toy was my grandfather from my mother's side. He died when I was about 12. When I was in grade school, he used to bring me to the academy. He drove the pedicab. I felt proud and cool being seen with my grandfather looking hip and healthy pedalling his way through the streets. I can't recall why I felt high-and-mighty, but perhaps it's because I was the only kid who had been doing that. I was the only one being brought to and fetched from school in such fashion.

That is the most resonant image I have of him (the only one of roughly three). Just that, an image, and a faint one at that. I remember no talks, no profound conversation, not even a funny exchange. But I do recall him smiling and smirking, and sometimes a feeble sound of a grouch. I do remember his false teeth. Yet I will always go back to that five-minute ride where I would sit back and relax inside the pedicab, put my small feet on a metal support in front and Lolo Toy would just pedal away. His energy spent with me and for me.

08 November 2003

Part of the Crime

Dada. That's the name of my family's first beloved bunny. Rabbits are wonderful pets. They're not threatening. They're fun to cuddle, they smell good, they're not noisy, their waste is very easy to clean as well as they're very easy to feed, and of course, they're very cute.

One late Saturday morning, I was awakened by a squeak. Instinct propelled me to look out the window and what I saw was so far then the most horrid sight I had ever seen. A cat quite bigger than Dada was biting him in the neck. Dada was standing on two feet, his front legs were hanging paralyzed in the air as I became paralyzed myself watching the scene in silence. That was a long moment of shock and devastation. When I came to my senses, I said to myself he was dead. I tried burying myself back to bed, as if hoping it was just a dream, or my senses were just fooling me, since I wasn't completely awake.

That was one of those week-end mornings where the whole family had errands to do except for me. I was never a morning person. Thank God for my Ate. She just came back from buying food from the nearby 7/11 and immediately after she saw Dada's condition, she calmly carried him in the house, laid him on the living room's floor and searched the house for bandages and a box to place Dada as she would bring him to a vet. That was one of the few times when I just admired my sister with amazement--one of the few times I wish I had her attitude--and to be blunt in admitting it--her concern and courage. It was at that moment when guilt buried its teeth hard through my neck. What happened to me? I chickened out. Shock and cowardice got the better of me.

Dada did not die. The doctors and my sister had saved him. He even looked cute with a bandage around his head. A wounded bunny and very much loved. In fact, that was not his first wound, he lost his tail before for reasons the family could not figure. Some cat or snake might've wanted to take him in their stomach, but Dada was some fighter. I added to his pains, but he gave me a great dose of guilt in return.

05 November 2003


I was in my third year in highschool when I joined a band contest. I was so confident and convinced that I was good. Extremely good that my band and I would emerge as the best. In the middle of my performance, one of the supervising teachers came to me and whispered, wala ka sa tono. The rest is memory.

I didn't cry that night after that incident. We lost, of course. In my naive and selfish mind, I figured and accepted that I blew if off. I didn't touch the piano since then, but I loved it so much. I had to make amends with it. I felt sorry for the instrument for misusing it.

That moment is one of those moments I just hope to forget. Weird is this memory with how it chooses what to reserve and what to discard; when to revive an incident or a thought and when to keep it unnoticed.

For now that memory serves like a nagging mother that tells me I'm neither on top nor ahead of anything. It's a din reminder for me to always be in tune with reality.

28 October 2003

After The Hours

What separates us is not distance, but time. Yes there is a time for everything: Meeting and parting; hurting and healing. A time for forgetting and remembering. A time for discovering and rediscovering. (No time but now.)

I watched "The Hours" on DVD this afternoon. Before it came out on theaters and when it finally ran in theaters, a lot of my friends were talking and raving about it. I didn't get to watch it then. And so a while ago, I was excited in viewing it. I even expected it to be a 3-hour film. Somehow I was waiting for the rising action and then the climax and then a resolution. As it progressed, I was thinking and hoping that it would not end yet so I would have much more to enjoy. But then, it ended. Just that, it was done. As I pushed the off button of the DVD player, I murmured, hype.

I went to my bedroom and napped myself through twilight. Slowly, images of the film emerged and played in my mind--how Virginia Woolf, the woman who reads her novel and another woman will meet at one point. At one time. Coincidence might be the name, but fate? Oh what's the difference.

Alane Rollings dreams and waits for this one bit of good news: A certain person with charms and hesitations... someone who would have bothered about her.
Me, I dream and wait for this one interruption: A certain person with charms and hesitations... someone who would have bothered about me.

We live with expectations. They say the best things are for free. For me, the sweetest thing is possibility. But then I do not just want to keep on expecting. To expect is to be in a two-way road, you'll only end up with one thing. I do not wish to settle for that. Instead, I want my life to be guided with wonder--that well bountiful with mystery. Wonder gives us a sense of appreciation for what we see and have, that distinct contentment, and yet a silent knowing that there is more--a silent provocation, we want more.

I've been waiting for great twists and action in The Hours, but life is not built on that. Often our lives are not just that action-packed. Our lives are built on small moments and if we're lucky, we thrive on epiphany. We change and move through quiet and swift transitions that we didn't plan. That is our bit of action. We look back and ask ourselves, What happened? Where did my smooth skin go? Where did he go? Where did the hours go? Slowly, veins raise themselves in relief in our hands, wrinkles announce their presence and permanence. You are old. Suddenly. You are here. What do you face and how do you face it?

We have met, loved, lost and recovered; and all it took us was a matter of time.

23 October 2003

Where Friends Have Been

I received a phone call from my high school batchmate inviting me to a reunion party. I do not intend to go. Number one, the people who organized the event are the people whom I was not very comfortable being with during high school. Number two, I have nothing yet to brag about. Reunions are all about looking back, and I am not ready to go there yet. In fact I am going as far as I can from memories of my pre-teen years. But that's not the point.

Phone calls are not part of my daily habits. I am never really the one who likes calling people just to chat. I'd rather invite them out, or in my place so we could have a real sense of communion together. I'd like to see people and friends upfront. So when I receive phone calls, it's usually a big deal for me and there will always be somewhat an excitement as to finding out who it is and what it is for.

Some of the most surprising phone calls I have had are from old high school friends inviting me to a party--their debut, graduation and the likes. I feel warmth (and relief) being remembered.

These phone calls and reunions revive to me the many friends I used to have.

When I was in kindergarten and in my early elementary years, I had no problems making friends. It was in those times when every class would have a seating arrangement and whoever was seating beside me, or near me, instantly became my friend. We would talk and the next thing you know, we'd go out together at recess, lunchtime and playtime. How easy it was then to make friends. I still remember some of their names and how I wish I'd meet them again--April, Doreen, Emily, Christopher, Diane, Yvette, Melody, Rhea... suddenly I'm remembering faces and feelings that it pains me not to remember their names. It pains me not knowing where they live and not even knowing ways on how to get in touch with them.

When I transferred to an exclusive school in my fourth grade, the friendship game shifted. --Or that it became a game. I was lost. The campus was bigger, the rules were a bit harder to follow and adjust to, and the people were more elusive. It was in that school where the first lesson I learned was insecurity. It was then I got to wish, if only I look more like this, or if only I'm smarter than her... But like any normal kid, I adjusted well.

High school life is the best. I'm one of those who disagrees with that statement. College was the place where the system and environment was free and open enough for me to spread my wings. It had the tools that I was able to use to properly nurture myself. Most of all, I met marvelous people and found a family where the so-called "sense of belonging" was felt by every fiber of my body. There were many digressions in college and one of them was meeting with your highschool batchmates. Sometimes you meet with them while commuting. If you do not like who you're with, you're unlucky since you will be stuck with them for the next few minutes and you have no choice but to talk to them. But most of the time, it's a moment to see how things have been, how they have changed and most of all, how you have changed compared to them.

This time I trust maturity to get the better of us, and I find comfort in the thought that all of us will fall in our proper places in time. Meeting with them after four years--sure there will be some awkwardness, but in the end you become human again--there is a consensual thought that things have changed, and perhaps some things haven't, but then that's life--glad to see you, how are you?...

...friends we leave for other friends... In passing, this thought from David St. John gives me a tender sore. I have proven that in many ways, relationships (not just with friends and lovers, but even with work, religion and society) require exclusivity and I just hate that. I just hate that.

People change, behaviors change, why do we have to part? Why is it so hard to return, or meet at a common point?

Until now I am trying to remember the names of those people I felt so much comfort with and adoration in the public school where I studied. Where have they gone? Sure they are around and technology makes it so much easier for us to track each other down, but what I am in truth looking for is the actual warmth--that innocence of just sharing 15 minutes together during recess, laughing and playing--with no thought of who's prettier, richer and smarter--that moment when even a wide stretch of silence is comfortable.

20 October 2003

Sexing the Jersey

It was a Saturday morning. I was walking with my friend, Teta, in the campus. We just came from lunch and we're heading to our Saturday class. We passed by the school's basketball court and in it, some guys were playing.

If it was a question between did they make the jersey look good, or the other way around, it would be the other way around.

I watched them strut their stuff and saw no face. I just saw two teams moving.

The jersey is its own aesthetic and glory. It is its own self. It is its own sex.

I told Teta, Ang ganda nila tingnan, ang ganda nung jersey, bagay sa kahit sinong lalaki. From that moment up to now, I have fallen in love with the jersey: the uniform one earns and others contend with.

And so there goes my fantasy. How I'd love to be with a man who is a part of, and serves for, an institute and a cause. It is the turn-on, really. Someone who would let himself dissolve in order to blend with others to be able to operate in unison. Someone with a killer instinct.

And so there goes my fantasy, do I want to do it with 5, better yet 10 players (talk about being a ball coveted by 2 troupes)? Do I want to do it in the middle of the big dome? In the field while it’s raining, or early before dawn? How about in a stadium filled with spectators (add to that a commentor?) In the instance where I’d be with that one valuable player--once he gets undressed, do I want to fuck him, or the jersey?

There goes my fantasy.

16 October 2003

Philippine Daily vs. Anvil

"PETSA lang talaga ang totoo sa dyaryo." I regret that I won't be able to name the person who said these words.

When I realized the relationship between fact and fiction, I thought I had the world in my hands (or in my head.) Everyday and everything is really a matter of perspective, especially truth. We are all narrators in this planet.

And so if I were to choose between the newspaper and literature, then I would go for literature. The newspaper offers bad fiction and incidental happenings, so why not read good, well-thought-out fiction instead?

04 October 2003

Alternative Reality

Dreams are gifts, really, especially if I remember them afterwards. They are god's fairy tales for me. They are moviehouses, museums and labyrinths I am brought to for free.

I never try to interpret any of my dreams, but most of the time, they give me a good scare. I often dream of being late in a very important event, like flag ceremonies. I also dream of being humiliated, like being naked, most of the time.

Usually, my dreams present to me an alternative. If one reality have not happened, it is often the job of my dream to show the could have been.

I love dreaming; being in a story I am not supposed to be in.

Sometimes I dream so beautifully that I wake up with pain in the head thinking: back to reality. I will try to sleep again and realize, there are no maps leading back to my dreams. It is there and gone when it wants to. Frustrating.

Perhaps dreams are supposed to be trash bins; the place where your memories, desires and forgotten realms blend together in a manner they want to present themselves again for us to notice--that even the forgotten and not will happen have always been a part of us and will always be--to recycle perhaps.

The machinations of dreams is one of nature's best.

20 September 2003

The Only Way of Loving

The only way of loving is loving utterly. The fashionable concept is to give so much for a relationship and leave something for yourself. Too much emphasis has been given on giving that its complement is overshadowed: acceptance.

We must accept the other utterly. We cannot just simply mince a person and just love what we like. A human being is not a chicken--we cannot take our choice cuts.

Giving is attention, is care. But too much giving without really knowing what the other needs is arrogance and distrust. Acceptance is a form of generosity. When you accept the other, you give him the affirmation that he is complete in himself. Complete in beauty and capabilities.

Relationship then is a matter of enforcing each other. You and the other are vessels of energy, not incomplete, but always evolving, the way every moment, our skin is new.

The woman in me is the woman who sings "You've got the best of me, now come back and take the rest of me."

If he is going to change, let it be by his own will, or my influence, but never from my coercion.

Love utterly.

And always remember that love is never love unless expressed.

12 September 2003

Number 2

In that place where you want to start anew, someone will always be better than you.

04 September 2003


You are a word. I build a whole sentence, paragraph and a world so as to use you.

You are sound that I can taste and throw from the tip of my tongue.

I keep you safe in my memory and make you grow in my imagination.

I create and recreate you faster than I do myself. Or is it I I recreate when when I build and rebuild you? Is it you who had me all along?

31 August 2003

"Life Begins at 40"

I am not yet 40, I am half that age, but I completely agree with the aforementioned statement.

At 20, you are immortal. You live by the "excesses," as most would say. Who can stop you from partying till morning, from collecting lovers and by procrastinating and not thinking ahead? This is the luxury of the young: time.

Perhaps at 40, you will always look back and see if you have accomplished as you wished. Perhaps at 40 you will begin to have deadlines and know you'll really be "dead" had you not met them.

Well, I will definitely look back at this when I am 40.

Hopefully I will reach more than 40 and hopefully, I'd be able to read this again at that time and be able to give out a sweet, healthy smile.


30 August 2003

A Fish Born in a Tank

I was 16 or 17 when I attended my friend, F's bithday party. I forgot if it was her debut. Nevertheless, this is not about her. This is about something memorable I found in her house, aside from her father's fabulous lasagna, the thick Tom Clancy book, and seeing F drink one glass of San Miguel Beer, plus her hip foreign boyfriend (knowing F is the shy, lame type of girl, that's why we're friends, because we were both lame--at that time--though of course we had our potentials, I was just surprised and quite irritated that she realized hers first).

In her house was a big fish tank. The fish tank was not beautiful; not the kind that I would dream for my own, not even the kind that was decent enough. In the fish tank was one thing: a big fish. A fish as big as my face, which is a normal size for a face. I looked at it with another friend, R, and what I was able to formulate in my head and finally utter was not what kind of a fish it was, but how sad it was for this fish to be swimming in a very small tank. R replied that, it doesn't matter, the fish was born in that tank, therefore, it knows no other world. That was comforting for me, for my sympathy for the fish, but very disturbing for myself.

Lucky for the fish born in the tank. It does not dream of the ocean.

Me, I pine for that ocean. How hard it is for us to know that yes, there are those who are beautiful, that yes, there are those who earn a billion per month, that yes, there are those who find authentic love, and yes, there is wisdom and peace of mind, and yes, there are those who die unhappy.

Knowledge is such a dagger in the mind. Sad for us that we live in our minds.

28 August 2003

Internal Cosmos

August 27, 2003. At night. Everyone is hyped to look up at the sky, grab their telescopes and see Mars, for this is a chance of a lifetime.

I know this, even weeks before. I go to my window and take a look at the sky. It is apparent: one clear white dot, which is bigger than any star I have ever seen. And then? What? Nothing. How can I be amazed by this? Will this bring me money, fulfill my ambitions, make my skin smoother?

The greatest pleasure is surprise. The magnificent unexpected taps every electricity in you.

At this night, after billions of nights, everyone knows that Mars is visible yet remains unreachable. There are things that are just there. Real and true, but beyond grasp. The light of Mars and that of the stars are not the light that warms. They simply amaze, but tease and hurt as well.

I have to wonder, have I had a steady job, a good relationship with my family, a lover, would I be delighted at the thought of watching Mars all night till my eyes turn red? Perhaps.

Distance is imperative. This is what we learn when we are involved in a relationship. The dance of distance. How necessary it is to be near someone and then turn, walk away as if there is nothing to return to.

Where am I going? My brain keeps walking a thousand feet away from my heart.

Top Shelf