Showing posts from 2004

I Never Get Around

We love Booksale, because we're cheapskates. Primarily. More than that, we feel this weird happiness in finding something we greatly value being undervalued by other people. We'd take the secondhand at any time.

I bought a tiny book about flowers. It was only until I got home that I read the dedication written on the first page. It says, For you Sokng Ioo. I never get around to read any more. What a sad message. The book made me happy, on the other hand, as the flowers were beautifully painted. And look at this description of the Pipsissewas (Pipsissewa, my new favorite flower name): The narrow, leather leaves, 1 to 3 inches long, are strongly toothed.

There was an English to Choctaw dictionary that found its way to me. When I saw the book, I immediately looked at the words that are important to me:
life - aiokchanya, ilhfiopak, nana okchanya, nana yukpa, okchanya
death - aiilli, illi, illi atukla, nan illi
passion - annushkunna, nuklibishlikach…


The transformations that happen. You like them, you don't like them. You don't know exactly how to feel about them.

Going to Lipa City in Batangas before would take a three-hour drive. It meant anticipating seeing admired relatives. It meant going to a quiet place; sound meant strictly the stories and laughter you share with each other.

Now it's like just any another city in Metro Manila. Not that it's entirely bad. I'm not just in the mood to appreciate it entirely.

Licensed To Have Fun

SETTING: Inside a taxi cab, on the way home.

ATE: Manong, puwede ba'ng magyosi?


ATE: Manong pasensya na, nalalaglag yung abo sa loob ng sasakyan.

MANONG: Wag kang humingi ng pasensya, 'yang pasensya doon lang 'yan sa bakery.

LLESNER: Grabe'ng trapik dito sa Sucat. 'Yang stoplight kaka-go lang, stop na naman.

MANONG: Hayaan mo, pagbalik ko, titiradorin ko 'yan. May tirador ako rito, e, holen pa iyong ipantitira ko. 'Tamo, bukas wasak na 'yan.

ATE: Dinadaya tayo ng mga stoplight na 'yan, e.

Stoplight reads green.

MANONG: Iyan, pag nag-red pa agad ulit 'yan, isasauli ko na lisensya ko bukas.

Morning Wants

I keep telling people that when you eat with someone, at that moment, the two of you become exactly the same person, stripped of your status in life. You become two people administering a hunger call. Both of you are seated at the same level on the same table. I forget if I have come up with this concept on my own, or if I have heard of it and internalized it perfectly that I've learned to live by it as if I was born with that thought.

In college, I had a Saturday class in one term, at 8 o' clock in the morning. There was a time when I went to school an hour and a half before class. My brain wasn't functioning as my stomach commanded my body, telling it to eat breakfast. Remembering a very good friend that used to stay at a nearby dormitory, I thought of inviting her to join me. I sent her a text message: "Are you awake already?" She didn't reply after several minutes. I thought I would just have breakfast on my own. I finished my meal and still d…

This Thing Called Universal Gravitation

Twenty Billion Light Years Of Loneliness
Shuntaro Tanikawa

Mankind on a little globe
Sleeps, awakes and works
Wishing at times to be friends with Mars.

Martians on a little globe
Are probably doing something; I don't know what
(Maybe sleep-sleeping, wear-wearing, or fret-fretting)
While wishing at time to be friends with Earth
This is a fact I'm sure of.

This thing called universal gravitation
Is the power of loneliness pulling together.
The universe is distorted
So all join in desire.

The universe goes on expanding
So all feel uneasy.

At the loneliness of twenty billion light years
Without thinking, I sneezed.(translated by Harold Wright)I always sneeze. I wonder why. A lot of dust and dirt around me, perhaps. Or lack of shower. Or both.

The Ridiculousness That Is Vaginal Deodorant

And other feminine thingies you are supposed to use on your vulva to make it a better vulva.

Please spare the vagina from these vulgarities (gross pretentiousness). With the popularity of feminine wash (thank you very much, Sharon Cuneta and your pH Care), we ladies begin to forget that we are better off taking care of our vagina, washing it with clean plain water--number one, it is the healthiest way to do it and number two, it is natural (take note of the root word, nature).

Another reason why I am very much against such products (aside from the medical discouragement of their use) is that it perpetuates the myth (and craziness) that the vagina is dirty and therefore must be improved with these deodorants. (Would you believe me if I say that the vagina is the cleanest part of our body, while our mouth is the dirtiest?)

Finally, these vaginal deodorants make the ladies feel insecure about the natural odor of their vulva, as well as of the fluid it emits. In case you want to hear it…

love ko la salle/

dahil dito.

A Last Gossip

Spring Snow
by William Matthews

Here comes the powdered milk I drank
as a child, and the money it saved.
Here comes the papers I delivered,
the spotted dog in heat that followed me home

and the dogs that followed her.
Here comes a load of white laundry
from basketball practice, and sheets
with their watermarks of semen.

And here comes snow, a language
in which no word is ever repeated,
love is impossible, and remorse....
Yet childhood doesn't end,

but accumulates, each memory
knit to the next, and the fields
become one field. If to die is to lose
all detail, then death is not

so distinguished, but a profusion
of detail, a last gossip, character
passed wholly into fate and fate
in flecks, like dust, like flour, like snow.Death is not so distinguished.

A Tsunami of a Thought

There is something profound I would like to articulate, and something funny. Something clever. But I can't find the words for now. Maybe next time.

For the meantime, here are some of the best water metaphors I've encountered in my short life. I just have to share these with you, my dear friends:

Marianne Moore (from “A Grave”, where the persona speaks of sea as a grave): It is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this.Paul Monett (from “Committing to Memory”, where the male persona speaks to his beloved man): seemed a sort of mirage,
until I drank you.An Aeta riddle: Ajar tangapakking nga niuk
Awayya ipagalliuk.

Kapag hiniwa mo,
Naghihilom nang walang pilat.

The Pilot's Relief on Landing is No Release

The Smiles Of The Bathers
Weldon Kees

The smiles of the bathers fade as they leave the water,
And the lover feels sadness fall as it ends, as he leaves his love.
The scholar, closing his book as the midnight clock strikes, is hollow and old:
The pilot's relief on landing is no release.
These perfect and private things, walling us in, have imperfect and public endings--
Water and wind and flight, remembered words and the act of love
Are but interruptions. And the world, like a beast, impatient and quick,
Waits only for those who are dead. No death for you. You are involved.No death for me.

Haven't Had Enough Of Moon And Star Metaphors?
How About Bones?

Ladies and gentlemen, Pattiann Rogers:NEARING AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Those are my bones rifted
and curled, knees to chin,
among the rocks on the beach,
my hands splayed beneath my skull
in the mud. Those are my rib
bones resting like white sticks
wracked on the bank, laid down,
delivered, rubbed clean
by river and snow.

Ethereal as seedless weeds
in dim sun and frost, I see
my own bones translucent as locust
husks, light as spider bones,
as filled with light as lantern
bones when the candle flames.
And I see my bones, facile,
willing, rolling and clacking,
reveling like broken shells
among themselves in a tumbling surf.

I recognize them, no other's,
raggedly patterned and wrought,
peeled as a skeleton of sycamore
against gray skies, stiff as a fallen
spruce. I watch them floating
at night, identical lake slivers
flush against the same star bones
drifting in scattered pieces above.

Everything I assemble, all
the constructions I have rendered
are the metal and dust of my locked
and stori…

Romulo Baquiran, Jr.

Cirilo decided to be generous yesterday. He gave each of us in his class a book as a token of--so that we'd have some poetry to read (I supposed)--ok, ok, he gave it as a remembrance (so that we'd have some poetry to read). We drew lots and I was the 10th person to choose a book (out of 12). Since Allan already voiced out that he wanted Gary Snyder and Althea, being the first person to get to choose, took Jolography, I was left with Teo Antonio, Romulo Baquiran, Shirley Lim and some unknowns to choose from.

Here is a piece from Romulo Baquiran, Jr.:ULAN

Pagkaraan kong bumuhos:
pintig ng liwanag sa daigdig.
Lalong asul na langit,
lalong dilaw na araw.
Tumatawa ang agos sa kanal.
Sumara ang bitak ng lupa,
nagising ang lumot, halaman, hayop.
Biglang lilitaw ang mga kabute...uusbong.
Ako ang nagulat sa mga banyuhay!It reminds me of Anne Michael's brilliant line: "Rain articulates the skins of everything..." The situation in Michael's poem is very far from that of Romu…

First to confess

I am really scared with our attitude. As if confession amounts to absolution. When the Filipinos see someone confess their sins or madness, we forgive and find it a courageous, noble act.

Some Stuff

Because I commuted a while ago going to my ortho in anticipation of the removal of my braces, which had been postponed till the next month, and because I waddled through mud and fought with Mama and the traffic unforgivable

I chose to stay graceful.


Some Trees
John Ashbery

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Some comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Place in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.


My umbrella, my only defense was broken.


Sometimes the most difficult thing to do in this world is scare people with how amazing you are.

A News That Stays News*

by Marianne Moore

My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
or the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self-reliant like the cat--
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth--
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech that delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence:
not silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "Make my house your inn."
Inns are not residences.
* Ezra Pound: Poetry is news that stays news.

The Beauty That Is Static
(After 'Kingdom Hearts')

1. Heart

The heart is the darkest faculty
of a human being.

It is the heart that desires
a death, a tragedy for another.
The heart, though capable of selflessness, is selfish.

The heart loves, and therefore destroys.

"Gentleness requires tremendous strength,"
said Shale Paul.

The heart beats in calm rhythm, but needs break
from monotony every now and then, and

when it stops, it is either dead
or is fully alive.

2. Stasis

A few lines by Utada Hikaru's Simple and Clean:
When you walk away
You don't hear me say please
Oh baby, don't go
Simple and clean is the way that you're making me feel tonight
It's hard to let it go

The daily things
that keep us all busy
all confusing me that's when you came to me and said,

Wish I could prove I love you
but does that mean I have to walk on water?

. . . .

Hold me
Whatever lies beyond this morning
Is a little later on
Regardless of warnings the future doesn't scare me at all

. . . .

Simple and clean is the way that …

Pride vis-à-vis Envy
(Originally titled "Resentment and Contentment")

(by Ezra Pound)

O generation of the thoroughly smug
     and thoroughly uncomfortable,
I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun.
I have seen them with untidy families.
I have seen their smiles full of teeth
     and heard ungainly laughter.
And I am happier than you are.
And they were happier than I am;
And the fish swim in the lake
     and do not even own clothing.

Listening to Celine Dion's "Immortality," I can only fantasize how, if only I could sing like her.

Reading Marie Curie's biography, I wish I had been the one who made the breakthrough research on radioactivity.

Remembering Anaïs Nin, I get impatient as to finally finding my Henry Miller.

Paris and Nicky Hilton's money: I want.

As much as I want Thalia's body.

The list goes on.

III.I went on my way, in the midst of the world's transformations, being transformed myself. Every now and then, among the many forms of living beings, I encountered one who "was somebody" …

Stepping Stone

The trend is, actors who have an edge on becoming a politician delve into politics. In Eddie Gil's case, he definitely ran for President of the Republic of the Philippines so as to land a spot in a prime time sitcom. He WANTS it (It being the attention--the KSP-ish attention, in local jargon). He was hilarious in his two guestings at Wazzup Wazzup, and all he did was be himself. Too bad I wasn't able to watch him in Tanging Ina.

Time Materialized
After Einstein’s Dreams and Big Fish

Behind the glass pane, a girl around my age sits smoking, staring at the cars passing by. Or somehow staring beyond the street. On her table, a glass of iced tea, an ash tray and a ream of cigarettes. She doesn’t have a bag nearby.

I qualify my time by the number of pages I read in the book I brought with me. I qualify her time by the sticks of cigarettes she smokes. Her iced tea has taken thirty pages from my book before it’s gotten half-empty.

Her gaze is empty. No excitement, worry, hesitations, urgency. Just as how my posture is, although I know my excitements, worries, hesitations and urgencies. I cannot find her a story.

Three famous schools in the city have concluded another school-year.

On my way to work, my phone sounded an alarm. When I thought it was a mundane message from my boss, it was a greeting from a good friend whom I last seen in December 2003. It made me smile in relief and grace. In response to the gesture, I sent a message to another good friend from my pr…

Owning the Maze

The more I go to places, the more I know names of streets and cities--when I get to picture the block behind the block I am in--the more the world becomes small. All seems simple and conquerable. Although the more you know, the more you have to know.

After almost ten years of not going there, I went to Divisoria again this morning with my mother and father. It looks and smells the same as Baclaran except for the horses and Chinese, and it's farther from home; it must also be a better place to shop as my parents prefer going there.

When I got there, I remembered. When we got to the narrow street that has a stall which sells nuts, I remembered going there when I was a kid with my cousins who lived in San Andres and Pandacan. It was there that my mother bought kasoy and Pili nuts. On the other block, a store which sells chocolates.

Divisoria was dirty, crowded and inconvenient; but we got out of it with lots of chocolates and I got two beautiful bags for Php500. My mother hag…


The city does not call for exclusivity. You move in it and you have to keep going. It doesn't care a bit for you--doesn't even know you exist--no matter how much you need it.

"I want you to grow," Rose told me as we went to an ad agency. "I told you, you should always have a resume with you. Why don't you email it to me and then I'll be the one to send it to them." Just eight days in my new job and Rose was encouraging me to submit resumes to different companies.

The truth of her trust is nurturing and energizing. Her kindness, which I first thought to be unsought for, is what I've been needing after all. A workmate to look behind my back. A friend.

I desire to stick with my job. I am not sticking it out. The company I am working for is still in the stage of conception; it hasn't had its real birth yet. I want to be part of its growth, as I grow. I have dreams for this company as much as I have dreams for my self. I remember …

The Embassy

I've been mistaken for so many things. My English professor in college kept asking me if I were Chinese when I told him time and again, no sir, I'm not. People are shocked whenever I tell them I don't have a boyfriend nor am I dating. When I was 16, I was thought of being older--an FX driver even commented once, "Ma'am, mukhang pagod tayo sa trabaho, ah." Now that I'm 21, they still wouldn't let me in an R-18 movie. When I was a college freshman, another freshman sought my help in finding her way around the campus, since she thought I was already in my junior year. When I was feeling wild, I was labeled conservative and low-profile. When I was feeling polite, I was found deviant, intrusive or aloof. Last week, I came from the main office of Equitable PCI Bank. I rode an FX on the way home and the driver told me, Kumusta bisita natin sa embassy? I said I didn't go there, my business was different. Maybe I don't look like the type who…


Formal Logic class. That was where I first saw her. That was almost two years ago. She'd always come in on time and I'd find her dressed down. Her short hair, cinnamon skin and well-toned body still come clear to my memory. She must be into sports, I thought, as she'd walk in most of the time with her duffel bag, wearing shorts, a shirt and rubber shoes. There was a softness in her that contrasts her athletic bearing, giving her a mystifying air. More than that, she was a smart one. Formal logic was no joke, but it almost seemed elementary to her. She was quiet and she perpetually sat in the first row, near the door. To me, she was perfect. I loved her body. I loved the character that might be in it.

February, another day at work. I was walking around the country club to take some pictures when a familiar figure climbed up the stairs I was climbing. Her hair grew and she tied it in a pony tail. She was in shorts and a baby tee. It was just like another week…


How do you love first times? It was my first time to step foot and drink coffee at Starbucks a while go. That is, Starbucks 6750. I hadn't really been to many places, but that, so far had been the best Starbucks I went into. Why was I there, away from home?

I met someone to discuss my new job. Of course in every new endeavor comes excitement and anxiousness, and of course the hunger for learning. In all truth, I am amazed at how doors suddenly open for me without me even having to knock. I left my previous job by impulse (I now admit my impishness) without a clear path ahead, and then the signs present themselves, all directing me to where I am now. Sometimes I am convinced that if I willed to become an astronaut, or a rocket scientist, I would become one.

I may be repeating myself when I say my fear of failure is actually a fear of being big, a fear of being a maverick. As much as we love kudos and attention, I'm not good at handling too much of both.

The avenue was pos…

Little Verses, Major Earthquakes

I have an anthology of poetry that I didn't touch for long, until these past few days. One reason I haven't been reading it is as I browsed through the pages, the first time I bought it, some of the poems did not immediately fit my taste. Frederick Nims is right in explaining "when we say we 'love' poetry, it doesn't mean we love the same poetry." I gave it another read and came across little gems of lines.

I was never a fan of Robert Frost. I only respected him for what he had achieved and given to the literate world. My favorite from him was Fire and Ice. Until I read this:

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of the day I rued.There was a quote preceding the poem in the anthology, from one reader which said, "I think this is a love poem. I feel it is the true story of love." I think I fell in love with Frost after reading this. I could clearly…


I never thought I'd speak of daybreak as how it had been spoken of for so many times. I woke up at 3:00 in the morning and had a three-hour reading. A quarter before six a.m., the Maya birds started to make sounds. They were not singing, or at least what they were making were short of a melody. I didn't know what those sounds meant, what they were all about, all I knew was I always hear those during dawn, in the afternoon and before twilight; and that I was thankful there was a tree adjacent my bedroom. I turned off the lights as I could see the sun's rising from my window. My room's situated at the corner of the house's second floor and I've built a habit of locking my door. I was much amazed and amused at how the scent of food finds its way up to my room from the kitchen. I knew it. Fried rice. And then, that smell of salt distinctly from my favorite victual--fish. Danggit, in particular. Before the aroma faded, I was quick to fantasize taking a b…


It's March and where are we heading? The little joys our lives are made of. The gravity of... the gravity of antagonism here and there, everywhere. The election is just a few days away. For the kids, graduation time is coming--will they march, or not? Many awaits the summer, the sun, the vacation. Others may be looking forward to something else, while others are looking backwards for revaluation.

Me, I got to enjoy what I failed to do for a couple of months now--watch a basketball game. I was even surprised to find out that the PBA already started the season with a "transition" conference. Heartbreaks and spurts of brilliance came back to me again as I watched.

The different teams oozed with so much promise and everyone had the eagerness and "itch" (as the cool cat said) to play again.

A while ago, I caught Purefood's game against Ginebra. Purefoods trailed by a big deficit, although all was not lost for The Captain, Alvin Patrimonio. He just sco…

From the Skies to the Center Stage

Star. That word is one of the most abused words there is. Say one of the most abused metaphors as well.

Starstruck. Star Circle. Search for a Star. Star in a Million. Star for a Night. Star Search. The susurrous and sibilance in these phrases really tickles the ear. Haven't we all dreamt about our fifteen minutes of fame, that moment in time, of our glory? Who among us would deny of ever wanting to become a rock star, a drama queen, a Nobel Prize Awardee, cum laude? Haven't you desired going to the moon? Or farther there in Jupiter?

I just finished watching one of those TV shows with thousands of hopefuls vying for the title: STAR. As an outsider, I pity those who, at first glance, I know will never make it--or have not yet reached their "time." I also cringe not only at the sight and sound of horrendous singing and the foolhardiness to do it, but with talks of "my family is poor," "I've got to help my sick mother," et cetera. Jud…

Going Solo On A Meal For Two

As usual, I went solo on an eating escapade. California Pizza Kitchen. I can't get enough Italian in my stomach.

How can they do that? How can they not have a meal for one person? Why is it that all servings are good for two to three people? They have no consideration for introverts and loners like me.

I ate anyway. Marinara something. Good for two. Bottomless iced tea. Takaw.

I stuffed everything in my belly, the plate was clean afterwards. My palate, satisfied. I was proud of myself, because I didn't force myself to finish everything, as I had the option to have half of it wrapped. It so happened that when I started chewing, I went on and on. I felt good, for suddenly I envisioned myself into this fluffy world of fiction. Suddenly I thought of myself as Nathan in David Leavitt's "A Place I've Never Been." I felt I was beeing seen, watched and admired, because of my "boyish hunger for food" that is "so perpetual, so faithful in [it…

The Weight of Fields

Every day I take a walk at the baseball and polo field to wander, move myself and think. If I'm lucky, I'd get to catch a baseball game, even if I don't understand it, at least I see action, spirit and cute boys.

There is always a heaviness that comes with my walks. It is the consciousness of my limits, that I am meandering in the meads of a prison. In the midst of silence, apprehension.

This afternoon, I got to catch a softball game between Ateneo and Northfield. I took a seat beside 2 kids--perhaps in grade three. One is wearing the Northfield shirt and the other, an Ateneo cap. They seem to be very good buds. It is in flashes of innocence that my gut wrenches. How I wish I could immerse myself in play. Be a kid devoid of tomorrow.

I always start my walk thinking of the things I will return to: Responsibilities; Possibilities. I cannot enjoy my walks. I cannot enjoy the vast field, the bounties of the sky and time.

I wanna be a child at play.

I want to delve into…

"I Hate Quotations. Tell Me What You Know." *

A co-employee whom I rarely speak with, told me something very intelligent, so intelligent that it got me irritated.

I asked him, "do you love your job?" As if I said something out of context. As if I did something wild. And indeed I did. "Yeah"... with a sigh of disbelief... "Why did you ask?"
I don't know. "Buti ka pa."
"Why, you?"
"Honestly?... Honestly... No."
"Then why are you still here?"

(*Ralph Waldo Emerson)


I am one of those people christened with an unordinary name (it's not that unique, since there are several people I share the exact name with.)

Whenever people call me, or read my name, I always find myself correcting their mispronunciation, or misspelling.

Here is the exemption:
One of my office mates pronounce my name as Rossell, and before I can react, I already find myself caught in the net of her sincerity and sweet, enthusiastic smile. Her calling and recognition has the warmth of pure attention. I feel, then know it is me she is naming. That is enough.