31 December 2011

Dear ladies and jellyspoons,

I imagined a long, compelling, touching yet dignified and in parts light-hearted speech about finally overhauling this blog after—1, 2, 3, 4, 5 [...] xx—months. But I lost the impulse.

So you do the imagining for now (of how that speech might have turned out) and I'll make it up to you by being more disciplined and kind in 2012.

New Year in a few hours. Cheers!

17 December 2011

A most peaceful rest

This morning I went to one of the most peaceful, beautiful and pristine places in my dear Manila: the Manila American cemetery and memorial. The weather was particularly cooperative. No sun, no rain.

I love how the only sounds you'll hear while there are:
1. Bells
2. Birds
3. Leaves and grass
4. Aircraft

It rained when I left.

26 November 2011

Life is short

unless you're:

1) in a bad marriage, I imagine.
2) the last to perform in your school piano recital.
3) stuck in an elevator with your boss.
4) along EDSA.
5) watching opera.

13 November 2011


My companion and I were talking about another person's life and, in trying to describe it, I came up with the word normal, knowing too well that that was not the right word.

As my companion began telling more about this person (married with children, lives in a nice house abroad, engages her passions—writing, travelling), the right word came up: I didn't mean normal, I meant ideal.

12 November 2011

Guilty to death

You know how it is when early in the morning every fiber of your being does not want to get out of bed even if it has to and you start dreaming about going to the bathroom brushing your teeth, taking a shower—or whatever morning routine you have—except you know for sure that you are actually doing those things until you wake up and realize it was all a dream?

That happened to me today. I had a morning affair which I decided I would cancel at the last minute, but instead of sending that one text message asking for a rain check, I took a snooze and in that snooze I dreamed of composing, sending, and receiving a reply to the imagined text message. What woke me up—4 hours into the snooze—was the call from the person I was supposed to meet.

24 September 2011

Travelling books

Everyone knows that amazing feeling of finding treasures in book sales. But I'm recently delighted by the thought of how far some of these books travel. Surely they must have stories to tell.

From San Francisco to Frankfurt
(Picture shared by my friend PB)

(Delight aside, as with secondhand clothes, I doubt the cleanliness of secondhand books. But how to sanitize them?)

15 September 2011

What is one big mistake that you’ve made in your life, and what did you do to make it right?

I've committed a lot of mistakes, some of them I've rectified, some I still work on and some other still, negligible.

In my 28 years of existence, I have yet to commit one big mistake, partly because I barely experiment—a grave error I should correct.

18 August 2011

Conversation of the year

Taxi driver: May gusto sana akong itanong sa inyo.

Me: (Thinks of escape tactics once he brings out his gun/knife, or whatever weapon of choice) Ano po 'yon?

Taxi driver: May kinakain ka bang special?

Me: (Okay, he will sell me exotic food...) Paano hong special? Kakaiba?

Taxi driver: Oo—pangpaganda. May kinakain ka bang pangpaganda?

Me: Ay, wala ho.

Taxi driver: Nagtataka kasi ako, bakit ang ganda mo.

Me: (Putragis) Naku, (wishes to give a self-effacing response, but blurts out the first thing in my mind anyway in hopes to end the exchange) sinuwerte lang ho.
Taxi driver laughs, I come out of the cab alive.

07 August 2011

Getting there

The thing about playing the piano is you only enjoy it when in the process of getting it. By the time you're almost there, merely polishing, you're tired of it, you want to move on to a new piece. Learning that last difficult piece makes you excited about learning a more challenging one. The bitter-sweet thing about all this is you never really get there. You'll never master it. At least I don't. Every playing is completely flawed.

12 July 2011

Have the most fun

I've been listening to old episodes of Cabin Pressure. Here's a dialogue:
'I have always wanted to be an airline captain... ever since I was six.'

'Ah, and before that?'

'I wanted to be an aeroplane. [...] What did you want to be?'

'Oh, various things at different times. I studied medicine at a university.'

'You wanted to be a doctor?'

'Well, I wanted to be a medical student. They seem to have the most fun. I'm not sure I ever wanted to be a doctor—glamorous, but gloopy.'
Guess I should go back to enjoying being a student, not having goals in sight, not feeling the need to do well. Go back to doing things where there's pleasure in doing them.

09 June 2011

Why the airport is one of my favorite places in the world

1. The thought of travel

2. A good place to read

3. Planes are cool
4. Planes taking off
5. Planes landing

6. Order
7. Rules are observed
8. Delays and accidents are the exceptions to the norm, not the norm

9. The thought of home

30 May 2011

Outside the frames

The danger about believing in art is believing only in art. It is fatal to forget that the way of art is to take a piece of life and show it to you for the first time, or in ways you have not yet seen it and therefore as if for the first time. Whether effecting comfort or disturbance, we wholly welcome the best of art's re/presentations. But outside the frames of a photograph, the length of the reel, beyond the bounds of a book, the happily ever after, even after the end, there is much life left to be endured.

The noises of your house-mates, the job you're not proud of and the little money it makes, the new diseases your body has to fight, the long hours, days and months of doing nothing and going nowhere. In art, these are masterfully used to point at somethings else, of importance; outside art, they are nothing but what they are.

Even in the most dystopian literature is the intention to care. Someone bothered to gather ugliness and arrange it in ways you can comprehend.

'Life is measured not by the number of breaths we take...', I believe that. And I believe that when we say 'nothing is happening', we mean life is happening.

26 May 2011

Response to an apology

What are you sorry for? I need to know what I am to forgive. Do you apologize for what you said because you weren't thinking rationally and those words—in careful re-consideration—now fail the test of truth, or because you said them when the polite deed is either to have lied or been quiet?

23 May 2011

Three responses

I've read enough books and lived enough life to figure why adults constantly write fairy tales. Whatever satisfaction and beauty they encounter in reality, no affair will ever end their longing for perfection (term for things my way).

I wanted things a certain way with us though I can only change so much and I sadly cannot change you. But you allow me a conversation, an afternoon, a full course meal. You seek me and desire things done with and only with me. I learned to look at these not as consolations, but the precise machinery of our relationship. Being with you has its indescribable high; being with you, each day, is a burden.

So you walking away is no different from me needing to be alone to attend to matters I equally treasure.

What made me capable of this kindness, you ask. To forgive a lack of care, not regretting confessing fondness unreciprocated, this tolerance of fleeting intimacy. Perhaps it is my knowledge of selfishness. When you say you need me, I understand how you need me to and that you need me to be.

How devastating it is to become a useless friend, worse an incompetent foe.

Dear love, I can only assert magnificence towards it—chasing facts, to be lost in fact. Some frown on the coldness consequent of such passions, but nothing can be more flattering than being observed without intention to use what's seen to please or manipulate, what a thought that someone bothers to look at you with absolute, honest attention.

21 May 2011

Always a romantic case for the printed book

Not that I believe it'll ever be extinct, but—

Book:  Tales for a Rainy Night
Those curious, handwritten marginalia, those markers that have little to do with leading us to a specific page or passage in the book, but to revive a memory.

01 May 2011

Sit back, relax, watch a Shakespeare play

go from theatre to film and back into theatre.

King of the fairies, Oberon and his servant Puck, thanks to the latter’s carelessness, found themselves in the set of Max Reinhardt’s film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1934. Them being the real characters from the Shakespeare comedy, the two were instantly cast as themselves and had no trouble easing into the movie star lifestyle.

The production was going well until the chief censor Will Hays paid the studio a visit and huffed about the film’s immoral script.

As in the original play, Oberon ordered Puck to fetch the flower called love-in-idleness, whose juice can make “man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees”. The plan was to use this flower to distract Hays from sabotaging the film. Yet as in the original play, Puck messed up, gave the flower to the wrong man and the rest, we could say, was a riot.

03 April 2011

Ask again

What do you want in a man? A question I never took seriously, because which man would seriously take note? Gentle but knows when to be tough, handsome, of course—I resort to generalities like these.

But if you would kindly so ask again.

1. Neat, wide smile.
2. A bit traditional. Brings flowers, holds the door, pulls the chair.
3. A bit adventurous. Would be confident in getting lost. Could trek the mountains better than me. I better not outlast him swimming in the sea.
4. Will be curious on what I'm all about, but will know when to step back.
5. Will ignore me when he's busy with things he's deeply passionate about.
6. Will insist on paying the bill, no exception.
7. Affectionate. He'll hug out of habit yet deliberately find ways to send shivers down my spine when I least expect it.
8. Corny.

01 April 2011

More fine than mad

DIANA: I don’t feel like myself. I mean, I don’t feel anything.
DR. MADDEN: Hmm. Patient stable.
Next to Normal poster
Atlantis Productions recently ended a three-week run of Next to Normal directed by Bobby Garcia, starring the veteran Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and rock star Jett Pangan. Though visiting a psychiatrist is not commonly practised in the Philippines, it is fitting to say that the musical tells of our time. It shows how even without a clear-cut definition of normal, we relentlessly strive for it anyway.

1. Musical fragments

The Goodman: Diana Goodman (Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo), the mother, is fastidious. Dan Goodman (Jett Pangan) is a sweet, understanding husband. Natalie (Bea Garcia), their daughter, is a genius—smart, diligent, plays classical music on the piano. The other member of the family, Gabe (Felix Rivera), died when he was a child, but to Diana, he is still very much alive.


Gabe won’t go away. He is “more than memory”, he is “what might be”. The viewer can easily take him as a symbol of what keeps us from maintaining a peaceful life and at the same time keeps us at peace, an addiction:
I am flame and I am fire,
I am destruction, decay, and desire.
I’ll hurt you.
I’ll heal you.

21 March 2011


Cat in Magpatao-hay (relax, take it easy) Eatery
San Joaquin, Iloilo City
I just arrived home from Iloilo and already I'm thinking of going back.

26 February 2011

Painlessly instructed: Notes on ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’

“Our experiences and beliefs are liable frequently to be dismissed with a quizzical, slightly alarmed, ‘Really? How weird!’, accompanied by a raised eyebrow, amounting in a small way to a denial of our legitimacy and humanity,” writes Alain de Botton in his book, The Consolations of Philosophy. He then, in commiseration, talks about Montaigne, who, by learning the beliefs and behaviors of people from other regions through travelling and reading, “could gain legitimacy for parts of himself of which there was no evidence in the vicinity—the Roman parts, the Greek parts, the sides of himself that were more Mexican and Tupi than Gascon, the parts that would have liked to have six wives or have a shaved back or wash twelve times a day…”

The Consolations of Philosophy essentially does two things: provide the titular consolation and exhibit the practicability of Philosophy. The common problems of man are presented and corresponding philosophers—their lives and views—are considered to discuss each of them. The table of contents will give you the impression that you’re about to read a self-help book. It says Consolations for in the heading and the chapters underneath are Unpopularity, Not Having Enough Money, Frustration, Inadequacy, A Broken Heart and Difficulties. And it is a self-help book.

Common to a number of motivational manuals are clichés and the predictable assurance that you are beautiful, brimming with potential and a vital part of the Universe’s operations. Besides these, one main cause for distaste in these materials is their pedantic tone. The reader can feel how much the books know more than they do. But de Botton offers a wittier and warmer approach. San Francisco Chronicle, in describing de Botton’s book, aptly says, “We’re painlessly instructed while we read for fun.”

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