Showing posts from 2013

And nothing heals like words words words

'My theme for this Christmas is Gift of words. I decided to donate all the funds for your Christmas presents to the typhoon victims, so as an alternative, I've written everyone a love note.' It was a tacky joke that I blurted out anyway after I gave the last 'gift' I prepared for my office mates. To make it clear, it was in reference to the marketing and PR people who took advantage of the past tragedies in order to sell and give their respective brands a glowing image.

So the truth is, and this will come at no surprise, I din't make any donations. But neither was I being lazy nor a cheapskate. There was something this season that compelled me to simply sit back, relax, and write everyone that matters to me a letter. 'It's the thought that counts, therefore I'm telling you what I think' was another wisecrack I almost uttered and thankfully did not.

I got the idea when I sneaked out and bought my friend a Christmas card while we were having…


I clearly remember that bit of conversation with a former office mate about dinosaurs and how pointless their existence seemed to be. She said, 'Imagine, for millions of years, that was all they ever did—walk around, eat, reproduce,' to which I replied, 'Yeah, kinda like us.'

The Haiyan tragedy (the natural calamity and the nation's response to it) is yet to be tucked conveniently in history. Admittedly, I am less impassioned about the subject than my friends and other people in my circle are. While it happened in my country, the region is far from me. If I saw the images and heard the stories, I would most likely be sympathetic; but that kind of pain doesn't interest me, so I didn't bother keeping up-to-date with the news.

On the relief and rehabilitation efforts, I have nothing intelligent to say and no compulsion to add to the noise, not once convinced that I can do the government's job better than them.

As for those who died, death is death, wha…

A very personal achievement

I've always been deprecating my fashion sense because fashion to me carries an undertone of visionariness. See, I want to be fashionable, but you can't claim to be such if you only know how not to look bad. Just like when you say you are a writer, you're not only someone who can string words together; you're also expected to be a person of integrity and wisdom (which is not the reality, of course, but that deserves another blog).

So my confidence got a bit of a boost when I saw this billboard a while ago at the mall. Featured in it is the sunglasses I bought last September.

I remember taking almost half an hour in selecting the perfect shades and still feeling like it was an impulse purchase afterwards, since the frame is made of wood and doesn't have nose pads; therefore it won't fulfill its duties as an everyday eye gear, which is what I wanted in the first place. In addition, What a shame, I thought, that I was seduced by appearance.

Three months later, …

To do / have done

You cannot argue with the cute. I have long given up on collecting stickers (meaning shelling out xxxx pesos and consuming xxxx calories) to redeem a Starbucks planner, but this one came with a squee-worthy bookmark and, more importantly, came for free. My sister asked if I wanted one.

There were four colors to choose from, all of which I liked except for black. Yellow was a strong contender but I ended up choosing red (though it's closer to magenta), for the kape vinta icon. The other icons were: coffee cup, coffee bean (ooh, inadvertent subtle advertisement for the competitor), and house blend (which was my second choice).

I'm a sucker for symbolisms, making meaning and connections out of everything. And it all fell into place. A few weeks ago I decided that 2014's theme is explore/open doors, thus my preference for the vinta. Quite a coincidence as well that I received this gift on the same day that I applied for a student permit.

While I was fixing my stuff, I …

Useful things unused

Perks aren't always perks, oftentimes they are additional things to worry about. Like the gadget freebies I recently got: one a cellphone, the other a tablet. You do not want to discard them, because they don't come cheaply in the first place. The next option is to sell, which is stressful, for it'll take a while for you to find a buyer and negotiating prices is a hassle (why I am not an account executive). Of course you can also recycle and give them away as gifts—but to whom? Knowing my friends, they don't fancy these as well.

I realize problematising this may make me appear ungrateful. I am grateful, only a tad critical. It is the thought that counts, and without a doubt the quality of thinking and sincerity involved in giving will manifest in the chosen token of regard. Sometimes a simple, personalized card will do.

On a related note, this is the reason why I still love flowers, the symbolic gesture of giving flowers. It is truthful: flowers fade, so do f…

After a year

I will allow this boy to someday break my heart because he is kind.
There are three things that I think of every single day: death, him, and poetry.

The show I wasn't able to watch because

a) I went to the wrong theater.
b) I lost track of time.
c) I bumped into a crush and pretended I was free for dinner.

Hint: It was a stupid stupid reason.

I'm not happy

It's as if I was going out on a first date. I was both excited and anxious to meet my favorite professor, whom I haven't been in touch with for maybe 8 years. I was excited because, well, I love him, but I was also anxious because after such long time, I wasn't sure if I still knew how to talk to him. Because I felt like I have changed.

It's my fear of questions like, 'How are you?' and 'What have you been up to?' at work. For I take it as my duty to report nothing but good news. But then I'm missing the whole point of having a conversation—with someone wise and kind.

So it was a delightful surprise when he nonchalantly shared that he wasn't happy with his life. It may not be fair to indirectly quote him and subject him to misinterpretation, but what I'm trying to say is I have to learn to be honest with my friends like they are with me. Trust them.

Because despite all the adventures in the world, at the end of the day, all I want is …

Filigree and other things pretty

I don't know much about fashion, but I do know a thing or two about beauty. For instance, this collection of statement jewelry and bags by House of Serafina. It resonates with my fondness for what is deceptively simple at first glance. There's nothing like an object that intrigues and draws you in, then blows you away with intricate details as you look closer.

Subtlety is a ruse anyway. It's the best accessory, if not armor, a lady can wear. That is at least how I interpret 'angel with an edge'—what Serafina stands for.

So far I've been obsessing about the filigree window pendant with black onyx necklace. It's captivating in itself but it even becomes meaningful when I think of the adage, 'Beautiful windows are always worth looking into' (see, that's a statement I can confidently wear). Unfortunately I don't have a decent photo of it, so better click the link. And while you're at it, add to cart, proceed to checkout, then deliver …

November so far

What do you call that feeling when you're taking pleasure in the moment, and, aware of your pleasure, you begin to miss the very moment you are in? —The first note I wrote in my new notebook as I end the day at Press Cafe, the coffee shop inside Fully Booked in Alabang.

I received an early Christmas gift. The dedication says, 'Something heavy for Razel'. What's sweet about it is that I later on learned that the gift was meant to lighten up my mood.

Two people I admire and have not been in touch with for a long time sent me a message. One is a professor telling me that he misses me and the other an acquaintance I struck up this year inviting me to her special party. At least there's proof that, with the former, I made a mark in someone's life and, with the latter, that I made an impression. I'm very happy and proud of myself. But most of all, I am extremely excited to meet these human beings once again that I couldn't sleep the other night—I was s…


Falling debris, crashing bridge, and all the other objects of fear are far and unreal. Nothing scars like words words words.

So maybe a silence and Paulaner. As it is wont to work, draft dries tears.
Bartender: Are you waiting for someone?
Me: No. (Yes.)


—Good morning, moon.
—Same moon in between two cats on the wall walking toward each other.
—Cheap bars nearing closing time, drunken men not quite done partying.
—Stench of uncollected garbage.
—Jeepney half-filled with women in uniform, reporting for factory work maybe.
—20-minute walk to the country club.

—Sporting event starts. Kids play, I work.
—No appetite for breakfast, craves coffee only.

—Work done. Heads straight to ATC.
—Bought Alex Garland's The Beach.
—Full-body massage.

—Late lunch, starts reading The Beach. Exciting. Wants to go to the beach.
—Spots a cat.
—A mother approaches, asks if she and her kids could share a table with me. Sure. Let's share the cake as well?
—Vow of endless love: 'I shall love you until cats stop being cute.'

—Watched Carrie. Film's pretty tight, I don't however see the point of remaking it.

—Goes to Mama Lou's to meet past office mates.
—Too early, reads The Beach some more…

Forever, in an instant, from sunshine to shadow

I made my way up the east staircase, one slow step at a time. At the top I stopped to rest, perching for a while on the last step like a bird on a bough.

Only here at the top of the house did I feel myself removed, in a way from the crushing burden of being a de Luce. Up here, above it all, I was somehow myself. Buckshaw is a Georgian house which size is commensurate with its history. It is home to the de Luces—widower Colonel de Luce and his three daughters: Ophelia, Daphne, and Flavia, along with the colonel's trusted steward, Dogger.

The bird perching on the bough was Flavia, a young girl with a passion for chemistry and the dead. She is the lead character in Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce Mystery series, which I only recently discovered but quickly fell in love with.

I finished the fourth title, I am half-sick of shadows, this afternoon. The country is observing a holiday and this was a chance for me, like Flavia, to feel myself removed, in a way from the crushing bur…

The ecstasy of yours

Three things I love: coffee, snail mail, books. Two more things I love: surprises, giving.

A lot of my friends celebrated their birthday in September; so it was, for me, next to Christmas, the month when I handed out the most number of gifts. And I wonder what makes gift-giving so pleasurable. Does it have to do with the desire to please someone or gain something in return? In my case, all I want is to see a positive reaction from the recipient once the present is unwrapped. So there's selfishness in there, too—needing an acknowledgement of your good taste, attention to the other's lifestyle and quirks, and resourcefulness.

That said, it's also wonderful to be on the receiving end. Yesterday I was bedridden, nursing a cold and tortured by the thought of wasting the entire weekend at home. But happiness soon arrived at the gate, a surprise package from J:

How many things do you plan to buy but couldn't get around to buying even if it's easily available and …

Posterity is not our business

Last month, The Guardian ran a Q&A with James Bond. I'm no idol, but the questions are fun to answer. So here's my adult slam book post.

When were you happiest?
In college.

What is your greatest fear?
Secrets exposed, privacy invaded.

What is your earliest memory?
Life in our house at Agoncillo in Malate, Manila.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I can be passive and passive-aggressive.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Aside from a property, what's the most expensive thing you've ever bought?
A 20/20 vision.

Where would you like to be now?
In bed with this guy I met early this year.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Scar at the back of my right lower leg.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I retire to my little space and become very quiet, expecting everybody to understand, forgetting that people sometimes actually seek and enjoy my company.

What is your favourite smell?

What is your favourite word?

In a Comme des Garçons state of mind

No matter how weird or unique you think you are, you will regularly find yourself in life's textbook moments. For example, if you ask me now, 'What is your most embarrassing experience?'—a question that would usually take me forever to answer—I would say before you get to the second syllable of the word embarrassing: I went all the way from home to work with my blouse turned inside-out. That involved riding two vehicles, crossing about five streets, and passing by at least three people in the office before arriving at my department.

The good news is—are: You learn that you have friends who:
have sharp eyes and care about you enough to break it to you gently;will say all the right words to console you;will surprise you with an unexpected response like laugh at the situation and encourage you to look at the brighter side of things; andwill give you special treatment and be kind to you when surely they'd be snarkier if it happened to a non-friend. My favorite response is…

Small things

It's been raining non-stop this weekend. And this morning the downpour made me stay at home until around 11 AM. When I got out to finally go to work, I couldn't find transportation. All public vehicles would only travel until Evacom (merely a couple of traffic lights away). Going back home was an option, but I didn't feel like it, so I decided to have lunch at the nearby Tropical Hut and then hoped for a successful commute afterwards.

The place, which has been recently renovated to look fresher, was almost empty. Brilliant. I enjoyed a burger steak, two cups of coffee, and in between exchanged text messages with friends—asking how they are and if we could meet soon.

My calculations were precise (to exaggerate). When I left Tropical Hut, it took me a few blinks to get inside a van and in 30 minutes I was sitting pretty in my cubicle.

Roughly 4 hours were spent in the office. The rain still hasn't stopped. I asked a co-worker if I could hitch a ride home with hi…

Nothing complicated

It's Friday and I didn't know my office mates planned on playing the mooncake dice game. The rule (as how I'm sure I imperfectly understand it) is: A player will roll six dice and a pattern must be apparent—say, 1-2-3-4-5-6 or 1-1-1-1-1-1, etc. No pattern, no prize.

Thing is, my brilliant co-workers only brought a die, so we each had to cast it six times. And arriving at a numeric theme by chance is di-ffi-cult (what I get for initially calling the game 'not challenging enough'). I swear we had more fun than how it looked in the photo.

In the end, I got a Leona Lewis CD, a humongous heart cake ring, and a charm necklace—all from our editor's treasure trove of PR giveaways.

There were tasks to finish and objects of dismay, but it was basically a laid-back night. TGIF— the wind's howling, we might be in for another stormy weekend.

Falling in the afternoon

You: I was part of the theater guild in college.
Me: Oh. Tell me about the worst criticism you received.
You: But I was prepared to talk about my glory days!
Me: Why? Tell me something I didn't know about happiness. *

That was Anna Karenina floating in my head. You were stunned then, and I, completely happy in your company.

A day after I almost begged: Let's be happy some more and let's talk about it all night long.

'Tell me about those days,' I said instead.

Sweet embarrassment

My friend does not celebrate let alone acknowledge her birthday. So when we had dinner last night, it was under the pretext of: because that's what friends do anyway—meet and eat and catch up on each other's lives.

Come dessert time, I told her I'd check out the restaurant's pastry shelf. I did and picked a cake, then asked the staff if they had a candle. 'See, it's my friend's birthday,' I so very casually said.

Because that was all I wanted: A slice of cake with a little candle on top and me saying Happy birthday! with a smile to my cynical friend. —A cheesy gesture, but one to be executed with some degree of privacy.

But the restaurant's owner (whom I know personally) and two of the waiters came carrying the precious confection and started singing as they walked closer to our table.

I was looking at my friend's face and clearly she was embarrassed. As was I, for a mawkish moment involving me was playing out in public.

The lesson here is…

A decade

Engrossed in the moment, which traveler ever takes his camera or notebook out to record the moment? I feel the same way about this online journal's 10th anniversary. There's no compulsion to talk about it, the goal has been reached: there's no more need to blog about blogging.

Maybe just this: Here's to ten more years of not taking things for granted— of bothering about life and living.

Not-so-simple joys

First time I laid eyes on Sally Hansen's 'Nude Now', my heart skipped a beat. That happens. You see something and fantasize about life with that object. You get closer, look at the price you have to pay in exchange for it. It can only be either very expensive and improbable or very expensive yet manageable. The moment you realize you have a chance, some purchasing power, the desire intensifies.

So I bought it, applied it on my nails, and whatever the opposite of regret is was how I felt.

We human beings are meant to walk, are we not? But we have evolved and now we must do it in style. For that reason, I bought a pair of Keds: the canvas sneakers and the idea of slipping on your shoes and then doing amazing things.

The book I wanted was not available in the two bookstores I visited. But I had to have something new to read. Somehow it was for the better as I was compelled to once again take a risk—buy a book because of its cover, synopsis, and blurb.

The sw…


You said I was weak. Matter-of-fact. The silence after as unwelcome as truth.

Just in case you feel sorry about it in the future and feel like it's too late to apologise, I'll let you know now that I forgive you.


They say it's the thought that counts. Thanks for showing me what you think.


My name is Razel and I'm a closet dance freak.

I don't frequent clubs because I perceive them as places to be seen and not to express one's self or let it out. Not to mention I need at least two square meters to myself when I dance.

But my music player is filled with disco tunes I play at full blast in my room on a night when there's nowhere to go but something to celebrate (and always, always there is something to celebrate).

The quality of my dance steps is directly proportional to the quality of the alcohol I'm downing. Gold Label, for example, will make me an unstoppable dance floor goddess. Yes I can be pretty awesome (understand that this is my inebriated self looking at the mirror speaking): My body executes movements my mind has yet to conceive.

I can't be trusted with the science, but surely dance is not possible without gravity? Whatever the case is, in my heart, to dance is the most beautiful way to fly.

First date

The candles were lit, the room burned yellow, the music started, they had to go.


What preceded was an artless afternoon: A table by the window. Soon there will sit one boy and one girl who, careful to betray their feelings, will mostly look through the colorless glass.

In not meeting each other's eyes, the sounds sharpen. They listen to each other's rhythm, each surprised by the other's attention. No big emotion must let loose.


The candles were lit, the room burned yellow, the heart felt hunger, they had to go.

Efforts to look good

The still water in the man-made pond reflected the image of the strip of boutique shops and the clarity was so captivating my friend and I had to pause from our walk.

I see that friend quarterly, roughly. Last night something was different about her. She was all dressed up. Normally she would just be in her jeans and t-shirt. But this time she donned a nice black-and-white printed blouse and white pants, and carried a black leather shoulder bag. It wasn't exactly a happy expression she was wearing, but she exuded a lighter air.

And neither was I happy. But it would be bad news to report that I didn't change for the better myself. I, too, have been dressing well, trying on new things.

You have to appreciate people for taking good care of themselves—which is the least selfish act, because that says they're hopeful about the world, and that they care about you. They want to be healthy for you, be able to brave the rain to meet you, treat you to a fancy dinner, listen…

Birthday month thoughts


'It takes a long time to grow young.' —Pablo Picasso
The quote is written in one of the birthday cards I received. A consolation, a challenge now that I'm 30?


'We were never being boring.
We had too much time to find for ourselves...
We dressed up and fought then thought: Make amends.
We were never holding back, worried that time would come to an end.'
—Pet Shop Boys, Being boring
Glad to hear this song, which is a reminiscence, at this time when I still have a lot of chance to build things that will make for good memories, stories.

Don't talk to strangers

They might steal your heart.

Amelia was at the table in front. The cunning smile I practised for years, she flashed at me the instant our eyes met.

Her gracious parents allowed us to chat and play with my friend's camera.

As it was time to say good-bye, she suggested a kiss, which I was eager to give and receive. Too close, her tiny hands unknowingly took something that belonged to me.


You intimidate men.

No, I make them disinterested. There is no desire where there is no daring. If they don't find any motivation to approach me, that means they are not that attracted to me.


Nurse buddy

Singlehood only becomes difficult in two occasions: when you're horny and when you're sick. So aside from a booty call, there's hopefully an arrangement wherein someone would be there for you whenever you have a high fever and runny nose.

Poetry is a language

—just as with the doctor's and the computer programmer's—ineffective and not fully comprehensible to those who don't learn to speak it.

Why keep a diary

Maybe writing in a daybook is my praying. Talking to someone I don't know but believe in.

'Never abandon the wholesome practice of saying your own private prayers, night and morning. I have never abandoned it myself, and I know the comfort of it,' wrote Charles Dickens to his son.

Wholesome: promoting health or well-being of mind or spirit. A telling of the last twenty-four hours' events and thoughts soothes me.

It's more than putting memories, feelings and ideas in a vault for safe-keeping and posterity (I seldom re-read my journals anyway). It is a way of affirming the day. Today can only be complete if I re-call, re-assess, and re-construct it in words.

Wholesome: based on well-grounded fear. What is the consequence of missing a log? That what happened is not captured and made sense of, and is therefore meaningless and untrue.


Around 2005, I gained nine new friends. We met at that point in our lives when we thought we had more to learn within the walls of an academic institution, even if we already earned our bachelor's degree.

We understood two things very well: 1) Writing is a serious business; and 2) It's a mistake to take life too seriously.

Last night I shared a huge dinner table with (most of) them to welcome the New Year once more, and once more I felt happy being myself with a group of people I admire.

It's great to see friends regularly but at longer intervals, see how things have changed and remained. You surprise yourself, because, busy with living, you take for granted how you've been changing, too, or how you haven't.

In gatherings like this, all you remember the day after are the strong taste of sauce in your mouth, how someone looked so good in their dress, facial expressions, the rhythm of conversations, and a few floating phrases that your hungover mind manage to catc…

The loser

In tennis championships, my favorite part is the runner-up’s speech.

And I love looking at the face of the loser right after the game. Or moments before it ends and yet the player already knows his fate. That blank, faraway gaze. There’s no hope there in the eyes, only acceptance of defeat. And holding his composure, there’s courage in there too.

Secret Santa

All right, coming clean, coming out. Deep inside my steely exterior is a screaming fangirl.

See, there's this little thing called Cabin Pressure. It's as little as an airdot (as compared to an airline). And this little thing makes me happy—not just cheery, but truly happy. Apparently, a lot of others are being made truly happy by it, too.

Long story short, I joined in the fandom's Secret Santa thingy last Christmas. Now, as you all know, the holidays just passed and it's almost February. So I thought that's it, my Secret Santa either was sick, got the wrong address, or left me for another girl.

But then the universe was only testing my patience (because it likes to do that to people). Last night I received a notice from the post office. It required going to the customs.

To cut to the highlight of the story, my Secret Santa hasn't forsaken me.

...I think it's an utterly stupid idea for two reasons: one of which is obvious and the other of which is th…

First of 2013

Last night you told me:
we shall have to think up signs,
sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.

—Excerpt from January First by Elizabeth Bishop Bishop wrote about inventing, 'once more, the reality of this world' come first of January. And that's how we are, really, swayed by the promise of a new year. We're creatures of hope. And we are creatures of invention.


Mid-afternoon I had the singular pleasure of reading and drinking coffee. It all came together perfectly: the cool weather, the thrilling book, the hot brew, the silence. This was what everyone talks about when they talk about being away from it all, it all being the problems and worries one has to bear each day.

From my humble, unkempt room, I sincerely wish everyone I learned to love and be fond of, everyone that ever intrigued me, and everyone that helped alter my life in the littlest but entirely positive way, that they const…