Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's over. Moving on.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

State of selves

Limping to the MRT station this morning you see, again, a dog walking w/ broken leg, staring at you; you begin to believe, yet again, that you're the star of a bad movie. Circumstances at lunch cohere: the kitchen serves shrimp -- you're allergic & left to buying a value meal for over 100 pesos, the drink of w/c you tip over, leaving some of you fries swimming. You still owe for those shrimps.

The director of this movie sends you messages thru puddles & steep steps. Pain is a reminder of something significant. You take a pain killer for a calming kind of forgetfulness. Thoughtlessness is key.

You're beginning to understand a new kind of fear, the type that comes when nothing of yourself seems troubled save for everyone that keeps you calm, who, before your eyes, begin dissolving amid a whirl of expectations & things silly, like responsibility.

A core dependent on the centripetal, you lean harder on only 1 good leg. The aircon doesn't work; your undershirt is thick. The coffee canister's newly filled; you've run out of sugar. You begin to write something; you've lost sight of your own point, & you wonder if it would've mattered at all to begin w/.

For what tomorrow entails you say:

1. Don't give up.

2. Hang in there.

3. This is important/nothing; you will be great.

But for now, you settle w/ banging your head on the proverbial wall, w/ hiding in the cliche cave, w/ running off far & away w/ only the company of a calmer sense of breathing. For just a moment, away w/ perspective, perceptions, or anything akin to thought!

Cuz what is it all really but just constructs of a rattled mind, the realm in w/c silly directors work & play for the title genius

Salt to wound, you raise a middle finger. Someone understands.

Friday, October 03, 2008

3 nights at work


I don't know what drives a man close to 30 to loop "Puff the Magic Dragon" on his iTunes for his co-workers to listen to, but I'm dealing w/ it, hearing about frolicking & a land called honah lee for the nth time this evening. Oh, wait -- he's moved on to a rock song about Jesus Christ. Great. 

On our 1st day on the job, noticing my limp, he confided in me that he had had surgery too. For brain cancer apparently. I've learned to accept that such life tragedies can lead to listening to songs like "Puff the Magic Dragon." 

He assumed his opening up would win him some sort of leverage in terms of friendship. Funny the thoughts that enter people's mind upon just meeting someone.

Oh, he's leaving now. And I'm alone. Good.


I'm sitting alone in our corner office. It's payday; the others have left early. I have deductions to my pay; under time. I suppose that's why I'm still here. The next couple of days could see me leaving early or arriving late; errands to run in school before exam week. I need the quiet anyways. I'm in 1 of those moods: I need to be alone. Could say why but I'd be speculating, second-guessing myself. Best to just ride the wave. For no one's sake but mine.

Bonfire tonight. Ria texted; looking for a mini-block reunion. Could use their company; could use that of my shadow more. I hope April's hanging in there; rough end to the sem. I remember the feeling; it was only months ago. See, I'm in 1 of those moods again. 

Haven't written anything this week; I've written a lot over the past few. I don't mind the sudden dry spell. Best to ride the wave, perhaps dive into some reading, not for inpsiration but just because. Not everything needs a reason; there's calm to be found in the elipses...

Ate Lucy comes rushing in. "Did he come in here?" she asks me in Filipino. "Who?" "The crazy man." "Who?" "A crazy man broke in thru the back entrance!" 

I look out to the printing press; people are standing around looking concerned. I go back to my seat & take a sip of water. I notice my mug: remnants of coffee. I look to the clock; I'll be leaving in an hour. I take the cup & decide to wash it. Trouble at the door; it's locked. I open it, allowing Kuya Cece to come in. 

The printing press people who couldn't care less about the crazy man commotion eat dinner: McDo this time; suweldo. I wash my mug by the sink; pass by the office to get to the nice CR. Jamie's discussing security w/ a secretary; I take a leak. On my way back to my corner office, I see the buzz of discussion; I hear little. I'm back behind my desk. Kuya Cece's at his desk, w/ earphones on. It's quiet. I'm alone. Cool.


Things to consider:

- The picture represents a moment.

- Looking at the picture is going back to that moment.

- Time elapsing means change, moving away from that moment.

- The desire to look at the picture means meaning.

* Did you concretely & honestly elaborate on these points in your piece, especially the last?

Here, choice of tone & details to be included are vital for a more subtle & complex exploration as opposed to mere react-&-reflect. Maybe read "Zero Gravity" again for inspiration. Notice choice of detail, how they're described, the subtle acknowledgment of time/change, the TONE...

Push yourself!

Again, it's late & I'm alone. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" playing from Kuya Cece's computer. Just finished making comments on the last of my students' essays. I've read maybe 10 today. Plus 4 poems. English & Filipino. I rush them to school early tomorrow morning. Then back to the office, to the chair I sit on now, in front of a screen that stares back at me at least 40 hours a week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A new kind of indifferent

The other week I saw a McDo crew member outside his branch across Edsa Central, w/ family & friends around him, taking pictures of him in his clean uniform on his 1st day of work. Smiles were wide. A woman I figure to be the mother dabbed the corners of her eyes w/ a tissue. I couldn't help but smile at the day's news.

One of my favorite teachers from college required us to write reactions to 2 local columnists every week. Others dreaded the assignment; I found it a chore at times. But I insisted on the value of the exercise. 

More than just a practice of writing, it was an exercise in being up to date w/ the goings-on. And coupled w/ my insistence on presenting personal thoughts in valid analytical frameworks, I became my version of a responsible citizen -- upholding my duty to be concerned w/ the issues in an extensive way.

But I now skip the Inquirer as daily reading, & settle w/ The New York Times & The New Republic, mostly for updates on the US presidential elections -- as if those things affected me more than whatever it is that dominates the front pages of the Bulletin these days. 

The other day I watched 'the news' & listened to a comparison made between Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin & the proverbial slutty-teacher figure. "She'll win votes from those who want to fantasize fucking her!" said the 'newscaster.' A day later I edited an article where an Aquino is mentioned; I Googled to check if he's the 1 who's a senator.

This morning I arrived at work & went straight online to Yup, Pumaren's pissed as I'd thought he'd be. Headline: "2M kilos of Chinese milk sold in RP stores." I closed the window & chat with an officemate whose head rested on his desk. His wife is due in a week; the thought of providing for a kid comes w/ too much worry.

So I'm working now, interacting w/ real working people, w/ real issues, real concerns. I know, on a much deeper level, the word on the street, the sweat of the common man, his odor, his armpits all up on my face as I beg for air riding home on the train. When I ride a cab, my nods to the driver's musings are more pronounced, as if to say I finally truly understand what he means, cuz I too have all these adult obligations.

So months after graduating, I've slowly morphed into what I thought I'd never become -- apathetic, hiding behind excuses: sumusunod naman ako sa batas; may respeto naman ako sa kapwa kong tao. 

But the truth is that I've lost touch w/ the issues, the seemingly abstract conundrums that lead to the palpable grief I see firsthand. I've clumped all institutions-related problems together as a generic whole, reducing understanding to generalizations, & most unfortunately, begun to accept things at the top as as is, unworthy of my attention cuz of my smaller, working man concerns.

Sure, I'm more in touch, issues I've mused over now seemingly more tangible. But that has made me, in a way, a new kind of indifferent. And in this light, I finally, truly, get it... this... this mess.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Perfect stranger


how is thee?

I had noticed her return to YM recently, & I suppose I needed the reassurance that things aren't so bad for other people.

Hey Marts!

I'm good.

How are you?

I remember those who call me 'Marts' & in no other variation of my name. She's 1 of them. The others are a high school friend who has gone on to star in films w/ Pacquiao, as well as another close high school friend who taught me that it was OK to have a unpopular passion -- for him it was film, before it was cool in a very popular & democratic way; he's now teaching in film school, I hear.


you working na?

What's steady?

Nope, just part-time.

Break before studying again.

She was always 1 of the smarter 1s, though it's easy for people to underestimate her. I've always said she's the sweetest girl I'll ever meet, heartbreakingly sweet. And not in a weak, pushover way. She can hold her own, but she's not 1 for situations where she has to prove this. She's 1 of the few people I've met who genuinely believes in the best in people.

not so high, not so low.

part-time doing what?

law school after, right?

I see.



What have you been up to?

She was a blockmate of mine, 1 of the few Theater Arts majors before she shifted out. Our conversations, always pleasant, often skimming the deep end, were always a result of chance encounters -- a bench outside De La Costa before a test,  a walk to the footbridge, sharing the front passenger seat of another blockmate's car, the rest of them filling the back. 

working. head of writing and concepts for a new design company. 

and teaching cw sa 'teneo.

writing, really?

saan lumalabas ang works mo?


You're teaching!

That's great!

SO proud of you!

It's for NGOs, so it's really internal.

I was asked to speak at her debut a few years ago, & I couldn't say much. Didn't know her thru thick & thin. Never really confided in each other our worries outside generalizations of them. At most, at times of worry, she would just be someone who was concerned but reasonable enough not to intrude. So we would chat, completely skirting the issue/s -- & there was sincerity in that.

All I said during her debut was that I wished her the best. It was short. It was honest. The most honest I can ever be.

ah ok cool.

so what's the timeline on law school.

june 09?

More like September, cos I'm not gonna be studying here.



I can try for January, but I'd rather settle in Canada first and find work before studying.


Her mother's in Canada; wasn't able to attend graduation. I don't remember asking if she was OK w/ it when she mentioned it in passing; she's close to her mother. I was concerned, though -- just didn't say so, cuz we never do.

I do remember this news coming when I was musing something existential -- a means to hide problems more trivial. She listened as usual. But didn't say anything. We parted, wishing each other the best again.


leaving our shores.

Yeah, it's fine.

I'm beginning to embrace it.

It's not like I'm not going back.

It's nice to try something different di ba? Expand your territory.

But hey, enough about that.

Look at you teaching and all that!

havent seen you in awhile but you still sound like yourself.

Is that good or bad?

that's good.

in a weird way it's reassuring.

i've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of change...

how when sincere, it's simply moving with the currents within...

and with that can come, i suppose, good or bad, a kind of pretentious experimenting.

but persons like you...

self as irrevocable, set, future and change as a reaching out...

and as expansion...

not a turning away

but a moving forward

and a growing

there's 'truth' in that.

in short, ya, good.

i don't know.

I get you. But I would've placed it in simpler terms.


i'm weird like that.

I have a close group of friends w/ whom I would say I have an intense relationship w/. Then there are many friendly acquaintances w/ whom pleasantries & small talk are the extent of it. Then there are the strangers -- those I know due to circumstances w/c have allowed for glimmers of proximity but have also hindered further cultivation. 

But it's in these kinds of relationships where cultivation would almost defeat the purpose, for their significance is precisely in those moments of chance, moments of meaningful & short-lived but sincere, symbiotic gratification. It somehow reaffirms things that often those closest to you -- say, your family -- fail to express ... like the desire for your well-being.

That's fine.

That's you.

SO how's teaching?

i generally like it.

it's tough.

but it's good.

there's something about saying something and having people hang on to your words.

kinda scary.

but in a good way. makes me mindful.

That's true.

Wow, you get to inspire and mold minds!

i wouldnt say that.

corrupt them maybe.


my boss called for a meeting...

gotta go.

just wanted to see how you were doing...

dont be a stranger, ok?


i won't be if you won't.

We won't speak in months, won't know each other's progress. I won't even think of her. And that's OK. Because there's something to be said about the perfect kind of stranger.

* * *

Ito, ang aking The Chiaroscuro Variations, birthday joke ko kay Pancho (September 17).