Thursday, August 28, 2008


I'm interested, you see, in change -- drastic change, change whose causes are likely more fascinating than the often lackluster outcomes. I'm interested in causes, the proverbial something. Some say demon; I say, in the vernacular, kiliti, or perhaps more precisely, kulo.

And when I speak of change & its causes, I speak also of expectations. I'm a child of expectations, you see -- groomed by various persons to be a certain way while life's circumstances have also been like a script I'm proactively privy to forgetting.

I've spoken before of looks & the superficiality of appearances. But let's get a little deeper & speak, for example, of survival -- the grace that people have said I should live out in a state of pure joy. Skeptics have assumed I've chosen to be skeptical, as if guilt from the luck-of-the-draw was something good-natured people volunteered for irrationally as opposed to merely feeling in all honesty. Something changed, you see, & that causes more changes that I admit I do not care for. But I don't despise circumstances enough to rid myself of what I believe I'm bearing -- sincerity.

So when I see a kid, my age, given the world of expectations by those we hold in reverence before hitting 18 because of a supposed gift for poetry, I pull for him. And when I see him now, going off like someone whose completely lost it, but still managing to explain himself in an intellectual manner, I say, It makes sense. Even if I've only heard rumored reasons. Even if I question his verbalized explanations. Whatever the real ones are I'll let him have them. It makes him him. Change is singing to true wounds. We don't owe that to anyone but ourselves.

People like the term rebelling a lot, so much so that  there's a culture of reveling in that spirit. But in a definition of the word written by someone I don't recall, I found its true essence: it is not a turning away; it is a searching. 

So we go back to the original word: change. It's change that's exciting, not how much for the better or the worse -- cuz judging would be all wrong. The point is that it happened, & for those living their lives true, the true cause is buried somewhere in them, rumbling. And that's what it's all about right there -- figuring it out, moving w/ the shifts it causes, believing confidently that wherever it takes you is where you were meant to be, at least for now.

Here I speak of possibility.

Last week I met a man -- a famous man -- whose reputation is that of neon colors, glitz, glamor, the good life & all its excesses. He speaks to me while pensively seated on a grey couch, his attire -- based on expectations -- a bland combination of plain jacket, jeans, & sneakers. We talk & our eyes never meet, he looking off to where his mind is, where his heart, I believe, thirsts for a place to beat true. We talk about London, Paris, & over a hundred pairs of shoes. I could almost hear him whispering, under his breath, Why? 

And in that moment, I decided that I care for him. And I'm looking to see where he goes from here.

* * *

Belated Happy Birthday to Gin (August 25)!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Upon seeing a man at a mall

I'm guessing the world doesn't need this sick strew of synthetic pastels, cotton paper left to dry, as brittle as lips having long lost the moistness from a kiss. I'm guessing the world needs no more twigs crafted as if fallen from true trees, w/ perforations left from where 2 parted, thorns that fingernails will scratch in fear of inflicting more pain. I'm guessing God didn't mean for this that 3rd day, didn't mean for such tacky quasi-perfection, glaring in washed hues not quite from nature's color wheel. I'm guessing God meant more when He ordered dominion, when an apple & a snake gave birth to the need for blooms as they were intended, to symbolize the purest of intents -- like confessions, & a man's apology.

Friday, August 15, 2008


It's my 1st mass in months, in the formal dining room of a prominent family whose name's spelling I'm not so certain -- a proactive stance of apathy (-joa-? or -jua-?). They have an altar set up in 1 corner, beside w/c the matriarch sits alone on what I'm calling a throne. The rest of the family, some seemingly sleepily just out of bed at 4PM, sit at the dining table. There are 2 seats off to the side, complete w/ cushioned benches to kneel on during that time of the mass when kneeling is expected. I sit on 1 of those chairs, my boss on the other, like the 2 accused of some sort of sin. After mass the matriarch excuses herself; we all touch noses w/ her in the way of the eskimo for reasons lost on me. It's funny, but I suppose there's a cute endearment in that had I been a part of the clan, had I been taught to do so since childhood. I guess. As the matriarch leaves, the food starts coming out in trays from the kitchen, carried by servants in white uniforms while dogs in diapers run about in the cold of the air-conditioning. Outside a shirtless gardener trims the grass beside the pool & I disturb myself w/ suspicions of Wisteria Lane as the youngest of the family's women sits across from me. 

The shallow perks of work allow me overpriced coffee as well as a seat next to a large mestizo of an elderly man w/ a huge gold necklace & slicked-back hair. He doesn't say anything the whole time, though I find myself reading into the nature of his smile -- whether made out of kindness or inspired by Tony Soprano-like intentions. I'm in a meeting & Manchego cheese & Serrano ham are passed around, servants whispering into my ear, asking what drink I'd prefer. Of course I just say water, not wanting to push my luck as I smirk at the sight of a gregarious family enjoying the life -- but still pushing aside prissy sandwiches & veggie canapes & making do w/ the obligatory dab of brie, but preferring instead to mouth down burnt longganisa & handfuls upon handfuls of good old greasy wanton crisps.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The right kind of conceit

I had once warned the personal essayists in my class that if they had been raped, millions of others have too, if they had cancer, millions of others have it too, & if they had parental problems, millions of others are in the same situation.

And as a continuation to the lesson on the proverbial so-what?, I asked  Rica Bolipata-Santos when she sat in w/ us how she decides whether an aspect of her life is worth writing about or not. 

"Oh, I'm very conceited. I think everything about me is worth writing about." (Another lesson bites the dust.)

My conceit isn't quite at Rica's level yet (though my blogging last week might've proved otherwise) so I'll take this opportunity to veer away from personal hullaballoo to focus on some valuable things Rica said in our class about creative nonfiction.

Now, let's go back to the conceit quote & add another statement: "When I 1st started out I didn't think I'd ever be a published writer. The writing is enough. I don't need to be published."

"Let me see your body," my boss just told my co-worker. "Nice."

Konteksto, kaibigan. Konteksto.

My co-worker is drawing a girl figure for 1 of our clients. My boss wanted her to open the .pdf file of the illustration of the girl character's whole body.

Now, back to Rica & contextualizing her statements, cuz of course she isn't 1 of them mere journal writers who operate solely on cathartics. She wouldn't be the wonderful writer that she is if she was (Google her if you still don't know who I speak of.)

Let's proceed w/ my favorite of all questions, w/c Rica said in class: "Why should I care?" And here is where I'll throw in her take on the proverbial personal-to-universal lesson: When writing, especially a personal essay, 1 is taking something from his private realm & throwing it into the public realm, w/ the intent of having another take what is given to the public to bring it back to his own private realm. It must be relatable, readers insist. I agree, but prefer to think of it as something worth investing in, or worth engaging. (Can't relate to  the events of the '60s but I can be informed of it, interested in it, touched by it; can't relate to the anger behind a manifesto but if written well I can be engaged intellectually to disagree w/ it.)

This brings us to what is dubbed the "burden" of nonfiction: insight -- expressed explicitly or implicitly. Nonfiction, said Rica, necessitates a relaying of information ("non") & a recognition of the self ("fiction" -- as in w/ characters if my interpretation is correct; a persona & the readers I count as characters), leading to the end-all of some semblance of enlightenment. Wasak. Good way of breaking it down, I think.

This is where I'll place my favorite quote from that morning: "You should be good at critiquing someone else only because you're good at critiquing yourself." Ang galing.

It becomes clear, at least for me, that 1 can be conceited if the work -- taken as a serious, cathartic craft -- is viewed as enough. This speaks of the kind of sincere respect & love for the craft that's unsurpassed by any other motive.

Thanks, Rica. Was a true pleasure.

(And a brief moment of unapologetic conceit: I'm Ok. We're OK.)

* * *

Birthday ni Japs bukas (August 12). Happy birthday, pards. Miss kita.

Friday, August 08, 2008

What I know

I know I'm not white, I know I'm not black, I know that being brown connotes different things for different people.

I know I'm smart, I know there are others who are smarter, I know talent goes along way, I know friendliness takes you further.

I know the ocean is blue, & so is the sky though not always. I know to call something blue is often not enough, & I know that when I say I'm blue, people will ask why, & I know the reasons why they ask aren't always out of obligation.

I know to be cool is to be cool, & limiting oneself to coolness isn't cool at all. I know love can be beautiful, can be hurtful, can be felt. And I know I will never completely know love; still, I insist I've never been this close to knowing so.

I know words have the depth of meaning, & that silence can be richer. I know not all things need saying, & I know I know the importance of conversation.

I know compromise is a giving up, & I know giving up can be transcendent. I know sacrifice is overrated & underrated at the same time.

I know forever is great, & I know now is all that matters. I know ends are always coming, & I know ends aren't always the end. 

But I know I know things can begin, & begin again, & begin again. And I hold on to what I know because what I know is all I got. 

And I'll continue to hold on. Again & again & again.

* * *

With Joel's book launch, & Marie's Palanca win, & a brilliant essay I just read written by my student, I know at least the writerly gods are smiling & that just good, sincere work can be enough.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Journal entry: Emo (& sincere)

I've long resigned to thinking I'd never be completely happy -- just not in my nature. That said, & people have noticed, I've never been as happy as I've been over the past 11 months. And I've never admitted to this but here goes: I've been trying to be -- not content w/ self-inflicted states of cynicism & sadness. Isn't it only fitting then for a life led like mine -- a not quite happy life -- to have the happiest time ever stop at 11 months: not quite a year? Cuz you're not supposed to be high for too long, says the author of this life, not even for an increment of 365 days. (No, not me.)

But never mind perspective. Fuck it! Let's leave that for when we're on rocking chairs in a place above w/c I pray exists. No -- no putting things in place, no closure to a chapter. No! This is not the end. I won't let this end just as I have most other things/persons I've loved. This story is still writing itself -- w/ my whole body holding on to the pen of the hack writer Life is. There's still time, more pages to fill.  (Join me. Please?)

There's still love -- & here goes: I've begun to believe in the human spirit's ability to channel everything to that end. (Don't leave. I'm begging.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


His leg was caught in between the legs of the woman standing in front of him. I had backed up a few mini-steps -- all I could afford w/out burying my book-filled backpack into the groin of the old man behind me. This paved a good 1.5-foot opening for the man w/ the cap to pass thru. Still, his leg got caught in between a woman who might've been standing a little too defiantly in the 1st place. The man w/ the cap tripped out of the train onto the platform & immediately glared back, catching my eyes in a stare down. The old man behind me nudged me forward to the wide-stanced woman. She pushed me off to the side where my head met the elbow of a woman holding the railing above. The old man & the 2 younger women gave me similar looks of disgust. I addressed each of them w/ a tilt of the head. You gotta be kidding me, my furrowing brows retorted at the unspoken accusations made by disgusted faces. At the next station, I resign to an Excuse me & the silly pleasantries of bowing my head, hands clasped -- Paalam po . Cuz it's always my fault in the end. Always.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Someone once told me that when someone else had pointed me out as I was sitting in 1 corner of the FA lounge, she thought He doesn't look like a Palanca winner. The story was told to me when that someone & I were much closer, of course, & a lot has happened since. The story stuck w/ me, though, far beyond those involved in the equation, after all these months, years -- its essence a reality so glaring that it saddens me. Angers me.

There was a time when circles were mad at The Man, & this cause continued on in ways sincere or not so, the concept of cool playing a role that shouldn't go unnoticed. So now isn't it only expected that somewhere along the way a man (or men) would be so irked by The Circle after all that he has noticed?