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Monday, November 25, 2013

Nobody's home



He was there sitting under the shade of one of those tents built oddly within the compound of Villamor Airbase. He was eating a Jollibee packed meal: a piece of heavily breaded chicken, a cup of rice and a small portion of gravy. His was a quiet scene amidst noise of disorganization, uncertainty and people walking in circles. 

His name is Aurelio Capili, a little over 70 years old (because he can not tell exactly how old is he). He is one of the thousands of refugees who chose to flee the heavily devastated Tacloban City in Leyte. 

He and the others said there was nothing left for them in that city. No food, no home, no loved ones - everything was washed away by the ferocious wind and water brought by super typhoon Haiyan. Two or three days of waiting, he said, and many of them refugees said, there was still no food, even a decent water to drink. So they took matters in their hands and let fate decide for them. They had to escape. 

Aurelio arrived in Manila Thursday morning. More than 356 miles from his hometown Tacloban, he arrived with one of those C-130 planes of the Armed Forces. He had plans. He informed the volunteers that gathered in Villamor Airbase that he needed to go to his relatives in Laguna. He said they will take care of him from then on. 

And so before night, the volunteers were able to bring Aurelio to his new home in Cabuyao, Laguna. There he was welcomed by suprised relatives who, of course, knew already of what became of Tacloban. When things appread to have been settled, the volunteers left. 

By Friday, Aurelio was back at Villamor Airbase. 

He didn't explain how, or what his relatives told him. He said he doesn't want to talk about it anymore. He said his relatives can not take him. That life is hard for them, too, and that they already have much to worry even without him. He said he understand and said no more. 

Asked if he has other relatives that can take care of him, Aurelio just shook his head. One thing is sure: he's not going back to Tacloban. What's the difference, he said. He has no home to come home to anywhere. 
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thieves and beggars

"Nasa'n na daw sila?"

"Sir papunta na. Naghahanap na lang 'yung nanay ko ng kasama papunta dito."

"Sabihin mo bilisan na nila nagagalit na 'yung mga pulis."

"Sir promise maibabalik 'yung wallet at cellphone mo bago gumabi."

"Eh anong oras na kanina pa dapat sila papunta."

"Maawa po kayo. May dalawang anak ako, buntis pa 'ko."

"Kaya nga bilisan mo na. Sa 'kin okay lang naman eh mainit 'yung mga pulis. Kita mo naman pinagdidiskitahan ka."

Two hours ago

I was about to enter one of the popular malls in the city coming from an adjacent LRT station. I was already lining up for the usual inspection at the entrance when a woman suddenly cut the line in front of me. I didn't argue and just let her be.

She was a small woman, about five feet and two or three inches, wearing white plastic eye glasses, white shirt and jeans. Her hair was short with few highlights and she was carrying this little blue purse.

Five or six seconds passed, she left the line. She even voiced out her change of mind: "'wag na nga lang."

It baffled me. In an instant, a strange sensation filled my insides. Instinct told me to check on my back pack and there I found out it was opened and my wallet and cellphone were nowhere there.

I immediately scanned my surroundings. I thought the thief/thieves is/are still around. And then I saw the same woman who cut the line in front of me. She was already descending the stairs hurriedly, her eyes fixed on the exit not noticing me.

I ran as fast as I could and grabbed her in her arms. As I did, I called for the security guards manning the entrance a few meters away from where I caught the woman.

I told them of what happened. She was acting clueless. She said she was just about to enter the mall but changed her mind. She said she was not doing anything and that she just wanted to go home.

The security guards handcuffed her and brought us to the mall's security office. There, the security officers checked her purse and frisked her, but both my wallet and cellphone were not to be found. We concluded that she had few accomplices. She denied it.

The head of the mall security talked to me in private. There I introduced myself, who I am, where I'm from. I thought my identity made him more resolved to assist me. I explicitly told him I want the woman jailed. He nodded.

The next thing I knew, we hopped on a mobile patrol and we were headed to the police station.

Nerissa

As soon as we get to the police station, again, I gave them my identity. The usual reaction followed, but I immediately proceeded with my tale of what happened.

Then the police interrogated the woman. She was still denying she was the thief.

"Putang ina mo tanggalin mo nga 'yang salamin mo lalo ka lang pumapangit," the police officer said to her, slapping the woman's face. Her eye glasses flew straight to the floor with a tiny crashing sound.

The police officer picked the woman in her arm and brought her to a small room at the inner part of the station.

"Sir relax ka lang diyan. Bigyan mo nga ng kape si sir," the senior looking police told one of the policemen that gathered around us.

A minute after, the police officer came back and talked to me. He said the woman confessed her "crime." That indeed, her group were the one who took my wallet and cellphone. The police officer told me that he was able to convince the woman that if both wallet and cellphone were to be returned intact, she'll be free and no case will be filed.

"Pero sir siyempre sinabi ko lang 'yun para maibalik muna natin 'yung gamit mo. Sa huli ikaw pa rin magdedesisyon kung kakasuhan natin. Karapatan mo naman 'yun," he explained.

I nodded and agreed to the plan. I asked if I can talk to her. The police officers did not object.

She said her name is Nerissa. She's 29 years old and pregnant. From the looks of it, I guess her baby is about four or five months old.

"Sir pasensiya na kayo. 'Wag ninyo po akong ipakulong. 'Yung asawa ko nakakulong na sa Munti, may dalawa pa 'kong anak," she pleaded.

She said she was just a "bakero", a backer, and that she was not the "tagapitas", or the actual person who picks on the items the group is about to steal. There were three of them, she said. The other two were positioned behind me. The woman, she said, was named Alma, and with her a guy named Bong.

Apparently, she acted as bait. Cutting the line in front of me was their way of distracting my attention. It was then that her two accomplices worked on me.

She said usually she gets P1,000 or P1,500, depending on the amount of money or items they steal. It was only her second time joining Alma's group, she explained, but admitted that she was already doing it in Caloocan City with a different group.

Three hours after

The police officers and I were growing impatient. She was calling her accomplices and her mother thru her own cellphone that my stuff be brought to the police station immediately. My calm and reassuring voice turned vicious.

"Ano ba? Sabi mo kanina papunta na bakit wala pa rin? Pasalamat ka wala tayo sa Maynila. Kung dun ninyo ko dinale wala ka nang kamay ngayon tarantado ka."

At that time she was already sobbing. She asked me not to worry because my wallet and cellphone were already with her mother.

"Sir nasa nanay ko na. Pinakuha ko naman agad kasi baka ilaglag ako nina Alma. Sir 'pag hindi ninyo nabawi 'yung wallet at cellphone sampal-sampalin ninyo ko. Naghahanap lang ng kasama 'yung nanay ko."

I was getting frustrated. I wondered if I'm really getting back my wallet and cellphone.

Few minutes passed, the station chief arrived. He was a sturdy looking guy, probably in his mid 30s. He probably came from the Academy. I was introduced by his men and so, again, I recounted to him what happened.

After that, he went for Nerissa. What proceeded, shocked me to my core. The chief slapped her strong in the face and kicked her. Before I knew it, Nerissa was already on the floor, writhing in pain as she
was clutching her pregnant belly.

"Nasa'n 'yung mga kausap niyan? Ba't hinahayaan ninyong siya magtext. Ikulong ninyo 'yan," he sternly said. His men followed immediately

He took Nerissa's phone and talked to her so-called mother.

"Thirty minutes lang. Pumunta kayo dito kundi itutuluyan ko 'to," he said without even waiting for the person on the other line to respond.

Few minutes passed, an old lady with a teenager girl entered the station. She was carrying a plastic and from there, she whipped out my wallet and cellphone.

The station chief asked me to check if nothing is missing. A quick inspection proved that not a single centavo was taken. Both my wallet and cellphone looked exactly the same the last time I held on to them. 

The old woman pleaded for her daughter. Surprisingly, I felt not a single drop of pity for them. To cut the long story short, I still filed a complaint.

"Sir, kung hindi na kayo makakabalik para sa follow-up 'wag kayong mag-alala. Hahanap na lang kami ng kunwaring complainant," the station chief told me.

Epilogue

The police mobile dropped me in a mall a few kilometers away from the station where I can take a ride home.

While sitting on of those benches facing the night street, I noticed my hands were shaking. And then I felt my eyes were tearing-up until my sight became blurry. I immediately forced back the threatening tears and scolded my self.


I guess I was just really tired that time. I remember my last meal was breakfast. It was already passed 8:00 in the evening.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Waves



Last week, I got a short reprieve from work and went climbing up the north. Had a few stops which include me and my friends getting lost somewhere in the mountainous area of Ilocandia. Nothing to worry though. We got out of it alive with few scratches and, as my friend love to call it, a near-death-experience, where we were holding onto each others' arms for our dear life, indeed narrowly escaping death via a sharp fall straight to hell from that treacherous cliff. Again, we're fine.

But the main target of this short get-away is to experience surfing in San Juan, La Union, christened as the surfing capital of the north. 

The waves looked pretty cool. Death-defying, as my friend described it (he loves equating everything to death), but I actually thought they were gentle enough for beginners like us. It's the genesis of surfing season thus both locals and foreign fanatics are starting to troop to different surfing camps across the country.

It was a year ago when we discovered the joys of surfing. It was in Baler, Aurora, where, despite our fears of never stepping onto a dry land again drowned by the deafening roars of the Pacific Ocean, we hired an instructor and just went for it, hearts thumping from nervousness. Surprisingly, before five minutes of it could pass, we knew. We're in love with it!

La Union's waves, as I initially observed, indeed was way gentler than those of Baler's. Although I should say that my Aurora-native instructor was gentler compared to the guy I hired in San Juan. The latter was more professional about it while the former seemed more like a friend teaching than a real instructor. In fact, I'm still blushing every time I remember that instance when, due to the smashing wave of the Pacific, my board short almost left me, exposing my ass as I was climbing back on top of the board. Luckily, he was kind enough to put it back. Embarrassing. 

Going back.

As I stepped on the surfing board, the familiar sensation kicked in. It was liberating, euphoric. If diving into the sea feels like being with the sea, and diving is like being one with it, surfing is like conquering it. And because it relies deeply in ephemeral conditions, every ride, though only last for seconds, felt like a glimpse to eternal ecstasy. 

It's possible that I'm exaggerating. That my overly poetic mind is altering the simpleness of it all. But really, it's no walk in the park to be able to stand the staggering waves. Truth is it's dangerous. It's tough. It requires a lot of strength, timing and balance to push yourself up. That's why it's a different rush of bliss, a revelry of its own kind. 

From the simple thought of being able to surf up to the metaphorical progression you can equate with it, surfing is one of those few things that brings me a certain kind of calm and pleasure. Like basketball and writing and jet skiing. A memory I always visit when the tides of everyday grind get tough. For whenever I'm up there alone, the sea on my feet, the heavens on my face, the entirety of it, it tells me that "it's alright" and "I'm alright."
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Untitled loss

To be honest I still don't know how to put into words the feelings I had back then. All I know is that when the host mentioned another name as the winner, everything fell into deep silence. And then I saw people in tears. Happy tears. People were hugging one another, clutching trophies, exchanging handshakes. Slowly, I felt like fading. I just looked straight ahead without knowing where. 

"There must be a catch to this, a punchline perhaps. There has to be," I told myself after realizing what happened. But the final number of the program took place, a song number performed with a Disney classic "Go The Distance." It was a motion blur. Until I found myself sitting inside a car. As the strong wind and rain of an approaching typhoon pounded outside, the truth began sinking on me. It ended so quick. Empty handed, I'm going home without anything. The winner took it all. 

I was not able to sleep that night. I was thinking what went wrong, what I did wrong. And if so that I did something right, then why weren't they enough? But what made this loss such a huge heartbreak is the realization that I failed people's expectations. I wanted to say sorry. Not only for my mentors, but especially for my family and friends who always say "I can." I wanted to say sorry because I proved otherwise. 

I felt shame, like a tattoo branded on my skin for everyone to see. I didn't just fail. I failed every person who believed in me. 

I was afraid that grief would once again bring me into depression. Because if so, I'd turn sick again and then I can no longer hide the nagging pain I was trying to keep from everyone. I rant on Twitter about this, even behind verses, and this very entry, but very few people are aware I was taking this blow very hard. 

Surprisingly, not even a single drop of tear were shed because of this recent failure. But always, its throws me into some deep contemplation where I still try to fathom the things I could've done differently. Sometimes, I chase that flickering flame of hope, consoling myself that there will be next time. Only, I would go back to the drawing table because, I think, that for as long as I am not able to determine where mistakes were committed, where I fell short, I'd met the same fate over and over. And that would mean another failure. Another loss. 

I have not yet fully absorbed the consequences of this loss. This I'll have to bear beside the feeling of defeat. I should know that most people suffer the same as I have. I should know you can rise from every failure, and opportunities can spring from it, or something like that. But to borrow a favorite writer's words, "I look for resolution and find none."
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Monday, September 30, 2013

Murder

The daughter of my mother's second cousin was brutally murdered. The perpetrator, her own husband. 

She was 46. She was hacked to death, stabbed from head to toe by the very same person who brought her in front of the altar more than 10 years ago. The very same man who swore, in front of God and His people, to love her, protect her until his last breath. Only, he took that last breath of her with his own hands, armed by a sharp blade and a drug that took over his soul. 

Her lifeless body was found in her own bed. After killing his wife, he tried escaping and went to the bus station in Cubao. But he told the police investigator he was bothered by his conscience. So he called his father-in-law and informed him of his crime. 

"Puntahan ninyo 'yung anak ninyo sa kwarto namin. Pinatay ko," he said. (I killed your daughter. Go find her in our room.)

So the father went to his daughter's house, and there he found her daughter's lifeless body lying in her own bed. He burst into tears, shouting curses, calling for his daughter's name again and again. He held her bloodied body, but when he tried lifting her, parts of the body almost collapsed, adding to the horror of the scene. The head dangled from the neck, threatening to detach itself. 

So he wrapped the body with a blanket, still calling for her name. He called his wife to inform her of what happened, and the rest became a blurry memory. 

A few hours after, her children of 10 and 8 will be found standing in front of her coffin. The older one would be heard saying, "mommy, tayo ka na diyan, gutom na ko." (Mommy, please get up. I'm hungry.) The kid's pleadings will forever remain unanswered. 

Their father, the suspect, told many excuses during interrogation. He said he found her wife wrapped around another man's arms. He said jealousy drove her to commit such crime. 

But the neighbors told a different story. They said she was a battered wife. Often, they heard shoutings; the husband, threatening. All of these were unknown to her parents. They said she was always a quiet girl, always smiling, encouraging. 

The suspect is now under custody of authorities. But not for long. Soon he will face immediate judgment. I heard it's already being arranged for our family doesn't take this matter lightly. I've known this dark side of the family since I was a kid, a truth that forever I shall carry, a strange thing that always brings me into deep contemplation. 

As I stared closely to those two kids standing in front of their mother's grave, as the dark clouds slowly emerged from the horizon, I remembered a familiar quote from this book I'm reading: "each of us is guilty before all and for all." I still don't know exactly what it means, but somehow, I know this is one of those moments Fyodor Dostoevsky was thinking.  

It was a murder of its own kind, but one that is not unheard of. It was one of those stories that I'm used to because of my job as a journalist. Only this time, it was something born, not out of interviews and police reports, but from the very core of my existence, a hint of blood throbbing in my veins connected to the very same blood that flowed generously on that fateful day that brought us here. 
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

That old gay guy in the sauna

There was always a sense of rush whenever I arrive in the gym. I'd go straight in the locker room, change clothes, do my routine, cool down a bit after, hit the sauna for a few minutes, shower and then off to my next schedule. 

But him, I always see him there. Most of the time inside the changing area, or in the sauna, or in the steam room. He would stand there in a corner pretending to watch the television, but if you look closer, you'll notice his eyes are always restless, waiting for something. Or looking. As boys and men strip to gear up for workout or office or school, his eyes roam the area. 

Always he wears that long white towel around his waist, emphasizing more his melon-like bulging stomach. His skin a little wrinkled. He's probably twice my age, possibly older than my father. He's bald. His face always connotes a sly smile, at some point evilish, always scheming. 

In those times that I passed by him, I noticed he was always catching my gaze. During the first few times, I would look at him straight in the eye with my infamous devilish stare which literally translates to "fuck off or I'll strangle your neck." But he didn't budge. Instead he just smiled and made me feel more awkward. So the next time, I found myself trying in all my might not to throw even a glance towards him. 

At one point, after finishing a tough workout, I went straight in the sauna to relax a bit before covering a basketball game. As I sat inside, I noticed I wasn't alone. He was there, sitting in that dank, dark corner again flashing that devilish smile of his. I tried ignoring him. I closed my eyes as I tried immersing myself in a far away thought. But I was unsuccessful. 

He moved and positioned himself closer to me. From that, I was already building a plan inside my head. I thought the moment he touch me, I will punch him in the face and drag his ass all the way to the reception area and report him. But he didn't do anything except from that point, he made annoying sounds using his mouth. Smacking his lips, rolling his tongue continuously - of course I knew what he was trying to convey for clearly I wasn't born yesterday.

When I opened my eyes and looked straight down at him, there's that smile of him again, his tongue gliding around his ugly lips disgustingly. 

It was too much for me. I tried my best restraining myself from being violent. Instead, I stood up. But before I could reach the door, I said "fuck you" in the coldest, hate-filled manner I could muster.

The following days, he was no longer trying to catch my gaze. But as I quietly observe I noticed a few things from other gym-goers. Some of the boys, whenever "old pervert guy" enters the sauna, would not hide their annoyance and would immediately leave. Some would even roll their eyes. 

I also saw him going after a guy but was blatantly rejected. One time, there were these two guys hitting at each other inside the sauna. And so I left to give them their well deserved privacy. Then came "old pervy guy" and in a snap, the two boys left the sauna room and head for the showers. But "old pervy guy" did not stop them. He followed them and stood there in front of the shower door breaking the "force field" between the two. But the most disgusting thing is when, at the corner of my eye, while I was changing clothes in the locker room, I caught him removing his towel, intentionally flashing his ---- that I can't even talk about. It was way worse than nightmare.

From then on, I looked at him like a vile creature. Someone who should just disappear so the world will be a happy place again. But then, pity. I don't know how to say it, but I kinda feel sorry for him. But again, that as another arrogant thing for me to say. 

I wonder, if he happens to be a young gorgeous looking guy, would he get the same treatment he's getting? Is he far from guys of my age getting blowjobs and handjobs inside the sauna or the steam room? And then for some reason, those question makes me sad. 

I still see him in the gym. And I still don't like him. But I don't know. There's something different that even up to now, I don't know what it is.

Yesterday, while changing inside this private changing stall in the locker room, I noticed a new vandal, in bold, saying: "DAPAT HINDI PINAPAYAGAN SA SAUNA/STEAM YUNG MATANDANG BAKLANG PANGET."

I never know what to make of it. But I thought, maybe it is true. That this world we're living in was never never kind. Hopefully I'm wrong. 
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Yet you are not here

You know those times when I have lots of things in my mind, ideas to write about, like poems and opinions or a melody perhaps. But when faced by a blank paper, or a blinking cursor in the computer monitor, the piano keys, they're all gone right on a snap. Actually no. There would be faint traces of them, staggering in all places yet I can't make sense of it anymore. And then in those moments of solitude, like those times when I'm on a ride on my way home before witching hour, they're back. Dancing before my very eyes like the flickering night lights of the city, inviting, conquering my images of unfeelingness towards a grand landscape of beauty.  

That's how you appear to me, my love. One moment you're there only to disappear by the next. But always, taking me beyond breathless desire, consuming all my senses until I don't know what to say anymore. Or what to do. Except to love you. 

If only I can bury my words in you, make you feel my music born within my fingers. But before I could, once again you are gone. And so once again, I wait for that horizon where your figure would appear with a hope that, maybe, if I wait long enough you'll never disappear again. 

_____
"Yet you're not here" taken from  Nayyirah Waheed's "I wake to you everywhere, yet you are not here"
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Monday, August 5, 2013

Escaping thoughts

I still repeat the things you said to me in my head: the lies and your half-baked truth, your empty promises, and yes, even the unspoken words of rejection. There are times when I'd thread them, chew them into pieces hoping a world of clarity and knowing would dawn. That the remnants of your disengagement would lead me somewhere far, far enough from the past where I have imposed myself on you and found nothing but air of discontent.

But I love you. Yet tragically, I don't need you. But in you I found a world of wondrous dreams, filling my insides with desire, firing my senses to a point of delirious ecstasy. And because of this I will wait. I will wait to a point of hopelessness and excruciating endings. I will wait until there's no more me or you, to a point where the world would surrender itself. Because the only way this world would be free is when at last, I am free to make love with you. 
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Monday, July 15, 2013

The lost and the found

Let me confess to you. I've done something which I think would make you mad. I know. I'm sorry. But I can't help it. I guess I'll never stop until I know and so I have to check, see for myself. 

I saw his profile. It's him, I know. He's the lucky guy. The one he chose. The love of his life. The one he's happy with. The one that gave meaning to his life. His life now. 

I stared long and hard at the guy's profile picture and there I said to myself, "Ah, I can never be him." 

He's perfect! He's got everything I don't and will have things I'll never get. Not anywhere near. Not in this lifetime.

He's having his perfect life with him. He makes him happy the way I can't. By the sound of things, he's exceptionally intelligent. He has a good career, good looks and a good family. 

He look like his feet never touched the streets. He's so refined, I observed, and the same thing was said by people close to him. Class exudes from him naturally like a gold that would sparkle when touched by light. 

To put it simple, he's pretty. And he looks like he knew it all along and that he was told of it since long. Again, to put it simple, he is everything that I am not. 

But I'm not about to start a pity party or anything, so don't you worry. Sometimes you can compare just so to realize some things, helps you decide or go forward. 

I'm goin' to be honest since this is a confession. Yes, I am jealous. A little bit. But beyond his perfect looks, his perfect smile and his perfect life, I am jealous of the fact that he makes him happy. And complete. That part where I know I failed.

And as I stare more, I felt that he was staring back. And there I saw kindness. It surprised me for I was expecting to see pity. He must be kind. And generous. And honest. And patient. Maybe that's why he has all these. And him. 

It was the end of it. I clicked the "x" mark and with finality, I turned the computer off. It was witching hour and as I change my clothes to sleep I saw myself in the mirror, tired and worn out after a busy day at work. 

At this point if you are expecting some Earth shattering contemplation or realization, or something inspiring, I deeply apologize for I had none.   

I looked at myself, the same 26 year old average guy, nothing exceptional, nothing Earth shatering. And then I nod. I went to bed, closed my eyes and woke up the next day to a new morning ready to live once more. Another day of being me...
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Monday, June 24, 2013

26

It was probably my first birthday celebration that I fell sick. But as always in my life, the show must go on. I still went to work, managed to feed colleagues, meet friends and made that birthday surprise for my mother a success. The only thing that was cancelled's our supposed family trip last Sunday as I was high on fever the night before. 

Days before my birthday I was having the usual "pre-birthday crisis." Again with that contemplation on life, relationships and the realisation of my youth slowly drifting away. I wanted to resign from work, give-up on a childhood dream and go for that job that will allow me to buy pleasures I never had. I thought of entering the seminary. I thought of applying for scholarship abroad. I thought of drowning myself. I thought of killing someone. Basically it was all these swirls of thoughts nagging, banging like tribal drums in my head in a deafening crescendo. 

The show must go on. I survived that crisis with remnants of those thoughts still knocking fervently from time to time. And now I'm writing this in between sneezes. But in grand tradition of birthdays, I try to write something significant. Something that could be a record for that day when the mind would forget, too tired to remember the old days. 

Yes, there is a feel to ramble about stuff. Like why politicians are corrupt? Why Manila is overflowing with trash? Or why Filipinos are so undisciplined? Why am I gay? Why can't I have super powers? 

Maybe I should focus on the simpler ones. Like why at 26 I have more questions than answers? Why am I still that same irresponsible kid who can't even make his own bed? 

I was born during the Summer Solstice. When the day is longer and the sun in its most glorius flight. I am a son of the Sun. In cold I am weak. And that is the reason why I'm sick right now. The changing weather, the cold at night and the torrential rain punctured through my depths. 

This is not how I imagined I will be at this age. Or in a smaller scale, I didn't imagine I will have my birthday this year like this I imagined a happier me, physically better and most of all, financially well. I still don't have abs, and I still get money from my parents. I'm always almost broke and as you're already aware of, I'm still the same single [virgin] boy the first day we met. The country is still drifting in a sea of blood, people are clueless and are still slaves to superficiality and illussions. 

The show must go on. And it was probably the hardest lessons I had to learn. That there are no intermissions in between acts. That life will not stop when you're sick or when you're nursing a heartache or when you're celebrating your birthday. Close your eyes for a second and the next thing you'll know, the world has already left you. Yesterday I was young but now...I don't know. 

The moment I get well I plan on bathing under the rain. The son of Sun will walk under the rain like the Moon threading the Earth. There is little in my understanding of the show but there remains worlds to conquer and I promise, in the coming days, I'll learn to make my bed and maybe work some more and see about that singlehood I used to rumble about.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

3 years of love letters

























"I'm not always the best at expressing myself to you, so I'm taking advantage of the fact that I will be completely unresponsive when you read this and therefore incapable of messing things up."

"I want to thank you for giving me a chance. When I first saw you, I knew I had found something incredible. And since then all I've wanted was to be with you as much as possible."

-(From Vincent's letter to Kate in the book Die For Me by Amy Plum)

Today marks the third year of Désolé Boy, the alter ego. It was in this same humid month, the margin of Philippine summer that leads to its rainy season, where once, a boy 23 years of age wrote in his naivety "I fell in love with a stranger." It would be the beginning of three years of writing painfully self-absorbed confessions and musings. It would be the beginning of a series of failed attempts to love, where words became witnesses of joy, cruelty and sincerity. It was three years since then and as I look back at the letters that formed I felt sadness, shame and fear. 

Sadness because most of the stories are indeed sad. Sadness because there I saw, that at such a young age, I should've been dancing with love the way boys and girls of my generation did. I shouldn't have made myself hurt me. I shouldn't have slashed my thighs with that silver blade. I shouldn't have begged for his attention. But they happened. And the scars and words are monuments to them now. 

Shame because I wanted to write a different story for Desole Boy. I wanted to write "Désolé Boy No More" and show that there, I finally got my happy ending the way those people I've met finally got theirs. I am ashamed that three long years have passed and I'm still walking the same Fate. I am ashamed to admit that I still fall in love and repeatedly I still get hurt. 

Fear because I don't know how the next three years would be different than what I've already written. Fear because I don't know if I could still make it, handle all the thoughts swirling in my head and the reality I am entrusted with. I was never strong. In fact I cry a lot though far from anyone's eyes. Sometimes I even need to cry myself to sleep. This uncertainty of growing up sends shivers that everytime it passes my thoughts I feel like swelling, like I could hear the planets rumbling and the stars bursting one by one. 

But more than anything, I take pride of this Désolé Boy. He's been my companion for the past three years. He's the metaphor of my self. He's the musician. He's the soft writer, far different from the hardened journalist I became. He's the honest voice amidst my cynicism, the romantic boy beside the street-made that is me. He's gone a long way. And although at times I wish he never came, I'm glad that he did and that he's still here. 

In one of my entries I borrowed Jonathan Carol's words and said I take this blog as my love letter to someone I haven't met yet. But actually, this blog is also my love letter for my future self. That hopefully, in that future he inhabits, the world is much kinder and the 23 year old désolé boys in there aren't that sad but a lot stronger than the Désolé Boy three years ago. 
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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Finestra



I noticed this blog is having its biggest downfall since its birth three years ago. Blame it all to its writer who seems to have lost all his sentences when he tried doing a headstand in one of the metro's weekend waterhole. So I guess apologizing is in order.

But then when I started blogging, I was not a fulltime writer unlike now. So writing became too taxing that no more I consider it something therapheutic. I'm just too tired of fact-checking, interviews, plain thinking and then facing a blank computer screen with a ticking bomb inside my head as my deadline.  

The good news is I found a new way to go around writing. I'm into poetry now, which is hard, but I always love the challenge. Sometimes I get frustrated reading works of those young poets, some even way younger than me, for I find them achingly beautiful. I just couldn't find the soul of my words yet. I suspect it is lack of inspiration, a muse to drive my heart, mind and fingers in complete sync. But I'm in no mood finding a muse. Or entertaining one. 

Music is always there to help. I'm in love with Florence + The Machine and recently I discovered Angus and Julia Stone. I listen to them all the time especially on my way home as the slow hum of the car's engine making its way out of the city and the flashes of street lights blurring  provide the best brooding background. 

I'm also thinking of going back to writing music but my piano keyboard at home, apparently, is not in the perfect condition for it since the lowest C is no more working. Most of the times I work on Bb so it would really be a bother. It's a shame, really. Last night while walking along the driveway that leads to the house I had a melody inside my head but I lost it as soon as I took of my clothes. It never came back though. 

The "Project Hot Bod" isn't working exactly as I had hoped for. Sometimes I suspect my chest and tummy area were sloppily made by God. Or He forgot to iron it out before letting me go and proceeded immediately to the next hot guy behind me. 

But enough blaspheming. The fault must be entirely mine. I just can't stop munching chocolates and cakes and diving onto a gallon of ice cream. Eating sweets is the best stress buster to me and its taking a huge toll in producing the dream beach bod. So I doubled my cardio workout. However, free weights suffered immensely as I'm already too tired to get serious with it. I might be in need of a personal instructor but I have no money for it. Or I might join one of those overly gay group exercises (I think they call it Body Jam or something) but I really hate them. I don't feel like talking or interacting with anyone in the gym. 

I can't wait for this election to finish. I will be working 12 to 16 hours for four straight days. I just couldn't imagine the level of stress I'm getting but right now all I'm thinking is to just get over with it. 

But I'm also thinking of travelling alone as soon as all these things are done. I'm thinking of going back to Dumaguete and reclaim that innocent thought that dawned on me which said I could be a journalist. I mentioned about this to my mama and naturally, I didn't get her permission. But that's another story. 

But I really want to get away alone. Lie down naked under the sun, swim in the open sea, fuck a random stranger under the rain, hitchike, eat with the street dwellers - so many things I want to do only that I have such little time. And little money.

Finestra is the Italian word for "window" and writing this, thankfully, made me able to take a peak inside my messed-up brain after a long time. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to carry all these thoughts, images running relentlessly inside like a storm that won't wane and keeps changing direction. Alas, maybe it's another way to go around writing. Just pour out some of the mind's content. It matters not that the tenses are correct, or the measure is right for the sentence, or the word is properly aligned with the thesis statement, or if there's a coherence even proper punctuations. Maybe one can write without worrying to much. Can I? 
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Depression (Part 1)

For the past years that I've been writing here, I must have written the most shallow egocentric disgusting drama-filled declamations of self-pity. But believe me or not, even if you wouldn't find me a dramatic entity in person, this is the reality of how my mind works. Or at least a part of it.

When I'm happy, I'm very happy that it really shows. You could see it down from my steps to the last piece of accessory I put on my clothes. Loneliness is a different thing for it has been a constant companion, someone I seek myself from time to time. While it is something that could drag me down at some degree, it has a certain force that I can contain and sometimes that certain quality of loneliness fuels me to manifest this special person in me who even I find it hard to believe that I have somewhere in this monstrous existence of mine.

Happy is a rare thing in my writing. Loneliness, on the other hand is so much easier, I feel like I know it so well like the back of my hand. Yet on the far landscape of the things I write, there is that quiet little voice which I dread, so formidable even thinking the words to summon sends me in deep thoughts of darkness and void. We'll call it Depression.

I think I mentioned a few times or maybe I did devote an entire post discussing my Depression, I couldn't remember, but if ever I think I did it only in passing. So I was surprised to read from the e-mail address of this blog these small comments, even short messages sent by unknown people, relaying how thankful they are because they can relate to my writings dealing with Depression. (Or maybe they view this entire blog as something depressive? I hope not.)

This is a very touchy subject to me because I realized from that how important the words we share even in a lowly blog like this. Second is because the subject of Depression is something that is very vague, and as I've said, so huge that describing, making a picture of how and what it is is almost an impossible task.

For the past 25 years of my life, there was this one instance which is very vivid and I consider the lowest that I've sank out of Depression. It was New Year's Eve, give or take seven years ago, and the feeling was just too much for me to bear that I actually went catatonic. I couldn't move, eat or do anything. Breathing was really hard and all kind of thoughts were just swirling in my head like an endless reruns of some bad Hollywood movie.

If you've seen Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" you'll get a picture of what I'm saying. But if you'll ask what triggered it, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you anymore. All I can say is that a week before that, a heartbreaking scene took place. At first it was fine and everything was easily going back to normal but then all of a sudden it went downhill and Hell just dawned on me.

But thank God for this supportive family that I have, I didn't have to resort to medication unlike a friend and a former office mate of mine. She lost her job because of this massive Depression she suffered from. She tried talking to everyone about it, including me, but she failed connecting to people including her family, closest friends and Protestant pastors.

From the string of people she talked to, I was probably the only one who didn't find it weird, or laughed, or had this oh-my-god-she's-freakin-crazy kind of thought, with the kind of images she shared. To give you an idea, objectively or in a non-depressive perspective, it was something on the verge of Evil. And that's where I thought, Depression is serious and must be addressed carefully and immediately not only for its victims but even for the ordinary people blessed not have it but with risk of dealing with people who have it.

It was hard enough being depressive; being tagged as crazy is another thing. We do not need pity, or tolerance, or even understanding because even us ourselves find it hard to understand ourselves. What depressive people need is care.

To be continued...

 [This is an unedited work]
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Smooth criminal































This happened last February.

It was a little past 12 in the midnight and the whole household was already asleep except for me. All lights were out. I was sitting alone in our dining table reviewing pile of stuff I've written the whole day from my tablet while drinking a glass of fresh milk, when suddenly I heard a noise. The wind chimes attached to our screen door tinkled and the aluminum door sounded as though it was being forced-open. 

"Sino yan?" (Who's in there?)

I blurted but no one answered. 

I tried ignoring it but not a minute has passed when I heard the door once more. Again, it sounded as though  someone was trying to open it. So I sat up, went upstairs and grabbed the gun from under our safety drawer. Quickly, I opened the wooden door with the gun on my right hand. There was nobody in there. Finally, I opened the screen door and went outside, circled the house only to see Diego, my aunt's huge dog, tied at his usual spot, staring at me. It was a bitter cold night in Bulacan. I looked above the towering trees and everything was still. Not a single leaf moving. 

Sometimes I do get scared of the way my mind works. Everybody and everything is a suspect. Somewhere in a middle of a crowd, someone is always calculating for an attack sabotaging people's vulnerability.

It's a serious case especially if you're witness to crime modus and the criminals themselves almost in daily basis. I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My mother brought me to his brother, my uncle's assigned police station in Tondo, Maynila. I remember asking for water and as I make my way to the fridge with my uncle's aide, I caught glimpse of those men behind bars. They were staring at me, their eyes so piercing that they scared me. I ran fast to my mother escaping their malevolent presence but the images took time before they died down.

Since then I have this fixation over criminals, terrorists and rebels. Sometimes I'd love to think I am one of them. Sometimes I feel they're my own enemies. 

In streets especially at night there are many blankets for safeguard. For one, you can blend in. Criminals who do it for a living don't just stick their weapons or attack anyone without locking a target first. The goal is for you not to stand out in a crowd. But how to make it look that you are not the perfect target? Either you make it appear that you have nothing for them or make them aware that you're watching them and that you're alert and that you are the wrong person to cross. 

But this strategy will not work for criminals with no definite goals. As a matter of fact, this will have an opposite effect. Understand that there are criminals who just want to stir a craze. Most are under influence of drugs. They will attack you when provoked and this includes meeting their gaze. 

So how to determine which type of a criminal this guy lurking in some dark alley? This, I'm afraid, you'll have to learn by yourself. Fear will teach you that, as it did to me. I don't go pretending I'm good, or an expert with how the criminal mind works. I am merely stating what I know and what I can share. In the end, it's our instinct, our natural defense we need to trust. Fear will never be gone but fear can be conquered at will and tough work. 

I know sometimes these thoughts can turn into paranoia. I recounted the story to everyone in the household including cousins living within the same compound. After three days, my kuya said one of the barangay tanods told him that an unidentified guy entered our gates. But when they followed the guy, he was gone. This kept me thinking because I usually arrive home at 12:00 in the midnight or 1:00 in the morning. Let it be said that we are not rich and that we are a family of modest roots, so I don't think we are legitimate target. But no one really knows. We'll only find out when the unthinkable happens. 

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Monday, March 4, 2013

The end


"When you love someone, it's never over. You move on because you have to, but you bring him in your heart."
-Elizabeth Chandler, Kissed by an Angel


It is very sad when couples part ways. I've never been in a romantic relationship, I am well aware of that so I don't have the slightest authority to speak for this, but I do think that if former lovers are to break up, at the very least they should separate as friends. Which I know is tough. But in the spirit of days and moments they exchanged words of forever, I think they should try. 

Break-ups make me feel sad on few points. For one, it's harder when you're friends with both, or even one . I know there are no words of comfort that would ease the pain, even anger for some, but then again you try. Or you stay there at the back, make them feel that in this moment of fall, they're not alone.

Hearing stories of break-ups throws me in deep thoughts. Sometimes I would conclude if getting in a relationship for these amazing people is already a tough job, then no wonder it's been always hell for me. Or sometimes I wonder if they really loved each other. And once a person decided to call it quits, how can he/she be so sure? Is there really an end to love? 

My friends are seriously egging me to date lately; others despite my stern warning would even dare introduce me to some. I've explained this a lot like saying I don't really have the time and that my life situation is very complicated or that I already have my eyes set on someone special and I'm just waiting for things to clear up. Which are all partly true. But honestly, sometimes I suspect these are all but my excuses. 

I'm afraid to admit that I'm afraid of relaxing my walls once more, let other people delve into my fragile domain. It is hard when you've come so far conquering depression and I don't think no one should fault me for being protective of myself. And then you encounter these goodbyes. 

In the midst of a friend breaking news of her breakup, another told me "at least you're spared of that kind of pain." "You're luckier," that friend added. I did not respond to it instantly, but I knew that I have to disagree. 

It is true that nothing lasts forever, and probably even love. But at the very core of our psyche, I know we are all trying to. Or maybe just to survive. I think that despite people parting ways, its the good times, and yes, even the bad moments that were shared are all that matters. Maybe the pain is all worth it. And that makes them way luckier. Because they get to experience that whereas most of us can only imagine or dream of those highs and lows.

I humbly believe that it's not really the love we get that counts, but the the amount we are willing to give especially to those who are least deserving. That's very poetic isn't it? The same thing about talking about break-ups. Or talking to that person who broke-up with you. But like a sad poem, I imagine it will end well. It well echo for some time, yes, but maybe a lot better. And who knows? The next one could be just as good or better than you can hope for. 
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Monday, February 18, 2013

This is a love story

"Remember: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself." -Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

































There was a certain crisp of cold in the night's wind and everyone seems to be heading in the same direction. I bid the driver farewell as I was greeted by an attendant wearing a lovely black vest over a red trouser. I sat in a corner holding a glass of red wine with a strange grin on my face. Outside the glass wall, people sashayed under gleaming lights of red and gold. There was good music; there were flowers and birds. I thought for a moment, the place would erupt into singing. And then everything spins. And then I was happy. 

For the longest time, this is probably the sanest Valentine's Day I ever had. Not that I'm bitter or sour, but I don't really believe in Cupid and dangling string of hearts. I always go for that teaching where it says we must strive to extend love everyday even among those who appear least deserving. But I get along. Or at least I try. 

I never had a Valentine's Day where I get to spend it with a partner, be it a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Friends have become constant companion and while we soak under the warmth of each others' jokes and usual sexual innuendos to evade the scathing cold of solitude, there is that longing no crowded dancefloor can ward off. 

The 2011 Valentine's Day was probably the loneliest. And the cruelest. I couldn't remember exactly what and who made it that way. All I know is that I've been really hard on myself during that time where I sulked and whined about the sorry state of romance I was under for the better part of the year.

If you have read me for the past 2 years, then you must be no stranger to the cycle of my failed venture into relationships. DB meets boy. Boy shows interest for DB. DB falls for boy. Boy leaves DB. And DB is left alone more desolate than ever. But now I have no qualms about it anymore. I even made money out of these miseries although I must admit, it was never easy getting over it. 

At first I thought I couldn't get over those persons I fell for. And then I thought I couldn't forgive them for not loving me. Until I realized it was me I could not forgive.

I did not notice how I started to grow cold for my own self. Gone are my self worth. The strut turned slouches and the once mighty head high bowed flat low. Depression became my fixation. Instead of pulling away or even attempting to grow numb, I made sure to scratch the pain even more that I will bleed and have something to moan about again. 

But I will not tell you that I'm far from that right now. In fact, I still do scratch some wounds and still feast over solitude at low points. It's normal. Those days are inevitable. But at the risk of sounding cheesier than ever, allow me to say that at the very least I have forgiven myself. I am loving me and for the longest time, I am enjoying me.

Take a look at the picture above. Some would notice that I walk alone in the midst of towering mountains and the wide open sea. That's what I always noticed then. Little did I know I was walking in a paradise other people could only dream of. 

When you stop chasing for the wrong things, you give right things a chance to catch you. I may not have that fairy tale ending like most of you do, but still, I'd like to believe that I am a love story. Not happy. Not sad. Just a love story.



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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Back to the start























I write this now that the canons are tamed. The lights are out. The silence, defeaning. Where the road cuts to its imminent fall above the dazzling moon in its pre-dawn sky, there I sit, resting my chin on my folded knees. The mud-coated boots flat on the ground. The prince is nowhere in sight; he is not coming. 

At 2:00 in the morning, there is little left to the imagination. He claims the past and lies now in that person's present. This is what runs in my head in an attempt to write the just, the truth beyond all the dreaming. But you know what they say. Sometimes, all the right words live in other writers' paper and in this particular case, even the chances for love. 

I used to write hope for New Year. As a young revolutionary, I cling on the ideals of rebellion that speaks of gleaming lights by the end and the fight with which triumph shall surpass evil. But things change. Children grow up and realities dance in your face in an upbeat tempo. We learn that God is an underachiever, Dante is schizophrenic and that fairytales are metaphor to love’s cruelest form. 

It is difficult to live with this kind of imagination doubled with this kind of fate I was cursed with. You offer your hands to someone you thought who cared and who said he will and yet it is curious to see him chasing after time travelers and healers and tycoons. I close my eyes to escape this, wishing that even for a moment, just for a second that the images will disappear. But darkness is no more an escape to avail solitude. There I see piles of rotting dead bodies in a staggering landscape of rocks and logs where homes and dreams once stood. There is darkness, I saw an old lady dying under a 12-wheeler truck, still clutching her sampaguita garlands. And then I'd see me: bastardized and vanished.

It is true that we cannot compare each others demises and despairs. It is also true that we cannot give all victims their respective names. Or bring justice. Or provide them better future. In Cateel, Davao Oriental, it is difficult to fathom how a family of five is willing to sell the few possessions they were able to save from the wrath of typhoon Pablo just so they can buy a small slab of carabao meat for their noche buena. They huddled barefooted under the flickering light of gas lamp inside a home with invisible walls content as they stare at one another in silence, grinning. 

In barangay St. Joseph in San Juan where fire ravaged thousands of houses on Christmas Eve, a little girl named Sander was seen clutching a doll. Her mother Lanie said it was the only thing she was able to save from the fire. It was her Christmas gift for Sander. “Wala na nga siyang mga damit, wala pang laruan,” Lanie said. 

With the same hope, I wrote the story of Bonita Baran, a house helper of four years to a family in Quezon City. Years later, she now wheels her way in finding justice bringing a battalion of memories of countless abuse she received from her former masters. She was beaten, burned, fed with spoiled foods and cockroaches and was continuously threatened to be killed. 

Somewhere along that hope, I met a seven year old kid named Keanu, who dreams of becoming a doctor and still defies his doctors who said he will not live that long. At seven, he is fighting myelodysplastic syndrome – a disorder in in which cells in bone marrow won’t function normally and so not enough normal blood cells are produced. He still laughs at times and would try and play like any kid of his age would do. He speaks of returning to school, TV shows and a future where he no longer needs blood transfusion and a huge needle punctured through his flesh to monitor his blood count. 

I am not trying to level these people’s pain with my personal battles. I write them side-by-side with mine because theirs already became mine. These people would go on with their lives untouched by my presence. They will live and survive meeting me or not. But I don’t think I could ever live again or be the same person after them. I am changed. 

I used to cry out of heartaches and stories of injustices, but now I face them with gritted teeth and white knuckles. I question hope, faith and the rambling sense of this senseless social indifference. Anne Lammot said that hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you show up and try do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up. But many people died with flaming hope in their hearts without seeing the slightest hint of dawn in their final breath. And it’s still not coming. Not for a majority of people. Not even for me. 

But hope persists. Not because there’s optimism. But because there’s darkness. After all, hope is not about expecting things will turn out better, brighter. Hope is the conviction that no matter how deep we sink in a mud of unthinkable injustice, we stand anyway. I no longer believe in fairy tales, in Messiahs, or princes who always break their promises of arrival or return. In a world where deceit and greed persist, hope is about those men who continue and try. And so we will. 

So I sit here like all the other people who take some moment on the edge of their cliff looking far beyond that stretch of boundless meeting of earth and sky. We do no wait for anything. We're just there. 

To a new year!
 

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