Thursday, December 30, 2004

I Never Get Around

We love Booksale, because we're cheapskates. Primarily. More than that, we feel this weird happiness in finding something we greatly value being undervalued by other people. We'd take the secondhand at any time.

I. PIPSISSEWAS
I bought a tiny book about flowers. It was only until I got home that I read the dedication written on the first page. It says, For you Sokng Ioo. I never get around to read any more. What a sad message. The book made me happy, on the other hand, as the flowers were beautifully painted. And look at this description of the Pipsissewas (Pipsissewa, my new favorite flower name): The narrow, leather leaves, 1 to 3 inches long, are strongly toothed.

II. CHOCTAW
There was an English to Choctaw dictionary that found its way to me. When I saw the book, I immediately looked at the words that are important to me:
life - aiokchanya, ilhfiopak, nana okchanya, nana yukpa, okchanya
death - aiilli, illi, illi atukla, nan illi
passion - annushkunna, nuklibishlikachi, nukoa
desire - na banna
desire, a - ahni
desire, to - ahni, anushkunna, banna, chunkash ia
sin - aiashachi, aiashachika, aiyoshoba, ashachi, na yoshoba, nan aiashacheka, nan ashacheka, nan ashachi, yoshoba
sin, to - ashachi, yoshoba
They have a lot of terms synonymous to sin. Interestingly, they have no synonymous term for sex. More interestingly, they have no synonymous term for art, but they have one for "artless," ikhana. Most interesting of all is that ikhana is also their term for "literate."

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Normal

courtesy of flickr.com photo sharingThe transformations that happen. You like them, you don't like them. You don't know exactly how to feel about them.

Going to Lipa City in Batangas before would take a three-hour drive. It meant anticipating seeing admired relatives. It meant going to a quiet place; sound meant strictly the stories and laughter you share with each other.

Now it's like just any another city in Metro Manila. Not that it's entirely bad. I'm not just in the mood to appreciate it entirely.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Licensed To Have Fun

from left to right: my brother, my ate, me, manong drayberSETTING: Inside a taxi cab, on the way home.

ATE: Manong, puwede ba'ng magyosi?

MANONG: Sure!

ATE: Manong pasensya na, nalalaglag yung abo sa loob ng sasakyan.

MANONG: Wag kang humingi ng pasensya, 'yang pasensya doon lang 'yan sa bakery.

LLESNER: Grabe'ng trapik dito sa Sucat. 'Yang stoplight kaka-go lang, stop na naman.

MANONG: Hayaan mo, pagbalik ko, titiradorin ko 'yan. May tirador ako rito, e, holen pa iyong ipantitira ko. 'Tamo, bukas wasak na 'yan.

ATE: Dinadaya tayo ng mga stoplight na 'yan, e.

Stoplight reads green.

MANONG: Iyan, pag nag-red pa agad ulit 'yan, isasauli ko na lisensya ko bukas.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Morning Wants

I keep telling people that when you eat with someone, at that moment, the two of you become exactly the same person, stripped of your status in life. You become two people administering a hunger call. Both of you are seated at the same level on the same table. I forget if I have come up with this concept on my own, or if I have heard of it and internalized it perfectly that I've learned to live by it as if I was born with that thought.

In college, I had a Saturday class in one term, at 8 o' clock in the morning. There was a time when I went to school an hour and a half before class. My brain wasn't functioning as my stomach commanded my body, telling it to eat breakfast. Remembering a very good friend that used to stay at a nearby dormitory, I thought of inviting her to join me. I sent her a text message: "Are you awake already?" She didn't reply after several minutes. I thought I would just have breakfast on my own. I finished my meal and still didn't hear from my friend (I eat slow, it can take me up to an hour to finish my food). So I went to class. In a break from the class, I checked my phone and my friend already replied to my message: "I'm awake now." In reply, I explained to her that I was hoping she could join me for breakfast, but she seemed to be enjoying her extended Saturday sleep. She got mad. She said, I should have made her phone ring till she wakes up. She said she wanted nothing more than have breakfast with me. I realized I also wanted nothing more than share a morning meal with someone great to open the day.

Which brings me to a lot of dinner memories with friends. And lunch dates and snacks (I love our word better: merienda) with someone. These eating escapades are all too common (at least for me). I hope that soon I'd get to eat breakfast with someone. Of course someone that I truly adore.

Monday, October 25, 2004

This Thing Called Universal Gravitation

Twenty Billion Light Years Of Loneliness
Shuntaro Tanikawa

Mankind on a little globe
Sleeps, awakes and works
Wishing at times to be friends with Mars.

Martians on a little globe
Are probably doing something; I don't know what
(Maybe sleep-sleeping, wear-wearing, or fret-fretting)
While wishing at time to be friends with Earth
This is a fact I'm sure of.

This thing called universal gravitation
Is the power of loneliness pulling together.
The universe is distorted
So all join in desire.

The universe goes on expanding
So all feel uneasy.

At the loneliness of twenty billion light years
Without thinking, I sneezed.

(translated by Harold Wright)

I always sneeze. I wonder why. A lot of dust and dirt around me, perhaps. Or lack of shower. Or both.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Ridiculousness That Is Vaginal Deodorant

And other feminine thingies you are supposed to use on your vulva to make it a better vulva.

Please spare the vagina from these vulgarities (gross pretentiousness). With the popularity of feminine wash (thank you very much, Sharon Cuneta and your pH Care), we ladies begin to forget that we are better off taking care of our vagina, washing it with clean plain water--number one, it is the healthiest way to do it and number two, it is natural (take note of the root word, nature).

Another reason why I am very much against such products (aside from the medical discouragement of their use) is that it perpetuates the myth (and craziness) that the vagina is dirty and therefore must be improved with these deodorants. (Would you believe me if I say that the vagina is the cleanest part of our body, while our mouth is the dirtiest?)

Finally, these vaginal deodorants make the ladies feel insecure about the natural odor of their vulva, as well as of the fluid it emits. In case you want to hear it, I'll say it out loud, yes, it smells wonderful that way, as is!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Friday, October 8, 2004

A Last Gossip

Spring Snow
by William Matthews

Here comes the powdered milk I drank
as a child, and the money it saved.
Here comes the papers I delivered,
the spotted dog in heat that followed me home

and the dogs that followed her.
Here comes a load of white laundry
from basketball practice, and sheets
with their watermarks of semen.

And here comes snow, a language
in which no word is ever repeated,
love is impossible, and remorse....
Yet childhood doesn't end,

but accumulates, each memory
knit to the next, and the fields
become one field. If to die is to lose
all detail, then death is not

so distinguished, but a profusion
of detail, a last gossip, character
passed wholly into fate and fate
in flecks, like dust, like flour, like snow.
Death is not so distinguished.

Friday, September 24, 2004

A Tsunami of a Thought

There is something profound I would like to articulate, and something funny. Something clever. But I can't find the words for now. Maybe next time.

For the meantime, here are some of the best water metaphors I've encountered in my short life. I just have to share these with you, my dear friends:

Marianne Moore (from “A Grave”, where the persona speaks of sea as a grave):
It is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this.
Paul Monett (from “Committing to Memory”, where the male persona speaks to his beloved man):
...you seemed a sort of mirage,
until I drank you.
An Aeta riddle:
Ajar tangapakking nga niuk
Awayya ipagalliuk.

Kapag hiniwa mo,
Naghihilom nang walang pilat.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Pilot's Relief on Landing is No Release

The Smiles Of The Bathers
Weldon Kees

The smiles of the bathers fade as they leave the water,
And the lover feels sadness fall as it ends, as he leaves his love.
The scholar, closing his book as the midnight clock strikes, is hollow and old:
The pilot's relief on landing is no release.
These perfect and private things, walling us in, have imperfect and public endings--
Water and wind and flight, remembered words and the act of love
Are but interruptions. And the world, like a beast, impatient and quick,
Waits only for those who are dead. No death for you. You are involved.
No death for me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Haven't Had Enough Of Moon And Star Metaphors?
How About Bones?

Ladies and gentlemen, Pattiann Rogers:
NEARING AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Those are my bones rifted
and curled, knees to chin,
among the rocks on the beach,
my hands splayed beneath my skull
in the mud. Those are my rib
bones resting like white sticks
wracked on the bank, laid down,
delivered, rubbed clean
by river and snow.

Ethereal as seedless weeds
in dim sun and frost, I see
my own bones translucent as locust
husks, light as spider bones,
as filled with light as lantern
bones when the candle flames.
And I see my bones, facile,
willing, rolling and clacking,
reveling like broken shells
among themselves in a tumbling surf.

I recognize them, no other's,
raggedly patterned and wrought,
peeled as a skeleton of sycamore
against gray skies, stiff as a fallen
spruce. I watch them floating
at night, identical lake slivers
flush against the same star bones
drifting in scattered pieces above.

Everything I assemble, all
the constructions I have rendered
are the metal and dust of my locked
and storied bones. My bald cranium
shines blind as the moon.
She has her own website, The Poetry World of Pattiann Rogers. Her ear for music is fantastic and her imagery's as vivid as can be (but sometimes too much.)

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Romulo Baquiran, Jr.

Cirilo decided to be generous yesterday. He gave each of us in his class a book as a token of--so that we'd have some poetry to read (I supposed)--ok, ok, he gave it as a remembrance (so that we'd have some poetry to read). We drew lots and I was the 10th person to choose a book (out of 12). Since Allan already voiced out that he wanted Gary Snyder and Althea, being the first person to get to choose, took Jolography, I was left with Teo Antonio, Romulo Baquiran, Shirley Lim and some unknowns to choose from.

Here is a piece from Romulo Baquiran, Jr.:
ULAN

Pagkaraan kong bumuhos:
pintig ng liwanag sa daigdig.
Lalong asul na langit,
lalong dilaw na araw.
Tumatawa ang agos sa kanal.
Sumara ang bitak ng lupa,
nagising ang lumot, halaman, hayop.
Biglang lilitaw ang mga kabute...uusbong.
Ako ang nagulat sa mga banyuhay!
It reminds me of Anne Michael's brilliant line: "Rain articulates the skins of everything..." The situation in Michael's poem is very far from that of Romulo's poem, but that particular line shows, just the same, what rain does to this earth. The destroying and renewing. The washing.

Sunday, August 8, 2004

First to confess

I am really scared with our attitude. As if confession amounts to absolution. When the Filipinos see someone confess their sins or madness, we forgive and find it a courageous, noble act.

Friday, August 6, 2004

Some Stuff

Because I commuted a while ago going to my ortho in anticipation of the removal of my braces, which had been postponed till the next month, and because I waddled through mud and fought with Mama and the traffic unforgivable

I chose to stay graceful.
SOME TREES
John Ashbery

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Some comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Place in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.
My umbrella, my only defense was broken.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Note

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do in this world is scare people with how amazing you are.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

A News That Stays News*

SILENCE
by Marianne Moore

My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
or the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self-reliant like the cat--
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth--
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech that delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence:
not silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "Make my house your inn."
Inns are not residences.

_________________________
* Ezra Pound: Poetry is news that stays news.

Friday, June 11, 2004

The Beauty That Is Static
(After 'Kingdom Hearts')

1. Heart

I.
The heart is the darkest faculty
of a human being.

It is the heart that desires
a death, a tragedy for another.
The heart, though capable of selflessness, is selfish.

The heart loves, and therefore destroys.

II.
"Gentleness requires tremendous strength,"
said Shale Paul.

III.
The heart beats in calm rhythm, but needs break
from monotony every now and then, and

when it stops, it is either dead
or is fully alive.


2. Stasis

A few lines by Utada Hikaru's Simple and Clean:
When you walk away
You don't hear me say please
Oh baby, don't go
Simple and clean is the way that you're making me feel tonight
It's hard to let it go

The daily things
that keep us all busy
all confusing me that's when you came to me and said,

Wish I could prove I love you
but does that mean I have to walk on water?

. . . .

Hold me
Whatever lies beyond this morning
Is a little later on
Regardless of warnings the future doesn't scare me at all

. . . .

Simple and clean is the way that you're making me feel tonight

Which is the transition? The busy life, or the sudden meeting of two strangers? Is the one night stand the leeway to common commitment, or the other way around?

A good role-playing game. I look at the face of the man beside me sleeping. What is next?

When you surrender yourself to the moment, you are free. Then tomorrow, you become a prisoner of the past.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Pride vis-à-vis Envy
(Originally titled "Resentment and Contentment")

I.
SALUTATION
(by Ezra Pound)

O generation of the thoroughly smug
     and thoroughly uncomfortable,
I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun.
I have seen them with untidy families.
I have seen their smiles full of teeth
     and heard ungainly laughter.
And I am happier than you are.
And they were happier than I am;
And the fish swim in the lake
     and do not even own clothing.

II.

Listening to Celine Dion's "Immortality," I can only fantasize how, if only I could sing like her.

Reading Marie Curie's biography, I wish I had been the one who made the breakthrough research on radioactivity.

Remembering Anaïs Nin, I get impatient as to finally finding my Henry Miller.

Paris and Nicky Hilton's money: I want.

As much as I want Thalia's body.

The list goes on.


III.
I went on my way, in the midst of the world's transformations, being transformed myself. Every now and then, among the many forms of living beings, I encountered one who "was somebody" more than I was....They all had something, I know, that made them somehow superior to me, sublime, something that made me, compared to them, mediocre. And yet I wouldn't have traded places with any of them.

--Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics


IV.

Yet I wouldn't trade places with any of them.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Stepping Stone

The trend is, actors who have an edge on becoming a politician delve into politics. In Eddie Gil's case, he definitely ran for President of the Republic of the Philippines so as to land a spot in a prime time sitcom. He WANTS it (It being the attention--the KSP-ish attention, in local jargon). He was hilarious in his two guestings at Wazzup Wazzup, and all he did was be himself. Too bad I wasn't able to watch him in Tanging Ina.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Time Materialized
After Einstein’s Dreams and Big Fish

Behind the glass pane, a girl around my age sits smoking, staring at the cars passing by. Or somehow staring beyond the street. On her table, a glass of iced tea, an ash tray and a ream of cigarettes. She doesn’t have a bag nearby.

I qualify my time by the number of pages I read in the book I brought with me. I qualify her time by the sticks of cigarettes she smokes. Her iced tea has taken thirty pages from my book before it’s gotten half-empty.

Her gaze is empty. No excitement, worry, hesitations, urgency. Just as how my posture is, although I know my excitements, worries, hesitations and urgencies. I cannot find her a story.

Three famous schools in the city have concluded another school-year.

On my way to work, my phone sounded an alarm. When I thought it was a mundane message from my boss, it was a greeting from a good friend whom I last seen in December 2003. It made me smile in relief and grace. In response to the gesture, I sent a message to another good friend from my previous work, saying hi, saying she’s remembered and missed. I asked when I can meet her.

In reading, I come across the word “reeds.” It strikes me. Like a plastic doll loosened from the clasp of seaweeds, resurfacing, I suddenly remember “The Bittern.”

I grab my notebook and pen and write the poem from memory. This is what I remember:
Because I have turned my head in years in order to see the bittern, I won’t mind not finding what I am looking for as long as I know it could be there....

In the end I see nothing. But how I go blindly on loving a life from which something is missing... clouds rushing across the sun, gold blowing down on the reed, nothings like these...

I wonder what the girl in front of me is remembering. I wonder what she painstakingly tries to forget. What is she waiting for? What is her dilemma for the day?

Memory is an organ. The past is a limb, an appendage. There are no lost time, only excess baggage, baggage of regrets and anxiety. What truly separates us human beings from others is that organ. That’s what makes us so vulnerable, powerful, amazing.

Talks of time, to me, is talks of mortality. When I was in grade school, it was an agony for me to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning, bring myself to shower in the freezing water and think of boring classes that seems to last an eternity. I conceived of mean classmates and poor performance on P.E. class. I thought of ways on how a school day might be cancelled, but I could only think of storm. And when the season was desiccated, I thought of death. I would escape recitations in long division and Philippine History--I would escape making dreary projects--by thinking I might be dead before my name is called in the random list of speakers; I would think I might be dead before any project’s deadline. I would think I might be dead in sleep anyway, so why worry about tomorrow. But death didn’t work as a consolation, as it never came. And so as the feared recitation and the project’s submission nears, I would become a desperate child who would give up everything so as to turn back time.

In one film, it is said that time truly stops when at a moment of magnificence, yet what is not explained to us is how after that moment, time continues from where it stopped at a great speed that it is difficult to catch up. The clock is trickier than the spider web. We may weave our own time as an absolute time is weaved for us.

Each of us has our own bell jar where we want a moment encapsulated. For memory to have a body, we create songs, paintings, poems. But even art is not immortal, only stronger.

Somehow this life is justified, because it cannot be otherwise. What do we need immortality for, and perfection? What is life for if nothing is missing? In such life, ours, fantasy and myth exist because we make them alive; because they are necessary more than they are natural. Magic and beauty can be lived, as believed.

I read the last sentence of the book. I close it, clear my table and prepare myself to leave. I glance in front of me, through the glass pane. The girl is gone and there are two people now sitting on the table she has left.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Owning the Maze

The more I go to places, the more I know names of streets and cities--when I get to picture the block behind the block I am in--the more the world becomes small. All seems simple and conquerable. Although the more you know, the more you have to know.

After almost ten years of not going there, I went to Divisoria again this morning with my mother and father. It looks and smells the same as Baclaran except for the horses and Chinese, and it's farther from home; it must also be a better place to shop as my parents prefer going there.

When I got there, I remembered. When we got to the narrow street that has a stall which sells nuts, I remembered going there when I was a kid with my cousins who lived in San Andres and Pandacan. It was there that my mother bought kasoy and Pili nuts. On the other block, a store which sells chocolates.

Divisoria was dirty, crowded and inconvenient; but we got out of it with lots of chocolates and I got two beautiful bags for Php500. My mother haggled with the Chinese owner. The woman only liked to give the bags for as low as Php570. My mother with all her skills turned then walked away, dramatically. After a few steps, the woman shouted at her--"sold!". Mama got the bags and the Chinese woman angrily snatched the 500 pesos in mama's hand.

I would love to shop there on my own. For a thousand pesos, I could have so much, but that is something I think unimaginable for me. I can never haggle the way my mother can. I can never get out of Divisoria with 2 good bags for 500 pesos.

Claiming Manila, acquainting myself with its every inch and corner, memorizing routes and buildings, makes me feel healthy and wise. It's like I have enough knowledge to get me through to the next region, even the next uncharted territory. Knowing the ins and outs of Manila is like mastering a portion of a maze; you know enough dead ends to avoid and some short cuts for future convenience, but there's still so much work to reach exit.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Vista

The city does not call for exclusivity. You move in it and you have to keep going. It doesn't care a bit for you--doesn't even know you exist--no matter how much you need it.

"I want you to grow," Rose told me as we went to an ad agency. "I told you, you should always have a resume with you. Why don't you email it to me and then I'll be the one to send it to them." Just eight days in my new job and Rose was encouraging me to submit resumes to different companies.

The truth of her trust is nurturing and energizing. Her kindness, which I first thought to be unsought for, is what I've been needing after all. A workmate to look behind my back. A friend.

I desire to stick with my job. I am not sticking it out. The company I am working for is still in the stage of conception; it hasn't had its real birth yet. I want to be part of its growth, as I grow. I have dreams for this company as much as I have dreams for my self. I remember my previous boss who told me, "The corporate world is unfair, if you rise above it, you're a notch higher than anybody else." I don't know why that sounds so attractive to me. Attractive, but not true. She's fifty years old and has already been through so much. This time I have to simmer down my pride and give the benifit of the doubt with what she said--maybe believe her. See for myself. Consider the corporate world.

Rose and I were at Ortigas this afternoon for a meeting with a client. Buildings, billboards, traffic, pollution, noise, crowd, violence. Amidst these things, at least I have a good spirit with me. I love the city. I cannot imagine living in any other place. It's not that I am used to chaos, it's just that I appreciate what I am able to build from it.

I always tell friends I want to settle here in the Philippines. I will live in this place and for it. I know it doesn't require me to do that, since it hasn't been my choice to be born here. I just have this high tendency to love what precedes me.

Maybe I am too idealistic. And a martyr for my own good.

Rose has this goal: have a family--settle down. Me, I want to build my own garden patch and maintain it; play the piano for someone; be an inspiration, a source of genuine light. I have yet to share these dreams with Rose, I'm still gauging her capacity for sappiness.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Embassy

I've been mistaken for so many things. My English professor in college kept asking me if I were Chinese when I told him time and again, no sir, I'm not. People are shocked whenever I tell them I don't have a boyfriend nor am I dating. When I was 16, I was thought of being older--an FX driver even commented once, "Ma'am, mukhang pagod tayo sa trabaho, ah." Now that I'm 21, they still wouldn't let me in an R-18 movie. When I was a college freshman, another freshman sought my help in finding her way around the campus, since she thought I was already in my junior year. When I was feeling wild, I was labeled conservative and low-profile. When I was feeling polite, I was found deviant, intrusive or aloof. Last week, I came from the main office of Equitable PCI Bank. I rode an FX on the way home and the driver told me, Kumusta bisita natin sa embassy? I said I didn't go there, my business was different. Maybe I don't look like the type who'd have something to do with the embassy, but maybe times are really hard that everyone's needing to go some place else. Life is elsewhere. My good self is elsewhere.

I may have many selves--as we all definitely do--but why is it that I seem to have a problem in using the appropriate self in facing certain situations and people?

Monday, March 15, 2004

Crush

Formal Logic class. That was where I first saw her. That was almost two years ago. She'd always come in on time and I'd find her dressed down. Her short hair, cinnamon skin and well-toned body still come clear to my memory. She must be into sports, I thought, as she'd walk in most of the time with her duffel bag, wearing shorts, a shirt and rubber shoes. There was a softness in her that contrasts her athletic bearing, giving her a mystifying air. More than that, she was a smart one. Formal logic was no joke, but it almost seemed elementary to her. She was quiet and she perpetually sat in the first row, near the door. To me, she was perfect. I loved her body. I loved the character that might be in it.

February, another day at work. I was walking around the country club to take some pictures when a familiar figure climbed up the stairs I was climbing. Her hair grew and she tied it in a pony tail. She was in shorts and a baby tee. It was just like another week-end for her. Holding hands with her was a little boy, which I assumed to be her brother. I made sure it was her; double-checked the skin, soft chin, nose and eyes. After ample gawking, I mumbled, "Excuse me, are you from La Salle?"
     She smiled and said "Yes."
     I didn't want it to end there, I tried to stretch the conversation by saying "I think we're classmates before... logic..." It was both a declarative and interrogative sentence. But how can she remember me when all those times, I was sitting at the back and didn't even have the chance to be acquainted with her.
     "Oh yeah," she replied in a faint voice. I'm sure the recognition was about remembering the class and not me.
     "What's your name again?" I had to know, I'd like to attach a name to the body and the face.
     "Andrea."
     She didn't ask for my name. I said it anyway. "So you're a dependent here?" I further inquired.
     "Yeah... how about you?" I thought she'd be one of those anwer-only people.
     "I work here..." I wanted to have her surname, so I could search for her address, but I realized that might be quite intrusive. I was never a stalker. I was only interested.
     She'd already been very polite with me. She definitely wasn't one of those sige-chickahan-pa-tayo type of girl.
     When we reached the second floor, we parted ways. I watched her walk away--her perfect figure, color and skin, still holding hands with the little boy. I didn't want to work, I wanted to chat with her, get to know her, let her know I'd die to have her legs and shoulders.

With nothing better to do, I surfed the net last night and visited a La Salle site. The home page featured two players of the football team. It was her. One of them. I read her full name and then some. In an interview, I found out she really was the laid-back kind of person. The calm one with the killer instinct. And she loves reading. She loves reading.

I never really looked for her, but she kept showing up in times I didn't expect, as with many people that matters. I am excited for our next meeting, as I am excited in meeting (again) some poeple who truly matters to me.

Friday, March 12, 2004

6750

How do you love first times? It was my first time to step foot and drink coffee at Starbucks a while go. That is, Starbucks 6750. I hadn't really been to many places, but that, so far had been the best Starbucks I went into. Why was I there, away from home?

I met someone to discuss my new job. Of course in every new endeavor comes excitement and anxiousness, and of course the hunger for learning. In all truth, I am amazed at how doors suddenly open for me without me even having to knock. I left my previous job by impulse (I now admit my impishness) without a clear path ahead, and then the signs present themselves, all directing me to where I am now. Sometimes I am convinced that if I willed to become an astronaut, or a rocket scientist, I would become one.

I may be repeating myself when I say my fear of failure is actually a fear of being big, a fear of being a maverick. As much as we love kudos and attention, I'm not good at handling too much of both.

The avenue was posh, makes you wish you've got tons of money. The rows of tall buildings block the sky. Suddenly the world I was walking on was narrow. I passed by the same designer stores, fine dining restaurants, arrogant books and people purchasing escape over the counter.

First times for me happen all the time. I went home after the meeting. No more gimiks. I didn't buy anything for myself, the way I'd normally do whenever I go out; rather, I took home with me a question: "How can I know what I think till I see what I say?" (--Graham Wallas) Silly question.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Little Verses, Major Earthquakes

I have an anthology of poetry that I didn't touch for long, until these past few days. One reason I haven't been reading it is as I browsed through the pages, the first time I bought it, some of the poems did not immediately fit my taste. Frederick Nims is right in explaining "when we say we 'love' poetry, it doesn't mean we love the same poetry." I gave it another read and came across little gems of lines.

I was never a fan of Robert Frost. I only respected him for what he had achieved and given to the literate world. My favorite from him was Fire and Ice. Until I read this:
DUST OF SNOW

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of the day I rued.
There was a quote preceding the poem in the anthology, from one reader which said, "I think this is a love poem. I feel it is the true story of love." I think I fell in love with Frost after reading this. I could clearly see the color of crow contrasted with snow (and how it made a perfect rime.) How a little and mundane matter as dust can be poetic. How there can never be a day without a saving grace, or simply grace.

Another poem that convinced me Robert Frost is a genius is this one:
TO EARTHWARD

Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of--was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they're gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.

I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.

Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.

When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.
I have read much about what is skyward, seaward, heavenward, but never to earthward. I read this aloud and as I read, I felt like I was back to grade one re-learning what cadence, imagery and tension are all about.

The petal of the rose/ It was that stung. Exactly what poetry is.

Finally, simple and mediocre are not synonymous. There are simple poems that are exceptional, while there are mediocre poems that cannot be anything else, but mediocre. This one is the former:
YEARS OF SOLITUDE
Dionisio Martinez

To the one who sets a second place at the table anyway.

To the one at the back of the empty bus.

To the ones who name each piece of stained glass projected on a white wall.

To anyone convinced that a monologue is a conversation with the past.

To the one who loses with the deck he marked.

To those who are destined to inherit the meek.

To us.
To us.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy being.

Monday, March 8, 2004

Transition

I never thought I'd speak of daybreak as how it had been spoken of for so many times. I woke up at 3:00 in the morning and had a three-hour reading. A quarter before six a.m., the Maya birds started to make sounds. They were not singing, or at least what they were making were short of a melody. I didn't know what those sounds meant, what they were all about, all I knew was I always hear those during dawn, in the afternoon and before twilight; and that I was thankful there was a tree adjacent my bedroom. I turned off the lights as I could see the sun's rising from my window. My room's situated at the corner of the house's second floor and I've built a habit of locking my door. I was much amazed and amused at how the scent of food finds its way up to my room from the kitchen. I knew it. Fried rice. And then, that smell of salt distinctly from my favorite victual--fish. Danggit, in particular. Before the aroma faded, I was quick to fantasize taking a bite of that crispy paper-thin Danggit, dipped in vinegar with chilies--and the rice, fried with garlic, egg, with shaves of tocino, chorizo and ham. I didn't go down to eat. I wasn't hungry. My radio was turned on, the music was Toxic. I was thinking of lingering in the moment some more until I finally dove again into sleep. By eight a.m., I dozed off. Until I heard the door opened, un-gently by my mother, waking me with a sharp pound of a declarative sentence, about an urgent phone call. I rose and went downstairs to finish some business over the phone. After a few minutes, I went back to my room, locked my door and had my sleep.

Monday, March 1, 2004

15,001

It's March and where are we heading? The little joys our lives are made of. The gravity of... the gravity of antagonism here and there, everywhere. The election is just a few days away. For the kids, graduation time is coming--will they march, or not? Many awaits the summer, the sun, the vacation. Others may be looking forward to something else, while others are looking backwards for revaluation.

Me, I got to enjoy what I failed to do for a couple of months now--watch a basketball game. I was even surprised to find out that the PBA already started the season with a "transition" conference. Heartbreaks and spurts of brilliance came back to me again as I watched.

The different teams oozed with so much promise and everyone had the eagerness and "itch" (as the cool cat said) to play again.

A while ago, I caught Purefood's game against Ginebra. Purefoods trailed by a big deficit, although all was not lost for The Captain, Alvin Patrimonio. He just scored his fifteen thousandth and one point, giving him the membership to the elite 15,000-pt club, as there are only 3 of them so far in the club.

The first thing I had in mind as the crowd stood up to cheer--irrespective of the team they were rooting for--was "big deal." But then, it is a big deal. Alvin had not missed a game. For more than five hundred games, he was there, consecutively. Talk about dedication, passion, service and health. Above all, health.

Statistics may really mean something. Fifteen thousand and one little joys piled up together. Fifteen thousand and one little efforts. All done in little moments of every little game, spanning years. All amounting to a monumental feat.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

From the Skies to the Center Stage

Star. That word is one of the most abused words there is. Say one of the most abused metaphors as well.

Starstruck. Star Circle. Search for a Star. Star in a Million. Star for a Night. Star Search. The susurrous and sibilance in these phrases really tickles the ear. Haven't we all dreamt about our fifteen minutes of fame, that moment in time, of our glory? Who among us would deny of ever wanting to become a rock star, a drama queen, a Nobel Prize Awardee, cum laude? Haven't you desired going to the moon? Or farther there in Jupiter?

I just finished watching one of those TV shows with thousands of hopefuls vying for the title: STAR. As an outsider, I pity those who, at first glance, I know will never make it--or have not yet reached their "time." I also cringe not only at the sight and sound of horrendous singing and the foolhardiness to do it, but with talks of "my family is poor," "I've got to help my sick mother," et cetera. Judgmental? Maybe. Is this really showbizness in the Philippines? Personalan to the core? For all its worth, it is in watching these kinds of shows that I get to train my eyes back to myself and figure what is the difference between courage and foolishness, between arrogance and confidence.

I believe that "stars" are "real" people (what are real people, anyway?), capable of nobility, humility and service. If there is one thing I truly admire about them, that is their honesty in asserting their need for fame. A need for judgment that is acknowledgement. This is what poets and showbiz stars have in common, they thrive in relation to their audience.

Funny whenever I think of Margaret Atwood's little verse (forgive me if I won't be able to present it in its proper versification, I'm all relaying this from memory): "I'd like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only, I'd like to be that unnoticed and that necessary." Beautiful and breath-taking, isn't it? But would you really like to be unnoticed? And only necessary in the meantime? In these instances I get quite convinced lies are more beautiful than facts. Romanticized reality sells. While we like to serve and are willing to sacrifice, some recognition would have to be required.

You are a star when there are so many stars. What separates one star from the others? Your brand of light from theirs? Your breath of life from the rest? What have you got to offer? To whom will you give? What would you demand in return?

Friday, February 13, 2004

Going Solo On A Meal For Two

As usual, I went solo on an eating escapade. California Pizza Kitchen. I can't get enough Italian in my stomach.

How can they do that? How can they not have a meal for one person? Why is it that all servings are good for two to three people? They have no consideration for introverts and loners like me.

I ate anyway. Marinara something. Good for two. Bottomless iced tea. Takaw.

I stuffed everything in my belly, the plate was clean afterwards. My palate, satisfied. I was proud of myself, because I didn't force myself to finish everything, as I had the option to have half of it wrapped. It so happened that when I started chewing, I went on and on. I felt good, for suddenly I envisioned myself into this fluffy world of fiction. Suddenly I thought of myself as Nathan in David Leavitt's "A Place I've Never Been." I felt I was beeing seen, watched and admired, because of my "boyish hunger for food" that is "so perpetual, so faithful in [its] daily revival." The exhibitionist in me came out.

Monday, February 9, 2004

The Weight of Fields

Every day I take a walk at the baseball and polo field to wander, move myself and think. If I'm lucky, I'd get to catch a baseball game, even if I don't understand it, at least I see action, spirit and cute boys.

There is always a heaviness that comes with my walks. It is the consciousness of my limits, that I am meandering in the meads of a prison. In the midst of silence, apprehension.

This afternoon, I got to catch a softball game between Ateneo and Northfield. I took a seat beside 2 kids--perhaps in grade three. One is wearing the Northfield shirt and the other, an Ateneo cap. They seem to be very good buds. It is in flashes of innocence that my gut wrenches. How I wish I could immerse myself in play. Be a kid devoid of tomorrow.

I always start my walk thinking of the things I will return to: Responsibilities; Possibilities. I cannot enjoy my walks. I cannot enjoy the vast field, the bounties of the sky and time.

I wanna be a child at play.

I want to delve into Santa's gift and not his truth.

Monday, February 2, 2004

"I Hate Quotations. Tell Me What You Know." *

A co-employee whom I rarely speak with, told me something very intelligent, so intelligent that it got me irritated.

I asked him, "do you love your job?" As if I said something out of context. As if I did something wild. And indeed I did. "Yeah"... with a sigh of disbelief... "Why did you ask?"
I don't know. "Buti ka pa."
"Why, you?"
"Honestly?... Honestly... No."
"Then why are you still here?"


(*Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Sunday, January 18, 2004

We Are Scared Of Each Other As Much As We Admire Each Other

I travelled all the way from Alabang to Makati to attend my friend's birthday dinner party. Sometimes the plan is so far from the story.

The club's preparing for its biggest event and tournament this coming February and so I've been working long hours for the past week. I finished around quarter to seven and so I decided to just take a cab, but then I've always been afraid of riding a taxi especially at night. But then it was too late when I realized I only have 30 Pesos in my wallet and the rest of my money are in a thousand bills. And so I just thought to take a cab all the way. Sometimes the plan is so far from what eventually happens. I took the Roxas road via an FX and went off at Buendia.

There did I wait for a cab. In front of Funline. I scouted an incoming taxi that dropped what seemed to be entertainers dressed in drag. I quickly went to the vehicle.

"Makati, Greenbelt."
Nod.
"Boss, may barya kayo sa isanlibo?"
"Naku, buti na lang ma'am sinabi ninyo. Daan na lang tayong gasoline station."

It was the start of a 20-minute conversation in a 20-minute travel.

"San ba tayo sa Greenbelt?"
"Basta, ibaba nyo lang ako sa may area na yon, ako na bahala."
"Di ko kasi kabisado yan ma'am e. Basta pag di ko kayo nahatid balik ko na lang kayo sa Buendia, wala nang bayad."
"Kayo naman, lahat naman alam yang Greenbelt e, basta ibaba nyo lang ako malapit dun sa Landmark-Glorietta--magkakadikit lang naman yang mga yan e."

He was driving slower than most drivers do.

"Wala naman talaga akong balak bumiyahe ngayon, talagang hinahatid-sundo ko lang yung mga suki ko, kagaya kanina. At saka takot din akong bumiyahe lalo na kung lalake ang pasahero. Nung isang araw lang, may sumakay, mga lasing yata. Dyosko, ang takot ko, kako baka mamaya'y tutukan na lang ako ng baril. Buti naman walang nangyari at nagbayad naman."

It was almost 9 o'clock. I haven't eaten anything yet after lunch and I've been so tired and there is still work the next day.

"Buti na lang talaga sinabi ninyo, kasi kung minsan yung iba tsaka lang magsasabi pag pababa na. Tapos magagalit sayo, sasabihin 'driver ka, bakit wala kang barya?!'--ba, di ka naman banko, ano... Sana lahat ng pasahero kagaya ninyo."

I hope most drivers are like him.

"O ma'am, Greenbelt--yan, nahatid ko kayo ha, magbabayad kayo. Yan ang kasunduan."

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Rossell

I am one of those people christened with an unordinary name (it's not that unique, since there are several people I share the exact name with.)

Whenever people call me, or read my name, I always find myself correcting their mispronunciation, or misspelling.

Here is the exemption:
One of my office mates pronounce my name as Rossell, and before I can react, I already find myself caught in the net of her sincerity and sweet, enthusiastic smile. Her calling and recognition has the warmth of pure attention. I feel, then know it is me she is naming. That is enough.