Showing posts from September, 2017

Women I want to be, 1

When I think of you, I often end up thinking of how gracefully you hold your coffee cup with your finger, as if your touch were a kiss.

And I envy your romance with objects, how you seem to draw out the secret beauty of everyday things.


There are a few people I admire and for reasons that are very specific. Before I forget, I'm going to make a small compilations of these qualities. For what, I don't know yet.

I had a nightmare after watching IT (2017)

I watched the last full show of IT (2017) last night. I'll write an entry on it later, but first this.

This is the nightmare I had after watching IT.


I dreamt that I had grabbed a cute blue-eyed white kitten through the window of a car stuck in EDSA traffic.

I was walking on the sidewalk when I saw the kitten, a family pet, about to get crushed by a reclining seat, so I reached into the car and pulled it to safety, fully intending to give it back immediately.

I knew the driver, and I had been seeing pictures of her five-year-old son and the kitten named Brutus on Instagram. She mouthed a "thank you" and reached out for the kitten, but as I tried to hand it over, the traffic lightened. I half ran beside the car, hoping to toss the kitten back in.

"Stop for a few seconds," I said to the driver. But she didn't, or couldn't, and soon she had to drive faster up the Ortigas flyover. She sped away in her BMW, leaving me standing on the sidewalk with Brutus…

On knowing better (the first of many parts, because I'm still thinking this over)

One of the things that growing up taught me is this: One day I will surely think about a thing that hurts now and cringe over how much I allowed it to affect me.

Over the years, this has never failed.

For example:

Sometimes, I'd be filling a water bottle or cooking or doing something so mundane, and I would suddenly remember fighting with someone I thought I would love forever but very rarely think about now, more than ten years later.

It was a long-distance romance, and we fought over the telephone. We fought viciously and loudly, even when I was on the bus, or walking along Taft Avenue, or going around in a shopping mall, usually within the perceiving distance of strangers. I was in my mid-20s and troubled; that is my excuse.

The times the memory of that love resurfaces, I feel some shame in not having controlled myself better. I am quick to forgive myself, though, because who doesn't lose himself or herself when in love, and at any age?

There are things I am less self…

What do I fear missing out on, exactly?

This morning, as in the past couple of days, I woke up, made coffee, and sat at the table to write. I wasn't very pleased with myself because, as in past countless mornings, I had spent some time, between getting up and making coffee, checking social media on my phone. Before I knew it, half an hour had gone.

I've been trying to quit Facebook for two years now. After the 2016 elections, I took a 30-day break and that has been my most successful attempt so far.

My Facebook break wasn't as productive as it was healing. I was feeling angry and also a bit betrayed by how the election campaigns were rolled out. I think that Facebook brought out the worst in people, myself included.

At the end of 30 days, I actually felt better and, strangely, more connected. But it didn't take long for me to return to my old habits. Almost as soon as I logged back in, I was back spending time on things that ultimately drained me.

I know a few people who've stayed away for six to eight …

When you're worried about the end of the world

It may be a fixture of this mild anxiety I've been dealing with, but I start most mornings wondering if the world as I know it has finally come to an end.

Yesterday, there was a big rally protesting the government's creeping fascism and growing list of human rights abuses. It was also the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, celebrated to remind us to never let the abuses happen again.

I wasn't at the rally, but I had the TV on and I kept checking Twitter for news. It was supposed to be a peaceful show of force -- it was -- but yesterday, rumors were going around that if the rally turned violent, the president would declare Martial Law nationwide.

He could do it. And he would, too. The whole of Mindanao is under Martial Law right now because of the armed conflict in Marawi.
When I woke up this morning, I instinctively checked my phone to get updates. Everything is still the same, and -- how sad, but -- I breath…


"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?" - Albert Einstein

At the mall yesterday, I noticed a man slip into a recently abandoned table at Jollibee and pretend that he was the original occupant so he could eat the leftover spaghetti.

I was on my way to pick something up at the nearby Mr. Quickie, but my instinct was to stop and check if he was okay and maybe offer him something.

Now, when it comes to strangers, even in what I feel to be safe public spaces, I almost never follow my instincts anymore. As quickly as my feet paused mid-stride, I picked up the pace again and completed my errand.

I hate it when I hold back on helping. I end up tortured by thoughts of my indifference or selfishness. But denying this instinct is something I need to survive or else I would end up trying to save the whole world, failing spectacularly, and destroying myself in the process.

I've learned to counter my messianic complex by considering a different versi…

You are here and warm, but I could look away and you'd be gone

One of my favorite love songs is Bob Welch's "Sentimental Lady." I love the simple but playful lyrics, and the song's melody pulls me back to a decade that exists only in my earliest of memories, completely buried beneath everything that has happened since the 80s.

I can't recall the first time I heard "Sentimental Lady." I'm sure I heard it many times on the bus, in the endless bus rides I've taken since I ventured out of Las PiƱas to go to a university in Manila, then to a different one in Quezon City, in the heavy traffic of the MRT and Skyway construction. This song is a favorite among bus drivers, for sure.

I'm quite certain I didn't hear it first from my friends. None of my close friends, the ones I spent a lot of time with, listened to Fleetwood Mac or Bob Welch. Maybe I first heard it from my father? He probably sang it on videoke, and so terribly, that summer in the 90s he brought our first VCD/CD player home.

Some songs have s…

How to save yourself from drowning

First, create a pocket of air you can carry with you: a world that is your own.

It can be a temporary world, created by occasion -- your bedroom slowly filling with sunlight, the den cluttered with a hundred thousand carefully collected things, a good book you keep reading only until page 72, the evening meal of healthy fish soup you are stirring in a stainless steel pot -- but it is a world that is your own and it is not broken and, most importantly, it doesn't want to kill you.

When you need to step out, carry this world with you. Restrict when needed; open only in safe and familiar places, and even then, think twice.

In your favorite restaurant, fix it upon the comfort of the familiar flavors of the pizza and pasta on your plate. If the servers are kind, invite them in. Tip generously, if you are so inclined.

Craft it around your table in your most frequently visited coffee shop, including maybe the chair you put your bag on when the place isn't too crowded. Take pleasure …

How we spend our days

"How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives," wrote Annie Dillard. When I first read that a couple of years ago, I felt a small panic rise inside me. I was always worried that I was wasting my life, and then I worried I was wasting it on worry. I resolved to not worry, at least not so much.

I remembered that line again while changing my bed yesterday evening, as I was stuffing pillows into frayed pink pillowcases. I noticed my pillows were starting to look yellow and as I was trying to remember when I bought them, I suddenly became irritated that they needed replacing so soon.

A couple of months ago, I'd read on a website that you need to replace your pillows every three months. That evening, I found the mere thought of it exhausting: Every three months, you need to consider pillows. You are supposed to do this four times a year for as long as you live, or for as long as you choose to have pillows, which is pretty much the same thing for me.

One of the dis…

I'm going back to the start

Maybe it's because I'm nearing a milestone birthday or maybe it's because it's the monsoon season, but I've once again been feeling the urge to clean up. We have only two seasons in the Philippines, wet from June to October and dry from November to May, and the coming of rain has always been my version of spring.

I've been doing the easiest purging: of my possessions. It's slow going because my attachment to things is tinged with a dash of anthromorphism (e.g., How can I send away my pens when they've been very loyal friends?) and most everything I have, even the -- especially the -- rattiest shirt I sleep in, sparks joy. But when I do manage to let go and find new homes for my most loved things, I welcome the change in the space and shift in the energy.

I may not be Kondo-ing, but I've always subscribed to the idea that space clearing is energy clearing. And I'm in an endless cycle of hoard and purge, define and edit, collect and curate, creat…