Showing posts from 2011

Sage advice on love, from a 45-year-old French learner

do not have in mind the way you want the other one to be
i mean, you have your own conception of what you want, or of how "he" must be
but do you ask before to know if this kind of model already exists?

in human relation, the image is important, and what are you waiting for to... and with some little "fear" a lot of easy situations become very, very complicated!

and do not have fear to be ridiculous cause it doesn't kill

Too much rain; no more rain

I woke up to the sound of rain falling to the ground from the rooftop. I thought the water tank was overflowing, and I got up with a start, only to realize it was raining.

Now, I'm about to sleep and the raining hasn't stopped. It has been at it for at least 24 hours now, and I'm worried about December. Will it rain on New Year's Eve?

Climate change. Tsk.


I listened to this Paul McCartney song, Too Much Rain, because it seemed to fit the day's mood.

I'd heard this song before, when I spent some days looping Chaos and Creation In the Backyard while working. But I'd never really paid attention to the words -- until now.
Smile when you're spinning round and round
Sigh as you think about tomorrow
Make a vow that your gonna be happy again
It's all right in your life no more rain
When it's raining, because the day's gray and melancholy and all, I often find myself thinking of that time when it seemed like everything was just falling apart, and I was praying for this future to come.

And the future is now the present -- I live a rather quiet life, and every day's biggest challenge is the practice of loving people. The only romance in my life, for now, is the romance I'm having with myself.

But I miss the intensity of the feelings I felt when I was younger and a fool.

Maybe it's time I let in a drizzle?

The moon was lovely last night

My best friend called me up in the middle of the night to tell me that her former "nanny," who is actually the same age as we are, was giving birth prematurely at a hospital near the apartment.

On our way to the hospital, Jen and I we were greeted by the nearly full moon. Shining brightly beside it was Jupiter.

I took pictures with my Nokia E5, but I don't think they were very good ones. I'll post them later. For now, here's a picture of it.

Cultivate whimsy

When I was younger, in my teens, the way I wanted to live my life was clear: I wanted to be always creating beauty, free from the opinions of other people. I was blessed to have known what my passions were early: I was a writer, I wanted to make beautiful things with words. I filled my head with nuggets I held as beautiful, and it didn't matter that nobody else cared.

And then I grew up, and suddenly, there were important things to be done. Like make money, pay bills, meet deadlines, make other people happy. I wasn't living in my own bubble anymore.

I don't mind living in a bigger bubble and sharing it with many other people. What I do mind is that somehow I've allowed myself to water down my dreams as well.

Last weekend, I was part of the staff for the 151st team of OCCI's Foundations of Leadership Excellence seminar. With me were my sister Kai, who was the chief of staff; her husband Sean; Sean's brother Sam; my brother Ivan; Ivan's girlfriend Dayen; and my younger brother's girlfriend Rechelle. The 60 students we had were mostly young, like in their late teens and early 20s.

What an experience!

I handled three teens, all 17. All artists. Two were into fashion design, one was a magician. As many of the younger artists, they sounded clear about how they wanted to live their lives. They wanted to be always creating beauty.

In one module, I had to share with them my shadow, and they had to share with me their fears for me. One girl said, "My fear for you is that you will lose many more opportunities in your life." It hit me right where I needed to be hit, mainly because it had been said by someone who was 17.

At 17, the opportunities had yet to come my way. At 34, I've definitely missed many, mostly in the name of practicality and my many irrational fears.

I'm on the road to fixing that now, thanks to the weekend. I'm grateful for the gift of teachers.

A few weeks ago, I read Mona Simpson's eulogy for her brother Steve Jobs. One of the lines that struck me was: "Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?"

Steve seemed to have an artist's heart. You can see it in the lovely results he created.

Perhaps cultivating whimsy will wake up the artist in my heart.

As a start, I have a new project: A DIY blackboard!

November rain

A rainy street at the Latin Quarter in Paris

I'm in my friend Jen's room, crashing until the repairs in Room F, my room, are done. This room is on the second floor, and the wireless broadband signal is so much better. Because I'm nearer to the roof, I can hear the rain.

I love the rain. I love how it drenches everything and cleanses the air. I love walking in the rain. I envy people who don't seem to be afraid of a little water, even when they're on their way to some place important.

When I walk without an umbrella, people worry about me. You'll get sick, they say. I often explain that it's not really the rain that makes one sick, it's the virus you catch, especially when you stay indoors with a lot of other people.

Some of the simplest unforgettable pleasures I've had is walking in the rain with a friend. I remember two moments from when I was in college, and one from when I was on a short work trip in Paris.

1. Walking with Mack one night in UP. First, we shared an umbrella. Then we ditched the umbrella and decided to enjoy getting drenched.

2. Walking along España with Jimple. The whole stretch from Welcome Rotonda to the University of Sto. Tomas was flooded, and I was afraid of whatever was hiding in the waters (garbage and excrement, open manholes, electrical wires, leptospirosis and the occasional snake), but all I really remember now is us holding hands and his poems in my bag.

3. Walking around Paris in the rain with my former student Dominique, his wife Olivia and their daughter Sara. I loved Paris in the rain.

Now, Jen and I are going out -- yes, in the rain -- to get some midnight nourishment.


Back to writing

I'm writing again.

It's been a while since I last really wrote, and I mean from the heart, approaching it as a well-loved craft.

This is me rediscovering writing again, from a full year that saw me flirting with a different path. I could actually feel it, the gift slipping away as my passions shifted, pointed elsewhere.

Then I spent two consecutive days with my colleagues attempting to sing videoke. It reminded me of two things: first, my father, who loved to sing, but also couldn't; second, what I am actually good at, which was definitely not singing.

I already have an art: writing. I can be good at something else and still be good at that.

Writing projects
  • I will write about my Jesus year one day, when everything that needs to settle does. Some of the things I want to write about -- the life lessons I dare to share, if I may -- still need to be digested and absorbed.
  • I still have a thesis to polish, to submit. 
  • And then there's that book of love stories.
My netbook and my mouse pad.

I just know it's going to be amazing

Toca Rivera and Jason Mraz. Oct. 30, 2011 in Manila.

How can it not be, when the following exist in this world?

white sand
meteor showers
beach glass
soul friends
jason mraz

"How you do anything is how you do everything."
"All I want to do is love you."
"Real men don't buy girls."
"You are loved."

I am now 34

I love my life. I'm grateful for everything that has happened.

I'm looking forward to the beautiful things in store for me and my loved ones. No regrets; there's only love, hope and gratitude.

And this simmering sense of adventure.

This is what our love looks like

I'm watching him on October 30 as a birthday gift to myself.
I have come to be the one to stand beside you
when the sun decides to bow its head.
I've come to be your friend.
I'll share with you my secrets 'till there's nothing left to hide.
And when you feel the darkness I'll remind you
of the light you have inside.
This is what our love looks like.

I saw a dead man

I saw a dead man last Friday night. He was lying flat on the road beside his motorcycle. His helmet, which had apparently done nothing to protect his skull from being crushed, was lying a few feet away from him. Traffic had slowed as a result of the accident, and as the cab I was on slowly snaked around the scene of his death, the cab driver and I were able to get a good view of what was left of his head. The cab driver grimaced at the sight, while I shivered with the coldness of how sudden, impersonal and final death can be.

Just a few minutes ago, the man and his female companion, I would later read, were navigating C-5, on their way home, I suppose, like many of the commuters on the road with them. While I was rushing to the elevator, mindful that my mother had been waiting at Starbucks Emerald for over an hour already, he was alive, on the road, navigating yet another round of Friday night traffic.

Was he stressed like I was? Did he have a difficult day at work? Was he able to relish, even for a moment, the feeling of having another person's arms wrapped around him?

Whatever his final thoughts were -- he is gone.

A couple of months ago, I heard that a young bubbly girl I had just met but liked instantly had died. Jaline had asthma.

In one of our few short conversations, she told me she had read my work. I was surprised, because I haven't been writing as much as I had when I was working for a newspaper. I was inspired, and I played with the idea of dedicating my book to her, for reading me even before anything substantial could be read. I had fancied we would be friends; she was also a writer. She also clearly loved life.

That same Friday morning, while organizing my papers, I found an old note she had written her email address on. We were supposed to work together on a newsletter, but when I emailed her, she didn't get back to me, perhaps because she was busy at work. I didn't mind; I understood how work can get in the way of things.

That note, in my version of the story of how our friendship would have begun, was the beginning.

But she's also gone now. At her funeral, I also shivered with the coldness of how sudden, impersonal and final death can be.

Thoughts of death leading up to my 34th, not because I'm feeling old or anything like that. I don't know what to make of these thoughts, except that one thing is clear: We know neither the day nor the hour.

When my hour comes, I want to be thinking: This is exactly what I want to be doing.


I just saw Midnight in Paris, and it's a beautiful little film. Here's a quote from Woody Allen's version of Ernest Hemingway, who was all about courage.
All men fear death. It's a natural fear that consumes us all. We fear death because we feel that we haven't loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same. However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears. Because when you are sharing your body and heart with a great woman the world fades away. You two are the only ones in the entire universe. You conquer what most lesser men have never conquered before, you have conquered a great woman's heart, the most vulnerable thing she can offer to another. Death no longer lingers in the mind. Fear no longer clouds your heart. Only passion for living, and for loving, become your sole reality. This is no easy task for it takes insurmountable courage. But remember this, for that moment when you are making love with a woman of true greatness you will feel immortal.

Today's French word is poupée

Which I'd always thought was pronounced poo-pee because I heard one of my students pronounce it that way. But maybe she was saying it in the cute way?

It means "doll," by the way.

Learner: My wife wants a baby girl, because she says girls can be like puppets.
Me: Puppets?
Learner: Yes, you know, like you can play with it, with dresses.
Me: Are you translating from French? As in the word... um ... poo-pee?
Learner: No, not puppy!
Me: I don't mean puppy, I mean poo-pee, like the French word for "doll."
Learner: I don't know "doll."
Me: Girls play with dolls. They dress it up.
Learner: Oh, yes! My wife wants a baby girl, because girls can be like dolls.
Me: Is doll poo-pee in French?
Learner: No, it's poo-pe.
Me: Oh... That's why you thought I meant "puppy." And now I see why you said "puppet." "Puppet" can be correct too, but I wanted to be sure what you meant.
Learner: I don't know "puppet."
Me: You know those dolls you can control? You can make them move and speak.
Learner: Oh, yes! But now we're talking about men, not girls.


It's what I thought it was, and yet not what I thought it would be.


Usahay nakadamgo ako nga ikaw ug ako nagkahigugma-ay.
Once, I had a dream that you and I had fallen in love.

Made a vision board

My space hasn't been positive lately. Or, more precisely, I've been swinging from okay and not okay. I'm facing some old fears, and while I'm grateful for the opportunity to resolve them, I have to say, it's quite difficult. But I'm going to break through this, I swear.

I spent the whole of last night creating a new vision board. My life plans and desires are clearer than ever: I want to live in different countries for long stretches of time; I want to travel a lot for work; I want to take up further studies; I want to drive; I want to swim; I want to fall in love; I want a wooden house; I want a retro kitchen; I want diamond stud earrings ... It's not a very long list, but I think it balances my professional and personal goals with my non-material and material desires.

I'll have my vision board printed so I could put it up where I can see it.


I'm itching to go back to school. I want to study Spanish again.


I also miss this blog. I'll be writing more.

I wish you love

"So with my best, my very best, I set you free."

I should go to bed, but this song is keeping me awake

"So for those of you falling in love, keep it kind, keep it good, keep it right. Throw yourself in the midst of danger, but keep one eye open at night."

Waiting on love

Sometimes I think: What if I had found love, and I had foolishly missed it?

What if it was that older boy from the neighborhood who I played volleyball with when I was 11 and too young to know about love? What if it was that guy who waited me for me outside the door after final exam in Spanish class, the guy I ran away from? What if it was that photographer who sat beside me, beer bottle in hand, happy to see me again? What if it was a best friend I once had, who never made it to where I am?

Then I would snap out of it: If they were love, they would be here. Wild horses wouldn't have kept them away.

Love crosses the room for you.


Still, it's easy to wonder. Every single person I had fallen in love with has found their significant other. And me? I'm still alone.

It's not really bad. As a learner said, "Better to be happy alone than sadly accompanied."

I'm happily living my life. I've been cleaning up past mistakes, smoothening the ridges. I'm developing patience, courage, more love for self. Confidence. Trust. Forgiveness.

I'm learning to love.


I look at some couples who are happy and sometimes, still, I can't see myself in that sort of picture. Maybe that's why I'm still single.

I look at some couples who are unhappy, feel for their heartbreak, and say to myself I don't want any of that ever again. Maybe that's why I'm still single.

Maybe it's about time I stop looking at others and just start looking at myself?


Whatever--I once said a prayer and I was promised a kick-ass love story. It's being written, and I can wait.

Love crosses the room for you. Love waits on the other side.

You set it again, my heart's in motion

Every word feels like a shooting star.

I think I love you, isn't that what life is made of?

Shorter hair, finally

One of the first things I did in 2011.

Lost my first, and hopefully last, molar

The art of losing is not hard to master. Lost my first molar! It was filled with the intent to be lost that its loss (Write it!) was no disaster.

This cheered me up.

This is how I want to spend my life

Lying down on a grassy hill, watching clouds go by during the day, watching stars sparkle at night. The two of us talking and laughing and holding hands. Every moment, a breeze.

Photo taken by Sherwil Nuesa during one of her travels. Because it reminded her of me.

For posterity's sake, the Mt. Pinatubo poem

Because I don't know a shorter way to retrieve Facebook status updates. And because this stranger has just conquered Mt. Pinatubo! Four-hour trek across snake-infested and rocky lahar land and all.

From my learner Remi.
To Althea Lauren Ricardo, Marchie P. Reyes, Donna Lampa

I'm sorry but I can't go
I'm not such an hero
It's a stratovolcano
... It's Mount Pinatubo.

The Mt. Pinatubo crater lake. January 22-23, 2011.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself

The time has come! It took a little less than three years, but I'm okay!

Thank you, 2010, and welcome, 2011

Thank you for the following:

family I love and who love me • Keona • my few, but trusted friends • my dogs, especially Tutay who still sleeps on my bed • puppies • my home • my second home in Taguig • LEAP 45 and the whole coaching journey • new netbook • financial abundance • new books • good health • critical incidents • a job that pushes me to grow • beautiful, loving officemates • writing opportunities • many firsts: writing a song, chopping a lechon, getting a new hairstyle • travel: Zambales, Calaguas, Malaysia, Singapore, Corregidor, Tagaytay several times • new friends • credit cards • new camera • love • money to pay the bills • emotional healing • forgiveness • new cellphone • 10 fun dates • surfing • circus • challenging people who are now out of my life and doing well, I hope • family I love and who love me

It was a blessed, blessed year.

2011, let's rock.