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Showing posts from February, 2016

Something's been living in our bathroom?

A few weeks ago, I had breakfast with our cleaning lady Jane. She told me she had had a welt on her cheek, and she had consulted a folk healer about it. The folk healer asked her if she had been cleaning a bathroom. "How did you know?" Jane asked. "Because you got that from the bathroom you were cleaning. It was a kapre who did that to you." Then the folk healer told her that the construction work going on in the land near our house, the land that would soon become yet another gated village, had razed some old trees. A kapre had lost his home and was now living in our bathroom. The folk healer instructed Jane to leave an offering to the kapre in our bathroom, an offering of coins, candy and cigarettes. But Jane remembered that I had told her a few months back about a talk I had attended featuring an exorcist priest, during which I learned that according to Catholic teaching, anything of the occult, including the tiniest ritual, even if supposedly done f

Chatting with my GrabCar driver about the elections

I took a GrabCar to school today because I was running late. The driver was chatty, and when he found out I was from UP, he asked me who I'd vote for. He was also undecided, he said, about for whom to vote for president. We had a long, enlightening discussion. We were both anti-Binay. He listened intently as I told him what I had learned from a journalist about election-related trends (like how the religious groups only matter in close races or how Filipino voters have never voted candidates who'd already lost an earlier presidential bid into the presidency). He asked interesting questions and contributed a lot of equally interesting details too, being up to date with issues. I was stoked to meet an enlightened voter. Then I asked him who he'd vote for VP. "Cayetano," he said. Curious, I asked him why. "Because we have the same surname." I could hear the pride in his voice, even when he said he there was no relation.

Looking back at what I remember of the Marcos years

I'd always thought I wasn't personally affected by Martial Law in the 1980s. How wrong I was. My family and I lived small, quiet lives in what was then the sleepy town of Las PiƱas, where a trip to a hilltop McDonald's was the highlight of any special occasion and the worst crime I could imagine was someone stealing the steel drum that served as our trash can in the dead of the night. I was five years old when Ninoy was assassinated. When we heard the news, my father was working in Zambales. We didn't have a telephone. My Uncle Jessie came over and told my mom, his youngest sister, not to go out. We didn't talk about how it could have been Marcos who had Ninoy killed -- maybe they talked about it out of my earshot -- but I remember later looking at Ninoy's body splayed on the tarmac, searching for the red of his blood through the grainy TV reception, and wondering what he could have done to merit such a fate. Was he a bad person? I thought to myse

I've started eating a whole-food, plant-based diet

Back in October last year, I decided to commit to 30 days of eating mostly vegan. I wasn't feeling my personal best and was at my heaviest weight ever. I'd also finally seen Forks Over Knives , after a friend recommended it to me in 2014. I had my hesitations, of course. I'd always been a satisfied omnivore. Would I last without meat? Could I possibly give up meat for good? But my brain felt safe knowing I was only going to do it for one month, so the initial resistance quickly melted away. After 30 days, I was feeling so good I decided to go another 30 days. And then another. Now, I'm over 20 pounds lighter and on my fifth month as a transitioning vegan. Except my diet isn't really just vegan. It's more whole-food, plant-based (WFPB), as prescribed by Dr. John McDougall . You can read about the diet  here . I'm not yet very good at my new way of eating, especially when I eat out. Added oils aren't allowed, for example, but there aren't a

Dream: Welcome to Ancientsia

I was in Camarines Sur with Sherwil, a girl who switched from a high school friend to Lorie, and Jimple. Jimple had managed to come because it was near his home town. CamSur, however, was in a highly elevated place, so at night there was zero visibility due to fog. I had made a couple of friends on the bus, and when we rolled into the station, they immediately set out in the fog to make reservations at Midnight, supposedly a happening club that was in all the DIY CamSur itineraries online. But we weren't there for that. We were in CamSur for the experience of a special Ancient Age-themed inn we'd heard a lot of but knew nothing about. We checked in. The rooms were all beige and wooden, the beds not even soft. I was disappointed -- until a voice on loudspeaker told us to hold on to anything. The entire building started shaking, then it started moving like a gigantic rotating stage prop (and the voice on the loudspeaker said as much, more poetically), dislodging itself fr

Dream: I give you my personal best

There was a small tunnel connecting SM Southmall and our village gate. It was maybe 20 or 30 feet long, and you'd have to crawl or slide on your belly to go through. At each end of the tunnel were books where you could record the time it took you to go through. Every day, the person who broke the day's record got a small prize from SM and bragging rights. Keona and I tried to do it. I surprised myself by completing it under five minutes. Keona, however, did it under three. Then a famous athlete followed us and did it under two -- with her bike in tow! Soon after, however, her record was broken by this guitarist from an indie band. He'd been through a tough spell, he scribbled in the record book, and he offered his new physical prowess to a bandmate, their singer, who helped him through drugs and depression and a broken heart with the beauty of poetry. "I give you my personal best, man," he wrote, "and it's a gift that's going to keep giving.&quo

Because you are what you do

One of my favorite teachers once talked about how when he was a young writer he would introduce himself by saying, "I'm Cirilo. I'm a poet." Eventually, he said, he came to realize how pointless that was. "You are what you do," he said, no other introductions were necessary. Those words have been floating in my head since I first heard them. I'd heard them before, of course, in different variations, but hearing them said by a brilliant writer, one who speaks and writes and laughs about this loathsome heartbreaking lovely cursed art, made them truer than ever. Last year, in conversations with close friends, I had confessed that I didn't feel like I could call myself a writer anymore simply because I wasn't writing. I was still doing a lot of writing; I had a job developing training materials, after all. But it wasn't writing writing and I was feeling more and more removed from a dream I had nurtured since I was 13. Then later last year