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Showing posts from July, 2016

Love in sign language

We shared our row in the cinema with a few hearing-impaired moviegoers. I saw them before they came in, speaking to each other in sign language. Right next to me sat a couple, who raised the armrest and cuddled throughout the film.

I couldn't be certain of their hearing level, but the movie (Jason Bourne) didn't have subtitles, so I thought that maybe they could read lips. At some point in the movie, I saw that the girl was translating the movie into sign language for her boyfriend.

This is what love looks like.

"You could make this place beautiful"

Good Bones
By Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.


From here.

Filipino superstitions: Santelmo

This morning I asked our helper about the remaining blood on the street near our house. An old man lit a small bonfire of sticks and maybe discarded papers and other litter on the scene last night, she told me. Maybe tonight, if it doesn't rain, he'll do the same again. The tricycle drivers asked him to do it.

I asked her what if was for, was it just to clean the concrete? She told me that in a few days, if that isn't done, a Santelmo would appear.

I had to google that.

In Philippine mythology, if a person dies an unnatural, maybe violent, death while rain pours, his soul will be trapped in the place where his body is found. If not helped, the trapped soul will turn into a Santelmo--St. Elmo's Fire, or a ball of fire that resembles a skull and attacks people.

According to the myth, Filipinos light candles where a corpse is found to help release the trapped spirit so it wouldn't turn into a Santelmo.

(I didn't know this when I stepped out of the house to leave candles at the scene, I was simply offering prayers and wishing us all peace. But superstitions considered, now I'm glad I lit candles blessed by an exorcist priest.)

The high road

Two bodies were found in our village this morning, slumped next to each other inside a tricycle parked for the night. I don't know who they are and why they're now dead. Maybe they were bad people; maybe they made poor choices that led to their fate. Tonight, I don't want to guess anymore. My Facebook newsfeed has been keeping a tally, and I am on the side that calls for respect for human rights.

Early this afternoon, I lit a candle for these two souls, and as I did, I found myself despairing whether we as a people were fated to live our lives in such indignities: barely eking out a living, perpetually clamoring for a savior, then hanging all our hopes on heroes who often don't have a clue. Are we really doomed to live such small lives?

Then today also came news of the UN Arbitral Tribunal ruling in favor of the Philippines, saying there is no legal basis for China's 9-dash line claim. I am reminded there remains a high road; that our small country, with what little resources we have, can take on a giant like China and argue for what is right.

There is a high road. There are many people, mostly poor, falling dead like flies. But there is a high road.

Dream: A note from Neil Young


I dreamt that I was one of a handful of people to attend Neil Young's book launch at National Bookstore in Glorietta. For some reason, Neil walked out after being introduced and his publicist took over to talk about the coffee table book. She had interesting stories so we (Jimple, Paul and I) stayed. But I was starting to worry about the book signing that would follow because there were only four or five of us left.

We bought books anyway (Paul bought an extra copy for a friend) and lingered too long at the book signing table. Just as we were about to leave, Neil arrived, a smile on his face. He started signing our books, asking questions about us as he did. He wrote personalized messages with his blue fountain pen -- to Jimple, he wrote something about music and life; to Paul, something about yoga and India; and to me, he scribbled a note that I didn't read right away. Later, I told myself, so I could have a moment.

We walked out of Glorietta, leaving Neil at an empty table, carrying our books like treasure. Paul had his in a reusable shopping bag; Jimple had his book wrapped in his black corduroy jacket; and I held mine, wrapped in plastic, close to my chest. I was wondering what message Neil had for me when I woke up.