Showing posts from November, 2020

Anger is easy but boring

Let me do the work of love, no matter how hard. Never mind if it's not instantly rewarding; it is infinitely more interesting. 

Dream: Barcelona

Last night, I dreamed that I was catching huge koi fish in an enormous but shallow pool shaped like Denmark. I don't even know what Denmark is shaped like, but I knew it was Denmark. 

The fish were biting, but in some parts of the pool the water was not enough for fish to swim in, so I waded farther inward and tried to catch some more. In a deeper portion of the pool, I caught a giant goldfish but pulled out the bait (also a fish) and threw it back, like the others, I presume, since I kept catching fish but I wasn't carrying any. 

Then I had to go to with family to Barcelona, where we stayed in an old house lent to us by a distant relative. The house was empty except for some supplies left in the cupboard. 

We had our helper Jane with us, and for the most part of the trip, the two of us stayed in the house. I was content with it, being inside a house in Barcelona, and discovering the house's little spots of personality. 

It wasn't a beautiful house; it wasn't interesting even. But I kept finding traces of the people who had lived in it and that fascinated me. 

A few days before the end of our trip, I found bottles stashed in the upper shelf of a cupboard. One was a European version of toyomansi. Another was filled with figs and olive oil. 

Jane was cleaning up when I found those bottles. I had needed to stand on a chair to reach them, and she told me to be careful because the seat was broken. I looked down and saw part of the seat wedged beneath a small and rusty LPG tank. 

That was when we noticed that parts of the kitchen were splattered with old oil stains. Jane wondered if she should clean them, and I said she could, but she didn't have to, since they had been there before we arrived. But she wanted to and she rolled up her sleeves.

I felt bad because she hadn't been outside the house at all. She hadn't seen what was there to see in Barcelona. Then I realized I hadn't been outside at all! And I had a dear friend in Barcelona who didn't know I was there. And we were about to go home!

I messaged my friend on Whatsapp. He said he was staying in this little cottage owned by a language school. He was teaching Spanish to engineering students and engineers. The school was also looking for English teachers, he said. Did I want to stay longer to have a proper vacation?

I woke up happier than I'd been in the past few days.

Dream: Burning leaves

I dreamed that I was woken up by the scent of burning leaves, and I stepped out of the house to find out who had started a small bonfire. I wasn't dressed to go out, so instead I peered over the wall. I saw a friend who passed away this year. He smiled at me and I was startled to see him, remembering he had died.

Then his face became that of his brother's. 

"Oh, hi," I said, "I didn't know you were here." And I thought you were your dead sibling. "Has anyone been burning leaves?" I asked.

He shook his head, and I went back inside the house to sleep.

Positive (a short story)

I found the short story I based my ten-minute play on. I think it can still be polished, and maybe I will make some revisions, but again it was nice to read twenty-something me again. 

I'm sharing what is still a draft, though this story has already been workshopped in my Fiction class and has been revised afterwards. 

Dream: Walking away

Image by Klaus Stebani from Pixabay

Last night, I dreamed that I was just leaving work in Alabang. Or was it school? Anyway, I was leaving and I saw someone I used to love. He was dressed very well, in a red shirt and black jeans, a jacket, and brown Oxfords (not brogues). He also had dark eyeglasses on. He was smiling, but not at me.

I didn't want to be seen, so I hurriedly walked away. When I realized he was just behind me, walking in the same direction, I walked faster. It started drizzling, and I walked even faster. He and some other guys hitched a ride on the back of a pickup truck and they passed me, and I saw him see me, but I kept walking and walked even faster when he got off the truck.

I walked and walked and suddenly I was in Cainta, far away from him. I walked towards a group of people, and I discovered they were at a riverbank. I saw a man I recognized as a friend's father. He and his companions were fishing.

I peered at the water and saw that it was part ice but still flowing, taking some fish and other river creatures with it. The people just needed to pull out the partially frozen creatures. I saw different types of frozen freshwater fish and even crocodiles, all frozen, their eyes still open. They didn't seem to be dead, just asleep, encased in soft ice.

Already there were huge piles of seafood ready to be sold, and the sight of the fish made me want to bring some home. I asked my friend's father if I could buy some, and he apologized and said that the sellers weren't there yet. 

Being told no made me want the fish more and so I was sad, and when he noticed my sadness, he handed me a few pieces of small flat fish, barely even full grown, for free. I took the fish and thanked him, but he saw I wasn't happy, so he poured some salt and pepper into a teaspoon, plucked some local berries from a nearby bush, and gave them to me. 

"Try this," he said. "It's good."

I still wanted the fish, so I lingered, and soon the sellers arrived. But then I realized I wasn't sure what I wanted anymore and the fish didn't look very appealing, so I just stood there until I remembered I was supposed to be on my way home.

But I had already walked from Alabang to Cainta, and I didn't want to turn around and walk back the same way. On the other hand, I felt that if I continued in the same direction, I would make it home, yes, but through a busier, non-scenic route, and the walk would be too uncomfortable.    

I walked around a little to look for a bus station and found myself in a small mall. The rest of the dream is hazy, and it ended with me, standing on a sidewalk, looking at buses that were headed one place near me that I had never wanted to go to. 

I can't recall the name of the place, but the feeling was the same as when I would be in Makati, waiting for a bus to Alabang and all the buses were headed to FTI. 

The Test (a ten-minute play)

I've been sorting out my old files, and I came across this ten-minute play I wrote for a special class in DLSU that was inspired by a short story I wrote. I'll try to look for the short story (it still needs to be revised!), but I wanted to share this because it was nice to remember the person I was who wrote this in 2005. 

If I'm not mistaken, this was turned staged by DLSU students that year. I didn't get to watch it, unfortunately.

Let everything happen to you

Beauty and terror--with so much becoming more beautiful precisely because of terror. This is 2020. 

I'm surprised with myself that I haven't written anything about the pandemic. I suppose it's because it has literally invaded every aspect of my life and I've become its prisoner, like most everyone else in the world. I guess I didn't want to think about because I always have to think about it. If I could never think about it again, I would.

But that's not the only reason. In March, I simply walked away from a life that I realized was completely wrong for me. I left my job because I wasn't liking the person I was becoming and, at the same time, I ended what I felt was a special friendship for exactly the same reason. 

Walking away was a clear and easy decision, especially from my job, but the execution was nevertheless extremely painful. Then suddenly the whole world was on lockdown and I was surviving a broken heart and a bruised ego and a pandemic. 

It's kind of amusing how my personal drama was eclipsed by a very tangible threat in COVID-19. This brush with death--this pandemic may very well be a brush with death for those of us surviving it--has made me take a closer look at what I value in life. And while I can't go any further than that in terms of shareable insight, this closer look has reminded me that I still, like always, want to create beautiful things.

And when I'm gone, I want to leave beautiful things behind. 


This year is a terrible year, but it's also a mixed bag. There were many children born in our family, and the older ones are thriving in spite of current events. My mother had a health scare, but is on the mend. 

And there is someone that I love, to add to the small number of people I have grown to love more deeply this year because while the pandemic took their physical presence away for the time being, we are even more present in each other's lives.


When Typhoon Ulysses battered Luzon, I felt a prolonged terror like I'd never felt before. The typhoon was strong and slow, and I barely slept because I could hear the makeshift roof of our laundry area being thrashed by the wind from midnight onwards.

I wasn't just afraid to lose the roof--I was afraid for it to cause major damage or hurt someone. I couldn't go out to secure the roof--there was nothing much I could do, really, so I prayed. And then I wrote on my phone. I kept writing even when the electricity went out

It was only after writing that I felt calm enough to sleep. 

And so I am here, again, in this space where I still write whatever I want, about everything I want, all the things I find beautiful and even the things I find terrible.

How to make a parol

Disney just featured a parol and parol-making (plus the line "From our family to yours") in its holiday advertising, and I'm reminded of that traumatic parol-making contest that we had in grade school. 

I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctly, but I think we did it twice--once in Grade 5 and another time in Grade 6--but the star parol was for Grade 6.

What I remember was that we had to order a set of materials from the school and we made part of the parol in school, with the guidance of a teacher (was it Art class?), with the rest of it to be completed at home.

I was given blue and orange tissue paper and some cellophane, just enough for the star and its tail. I don't remember any lights or batteries, so I think it was just supposed to be a basic parol.

I don't remember fixing up the star frame, so it's either the parol set came with a ready star or I didn't have a difficult time setting it up (maybe my father was home and he helped?).

What I do remember is that the night before the parol was due, I was crying because I did not know how to use paste with tissue paper and the whole damn thing kept sticking to my fingers. As for the cellophane, the paste just wouldn't hold it in place!

Back then, it was not easy to buy arts and craft supplies in Las PiƱas. The only National Bookstore was at the Alabang Twin Cinemas, now Alabang Town Center. The small stores in our village that carried school supplies often didn't have Elmer's glue or tissue paper!

I think my mother helped (and if we had helpers at the time, for sure they helped too), but I still remember crying and panicking the entire time. I had no idea my hands, which I thought capable, could be so inefficient with paste and tissue paper!

To my relief, I was able to finish the project. It was an ugly mess on one side and a more tolerable one on the other. But it was over and done with, could be submitted for a passing grade, then forgotten.

At this point, let me say that at that time, I thought the goal was to make a parol out of the set of materials we were given, and nothing more. If we ran out of the materials, we could replace them, yes, but not add to them.

I was flustered to find out that we were supposed to parade the parols in front of everyone for the contest. I thought we would just hang it somewhere for the judges to look at!

I have always been uncomfortable in any spotlight, and my discomfort was made a thousand times worse because I would have to walk in front of everyone with the abomination that was my blue and orange parol. 

I died a thousand deaths waiting for my turn and looking at my schoolmates' parols, some super elaborate with extra features that definitely did not come with the set we were given. There were lights! A belen! Sounds! 

No way did they make those parols without any help and extra expenses! But that unfair advantage is always glossed over in grade school and high school.

I don't remember how we were asked to fall in line, but I was sandwiched between one beautiful parol and another, and I remember the judges laughing at my poor creation. 

To be fair, they laughed at many others, some uglier than mine.

Once the farce was done, I was so relieved I could finally hide my parol away. I thought about dumping it in the trash, but felt that that would also lead to more attention. So I carried it back home on the school bus, which was filled with lanterns and belens that day.

I thought that was the end of my parol, but I can also remember one more thing: We hung it that Christmas and kept it around for at least another one. I was never proud of it, but I suppose I realized it was pure and it was mine.

Typhoon Ulysses

I'm terrified because of the typhoon howling outside our window, blowing away bits of our house, and so I'm scrounging in my mind for whatever comfort I can find. 

In fear, my mind is asking whether in this pandemic all that is left for us is this endless struggle to survive, and I find myself despairing: That is not a life. 

But in faith, I think of all of you that I have loved and continue to love, in big ways and small ways, whether you knew it or not. And the wind is howling terribly outside our window, but I'm finding little nuggets of peace inside my heart. 

I have a good, though small, life. I've had big joys and small joys. I've had quiet loves and great loves. 

I guess that is really how one measures one's life?

If I regret anything, it's only that I could have been kinder. And maybe nastier to those who deserved it. Or maybe I wish I had been more honest--both in being kind and in ... not. 

I wish I had been more honest with how I feel about people.


This day is ending with a lot of fear, but there was also much joy, both additional and continuing: I have a new nephew born today, Andres Gabriel, and my six-year-old niece Kiara lost her second front tooth.


I used to watch Oprah, back when Studio 23 was airing it and her show was the only positive thing you could see on TV. In one episode, she or a guest mentioned a Christian song that helped her find forgiveness for people who had hurt her and wish them well. 

When I saw that episode, I was hurting and bitter over someone I can barely remember (I was so young!), and I was struggling for the good in me to overcome the bad because I knew it would be better for me in the long run. So I paid attention. 

The song is called, "I Need You to Survive." Maybe it's that S word in the title, but after not having thought of the song in years, I've found myself thinking of it a lot lately. I'll link it below.


I'm going to try to sleep now. Or maybe find out how long the wind is supposed to be blowing this way.