Mar 31, 2002

Tag-init 2002

Napaka-init! OK mag-ice candy, ice buko, kahit ice tubig! Ang masarap ngayon, maghalo-halo! O di kaya, mais con hielo. At sa mga panahon ngayon, sadyang napakabuti ang samalamig.

Iyon bang hindi lalagukin agad-agad. Unti-unti, parang nasa komersyal. Ninanamnam talaga ang lamig, pangalawa na lang ang lasa.

Naalala ko iyong sinabi ng infamoso kong ate na kung gusto kong magpalamig, magmainit na inumin ako, halimbawa kape o tsokolate, at kapag nilalamig ako, magmamalamig akong inumin, tulad nga ng sopdrink na may yelo. Paglaon raw kasi, kung mainit na at nagmainit ka pa, papawisan ka nang husto kaya mawawala ang internal na init. At kapag malamig na nga at nagmalamig ka pa, hindi ka mamamawis kaya't mas lalong makukulob ang init sa katawan.

Syempre, hindi namin ginagawa ito. Natutuwa lang kami sa teorya e, napakalinis sa papel! Pero napakamasokista ko naman kapag ginawa ko iyon ngayon! Miski pawis ko e namamawis na yata!

Ang masarap ngayon, tumapat sa electric fan o magkulong sa akondisyonadong kwarto. OK rin siguro magsuroy-suroy sa loob ng mga mall dahil nga libre gala at akondisyon duon! Pero kung magkapanahon man ako sa mall, manonood ako ng Ice Age para talagang tumiim ang lamig pati sa mga mata at utak!

Ang masarap ngayon, lumangoy. Nuong nasa eskwela pa ako, may mga liksyon kami sa paglangoy. Pati sa Peyups, iyon ang kinuha kong P.E. Pero hindi ko pinagtuunan ang bilis sa paglangoy. Galit ako sa timer. Ang gusto ko, magbabad. Pasisid-sisid, parang naglalamyerda sa tubig, mala-little mermaid! Wow sarap!

Kaso ansama namang magka-sunburn ngayon! Aray ko po! Parang ayaw ko na sigurong dumikit sa anumang nilalang kapag ganun! Galit-galit muna, hehe.

Pero, trabaho muna, pampainit bago pampalamig. Kape sa gabi, tubig sa umaga. Langoy-utak na lang muna.

Mar 29, 2002

Semana Santa

Ito ang una kong Semana Santa na wala ang Inang, ang aking lola.

Sa unang pagkakataon, hindi na ako nagbabakasyon mula sa eskwela. Pahinga lamang mula sa trabaho kaya't parang minamadali ang pagninilay-nilay.

Kakaiba. Hindi na nga ako umuwi sa probinsya namin sa Rizal at pinagpasyahan ko na lang manatili dito sa bahay. Parang napakaraming nakalipas - mga nakaraang Biyernes Santo at Sabado de Gloria, mga prusisyon, mga dinedekorasyunang Santo, mga tinatanaw sa mga dinadaanang mga bahay, mga kandila, mga Senakulo na hindi ko mabuo-buo, mga simba, mga pinsang kinasabikang makitang muli, mga Pabasa, mga pinagmamanuhang nakatatanda. At syempre, pangunahin, ang nag-iisa ko nang lola.

Naalala ko pa dati, kapag masyadong magulo ang mga bata, napagsasabihan niya: "huwag kayong maligalig, patay ang Diyos". At napapangiti kami, "ang Inang talaga, nanakot pa!"

Ni hindi ko man lamang pinanood ngayon ang prusisyon dito sa Makati. Iyong mga tinatanaw ko dati sa prusisyon sa Rizal, may mga sariling pamilya na. Hindi ko alam kung may Senakulo ngayong taon. Iyong pinsan kong gumaganap at umaawit bilang Kristo, nasa Canada na. At malabo nang magkasama-sama pa ang magpipinsan ngayong sumakabilang-buhay na ang Inang.

At baka ito na lang ang matitirang puwang para sa anumang pagninilay-nilay. Sa ligalig ng kalooban.

Mar 28, 2002

Bago ang lahat, isang makahulugang Semana Santa at mapagpalayang Pasko ng Pagkabuhay sa inyong lahat!

LIGHT AND SHADES

My Eyes

I'm still not used to the shades. I scrutinize my eyes in the mirror, rolling it all over its sockets, just to see what my sister saw. She said I may be on my way to having pterygium, which, as I have explained, is the eye's excessive way of protecting itself from routine exposure to dust and sun, specifically UV rays.

Had no luck. I didn't know what I was looking for. I thought everything there was suppose to be there. My eyes must've been a little to red in the wrong places or something.

***

An Accessory

I don't like wearing anything save for the basics.

I'm not too hot on accessorizing. For one, I never liked wristwatches. I love those wooden bead necklaces, leather wrist straps with some piece of carabao horn, and other inspired and unique patterns. But little brother would almost always take my purchases to both wear and tear.

I never got to piercing any body part. I just never figured which ear would say which gender I preferred. Or if the left or right nostril would signify anything like that. Tongue-piercing freaks me out. I mean, nothing but mami noodles and water for weeks? No thanks. I'd rather have my wounds elsewhere.

No bracelets, no velcro, no bonnets, no hairclips, no belly-rings, no anklets, no nada. And no ring, for now.

And until recently, nothing to impair my eyes.

***

Altered Egos

I don't like wearing shades. Aside from the infantile mimicking of Superman and alter ego Clark Kent (which is now really too absurd, I mean, he takes off his eyeglasses and the love of his life can't recognize him anymore?), I didn't even want glasses. It was always a sign of weakness for me, not intelligence. Of failing eyes. And of some people who didn't need the glasses but wanted to look different.

Alter the ego somewhat. It looked so pretentious for me, as a kid, to not have eye problems and yet have glasses. It had to look pretentious or else it wouldn't make sense. Why the ruse? Hiding something? A cape under that suit or something a little more sinister?

My grade five adviser, (I hope no one from DBTI reads this - ah what the hell - a schoolboy crush) cemented my young mind's position on this. She wore glasses and looked so, well, sophisticated in them. She had that aura she exuded with her overpowering perfume. That aura told you she was never wrong. And I never recalled she was.

Once, she looked over her rose-tinted glasses and said something like this to her captive class: "These are high-grade lenses and I would that I didn't wear them. When I was young, I used to wear glasses even though I didn't need them, for purposes of fashion. Those didn't have any lenses but they weakened my eyes. Now it has taken it's toll on my eyes and I have grown increasingly dependent on them."

That's karma maybe, but mine is irony. I've tried to push back glass and contact lenses for as long as I can remember. My parents have several varieties for reading and normal sight. Both of my sisters had them and, later, contacts. I hate fuzzing on contacts too. I don't like the rituals. And I've had my share of tiptoeing so as not to crush dropped lenses.

***

Dimmed Lights

Our NGO's nurses tell me I don't have 20/20 anymore. And now pterygium. No big tragedy, I guess. Only I wanted to die without fuzzing over my eyes much. But I guess my habits aren't exactly eye-friendly!

So I must endure the shades, and yes, even be thankful for them. It was a good thing my sister saw it coming. That is my luxury. It is my luxury too that I can have pairs of these glasses and wear them when I'm under the sun.

In our missions, the people just live with their growths and other minor eye diseases until they can work with them. Let me tell you, we have enough ophthalmologists! Our ratio is satisfactory! But as expected, what is left of them practicing in the native soil are not distributed properly. They crowd around the (paying) urban centers.

Thus I am so grateful to our volunteer doctors and to those local ophthalmologists doing their work in the unglamorous parts of the archipelago.

And these missions, even though they are the bread and butter of our NGO, even if they pay my bills, I say they aren't enough. They are just temporary solutions. The illness of our society permeates to the very eyes of its constituents! A permanent solution is sadly beyond our grasp because of the maladies we suffer. But not beyond sight.

Mar 25, 2002

Sa Yahoo GeoCities: kung ayaw mo, wag mo!
Pterygium

You're not the only one, staring at the sun.
-U2

Simula ngayong araw na ito, magsusuot na ako ng shades.

Kauuwi lang ng ate ko galing sa kanyang imersyon sa isang komunidad sa Batangas, isang kahilingan bago makapagtapos ng medisina sa Peyups. O sige na nga, maraming benepisyo ang pagkakaroon ng ateng nagdudoktor. Isa e minsan pakiramdam ko napakarami kong sakit at bawal kainin.

Kagabi, pinagsabihan niya akong bawal sa akin ang ultraviolet rays ng araw. Pwede raw akong magka-pterygium. Alam ko kung ano iyon dahil ineksplika sa akin ng mga nars sa trabaho, nagkakaroon ang tao ng ekstrang laman sa mata. Madali-dali namang tanggalin (kumpara naman sa katarata o glaucoma) at minor na ehersisyong surhikal lamang ito para sa mga espesyalista.

Ayon sa karanasan nila sa mga misyong medikal, kadalasan itong natatagpuan sa mga mata ng magsasaka at mangingisda, mga kapatid nating babad sa araw. Kaya ang tawag ko ruon e kalyo sa mata.

Hindi naman ako lunod sa araw sa palagay ko at hindi talaga ako mahilig mag-shades. Pero simula ngayong araw na ito, ikonsidera ko na raw na may allergy ako sa araw. OK lang. May kapareha na ang migraine ko na tinatawag nilang sakit ng sosi.

Simula ngayon, magsususuot na ako ng shades.

Penitensya

Wow, tatlong posibilidad na umakyat sa Baguio ngayong Semana Santa - Astrid, Carol at Monica. Pero malabo na yata e. Salamat na lang uli! Dito na lang ako sa bahay para ma-update ko yung mga links ko, dami ko nang idaragdag e! Wow, hayop sa pinagpilian a, links page o Baguio. Links na lang, sabihin na lang dito sa bahay e nagmumukhang Baguio na ako. (Mukhang peanut brittle naman kayo! Hehe.)

Atsaka walang tubig ngayon sa Baguio e! Hehe, hello Pauline, sakaling mabas mo ito, sana di kayo mawalan ng tubig. Malamang dito na lang ako magpa-flagellantes sa bahay. OK dito sa amin sa Guadalupe e, yung mga tomador hinahampas yung sarili sa likod. Tapos yung ibang tomador na dadaanan nila bubuhusan pa ng alkohol yung mga sugat sa likod ng mga nagpepenitensyang panyero nila!

Mar 21, 2002

All italicized items for my entry below was lifted from the one-page announcement in the PDI (March 21, 2002, A19). Because health matters...

Enter Sandman

We sleep without thinking about it - and that's the problem.

March 21 - It's International Sleep Well Day today. It's supposed to be part of a global awareness campaign to remind us of the clinical importance of sleep in our lives.

I read some stuff on it though my head and eyes hurt. I spent all night on the computer doing some work, on the phone (hello kantogirl?), and watching Nathan on the boob tube (Private Conversations with Boy Abunda). I slept at around 2:30 am and enjoyed around three hours of sleep.

Yes. From both text and experience, I can tell you, sleep! It's damn important. Don't bother blogging tonight, don't even finish this article. Just go to bed and enjoy some snooze (it's not just the alarm clock's option you know).

The obvious effects of human sleep deprivation are on behavior, because the cereberum needs not sleep and cannot obtain any rest during wakefulness.

We need to sleep so that, despite all these caffeine-drowned nights studying, cramming, working, watching TV, or just plain blogging, we can give time for our frayed nerves to rest and straighten up. The burden of our existence is too heavy even for the power of the Nervous System to carry all day long.

We need to sleep so that, despite great egos, we remember we are human. In this sphere, even time to sleep is considered a luxury. And of course, as we are always enjoined to remember, "bawal magkasakit" (such an anti-human statement so characteristic of the inhuman spirit of our times).

So though we must rest for practical purposes, let slumber come upon you too as a boon. Because in the end, everything we keep awake for will go when we go. And it would only matter maybe to the next generation, probably with less of our sleep and more of our medication.

Lest we forget what we are living for, let us pause to remember our dreams. Tomorrow is a whole 'nother day.

Perhaps sleep evolved as a way to remain quiet and thus protected during the night.

Well, I'm off to bed now to practice what I now preach. Don't let the bedbugs bite! (Or let the lot of them have their feast and just enjoy a full night's rest.) Good night. Sleep tight.

Perhaps we need to sleep in order to dream

Mar 20, 2002

Of Other Members of the J.N.C.L.F.*

Before anything else, I would like to direct followers of the "Nathan defense" to the following venues linked here. I feel they are more qualified to speak on Nathan's academic performance because they were contemporaries as students of the same course, BA English: Creative Writing.

Still, I think I can have part of the honor of vouching for his character. Or else what use would he have of once naming me his best friend?

*Joseph Nathan Cruz Liberation Front

Of the English Department and Block B-1

I figure that I have been guilty of some excesses in crafting my defense of Nathan Cruz. I may have overstated my bias against the Department of English and Comparative Literature (DECL).

It has produced some great characters (although, in my heart, I believe they came out good because they held fast to something else within themselves despite the department). Among them are friends of mine, Nathan, Jol, Astrid, and Jessel. Of course, my friends too from APS. I realize too that I have not counted some others who were never acquaintances of mine but were worthy children of UP in their own right.

I did not need to ask around to know that.

One of my best professors, present and crucial in my academic turning point, came from that department and taught me Humanities in a special course prioritizing students from the DECL. Yes, I was of that department in what seems now such a distant past.

Peach and I left for Philippine Studies, and both Araling Pilipino and the lady will figure largely in whatever future that will then arise for me. A significant "chip" of the block will leave DECL for slots in the College of Mass Communications, sensing some brighter future there maybe.

And among them of course, a lady leading her own path, sometime later to cross mine, never to leave again. And outside of DECL, I would name her Sanyata in a fashion all my own.

We weren't kicked out. The lot of us quit while we were ahead. I among them knew no great loss. I only regretted leaving my friends. But then, the block found means of keeping in touch. This electronic space is one such venue.

Still, there was something in that culture that I never grew to love. And I watched from my distance how it came for my friends and claimed their minds. Each would have to negotiate with it in their own way. Maybe I am still afflicted with it. That would not come off as such a big surprise. My bilingual blog, for example, could scarcely hide this internal dialectic. And though I hold on to this struggle because it drives both my understanding and expression, I despise its very existence.

DFPP and DECL - versus?

Most of my bias against the DECL and its internal squabbles (despite admirable people both in the faculty and its student body), I may owe to my "academic politicization" in my own department, Departmento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas (DFPP). We have great beef against the way some DECLers think and the policies that are approved by its bulk.

I know the necessity for this department and the validity of its existence and enterprise. Yet, I had always wished that it did not grow to be what it is now.

And I secretly desire, in the future, that even Comparative Literature would be under the DFPP, with Panitikan ng Pilipinas properly asserting its right on all that is Panitikan sa Pilipinas. But that great change would happen only when the dominant view of globalization in University and the College of Arts and Letters will undergo a radical change.

But of course, most are allergic to the word "radical," despite the fact that sometimes it is closer to what is (though not commonly known or acknowleged as) "right." And some are just sickened by the thought of paperwork (my, what a large ruckus that would be!).

Anyway, we don't have much of a translation industry to speak of. That is logically a prerequisite. That and some form of agreement on the form of "Filipino" we will use (and that is material for a whole new article).

Maybe I should be satisfied if Comparative Literature would just separate from the DECL. Though even that is wishful thinking!

Mar 19, 2002

Nathan Cruz and Being Anti-Poor

Tonight I write against my heart.

But my will, nonetheless, is adamant. My dear friend, Nathan, has been maligned by the irresponsible words of some Lia Bulaong. I will not stay my hand.

Whatever purpose those words serve, I will not write here. Because if I do, I will have to speculate on her motivations. And when I do that, I may appear to merely rant against her character. Despite the thoughts and guesses I harbor, raving is not my method and her character is not my province.

Were it not for the disservice she did my friend, I would not have needed to care about her. Thus, although this is a reaction to what she has written, do not expect me to assassinate her character. My ammunition was never meant to be aimed on fellow online journal keepers.

I refuse to serve her "cause" by becoming like her. And I have to restrain myself every now and then from name-calling.

But my heart is teeming with expletives.

I resolved before that when I liked the work of fellow online writers, I would say so either here in my blog or in their guestbooks. At least whenever time allowed. And when I found words or articles that offended me or somesuch principle I held dear, I would not mind. I don't have the time anyway.

But Nathan to me and those who really knew him was not just some principle. He became this symbol that the administration used for its own propaganda against some people in the legislature (who were then mocking the UP system to justify why they never funded it satisfactorily). And before he was the Malaya article, the P. D. Inquirer cover, the hot e-mail forward as the magna cum laude from the slums, he was our friend. And we loved him.

Therefore, even if the circles and readers I have grown to love may now leave me with suspicion or ire for "assaulting" one of "our" "own," I will not waver.

He didn't deserve those words.

He deserved the applause of his valedictory speech's audience. He deserved the ovation. He deserved the tears those mothers and graduates shed for his triumph. And although his publicity, then as now, has reared a Janus-faced head that both blessed and cursed him, he deserved that too. He deserved the Administration's admiration. But they should forever chastise themselves for using his triumph to swiftly dismiss an inquisition. He was not their sword to fight their battles with. And though he was in part the success of UP, the Nemenzo Administration should have thought twice before they co-opted what he stood for.

That, he did not deserve. And from that he has earned too many tongue-lashes. Garcellano, a professor he looked up to, dissed him in his classes. Garcellano was fighting his squabbles in the ever-messy, vanity-cursed, and inflated-ego-ridden Department of English and Comparative Literature. Whereas the Administration used him as their instrument, Garcellano and those of like mind assailed the symbol that was wrought now along the terms of the Administration.

Love him or hate him.

I knew he could take care of himself. So I left him to his devices and just put in a precautionary word when I deemed appropriate. And now too, if he had his own site, he could carry himself against those who gainsaid him. Or would ignore them as is his choice at times.

He has come against greater things. He has felt hunger, rooflessness, and shame. He has come through great suffering that my limited imagination can only dare fathom. He knew that had not things fallen as they did, and had he not acted accordingly, he could have been in some drug-addicted gang. And I would have avoided or despised him should we have met.

He was a freshman when he told me he knew this. And many other things besides. He wrought such poetry then. I secretly feared he would never leave the shadow of the dead father he then hated. But he would rise beyond all our expectations. We were proud of his 15 minutes, but i was prouder still that he conquered himself in the end.

During those years in UP, in SVCF, his Christian moorings held fast. He didn't move in those CW circles. And I wouldn't trust the people around him to acknowledge his talents. Many were pissed by his "over"confidence and more were just plain envious. And he would waste no time to socialize or appease them. But our block marked him from the start (and at Mark envied him), and we knew. Some of us even made him do their assignments in hopes of getting such marks he would garner.

And he articulated what he was and what he became after four years in that speech. It was no mean thing to be proud of. It was an achievement of a lifetime.

I watched him work hard for every grade. He was a proud man and he prized his accomplishments. It was hard to admire him since he stood his ground firmly and usually came off too abrasive for anybody else's comfort. Most of the time he was right though. And he always made sense. Since day one, I knew his whole life could not but be lived the hard way. And his studies were not exempt.

Because the poor were so blessed...

Herein I shatter her argument. It was not my friend's speech which was anti-poor. He wasn't celebrated by ignorant people. Those tears they shed over his triumph knew what they were for.

Everybody knew that despite its posturings, UP does not stand for University of the Poor. Although we claim it as a republic unto itself, it is a grim and grave reflection of the Philippines and despite all utopian and romanticist words, UP is not populated by the down-trodden.

It is true that the great majority of the poor that attend its halls are brilliant. They have to be! And Nathan, among them, had to put in more than what a petty bourgeouis school boy like me to enter UP. Even the damned entrance fee posed a problem!

I know for a fact that some public high schools actually dissuade their students from entering UP! It was a waste of time for them to try out, their advisers said! They withheld their support from those "naive" schoolkids who would press their parents for hard-earned Php300 to gamble at UPCAT. And though here our famous UP egos will go bloated, I state that this is not a matter of pride but of shame.

And my private high school would almost shove the UP application forms down our throats just so more of their alumni will have such distinction that will serve their marketing purposes well. We didn't even have to sweat it out in the queues! Everything was spoonfed. And being paid in full - not troubled by the corruption that chisels away the education from the public schools - those spoons were also full. The confidence we bought were supplemented by the competitive drive of the Catholic, exclusive, private school.

And we walk into the halls of UP with our bloated heads held up. We owned UP and we knew it. The government wouldn't have any piece of it. The commitment of their budget said so.


It is true that the great majority of the poor that attend its halls are brilliant. But the great majority of the people are not the brilliant poor. We can afford to study in those more expensive universities. We all knew that Nathan was a rarity. Structured as it was, UP seldom reared its magnas from Nathan's ranks. And we all marvelled at his speech because even fewer of the indigent "honored" were proud of where they rose from.

It is not Nathan's declaration which is anti-poor. It is the very fibre of our educational system - the same thread that runs through the core of even the UP system - that is anti-poor and pro-elite.

***

What the hell?!

Why restrain myself? I could argue more that the UP system isn't as successful as it always puts on. But the list isn't short and I have already spent too much time from my work. It's enough for us to know, despite Nathan's success, even UP has been known to fail.

Mar 16, 2002

Marso A-kinse

Kaytamis ng ating samahan sa lungkot at kaligayahan... - The Dawn

Nakadahupang-palad (at nakakiskisang-siko!) ko muli ang ilan sa aking mga kaibigan. Tulad naman ng inasahan ko, dala ng kanya-kanyang iskedyul, kanya-kanyang landas, at kanya-kanyang paraan ng pamumuhay, hindi naging matagal ang pagsasama.

Nahuli ang karamihan at napaaga ang pag-uwi ng lahat. Ngunit para sa akin, medyo mababaw ang kaligayahan, malaking bagay na sa akin ang maliit na panahon ng aming pagkikita-kita.

Simpleng pagsasalu-salo lamang at kumustahan ng mga dating magkakakilala. Sa totoo lang, hindi ko rin naman inaasahang lumaki ng ganuon ang magkikita-kita e. Kukunin ko lang naman kay Paul ang mga litrato namin sa Baguio!

Ngunit ngayon, medyo maligaya ako. Iba talaga ang linggong tinatapos sa piling ng mga kaibigan.

Maraming salamat Monica, Carol, Ivy, Blue, Jerico at Pauline.

Salamat, at tayo'y nagkasamang muli. Salamat, at may munting nakalaan sa kaunting kasiyahan. - The Dawn

***

Nga pala, maligayang bati Malyn! Kumusta libro? Ate Mon, naibigay mo? Kumusta thermos?
March 15

I dreamt of you.

What it portends or indicates I have no clue. It's a strange thing because I seldom remember my dreams and less often would I remember the characters who played their vague roles therein.

And come morning I recalled the date. Happy Birthday Les!

You were there, in the center. I hope that didn't mean ill tidings. I hope that means only that I still remember. And my vow, made as a child, I restate here. You need only to call me and, in your trouble, I will be there.

Our friendship is both strange and profound. And one of the best although - my great fault - not the best kept.

Still, if your separate way will lead you here, in the realm of my expression, I hope you won't feel too humiliated that I remember.

Most of this, I owe to you.

Live your life well. Happy Birthday.

***

March 13

Would a right-minded lover propose to begin his first intimate relationship on Friday the 13th? I never was too superstitious from the beginning. Nor right-minded.

So it came to pass that a month after you were teary-eyed on the phone, after you rejected his plea to return and be your valentine again, you would be mine. And my heart throbbed incessantly. It was all so new to me. I never knew I had it in me. I never thought I wanted to be so prized. I never thought I could be so loved.

Yet I was. I asked you why. You said you weren't sure yourself. I was never a right-minded person. You never understood why you would feel drawn to me, a boy-man who would fuss about ants and their deaths.

I knew why I was drawn to you. You were a silent flower.

You were silent. But we all knew you weren't shy, snobbish, or aloof. You were just silent. You stared deeply and thought fluently. Yet you would never speak more than what courtesy required. Since we met as freshmen, I was drawn to you.

So it was that the pretty lady, whose silence I heard from the very beginning, would find my gibberish a bit too interesting. And I, a fool, rushed in.

Yet I could be silent too. I could not vow as other lovers could. I had no sweet promises or passion-filled oaths. I only had doubts.

We parted at semester's end. You wrote me a letter from Nueva Ecija. I had none to send. Those were hard times and I thought I was leaving UP so that my brother could study in my stead. I could not write and tell you about it. I feared what would brood in your depths.

What would come from the abyss of your silence? I could not tell. I never read you. I never knew you. Of all things that I feared from you - wrath, tears, scorn - I feared most that nothing would issue forth.

So I wrote you one paltry letter in the summer. And there was no word of my trouble. Just a plain report of safe things. Most of all, as you would later confess, that letter was three words short.

I could not write them.

Your judgment fell hard as a warhammer, light as paper. Before my birthday, weeks before independence day, you wrote that you found another. You learned much from me. I was more of a brother to you. You wrote those and other cruel things in a handful of memo-sized stationery.

Fortunes change and I enrolled for the first semester. Times were less harsh. We would be classmates again.

You would know of the truth a few weeks later. But I was already playing the part of your elder brother and professor, as you had assigned in your parting letter. I contemplated loving another who was unloved.

And I never asked about him who replaced me. You have no need of me anymore, that was final. It had to be.

I would know later that there was really no other. There were just two hearts too silent.

Could ants construe that they held their fortune in their own hairy hands? Yet we are men and we read stones and mountains, stars and ants. We think things and think of the old ways we think of things and we consider some things superstition. We do that. For my part, I do not deny that fortune is, in parts great or small, in our hands.

Or at least, that is the practical way to think.

So I deemed then and I deem now that there would be no future for us. But I foresee that every March 13, I would remember as I remember now, four March thirteens later. And every thirteenth, when it falls on a Friday, I would remember how I was bound to your silent lips.

Let it now stand as a grim mark for futures to come, how once it was a man's undoing that he left things unspoken.

Mar 13, 2002

Butterflies

Her last card had hand-drawn butterflies.

She hasn't written in a while. Quite a while. But I understood as I wanted her too to understand why I haven't written. So we forged our lives in the shadow of each other's silence.

A shadow that will seldom express itself. And in those times, only through my accursed writing hand.

There were lines in their trail, suggesting flight.

These your delicate creatures, your black and white emissaries, how should I regard them? I have been neglectful. And in both love and friendship, neglect is neglect. The tumultous months will present no excuse. Whatever I have been through will serve no valid explanation. Death, strife, love, and so many hates may come in the intervening time, but that will mean nothing.

Thus I am neglectful. And it would be easy to say that I am in flight. Yet, I still believe, she knows better. How I fear that she does.

And you let the butterflies follow me, wherever I may choose to go.

I once told you stories in those spaces between your songs. Were we as before, I would tell you about Gabriel Garcia-Marquez and how he treated butterflies.

He had a pursuant lover pursued by a host of yellow butterflies. They were a saying of his people, that lovers seem like they had butterflies about them.

He had true butterflies on his tail. And he would notice save for the all-consuming focus of his love. And when he endeavored to sneak into the chamber of his co-conspirator-beloved, the bright yellow trail betrayed him.

And he would die. And so would the butterflies, crushed between the blades of the electric fan, wings clipped by disarray, small luminous bodies squished by the toll of time and the forbidding laws.

And see, your last card had hand-drawn butterflies.

While here I write, damned to overread even your silence.

Mar 12, 2002

Konek at Kabit(e)

Hay naku! Napakahirap magkonek sa mga panahong ito. Pakiramdam ko naman, mga estudyante lang ang mga kaagaw ko sa server sa ganitong dis-oras ng gabi! Wala bang mga eksamen at papel na pinaghahandaan? Hehe, oks lang, mas marami, mas masaya!

Ako nga rin e, hindi ko alam kung ano ang ginagawa ko rito ngayon. Marami pa akong dapat gawin.

Kagagaling ko lang sa Cavite kung saan mainit ang pagtanggap ng mag-anak ni Monica at ang mga kaibigan niyang sina Ria, Chie, at Grace. Kasama ko si Eugene, syempre at wala na akong sasabihin tungkol sa kanila ni Ria. Baka mabati pa.

Kumanta kami ng Father and Son ni Yuj. Sana talaga uminom ako para may palusot ako sa aking, uh, deklamasyon.

OK yung jigsaw puzzle sa bahay-Morales! Sobrang hirap.

Enwey masaya talaga ako duon sa Cavite. Medyo nakahinga ng malalalim-lalim. At nakapag-isip-isip rin. Medyo manipis kaming nakalampas sa matinding aksidente sa South Superhighway. Yung kasama naming sasakyan ang natamaan. Nawala lahat ng ngiti ko nuon e. Medyo trauma pa ako kaya di ko na dedetalyehin. Sa pagkakaalam ko, nabugbog lang kami ng kaunti. Sana maganda ang resulta ng eksameng medikal!

Sa ngayon, galit muna ako sa mga tsuper ng bus. Lalo na sa Jacliner na kumabit sa Vanette ng mga kamag-anak ni Mon. May mga matatanda at bata ruon! GrabeAlam ko namang may matitino riyan e. Kaso minsan isang bagay na ganuon ang nakakasira sa mabuting pangalan ng nakakarami.

Minsan astang maton kasi talaga e. Sana managot kayo. Kalaki-laki na nga e maghihit-and-run pa! May laman pang pasahero, sasagasain pa yung barikada sa toll gate para makatakas! Nyeta.

***

Salamat sa lahat ng mga bumati kay Monica. Galing sa kanya iyon, taus-puso. Heto nga't ipinadidikta sa akin isa-isa! Sa mga nagpadala ng SMS, maraming salamat sa pagwaldas ng load para sa kanya. Ikinalulungkot ng blooming na babae na hindi siya makatugon dahil nga naubos ang load niya duon sa aksidenteng nangyari nuong pauwi kami mula sa Cavite, Linggo ng gabi.

Pero labs na labs nya raw kayo. At ako na rin daw, pansamantala, hangga't may blag ako na mapagdadaanan ng mga babati sa kanya! (",) Hehe.

Hanep sa segwey pero syempre kelangan magpatuloy sa buhay di ba? Maligayang bati muli sa Iyo kung sino ka man Monica. (",) Balik raw kami ni Eugene sa inyo!

Pero ano kaya? Komyut tayo pauwi? Huwag lang sa Jacliner! Please lang! Kahit pa malamig ang aircon nila, mainit na dugo ko ruon!

***

Nga pala, astig ring kumabit ang mga daily dose ni Kianna! Paborito ko ang "dosage" na preskripsyon niya kay Ate Glo at sa Baby Mikey nito. Medyo mabaho nga lang, pero, tamang-tama ang timpla para sa akin! (",)

Mar 11, 2002

Twenty-three years ago, the reason why I may never consider myself unfortunate came. The reason why I hope shed her first tears. The reason why I love strove to open her eyes.

Now I see her. I hear her. And I understand what I am for.

Twenty-three years ago, my Reason was born. Happy birthday my One.

Mar 8, 2002

Criticizing Critics

Happy day! I just finished reading The Return of the King. Thus ends my reading of The Lord of the Rings. As for my being a Tolkien reader, I may have only just begun. I am disinclined to reread The Hobbit or any of the LOTR books, as I've just finished poring over those. What I have in mind (and stored in this impersonal computer of ours) is a copy of Silmarillion. For this I am grateful to Paul, Sandigan's erstwhile webmaster.

Critics said it was the best among Tolkien's works. Critics usually do that. They pick some less popular piece in a certain author's corpus and say it's the true classic. Hell, I don't know any "decent" Shakespeare critic who would choose Romeo and Juliet over Macbeth or King Lear!

It's like saying, "all you guys have been reading the wrong book. I on the other hand have gone through all his works, I've read his unpublished thesis, I even read those little love letters he wrote when he was a pimply adolescent! From that wide selection that nobody else cared to labor over, I say this obscure work no one cared about is the real deal."

"Got any questions? Or have you read what I read? What framework are you coming from?"

I can't blame them (or "us?") though. I mean, they spent their baccalaureate degrees over literature getting everything - language, stylistics, milieu, tone, plot, every excruciating detail! What was the color of the wallet that the American soldier let drop? How many witches were there in Macbeth, with or without speaking lines, three or four? Did you count Lady Macbeth? Explain. Was there really a devil or was that just Ivan Karamazov's hallucination? Or is this whole exam just a hallucination in Ivan's world-view? In yours?

They got everything really. Maybe except entertainment?

And they (okay, "we") devote postgraduate time and toil too. We look and sound so erudite, such connoisseurs of "high thought." And what do we tell the masses? "You watched Romeo and Juliet? That's Shakespeare at his best you know!" or "You've just finished The Fellowship of the Ring? It's just the greatest, isn't it?"

"Duh? Hello," the brave reader speaks, "We knew that. You spent your time studying literature just to say that?" They have a point too. They have an engineering, medicine, or law degree (and salary to boot) and they also got that.

So I'll just raise my erudite high brow. Oh. Romeo and Juliet? He was such an amateur then, wasn't he? Oh. LOTR is good for starters. I assume you're just warming up to read Silmarillion. Now that's worth reading!

And those years of snobbish faithfulness to the canon, those excruciating minute detail studies, the piled fiction that I never really enjoyed with those doses of caffeine, all that money I'm not going to have, it's all worth the puzzled look on his face and the forced, hesitant, nod. A pretense of acquiescence. "Uh yeah, right, 'Selma Reyon,' I'll start reading on her soon!"

But he may just say "Screw you! You wasted years in that nuthouse academe! Everybody loves Romeo and Juliet, freak!"

*

Belle, kakukuha ko lang nga nung link na iyan para sa mga komento per artikulo. Sana nga e magamit mo! Ok lang sa akin na mangarag riyan. Pwede ko naman i-delete e, hehe! Pero yun naman talaga yung silbi nyan. Para medyo makapa ko naman kung ano ang epekto o kawalan ng epekto ng sulatin.

Ok lang na magkwentuhan blues tayo rito! Medyo naintriga nga ako sa sagot mo sa mahal nating Mel sa susma e. Huwag kang maasar ha? Wala kasi akong tuwirang karanasan sa ganuong bagay e.

Trixy, salamat sa komento mo sa deskripsyon sa blag! Malaking bagay lalo na't galing sa iyo.

Ria at Chie, papunta na ako riyan sa Cavite! Antay lang! At ikaw nastranded dyan, musta na? Heto yung SMS mo sa akin, ibablag ko kasi trip ko:

"The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes."
-Andre Gide

O di ba? Pangkalahatang gabay (at deskripsyon na rin nga) sa mga nagbablag katulad natin?

Narito nga pala sa tinig.com v 11.0, ang pagbasa ko sa pagtatapat ng mga pwersang Amerikano at Abu Sayyaf sa Filipino psyche. Alam kong ilang beses ko na nasabi ito pero sasabihin ko uli, dala ng sobrang emosyon. Nakakaasar talaga na matawag na Abu lover ng tumatayong lider ng bansa. Hurt ako.

Mar 6, 2002

Peyups.com

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!
-Don Corleone, The Godfather III

For some weeks now, Peyups.com has been using a slightly different lay-out. The old read and comment text links to each article have been replaced with a snappier little red arrow.

They published the first version of my opening Panagbenga article. I published it as my eleventh although I thought I'd end at my tenth.

Anyway, they were there too! The peyups.com people! We might have been trampling over each other all that time and we would not know. A UP Baguio student commented and that made my day.

Anyway, I hope people check it out although it's still published here because the peyups.com people put in a couple of neat photographs! They had that lady in the two-piece everlasting costume. Despite her predicament with the temperature, you should admire her poise!

Check it out please, but thank the peyups.com people for the photographs. I'm beginning to think I might have preempted a staff member's article. They made room for a contributor, in that case! I was so touched.

Makes it so damn harder to leave! I'm having second thoughts.
Hey Jealousy

I have the time now to unload your burden here. So unceremoniously have you yoked it all on me. And so subtly.

Yet, to my misfortune, I read you. You try to keep your envy from me either for consideration of me or some hidden cunning. But I read you dear man, none the less. You fear me with your lady.

I can feel your envy. I have anticipated it, to be sure. Your history with her was never hidden from me. I shunned hearing its details at times, but I am peripheral to the plot. An extra. So it came to me piecemeal. I have more or less a full account.

Some of the details you yourself provided me, despite your discreet ways. But that was before. When I was an extra.

I am not that anymore am I? You don't know where to place me. Center perhaps? I have no knowledge of that myself. I only feel how you perceive me now.

I feel your green eyes. They are underwrought penknives, sharp enough to slice skin and flesh yet imbued with dullness that would frustrate any effort for a clean cut. You try to reach my mind sloppily disgorging sinew and vein from the back of my neck. You try to enter through those nodes below my ear, at the back of my jaw.

Will you be content to learn that there was nothing?

You are green. Even your opening joke suggested affairs that I have not engaged in. Your gaiety was an ill mask. It hid not your faltering voice from me. It hid not your uncertain accusation of my betrayal.

Will you be content to learn that there was nothing?

I had full control of my faculties. All the charms you attribute to me, I left home. It was easy for me to shed them. For me, they never existed in the first place. Charms are nothing but the mistaken perception of people.

They see in me what they would like to see. Read in me what they would like to fathom.

Will you be content? There was nothing.

What did you like me to be my friend? Your scapegoat? The reason for your failure? I was not. In me there is and never was anything. You could not touch me with your knives. You could not wring or extract guilt from my innards.

I did not cause it. You failed. At your fall, I was absent. I beg your leave, for I had my own dive to manage. And I state this now to further blunt your blades, I never betrayed you. You had no claim on her. She is, to you (and most importantly, to her), a might-have-been.

And rest easy my friend for I also hold no claim. And not ever, I suppose. I divulged the details of my fall to her as she did to me hers (and yours). To her now, I am blackened. Ugly, inside out. And I would not feel safe any other way.

Partake of this security if you so desire. But I beg you not to. Seek your refuge elsewhere. The chapter you almost shared with her is best left closed.

And keep your green eyes to yourself.

Be content. I am nothing.

Mar 3, 2002

I'm very happy! For those who failed to catch some episodes of HBO's astounding military moving portrait, Band of Brothers, clear your calendars on the nights of March 14 and 15. One word for the followers of the brethren:

Marathon.

Enough said.

Should you doubt my mindless raving, watch it. Just the first episode! Let's see if you get to sleep the night. (",) Pack up on the chips, sodas, and beers! Good luck for those reviewing for exams!

***
UKAY-UKAY

Nagsimula ang Panagbenga nuong 1996. Isa itong hakbang upang maiahon ang industriyang turismo sa Baguio na humupa nang husto dala ng lindol nuong 1991. Ngayon, anim na taon ang nakalipas, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pag-akit ng pista ng pamumukadkad sa mga kababayan at turista.

Isang katangian ng Baguio ang ukay-ukay. Kumakalat ang mga tolda nito hanggang liwasang Burnham sa kapanahunan ng Panagbenga. Hindi maitatatwa na isa itong malaking panghatak sa mga kababayan sa ibaba na natutuwang umakyat ng Baguio hindi lamang upang magpahinga at magsuroy-suroy kundi upang makabili rin at makabargeyn. Sa ilang beses naming tumingin sa mga emporyo ng ukay-ukay, hindi nawawalan ng tao. Abalang-abala ang mga manininda.

Ayon sa mga napagtanungan ko, tinawag itong ukay-ukay dahil dati, itinatambak lamang ng mga manininda ang lahat ng trahe sa isang lugar at duon naghuhukay-hukay ang mga tao upang hanapin ang tipo nilang damit at kilatisin ang mga ito kung marumi o may depekto. Maaring gamitin ang mga depektong para mabawasan sa presyo kung marunong ka sa laro ng tawaran.

Halo-halo na ang mga damit ruon. May mga segunda mano ala Eloy's, may mga surplus at bago! Karamihan ng mga damit duon e inaangkat sa ibang bansa, halimbawa sa Hongkong, nakalagay sa malalaking kahon na kung tawagin e "bale." Bagsakan ang Baguio dahil duon may market para sa mga surplus na panlamig, mga jaket, sweater, mga shirt na mahahabang manggas at mga polong may mabibigat na kwelyo. Mga materyales pa e tipong velvet at fur!

Tinatawag rin itong wagwagan. May isa nga ruong maliit na sinehan na ginawang wagwagan. Hindi pa tinanggal yung dating signboard, yung may "Now Showing" at may mga flourescent light sa likod? Tapos sinisingit yung mga letra? Akala namin tuloy kung ano yung "pelikulang" wagwagan! Kinky kaya?

Wagwagan daw dahil sinasabit raw dati yung mga damit sa mga sampayan at duon nakawagwag (parang nakabanderang watawat). Sabi naman ng iba, dahil raw marumi kaya kailangan pang iwagwag (kawangis ng salitang Tagalog na "pagpag"). Dahil sa aking linggwistik na kakulangan, tinanggap ko na lang pareho.

Sa totoo lang, meron pa talaga sa mga mas matataas at liblib na bahagi. Iyon ang sinasabing tunay na wagwagan. Sa mga bundok na iyon, makakakuha ka ng bago-bagong blusa sa

Sa tawaran naman, tamdaang mabuti na hindi gaanong maangas. Mas maganda kung huwag mong ipahalata na gustong-gusto mo yung trasa ng hawak mo. Pero minsan din, matutunaw ang puso ng tindera kapag sobrang parang mamamatay ka kapag hindi ka pinagbigyan tapos wala ka nang pamasahe sa Maynila kaya parang awa na nila, patawarin ka na nila!!! Pero minsan mas OK na magkunwaring taga-Baguio. Malaking plus kung marunong kang mag-Ilocano!

Ewan ko pero parang mas madaling tumawad sa mga lalaking nagbebenta. Siguro wala talagang tiyaga sa ganuon! Mukhang yamot na yamot e. Masyadong sabik makabenta!

Kanya-kanyang diskarte. Nagamit ko yata lahat ng iyan kaya marami akong naiuwi para sa mga kapamilya. Pati mga babae naibili ko! At natuwa sila ha. Alam ko naman ang mga iyon kapag namemeke! OK na OK. Yung isa nga sinuot na kaagad pamasok e, pinagpag na lang!

Isang kontrobersyal na isyu ang ukay-ukay. Sa ngayon, pinag-uusapan na ipagbawal iyon. Pinangungunahan ito ng magiting na ekonomista nating si Pangulong GMA. Sagot ng mga taga-Baguio? E bakit kamakailan lang, namataan ang isang nagngangalang Luli Macapagal-Arroyo, ang dakilang eredera, na namili sa ukay-ukay ng Baguio? Kuntodo gwardya pa! At syempre may pruweba ang mga fans. Nagkuhanan sila ng litrato kasama si Luli, bakgrawnd ang hile-hilerang mga damit! Nasa wallet pa nila ang kopya nun!

Mar 2, 2002

OF FLOWERS AND FLOATS

I sent an SMS to Jessel soon after the parade of floats. It was the second day of Baguio's floral festivities that formally began with Feb. 22's streetdancing. It would stretch all the way to March 3 with Session Road closed for booths, road-painting and the like.

The SMS read something like: "The guys here are so lazy, they proposed wT watch the float parade on the Boob Tube!" And she replied along the lines of: "Uh, that kinda defeats the purpose of going there." (The Kantogirl was on her way to Dumaguete then.)

The more adventurous sort among the company forged on and, in the end, all of us trekked to town.

Now, unlike the first day's afternoon streetdancing, the float parade was held in the morning. Since we all had to queue for the necessary warm-water baths, we woke up early for breakfast.

A PUJ or even a taxi cab can only take you so far in Baguio during these festivities. A great deal of the travel is done on foot. Of course, our host Pauline kept on apologizing. If only she knew, I wouldn't have had it any other way! I'm a walker, a very slow-thinking, slow-moving man. So walking was fun except for the fact that we had to take a slightly quickened pace because we were worried of the time.

Aren't we all?

Unlike the first day, there were no PMAers (or we didn't catch them) so the girls had less men to ogle at and squeak delightedly about. I got to my perch, alone but within the company's eyeshot. I watched the floats from there. They were lovely. Man what big budgets they must have had. I have had inside information. Two floats had a Php 100K budget. And these weren't really too impressive. One can only guess how much the others costed! Someone said that the city netted 30 million from that weekend alone.

Back then though, economics took the mental backseat with my senses whelmed with the parade and the gathering. Eyes were watching the floats, musicians, dancers, and spectators. Ears were listening to the bands playing, the audience chatting happily, at times cheering loudly, shouting out observations, or loudly cajoling the float people throwing give-aways to flip some into their raised arms, regardless if they were throwing candies, soaps, ads, or something unidentifiable until you get hit on the head with it.

Skin was feeling the odd sensation of the sun burning it while the cool breeze erased the warmth of the impression. Thus anaesthetized, I temporarily sported the blush of the Baguio locals' cheeks. Such beauty never really used to clinging on me, my face would immediately shed it in Manila.

I found some floats interesting. The general rule, of course, is to create the float capturing the natural beauty of Baguio in bloom. Then you can integrate your company's products or services to create a topnotch advertisement.

The Country Club, as I have heard, was usually one float to look out for. This year, it featured a lush garden complete with miniature waterfalls. And the water was cascading too, not some cellophane replica. How did that fit there? Budget.

Almost all floats featured gardens. Jollibee even had rocks. Most featured some kind of insect made of carton, wire, cloth, and sometimes people. One that might interest Mechajol, the Volkswagen cultist, was his car of choice dressed up in flowers with wings. It was basically a Beetle made to look like a butterfly.

One float had a classical theme. A lovely girl was garbed as a Grecian-goddess. The float was made to resemble a portico, complete with columns made of petals.

Pyramid Eternal Plans also had a girl in the float with a pyramid. This one was sprawling on a cleopatra love-seat. She was in a two piece. The top was studded with everlasting buds and her micromini had its own petals. It could have been really sexy except that it looked itchy. Also, her thighs betrayed goosebumps, which was why I could have appreciated a girl with rosy cheeks all wrapped in jeans and a sweater than bare skin in Baguio. Besides, I was expecting a gravestone with flowers or something from Pyramid Eternal Plans. But that could have been a tad less festive.

AMA Computer College had a computer made of densely stacked flowers stuck on chickenwire. Two mice were dancing out in front. One was supposed to be male, the other turned out to be a transvestite. A cross-dressing mouse didn't make any sense. Until I saw the pair wired to the monitor. Oh. Mouse.

***

FRIENDS AND STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND

Yes, I really enjoyed my first Flower Festival. Baguio's Panagbenga was surely a treat I would always thank myself for.

I also enjoyed the company. Aside from one, my good host Pauline, the rest were strangers. Or she was a stranger too, to some extent. But then, aren't we all?

I loved the company, whether she believes it or not. Claire gave me the recipe for salsa, specifying the kind of onion to use. Hazel knew all the mainstream soap operas by heart. Christine knew the soaps too but shared a different brand of insights with me and Pauline until the wee hours of dawn. Rizelle was the silent one. And I thought I would bring home that prize!

It's good to be the silent type especially if you don't have the face of a snob. I can have a very snobbish veneer, a veritable handicap. I look suplado although I'm just really shy. So when I go for the honest-to-goodness demure effect, people think I'm downright condescending.

So it really came as a surprise that the friends and family of the host would think I'm a good person. Or at least treat me as one. So Baguio was one-half getting-to-know-you. The other half, in the cold confines of the guestroom and, during the last day, in the familiar haunts of Baguio, I was alone. And this I loved too, recalling the skin of the loner that I always thought I had already shed.

Everything I found and lost there, I may only hint at here. Between those halves there were cellphone calls and text messages. They were important too, like an anchor to my reality, making sure the whole thing was not escapist.

And maybe I shall never need to forget the call a certain friend's call. There is always tragedy in man's mirth. This call was not just an anchor. That was an anchor being lifted by a crane and swung to smash your skull!

I a couple of familiar faces there too, Francis Anne and Flor. Hey Jessel, Flor's in IBC 13. Anne congratulations on bagging the org's IVP post. I don't think that would be fun. Was that why you're keeping it a secret from mom? Methinks she was too surprised to notice when I almost spilled the beans! Good luck with the post, the secret, and the mom.

My gratitude to the company, the chance meeting, the safe trip, the kind host and her endearing family, the strangers who were less so after a few days, the blushing vendors who were businesslike and personal at the same time, and to all the people back home (online and offline) who cheered my absence and had to put up with my resurgence.