Okt 29, 2004

Read Aldous Huxley. Good for the soul - not Aldous Huxley, but the relaxation of reading and getting one's mind off the daily track. We are, after all, although bureaucrats, human beings. And no human beings can go on for ever chained to a wheel: it's bad for him and he becomes rotten. Must relax, cynically, if you like.

Alexander Cadogan
October 29, 2004
Diary entry

A hold-up

Just got home from a wordless place.

May I speak with you publicly, Childe, before I leave again?

In your recent posts, I read the struggle of one of the eloquent young men of the country, well, with his country. I here reply because I fear I've not given you sufficient sober answers during our costly binge.

I don't agree that it is initially or essentially an issue of sympathy or loyalty. I don't believe it's about right or wrong or the figures that will help you consider which is which. Those questions have their place. First, for me, the basics.

We need to go beyond that cliche of a passive, whining Inang Bayan crying out for her sons to rush to her defense. The child (why oh why should heroism be reserved to the phallus?) must know by now that the Bayan (and why the feminine for the great collective?) is also to be her begotten.

Should the child choose to acknowledge this fundamental twin identity as heir and parent, a host of other queries arrive. What is 'nation'? What is 'state'? 'Nation-state'? Who are the people? And so on and so forth going on to basic relations to all these constructs making all the aired (and somewhat airy) questions all questions of identity. These other questions are all volumes unto themselves.

The first question is choice. Not yet the particulars of language, government, currency, revolution, or diaspora. Ah, we have all the expanse of 'later' for that horrendous muck.

At the outset, I want a basic engagement of the question of choice. The first answer that our current situation asks of us (who possess the luxury or burden of idealism, net hours, nationality, and time for Q&As) is whether we choose or a nation not. If you don't then that's it, you're out of the whole damned discussion, or, as Henares so tastelessly put it: "hasta la bye-bye!" See, if you don't choose affiliation with a nation, it doesn't matter whether you have (had or will forever have) taxes, visas, ballots, state-college education, pambansang awit, sinigang, or an uncanny grasp of Rizaliana. Without choice, all that you can consider coercion that can you rebel against or culture that you can fashionably deconstruct (or both, to be negotiated with). You can have all these abstracted as things that you'll just have to live with. Or you can place them so near ourselves so as to be beneath your skin (like maybe the Pasyon or Filipinoness) imposed upon us but can be later transcendentally denied. In any case, the question of nation can be avoided by not even asking the question of yourself. One way or another, it just does not exist for you.

Choose nation though (whether pro-, anti-, or to be negotiated), then we dance with definitions and relations.

Shed notions of the country (the Andersonian heimat) justifying your presence in or out of its territory like a lady obliging you, son or gentleman caller, to fix your feet on its ground and fight for her. The point is to deny that 'corruption' or a page of Malachi will give you a way out of the troubles of this nation (or a fresh way in). The point is to choose it first. Then we talk about change.

Nation, that modern construct, was never always on the earth and may cease to be at some point, giving way to region or globe when the material conditions and the change in human consciousness so come. This you know my friend, but you are also painfully aware (much more so than I am, I feel) that in the span of or remaining 10 or 60 years on this earth, we deal with people and pain, kin and enemies, and enemies among kin or within our very selves. With what terms do we define who's who? Class, gender, race? Nation is one with and among these considerations.

Who are you for?

You know full well that I have the luxury to torment you with these questions, being in the shelter of the academe and all. If and when I'm out and I find everything I am a weak currency in the world, these questions I expect you to fling my way to make breathing more difficult and possibly more interesting. Were our situations reversed, I would hope I can welcome a same interrogation from you of the empire within (even here in the academe, it is within, and, with some characters in mind and using Joaquin's phraseage in 'Candido's Apocalypse', "very much in"). However, since I see that you've been playing a chess game against yourself, may I sit with you so that you won't tire of too many pieces? There's always room for the infernal advocate, eh?

I say, in maybe hopelessly Romantic terms, that there is a nation and an initial stand to be taken. We choose for ourselves to acknowledge a field or discourse such as 'nation'. This is a choice now much harder to make, burdened as we are with the world. Yet, this is our legacy. Will you allow a thief high or low to take this from you? Will they choose for you or push you to a choice?

Only after we choose this 'nation' can we deal with it. I assert though that even with this choice, we step up against despair. We rise, so to speak. Hence it is the stamp of our time that, even by just choosing 'nation', we declare 'hindi aco patay' and infuse it with fresh meaning.

Okt 27, 2004

It is possible not to think about women, just as one does not think about death.

Cesare Pavese
October 27, 1938
Diary entry

Re: Sentiment

The day before yesterday, I had to be home because nobody was and Manang had to be here to iron clothes. I didn't go with my father to Quisao. My mother texted me to dissuade me from going to LB. I stayed and decided against going to LB until November. There is a place I must visit. In the meantime, blades and pages engaged me.

Between headaches, I find her absence, her mouth open somewhere else, speaking to many somebodyelses.

Yesterday, nothing outside appealed to me (as certainly as I appealed to nothing outside). With delight, I noted my knee has healed. I note too that a thought that Makiling may have a thing for my knees and won't let these escape a semester unscathed. Still, wounds are good. It reminds you you're alive, tells you you'll die, and gives you something to clean in the meantime.

Here in Makati, I only open my big mouth in the evenings, when the family's here and there's somebody to tease.

I wonder, between calisthenic exertions, what words issue from her lips. Sometimes, I'm glad to imagine her speaking, facing somebody else, and I hear nothing from her moving lips. Just like seeing a video turned mute and in slow motion. Like in the cinema when the boy remembers how in love he is with the girl and the girl doesn't know he's looking. Or when, from afar, a terrorist, CIA agent, or Hollywood hero (difference?) sees a particular female victim in an entire building about to explode.

I spent the morning watching Carnivale episodes three to six. Magic, really. I want to finish the series before any comment.

At night, upset with my own work and the itching sensation that I am being written down, I enter Joaquin's Tropical Gothic. When you're down and 'up' just seems too far, don't dwell. Go deep.

Joaquin takes me both ways, up in the level of his craftsmanship - up where the air is crisp - and down, ever down, deep in the thick pus of bowels.

Six months ago in Baguio, Nery raved about the opening piece 'Candido's Apocalypse'. Inescapably, I find among the hovering intertexts Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Then I recall a year when I gave a copy of the novel to Jol as a birthday gift. Two years ago? Three? Then the clock struck twelve. I watched Hero for the fourth or so time, this viewing particularly prompted by the review of cbs.

I was missing something. I followed the dates in my journal with Nadal's song playing in my head, competing with Carnivale and Hero themes. It's Jol's birthday. At around 1:40am, I sent him a message.

For her, my distant one, a kiss flung through the window, out into the night, a kiss with a word too silent that I could not dream a syllable of it. And I've already forgotten the word, among pages and blades, in the forge my will, in this, my only morning.

Okt 21, 2004

I ran into a boy whose job is to go shopping for John and Yoko, tp buy them clothes and things. I asked him if they'd ever made him bring anything back and he said just once. I asked him if they ever wore any of the clothes they bought since they don't go out, and he said, 'They're going to make a comeback. They've been wearing them to the studio.' Oh, and the best thing he said was that when he started to work for them he had to sign a paper that said, 'I will not write a book about John Lennon and/or Yoko Ono.' Isn't that great? He said he loves his job. I should find somebody to help me shop - where all the good new things are.

Andy Warhol
October 21, 1980
Diary entry

Good new things

Yesterday, I met three of my most promising students to process our hopes for a group. Back when I began the school year, I chalked in these October days for doubt. Any earlier and the house of cards would've fallen. Any later, I'd have no time to build another. Still, their presence reassured me. I set dissembling doubts aside for a while.

After that, I met two of the best people I know. We went where pizza was creamy and conversation thick. Two of us rang a bell before leaving because we liked that. One didn't because he was still to busy talking and packing in a left-over slice.

We proceeded to an old place and found it closed for renovation. It looked through the glass doors and found it dark, sad, and dusty inside. We went to a place where we appreciated the cushioned seats and the soft music. Beer all around and I had paracetamol for pulutan. We loved the thicker conversation, the yet impenetrable differences, and the sick humor of time. We hated the golden alcohol.

We parted ways, still cursing in unison, promising revolution from loose throats and empty pockets. I walked home from Ortigas to Guadalupe, half-wishing someone would try to mug me. I had a cheap camera with me, a worthless wallet, and my old thousand-peso cellphone. My pack carried ballpens, highlighters, notes, tissues, and Orientalism.

I figured they can have everything, even the bag, but I'd kill for the messages and the film.

After a twenty minute walk, I woke my father with the doorbell, changed, and slept on the spare couch.

Okt 20, 2004

For J-

Tonight, I dedicate a story of a mere hundred words to a comrade who leaves, friendless, even when he believes a friend could exist worthy of his definition. He fought the good fight in a benighted time and place where only struggle could be called 'good'. Unto him alone, two enemies weren't enough. There had to be a third.

Tomorrow, I will pay no more respects for now the road forks and honor cannot be shared on thin threads. Tonight, I enter the Kafkaesque burrow. He takes the Faustian high ground. This is my word.

Tunnel vision

"Why aren't you crying?" Lolo asked as they cemented off Papa.

"Don't know, Lo."

"Listen here, you were a baby when I died. They signed my certificate. The blackest tunnel I walked, with only a dot of light at the end. What do I find there? A screen! Damned TV, showing just another tunnel, another light! I couldn't smash it. I ran back, lived to a hundred, buried my son - hell! - with you who knows nothing!"

He crumpled off. My hot eyes drowned in their dark lids. I hear only his loud, sore baston fading. I must call him mad.

Okt 19, 2004

PHORKYAS [to Helen]
To threaten the domestic still remains a right
That fits the noble consort of the heaven-blest king, Well-earned by years of that high lady's governance.
Since, Madam, you, now recognized, assume again
Your former privilege of chatelaine and queen,
Then take in hand the reins long lying slack, to rule
And have the treasures in possession, us with them.
But most of all protect me, shield my reverend years,
From this young brood, who by the swan your beauty is
Seem naught to me but coarsely feathered cackling geese.

How ugly, seen near beauty's pride, is ugliness.

How foolish, seen at wisdom's side, is foolishness.

- Goethe, Faust, Part Two


Fresh from the eight million four hundred eleven thousand and fifteenth Walpurgisnacht, I lucidly recall how a sister of the Graiae lunged at me. Another one of them! Pathetic, really. It's like there's no getting used to this.

Her jump. My sidestep.

It took me less half a beat to realize that, like the others before, this one carried with her neither tooth nor eye. She fell not upon me - for my feet are of mercury - but upon my solemn charge, the good doctor.

Poor, brilliant Faust. Faust the peerless! Lulled by homunculi and phantasmagoria, he bumps on his Helen (and Helen, on him, bumping and humping). With the haste of his craft, he flees with her. Sightless and eager to rid of my shadow, who can fault him? Unaware and triumphal, he carried off a mere daughter of Phorkyas wearing a mask, the charms of Helen!

The blind hauling the blind.

A long yesterday ago, when I was above, before the Wager, long before the Fall, the Pater infused me with fluids of silver and gold. Now, they pump as bile, slime yellow and tar black. Fantastic how they can still rise.

So, shall I fly? Or wait until I am not even a memory? Maybe never. Or until distance tells that I opted for 'never'.

The story is now - more than ever - my prerogative.

Okt 17, 2004

Sa S.Elves

Mga pare, magkita tayo. Ibang-iba na ba kayo, parang mga buhok ninyo? Ikaw, nagpahaba tapos undercut. Ikaw naman, ano yan? Rebond? Ano ba kayo, tumalon mula sa boob tube, sariwang reproduksyon ng wrestling at tsinobela?

Ambot. Ako heto, hindi ko na makuhang magsuklay. Bago ako umakyat, magkita tayo. Kung wala kayong malikhaing maisip na kainin, sige, walang kamatayang pizza. O bakit hindi yung bottomless na Mongolian at iced tea, yung parang nakakaisa tayo habang nakarami tayo pero kahiya-hiyang impatso lang naman ang inaabot natin sa 'pagpapalaya'. Kailangang umapaw ang serbesa, iinom man tayo o hindi, wala, paapawin lang. Mabantot ang bula ng alkohol, tamang-tama.

Nauumay ako sa lasa ng mga buhay. Banas na ako sa mga walang-pusong tao at tumitibok na salita. Nalalamigan ako sa mga umaga. Nandidiri ako sa mga gabi. Kaasar na ang buhay na cliche. Walang kwenta ang mga paprofound-effect na hindi naman marunong magpatiwakal. Manood na lang tayo ng asian horror flick, baka ma-enlighten na naman tayong mga pa-ilustrado ek.

Tapos na ang semestre ko sa loob ng ilang araw. Mag-usap tayo, magbarahan, walanghiyain natin ang ating mga sarili, wala akong paki. Magsalo tayo sa mura, dasal, o ingay. Pataasan ng ihi, palaliman ng sugat! Palakihan ng ulo o tiyan. Sapakan tayo. Kainan tayo. Ano ba? Inuman tayo! Libre nyo.

Okt 8, 2004

Sa Iyo, sa Lukutang Maliit

Magandang tanghali, binibini. Tanghali kasi rito ngayon sa Los Banos. Masarap ang tanghali diyan. Napagluto na ako ng iyong ina ng pinakuluang isda at kamatis.

May dala akong instant noodle at mineral water para hindi na ako lalabas hanggang di ko natatapos ang aking mga pinaglalamayang papel. Tiba-tiba na naman sa noodles, tubig, libreng crackers, plastik, at styro. Tumigil muna ako dito sa internetan para mamulot ng mga ligaw na datos. Wala naman akong ibang maisip kundi ikaw.

Nahihilo na ako sa kumikindat-kindat na cursor, sumisirko-sirkong pointer ng mouse, at nagkalat na papeles. Isinantabi ko muna ang mga ipinasa ng mga estudyante. Pero mas sigurado ko pang matatapos ko ang mga iyon sa takdang oras kaysa sarili kong mga sulatin. Mahirap rin. Kahapon nga, nilagnat ako. Sa totoo lang, hanggang ngayon. Naku, bakit ko pa ba sinusulat ito?

Alam mo, bukas, gusto ko matapos na ang semestre. Matagal ko nang pinapangarap ang pagkikita natin diyan sa inyo. Pagsasaluhan natin ang lilim! Dadalhan kita ng mga de-kulay na libro, prutas, at de-lata. May natira pa kaya sa mga nginunguya-nguya mong lapis? Balita naman ang pasalubong ko sa mga Itang mo. Uupo kami ni Manong, kuya mo, pagsasaluhan ang bilog at tubig, pag-uusapan ang progreso ng mga apila at pagkilos.

Marahil tama ang kanyang sinabi dati. Kahit ano'ng apila, mas totoo ang mga nagsasalungatang dokumento ng mga kumakain sa inyong bundok. Kahit ano ang gawin, mas kongreto ang pag-akyat ng mga traktora. Mas solido ang pwet ng armalite na natikman ng ama mo. Natutulog ka raw nuon. Natanggap ko ang pinapasabi ni Manong. Mas dapat daw katakutan kaysa sa bakal na kaha ang nilalamang apoy. Tumugon ako, katakutan pareho. Sinabi ko lang iyon kasi alam kong hindi sila susuko.

Kahit ano pa'ng sabihin ko. Sana nga wala na lang kami, puro satsat at de-lata.

Nuong tag-init, huling bisita ko, nag-usap kami ni Manong. Aniya, nagmamaneho na ng traktora ang ilan sa inyo, pinsan mo pa iyong isa. Minimina ang sariling lupa para sa magpapasahod na korporasyon. Korporasyon? Sahod? Saka ko na ipaliliwanag. Saka na rin ang armalite. Kapag natutunan mong basahin ito. Umpisahan muna natin sa mga de-kulay na libro. Unahin natin ang gaspang ng mga prutas. Alam mo bang para sa katulad mo kaya ako kumuha ng disi-otsong yunit ng edukasyon?

Alam mo bang malamang na maunahan ng mabigat na traktora ang panahong mabasa mo ito? Sakaling hindi, sakaling makuha mong magbasa lagpas sa mga A-E-I-O-U natin, magsalita lagpas sa saging, kawamasi, kamasis, at iba pang binibigkas mo, kung sakali kaya? Kung sakaling mabasa mo ito? Ano'ng masasabi mo tungkol rito? Tingnan mo, isinama kita sa mga liham ng pag-ibig, sa mga kubling angas, sa pag-ikot ng mga saglit at salita dito sa mayabong at mayabang na internet. Ano'ng magiging husga mo sa iyong bisitang guro na puro mababaw na kaligayahan at luha, panay laway at toma?

Sasabihin mo siguro, binastos ko ang inyong pinagdaanan. Mabuti. Sa oras na mabasa mo ito - aking munting hukom - at sa saglit na maintindihan mo, iisipin kong naging mabuti akong guro. Sana, maging sa puntong iyon, mapabulaanan mo ako. Madali naman kaming mapasinungalingan. Madali mong matatanto na ginagamit ko ang iyong walang kupas na hitsura sa aking gunita para magkaruon ng kabuluhan ang aking buhay.

Sa ngayon, ipiprint ko ito, isosobre kasama ng iba pang liham sa iyo. Ilalagay ko ang url at limandaang piso na malamang magiging halaga ng kalahating oras sa internet at pamasahe sa panahong makakabyahe ka na. Ngumiti ka sana kapag buhay pa ang liham na ito at patay na ang site, ang net, o ang may-akda. Pinatay ng styro at plastik.

Tatapusin ko ang mga papel ko. Isang tungkol sa kultura ng Los Banos, isa tungkol sa ASEAN Regional Forum on Security. Hindi ko na ilalakip ang mga iyon. Isusulat ko lang para makapagtapos, para mapromote, para makasakay sa mga traysikel na susuong papunta sa iyo. Iyan ang pinakamadumi at pinakamasarap na landas na matatahak ko sa lupang ito.

Pagtanda mo, parang awa mo na, huwag mo akong tawaging kaibigan.

Nais kitang makalaro muli. Sana, katulad nang dati, magaan ang loob mo sa akin at hindi ka iiyak. O baka naman masyado ka nang matanda para umiyak? Dalaga na ba ang munting binibini? Sana tanggapin ng mga magulang mo ang mga liham ko sa iyo. Sana huwag nilang buksan.

Sana maabutan ko pa kayo pag-akyat ko riyan bago mag-undas.

Okt 6, 2004

Hay naku. Kapag umuulan, bumubuhos. Nuong isang araw may isyu, nuong kamakalwa problema, kahapon peligro, ngayon lungkot, bukas ewan ko kung ano pa.

Ayan, tumutugtog ang "Freshmen" ng Verve Pipe dito sa Winamp sa internetan. Kanina "Paris" ng Chicosci. SA harap ko, may poster ang Le Petit Prince kasama ang matulis na alamid. Sabi sa baba: "On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux... dit le renard." Okay lang, kanina naman Aleman ang salitang inilahok namin sa burger, ketchup, serbesa, at yelo: "Schadenfreude."

Hanggang dito, magkakasama kami nina U at Amy. Malamang huling pagkakataon na ito sa kasaysayan na nasa isang internetan kami. Ano kaya, mag-chat kami? Hindi na. Kanya-kanyang tugtog at tipa na lang. "Walking after you" na ng Foo Fighters.

Huling klase kanina ng dalawang seksyon. Dalawa pa. Nagbigay na naman ako ng huling habilin na sana isnabin nila para lang maalala kung kailan huli na ang lahat at naluoy na ang kagandahan ng daigdig. Minsan kasi ang problema sa akin, ang kinakausap ko mata hindi tenga.

Nakakaengganyong manahimik. Kaso, mas madaling bumulong. Kanina, halos isigaw ko ang aking pusisyon para iparating sa isang espiya. Galaw niya. Minsan kasi, sa ayaw nila't sa hindi, ako ang bubuhos.

Kailangan naman kasi magkaruon ng kaunting sining ang pagkilos-kilos. Para naman ganahan ka pang sumabak kahit konti hindi ba? "Time of your life" ng Greenday. Hala, banat.

Okt 5, 2004

Talking to Henry, I said I didn't like clowns. I liked madmen. Henry said, 'Madmen are too serious.'

Anais Nin
October 5, 1936
Diary entry

Dandy War Hole

Inchoate must be a good word for the day. Purge morning glory from your eyes, discard the sheets, and spell out the usual formula: This, the first day of the rest of my life.

When convinced, get up. Forget the calisthenics, but if memory serves you too well, just say, tomorrow. Wonder about the words playing on your mind because, it's true, you might have dreamt them from some cavernous consciousness. For example: Dandy war hole? Ask yourself: Now where did that come from? The mirror may answer. Say: Oh! In exhilarating, sunshiny day exclammation because you realize you're still wearing the black Andy Warhol portrait shirt you bought a couple of months ago. You had the spare cash, you remember, and the moment you touched Warhol's hanger, she entered your mind, her hair blown by noonwind and her teeth somehow silver.

Look at the mirror, say: Oh! yet again because somebody wrote that everybody's pretty with hair messed up, fresh from the night's pillows, the rays of the sun stretching calmly on a misty-eyed morning. Smile. Everybody's pretty when they wake up, and you're no exception.

Frown. Remember how that was something you wrote when you were a freshman and you've not had enough mornings. Smile again, though you feel stupid in the alternating expressions once overused to portray madness in old flicks. Smile again, because as you more recently wrote: I must.

Besides, she entered your mind again! Windblown hair and quicksilver smile, see?

Dandy war hole. Dandy war hole. Dandy war hole.

Keep the smile, although it's true when you declare: I should be off to work.