Friday, 27 December 2013

Holiday Playlist

This is my playlist for this year's holidays. Song lyrics in italics. 

Let's press play, then, shall we?


And if you are a friend of any sort then play along and catch a cold.
Here it goes. Confessions crave an audience don’t they?

Come into my world, I’ve got to show, show, show you.

It’s the 26th of December, the day after Christmas. Unlike all the other ones before it, I’m not feeling that happy kind of disappointment – I’m not ‘sad it’s over but glad it happened’. It is as if I saw through all the wrapping for the first time. In that repetitive scene of gift-giving and merry-making, singing carols and watching re-runs on HBO, it has never been a greeting of “Merry Christmas”. It has always been “It’s showtime”.

Over and over, they call us their friends. Can’t we find something else to pretend?
I’d always be sitting staring at my older cousins, wondering why they look so sophisticated, so ‘dalaga na’ (the only time of the year I’d think I have a childish face). We’d be exchanging presents (the only time of the year I’d think they’re symbols of social status rather than a gesture of goodwill) and compliments (sarcastic at best). And then, we would practice our ‘show of unity’ for the annual family reunion, always an overly enthusiastic song and dance number (the only time of the year I’d ever get cheeky enough to dance).
                If nothing is true, what more can I do? I am still painting flowers for you.

Only now did I begin to see how much of a farce it all is. We’re picture perfect. Complete. Several of these people are professionals with steady jobs, fancy degrees. All of the couples are (seemingly) happily married. The children are all charming people-pleasers (heh, heh), ready with a clever quip or a new song to play on the piano.

That’s the happy side of the spectrum.

On the other side, we have the dissatisfaction and the disappointments, hidden with smiling faces. My aunt, who finished a medicine-related course, unmarried and stuck at home. My uncle, who stopped schooling at a seminary because he realized it wasn’t for him. My father, who also came out of the seminary, who took a course I believe he’s now regretting.

Smack dab in the middle is yours truly, who often wonders why or how she should put up with this. (Maybe by remembering that family stuff is one of the few things that separate humans from other primates.)

                I did my best, it wasn’t much. I couldn’t feel so I tried to touch. I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you.

But, where do we go from here?

                The definition of a crazy person is someone who does the same thing over and over again while expecting new results.
What have we to keep ourselves going?

                That’s it, it’s split. It won’t recover. Just frame the halves and call them brothers.

That I have another 364 days to prepare is a comfort.

And maybe, a wish comes with the confession.

                Take me above your light, carry me through the night. Hold me secure in flight, sing me to sleep tonight.

Ne Me Quitte Pas - Regina Spektor
Hotel Song - Regina Spektor
Call them Brothers - Only Son ft. Regina Spektor
Painting Flowers - All Time Low
Hallelujah - Leonard Cohem
I Cut Off My Hair - Regina Spektor
Hello Seattle - Owl City

Happy holidays, everyone.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Other Boleyn Girl

The first of December proved a disappointing day. I woke up to a chilly dawn - a cloudy, dismal sky, and that immediately took away any drive I had to be productive. I burned about four hours reading The Other Boleyn Girl, spent the subsequent hours obsessing over English history, looking up Henry VIII’s wives. I was royally miserable, tired and confused – precisely the mood that gets me randomly trying to unravel the mysteries of the universe.

But yeah, maybe the word 'universe' is an overstatement. 

ONE. Was Henry VIII that much of a jerk - not ever realizing that he may be breaking hearts? I'd like to know how he was thinking. Was anything ever real back then - love? honor? 

TWO. Why does nothing in real life make sense? Everything in my books - each character, confrontation, setting - they have reasons why they're there. (Yeah, I know, it's pointless asking this.) Even when I write, I create scenes where the characters look at this or that, and feel something inside of them click. 

I've already tried my hand at different things, learned to say yes or goodbye as I felt I should. But there's no feeling of purpose, no sense that this is leading to somewhere. 

We're all here once upon a time, where's the happily ever after?

THREE. I believe in a Supreme Being, One whose thoughts I will never be able to fathom. 

Is there a need for religion, then? Is there a need to impose a way of worship, a way of communion, a way of believing? Can't it just be as easy and natural as conversing with a close, close friend? Is this world too wounded, grown much too cynical, that it will never be that simple again?

Somehow, it just feels wrong to see people dangling Heaven as a prize to win, saying that theirs is the only way to salvation. 

FOUR. When can people say they 'love'?

Do we even have to give it that silly name? 

There's this guy I know I like. For so long, I don't even remember how or why. (And that's all you can get out of me, officer.) I don't understand, but I do. 

Is that...

And I don't even see him now. I wonder what he thinks.

FIVE. Are grades just numbers? A lot of people seem to say that to me. And yet if I take that for truth, I would have said that the taxes people pay to fund my college education are likewise just numbers.

SIX. Does the rainbow have only seven colors? Between red and orange, aren't there millions of others? 

SEVEN. Why do we wish on shooting stars? They're going to land hard on Earth from their glorious perch up in the skies. They're going to join our lot and our mutual misery. Ha-ha.  

That's a very sad metaphor: the whole lot of us depending on something that's bound to fall.

Well. That wasn't so bad, was it? Guess I'll just have to count the days 'til a new year starts, a faux new beginning. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Unfettered Verses II - Dusk and dawn


Beneath the hazy light 
Of dusk, I sit 
Alone, as lonely
As the coming night -- too sad
To journey home.



Soon the night of pensive dreaming
Into passive morn shall break,
And jaded heart, though barely beating,
Fate shall find for healing’s sake.

I have walked so long in shadows,
Lived a life that e’er repeats,
But time has come to conquer hist’ry,
Cyclic chaos to defeat.

I shall flee this starless prison –
Darkness brings no sweet relief.
Its answers all shall stay encrypted:
Past perception, past belief.

This is a poem I made for a story collaboration with a friend. Read full version here or here


Do light the fire, dear poet -- rise
And in our journey, become wise.
Come lilt your gentle, soulful tunes
By which with God shall we commune.

Open letter - ne me quitte pas

Now, I hate this line of words between us. So cold, so distant, always not enough to tell a story. And so you and I are forced to fill in the gaps with imagined scenes, with fabrications. We say hello much too cheerily to compensate for the growing distance. You put too many emoticons in your chat messages -- another smiley face instead of a sad one. We both think that it’s enough, that the other won’t see anyway, that the other won’t feel that we’re drifting apart. Maybe these words don’t really connect us at all. They've begun to become a wall instead.

I've always wondered if it was fate or mere coincidence that brought us together. We began (at least I did) with an apology. We then wove our story with lines of poetry, a whole new world strung together with words, always words. I loved them, and so did you – was that all?

What was it like, from your point of view?

It was true I never saw you since I left. Out of sight, out of mind. To see is to believe. But you were always real for me, even without us seeing each other. It was as if you were transmuted into those words that floated between us. I was happy to send my thoughts floating toward you too.

Floating free. Floating, nothing to ground it. Was it only believing that made you real?

In my fairy tale, you were the knight who came charging to rescue me. You were the shy guy who unwittingly makes me smile. You were the song I'd “heard once in fragments but had been singing in my mind ever since.”

In yours, who am I? A name, or a number – a face and a voice? Was it chance, or meant to be?

Ne me quitte pas, mon chere. Truthfully, it feels bad to start our tale with a sorry and end with a hello.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Unfettered Verses


We met
In my late night
Fantasies. You held my hand,
And that kept me
From drowning in your deep
Blue eyes.

But waking tossed me
Back to shore.
You are once again
No more.



Put your hands
Upon my skin, and feel
The spark that’s born
Of touching 
Something new.

Cradle me, and gently
Into my hidden depths.
Find the subtle rhymes, the silent 

Run your eyes
Through every line, every curve,
Every color – paint a scene uniquely
Ours. Enter this world,
This world within the gourd.

Claim it, and together we
Shall make another thing 
Of it.

In all entirety

From    cover    to    cover.


I'd rather be the first to fall,
The first to call, "Defeat!"
I'll be the first cascading tear
That comes to douse the heat.

'Tis triumph too, that final stand
Which no one shall repeat.
For courage springs from souls that long
To fate and chances meet.

What though my heart 
Should cease to beat?
My blood won't flow in vain.
The faint and dying footfalls herald that
Of thundr'ing feet.

Apres moi, la deluge.

If you liked the poems, I have more here.

Babysitting woes

My baby cousin, Ethan, regarded me with wide, wondering eyes. He wore a what-the-hell expression: one raised eyebrow, wrinkled forehead, slightly pursed lips. After two seconds, he began to wail, and it was my turn to screw up my face.

What the hell?

It follows that I waved his rattle toys before his face, the jingling sounds increasing in tempo the longer he cried. It didn't work. I made faces and tried to talk to him, "Sinong pogi? Si Ethan!" It didn't work, either. Not knowing what else to do, I turned on the music and sang to him in Japanese.

It actually worked. He went silent and just stared at me. I spent about half an hour that way, peering at Ethan, singing, "Akachan dango wa itsumo shiawase no naka de."*  (The baby dumpling is always in the midst of happiness.)

The whole activity got me thinking. The house was quiet besides my singing voice and Ethan's slight whimpering, so I could almost really hear my thoughts. Calm, silent... what now?

I'd always liked imagining the future. I would picture scenes that I'd love to see happen. I would play quirky conversations in my head, as if rehearsing them. I would make plans, feeling like I could do anything, if I so willed.

But I never thought of things graver or farther reaching than that. I never took the time to ponder my beliefs, my dreams even -- are they really mine?

So when faced with the decision of whether or not to quit being a campus journalist, I was quite baffled. In the first place, I applied for the publication thinking that it's the most natural thing for me to do -- having been an avid writer in high school. I didn't want to leave that part of me -- the bright-eyed, inquisitive journalist -- behind, so I rashly dove in.

Then it spiraled out of control.

My grades were fine, actually, but I was constantly nagged by the thought that I could have done better. My articles were alright, but they took huge effort to finish, requiring me to forgo my introvert tendencies. My friendships were strained; I was always too stressed and surly to talk. I am was a mess.

It scared me. What if that kind of writing turned me into a person I don't know? What if it made me realize I'm not for engineering school? What if it forces me to choose?

It was too much, too soon, and I suddenly felt so young to be confronted with such choices.

Ethan began to cry again, and I hastened to shush him. I picked him up, grateful for the distraction from more disturbing thoughts.

"Hey, little cousin. Mukhang pareho ata tayo ng music. Magkakasundo tayo nyan," I told him, smiling. He stopped crying.

I rocked him for a bit, and soon he was asleep. I couldn't help feeling a pang of envy. The future, after all, was for him only his mother's arrival -- milk and bedtime (again).

*Lyrics from Dango Daikazoku, an ending from Clannad.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Quite honestly, I don't know how to begin this. But there you have it.

How do people write in blogs, anyway? Do they put it all down in their notebooks first, read and edit their thoughts before posting? Do they just type straightaway - spilling raw and serrated thoughts onto the blank page? Do they prepare outlines? Do they write in plain prose, or in flowing verse?

The way I'm doing it right now, is this: staring at the mostly white computer screen, my canvas, while cursing myself for stupidity the colors in my head that simply won't come out. Then, when I feel almost frustrated over my uninspired state, I switch tabs. I check my Facebook account, where another person I barely remember adding has sent me another Candy Crush request. I also take a peep at CRS, wondering if my professors have already uploaded my grades. No such luck.

I remember thinking that I'm going to make this blog post so I can start afresh, write without thinking of the old things I've written. I remember rereading my own poems and shaking my head at them. I remember the fleeting thoughts that came to me, those that I fell in love with, though they were too fanciful that I should have known they couldn't be.

Then, I lose myself in reverie.

"It started out as a feeling, which then grew into a hope, which then turned into a quiet thought, which then turned into a quiet word. And then, that word grew louder and louder, until it was a battle cry."*

Without realizing, I'd turned everything into a battle. In my overactive imagination, it's always a blood-red sky and the clashing of metal - the suspenseful state of being almost there, of almost winning and nearly losing.

At the most cold-blooded, it's a chess game. Me against myself. Me against expectations. Me against history. Me against the world.

Yes, like that.

Now, I think I know. I have a better idea of why I started this blog. Sure, the starting-on-a-clean-slate shtick is still there, but this has more to do with boredom.

I'm bored of conformity, of things being all the same. I'm tired of following fads. I'm tired of having too many rules, of things ending before they can begin.

I'm tired of saying goodbye, too. I thought that by beginning again, I can say goodbye to my silly, overly romantic self and all the embarrassing verses I wrote about things I barely knew. But I can never do that. They will come back. They are sure to call me back someday, since they were never the ones to leave. I was the one to walk away.

The world is round. Sooner or later, I'll be back at the point of departure.

Case in point: this post is at its end. And it's just as undecided as the beginning. Well, almost.


*apologies to Regina Spektor