Monday, 7 September 2015


When I see your bare skin
tautly stretched on a frozen frame
of bone and sinew;
when I draw close, inhaling
the scent of the day when you fell;
when I check the impulse
to reach my hand out to touch you--
your skin disintegrating upon contact
with mine

Tell me how
I can love

Your glass-eyed artifice.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

A Love Song for the Disappeared

Night comes quickly when you're gone 

What am I to do—in dreams there follow you?

Shadows taunt me all the time

Love, come home to me, and light my way again.

Remember the dreams of brighter days 

When you promised me you'll stay

And you held my hand, you smiled,

Gave me hope like that.

How can I say goodbye to you 

When I don't want you

To ever be far from me, I want

Your arms around me.

Night comes quickly when you're gone

What am I to do—in dreams there follow you?

Shadows taunt me all the time

Love, come home to me, and light my way again.

Saturday, 18 July 2015


why did you not

it was an earth-shattering
quake       made its foundations shake
you knew the world won't be the same




up in the sky, you see the stars, the night
has come--the time
to say goodbye
the silent wind is whispering in your ear
to say goodbye

why did you not

you were
supposed to be the one
love born out of poems
but there's only glass
cruel, real, paperthin glass

cold to look at as to touch

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Love and the Meaning of Life

                                             An essay for Philo 10 - Approaches to Philosophy under Prof. Bernard Caslib

Discerning the meaning of life

Life is indeed meaningful, in all the imaginable senses of the word. Whether there is an innate meaning to our lives or none, we create meaning throughout their course while we move through our lives. We are possessed with the faculty of doing this by virtue of our being rational creatures—the pursuit and finding of meaning is brought to light by means of our ability to use reason. This claim of being rational should and must be established and taken for truth, because otherwise nothing can be trusted and believed; reason cannot be undermined because the very argument that succeeds to do so is itself invalidated by the undermining of reason—how could anyone come to any such conclusion if rational thought is not something that we can claim to be doing?

This is actually the very line of defense that C.S. Lewis adopted in a different inquiry, but one that is nevertheless similar in its defense of reason. In his book Miracles, Lewis provides a compelling argument for the existence of miracles and the supernatural, by claiming that reason is in fact something that stands outside of ‘nature’—supernatural—and that reasoning that tries to invalidate the supernatural in that sense is also rendered void.

As for meaning, coming to an understanding of it leads us to a perception of its many facets—meaning is composite by nature. Meaning is birthed to us by the coming together of our reasoning faculty and the reality outside of it, reality that lends itself to perception and interpretation. This character of reality is attested to by Kant’s formulation of his terms ‘phenomenal’ reality and ‘noumenal’ reality—the former referring to “the world as we experience it” and the latter pertaining to “reality as it is independent of our perceptions”, or what we commonly call “objective reality”. Reality is not something we can always readily access; as humans we have our limits of perceiving it. And putting meaning to things gives us a way to bridge that gap between reality and our understanding.

It follows that there is always more to life than meets the eye. It is not merely the flowing of days from one to the other, nor simply just the time period bridging birth and death. It is more than that—more than just anything our relationships, work and achievements may flesh out about it. But of course, something that is as broad and diverse as life is difficult to deal with. There has to be an approach that would best fit this endeavor, one that could enlighten us most fully as to the meaning we seek. And this is where I believe love comes in.

Love and the meaning of life

Love can be likened to a lens which allows us to see the thing we are contemplating in more detail and with more clarity. This is because love bridges distance. Man is social by nature, and we must bear this in mind if we are to look at the dynamics of love. In order for us to enjoy a fully human life, we must open ourselves up to the associations and complexities of social life—we must open ourselves up to love.

In Wagas, Joseph Guillermo describes love in his essay Love Happens: Some Thoughts on Loss and Moving on, as something that comes hand in hand with existence, amo ergo sum, or in his own words, “We could then read love as without-death, and understand it as an act of defying darkness, of creating warmth despite the coldness, of bravely telling the night that I exist because I mean to someone.” This is a very Aristotelian thought; in fact, it has been Aristotle’s claim that association with other people—making friendships—is a very crucial step towards the reward of happiness. According to him, being in the company of friends reinforces our ability to act and think. The friend provides an ‘other’, a basis of comparison for the self, and this leads to a more fruitful understanding of a person’s nature, of his life. For instance, it is often said that “birds of the same feather stick together” or else, “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” The character of a person is defined, accentuated and made more apparent by virtue of the friends that he has. In another essay in Wagas, titled Constructs as ‘Deontological’: Love and Democracy by Alvin Jason Camba, it has been said that, “The process called loving, roughly speaking, pertains to the process people attempt to move away from a state of anonymity into a form of emotional attachment.” This further proves that loving, or involving ourselves in another, makes us more aware of ourselves.

Even in literature, the characters are often in the company of friends who are their “foil”—this proceeding brings the reader to a better appreciation of both the character and the foil; one reinforces understanding of the other.

To make a more concrete example, and one that I can readily elaborate, we can take a look at my own group of friends. There are four of us in the group, and the close-knit quality of our friendship sometimes surprises others—we have radically different characters from one another. We have Eric, loud and cheerful and flamboyant at times; we have Gienel, the studious, timid person who always shocks everyone with her excellent reading voice; we have James, the born leader, at turns delightfully frank and outright sarcastic; and then there’s me, the socially awkward sentimental writer. Our differences are as clear as day. But far from breeding discord in our midst, these very differences allow us to love each other more fully. These differences have always made me more aware of who they are, and more also of who I am. This understanding between us helps to foster the love between us and allows us to wish the good for everyone.

In her book Break Open a Stone, Dr. Liza Ruth Ocampo says of loving, “The sweetest fruit of knowing is to love.” To this, I also wish to add: sometimes knowing also yields the sweet fruit of love. The two—loving and knowing—are very closely intertwined, and it is very easy to attribute one to the other. I believe that indeed a sort of acknowledgement stands as a prerequisite to love, as in, “I see you, I know you, and so I love you.”

The complexities of the contemporary understanding of love

Nowadays, we live in an increasingly fast-paced and increasingly digitalized world. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are now here—and here to stay. It is the age of instant communication—a click of a button bridges hundreds and thousands of miles of geographical distance. Given this, we’d think it would be easier for us to welcome love in our more convenient, easier lives.

But the very setting of our contemporary consciousness breeds intricacies in our understanding of love. In Dr. Ocampo’s description in Break Open a Stone, this is a world of changing surfaces. We are moving about a new kind of reality—and we may not have caught up with its pace. It is either that, or that we are forcibly tailoring something constant like love to fit the new expectations set by the advancing times.

‘Mixed signals’ A story in Wagas, titled Leave Zach Alone by Javierose Ramirez, says it nicely, “Sure he walks you home every day and he is always around you but being around is different from wanting to be with you.” It seems that nowadays we have a surplus of gestures to which we can no longer ascribe significant meaning. We may have lost the sense of employing and appreciating subtlety in our social interactions.

But why should this be? I believe the answer is quite clear. We now live in a world overpopulated with signals and signs, and that has caused us to grow desensitized to them. Gestures that may have been special before are now robbed meaning by overuse.

The term ‘manhid’ is very much appropriate for this, applicable even to the general mood of our times. And this is very problematic. We must make a conscious effort not to grow desensitized to meaning—because something that means everything also effectually means nothing at all. And we cannot and should not move around the world and around people thinking our actions are of no consequence.

‘Knight in shining armor’

In the same story by Ramirez given as an example above, the persona expostulates with another character in the text pertained to as a second person, saying, “He is not your knight in shining armor.” The persona then explains that the iconic phrase ‘knight in shining armor’ only pertains to a function delineated by the other person, that this person is not in love with another person but only with an idea, a shell, a role—which could be filled in by nearly anyone.

This is another complexity caused by the preceding one. Because of our new desensitized and dehumanized brand of affection, we begin to yearn for something probably more ‘real’—we create the function of a perfect partner in our heads. We start thinking we need the ‘strong, silent type’ or the ‘girl-next-door’—we don’t usually think we’re yearning for our very own John or Camille or Martha.  

As Ramirez explains in her story, it is a disservice both for us and the object of our affections if we think in this way, because we effectually dehumanize them by so doing. We construct a version of them that may be far from who they really are—we are making them compete with an absurdly modified version of themselves. Competing in that way is very frustrating—I had the experience myself when I got involved with someone a few months back. We were going on a relationship kept alive by communicating on social media and the occasional meet-up, and I could really feel as if each spell of absence gives him more time and room to think up a version of me that I cannot compete with. It came to a point when I found it hard to identify whether it was me he liked, or simply the girl of his imagination—with the lack of concrete experiences to back it up, I wondered whether it was me that he thought was pretty or intelligent.

‘Plenty of fish in the sea’

This problem was very amusingly tackled by Liway Czarina Ruizo in an essay in Wagas. She perfectly explains the metaphor of fishing in dating and how appropriate it is when it comes to love: in her own words, “This illustrates the lopsidedness of proportions, number-wise.” As she elaborates, it seems to imply that the men “are greatly outnumbered by the women”, which is clearly not the case.

This proportion, as I see it, is also not just number-wise, but also power-wise.  Assigning the role of fish to women and the role of fishers to men, we see the power dynamic disproportionately tipped to the side of the men—as we can well see, only the fishers can pick and choose. Additionally, the essay claims, “The fish in the analogy are mere spectators, and they are expected to just swim right along, with not so much as an opportunity for exploring options.” The event of getting fished out of the water is considered a privilege, and the dating scene is seen as a ‘waiting game’ for the fish. The fishers on the other hand, can even “choose not to fish”.

This is a problematic formulation. Among the many beautiful things that love fosters between people is a sense of equality, of being both players and active movers in the game—exactly the aspect that this complication of our understanding produces.As the essay concludes, “Love is bigger than that. It has to be. Dating has to be bigger than predictions on it by experts of things ranging from human behavior to the science of statistics.”

Using philosophy in understanding love and life

Philosophy proves itself to be a ready and suitable tool to use in our pursuit of meaning of love and life. It is a field of study that brings us closer to the truth of things—and in this endeavor, there are no artificial demarcations of ‘common man’ and ‘intellectual’; anyone and everyone can participate in such an undertaking. As such, we must make the best of this and use our rational faculties and freedom to engage in philosophy.

In addition, philosophy is a science of knowing. It seeks to establish the bounds of knowledge and to constantly question everything. This characteristic of its method readily lends itself to application to the contemplation of love and life—it is far more satisfying to always be discovering something about these two ideas, as only the process of constant questioning can give. And the ideas which we desire to know about in this case are not static ones—they live, they breathe, they change. It is only proper to keep up with their changing pace by means of looking at them with an ever-questioning perspective.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


Tonight, I sit 
at a table in a small
fast food chain in the metro, 
On the table, a cup of ice cream
and a plate I'd finished off
in minutes. I am
but for what, I do not know.
There are girls at the other table--
noise and scattered thoughts--
I could easily catch, they were talking
about men and Japan.
They talk
so loud, and are
so beautiful, even if
I haven't really turned to see, I knew
it was true. 
Fleeting acquaintances in this floating world. How
can they not be beautiful?
And there, alone amidst them, do I
realize: maybe I am looking
for myself.
Because where else 
should I find it best, if not
in this little world 
all of people I don't know.
The fact being that,
I do not know
Myself, no, 
not anymore.

you do not own me

a revised version of the poem. Hope you'll like.


You do not own me.

I should have said that way before.
I should’ve said that at your first utterance
of a promise.  A promise I should not have called
a promise—the ledgers attest to a payment
of kisses, kisses and tears.

I do not owe you anything.

I should have said that before you forced me
to capitulate, before you took me in your arms
and mapped the terrain of my body with your hands,
before you claimed my nights, my days, my secrets—
my life. The tragedy of this age—people go about
thinking they can buy, that they can own

The principle they call equivalent exchange
                but is never really equivalent
because you took more from me
                than I took from you
when we kissed.

Why is it that
we have gone from being people
to being only things 
of relative worth?

We think:

A heart is nothing
but a beating apparatus
inside our chests, indicating life or death.

Our hands are nothing
but mere accessories to the machines
we have turned into as we work
day in, day out.

Our lips
are but the doors of breath
with which we seal
a dateless bargain to engrossing death.*

Why is it a bargain?

Why can’t it be love that gives and takes
with no regard to giving and taking
and owning,
why must you call me,
my dear, my love,

my own?

*lines lifted from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

apology of the faithless

I’m sorry if I couldn’t believe
what I couldn’t see.
I only wanted to know
that what I loved was real, I wanted to touch
and I wanted to feel, I wanted to rest
my hand into a waiting palm
and press my lips
on a cheek pillow-marked from sleep.

Aren’t we
a little too old
to still believe in fairy-tales
and promises? I thought
it wouldn’t be fair
to you
to have you in my mind
like a caricature, a character unfoundedly
without sight, without scent, without touch
and effectually
without weight.

I don’t want
for you to be merely that. You deserve
much more.

So if I am without faith, then
be it so.

But I think, that it is better that way
than to be worshipping an idol
instead of the real god,
and loving a ghost

instead of the living.

Panginoon, turuan Mo po akong magpatawad

Nang magpatawad ka’y 
bumulwak ang dugo,
upang mapawi ang lahat 
ng sala sa mundo.

‘ka nga ‘nyo, bayad na 
ang sala ng lahat—
mga sala ko, mga sala 
ng aking mga ninuno 
at ng aking mga anak.

Panginoon, turuan Mo po akong

Marami akong gustong patawarin, at gusto ko sanang
magpatawad kung pa'nong ako’y pinatatawad.

Gusto kong patawarin 
ang aking amo, panginoong maylupang
ipinagbubungkal ko ng mga pananim.
Gusto kong patawarin ang bawat kaban ng bigas
na ninanakaw niya sa akin.

Gusto kong patawarin 
ang alkalde ng bayan, sa pagpapapasok niya
ng mga dayuhan sa amin
at nang kami’y pagkaperahan.

Gusto kong patawarin 
ang lilong binata, na nangako ng kasal,
at saka ako iniwan.

Panginoon, turuan Mo po akong

Bubulwak ang dugo bilang kabayaran, 
at walang diringgin ang kapatawaran—

kahit santong dasalan o santong paspasan.

Saturday, 23 May 2015


I want to love you 


I no longer know 


I listen to the sound
of my heart beating—it communicates
nothing, not a word, only
the dull thudding
and thumping, its usual
Before, I would have said
I hear your name
alongside this rhythmic beating.

But there is no fate,
no auspicious alignment of stars
and no whispering spirits
who will lead me to a secret place
only the two of us know
where I can hold your hand
and forget everything,
even myself.

There is no wall
for me to scale, no mountain
for you to overcome, no depth
we need to fathom before we rise
together, holding a perfect gem—to reflect
our joyful eyes, to reward our searching,
ever searching

There is only simple
distance, growing more and more
each day,
and the nonexistent string
between our hearts

begins to fray.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


I wish I could say
when you had left me
that everything we went through together
ceased to be relevant. That they were not at all
beautiful, not at all touching,
not all true. I wish I could say
that I ceased to remember at the very moment
that you began to forget me. Every single
Regina Spektor song, every night we spent
singing our troubles away, every cup of coffee
that I savored while you looked on with distaste.

Instead I lie on a bed in a dim room we do not share,
and I think, it’s lucky that we fizzled out
before the damage grew worse and forgetting
is no more an option than the only way
to carry on.

I write poems in the office—
                love has always been one for poetry—
and you study in the library. 

Life goes on

as it should.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

you do not own me

You do not own me.

I should have said that way before.
I should’ve said that at your first utterance
of a promise.  A promise I should not have called
a promise, because I paid it with a kiss.

I do not owe you anything.

I should have said that before you forced me
to capitulate, before you took me in your arms
and mapped the terrain of my body with your hands,
before you claimed my nights, my days, my secrets—
my life. The tragedy of this age—people go about
thinking they can buy, that they can own
We have gone from being people to being
only things  of relative worth.
A heart is nothing
but a beating apparatus inside our chests,
indicating life or death.
But I’ll defy! This heart inside my chest
can love and suffer and it will:
carve my imprint out on the malleable earth, my heart,
make sure we are remembered.  

This heart is not yours.
You have not earned it, nor have I
given it to you.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

hardboiled wonderland and the end of the world*

There’s nothing better than losing oneself in good books for getting over some bad memories. I just pick a book from the countless inhabitants on my shelf, blow off the dust on the edges and the cover, open the book and start to escape. I pretend I’m really there, maybe the librarian who’s a divorcee and liked to eat a lot? Good call. Or the girl with the pink everything? Pink blouse, pink skirt, pink stockings. She’s closer to my age, too. Too bad I don’t like pink.

I just read and read and forget and fill my mind with these new memories which aren’t really mine. Well, they’re a lot better than my own. No issues with that.

But suddenly, I come to a point when there’s a typo in the middle of the paragraph. I disregard it, of course, and get on, but I turn the page and find out that a full fifteen pages have been misplaced. From page 299, I get to page 315.

What’s it mean?

No one really gets on as one planned. Even escape routes aren’t much. Crawl around the tunnel into the underground hoping your pursuers don’t find you—until you come to a point where there’s a huge gaping hole right above you, where you see reality peering at you, laughing. Pathetic fool.

And so you turn the succeeding pages furiously, hoping to outrace the memories that reality is beginning to hurl back at you. You race to fill your head with images so as to leave no space for the intruder that is your real life.

What could you do?

These books are reminding me of their materiality. They are man-made, imperfect. Constructed. Of course they do not correspond to any mental images I may have of them. Pretty much like friends. Lovers. Brothers. Reality holds them in its hands, and I cannot see them in their entirety. I can only see 
the sides that peek through Reality’s vise-like grip.

Maybe I should just sleep. I’m not in the mood to confront reality right now. Better just turn inward and converse with myself. Even if I never remember what I dream about.  

*by Haruki Murakami

Saturday, 28 March 2015

a defense

I walked with a friend on the way back to my dorm, and we were laughing and regaling each other with tales about engineering subjects. It was about 8 o’clock. We weren’t drunk, though with the recent developments in both our academic pursuits, it would have been understandable if we were.

“’Yung kasunod ko sa pila, magshishift din sa Film.”

“Heh. Gagraduate din naman tayo eventually.”

I believed that. But it didn’t make me any less sad. It was UPCAT results season again, and some tens of thousands of hopefuls have made it past the hurdle. They will soon be joining our numbers in the University. With such a huge pool of new students, the chances of having cases like ours among them are statistically assured. Like us they will enter the university with big dreams and the belief that their ambitions are unassailable. But the system will be too much for them, too—they will see things they never dreamed they would. They will falter. They might even fall.

I liked to think it was all because the system is wrong. People like me chose to take up engineering because it’s a very “marketable” degree. A good investment for my parents. I was told: these kinds of jobs could pay a lot even when I’d just be sitting at a desk signing papers. As a kid, all the adults were painting this paradise for me.

But you wake up one day and you realize it was all fake. I was sitting in my Calculus class when realized it. I stared at the integrals on the blackboard and thought, my God, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that shit. I realized I had something else that I wanted to do, some other dreams I wanted to chase.

I wanted a life I could call mine. I wanted to be happy, and useful, and I don’t know… I wanted to know I existed, in a sense—that by the end of my life I could say I wasn’t just one of them who were swayed by the whims and the wills of the majority. That I had a will of my own. And that it was strong enough that I could brandish it like a weapon in defense of what I believed in.

But what could I do? What defense could I have made of my actions then? On that night when we were walking, there were only shadows and blinking streetlights listening to us as we outlined the new paths our dreams will follow. Who will understand us?

Friday, 20 March 2015


Tonight I am in the office again, alone with my music and my thoughts. I am at just the right place to observe silently and without anyone noticing, all these lives that other people live, the lives I'm not living right now. The tabletop in front of me is bare; I had expected to see at least my office mates' ashtray on it. But they have gone home several hours ago, not even a whiff of cigarette smoke remains to tell me they were here.

On my browser, I see pictures of this newspaper's former writers and editors, taken from when they were vacationing in Japan. I feel something strange welling up within me--jealousy? insecurity? In any case, there those people were, smiling among torii gates and sakura trees. I've always dreamed to go to Japan. The pictures are always so beautiful.

Maybe they went drinking, my colleagues. We all live a hard life after all. Sometimes I wonder until when I could hold out my promise of not drinking.

Or my promise of working well enough to go to law school. I want to believe in a lot of things--that I can indeed pull this off, because so many others have done so before me, and they were writers for the same newspaper, students studying the same course. But who am I compared to these people? I am nothing.

It's really very hard to believe something you couldn't see. It's very hard to love something that doesn't respond to you. You'll get to the point when you wonder if you're only dreaming the grand object of your great love. Para kanino ba ako nagsusulat? Para kanino ba ako nangangarap?

Or do I just do all these for self-confirmation? Am I only attempting to measure what worth I can measure in myself by means of quantifying my level of involvement with the things around me?

Am I only aspiring for power? It hurts to think that. I don't want that. I don't want that. I don't want that.

You aren't here. I wonder where you are. I wonder how you're going to find me. I need help doing that.

Will you embrace me, and this untameable ambition? 

Come to me, soon. I need you. Whoever you are. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Epilogue: Kristel and the STFAP six months after

This article was published on September 20, 2013 in Philippine Collegian. 

The Tejadas warmly welcomed me to their home, smiling kindly as I scrambled for pen and paper to jot down the details of Kristel’s life. Both of her parents were wearing a shirt with her picture on it, beside the words “Education is not a privilege. It’s a right.”

Sitting down, I was seized with a sudden compunction: need I make them relive the whole episode again? As if reading my mind, Nanay Blessie assured me, “Masaya ako kapag nagkukwento ako tungkol kay Kristel. Sa tuwing ginagawa ko ‘yun, para bang nandito ulit ang anak ko.” And so, they let me in on their memories: from the better, early days to the days of grieving, coping with loss, and seeking justice.

As I listened, it dawned on me that this story is, in a way, mine too. The path that drove her to desperation, is not so different from the road that stretches before today's struggling Iskolar ng Bayan.

A glimmer of hope

Kristel was just like any other UP student, it seems. She loved to sing and draw, liked to share little nothings with the people she was close to. Her parents even laughingly recounted her obsession with the movie Pitch Perfect. She would watch it again and again, they said.

But it seems she has been through more challenges than most of us have at the age of sixteen.

While she was in high school, Kristel had expressed her desire to be a doctor and a soldier, and Nanay Blessie shares, “Ang dahilan [ay ang] kagustuhan niyang makatulong sa iba. Lalo ‘dun sa mga nasa malalayong lugar.” She must have felt deeply for the poor and unfortunate, because she knew where they are coming from. “Kaya talagang ang sipag niyang mag-aral. That was her coping mechanism. Umaasa siyang makakaahon kami sa kahirapan,” she adds.

That was why they rejoiced when she passed the UPCAT. “Pakiramdam namin, nanalo kami sa lotto.” Nanay Blessie related. At the time, it seemed like the ticket out of their piteous plight.

The bitter taste of truth

To pursue her dream of studying in UP, Kristel had to appeal for STFAP. Tatay Chris recalls, “Napakahaba ng pila, at napakaraming hinihingi. ‘Yung oras na sana ginagamit para matugunan ang pangangailangan ng pamilya, nakokonsumo pa ng paghahagilap ng requirements.”

In the end, Kristel was assigned to Bracket D, where she had to pay 300 pesos per unit. Her mother bitterly asked, “Taxi driver na nga ang asawa ko, pero bakit Bracket D pa rin kami?” Their appeals to be reassigned to Bracket E2 were refused, because they were unable to submit supporting documents.

Left with no choice, the Tejadas availed of a loan to cover Kristel’s tuition.

After her death, her parents shared stories of how she struggled, of how she would sometimes go to school without having eaten. There were even times when she could not go to school at all, because she had not enough money for her jeepney fare. But she was determined to prove that financial problems are not a hindrance to education. Prof. Andrea Martinez, her mentor, would often ask her if she was alright. And she would always reply with a chipper “Kakayanin ko ‘to!”

Last March, however, Kristel faced the reality of the uncertainty of achieving her dreams, and chose to end her life.

“Hindi ko inakalang aabot sa ganoon.” The professor shook her head. Kristel had probably come to the conclusion that when her life ends, so would her parents’ problems.


Her passing sparked massive outrage against the University’s officials.

Former Student Regent Cleve Arguelles said, “The case of Kristel Tejada was not a suicide. She was killed by the system—a system that refuses to recognize that education is a right, that life is measured in your capacity to pay.”

In agreement with Arguelles, Kristel’s parents argued that the system is not pro-poor. During our interview, Tatay Chris lamented that education, which should have been a right, has become a privilege. He had been so incensed over his daughter’s death that he wrote a letter to President Alfredo Pascual about the injustices of the University Code.

President Pascual answered, stating the courses of action that the University is taking to address the issue. In his response, he promised that no student shall be barred from a good education because of financial difficulties. In addition, he said that students will be able to borrow 100 percent of their tuition fees and that sections 330, 430 and 431 of the University Code will be revised.

The said sections of the code tackle the matriculation policies of UP as a system. Section 330 stipulates that students who have yet to pay for their tuition shall not be admitted to class, while sections 430 and 431 state that a student who fails to settle their dues may either have his grades withheld or be barred from enrolment.

The provisions are admittedly hard to reconcile with the UP charter, which declares that "No student shall be denied admission to the national university by reason solely of age, gender; nationality,
religious belief, economic status, ethnicity, physical disability, or political opinion or affiliation." President Pascual also said that STFAP will be restructured, admitting that he knew the policies are flawed.

Tatay Chris and Nanay Blessie shrugged. “I appreciate the sentiment.” Nanay Blessie said. “Pero hanggang pangako pa lang ang lahat ng ‘yon, hindi ko masasabing sapat na ang ginagawa ng administration. Mariz Zubiri, UP Manila's USC chairperson, also thinks the admin response is inadequate: "They haven't scrapped the no late payment policy yet; they just settled for temporary solutions. However, until the policy is scrapped, there is no guarantee that the university will stay relatively lenient."

UP Manila has allowed delayed payments and case-to-case full loan grants, but the proposed revisions to the UP code have yet to materialize.


A lull came to our conversation. I asked, “Birthday po niya last week, 'di po ba?” Tatay Chris smiled sadly, “September 8. Dumalaw kami noon sa puntod niya." He brightened up as he told me of her friends who had also come to visit, flowers in tow. “Iba kasi talaga 'yung kabaitan ni Kristel."

Kristel’s younger sister Krizia, a Grade 8 student, then stepped into view. I asked her, “Gusto mo rin bang mag-aral sa UP?”

“Kung makakapasa.” she shyly answered, with a laugh.

Tatay Chris then intervened. “Talaga namang prestigious na eskwelahan ang UP.” He hugged Krizia, then turned to me and muttered: “Kapag nabago na ang sistema."

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


For the fun of it, I'm posting this little list I made for myself a couple of years back. It was written on the 25th of December 2012.


THIS IS URGENT. Okay, Andie?

Okay. It seems stupid. But I figured out I have to change something in my life… and soon. If I am to go on with this monotonous existence, I don’t know what will become of me. So I am writing this. In this document I’ll record the goals I want to achieve, and why I want to achieve them.

·         Study Mathematics. And the Sciences, for that matter. I seriously need it… if I want something nice to happen to me this coming graduation. Yes, I do think sometimes that I have the potential to solve those complex problems… but hey, if I don’t persevere I won’t get anywhere.

·         AP lectures and term paper. Filipino lectures, and El Fili activities. Do that on your own, Andie. Grow up already.

·         Read all those books which I haven’t yet read. And also those which I haven’t read properly. If possible, I want to finish this before 2012 ends. I want to learn as much as I can – to wean as much knowledge as possible from those lovely pages.

·         Write. On paper. On a computer. On my palm, if I have nothing else to write on. But I will write. I will improve myself as humanly possible… for myself, and for sir Bong.

·         Document everything. I don’t have much liking for pictures, so there’s only one way to do this. I’ll keep a diary or a journal, beginning this 2013. It doesn’t have to be daily, alright. Whenever words spring out of me, and whenever I am inspired, I shall write.

·         Sketch things and practice music. Those are some God-given gifts… better not waste them.

·         Study languages. Because I said long, long ago that I would. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


I am reviving my attempts to write in wattpad, because let's face it, there's no other way to improve one's writing than to get it out there and let critics comment on  it. I'm starting with a flash fiction collection entitled Reversal. If you have the chance to read it, I hope you do--and wish you the enjoyment of reading my work!

Click here to read my stories!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Dear you (16 January 2015)

Dear you,

It will be some time before you stumble across this letter. Maybe you won’t ever mind to check this blog and chance upon it. But I still hope you will.

What we have isn’t perfect. Neither of us is perfect. Maybe you think we were brought together by fate—but nothing can be farther from the truth. We only had chances. We only had coincidences. We only had luck. It has been years since we met. But even if we shared thousands of lifetimes together, that says nothing about the days which are yet to come.

So let me ask this of you: do not burden the present with promises. Time is precious. Do not let thoughts of a future time steal it away from you. Do not ask of me what I cannot give you, since I am not certain that I have it myself.

In pop culture, there’s this term called “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”. I am not entirely certain as to the definition, but it’s something like a girl—an eccentric character—whose purpose in the story is to change the outlook of the cynical mess of the male protagonist and to disappear from his life once her job is done.

I am no such girl. I am not a “character” even—in my perspective these personalities are possessed of distinct defining qualities. Watching them, and with a bit of thinking, it won’t be a tough job trying to imagine how their lives will play out. And I am changeable as wind. I sometimes wish I could be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl—should I waltz out of your life, at least I’d have made it better. As I am, there is no such guarantee. It could end beautifully. It could wound us. Or it could end without really ending.

So, don’t romanticize me. At most times I am but a string of words that appear before you on your computer screen. Do not imagine that the girl on the other end of the line is a damsel in distress, or a perfect student, or an unwavering believer. I am not a character. I am a set of them. I am me, and I am not yet me. Take it in what sense thou wilt.

Yeah, everybody’s got to learn somehow. We live in a world of facts. Don’t leave me out. Don’t banish me to the world of sweet unrealities.

Sin cere (Without wax), me.