Saturday, December 25, 2010

Of Not Updating

Disclaimer: This entry is bound to have a lot of spelling and typographical errors. It is also bound to be a tad incoherent. Why is that so, you ask? Well, my dearest reader, it's because I'm fracking drrrrrrrunk!


First things first. If you're wondering why I haven't been updating my blog, you must know by now that I have bouts of erratic mood swings. Sometimes, I'm so happy I feel like I would burst. The result of this is blogging to share the joy. My ideas easily crystallize, therefore making them easy to articulate. However, there are times when I feel extremely low. Yeah, sure. I blog when I'm sad. But when I'm really really REALLY down, I refrain from writing so that I can prevent myself from immortalizing any emo shit I spew out.

So there. You now have a better idea of what the past few months were like for me. I have a few entries. I have yet to recover them or posting.

See you more often. :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some Thoughts on Making Choices + Other News


Not very long ago, I feared being faced with making decisions. This
sense of dread manifested itself as a sharp, heavy pain in my chest, I
could barely breathe. I remember lying in my bed contemplating whether
I should return to Manila or not. I could choose to live a comfortable
existence in America with my parents and suffer mental and emotional
stress, or I could flee back to the Philippines where I was bound to
be poor, yet happy. I spent endless nights contemplating this, and
even after the choice was made, phantom pains still lingered in my
chest. As I described to a friend once, it had felt like an elephant
was sitting on me. It was either that description or I felt like I was
being strangled.

People are indecisive. I hate generalizing, but it seems to be very
true. The most obvious example is deciding on what or where to eat. I
recall the many times my friends and I would be in a stale mate
because we could not decide on a dining option. We usually go around
in circles, wasting precious time. So, if a decision like this is
difficult to make, what more are the life-changing ones? What more are
the choices that you really have to put a lot of yourself into?

Even after surpassing such instances of decision making, I must say
that I still fear it. While it's true that I no longer panic, I take
my time or try to forget that it really has to be done. There's denial
and bargaining. If that fails, I consult my dear old friend

These days, I am rationalizing. These days, it looks like I have to
make a decision. I'm in a stale mate because I find that my eyes are
veiled by too many things; I don't like it one bit.

I am about to make choice. Maybe it will be final soon, maybe not.
(Hah!) Perhaps it doesn't matter as much as what my values really are.
To make the best decision possible, I feel (and think) that one must
stay true to his or her values system or beliefs. It all boils down to
discarding the "givens" of a situation if necessary. It's all about
sticking to your guns, so no matter how excruciatingly painful the
outcomes may be, it all becomes bearable somehow.


I am somewhat disappointed with myself. This week, I started quite
strong and now I have nothing more to give, so I'm settling with the
bare minimum. Usually, I am more driven and disciplined than this, but
other things call. Like rest.

*Notes on the team variance

Variables change. That's their job. They can be changed, substituted.
Am I a variable? I don't want to be. If were to be one, it should be
my own doing.


I am in love with the film 200 Pounds Beauty. Yes, I am a girl and I
could be really cheesy. While I detest Cinderella, I love this film's
take on this archetypal fairytale. Its seamless editing, lovable
characters, and engaging music just makes me want to watch it again
and again.

I just think it's great when narrative meets song, which I think is
another form of storytelling. When these two are combined, the result
is something emotionally charged.

In the case of 200 Pounds Beauty, it makes me soar. Yes, that's the
word for it. "Soar." It's my feel good movie of the year.


Reading and writing more are my friends. Reading and writing saved my
life many, many times before. They're still helping me out.


I hope I wouldn't get tired oh so easily. 

(October 23, 2010)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reclusive I.



The urge to look inward or be contemplative is still very strong in me. It really is a signal: I must get away unless I wish to get lost altogether. This desire has prompted me to return to Hesse's 'Siddhartha'--- I desire to be grounded (Someday, I shall write about Hesse and his masterpiece in detail when I can do it justice.). I desire an unblemished sight.


Many things have happened such as living in a community, seeing my best, seeing my worst, and lacking compassion. (I have been too hasty. I have been a horrible judge, and I feel its weight.) With that being said, I feel like I haven't learned many important lessons about life and myself which by now I should know.


I shall find my pace. I should work on it, uninterrupted. I must fight for this space.


Before I continue rambling like the mad woman I am tonight, let this poem speak for me.


Notes on Aloneness*


I am an old woman from the mountains,

White haired and scrawny fingered.

My eyes disappear when they are drowned

By wrinkles as I smile.


I am peaceful when I know this.


But this identity is hidden.

Before you, I am a young girl

With smooth cheeks and supple skin:

You do not know, that often times, you are deceived.


Or perhaps, I am the true victim of this trickery.

I pick things up: a fork when shoving food into my mouth,

A martini glass when I take a drink, a joke when I throw my head

Backwards in reckless abandon. In these,

I disappear.


The old woman, then, looks from afar,

Yearning for a view of the mountains.

She misses the blue of the skies so blue,

And wishes to experience the type of clarity

Which moves one to tears.


When I close my eyes, I see the old woman and where she usually goes.

Her feet tread on leaves and twigs. She inhales

The sweet scent of the earth. She sees the sky cut

Only by the green of the land. With the sound of rustling leaves

And tiny creatures of the world, she is aware only

                        Of her own breathing.


She is peaceful when she remembers this.


This knowledge is shared between she and I.

Sometimes I forget if I am she or I.

Tonight, when I retreat to my home to shut the doors and shutters

I shall face the mirror and decide: "Who am I?"


And there will be no answer.


There will be no answer I do not already know.

There will be no answer that I am already certain of.



*Line cuts may be affected by blogpost method.




Earlier today, my dear friend, The Quintessence, had told me that I am in a good place. It sounds odd, mainly because I feel that I am still standing on uneven ground. According to her, my being surrounded by people gives me an opportunity to be a "light." I am still puzzled by how this could be true, given that I can offer so little.


How can I be extraordinary? How can I walk this path the way that is expected of me*?  What can I share? What can I inspire? Am I really in this position?


All I can say to myself is that I must look upon everything and everyone in kindness. Hopefully, everything else follows.


*personal note




The more you are given, the more humble you must become. Please remember that.




All poems…I miss writing short stories oh so terribly, but my mind has no space for characters and their lives.




The Crazy Cat Lady, The Actor, and I spent what was like six hours of nonstop talking. I honestly thought it wasn't possible, but the hours disappeared and we ended up sleeping when there was already sunlight.


Our conversation was about belief, and it's great that even though all three of us are different, we give each other mutual respect. I love it when I see that people are capable of that.


(Saturday to Sunday)


(October 18, 2010)

No End of Fun




I enjoy it a lot when I introduce people to my home(town). This means that I trust them and I have reached a certain level in which I genuinely care for and about them (In this sentence, I could choose to use either "for" or "about," but they mean different things although many may think that they're interchangeable.). In a sense, my home has become theirs, so I am compelled to make them feel as welcome as possible.


The trip to the Borderlands (Let's fictionalize a bit; I don't want any stalkers.) was partly planned, partly spontaneous. Planned because The Ballerina, The Princess, The Frog Prince, and The Mad Hatter had wanted to go thrifting. No matter how hard we try to make others think that our style is effortless, I do have to say we are a rather vain bunch. More accurately, we are vain and frugal. The trip was spontaneous because an unexpected traveler, The Psychologist, joined in and the rest of the troupe suddenly dropped their other plans for this particular Sunday.  One thing led to another. I wasn't content with simply bringing some of my most (take note of the additional superlative) favorite people to the thrift shop (or in colloquial language, ukay ukay). I ended up organizing movie night by preparing some turon ala mode and ice cream chocolate chip sandwiches, which we all wolfed down after scouring the shop for wonderful new old stuff.


The Princess, The Frog Prince, The Mad Hatter, and I are no stranger to thrifting, so we were able to navigate the ukay with ease. The Ballerina and The Psychologist, however, were a different story. Their eyes were spirals upon arriving. They needed time to take in everything. The store was just overwhelming for the two of them. So, that was our cue to help them out. We ended up finding and suggesting clothes to each other. And, based on my observation, we picked the best for each other. It was nice to see thoughtfulness at work. Eventually, The Ballerina and The Psychologist were able to rummage through the clothesracks all by themselves.


Our ukay rampage was more than fun. Most of us went home with two bags of clothes enough to last a month of wardrobe changes. While we did go home with a lot of wonderful finds, we also took with us insights and conversations that made us more aware of each other as individuals worth of respect and care. It's a simple gathering of friends and I feel so blessed to have such a great bunch of people with me.




Speaking of unexpected trips and events, I ended up going to The Transporter's home for a Wii party, thanks to The Petite. It was the eve of her birthday, and she had wanted her close friends to be there as she grew a year older and wiser. The concept of "salubong" was new to me, but I found the idea amusingly similar to the anticipation of new year.


And speaking of new, I was surprised to find myself at ease with a different set of people. My chemistry with them is different, so I am led to think that I am somewhat pliant; I can enjoy being with all sorts of people. That, I think, is a good thing. It means that I can still be myself while letting others into my life. I've found some sort of balance that enables me to do this.


Anyway, in the Wii party, I realized that I liked games, challenges, and competition. Never in the life of me did I think that I'd enjoy playing videogames, really. I was letting loose and allowing others see a side of me that's relatively new if not repressed.


It feels good knowing that there will always be people I can trust.




I need discipline. I have to shape up.

And oh. I want to get lost. I want to disappear.


(I can't live like this all the time. I need to recharge. I kinda miss myself.)


(October 10- October 13, 2010)

Professional Shiznit 2

Untitled (Frankie Callaghan Profile)

By Maria Azuza Sta. Maria


I've always wondered what a quintessential photographer would look like, since a lot of people nowadays sport DSLRs around their necks. I say this because it's easy to think up what a painter or writer might appear to be, thanks to prevalent clichés: A painter would be disheveled in a chic kind of way, with wispy hair and paint-stained fingers, and a writer would have glasses and bohemian-inspired clothes. Creative people aren't easy to miss in a crowd. Standing out, for them, is already a default. It stems from their affinity with creation. Such was my train of thought before I met Frankie Callaghan.


The hustle and bustle of mounting River of Our Dreams, Callaghan's one man photo exhibit for the benefit of the KBPIP (Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig ) has left Manila Contemporary's art space with so much demiurgic energy, a stark contrast with the lensman's photographs which feel very contemplative. As I examine the photographs, I hear a deep, serious voice coming from the adjacent office. "There's Frankie." David Loughran of Manila Contemporary alerts me. I look over and see a tall man with a clean haircut; he was wearing a simple olive green shirt, faded jeans, and brown loafers. "So that's Frankie Callaghan," I think to myself, still having no idea of what a quintessential photographer looks like. Based on how he was dressed, Frankie could be anything--- a doctor, lawyer, or businessman off duty.


Before pursing his passion for taking pictures, Frankie Callaghan struggled with the idea of living off his craft. In a world that places high esteem on necktie jobs, he used to think that the only viable options of making a good living was choosing among the professions of, well, becoming a doctor, lawyer, or businessman. Needless to say, this career mindset steers many people towards that direction, so it's fortunate that Frankie was introduced to the world of photographers and how they lived. This prepared him for a paradigm shift that would dictate how he would live.


According to the England-born lensman, he felt drawn to photography while he was growing up in Baguio. But he was compelled to take photography seriously just as his high school days were coming to an end. In those days, the gravitational pull became intense and irresistible; what prompted him to take a camera and use it as a medium of expression was his desire to preserve memories, something that clearly, photographs can capture. His need to be reminded of what he felt, thought, and experienced was the crux that made him finally chase his dream of being a photographer. So after completing a degree in Financial Management at the Wharton School of Business, Frankie traded his books and ledgers for cameras and lenses, realizing that in order to live well, one must ultimately follow what his heart dictates.


Frankie's photographer instincts proved to be worth following. At the age of 21, he was able to showcase his work in Philadelphia. More opportunities followed suit, and in the Philippines, he was invited by Silverlens to participate in the "Photography as Expression" Sense-I Workshop. The most recent addition to his portfolio of exhibits is River of Our Dreams, which was mounted in Manila Contemporary's gallery.


Veering away from urban landscapes that characterizes most of Frankie's work (as seen in his previous exhibit Dwelling), the lensman shifts his attention to the Pasig River with the aspiration to make viewers take a closer look at what was once a majestic river and notice its elusive beauty. The photographs lend the river a more striking character. Lights and structures are clearly reflected in the water; they assume the role of narrative devices that show what the Pasig River has become in order to remind us of its past splendor.


The panoramic shots can't help but make me pensive, as I examine them just a few hours before they are hung. All fifteen photographs clearly show a cohesive thread, as a result of the photographer's artistic vision. Frankie feels that a great photograph must have composition, color, moment, intention, and truth, and his collection captures exactly that. Every photograph is also quiet and un-self conscious, as Frankie had intended them to be. His photography aesthetics is always to keep photos understated, so that they draw viewers as to speak to them. The quietness of the photographs intends to draw people to the subject, and I imagine them to do just that. Those who have had the pleasure of viewing the featured works in River of Dreams will hopefully see the river as they pass by it and re-imagine the water as a source of life once again.


As I pace myself to speak with Frankie, I notice a glass case with opaque water. "Whose idea is this, bringing water into the gallery?" The art space erupts in laughter. Apparently, there were protests, thanks to the paranoia caused by dengue season. A flash of a smile passes Frankie's lips in response to the laughter, but he then begins to speak in a serious tone, "I wanted to bring the river here. The exhibit is about the river. I want the people to see it for what it is." The insight reflects, once again, the same thoughtfulness the lensman captures in his pictures.


I then backtrack to the few minutes before Frankie came in. I was prying for information about what he was like. I gathered that he had no qualms going on location for the shoot. Given his background of studying and living abroad, he easily made fast friends with the people he encountered by the riverbank: security guards, slum dwellers, and tambays alike. This shows the mark of a true photographer; he can easily blend in anywhere, so he can take pictures unnoticed and uninterrupted.


This leads me back to the question "What does a quintessential photographer look like?" Asking that is completely pointless, as the man wearing an olive green shirt, jeans, and brown loafers is more than meets the eye. He might as well be a doctor, lawyer, or businessman, but no. Frankie Callaghan is a photographer.


When asked what he wants to be remembered for as a photographer, he says, "No idea.  I don't think it's really useful or helpful for me to think like that – it's reversing the order of things.  Better for me to just concentrate on what's right in front of me - and let things take their course." I agree and take a mental snapshot, lest I forget.


(Professional Writing Sample, October 11, 2010)

Professional Shiznit 1

The River Rising

By Maria Azuza Sta. Maria


It is always interesting to witness a reversal of roles, most especially when it carries a great deal of significance. We often hear of stories such as children raising their parents and unsuspecting mentors learning a thing or two to from the most improbable pupil. The insights we gather when we hear such tales are nourishing. Through them, we are left with a clear sense of growth and renewal. This time, it is a story of how the role of art transcends that of mimicry and capture. The tables are turned by the art community through putting a different spin on the saying "art imitates life." The three-day affair that is Artists for Pasig River goes beyond imitation; it aims to nurse and resurrect what was once the lifeblood of Manila.


A River Lost: Invisibility Versus Awareness


To rescue the Pasig River from melding into the background of the modern city, Manila Contemporary in partnership with its neighboring art gallery, Silverlens, and the 10.10.10 Pasig Run Committee, spearheaded Artists for Pasig River which runs from October 1 to 3. Its soul predecessor, Art Flood 2009, which was geared towards relief operations for the benefit of typhoon Ondoy flood victims, brought in an overwhelming P180,000. This heartwarming response paved the way for the inception of Artists for Pasig River with the intention of doubling the previous fundraiser's contribution.


The art market, which is a venue for donor artists and art collectors to converge and sell modern and contemporary works of art, remains true to the idea of "art flood" by making viewers, supporters, and benefactors shift their attention to the Pasig River. This year's proceeds will be granted to KBPIP (Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig) and will be used to rehabilitate the Pasig River and its tributaries.


The 25 kilometer stretch of the Pasig River, which connects Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay, has been famed and revered for its beauty. Aside from being well-known because of its splendor, the river was the city's economic hub, serving as a life source to what would later become a sprawling metropolis. The Ilog Pasig, as Manilenos fondly call it, is also witness to many historical changes. Once considered a prominent transport route in Colonial Spanish Manila, many structures such as the walled city of Intramuros, Malacanang Palace, and the Hospicio de San Jose have aligned themselves by the river. It is undeniable that the Pasig River has had its share of glory before it faded into the background of urbanized Manila.



A Flood of Art for the River


            Day one of Artists for Pasig River is the unveiling of Artflood 2010 at Silverlens Gallery. Upon entering the venue, one can't help but notice that the paintings offer a visceral assault, thanks to their diversity in style, subject, and color. The fact that the gallery is simple and white makes everything pop out. Before conception, each artwork started from a blank canvas. Now, the gallery assumes the role of blank canvas---another role reversal to illustrate how art and life are not far removed from each other if a clear purpose is spoken of. "This year's works are from a diverse mix of artists," says Neli Go of Silverlens. "There's no artist who is more popular than another. Each of them simply wants to go out and support the cause in any way they could." While the pieces of this year's exhibit are made up of an eclectic mix, they all work towards a common goal which is to bring in funds for the KBPIP. Donor artists include Hermes Alegre, Ina Ayala, Henri Cainglet, Bea Camacho, Mariano Ching, Charlie Co, Jigger Cruz, Corrine de San Jose, Emmanuel Garibay, Antonio Leano, Jason Oliveria, Jet Pascua, Sam Penaso, Ian Quiranle, Norberto Roldan, Pepper Roxas, Mark Salvatus, Frederico Sievert, Wire Tuazon, Gail Vicente, and William Yu just to name a few. The number of artists who participated makes the flow of support for the cause evident.


A more intimate affair is prepared in Manila Contemporary's gallery for the second day of the art market. In collaboration with Silverlens and Margarita Fores of Cibo d M, River of our Dreams, is made possible. The solo exhibition of fifteen photographs taken by lensman Frankie Callaghan depicts the Pasig River as an elusive beauty. Taken from different vantage points in Manila, the photographer wished to imbibe the river with presence and identity. No longer used as a backdrop for the city, the Pasig River is now made the subject of each photograph, making viewers pay close attention to it. The exhibit's title, which was derived from a slogan on a bridge passing through the river, is just apt: from once being a source of dreams for many, it is now our dream to bring the river back to its former state of being pristine and alive.


The third day of Artists for Pasig River is the final day of registration for the Pasig Run 10.10.10 in Manila Contemporary. Day three of Artists for Pasig River offers 10.10.10 participants more ways of supporting the cause other than running for the Pasig river. Runners were given the option of viewing River of Our Dreams, visiting Silverlens for Artflood 2010, and shopping at Manila Contemporary's monthly organic market, which coincides with the event. The 10.10.10 run seeks to invite runners from schools, corporations, and government offices to unite for the rehabilitation of the river.


Art Flood 2010 proved to be a well-attended event, showing that the Pasig River is slowly being rescued from invisibility. Through the different works of art, awareness about the river and its importance was brought back into the spotlight--- art no longer imitates life, but gives life, paving the way for a river, rising.


(Professional Writing Sample, October 10, 2010)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010




I don't want to be a person who's all talk and no action. If it takes 21 days to form a habit, then I shall carry on this way until I can be confident in my own pace. I will do this until I can keep the promise I made to myself. I will get things done and hopefully, everything becomes second nature to me.




The Quintessence says that the room for improvement is the biggest room in the universe, and I agree. So where do I start? Am I still ok?




Object l(i)ust: Shoes, messenger bag, more shoes, the whole display window of Mango Mall of Asia, Team Manila pouch, Holga cameras, clothes from Forever 21, skin care products.


Book L(i)ust: Fashion illustration books, Fashion Babylon, books by Nina Garcia, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Flow, Michael Chabon's, Ian Mc Ewan's, recipe books, fiction, poetry, Fables, Sandman, Plath's, Gluck's, Roth's, Gaiman's, etc, etc.


(Un)Task L(i)ust: doing nothing in my room while reading, drawing, listening to music or watching DVDs, road trip, beach trip, backpacking, being all contemplative in a coffee shop, sewing, baking, dancing, traveling.  




I was branded arrogant for simply suggesting that he learn to count his blessings. It's imbecilic, his idea that he has no motivation to live hence the indolence. (How can you not have motivation? Is having a child not motivation enough?!)


I just think that some people can't be helped because they like that they aren't understood (Yes, this is a paraphrased quote from Katy Perry). It's sad and baffling and annoying that no amount of patience, approximation, and even old fashioned tough love can't get through to help. I'm up in arms, so whatever. Really. Whatever.




I count my blessings. The outside world may think that what I have is meager (even laughable), but these days, I feel like the richest person on the planet. So thank You. I trust in You. I will do my best to be extraordinary. 

(October 4, 2010)

Of Objects and Art Objects



I want to better the quality of my life. Let's start with the obvious, since this desire stemmed from me wanting to purchase an oven. Yes, an oven (There is a domestic goddess in me…somewhere). I want things----I want better things to surround me because I realized that I often restock on the same types of food: cream dori fillet, tilapia, bangus, pork, chicken, and other quick, preservative-leaden meals. The food served at home is more or less the same everytime, and this made me want to cook. If I do this, I can offer myself and my child healthier options and I can master what I know of cooking. Perhaps, if I get serious about it (if not have too much fun with it), I can learn so much more. If I learn more, I grow as a person.


Does it seem odd? This illustration merely shows that if one has access to "new" things or is exposed to them, there will be more opportunities too improve one's self and consequently, one's life. I am no longer satisfied with how I am living. It's not that I am ungrateful. Far from it. I want to express my gratitude my maximizing what I have.


A few years back, my needs were quite spartan; all I cared about was survival. Having to keep a job to support myself while I was in school, I subsisted on instant noodles, 7/11 hotdog sandwiches, and sky flakes. Those days, I didn't have half the mind to complain. This period of my life was also traumatic. For some unfortunate reason, my family had lost almost everything, and even basic furniture wasn't spared. There was even a time when I wept because I had no chair to sit on, no table to put my plate on. I ate my meals as I sat crossed-legged on the floor.


The aftermath of this event lasts until now. Sure, I now have furniture in my parents' home: monoblock chairs, office chairs, office cabinets, a few more borrowed things. We use plastic plates and eatery-style glasses. Call me finicky, but I definitely want to replace these things in order to make my home feel like home. I've started with little things such as placemats, potholders, and fruit baskets. However, they're not enough. An upgrade is needed. This is where the oven comes in. Throw in an electric fan, wooden chairs, nice glasses, ceramic plates, better tables, presentable rugs, and pretty houseplants (And I also want my home to smell nice!).


While the process of acquiring these things will take a while given my financial state, it's good to know that they're within reach. I never imagined that I'd care a lot about what's in the scope of the domestic and this shift is caused by being aware that I'm no longer on own. I can't live off instant noodles or 7/11 sandwiches. I am now responsible for building a comfortable environment for my child. "Comfortable" isn't the end of it. My standards must also be high, so she'll aspire to live tastefully.


Let me digress before ending entry I. of October 1st. Two or three years ago, I had this conversation with my father:


F: Soon you'll be responsible for more things, and your responsibilities will become more and more difficult as you grow older. You will be responsible for a car soon.


MA: I want to live my life without owning anything. I just want to be happy. (I was thinking about some Greek philosopher. He lived in a barrel (a barrel!!!) by the river and was happy.)


F: (Pauses for what seemed like an eternity) What did I send you to school for?


MA: (In my head) "You didn't get me, did you? To put things simply, I just don't want to be defined by the stuff I own. There's a thin line between being you and using what you have. You gravitate to the objects you want and need. They end up reflecting you. However, some people tend to forget that and end up building their identities through ownership and acquisition...This is beginning to get a bit 'Fight Club…' I don't want to be that kind of person."


And since I was tired or too lazy to explain, this is all that escaped my lips:


I just want to lie on the grass, look at the clouds, enjoy the sunset.


F: Hmm…






A photographer and a writer walk into an art gallery. The paintings offer a visceral assault, thanks to their style, subject, and/or color. The fact that the gallery is simple and white makes everything pop. Before conception, each artwork started from a blank canvas. Now, the gallery assumes the role of blank canvas. Intentional, yes.


The photographer and the writer look around. The writer gravitates to the bright-colored works or those that are cartoonish. The photographer sets up her tripod and begins taking pictures. The writer takes this as her cue and begins to record her ideas by describing the paintings. By this time, the both of them notice a frame. It was shaped like an inverted L, the longer part thicker than the shorter one. It was on the lighter shade of brown. There was no picture in the frame; it was just a glossy white space, just like a whiteboard. It might as well be a whiteboard. Could have been a whiteboard.


Its blankness made the piece stick out like a sore thumb. Otherwise forgettable, the frame managed to get some attention simply because of contrast.


P: What can you say about that one? (points at the artwork)


W: Hmmm…


P: It's all concept.


W: Yes. But I'd like to see some effort.


P: Maybe all the effort's been exerted while thinking up the concept.


W. Possibly. But I still don't like it. Only a select few would get that piece. How can it be enjoyed?


P: Yeah. I am not fond of such works.


W: Me too.


P: The artist is a Harvard graduate. Cum laude.


W: Oh. Smart person. Ok… so?


P: She knows what she's doing. She'd better.


W: Of course she does. (Thinks of the artistic process.) But I still won't buy that.


The photographer and the writer then resume whatever it is they are doing.




The best and worst of me are highlighted whenever I come in contact with anything new, like, say, a milestone or task. It begins in analysis paralysis, picks up in tentative action, meanders in second guessing, digresses in panic, and finds completion in a slow process of calming down. And then the cycle is repeated until I am used to this new thing and I don't feel worried anymore.




You're too much fun; it's difficult to set you aside.


(October 1, 2010)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Return + Backtracking



At exactly this moment, I just want to return to the womb. The closest thing I can do, simply because I can never go back, is to let myself go adrift in the water. Be it a pool, a lake, a river, or the ocean, it doesn't matter. I just want to immerse myself in the loving water.


I want to be light because I carry too much weight in me. Isn't it amazing, how water---with its molecule makeup and all--- can carry and caress anything that can fall and break? Collectively, these molecules can support all that can be buoyant. So, my back in the water and my face to the sky, I shall let my arms and legs rest without flailing. I will then look at the sky and wish I could remain this way for the longest time.


There is something sad and euphoric about it that's difficult to explain. I realized this one time at the beach. The horizon was pink, purple, with a tinge of orange and the sea was turning a bluish gray. My littleness was heightened by the awareness by the true scale of things.  It made me want to cry because I was terrified. Terrified of awe if there is such a thing.


The awareness of frailty and power is something the human mind and heart cannot easily reconcile. But that's the beauty of it.




Dear Me,


Please pardon me for my moments of ineptitude. I will be better because I owe you that much.







(Things You Would Never Know: Part of a Series)


Long before you came along, I was already like this. I was afraid to admit it back then because of my fear of you, so I'm saying it now. I don't mirror you nor am I your shadow. What you are to me is a rude awakening, and honestly, many times I wished to go back to sleep. But I have to accept your gift (if it is a gift) graciously.


I do not know where your vanity is from. I do not know what keeps you vain. Why must you look at the eyes of your lover just so you can see yourself?




This is my cue. I walk away.


(September 28, 2010)


Monday, September 27, 2010

I am Sorry for Being Fragmentary (revised)



Oh farewell, Structure! This is what I said to myself for the past week, since I wanted to feel young again. I threw away my schedule and my body clock; I had a grand time. Of course, there were still limits. I couldn't afford to go "la vie boheme" all over again. I won't say that it's past me and it's unattractive. I love the life and the spinning chaos, but I can't bear living that way everyday. A drink or two (more) is enough. Staying up late from time to time is enough. A young person's gotta do what a young person's gotta do. But that excludes the stupid things, of course. But temporary lapses of judgment are forgivable if they don't damage you. You also have to collect things you can laugh about.




It was nice seeing everybody happy and laughing. It was great that everybody loosened up and lived to tell the tale. It was great sharing the night with you guys! :-)




I'm looked after. Thank you. :-)




From living somewhat chaotically, it's now time for me to revert back to being structured. I have to have my priorities aligned because I should be somewhere and I want to get there. I'll still stop to smell the flowers, of course.




Perhaps I have ceased to make sense or I'm getting too cryptic. That's because I'm not really here. The world has become too much to bear. I don't mean this negatively. I just need time to reassess everything: It's time to keep still.




Imagine that you're on a bus and you are the only passenger. You are a few seats away from where the driver is, but you can see the framed view made by the windshield. You see mountains, trees, and a big patch each of greens and blues. Don't forget the feathery white that makes clouds. Light plays on the windshield, and the glare is mesmerizing. This view makes you feel lucky to be breathing.

The bus is open. Your elbow is out the window. The wind is cool and soft on your face. You take mental snapshots: a curved side of the road that's by a cliff, more trees and a few quaint-looking houses, birds perched on electric lines, more birds caught in a glimpse in mid flight before descending, and a glimmering lake or ocean from beyond. Although you are far, you can see how the tiny waves move, how their colors transform as they are hit by light.


The snapshots that you take are many and you wish with all your might to keep them intact in all their accuracy. But the mind isn't enough and it decides to play tricks on you. Your heart sinks and you feel cold. It says that you've seen all you've seen but you have not lived among them. Then you think to yourself "Inertia. Your body is at rest, but the bus is moving. You are in the bus; it separates you from these places that you see. You've seen them but your feet haven't touched the land you have just passed."


After that realization, you then wish to live among what you have seen because you were made aware of your mortality and you want to embrace everything.




Yeah, whatever. Something like that.




Everyone's an iceberg. I said this before about people because I was busy peeling layers after layers of their psyches. (Pardon me for the sudden shift in metaphor.) Now I say this to refer specifically to myself because I keep on getting surprised by what I've been thinking, feeling, and acting.




Somehow I can sense that life is about to get better yet again. I have no idea why. Maybe my intuition is just really out of whack, but right now I just trust what it's telling me.  


(September 26, 2010)




I cannot say thank You enough. I've been callus and neglectful, but even when I'm at my most rash, you remind me to be graceful and so I am able to stand with both feet on the ground.




There is so much to love. Thank you all for making me see this. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully, I am also able to enrich your lives in some way. I may offer so little, but I wish that you gain something from it. All of you are my teachers.


(September 23, 2010)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Letter to Star and Some Other Important Thing



My Star,


By the time you could make sense of what I'm saying, you already have a perception of me that was brought about by the things I do or did not do. Because of my imperfections, there's a possibility that you learn to loathe me. I apologize if I seem to be judging you; I can't help but say this because I learned the same thing about my own mother. I could only hope that you and I don't wind up on that same road.


Right now, I am watching you sleep, admiring you and how beautiful you are. The curve of your cheeks and how light plays at the edges of your eyelashes remind me that the world is good and everything will be alright. You make me feel grateful for being alive. In the future, when I am older, I may forget to tell you this, so I am writing this down now.


I will change as you grow, but I promise that I will strive to be a better version of myself. You deserve no less, Star. But please understand that in order to be my best self, I do have to stay away from you from time to time. Just as I am doing in this season of our lives.


I apologize for being away most of the time. I only see you when I wake and before I sleep. Even on weekends, I am not yours, but I hope that you feel that I am still with you, because I am.


While I am afraid to make promises I cannot keep, let me just say that I will do my best to always, always be there. I am excited to teach you things, and I hope I can teach them well. From holding a pencil properly to riding a  bike. From doing math to making peace with bullies (unless, of course, you turn out to be the bully). From prioritizing what you want to do to making friends with boys. From knowing yourself to wanting to know God. And many other things. Your first sip of beer will come from me, if you do not find it awkward. I promise not to tell you how to live your life if you can promise me that you'll have a good head on your shoulders and a kind heart in your chest.


I will not clip your wings.


There are so many things I'd like to tell you right now, but most of them will be contained in the short sentences I speak such as "That's dirty. Don't touch that," "Get away from there, no, you might fall," and "What's the matter? Why are you crying?" Hopefully, the little things I do carry enough of my presence to help shape you and equip you for this life.


Tonight, before turning in, I somewhat feel helpless, just so you know, because as of now, in your sleep, all I can offer is my warmth.








I can't breathe.


(September 22, 2010)                                                 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On Discipline, Will, Appreciation, and Restraint*



So where are my thoughts oscillating right now? Or rather, what's the most dominant thread? I had no idea as I felt that there's nothing new really (This happens when I'm so fixated on something: I miss the bigger picture.). It took a meeting to give me a clearer view from the fence I was on. The most recurring thought is discipline and how I can use it to shape my life the way I want to.


In a scale of one to ten, I'd say I'm a 7.5 on the discipline meter. I get things done, yes. I never veer away from my target, yes (I take long cuts, though.). The missing points account for the effort I put into. There's effort, but I do feel (at times), that I have so much more of myself to give and put into what it is that I have to do. I guess I just tend to be lazy if not preoccupied with many other things. Maybe, I'm also spreading myself too thinly; I end up carrying out my tasks in a haphazard manner. The result of this is a pale show of discipline's fruits.


Where does this leave me now? Knowing I sometimes am off tangent makes me want to just keep still and draw straight lines, so I won't wander off. Sometimes I wish I could just be a horse with blinders, but that won't work either---- I do care too much about the bigger picture.


I guess what I want is an intense discipline that breeds spontaneity, the one that lets you learn by experiencing everything in full. How I get that, I have no idea, but I trust that it will come when I need it the most. I just want to be ablaze with it and let it help me reach my full potential.




A very dear friend (Let us call her The Quintessence.) and I had a conversation over lunch. We barely spend time with each other, but when we do, like today, we end up unearthing many thoughts that resonate with us. This noon, it was about people and how jaded she was. According to her, no one longer impresses her. She thinks it's because she's always around overachievers. She sees them everyday.


It's not an envy issue. She's aware of what she's capable of. It's just that she feels the need to be wowed.


I can relate to this, but I won't pretend to know her kind of jadedness fully. In my case, I

am fond of the little things or quirks that make up a person, so it is much easier for me to love. I blame my new eyes for this—I am in love with most things at the moment, people included. Most times, I am just amazed by them, flaws and all.  


My response to her is that maybe, she needs new things in her life and that she has to just appreciate people, overachievers or not. I said this because I feel/think that no matter where a person is in this life, invisible work (to borrow Rilke's words) is happening. There may not be any visible fruits to speak of, but the toiling is real and that in itself is an accomplishment. As long as a person doesn't stagnate and continues to expand his or her horizons in whatever way, it could be called an accomplishment.


It seemed like she knew this already, but was too tired to remember. It happens to everyone, this kind of forgetting. I wonder when my turn will be, so I'll just keep my eyes open to avoid it.




...*private entry.


(September 20, 2010)

Spontaneity or Lack Thereof



Today, I am out of my element--- I just feel like horrible clockwork. I thought in fragments just as though my entire thought process went down the drain. This fact isn't at all noticeable to onlookers. A friend even told me that I did really well handling work duties. According to him, it was "automatic," proof enough of how I've learned so much in the past few months. It's a bit hard to believe, really. If he thinks it's automatic or effortless, I'd say that I'm just on autopilot, which is very bad. I can't help but feel a tad moody and disjointed.


What bothers me then? There must be something (What?!). Perhaps it's my awareness of what I've neglected for the past week: my illustrations, flats, home life, motherhood, etcetera, etcetera. Plus there are other things I must attend to like writing articles and work-related stuff. Maybe I've been in denial about my plate being full ("I can do it aaaaall!"). (There are other things too which I won't dare discuss here.) The consequence of this is restlessness and the inability to be spontaneous. The whole thing just makes me want to disappear again. I am suffering from a severe sense of wanderlust all over again. I want to escape.  


Well… I have the weekend to get things straight. My personal assignment is to stay true to my center and to find my true north.


(Take a closer look, girl. Don't turn the other way.)




A truth to be faced: You are a hermit and you like it.




Dominant words of the day: "nebulous," "disjointed," and "can't".

Punctuation mark of the day: the interrobang (?!)




Gah. Blergh. Argh. Expletitives, expletitives!


V. (________)


1.)    Work with

2.)    Rest with

3.)    Dream with




Oh clarity, show yourself. I implore you.


(September 18, 2010)

Monday, September 20, 2010

On Proofreading


Wednesday, September 15, 2010




Tonight (I write the saddest lines? Hehe. Gee, how I crack myself up!), I have no idea as to what I want to write about. There are many thoughts in my head, but bringing them out into the world prematurely will just make them sound like fluff. But then again, let me try to pin down these thoughts for posterity's sake. Lest I forget. I know I am forgetful and one of my life projects is to remember what I can the best way possible. A personal history is needed--- how else will one keep learning?


These days, I've somewhat removed myself from solitary confinement. While I see myself mainly as the mother of my child, I am now welcoming the idea of going out into the world.* Everyone gets to live only once. How does one learn if horizon expansion is limited? So here I am, ready for whatever type of exposure.


It makes me feel guilty though. More time out in the world means less time with my daughter. Unfortunately, I'm not that good at balancing things just yet. Although I am steadily learning, a voice at the back of my mind sometimes questions if what I am doing is wrong (Notes: self-sacrifice, self-effacement= outdated upbringing).


This may sound like a rationalization, but I do think that I need to be a well-rounded person in order to be a good mother. Hence, I'm not doing so bad at all even though I spend less time with my child. It's more of the quality of the time I spend with her. If I keep on remembering my center, my purpose, I'd be able to be really present with her in order to fill her---what do you call that?--- developmental needs.



Now, let's get back to going out into the world. There's so much world outside the door and I sometimes don't know where to start (Who does anyway?). I'm just keeping myself pleasantly surprised and grateful for even the littlest of things I learn.


I love life. Which is amazing because I used to think otherwise.


* Recurring issues much?




Oh, Your sense of humor really hits the spot. What do You want me to see this time? I need discernment!


It's great that You always answer. You know my heart better than I know it.





I am very thankful for my job and the people I work with. It feels like home. (On most days at least.)




Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold.

 - A Japanese folksong


(September 15, 2010)

A Few Thoughts Before Sleeping (and forgetting)



I know Somebody up there loves me.  How else will I get to where I am without becoming an embittered person? The thing is, the weight of responsibility still takes a toll on my back and I can't help but feel it in my bones. Let's use another metaphor, shall we? Sometimes I feel like I'm swimming in the ocean, tired but very determined to survive. My muscles are tense and my energy is slowly dissipating; if choose to, I can be carried away by the waves.


My mind has been preoccupied by thoughts of the practical. "I should make more money." "What other sources of income can I tap into?" "What will I do with my fashion career?" "When can I upgrade my lifestyle?" "When can I get a car?" "I need a house or my own place." "I need to make sure that my daughter has the best education." I guess these worries are typical for any struggling parent and professional.


It gets disheartening sometimes, to be honest. What keeps me going is the promise for those who are patient and have pure intentions. Seed-sowing.




Now that my beer goggles are off, I can see that you are too juvenile for my taste. You're just a boy and I am a woman. What was I thinking? Oh, wait. Four years ago, I wasn't thinking at all. Good riddance. I'm so glad to be free of you. I am not as patient as I thought I was or better yet, you do not deserve to be treated patiently as of this moment. What you need is tough love a.k.a. a strong whack in the head. 




I am coming to terms with my inner bitch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I'm not that sweet after all. I've got claws and sharp teeth to use if I have to.




I'm thirsty for new discoveries and I hate monotony. Structure is a different story; it doesn't have to be monotonous, but I appreciate its predictability. It's everyone's safety handrail in this topsy-turvy world.




(September 12, 2010)

People I Love + What I Love Doing



Tonight I am a 25 year old girl who is not a single mother, a subteam leader, an aspiring fashion designer, an aspiring writer, or an overall responsible person. I am just myself, raw and open, unafraid of showing humanity. 


I used to be a lot more guarded than this. But thanks to The Princess, The Frog Prince, The Ballerina, The Renaissance Man, The Crazy Cat Lady, The Soupgirl, The Actor, The Cartomancer, The Perky Girl, The Transporter, and The Psychologist, I have returned to who I am without the fear of being unaccepted. I am grateful to all of them. Their company is nourishing. They offer a balance of intellectual talk and playfulness, some of the few things I really need.


So this is what it means to be with other people without expectation. The give-and-take relationship is there, but there's no need to keep tabs. Everything's free-flowing. It's like there's an unspoken understanding of our relationship. We are simply here for each other, aware of each other's differences and existence. It feels nice and I am very thankful for this time.


(One of the lessons I've learned with them is honesty and candidness.)






I miss writing stories, but I do not know what to write. My process has probably changed. Back then, my creativity was fueled by a very passionate rage or a deep-seated mourning. Although I haven't written anything new as of this time, I feel like my process will be more technical. What will fuel it is imagination and mischief---the idea excites me.


I wonder what else I'm capable of as a writer. I wonder what else I can share and if they are worth other people's time. The only thing I'm sure of is that my new work will not resonate with my previous crowd. I have changed as a person, thus the change in perspective. I wonder what types of people will get me at this time.

In these times I don't, in a manner of speaking, know what I want; perhaps I don't want what I know and want what I don't know. -Marsilio Ficino

Fatherthoughts and Afterthoughts


My father has always been emotionally distant. For my daughter's birthday, my mother asked if we could go online to chat. The rest of the family misses the baby terribly and so I obliged. In attendance were my two younger brothers and my mother. Father joined in only for a time; within a few minutes of the family conversation, he was gone.


When I asked mother where he went, she simply said that he was in the next room watching "Marley and Me." "Marley and Me," ladies and gentlemen. What exactly was so great about this film that my own father would choose to forego conversation with me just so he can watch it? I didn't pay attention to this detail all throughout chatting with my siblings and mother only to be bothered by it now.


Let me go back to my first sentence. I can't really be sure when my father became as distant as he is. I also do not know why, although I have a few guesses. First, I think his distance stems from the fact that we were never close. He wasn't present during many milestones in my life: birth, debut, graduations, recognition days, motherhood, and so on. Second is perhaps he chooses to be uninvolved because of our knowledge of each other. He knows that there's an apology owed but can't give (For what reason again, I do not know.). The third reason I attribute to tiredness. He does work for minimum wage now, being a seasoned architect and all. This is damaging to his pride, thus leaving him more exhausted than usual. But then again, many people use exhaustion as an excuse when they wish to avoid confronting the things that matter.


Where am I in this? Where am I standing? Am I hurt? Do I care enough? If yes, how exactly?


I have yet to find the most precise answers for these questions. And maybe there may be no precise answers--- my beliefs will change as I do, thus affecting the way I think and feel. But what I do see clearly at the moment is a parallelism.


My father was absent and he continues to be. He was role model for a time, a long time ago, before I became aware of the irrevocable and damaging things he has done. My child, right now, also doesn't have a father. I also predict that she will be deprived of the "role model phase," given X's current state. This is bound to affect her severely and probably negatively. All I can do right now is to change our reality by doing my best to play the roles of mother and father effectively. I'm doing just that and I feel like I'm finding my way through the dark; I can't afford to have any missteps.


Parenting is a job designed for two, yes. But I now think that I turned out quite alright even with my father's absence and distance. I also turned out fine, given my mother's temperament. Who parented me then?


I used to think my family had little influence over me. I have always been independent. It's a lovely thing, but I sure craved having parents (who were not just physically present) from time to time.* In fact, my acceptance of family relationships is new. It was a hard lesson to learn. I was told that I could crave and mourn all I want, but it won't really get me anywhere.


Amazingly, I was able to vault the fence.  I was able to tear down walls and be a little more at peace with myself in this respect. At first, I couldn't articulate to myself how it happened. I had to come across Ian Mc Ewan's 'Black Dogs,' so I could explain to myself what I could not. The main character says that the best way to retrieve a lost parent is to become one yourself.


I couldn't agree more.  

*The feeling was most intense when I became a single mother. I felt like a kid with a kid.


"Enjoy the little things."


-Tallahassee from 'Zombieland'


(September 9, 2010)  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oh, The Freedom!

I no longer feel the need to be an emotional recluse. There is no need for that many walls.
I realize this now that I've spent time with some wonderful people. I have been empty
and now I am ready to be filled. I also have more to offer, too.

So…hello, world. You are my school and playground again.

(Follow up to September 6, 2010)

That Muscle in Your Chest aka Your Heart and What You Wish to Do With It

Earlier today, I was able to talk to a good friend about something I was very eager to
voice out. Amidst all this giggling and flirting is a deep-seated fear that concerns love.
My previous relationship was intense. We were electric. Aside from loving my child
immensely, I have never felt such a deep love for another human being. I fell in love with
X. And although we were extremely different—the chasm between us was so great--- we
found a way to build a solid bridge. Even in all impossibility, a soul connection was built.
That was what made me feel and decide that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with

Clearly, this has changed with all my naïveté gone.  I am terrified by the idea of love. I think I might not be able to love as deeply as I have. The idea of labor of being in a relationship exhausts me. Can I be myself? How will I fit this person into my
life? What roles will we both take? What if I just end up being like the main character in Joyce's "Araby?" What will happen to me after the relationship? I know I am getting ahead of myself, but these questions must be faced. I'll never get answers until I finally agree to let someone into my life.

It's great to finally accept that I am not closing my heart. I am not that eager, though.
It's just that I don't feel the need to be an emotional recluse, so I can work on myself.
There's really no "perfect" time, since we will forever be works in progress. Getting in
a relationship is all about balance and having a level head. With that said, I can look at
myself and say: "Hey, I do not have any major hang-ups." I am responsible enough for
myself that I can be with another person. But of course, the test of the pudding is in the

I'm not saying that I'll proactively seek someone to be with. The point is that I am not
closing myself because of fear and unrealistic expectations. It is true that a first love will
shape you in ways you can never imagine. It leaves indelible marks in your personhood.

But the knowledge of what you learn, good or bad, is at your disposal; you can always
have the option to act the best way possible to make a new relationship grow, so you can
also flourish in it.

(September 6, 2010)