Friday, November 9
Wednesday, September 19
I found by chance a website that encourages Filipinos to write positive things about the Filipina on the internet, in hope of bringing “relevant results to search engines and topple those that exploit the (word) Filipina”. I feel compelled to chip in, and say something, even though as one stumbles upon this blog, he’d be hard-pressed to discover that I am NOT into making any pertinent social commentaries or spewing off happy mantras for the collective good, much less, lifting a finger to enlighten my own befuddled self. If at all, he might recognize that he has largely snuck into a lemony snickett world, a cloudy sphere of juvenile, foolish thoughts, trapped inside the brain of a woman going through midlife crises. Or something.
At any rate, my being filipina in the face of all these, makes me rather unique, if a little peculiar. I don’t fully comprehend it. Blogging , for instance, has made me discover that there are quite a number of women from the
But what is to be Filipina? For the longest time, we are generally perceived to be women who conform and obey, who meekly say yes on many occasions, even when we don’t have to, or don’t mean to. And let’s face it, there is a grain of truth to it. I can’t fault the look of amazement, or sometimes incredulity, in the eyes of others who have not fully understood why we do it so, or of what holds us back from asserting our right on things. It’s not that we don’t have a choice, and I can most certainly say that it is not being stupid, nor for lack of a better judgment. Believe me, I’ve been there and I can’t be gullible at all. I think that it well may be a case of having too much respect for elders or authorities, a plain sense of propriety that we have inadvertently practiced all of our waking lives. We have been born to it. And that is not a bad thing. It’s just that it seems everywhere we go, we aim to please. Please others, older or younger, with blind worship---unfortunately much to our ruination. We value harmony in our little rustic world, much as we do in the big world, that calls us a third world, a world that has gone a bit haywire in the age of internet and overblown-grown egos. We are often seen as easy preys to the supercilious regard of others, or even of our own.
Well all I can say is, damnation! Why don’t we start getting crazy? Forget about being cinderellas or some weak pushover damsels, and put on our ruby slippers like Dorothy who ran away from
And then when we had our fill, when we have soaked in all that craziness and simple exuberance that makes us uniquely and truly Filipina, we should spruce ourselves up, smooth our hairs back, and mind our proper manners once again. The things we are proud to be of---the choices we make to overcome our own obstacles, the character that endear us to the appreciative few, in spite of the prejudiced lot--are that which we should continue to espouse and do, or write about. Maybe not always in this blog, but in a better place, so that we will ultimately read “Filipina” with something affirmative and good about, in google-s.
Somehow, by writing all this I seem to be contradicting myself. I shiver at my momentary uproar. As I said, I can’t often be trusted with positive things or thoughts …..
So, I’ll pretend I never said.
Friday, September 7
Ne me quitte pas
Il faut oublier
Tout peut s'oublier
Qui s'enfuit deja
Oublier le temps
Et le temps perdu
Oublier ces heures
Qui tuaient parfois
A coups de pourquoi
Le coeur du bonheur
Ne me quitte pas.
Moi je t'offrirai
Des perles de pluie
Venues de pays
Ou il ne pleut pas
Je creus'rai la terre
Jusqu' apres ma mort
Pour couvrir ton corps
D'or et de lumiere;
Je f'rai un domaine
Ou l'amour s 'ra roi
Ou l'amour s' ra loi
ou tu serais reine
Ne me quitte pas..
don't leave me
it is neccesary to forget
everything you need to forget
that is already over
forget the times
of the misunderstandings,
the lost time
you need to know how
forget the hours
that sometimes kill
the reasons why
the heart is full of joy
do not leave me.
i offer you
pearls of rain
coming from countries
where it never rains
i will cross the world
until after my death
for to cover your body
with gold and bright light.
i will give you a kingdom
where Love will be king
where Love will be the law
where you will be queen….
do not leave me.
Wednesday, September 5
There's nothing much to say today, and as usual I've been suffering what one blogger calls a blogorrhea. So off I go with my rumbling. Our director has been around for a couple of days now, spending the whole time in the office, doing important business over phone and net----the whole nine yards---- except make small attempts to talk to us. Sure, we had been privileged to lunch out at hotel mezzanines of late with him, but back at grind time, there are the usual furtive glances, and tiptoeing, a funny stance that all of us, rank and file, are guilty of taking when the big guns are around. I don't remember for the life of me why we do it anyway. I mean, our bosses, considering that they are foreigners, are not really the kind who would give a dope as to how we conduct our business around the office. Outside of it, we are as equal to them as we damn please think we are, except that they foot the bill, and we reciprocate with all-encompassing gratitude. They are as natural as can be, but it seems that we are the ones who balk at the idea of behaving as we do when left among ourselves. And, as if that is not enough, we discuss things behind their back, belaboring on the minutest details of the time they were in our presence.
Are we that of small minds, after all?
Tuesday, August 28
It’s almost like waking up from a long dream, this business of motherhood. When I gave birth to my son, I never expected to feel such pain and distress, although I was fully anesthetized during his delivery. It would not do even that I had people around me, especially my husband, willing to help ease whatever it was that discomfited me. There was just an overwhelming amount of physical hurt that my body was trying to bear up, and I sometimes found myself crying and gnashing my teeth in angry silence. But slowly, everything seemed to alleviate.
One day, I found myself getting much stronger and ready to appreciate life again. The years that followed with our little baby seemed to hover and pass before our eyes. It felt like I was in a sweet limbo, a dream of thousand nights when I’ve cradled him in my arms, fed him close to my body until he is sated over, and ready to fall into an oblivious slumber again. Soft hushed-up moments of being with him, when all I could hear was his impassioned breathing, and the gradual struggle of the body for nourishment and life.
I have attached a great importance to these instances. Of course, there too, were those fine qualities that a mother would most readily admire and esteem about in her offspring. I smiled and closed my eyes at the beauty of it, an emotional bliss that lulled me into a long almost interminable sleep, recreating scenes in my heart, with deadened intensity, like a mime or a silent movie, interrupted every then and now by only the faintest mewling, but never really quite remembering the terrible physical suffering once attached to it.
Many years and sleep nights later, another day breaks with such zealous light and a jolting sense of something raw. I stir from all the softness, and welcome a new, harsh reality. A baby girl. Came nine months of the same anxiety and discomfort, all over again, or maybe even worse. I cannot begin to say how bad it was, as I never tried to look at it that way. But the pain that I thought I’ve most certainly forgotten, well, it was still there to remind me after all.
Of how it is to be human, and to relinquish fear.
It's been five years since, and today I am rearing up a wonderful daughter and son who would eventually cast a shadow over those months that I’ve had to endure. Presently, a long restful sleep will do me good, far from being with child.
Gabriel is almost five and has gone away to school. He asks never-ending questions of everything he sees, why or how they came to be. He watches Discovery Channel and talks about caves and mummies. It scares me that we don’t have the answers to all his curiosity, but we will go to lengths for his learning, while we are around to guide him. He exhibits an odd temperament that my husband says screams of Me. Sure enough, I am slowly recognizing myself in the many things he does, in the way he sharply looks sideways with a pout when asked to repeat what he said. My impatience. It tells me to check on myself, lest he grows up to be as dark-minded as his mother .
On the other hand, is a sunny girl, Sophia. Always going about with much gaiety, like her father. Her little childish laughter resonates around the house, it would be a shame not to smile about it, if at least in secret. Sometimes, she exhausts me, with her boundless energy, but never in a way, that I would give up enjoying her smarts or unreserved affection. Laughter should be indispensable in a home, shouldn't it? And I would like my children to always laugh, and guffaw if they had to, for what it's worth.
Many days I wake up with a worrying fit, of how my children will fare, of how we can make it better for both of them. It burns a hole in my head, and pushes me to fight for it. But other mornings, I become easy, feeling I can leave it all up to fate, as I stir and become aware of them nearby. All I can just say, is that life is odd, and phenomenal.
Friday, August 10
Last night was probably the fourth time I’ve seen the movie, and yet I never grow tired of it. Bill Murray has such impeccable comic timing and wry mockery on this you can’t help but laugh about it. I do not at all find this movie an affront on the Japanese race as other pedants may claim. For me, it is a bird’s eye view of someone who has stayed briefly in the country, seen a bit of things, tasted a small part of its culture, but has never really understood what it embodies. If it was set in my country and had portrayed some of our idiosyncrasies, I might have initially been offended too. But then I would think, that is how outsiders see us, and it can be pretty amusing in the end. Lucky for us who have been brought out to a wider audience, unlucky for them who saw only too little to comprehend what it’s all about.
However, what I remember more deeply, and probably more importantly about this film is life’s tragedy and the complexities of human relationships. The emptiness, the white nights, the feeling of displacement that both the central characters in this movie feel, the need for companionship, and on a general scale, the mechanized way that we conform with what is proper, as opposed to what we honestly want. These emotions are present in, and I think equalizes us humans, regardless of our age, social stature, or mental maturity. There comes indeed a point where no measure of material wealth or gained wisdom is sufficient to make us understand why life is empty and without a meaningful purpose, and that we are oddly lost in the translation of the very obvious things—love, sadness, joy, family, ourselves .
In the story, two Americans met in a lobby of a posh hotel. Charlotte (the beautiful Scarlett Johannson), a philosophy graduate and wife to a rather neglectful celebrity photographer on assignment, and an aging actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray’s character), a movie star nearing the end of his career and who has come to work on a whiskey commercial . After a few brief innocent encounters, Charlotte and Bob began to share feelings of their odd transitory life in Japan, the way that they are trapped in their marriages, and the uncertainties of their individual future lives. They became increasingly close as they spent more time together fleetingly, in the Tokyo region of Japan which provided the interesting backdrop, where they roamed the streets, sushi bars, bonsai gardens, arcades and karaokes—singly, or both-- apart from the married lives they were excruciatingly trying to cope with. On the eve of Bob’s departure,
The final scene is where Bob sits in the car on the way to fly back home, and he sees
I had to turn to wikipedia for a bit of enlightment, or gossip. There were many speculations about what Bob whispered to the girl’s ear. It was said that Bill Murray did it impromptu, not part of the script, and that he would not repeat what he said, in the interviews later. However, some nosy individuals might have gone the extra mile and used a device to make out the audio, and it is very likely that he had said “I love you. Don't forget to always tell the truth…”.
Well, whatever, we could always make up our own lines to our satisfaction.
But then, I am left vague in the mind and asking questions. Are encounters like these, where we find a kindred and share a mutual feeling of connection, in a disconnected world, meant to be a catalyst, a door at the end of a dark passage where we can finally shed off all our emotional layers and walk at a definitive moment where there is a blinding light, a cure to all our emotional ills, to all our manic worries, and all our interminable sadness, thus declaring our life’s denouement?
Or we resign ourselves, back to what is real and expected, to what is asked of us, but to where we can deal with things and relationships a little braver and stronger, and come to grips with the same hell all over again?
Friday, August 3
Early this year, I had begun to get a little serious into my new hobby—photography. I had initial doubts as to how long I would nourish this newfound skill, as in the past I have had several pre-occupations that I really enjoyed at first, and eventually found my interest waning and getting measly for. There was drawing, calligraphy, cross stitch, beading—things that happily manifest how sedentary is the lifestyle I live. True enough, I’ve never been into sports, or something that involves sweating off or showing my physical prowess. I remember that back in school, I had always been a failure at try-outs and would cower at any sports that involved balls. I was never any good and, as a matter of saying, didn’t have the balls for it. In deference to these shortcomings however, I read a lot, gluttonously I may add, that I eventually forgot what I was supposed to be missing out in the field. And so it came to be that as I grew older, I pretty much stopped caring about things where I would suck, while other people might excel in; and instead put a high personal premium on the arts---and many of its forms. There was music, dance (which is something that, I am sad to note, never loved me back), books, poetry, painting, needlework, etc etc. It was a happy experience and indulgence, a love affair which I carry on up until this day. And now, there’s photography.
As I have written in this blog earlier, it was my husband who bought me my first digital camera. A point and shoot, no-frills
I took lots and lots of photos and had fun looking at them, showed the kids off to the old folks and the relations. But then, I found out that I needed not stop there. My husband encouraged me to put up my photos, in a sharing site like Flickr. This is where I discovered people who shared the same interest and passion in photography, and who eventually became my virtual friends. I traipsed around and saw many of their wonderful photos, images that anyone in any part of the globe would be looking at with lustful eyes and admiration, or maybe even a bit of technical judgment. But flickr is in fact rather kind to greenhorns like me. So far, no one has been verbally abrasive or nit-picking on my photos, as far as the comments in my photostream go. But neither have I been getting into raptures over little praises, even though I think that most of us need to pat each other’s backs a little sometimes, as if to say we can do better and better. My thoughts are I should be able to get a better grasp of what makes a good photograph—subject, light, composition, the rudiments, and more importantly, the story that it conveys. In the light of my learning those things, and I’ll whisper this confidentially for now, I want to be PRO.
But as they say, one tiny baby step at a time.
I’ll get there.
Tuesday, July 31
Wednesday, July 25
I’ve been working nearly 8 years with the same company, and I am still the same subservient slave that I was since the day that I got here. I am working with people who I feel don’t deserve where they are, and maybe I don't deserve to be where I am anyhow, but one person in particular has become such a clever ass that he gets his way with everyone, beats the shite out of me every time, treats me and everybody else like shite, not all the time but majorly, and there he is enjoying what he could squeeze out of the firm, before our very eyes. And the rest of us are like hostages in a movie, trying to be jolly good and obedient, all shackled up to a tree, unable to move, fear gripping us all over, us helplessly watching our very own corporate ghosts repeatedly vandalized, threatened and trampled upon---as we wait only for our caped heroes to rescue us from the eventual throes of morbid death. The horror and the pathos of it.
Monday, July 9
The one time I had experienced discrimination in life was when I had a relationship with a foreign man. I met him when I was a little orphan girl back in the province. My friends and I were doing volunteer work one hot summer for an orphanage near my home, and there were a bunch of blokes from australia who came over to build classrooms in poor communities, under the auspices of apex, a civic club probably equivalent to our jaycees. Not having had any close brush with people of a different skin color, the girls and I, naturally couldn’t contain our curiosity with the white people. You know how in your naïve mind you generalize people with white skin color as americans? It wasn’t a few times that I heard an exchange of hey joes with the whites and the local people who looked permanently wide-eyed, agape, or an O forming on their lips.
I mean could you tell the nationalities anyway, when you are young, or even old enough, never been outside your province, and already half-condemned to a life of veiled realism, and obscurity? It was only many years afterwards that it sunk in, that australia is in fact, not anywhere near america, but many worlds apart. I wonder how the aussies felt at the allusion then, but I am sure they did not mind a lot. I think it was enough that people had regarded them with such interest, as though there were aliens from outer space, with completely curious eye colors, hair colors, skin colors, and an absolutely indiscernible speaking tongue.
There was a bunch of them from different walks of life –doctors, engineers, teachers. They traveled and came here together as builders with their own tools and a lot of eagerness to meet people and to immerse themselves, however briefly, in a rather bewildering culture that is ours. As volunteers, we girls taught catechism subjects to the little orphans for the length of summer. Since the classrooms were being built, we held these short classes under the trees. Working in rather close proximity and a warm atmosphere with them, the girls I was with had started to inch their way to becoming friends with most of the men. But I had remained quiet, unrelenting, timid and shy.I don’t remember ever once having talked with any one of them as I was afraid that their words would be incomprehensible to me, or worse, I would be caught tongue-tied when spoken to, and end up looking like a total fool. Nonetheless, their project and the summer came to a close. We were employed to plan a culmination program when they, the apec guys, would turn over the classrooms to the nuns who were running the place. The event went well. But before everyone could turn to leave, there was an exchange of addresses, and tokens to give and receive. The girls were ecstatic, but I could only manage to say hello and goodbye to one guy, and in fact had someone give me a rather unpleasant elbow on the rib so I could trade addresses with him. Thus ended my summer when I was fifteen. I put everything behind me as school begged in.
Little did I know that the guy would figure mainly in my single life.
He sent me his first letter the moment he got back home and settled in. He wrote from when I was fifteen until I was already working here in
Suddenly we were doing things together, planning trips together, and I was spending my weekends with him up the cold north. The six-hour bus trips I had to endure on the way up and back down felt nothing when I had only held on to the excitement of being with him again. In other words, it was nice and fuzzy feeling to be with someone who cared a lot for you, and vice versa. Then I started meeting his friends. They were all rather pleasant and good people, but as I was an insufferably timid person, I didn’t always get to advance my friendships with them, not without some prodding from him. Now that I think about it, I think it’s really me. But you know that when you’re trying not to be overly sensitive about things, you feel worse about it ? That unbeknownst to your partner, you are ill at ease with the crowd he is with, but still you try to meld in, because it is what pleases him?
I think he wouldn't have known about how I felt, because I never told him so. But in one or two instances, I think that I could not anymore close off my eyes and say it was pure coincidence, or I was deliberately trying to make a poor excuse of my sorry prevaricating self. I felt that I was being looked down upon, and regarded with different eyes because I was with someone whose skin color was different from mine. Is it bigotry? I sure hope not.
But there were others still. An incident when I overheard a conversation between a hotel owner and our common friend who called to book us but was asked if I was “dirty”, and she was assured that I wasn’t. And another time when we had to stay overnight at his friend’s house, and there were looks that doubted who I was and from whence I came, or maybe, what I was doing with a white man. But nothing could have been more hurtful than having to be invited at an intimate party of predominantly white, in fact I was the only brown girl in the crowd. I was told a few days then, the owner has lost her diamond ring that night, was looking all around the next day, saying that there only a “few” people in the party---but found it down the kitchen sink soon afterwards. I mean, what??? What did I have to be told about that for? I had to take a careful look at myself in the mirror once and ask… Did I dress like a slut? Certainly not!!! Did I talk like a trashy bitch? As far as I know, I had only been most polite and careful with my words. Do I look like someone who would steal?? Now, this really enraged me inside. Because I had never ever found myself, nor an infinitesimal fraction of who I am, having been interested in another’s possession and coveted it to want to steal it. Not me. Not in this lifetime. And that is why I changed towards him, or them, all for the worst of it, or maybe for the better of it. I don’t know. He was still full of candor and childish naiveté, or maybe a warped mind, until the day we said goodbye.
That is not really why we ended our four-year relationship though, but sad as it is, I recount those incidents now with a slight regret, of why I never really rose up to it and said something, why I evaded having to show umbrage and perhaps teach them a lesson about condescension and arrogance. Why I always believe that people are good, or not so bad as they are and that they deserve some kind of chance and redemption….But why I always end up hurting, even when I thought the ball had already been bouncing the right way.
Friday, June 22
Woke up this morning with a bang in my head, and a thump in my stomach. I spent the better part of the bad night getting intoxicated at east 21, while putting on my best behavior towards our work colleagues from abroad. Obviously, somewhere in between two shots of tequila and a couple glasses of whiskey, my aim to be prim and dignified somewhat fell apart. Drinking has been part of a social function where my work is concerned, as that’s where everybody seems to gravitate after a particularly long dinner and lots of senseless conversation with people you only get to meet every three years or so. Earlier that night at dinner, the boss came over to each of the girls, and there’s not a good many, to talk us sweetly into joining the boys for a few swigs afterwards. It’s been several years since we have done anything like this, so I felt that I couldn’t say no. Neither could Jo.
I remember all those years back when some, or rather most of us, were still single, that drinking seemed an essential part of our work life. There’d be days in a week when we would look forward to settling down comfortably at our nook in the
Last night was not an exception either, for me whose relationship with alcohol is not casual and light, like having a quick puff of cigarette outside and flicking it gingerly with the finger, and after a few more, I get done and back to my routine. So anyway, as I have obliged our visitors, I started out with a light beer. I never intended to drink any more of it at first. I had my heart fixed on just sitting silently in my corner and watching the loud band playing, not really keen on getting into tête-à-tête or feigning to want one, with the boys or the girl. The officemate next to me discussed about getting cocktails next. To be honest, I’ve never been socially educated about bar drinks, the margaritas and daikiris are greek to me, but I am willing to imbibe anything to my limits, and be acquainted with it every then and now. So, it is with a twist of irony that we settled in ordering a concoction named “sex in the beach”. This was after all a night of fun and team building, and I was not worried about raised eyebrows or wry admonitions. Not when I absolutely aimed not to get wasted.
But before the “sex” could come, the boss started passing glasses around, something on the rocks, and he was aiming for the girls, while the boys cheered us on to drink. Needless to say, I obliged again. And again. And then before I could hold out for breath, there were little jiggers for the cuervo floating on the candle lit tables, and one landed on the spot next to my sanmig. To drink or not to drink? Perhaps something was beginning to take place in my head, that suddenly things started to look a little easy and groovy. You know…people were loosening up and smiling more silly, and I knew for the life of me I was heading to my destruction. And yet, I drank it all up. Second shot of cuervo, washed it down with beer where the tube ice has completely thawed and joined the yellow liquid. For the boys, or the men, this bravado for drinking was a matter of who was more virile amongst them, and whose culture (all Asians) definitely could hold it best….I didn’t give a damn. For me, it’s my devil beer or the deep blue sea. I was slightly aware that I’m beginning to get red in the face like a devil. I was flushed and free-wheeling….
We had all walked out of the bar for some whiff of the night air, and we went to the nearest gazebo where we could overlook the laguna. There was the flickerite in me saying that I should take some photos of the beautiful lights, but there was no way I could get myself to do that. Not anymore. I was beginning to feel my temples tight across my head and the throbbing pulse inside became more and more pronounced. I had decided to hold my drink down now. But what’s the use? The shamelessness of my act had oozed itself into my bloodstreams and I have begun to lose track of who I was, or who I was with.
I wouldn’t say that I acted a fool, but I had definitely said some things that I might not otherwise say when I am sober. That’s me. I have lucid awareness of what I was doing, unless I fell asleep and be elsewhere in my mind, away from the rowdiness and incoherence of my surroundings. But I was woken up, not a few times, and I know that a mix of drinks, and drinking uninhibitedly one night in every three or so years, ultimately lands me into something I would half-regret the next day. Because people will start telling me, with a slight sardonic chuckle, that I had pointed to an idiot or a sucker, or whispered some insolent,mean quips, that made them laugh out loud at the amusement of it all, while the idiot i try to ruin sits across me, wondering why this girl is so boozed up and suddenly looking rubbish. I lose.
Wednesday, June 6
Reflecting on the events of the past weeks, I cannot help but suspect that something is up with the year 2007. Many unpleasant things have happened, not to me but to people I know and care about, and I can only wish the unfortunate string would be cut off this very instant and we can go about our business like we’ve always used to, minus the hard luck. As for my own life, it’s still the same…not so good and not so bad. I have a lot to be thankful for everyday, especially that the kids are growing up fine and healthy, but personally I have not found a good reason to really inhale and say “this is the life”. I am not complaining, but God knows I would be shamefully lying to myself if I said it is sweet and nice. There is the perennial pattern of being poor and sucking up to the system, and I mean all systems. In my mind I am a grand dame of some neverland, but in reality I am one of the nameless millions who carry on with their lives wishing for something better, and yet not getting as much as a notch higher, where comfort and quality of life are concerned. Is it because I am married into poor money, and that having children has been a poor choice as well? Oh god I wish not, because really I wouldn't trade any millions, if I had it, for the happiness I feel with my little children. But still, you wish for those millions, don’t you?….not for yourself, but for the children who right this very minute play in the yard, blissfully unaware of the worries and consternation you feel, while you look at them with sad eyes. I think that I have completely owned up to my responsibilities as a parent, and I can never be selfish enough to think of my needs, in deference to theirs, but it is the apparent truth that to fulfill whosever needs, we must provide….
On the other hand I recently finished this book, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. It is a story of a married woman , Edna Pontellier, whose life seems to be in a cage, but not in a bad confining way, as it seems on the surface she has everything: a wealthy life, a generous husband and two lovely boys. However, deep inside her she wanted to be free of society’s rules, to be unlike all other women who conform and do as they were expected. She was awakening to a new sphere where she comes to be her own woman and appreciates her physical and external powers, which were pregnant with sensuality and the passion she otherwise found lacking in her relationship with her husband. She took on a lover, believing that she could sacrifice the unnecessary things and reject society’s expectations, and find the self she thought she had lost in the roles she was condemned to.
However in the end, she had to make her own tale’s conclusion, as her discovery of maternal giving and loving had led her to understand that she could not go on with her unique and independent sense of self, by being what she wants, and having to be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband, all at once. As her lover rejects her, she walks into the water and swims away from the shore and from everything, thus the suicide. And, probably, the belated purpose to find herself again.
Once I put the book down, I thought…is this me? I don’t mean the lover or suicide, even if to be honest I had entertained the thought of the latter vaguely once or twice, but yeah what the heck, any form of dying is painful unless you’re born with case of catatonia. But seriously, is this how some mothers or married women must feel? Somehow? Is there a minutest moment in our lives where we feel that having married and raising kids have made us lose our sense of womanhood, of self, of personal growth? And if like Edna, we live in a society, that in spite of its modernity, has double standards, and still frown at women who indulge in their individuality a little too openly that it threatens to tear up their so-called moral fiber, well…are we to assume a mute compliance, and be the perfect mothers and wives, loyal only to our masters? Maybe I can, or will not.
I am afraid though, that when I feel I have too much to fight for my evolution as a woman, in the event that I have the full command of my freedom that I could finally grasp it on my fingers, I would be much too old and useless to enjoy, or even want it...
Monday, May 7
Was wondering whether I should say something about my birthday that just passed, as a thousand other thoughts swim in my mind like a teeming mass of little dots waiting to burgeon before me in a frenzy. Maybe I should anyway. As per usual, nothing of significance happened that day, except that I finally saw
We had lunch with the cousin and my brother, they were both on a short break from work, and so it was down to the usual small talk of the urbane, and eating hastily while glancing at their wristwatches every so often, which I excuse them for, as I understand the corporate culture. I had a feeling though that I will never succeed in living in their kind of environment anymore, the hurried and harried life, as I prefer to spend and vacillate my slaving days in a mound of brambles, meaning the not so modern dusty south part of manila.
After saying our goodbyes and blowing kisses in the air, I dragged my son to glorietta. The afternoon heat was dreadful and I needed to down something on my parched throat. Gabby was complaining that he was tired and I had for a few moments needed to carry him to the shade. While in glorietta I was assailed with a tempting itch to buy something for myself, probably a new pair of shoes—fortunately I resisted the urge and remembered that my son has been egging me for a “yellow truck”. I know that a matchbox car would be quite harmless, but what do you know, I wasn’t prepared for the realization that my afternoon with him would lead me to.
We had left glorietta for toy kingdom and were walking around in circles for half an hour inside the store as he could not decide which one to get. We pretty much walked past hotwheels and matchbox cars, and I thought that he might ask for something really big and expensive, and I was gearing up myself up to say NO, just in case he hauls a thousand peso worth of toy from the shelf. He looks from one aisle to another, and this time I didn’t say a word. He took my hand and he led me. And after looking up and down the shelves, he made his verdict: let’s go home. I uttered an almost inaudible yes, but I said wait, are you sure. And the little boy couldn’t have been more resolute: Yes mommy, let’s go home.
I’ve been waiting for many a weary years to avenge myself for some unreasonable habit of spending in the past, and I finally see it coming, to save my life on my thirty-sixth birthday. My son, a little four year old thing, teaches me how to say no and mean no, and never look back.
Monday, April 30
Love in deed does that the sweetest and the most painful thing to us. I had the disadvantage of seeing both last Saturday . I know it may be wrong to think it, but that was how it is to me. And so I write about it now.
I was giving a hand with the music to be played at the reception of my sister-in-law’s wedding. I made a cd-full of love songs, couple songs, but of course the indomitable me would always squeeze in something that is nice for me, although it might not be so for anyone else. And we were sitting there in one of the tables, waiting for the bride and groom to enter the room, this Damien rice song played in the background. I realized my lack of forethought while I was listening to the words. That it was not a wedding song for the couple, but for a supposedly spurned lover. I could not help but turn and glumly look at the person next to us who has been quiet the whole time…....
When sometimes love hasn’t come full circle,we go through the hurtful stage of losing things or people in our lives. Even when they exist right in front of us, we know that we would never have them. We have the choice to turn away, and look at the other side of our life, the brighter one perhaps---but sometimes we stay and confront the sad fact, brazen with our effort to be calm and collected, while deep inside we weep for what had not been.
He is our friend, a dear friend who has been with us in many milestones. I know that he was once in love with her, I do not know for sure if he still is. I think he does, a little. But he acted like a real gentleman and went with us to her wedding.
She was ecstatic as she walked down the aisle. A silhouette of a beautiful bride, tall and magnificent in her ivory gown, a steel of nerves trying to keep her wits about and her pace steady, in spite of the many nights and days she has exhausted herself preparing for her special day, almost single-handedly. I know that she had wanted this. Very much so. Her face was radiant, full of love, too overcome with joy as her true love awaits her in the altar. You could not trace a hint of sleeplessness and an ache to be done with it all.
He too is a picture of a happy young man, eyes brimming with dreams and trying to hold back tears of joy, a little embarrassed to show his emotions. But you can tell how his heart leaps in bounds. He is a good person, and there is nothing you can say that will fault him. He deserves his beautiful bride, and her life , and her sacred vows.
Things go in a whirl, it felt like a dream, the next thing I was conscious of was the couple kissing and people clapping in unison. It was over, and a new life has begun. But I lingered on the thought of the other person. How he sees the whole happy event in his sad, blameless eyes. How he could not deny his hurt and jade himself against feeling that he should have been the man holding the beautiful girl’s hand and slipping on the marriage ring. How he could be the one dreaming up a life of love, laughter, companionship and more love, from that day forward.….
But they are all good people, and I know that they know their places in the sun. He wished them well, I wished them well. But most of all, like a fairy godmother who makes it her business to grant a godchild’s desire, I wish HIM well. That he will find happiness and his one true love, and one day stop the secret rain pouring inside his heart….
Tuesday, April 17
Monday, April 16
Thursday, April 12
Physical beauty has never been something that I pondered on in my younger years. I know a lot of beautiful men and women from my school or hometown, but I had not been one to deliberate on people’s faces or outward appearance, to praise or criticize them. I know they are attractive in some sense, as everything that is symmetrical probably is, to a viewer’s eye. Nonetheless, I have known people too who have jagged lives and have suffered a few deformities somewhere, and yet they beckon you to take a second and closer look at them and secretly say, my goodness how utterly charming....
As I grew older and met more people, I’ve realized that not all of us think the same way about physical beauty, or more particularly, the pulchritude of a woman’s form. Maybe it’s because I’m the proverbial late bloomer, or just generally careless about my own appearance that I don’t really give a hoot about how the world revolves and fawn over fashion or good looks. Well, not really…I did give a damn about those shoes every now and then. But going back to the form, I have had to struggle a bit to understand why people, men generally, make such a fuss about how women look. Why, in a world where nature has not been fair and benevolent to everyone, only the doe and dark-eyed get more of the stares and the ogling. Why sudden curves and well-defined bumps are synonymous to sex appeal. And if one were born sans these endowments why does it seem that she is fated to live the dismal life. Isn’t beauty ephemeral after all, and everyone will come to a certain plateau when we grow old and wrinkly that it didn’t matter if we were Greta Garbo or an obscure hag?
But I am not a man, and being the opposite sex, I have to say that us women are saddled with the duty of being “beautiful” in the slightly bigoted eyes of men. Hence the make-up, the clothes, the gyms and spas, and all that stupendous endeavor to be one with the metrosexual world. So damn tiring. I am all for beauty. Who wouldn’t want to be called pretty, or cute or beauteous? But what if we’re simply not? I know that it sounds rather myopic to say that, but believe you me; I have seen many instances that people had the temerity to peer through disapproving lenses, and judge others on the grounds of their aesthetics canons. You are considered a lesser mortal if you did not have the proper nose height or hair texture or skin color. Sometimes there is very little tolerance and too much repulsion. I am not saying I am ugly, so don’t mistake my over-enthusiastic commiseration. Oddly, this is the way of the world. You have to swallow it, or die alone with your ugliness and mute indignity. Okay, enough of the doggone hyperbole.
Beauty is something that we gloat on everyday, on things that surround us, our children, our peers, our family, our crushes, people we meet on the streets, actors we see on tv, models we read of on glossy prints…But I wish, that we would as much consider the qualities that lie beyond the alabaster skin and the dark big eyes and the pouting lips or the reed thin body. That in all our exultations about the perfect human form, there are men and women who exist-- deadbeat workers and laborers, peasants, priests, doctors, mothers who live unglamorous and washed-out lives for people other than themselves. That inside everyone of them lies a heart that beats for love, kindness, compassion, and respect. That nothing is more beautiful than having a self that candidly tolerates, and often generously reaches out to others across her white picket fences and her spotless, well-manicured life, to share that which nature has so liberally afforded her to enjoy.
Wednesday, April 4
Monday, April 2
One boring as hell day, the kind of day that I sit in front of my pc doing every conceivable thing I could to fill in my day job, or to translate it more aptly, kill eight mind-numbing hours until it’s time to head off home , an old friend buzzed me out of the blue and struck a pretty casual conversation. It was a totally unexpected buzz as I have almost forgotten about this person, and it was impossible, to say the least, that he would likewise remember me or my address after what, ten years? Well, if I have to be more precise about who this person is, he is a guy from my past, a guy who had awakened so much emotion in me, and who made a French leave out of my door without so much as saying hey i'm off,so get a life. Because what life I got after that episode with him was of compunction and endless wound-licking. Alone.
Sometimes, I can’t decide whether the internet is a godsend or a bane on humanity. I sure have a lot to be thankful for where I have arrived using it, but this kind of thing leaves me incredulously gaping and a little incensed about the injustice of getting dug up from one’s lurking hole where you have comfortably settled forever just watching the world go by with nary a sound. Anyway, our conversation didn’t start in an earth-exhuming way, but the nineteen to the dozen sort that two people would, as they got nothing much in common to prattle about. How are the kids and the spouse, what do you do now, same place you live, etc etc??....Get my drift?
The topic went slightly askew when we talked about that fateful night that we parted ways. A thought bubble seemed to hover above my head and then a kind of dream sequence in sepia appeared. My memory of that night was slightly different from what he had remembered. But something about what he said opened me up to a lot of realities. It was 1994 and I was the impressionable young person who would worship everyone and everything that would stir her, no matter how insignificantly. It was a time that my faculties were too receptive of what was going on around me, and I would bask in everything without much judgment of whether it was doing me good or bad. Love was a habit binge. Emotions were flowing, expectations soared. Life was coming up roses. But in an instant, it was not so. The world was vindictive, and cold, and full of pain. I had never thought ill of him. But unfortunately, his name was etched in all of it…..
And I snapped back in reality. In my oversaturated colored world of purples and bright oranges. He must have been buzzing a dozen times as I have stopped responding to his messages. Because off he went, in his no-goodbyes fashion. I do not expect to hear from him any soon, or maybe ten years onwards. It doesn’t matter. Now that I’ve had time to chew it over, I realized that all the crying over spilt milk was not for naught. Crying was a prescription I needed to end my soap-opera catastrophe, and wake up to the real world with a stronger sense of self, and a really high and mighty moment to say “what the fuck was all that??”
Friday, March 30
I enjoy being alone. In a café, bookstore, shopping place, or even at home. I love walking alone and exploring nooks and crannies in malls without anyone in tow. The more obscure I am and the place, the better. If there were anything this concrete jungle I work and live in could offer, I would be there, but in a dark corner. I do worship my solitude. So much so that at times the presence of other people seem to wind me up and rouse me from my momentary catnap, and I get a little agitated. I have once said that people, regardless of who they are, are easy to love. But I find it more pleasurable to admire them from a distance that I so choose. Sometimes, I watch a bevy of little children play in the sunshine and I feel truly joyful about it. Yet I am not inclined to articulate of such feelings to other people. Except maybe to the anonymous few in this blog. But no, not even here. If I were to be reminded, I have nothing but murky thoughts in this place. It’s a wonder even that some souls still choose to venture here every so often and rally me on to the brighter side. Right you are, I’m such a sucker...
So anyway, I digress again. I will not talk about death today, but a little on shoes. They say that people who get overly indulgent in certain things—say clothes, food, and yes, shoes—are those that have been, at one time or another in their life, deprived of the very same corporeal things. In my experience, I think it’s true. To some degree. Alright, to the nth degree. Owning something you have hoped for and desired for a long time brings a sense of gratification that it cannot be measured by whether you acquired it for a million or a trifling. It doesn’t even matter if it’s useful to you or not, but just hitching your wagon way up there for the longest time, and feeling that you have finally arrived….gosh, it’s giddiness incarnate. Nothing could seem to sever you from your precious object of affection. Not for a moment.
Even when I was a child, I have loved shoes. But it was not very often that I could slip on a good one. I remember that when my mother buys me a new pair, I feel as if everything in the world is pretty and nice-smelling and suddenly not so unattractive anymore. I would grudgingly resign the old pair to the bodega, and welcome the new ones with open arms and a very tender regard, as though I was holding a little baby for the first time. As if that wasn't enough, I would sleep with the shoebox, and peek into it the moment I open my eyes, making sure they were really there and I wasn't just dreaming.
When I walk around, I would often look down, past the faces and shapes of people, to concentrate on their feet. I would survey women and men on how their shoes make or unmake their outfit, and smile with accord if someone looks good from toe to top. Emphasis on the toe. Quite obsessively I make mental observations of women who are considered fashionable because their stilettos or maryjanes or mules or thongs pull together what they are wearing. What other reason can my proclivity for shoes be, the gaping awe I feel when I see them on others, and more notably, on me? But of course, it's fatal attraction.
I have forgotten how many pairs I’ve had since the years I started earning my own keep. At times without really keeping tab on how much it would cost me, a leg or an arm, I would have to have it, right there and then.
Tuesday, March 27
My husband and I met while we were working in the same building in the south. He’s a web designer, and I…..well, it seemed that I had been a century old vampire, slaving behind the corporate desk all my life. One day, a towering guy who was young and brash and ready to embrace life head-on meets a pocket-sized woman whose only claim to fame are her proud appendages,and her disturbing brain. Nonetheless she too was cavalier and was never frantic about anything much. They fell in love, and voila, love took root, that's Gabriel and Sophia for you. But can you imagine what we had to do to make up for the remarkable disparity between us, the years that divided us, he being five years my junior? We certainly were not a match made in heaven, and God knows what concessions we had to put up with to find our very middle ground. It was not a walk in the clouds.
Children are supposed to be the underlying principle of our effort to stick together as a family, but sometimes when they come into our life, things don’t seem like they used to be. Suddenly, there are schedules to keep, deadlines to meet, mouths to feed, hours to wake up to, infantile emotions to check, undivided attentions to give. It’s all theirs, and hardly yours or his. You forget to be a wife or husband, to take care of your spouse, to act up fittingly in moments that you should take the edge off each other’s uncertainties, or show the least bit of tenderness and consideration.
It’s not as if I hadn’t. I know how it feels to come home from an endless traffic snarl, smog and the city blight. I sometimes wish that I could go to a place where I can shut off momentarily and enjoy some silence. Far from the car horns, from the earsplitting screams of my kids, from just about anything. But more importantly, from the unforgiving realities of this world. And have someone at your side, come hell or high water. I know he does too. That’s why I never want to censure him for his little acts of neglect. He needs what I need. But when he hates, I hate. When he loves, I love. It’s a work in progress and there are many loose ends to always tie up. It is not beyond me to do it, and do it right and good. I wish, though, that I don’t have to trudge alone. I wish that it wasn't always only me, but us.
I think that if love is to be made an action word, it is as my husband would one day tell me: that it is accepting, realizing, and affirming the other one. I am still of the same mind. If not always of the same heart. On our fifth year together, I feel that it’s nigh time for me to get doing these very verbs, and not just vacillating about them. A random person who refused to be called nice and yet unabashedly leaves nuggets of his wisdom once said, smile and the world will instinctively smile back at you.
So there, I am grinning from ear to ear....
Wednesday, March 21
But the truth of the matter is, I never feel more free than when I expatiate about those feelings and ambiguities in this little space. Discomfiting as it may seem for others. I’m sure they must have muttered something under their breath about the unhelpfulness of my glum and pessimistic thoughts, and God knows how tedious it can get, but yeah, what can I say? Sometimes I just want to write. Of something that didn’t or doesn’t happen. Of nothing. Of nada. Nada y pues nada y pues nada, crap that hemingway suckers like me devour hungrily like aphrodisiac.
We live in an intolerable uncertainty, of what’s to come tomorrow, or five minutes from now. Maybe we will succeed, or fail, as we try to struggle in our chores as wife, mother, lover, worker? Or maybe we will go on whirring about, like machines. No heart, no soul, but nonetheless functional and useful in man’s end result. Our end result. We make the hero or antagonist of our own life story. I am both, to myself. And understandably so.
So, as a favor to my other world, where I am a envisaged to be nice and companionable, let’s not split hairs over pointless semantics, I will remain to be what they see me. And I’ll reserve my desultory grumblings to myself alone. Or to a random stranger maybe, who by the same token, will one day shake me out from my lifeless stupor, and scream--By golly, how you bore the living hell out of me!
Monday, March 19
Friday, March 16
I had a chance to meet Sachiko one day, and old friend. We had a great talk, and although we have not seen each other for nearly ten years, it seemed as if it was only yesterday that we last left off. Such is the beauty of pure friendship. Sach and I are out and out honest with everything about us, no airs and no false humilities either, just the brass tacks. I really appreciate her like that. I honestly had misgivings about meeting her at first because of many things in my mind. You know me, I have the propensity to ignore text messages and give shameless excuses about not feeling well. But I'm glad I saw her. Ho-hum...I wish I could say something sad, but heckles, I can be glad too sometimes, can't I?