Saturday, January 31, 2009

where's my space

i was on my way out to go to gym last night. as i opened the door of our gate to step out, i noticed that there was a group of children playing outside our house, rather our gate. i didn't really bother myself to know what game they were playing, maybe "touch base" since a few of them were holding onto the door when i opened it, one even almost fell in. since our gate was part of their game and the kids were just flocking there, blocking my way out, i couldn't really get myself through. normally, me by just standing there, huge that i am, the kids would often move away to let me through, my presence like moses the parting of the red sea. however, last night, they treated my looming figure like i was imaginary, as if i was not even there. i was to them, part of the gate and when i did show my intentions of moving through them by putting my foot over the gate's threshold, one even tried pushing me back in (i say tried because, honestly.... when i said i'm huge, i really mean i'm HUGE.)

living in tondo, our house being situated in front of a "bustling" squatter complex, i have been used to loosing myself in a sea of people, more so, children. lots of children. they run around, zigzagging their way in and out of their shacks, play around the loitering drunks, climb onto cars and trucks parked by the road and just use the street as their playground and the oncoming traffic as their obstacle course. i have probably desensitized myself to the fact that my life in my neighborhood, for the sake of keeping my sanity, will always be a compromise of my personal space. though i have often found myself feeling very uncomfortable whenever i am in cramp situations, living here made me accept the fact that being claustrophobic was a trait i had to manage if i wanted to survive. i had to get used to walking like a chess piece, taking steps left and right around people, as if doing the square dance (yeee-haw!) instead of full strides forward like how normal people do. i have to honk my horn as i slowly back up my car from the garage, lest i run over a child who for some odd reason does not recognize the fact that a backing up AUV cannot see him, more so, can crush him like a bug. i have to get used to walking without too much arm swinging, since to do so would run the risk of smacking the head of a by standing child and suffer the ire of his or her drunken parent just a few feet away (mamma bear MAD!!!) i had to relinquish the comfort of seeing a foot of empty space around me as i think all my neighbors (and their lovely, lovely children) suffer a serious form of horror vacui.

as i was finally able to wade through the kids playing by our gate, i then found myself blocked again, this time by a girl who practically walked into me as she was looking the opposite direction. instead of walking around me like how they would always do, this little girl decided it would be easier if she pushed me aside and continued on walking along her original course. aside from her "attitude", what got me a little bit more surprised by this girl was that since she was small and short and was only to my waist in height, let us just say, of all the places she could place here tiny hands on my body to push me away with, she had to choose THAT spot. talk about pressing the right "buttons". as she walked away rather nonchalantly, i recall following her with my stare as i too walked away in almost utter disbelief.


in my stroll, i started to think, isn't it human nature to have a sense of space? to have a conscious appreciation of people needing their own personal empty space? i recall once my cousin told me of an exercise their teacher in kindergarten had them do. they walked around inside holla hoops which represented their territorial bubble. it gave them a clear idea that people need their personal comfort zones and that to encroach onto this space can not only cause some discomfort to people, but can also be construed as rude. children, have no idea yet of this since i guess their objective as they grow is primarily to explore and learn about the world around them. how could they if they would distance themselves from the objects of their curiosity. yet as they grow older, the begin to recognize, more so, should be able to learn the value of keeping ones' own space. however, and this is just my thinking, shanty living may have contributed to a shift in this rule, for considering the very cramped environs these children live in, it could be for their own sanity as to give up the idea of having any space to call their own. an even more radical idea, what if they roam the streets since the street offer them the space they crave for and my presence in the street is them seeing me as intruding in their territory? if that's the case then... dammit, i need to get me a holla hoop NOW!!!!!

huhuhuhu... i want my space back!!!!!!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

the visitor (final)

the visitor perused the interiors of the long corridor, almost looking nostalgic. the old floorboards were decayed, some having already fallen into the dark hallow beneath. paint peeled off the walls, brittle and flaky, like molting skin. the pungent smell of mold permeated the air with an offensive perfume. the visitor stood motionless at the end of the empty hall, the summer moonlight shinning in from the shattered window behind him, bathing him an almost ethereal glow. he took one long, deep breath through his mouth, and exhaled through a growing smile. satisfied, he began to walk, ever so slowly, making sure his every step made a sound. he rattled the knob of each door he passed loudly, violently, sending a piercing echo down the hallway, through solid doors, into empty lifeless rooms, and beyond closed closet doors. he wanted him to hear him coming, the thought of it gave the visitor a most intoxicating thrill.

the distinct clattering of metal broke the child from his crying. it was the first sound apart from his sobs that he has heard in a while. he tried to keep his quiet again, his senses telling him not to trust the calm. he tried to listen intently for the sound, and there it was again, louder this time, nearer, followed by the unfamiliar sounds of creaking floorboards caused by a heavy step. the threat was more concrete now, it was no longer an idea but now bore an intention. it was on the prowl. the child found himself began to shake again, he was being engulfed with fear with each of the sounds' repetition. the sounds, its creator, it had taken already naynay, he heard it did. it took ate as well, he heard it too. now it was looking for him, he knew it was, he felt it. the child quickly grabbed hold of the flashlight again, his only inheritance from his loved ones, and held it tight. a sudden courage then began to fill him. he was not going down peacefully, he thought to himself. his family put up a fight to keep him safe, it was the last thing he could do to honor them.

"calm down will you? you really shouldn't do that." a man's voice sounded through the empty corridor. the visitor stopped from his stalk, looking puzzled at what he had just heard. it took him a few moments before he came to realize what it was for the voice was familiar to him. looking enraged, he clenched his fist and punched the wall beside him, sending his arm straight through into the adjacent room. he sent a loud scream, partly from the pain but mostly from his great frustration for the voice heralded something to him, something he could not believe was happening. no, not yet, not until he gets the child. he slowly drew his now bloodied hand out of the wall and unclenched his fist. he was breathing madly now but still his face bore a smile. he started to giggle, forcing himself to forget. his plan will be carried out, he will not be denied! he set his eyes now to a unique door set at the very end of the hallway, the door he had all this time planned to enter last. though it disappointed him that he could no longer relish playing his game, it didn't matter anymore. why delay what was inevitable? the thoughts of claiming his prize delighted the visitor immensely. he increased his cadence now, his steps purposeful. "i'm coming" he said to himself, walking faster. "i'm coming......" his excitement, now almost uncontainable.

the child heard the voice as well. it was a strange yet welcomed distraction to his already rising anxiety. he paused to try to listen for it again, but all he could hear was silence. suddenly, a loud crash came from outside, like something smashing into the wall. he then heard the shrill cry of a very mad man. it reverberated through the empty spaces that separated him from its source and it frightened him immensely that he dropped his flashlight to cover his ears. the courage he found a while ago seemed to have instantly vaporized. he could feel tears welling in his eyes once again, his jaw trembled. he wanted it to all end. he wanted his ate, his naynay to wake him up for he felt like it was all but a nightmare he was having. things like this, things as terrible, as horrible as this certainly cannot be real! he wished hard for he was so tired of being afraid already. he was exhausted and wanted to give up.... he then heard the voice in his head, the man's voice he heard a while ago. he knew that voice. he tried to recall where he had heard it before. he needed to remember quickly for it felt like knowing it would grant him redemption. where? where did he hear it before? he thought hard, almost giving himself a headache... where? where......?

the creaking of the floorboards stopped.

the visitor took his final step and stood outside the door to his prize. he could smell it already, his prize only a few steps away. he could feel his heart beating violently for it was as eager as he. his body tensed up, his hands gripped tightly the knob as he took out naynay's key and slipped it into the lock. it clicked. before he entered, he noticed a broken mirror by the door.

"the broken glass; the fragmented frame...." he said, as he gazed deeply into mirror and scrutinized his shattered reflection.

the child finally remembered. he knew whose voice it was who spoke. he now realized what was happening. he heard the door lock click. "ahhh, dexter. haven't you grown tired of playing hide and seek yet?" said the deep, low, calm voice as it whispered from inside the closet. the child turned his head towards the voice and saw a pair of bright red eyes, his reflection glaring back at him from a mirror ate had left behind.... but the child was no longer afraid.


* * * * *

... something else had my undivided attention and i felt my foot depress on the gas pedal as my car steadily accelerated towards the moronic cab who almost clipped me a few moments ago. my family disappeared. my dad disappeared. all that was left was me, my car, and the crescendo of the engine as the tail light of the cab grew brighter and brighter... i felt my entire body tense up. my hands gripped tightly onto the wheel. a split second of deafening silence, then an explosive rush of air... at the last second, i hit the brakes and swerved my car out of imminent collision and zoomed passed the focus of all my loathing. by this time, my entire family had reappeared. my father beside me, sat in still silence. no one bothered to talk to me that entire drive. no one dared even to make a sound. as we got to our destination, everyone quietly disembarked from my car, except for me. i stayed and took a few moments to myself, alone. dad left his car door open and wondered why i have not moved. mother understood somehow and shooed everyone away. she then closed the car door and let me be. i sat there, hands still tightly clenched on the steering wheel, breath still heavy as if i was ready to shout. but shouting would take too much energy and i had none left already. i was tired. i was exhausted. i had given up. i felt a ball drop from my throat into the pits of my gut. "what just happened?", i asked myself in disbelief. something alien stirred. it smiled and then disappeared. my grip eventually relaxed and i slowly backed up my car into the garage. mother said that something had changed in me. i now believe something did, but i have no idea what it is.


i, surrender

the visitor (3)

ling finally paused. for almost the entire afternoon, having already overturned almost every file on her disheveled desk, she had been trying to figure out why her accounts would not balance. this unnecessary hassle is not good, she thought while her patience was slowly beginning to wear thin. maybe she overlooked a file, she reasoned to herself. ling was not prepared to throw in the towel yet for indeed, there has yet been a problem that she could not solve. as she sat on her old narra chair again, a sudden uneasiness befell her. she was about to brush off the feeling as mere nonsense but the discomfort persisted. something was amiss. "something is wrong" she mumbled. she felt the key resting on her bosom. she took it on her hand and held it tight. despite not knowing what was happening, she swore she was starting to feel anxious. she had to know. she had to check. she then did something completely out of the ordinary, she left her work behind. she rose from her chair and quickly went out into the corridor.

tasya was just about to doze off into her nap when she heard a loud knock on her door. even before she could get up from her bed, naynay ling entered, looking unusually worried. "where is he?" she asked. "i don't know. in his room most probably. why? anything wrong?" naynay ling did not answer. she simply frowned as if tasya's reply was not enough. "i have to do something. if it's not too much of a bother, kindly go to his room and stay with him until i say everything is ok. whatever happens, do not leave him until i come for you. do i make myself clear?". "why? what's happening?" "DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?" surprised by naynay's sudden outburst, tasya nodded. and as quickly as she came in, naynay ling exited back into the corridor, her heavy footsteps fading fast as she walked away from tasya's room. "what's up with her?" tasya scoffed. still feeling the fatigue of the afternoon and toying with the idea of sneaking in a brief nap, tasya, feeling rather defiant, ignored naynay's request and made herself comfortable again on her bed.

the child rested quietly in his slumber. nestled in his large bed, one would think such a precious thing was now being cradled in his dreams. however, this was far from truth for his slumber was devoid of any such pleasantness. his sleep was hallow, like his mind was frozen in time and space. his body laid still on his large bed, almost looking dead apart from the fact that his chest still gently rose and fall with each breath he took. rest then, little one. rest well for the worse is coming.

* * * * *

the sound of naynay ling's voice roused ate tasya from her nap. she heard her running down the corridor and the sound of her urgent steps got her on her feet as well. "natas'ya! natas'ya!" shouted naynay, her voice filled with panic. ate tasya ran out of her room, just in time to meet naynay running by her door. her face was ashen and her expression was filled with fear, made even worse when she saw tasya emerge from her room. "what are you doing there!? didn't i tell you to stay with your brother? GO! there's no time to waste. i will try to buy us more time. hide him quick! he must not be found!" screamed naynay, almost in a frenzy as she shook tasya by her shoulders. letting go and looking crazed, she ran back up the corridor and disappeared when she turned the corner. startled by naynay's words, tasya found herself running towards the child's room. she ran down the same distance as the child's quarters was only across the corridor yet upon her arrival, to her utter disbelief, his room was not there. indeed, where once was the door to her brother's room, now stood in its place, a solid wall, and it was a strange wall for it did not look familiar to her at all. she then took her gaze away and at that moment, took a look at her environs. she was in a different corridor. nothing was the same, everything was different as if she was in another house. her heart started to race as this was not making sense at all. she had to crouch as she was starting to feel light headed. where was she? where was her brother? she tried to look around again, desperate to find something she could recognize. she finally did, to her shock for she found the locked door where it should, two doors down from the room that she came from, only this time, the door was ajar.

"aaaaaaahhhhh!!!!! ate!!!!!!" shrieked the child at the top of his lungs, it almost made tasya jump out of her skin. desperate to find him, she quickly called out to the child, hoping his voice would lead her to him. "ate!!!!!!! help me!!!!!" screamed the child again. his voice coming from a room not far away. tasya ran towards it and rushed into the room, only to behold a sight that made her knees go weak. "ate..... help...... me......" cried the child as he convulsed in mid-air, his clothes being ripped into shreds with each ballistic flaring of his little body. he wriggled in pain as he contorted to almost inhuman configurations. "stop it!!" screamed tasya as she jumped up to grab the child from floating, using her own weight as an anchor to bring him down. the air offered no resistance and both siblings fell down to the floor, crying and shaking in pure fear.

"i won't let you! no!!!" the voice of naynay broke the two from their tight embrace. it came from outside in the corridor. "i have to see, naynay may need my help" tasya said. the child began to cry again. he was too afraid and did not want to be left alone, not now, not after all that has happened. he wanted everything to stop, for everything to go back to how things were, but knew it was just an empty wish. "i can't just leave naynay alone. she needs me! you have to hide now. i will come back for you. don't leave this room. i will come back for you, i promise. here, take this, and don't leave this room!" she gave the child a large maglite flashlight and quickly rushed out of his room and locking the door behind her. "don't let anyone in unless it's either naynay or me." she said from the other side of the door, then ran up towards where they heard naynays voice last.

the child was trembling again now. he wanted his ate and naynay there with him. he wanted them there so bad. he began crying loudly, chocking on his tears, himself being overrun by this intense sense of dread. he could still hear naynay's scream. he could also remember his own cries as he floated above his bed. he also remembered the voice, the low, deep, calm voice that was whispering in his ear as he levitated from his bed as he slept. how it said that it had been looking for him all this time. he remembered how that voice made him feel, the same faint feeling he had before he collapsed in front of the door. it sucked him dry. "stay away from him!!!!!!" he heard ate tasya's voice scream, followed by banging sounds and smashing glass. he then heard a cry, ate screaming, a loud thud then followed by dead silence. "ate..... naynay......." the child cried. he didn't want to entertain what the sounds could mean. he didn't want to believe it. he remembered then what his ate had instructed him, to hide. they will come for me, he kept saying to himself. they will come for me. he then stood up, hand clutching the metal flashlight, and went inside his room's closet and waited for his rescue.

outside, the corridor laid still now, apart from the shadow that now loomed over the far end, it's owner looking rather pleased.

to be continued

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the visitor (2)

he found himself trembling again. the child tried his best to control his shaking but his body figured otherwise. "shhhhh, shhhhh...", he thought. stop moving or it will find us. his heartbeat was now deafening. he began to cry again. how could he have been so stupid? why didn't he listen? why didn't he just settle with what ate said? with what naynay said? "i'm sorry", he muttered softly as thick tears washed down his dirty face. "i'm so sorry ate. i'm so sorry naynay". the child was alone and only the humid darkness was there to witness his regret.

the child tried to breathe slowly, careful not to wheeze as his growing panic is becoming too much to bear. he listened intently to what was happening outside. he tried to listen for ate, for naynay. surely his last memories of them cannot be the sounds of screaming. surely there must be signs of hope. surely he cannot be all alone. the thoughts of him being all by himself caused him to begin shaking again, a loud cry bubbling from his gut. "it's all my fault.... NO!" he determined. he can't accept that he was alone! he just couldn't. he tried again to sense for his loved ones. naynay said before that he was special, that he could feel what other's could not feel. he will believe naynay's words now. he relinquished his grip from the flashlight he was holding and set his hands upon the closet floor. he closed his eyes and with all the focus he could muster, he sent out himself through the house. he questioned the walls, the floors, the roof, the rooms, the furniture, "where are they?". up and down in his mind, the child ransacked the house in a feverish search but he could not find anyone. he could not sense anything alive. "traitors! cowards!" he screamed in his head at the house. how could it desert him now during his most desperate time of need? how could it repay him with dead silence when ate would slave over it to keep it looking immaculate? when naynay would buy decors to beautify it constantly so that the neighbors would not look down on it, despite it's age? how?! the child cursed the house in his mind. he wanted his rage to hurt it for its noncooperation, for he felt i abandoned them. that it abandoned him. this surge of emotions almost made the child sick and he quickly relaxed himself down. feeling hopeless now, he began to cry once more.

beyond the closet door, in the lifeless room, through the heavy wooden door, out into the still house, the visitor sensed a call from the walls, the floors, the roof, the rooms, the furniture. "how rude not to reply." it said as it walked down the corridor.

* * * * *

the child woke up with the sharp taste of blood in his mouth. he had bitten his lip as he crashed onto the floor. he tried to remember what had happened, how he got himself lying there. he then recalled the events that transpired, the fright jolted him to pick himself up and distance himself immediately from the door. he could still hear ate in the terrace. naynay was nowhere to be found. he must have not been unconscious long. he did not want to stay in the spot any longer and quickly proceeded to his room. he checked his face in the mirror and surveyed the cut on the inside of his lip. not too bad, nothing to be noticed. he didn't want to be caught in a situation wherein he had to explain how he got that cut, why he was loitering by the door. the child was not a good liar and even if he was, he knew naynay, with her sharp piercing eyes, can sense his dishonestly with the accuracy of a hawk. the afternoon was warm and humid and soon, the child found himself sleepy. the thoughts of the strange occurrence with him and the door were not enough for him to combat his drowsinees. his queen sized bed was calling onto him and he soon found himself curled up under its cool sheets, the afternoon's events fading in his memory.

tasya finally finished pruning the last of her beloved plants. she carefully took off her gardening gloves, for goodness forbid she dirties her finely manicured hands, and carefully set them aside together with her well oiled, well sharpened garden sheers. she then felt the weariness brought by the warm afternoon and decided to use the remaining time she had left before her next chore to take a brief nap. she walked through the corridor leading to her room, just two doors down from the locked door. on her way, she stopped in front of the closed room and jiggled the knob. locked. content with status of things, she continued on and disappeared into her room.

tasya should have lingered longer by the locked door. maybe if she did, she would have noticed the deep scratches at its base, or even the drop of her brother's blood, still crimson and wet from his collapse not too long ago. maybe if she did, all of this could have been prevented.


to be continued

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the visitor

the child pressed himself deeper and deeper into the dark closet while holding onto his flashlight, like his life depended on it, for in that very moment, it did. he moved between heavy carton boxes filled with ate's old clothes, past thick volumes of naynay's studies, inching his way farther into the shadows, barricading himself, shielding from the threat the lay only a few steps away.

* * * *

"this key keeps the bad away", he remembered naynay ling once telling him while waving the old, black, iron key that she wore around her neck. he had asked her once what was it for and what was in the room that naynay would constantly double-check every night before she would go to sleep. "never you mind, child!" she would tenderly say, though her tone was stern, almost indicating that she did not want to pursue the topic any further. "it is not important what is in the room. what is, is that what's in it, stays in it." the child knew better not to ask anymore and kept his silence. but though his mouth was quiet, his mind continued to question and ponder, for truly, what child would actually stop asking when told to?

ate tasya was off to her usual ways. being the eldest, she constantly busied herself with chores assigned to her by naynay. the child would often try to make himself useful by also helping but would only be told off for he kept "getting in the way". though ate was very obedient and industrious to an almost maniacal degree, she however was not a happy worker and would bang things about while she goes through her list of duties for the day. it sometimes worried the child that this could set off naynay since she was rather high strung. thankfully so, naynay was often too engrossed in her work, doing accounts, that she was almost oblivious to all the noise ate was making.

one lazy afternoon, while ate was at their terrace where she tended to her beautiful selection of birds of paradise, the child took the opportunity to ask her about the room. he thought that since ate was practically "second in command" and he has even seen her once hold the key herself, she could probably ease him of his curiosity and tell him of the room's contents. upon his asking though, he was instead greeted by ate by a most sinister of grins.

"did you ask naynay?"

"yes." the child hesitated.

"and what did she say?"

"never you mind." said the child, feeling embarrassed now.

"good. 'cause it is really none of your business. children should not poke around grown-up matters you know. it's not, er, proper." ate said. her grin made her look almost delirious.

irritated of how things went, the child left his ate to her flowers and went back in the house. as he did, he passed by the locked room and decided to stop in front of it. the door was ordinary looking. it did not look, nor felt any special from all the other doors in the house, except for the only difference was that it was locked. the lock however was distinct for it was an old lock with a large key hole, almost big enough for one to peer into. the child remembered once trying to spy the interiors when he was alone in the house, like how they used to do it in the many TV shows he had seen in the past, but could not see anything. the room had always been dark and no sound came from it. the child stood there for a few moments, surveying the one solid hindrance that stood between him and what lies beyond. he tried to turn the knob gently, hopeful maybe that someone forgot to lock it. slowly, careful now he thought, the knob was old and the last thing he wanted was to break it and get himself into trouble. it unfortunately did not yield despite his earnest expectations. feeling a bit foolish, the child smiled and decided to forgo any more attempts for discovery for the day. at that moment, the child suddenly felt a chill descend upon him. a draft of icy wind blew from the crack under the door, almost like a long steady sigh. the child found himself begin to tremble. he didn't know if it was because of the sudden cold or if it was from fear. all he did know was that he wanted to get out of there and quickly. he tried to let go of the knob yet despite his efforts to, he seemed to have found himself stuck at the very spot, petrified. he wanted to move but could not. he wanted to scream but could not. all he could do was stare at the door and gaze onto its dark wood and the heavy details it bore. he watched the knob, the lock, the key hole and the blackness that lied within. his immobilization made his breathing hard, like breathing thick soupy air. soon, he found himself hyperventilating, taking in short gasps. he felt a warm tear stream down his eye as he panicked. he felt utterly helpless and overwhelmed with fear. his chest grew tighter and tighter, as if a strong hand was squeezing him of his very life. he took one last look at the door and collapsed onto the floor.


to be continued.

bravo, Pava. bravo!



Il canto

La notte qui non torna più
dal giorno che sei andata via,
ed il cielo ha smesso di giocare
con le stelle e con la luna,
e le nuvole sono ferme qui
come lacrime che non cadono.

Vedi come il tempo
perde anche il ricordi,
resta solo il canto
di un amore che non muore,
Prendi la mia mano,
danza con il vento.
Apro le mie ali,
posso solo amarti cosí.
Vieni, vieni
via con me.



The song

The night does not return anymore here
since the day you left
and the sky has stopped playing
with the stars and the moon
and the clouds are still
like tears that don't fall

Look how time
loses even the memories
stays only the song
of a love that doesn't die
Take my hand
dance with the wind
I open my wings
I can only love you like this
Come, come
away with me

Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

i, surrender

i,
sat exhausted,
depleted of my stores.

i,
sighed heavily,
like taking a last breath.

i,
uttered slowly,
hoping to catch a thought.

i,
wished secretly,
for all of this to cease.

* * * * *

it had been a long day and for reasons i have yet to figure out, i was just absolutely exhausted. the day was uneventful, like many of my days that week but despite the lack of activity, i found myself drained and highly irate.

i was tasked to drive the family to dinner since my father could no longer drive safely at night. i really did not mind. after years of being behind the wheel, though a part of me still detests the city streets and the idiots that abound there, i have grown accustomed to the insanity of the metro. though the distance to our destination was short, the trip felt anything but. rush hour traffic and my unusual exhaustion had my family witness the worsening of my demeanor and the flaring of my temper. it got to a point where my father, who himself is notorious for his short fuse, had to take it in himself to tell me to calm down. he said this with a stern tone yet i could sense that there was an anxiety to his delivery. sadly though, his efforts to pacify me seemed to have taken little effect since i found myself flare up even more. something else had my undivided attention and i felt my foot depress on the gas pedal as my car steadily accelerated towards the moronic cab who almost clipped me a few moments ago. my family disappeared. my dad disappeared. all that was left was me, my car, and the crescendo of the engine as the tail light of the cab grew brighter and brighter...

i felt my entire body tense up. my hands gripped tightly onto the wheel. a split second of deafening silence, then an explosive rush of air...

at the last second, i hit the brakes and swerved my car out of imminent collision and zoomed passed the focus of all my loathing.

by this time, my entire family had reappeared. my father beside me, sat in still silence. no one bothered to talk to me that entire drive. no one dared even to make a sound. as we got to our destination, everyone quietly disembarked from my car, except for me. i stayed and took a few moments to myself, alone. dad left his car door open and wondered why i have not moved. mother understood somehow and shooed everyone away. she then closed the car door and let me be.

i sat there, hands still tightly clenched on the steering wheel, breath still heavy as if i was ready to shout. but shouting would take too much energy and i had none left already. i was tired. i was exhausted. i had given up. i felt a ball drop from my throat into the pits of my gut. "what just happened?", i asked myself in disbelief. something alien stirred. it smiled and then disappeared. my grip eventually relaxed and i slowly backed up my car into the garage.

mother said that something had changed in me. i now believe something did, but i have no idea what it is.

Monday, January 26, 2009

kung hei, whatever.... reprise 1

i wished for action. i got action, just not the type i was expecting, that is.

got a message while having dinner with my family at rockwell. while burying my knife into a thick slab of wagyu, two very reliable birds were chirping like crazed hens into my ear. one was about a possible "fight", the other about a rather interesting sighting. ah... my network of cloaked informants stretch far and wide, and very efficient i might add.

the year of the ox will be quite interesting. would i see myself becoming "bullish" this year? i am a ram... i already have the horns to start with. maah, maaah, maaaaah! :)

anyway, as i have previously stated in tweeter, all water under the bridge. don't really want to start my year feeling all "300"-like battle crazy... though i seriously would not mind looking like a spartan, or xerxes sans all that gold. :)

so.... off to another topic that i hold dear to my heart, more than juicy debates or curious sightings of a something-something..... FOOD!

last night, like an answered prayer from the chinese gods of luck, kuya texted me to drag the 'rents to rockwell so that we could have dinner out. the place of choice.... astralis.

kuya had known of this place for quite some time now from reading about it (and seeing pictures) from the food blogs he frequents. i recall seeing some of the shots taken of the food they served and i have to say, they made my mouth water! the sight of beef in particular was almost pornographic! hahahaha.

anyway, so dinner was set. with the paternal units in tow, we gracefully sashayed our starving behinds into the resto and ordered like there was no tomorrow. feast your eyes on the following selections:

appetizer 1: parisian scrambled eggs with foie gras

appetizer 2: baked oysters served 3 ways

dad's: slow roasted leg of lamb with ratatouille

mom's: pan-grilled chilean sea bass with lemon anchovy sauce and leek mashed potatoes

kuya's: US prime rib with poached bone marrow

mine's :): US wagyu rib-eye steak with fries on the side

not included in the pictures was the house salad and the soup we each ordered. i really have to train myself to take pictures of the food first, for posterity sake, before decimating it like a hungry hyena!

overall, and my kuya concurred, the entire astralis experience was ok. the service was excellent but the food, well, let's just say we have had better. steak-wise, the one at cantinetta was WAY better. the wagyu was alright, though i would have liked it if it was rarer (i ordered medium but it came out looking medium-well) like the one i had at malcom's at salcedo village. the sea bass was nothing special, mom said. and the lamb, well, my dad just loves lamb.

by far, my most favorite was the parisian egg we had as appetizer. the foie gras was not as velvety but rather tough, which i never knew can be done to foie gras. the egg though... OMG. utterly delightful!!! and i'm not really a fan of eggs mind you. i would not have hesitated licking the bowl clean if it weren't for the possibility of being disowned by my family.

tonight, the clan will meet up again. where and what we will devour will be material for my next post. gaaaaaad..... di ko na to KAYA!!!!! good luck. 300 physique my fat lard ass! hahahaha!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

kung hei, whatever....

quite an anticlimactic new year's celebrations we are having this year. it's sunday afternoon and so far, besides church, the only other activity i have done today to commemorate the last day of the lunar year was nap. celebration, indeed.

got up this morning on the wrong side of the bed again. funny that expression, the wrong side, since i ALWAYS get up from the same side. hmmm, anyway. despite again falling asleep quite late last night for reasons i will no longer explain (insomnia, texting a friend, deleting 500 read messages so i can continue receiving messages from that friend), i woke up surprisingly early today. it was not the usual smooth slide to wakefulness that i so enjoy really but more like an explosive kick out of my peaceful slumber. i looked at my phone and it was 7am. no point trying to sleep now since mom will surely come in by 8 to wake me up for church anyway. so i got up and proceeded to do my morning rituals.

now understand this. i am a rather chatty person (no.... i never noticed), but my mornings are done, as much as possible, in complete silence. i would wake up, check myself at the mirror while i turn off my night light (i do coz its always dark in my room, even in the middle of noon). i then proceed out to our living area, take my morning meds and sit by my PC and check my emails, my blog and other stuff i can do while online. all of this i do without uttering a single word. owing also probably to my past life as a master NINJA, i also move about in total silence. there has been many a time wherein my mom would get a jolt of surprise for not seeing me seated by the PC after she had already passed it a couple of times. she would then berate me for not even bother greeting her or even say something since she doesn't like being surprised like that (kasalanan ko pa!). kuya would also have similar experiences when he comes home early in the morning from work and would find me standing at my doorway, as i am about to carry on my morning routine. maybe he thought me as a ghost. i am pale as snow and against the dark interiors of my room, with a little imagination, would surely scare the bejeesus out of many unsuspecting ppl, that or i just looked like a hag from having a really bad bedhead. there, i lost my train of thought.. o yes. mornings in silence.

so there i was, at my PC, relishing the special morning quiet only sundays can bring when mother dearest comes along and starts talking to me, asking me questions about things i honestly have no answers for anyway. now, partly the reason why i am silent after i wake is that my brain is still warming up. you can't really expect the poor thing to be in it's peak level of performance right after you turn it on, right? but alas, mom never really caught on with the idea despite me telling her this. so there i sat, a tic slowly forming on my right brow as i hear her voice echo in my vacant but slowly simmering skull. "what time are we leaving?" "what time did kuya come home?" "who waited up for him?" "aren't you getting ready yet?" "you think the traffic is bad today at ongpin?" "should we wake up you brother already?"... needless to say, it took all my reserved will power to remain stoic until mom finally got it that i have no answers for her, yet. just when i though i could not hold it in any longer as i have exhausted the last dribble of zen in my system, the phone rings. it was my lola. precious lola, she became the willing distraction i needed to get my mom off my back. as mom and lola chatted away, i went back to my routine and quickly finished what i needed to do. it was getting late already and i had to get dressed for church. today was surely going to be a harrowing drive since church this week will be at our main meeting hall at ongpin. today coincidentally is also the last day of the year of the rat so ongpin would be packed with people getting ready to prepare for tonight's festivities.

by 9:30, we were all out of the house, much to my mom's panic. we were obviously late and she made sure we (kuya, the late waker-upper, and me, the driver who had problems taming his wild hair) knew how bad she felt. kuya was used to it, i on the other hand, after this mornings ordeal, had no more strength in me to ward off the bad vibes emanating from the seat behind me. her panic quickly transferred to me and i noticed it very well with how i drove us all to church. thankfully so, traffic was on our side and the streets were still empty of people. i guess 9:30 was still pretty early for most on a sunday.

church was great as always. my good friend geoff gave a message on God being good for food and that we should pattern ourselves to the likes of Daniel and his friends who did not partake of the Babylonian enjoyments and were thus greatly used by God for His work at that time.

after church, as we got ready to go home, i was greeted with the most delightful sight outside our meeting hall. the streets were packed with people now. it was 12 noon and the stretch of ongpin looked as if it was bleeding. people filled the streets, most in red, walking in and out of shops, buying this and that. what made the sight even more amusing was that probably 80 percent of these people were not even chinese... they were PINOYS!!! they were buying mandarin oranges, ribboned gabi and tikoy. they were choosing lucky charms from the knick-knack stores and were filling in the chinese eateries. chinatown was OVERRUN by pinoys and i could not help it but smile with glee. i don't really know why i was. maybe the idea of having another people observe a foreign tradition was just tickling! almost like when i was relishing indian food, inside an indian restaurant, eating with my hands and getting these stares as well as smiles from indians who were eating beside me while i was in dubai :)

we ordered take out and met up with my dad at home and had our official lunar year end lunch.... steamed broccoli and steamed fish. a few mandarin oranges and a slice of jello (i just LOVE jello) later, and i found myself conked out, napping.

which now brings me back to the first paragraph of this post.

sigh. i hope the remaining hours of the day will have a bit more action. i seriously don't think it's right that a chinese family sees lesser action on OUR own new year... diba?!!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

faces and impressions

while working for my design company in dubai, i recall one of the highlights of my tenure there was when my arab bosses graciously hired an image consultancy firm to give us all a make-over. it basically composed of sessions on how to dress and how to groom ourselves so that we would look presentable to our clients, and thereby, more credible when "selling" ourselves and our designs to them. the culminating activity was to go on a "hypothetical" shopping spree with the consultants and put together a new ensemble, taking into consideration all the tips and tricks we learned from the sessions. i say hypothetical, since we never really got to buy any of the items we picked (our bosses were not THAT gracious) but simply tried on the clothes in the fitting rooms, much to the dismay of the sales clerks who probably thought they hit the jackpot with us since we were lugging around so many as if the store was on sale!

in the end, we were assessed on how much we had improved and were given recommendations as to how we could further embetter ourselves in order to "survive" in the very tough and judgemental world of design! needless to say, though some fared better than others, yours truly did only what was expected of him from the start... i was FABULOUS! hahahahaha... like i really needed to know what to wear. pish posh! i could have worn bjork's swan dress better than BJORK! (joke, not even a swan would be caught dead in that) anyway.

what probably struck me the most during that entire session was how these people stressed how important it was to present yourself properly. though this was something i already inherently understood, i still appreciated it that the issue was brought out to the surface for truly in this cut-throat (and very cynical) world of ours, we are all subject to a judgemental and discriminating eye. take into full knowledge that despite how good we are as a person, our first impressions is, most often than not, all people need as a basis to whether or not to trust you. sight is our most used sense and though certainly we are more than what we behold and would definitely like others to know us more than just a "book with a nice cover", how do we even get there when we have already failed in convincing them that we are books worth reading at first glance?

* * * * *

i remember a conversation i had with a friend, actually, two very similar conversations with two different friends, about how frustrated they get whenever they go to the mall. they complain that they never really get the service they deserve, more so, they even feel like they get discriminated against for looking "poor", and thereby, get followed around by sales people who look like they were preparing for a grab-&-tackle the moment my friends would even suggest pilferage, not that my friends would actually do any such deed (o yan po!!! bibili na PO!!!).

though part of me could understand their agitation for who really wants to get identified that way, i wondered what was it that made these clerks think of them as possible thieves in the first place? was it really because they looked "poor" for i doubt anybody really would go out and try to look impoverished? or was it because they went out and presented themselves poorly, i.e., unkempt or, for lack of a better word, "sabog"? i recall one time while driving into an exclusive village to see my client, dressed in my usual collared shirt and jeans and driving old faithful, my trusty FX, i was asked to surrender my ID at the gate and was made to wait until my client gave word to let me in. i didn't really think anything out of the ordinary was happening for this was standard for most villages. it was when my partner and i met up inside that made me realize that i have just been "judged". she wondered why she was not asked for her ID. she being her kikay self, was dressed to a tee, bejeweled, and aboard her swanky new CRV. though i would not consider my experience to be as grave as my friends', it still drove in the point on how image plays a lot on how people perceive us to be, more so, our intentions.

another pertinent instance was during my super late site visits, the one's wherein i would go to trinoma mall at 11pm or even past midnight to check on work being done. now you would expect that security would question what i was doing there at such an unholy hour but of the many times i have gone, i was only asked once. the reason? my client said "face value". was it the way i dressed? walked? carried myself like i owned the world? winked at the guard? i don't really know. all i really cared about was that i get to my site with the least hassle as possible. maybe they thought i was korean and was craving for starbucks... but at 2am!?? didn't he find it strange?

which now leads me to another question about how we judge. what if it's not all about how we package ourselves? what if it's just who we are?

* * * * *

dabo wrote a post about stereotyping and discrimination in the workplace not so long ago. though the comment i left was written in a rather humerus tone, it did still however stir something in me. there is no doubt that we are often judged based on how we look and present ourselves as i have already pointed out, but we too are also judged based on our identity as a person. we are discerned based on our color, height, weight, beliefs and orientation... almost like picking fruit from a fruit stand. and when it comes to discerning (be it fruit or whatever), with my background, i can vouch how important these seemingly insignificant characteristics can play in the aspects of one's social and personal life.

being chinese, i will be the first to affirm that many of us are ethnocentric and have long believed in our superiority above other races, and though you do not see this being practiced as strictly as how it was before, it is still very much there and still very palpable. we are proud, too proud sometimes and too quick often to dismiss the myriad of other races in our midst, just because of reasons such as "cultural inferiority". but to those who judge, you will be judged the same is all i say, for this prejudice many of us exercise have also become something we often become the victims of. just recall the kidnapping spree way back when and you would get my idea.

"ho? chinese po kayo? e ba't kayo nandi'to?" (you're chinese? why are you here then?)

this was the remark of one pinoy clerk i was talking to while i was in dubai. amazed as to how an oriental looking guy can speak tagalog so fluently, i told her i was tsinoy, that is, i was filipino-chinese. her reaction almost made me ask her if it was wrong that i too was an OFW? that maybe i too wanted to try my luck elsewhere and consider helping out my family back home? but i never bothered to continue the topic. she had other things to attend to and i decided this was not the proper avenue for me to voice my opinions.

i am chinese. i have paler skin, chinkier eyes, speak a different language and probably, share my family name with another billion. it however does not mean that i eat noodles everyday, that i know kung-fu, that you need subtitles to understand what i say, that i am spectacular at arithmetic, good in business, or that i am rich. since i was raised with migrant, christian, middle class family values, i was raised to value money and learn how to save. i was taught how hard work pays. i grew up in a strict patriarchal family system where the words of elders are likened to the law. i was taught of how it is to be discreet and endure long suffering so as to keep ones honor and to learn how to respect others, even above oneself. i learned of a different kind of pride, one that is not boastful but keeps its integrity in secret and in silence.

it is unfortunate however that a lot of people do not see past my oriental exterior and the reputation my exterior represents. no matter really as i have long accepted, like how people are, that there are some things you can not change, like people's opinions, unless they themselves chose to change it. all i can do is change myself. stick to defying the norm, the stereotypes. not limit myself to labels and people's expectations but instead, follow my own convictions. i look the way i look, dress the way i dress, walk the way i walk, i talk the way i talk, i laugh the way i laugh, i feel the way i feel, i pray the way i pray, i believe the way i believe, because this is who i am and nothing more. it really should be enough.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

drawing block

i have been struggling with this sketch the entire day and can't seem to manage getting the perspective as well as the composition right. i dreamt of a falling woman one night during the twilight of my sleep. i knew i wanted to put her onto paper the moment i saw her in my head. the arch of her back, the way the wind blew though her hair, the way her muscles tensed as she braced herself for impact, she was beautiful. but then, i never really did. i woke up that morning and completely forgot about her... that was until this morning.

by lunch time, the images were swirling in my head once again. this time, there was a new character at play. i call here LUNA as she was one that i was supposed to depict sitting on a crescent, posed to be a figure of seduction in the night sky. again, however, she never materialized. again a forgotten subject, that was until i started drawing the falling girl. luna for some reason kind of found herself in the picture as well. sketch here, sketch there, erase here, erase there, and my falling girl is now a guy and luna is no longer sitting on the crescent moon.

i'm still waiting for the images to mature in my head. but until that time, maybe you guys can give suggestions of how this should look?

conversation on a not so alone night

"i do not know why i have no one to call my own. the heart is a fickle thing, and i have learned from before never to impose my wants over its needs. it beats and will beat alone for the one it will truly long. everything else is just fancy. this does not mean, however, that i do not love for i do. it is from my soul's abundance that i share my affections. it comes as the kindness, the attention, the sincerity, the patience, the endurance i exercise. it is the quiet i offer during the times of turmoil, the humor in times of grief, even the sternness in times of folly and the harshness when discipline is in call."

"i do not know why i have no one to call my own. i have asked God about it and all He answered me was giving me peace in my singlehood. maybe because He/I know/s that i can never be for the one i will love and that one will never really be mine. maybe because my heart is not really fickle, but it had already surrendered itself to something, someone else. maybe because my portion in this world is to learn to appreciate the sufficiency of what i have and what i have been given. maybe that is why, though i walk in solitude, i am yet surrounded by all that my heart truly needs, and it therby longs no more. "

my answer when asked why i have no one to call my own.

and no, this is not a pre-valentine's day post. ehehehehehe.

Monday, January 19, 2009

the beloved

the buildings look bored, and so was i.

the sunday afternoon was common. i was seated on her guest chair by the window, peering out into the neighboring property, no reason whatsoever really, except probably to catch glimpse of some action on that slow, quiet, overcast day.

the sun shied away behind thick clouds, occasionally breaking free from their tight embrace, yet only to fall back once again behind the billowy veil. this hide and seek of light played an unusual chiaroscuro on the structures below, or so i reckoned. monolithic shadows ebb and flow, like a tide of dark water struggling to have a firm grip on a concrete beach. i stared out onto this uneventful canvass of calm, not much to consider really. wearied, i yawned.

ama was sitting beside me at her desk. where else could she be? this was her station, a solid fixture that served as the setting for most of her daily activities. she prays here, talks to people on the phone here, she entertains sitting here, and sometimes, watches TV from here, despite the more comfortable couch only a few steps away. today, she read the papers here, flipping through broad sheets of newsprint, scanning through the red inked verses, reading quietly on articles that ruled her world.

breaking away from my reverie, i found myself observing her, this woman who is a force in my life. i noticed the thin wisps of her teased hair and recall how she would get up early in the morning to apply hairspray on it, liquid scaffolding for her fragile tresses. her skin, thin and sallow, loosely clinging onto her as how her silken blouse drape over her hunched body. her face, her lovely face, bore the many marks of living a full and fascinating life. with each fold, each striation, like rings of a wise tree, they bear stories of a life once lived in a land who persecuted her kind to stories of a life in a land where she had to learn how to call home.

she stirred from her reading, probably noticed that i was intently watching her. she slowly turned her head towards me and gave me her smile. it was the same smile that i have been beholding as far as i can remember. efficacious and soothing than any balm, her smile can melt your heart. no words were uttered between us for we shared many moments like this, in silence. only an exchange of expression, i smiled back, was what was required. i knew that mine can never compare to the power and grace of hers, but i knew she did not mind. it was enough for her. i was enough for her.

the air was warm. the wind was calm. the sky, silvery grey. i sat by ama's desk, nestled on her rattan guest chair and was staring at the woman i so loved... and she was staring back at me, loving me the same.

in the footsteps of ruth

i found myself chocking over the words of this song while i was reading it, well, since i didn't know how it was sung.

my friends and i decided to surprise a fellow church mate with a little song tribute as a going away present for her. she is to fly out to taiwan this week to attend the same bible academy my cousin attends in anaheim, only her's will be based in taipei. though we are pretty sure we will be seeing her again, it would be a good long time till we do, since, i hear she will also try to find a job there. being the only christian in a devout buddhist family, this was a little "consuelo de bobo" she had to give her family since, they did not really give her their blessings for leaving.

hearing of her situation and seeing how she stuck to her decision despite it being the "harder" choice and her willingness to pay the price for it made me look at myself again and wonder, what i have done lately that have made me fight for my beliefs?

the look on her face as we sang this song to her showed that though she still had many fears, many hardships, many hurdles to overcome in taking this way, that no hindrance was too great to keep her from knowing, pursuing, and running after her lord.

God speed, sister. i pray i too can one day have such great of a faith.

He Knows by Mary G. Brainard (c. 1869)
  1. I know not what awaits me,
    God kindly veils my eyes,
    And o'er each step of my onward way
    He makes new scenes to rise;
    And every joy He sends me comes
    A sweet and glad surprise.

    • Where He may lead I'll follow,
      My trust in Him repose;
      And every hour in perfect peace,
      I'll sing, "He knows, He knows";
      And every hour in perfect peace,
      I'll sing, "He knows, He knows."

  2. One step I see before me,
    'Tis all I need to see,
    The light of heaven more brightly shines
    When earth's illusions flee;
    And sweetly through the silence comes,
    His loving, "Trust in Me!"

  3. Oh, blissful lack of wisdom,
    'Tis blessed not to know;
    He holds me with His own right hand,
    And will not let me go,
    And lulls my troubled soul to rest
    In Him who loves me so.

  4. So on I go not knowing;
    I would not if I might;
    I'd rather walk in the dark with God
    Than go alone in the light;
    I'd rather walk by faith with Him
    Than go alone by sight.

* * * *

the last stanza was exceptionally touching. i actually wanted to offer it to a friend whom i was "nursing" but didn't know how to offer it. eventually, i simply sang it as a silent prayer, to my friend and to myself. i believe the same God we share will hear it anyway.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

taipan observations

wishing to finally shake off my long standing restlessness, i decided to do my "rounds" of my project sites. i have been having this underlying sense of anxiety for the past few days now, owing to the fact that my schedule has been rather quiet lately. i guess i have gotten used to zipping in and out of cities and meetings and weaving through traffic and all the chaos my job entails that peaceful, uneventful days, at home, leads me to fear for the worse! the calm before the storm as they say. thankfully however, the worse never happened. but that obviously did not keep me from stressing over the quiet still. experience has taught me that you should never let you guard down, most especially if your success relied on the hands of other people, in my case, my contractors. so yesterday, i decided to jump the "chaos gun" and make a quick visit to the site.... all the way in libis, a good two hour drive with moderate traffic from where i live :)

i met with the foreman who always looked more than happy to see me. he updated me of the status of the project while i relayed to him the newest instructions from my client. plans were finalized and new deadlines agreed upon. there were a few problems that arose but nothing too grave as to cause hell to boil over. in a hour, i was done... and had again the entire day to myself to be idle. i started to feel restless again.

i then decided to go to trinoma and pick up my cousin on the way. my client's first store was having their soft opening yesterday and i wanted to see how things were going. they franchised this frozen yogurt brand, RED MANGO, from korea and are hoping to make it the IT brand as far as fro-yoes are concerned in the philippines. my cousin was visiting from anaheim and had tasted RED MANGO there and loved it. so naturally she got all excited when i mentioned it was opening here and that we could go get free samples.

it was good to bond with my cousin. despite the large age gap between us (she is 22, and i am a dinosaur) i was surprised it wasn't that difficult to relate to her. i asked her about how things are doing in the states and she asked me about my work. she's currently attending "Bible school" (or what i affectionately call "spirit camp") at a training center in anaheim. naturally, her disposition was very positive, practically glowing if i may say so myself, this compared to my anxiety ridden, worldly and very gloomy demeanor. i then told her about my current project and about who my clients were. i told her that they were super young, 24 years old, and yet have already started stretching and flexing their entrepreneurial muscles. it also pays i guess if you are related to one of the most influential families in the country.

i was supposed to be having down time now, enjoying a stroll in the mall in the company of family. however, as i approached the RED MANGO kiosk, i suddenly realized the remains of my day might not work out as i had planned. my client, and her entire taipan family was on site and none of them seems to be smiling. o dear....

i excused myself from my cousin and approached my client with trepidation. she looked rather harassed, frazzled actually. taipan mom was zipping in and out, pointing at this and that while their staff tried to take note of every single detail being addressed. taipan dad looked serious, standing at the corner, in deep thought. my client's siblings were also running around fixing things. i made my presence know to my client and she, thankfully, greeted me with a brief smile. i later learned that all the frenzy i was experiencing was the entire family trying to make the opening PERFECT. it was an almost obsessive-compulsive display or ironing things out and polishing details that made me realize how serious these people are when it comes to business. no wonder they are taipans, i thought.

i arrived close to 3pm already and learned that none of them had had lunch yet. they took leave of me and went to grab a bite, all the while exchanging text messages with me to follow up on the status of certain things they needed to know about. before leaving though, they offered my cousin and i their prized yogurt, much to my cousin's delight (we later came back and got more servings with toppings now. we were drafted as hypothetical customers... and even had our pictures taken too! hehehehe)

the brood eventually came back after their break and immediately got back to work. i chose not the meddle too much in their activity since from the looks of things, they had everything under control. i also didn't want to be put on the spot since, it takes me a while to process information and impromptu decision making was never one of my strengths. my cousin and i just stayed in one of the empty seats and enjoyed our free yogurt. while seated there though, i could help but observed this family as i found them utterly interesting to watch.

the term tai-pan is a cantonese word that referred to the business leaders in hong kong back during the end of the opium war. loosely translated as "supreme leader", these were basically the movers and shakers of the territory and were composed of a very exclusive few. in the philippines, we know these taipans based on their family names or the corporations they represent. they hold vast amounts of power (and money) that dictate almost how we think, move, eat, work and live. though our government may seem to hold supreme authority over the country, it is these families, with their businesses, however who control an entire culture, our very life blood as a nation.

as i sat there watching my clients busy themselves, my cousin interrupted me with a remark. i guess she too was curious on how "gods" worked and said "your client looks so ordinary." for in fact, she was. actually, disregarding the three escorts they had with them, my client and her entire family could have looked like any other member of the malling crowd. people were passing by them, having no idea who they were brushing elbows with. there was no air about them, no flare, no sense of greater importance, no nothing actually. quite contrary to how you would expect people with so much influence to carry themselves in public. hell, i know of baranggay captains who are more flamboyant! but here you are with the "rightful keepers" of power and yet, they handle it as if they don't have any at all. all you actually see that can be described as anything out of the ordinary was how meticulous they were in their work. this i guess was what made them so interesting, to me that is. there was a focus to their energy and surprisingly, it was not about making money. i recall once when i was talking with the mom on our first meetings. i asked her how business is and how they plan to ride the wave with the looming crisis and what she said was like a motherly advice but heavy with business sense. she said, and i'm paraphrasing, that "business is ok. it's always risky to enter the market with a new product but you really have to learn to take gambles. we just have to get ourselves out there and make people know we're there. once people realize you have a good product, you protect it." i last spoke to her almost half a year ago and i still remember what she said. this was what was echoing in my head as i watched them move around, setting tables, moving modules, and trouble shooting little kinks. they were exercising the focus, determination and strategy of building a business. it was all about the product and getting it out there, like almost giving birth. the money, the prestige, the fame, the glory were all after shocks of creating and protecting a solid product. valuable lessons i learned, no wonder they were able to build the empire they have today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

death's ode to eve

i have once pondered, very long ago
why my great lord ever created you?
why he deemed it was good you existed
when all i see you caused was grief and pain.

you were made as the companion for one
as co-keepers of the garden of life
you were to feed on the immortal fruit
and enjoy the bliss of eternity.

yet you chose, you decided diff'rently.
your eyes wandered yet to another tree.
your mind was clouded by your ambition
your lust for knowledge was what made you fall.

now because of your curiosity
this, your act of betrayal doomed you all
my lord cursed you and the fruits of your womb
and cast you and your husband out fore'er.

outside my lord's great garden, you suffered
man now toiled over the earth to survive
you had to endure the pain of child birth
you and man now know how it is to die.

but now as i glide over these vast skies
and collect the souls of your many sons
that in my great lord's infinite wisdom
though his curse made you mother of mankind
this curse also made you mother to me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

how i wear a pink undercoat

it was a cold wednesday afternoon, almost like today. the sky was hazy, the sunlight was diffused and the air was sweet. i arrived at the mall a few minutes prior to my meeting and decided to loiter about while i waited for time to pass. it was then when i received the call.

"would you mind accompanying me to do errands? i just have to drop off something. it's only within the area anyway and i promise it won't take long."

"sure. i don't mind."

15 mins was what was agreed as i slowly walked to the designated porte-cochere and waited for the familiar silver sedan to drive by.

it started to rain a few minutes later. the wind blew strong where i stood, the chill sending many who were also waiting as i did to withdraw further inside. i, however, did not mind the frigid spray. i enjoyed the cold, how it makes me feel as my skin tightens in its futile attempt to conserve my warmth. the smell of the damp air felt cleansing, like smoking sweet incense.

the sound of a car horn and the blinking of headlights heralded that my ride had arrived. the car slowly drove up the wet ramp and the passenger window lowered.

"hey you!" i was greeted with a smile.

"hey!" i replied, smiling back.

stares followed me as i got in the car. i gave the driver a warm hug, strapped myself in and we drove off.

* * * *

"i hope you don't mind, but can i ask you something?"

i was familiar with the routine. the damper. the polite gesture. the cordial request to pry. a slight affirmation from my part is all they need and they move in to drop you the bomb. i have had many similar encounters before and experience has taught me much in handling situations like this. for once, it certainly pays to be nonchalant, a trick well exercised by the chinese accountant who lives in my head.

"sure. ask away." i quietly answered as i shifted in my seat, still bearing my smile.

i sat still as i listened carefully to my companion, momentarily also feeling the skin under my fingers as i rolled them together, something i notice i do whenever i am in deep thought. the question was indeed heavy, one that i haven't been asked in a long time. to be honest, though i was sure my stoic facade held up, i was still taken aback. the question was deeply personal and to answer it would mean me digging farther within and shed light to many places i don't think i was ready yet for others to see.

i suddenly noticed the silence between us despite the sound of the rain tapping against the windshield and the steady hum of the engine. my companion had finished and was already awaiting for my response. i was now put on the spot.

"um.... well." was what escaped my mouth initially. it helped in giving me some momentum as i shifted from rationalizing in my head to voicing my opinion. it helped as well to buy me time as i was toning down my answer so as to reveal just enough to satisfy the question, and still keep enough back that not all the bowels of my being be exposed. i answered as plainly as i could, trying to leave any emotional residue out of my reply. i wanted it short, straight to the point and easy to digest. the topic, though was not new to me, was still something i struggled with. i did not understand why but i did not want to be seen feeling uncomfortable in my delivery. i did not want to feel that i was being disrespectful of my companion by fidgeting and stumbling on words. i wanted to answer true but brief. lingering on the topic at that moment was not an option.

after i said my piece, it seemed a part of me fell silent. though i knew what i said was what i thought what i felt, there was still something in me that still wanted to speak. i however quenched the urge and it fell quiet once again. it took my companion a few moments to take in my words. a nod and a reply moments later meant that they were eventually accepted.

the car slowed down as we took the turn towards our final destination. we meandered through tight corridors, finally halting at a rather deserted part of the parking lot. we waited for a while before my companion turned the engine off.

"thank you for coming with me."

"told you i don't mind."

"so... shall we then?"

"sure. ladies first."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

how to rule the world

i received word from the familial grape vine that my cousin in Texas has given birth to twin girls. i have not yet made sure if they are identical or fraternal, only that they are twins... and that they are girls.... because they said they were twin girls. ok.

i would like to offer my congratulations to my cousin and her beloved husband. some families are blessed, but you received yours, double portions.

and so begins now the new chapter in their lives for they are no longer just husband and wife but also now father and mother, fellow keepers of precious souls.

so also now begins my diabolical plan for world domination....

for what faster way is there to hoard power than by bringing together the two largest nations in the WORLD!!!!!!!! mwahahahaha!!!!!












excellent....


to sarah and vinu... may the Lord cause you to experience His unsearchable riches!

Monday, January 12, 2009

the curious case of benjamin button

i first heard about this movie from kuya a few weeks ago after he chanced upon its trailer. i could not fully recall what he was saying except that he kept repeating how beautiful cate blanchett was in the movie (he knows i'm a fan) and how interesting the plot of the story was. i didn't even recall what the title of the movie was even after i personally saw the posters plastered all over Davao when i went to visit last month. by that time however, my attention had already been captured since the title of the movie carried a very mysterious lure to it, coupled with that fact that cate blanchett (kasi fan nga ako, diba!?) was also a main character, for truly, the curious case of benjamin button was indeed, curious.

watching the last full show last night at greenbelt was a bit too indulgent if i may say so but i sincerely could not prolong the wait any longer. risking the ire of a dotting, over protective mom for inconveniencing ourselves and others for coming home so late just for a movie... i bought the tickets anyway for the 11:15 screening.

people i knew had already seen it when it came out on thurday and from their strained looks, i also knew they were just DYING to tell me the story and how much they loved it. at the risk of instantaneous DEATH by decapitation with my machete, i have forewarned them all about spoiling it for me. i am very protective of my movie viewing, more so since i have no other "vice" besides that. the escape movie watching provides for me is one that i relish with gusto, a guilty pleasure, though not as guilty as having *toot* inside the *toot*, it serves it's purpose still as i come out of the theater, fully satisfied. it of course needs to be said that i become even more excited when the experience involves majestic cate blanchett and hearing uber thick voice. some of my friends laugh at my misplaced fervor... then i show them my machete. hehehehe.

the movie was as how i had expected it to be.... simply beautiful. it was sweet, tender, lovely, touching, and just riveted with great acting! from beginning to end i was captivated. brad pitt was superb, though i have always thought he simply gets by with his looks, his performance in this movie was definitely spectacular. cate blanchett was impeccable as always, i knew this much already. her style, her grace, her presence was utterly mesmerizing, even if buried in heavy make up! i just wished i could have heard her beautiful diction again. i missed it in the movie. tilda swinton, though her part was short, was equally magnificent. i recall keanu reeves saying once how he wanted to play opposite her in constantine... this is why. she won an academy award last year, this is why. i know only so few actors who by simple exercising a brief stare could freeze you in your seats. tilda can execute such a stare. the talk, the walk, the way she handles herself on screen was just perfect.

as the credits rolled after the movie ended, i found myself dumbfounded and speechless. a few moments later as kuya started to stir in his seat, equally awed, the words "oh... my... GOD!" finally escaped from my mouth. i swore if i wouldn't have looked like an idiot for doing it, i would have clapped and whistled (even if i don't know how) when the lights went on after the movie. i was in ecstasy! it has been a LONG time since i have experienced watching a well made movie. it has been even LONGER since i have seen one made as well as this, the english patient was the last one.

apart from the great acting, the superb actors, the cinematography and all the other technical aspects of the film, what i liked probably the most was the story. despite the complex plot and rather intriguing premise of a child being born old, who grew younger as he aged, the story felt surprisingly simple to digest. it was a story about people, everyday, ordinary people (yes, i bump into pygmies regularly!) and about the lives we lead. it told the story of our joys; our pains; our hopes; our regrets; our dreams; our realities; our loves; our losses; our humble beginnings, and our eventual ends. it was a story about the earnest pursuit of living.

ahhhh, lovely.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

broken

the fragmented glass
the fractured frame
your reflections is
in pieces, same.

though shards are sharp, and
their cuts cause pain
you collect them still
and start again.

mirror, oh mirror
i hope and pray
with time and patience
you'll heal one day.

you will heal one day.


Friday, January 9, 2009

reasons to smile


a second installment of the things i have chanced upon while living the life i lead. seriously, how in the world can i ever stay gloomy and sad when there are things like THIS to always make me smile.

bwahahahaha, i LABET!!

while at paseo de roxas. this fortuner must be REALLY scared of flood waters noh?

while i was at davao. you know you're no longer in the city when they ask you to leave you pet snake at the door...

while along legarda st. it reads FOOD I "n" I and until this day, i have no idea how it is said.

at my uncle's birthday party at a resto in QC. just in case you didn't know what it is :)

when i was in dubai. i was seriously curious what it tasted like, hehehehe.

at SM MOA. what made the scene even funnier was that there was a bunch of men loitering outside the store. if only they knew...

at SM MOA. not too far from the store pictured above. does SM screen properly the names of these establishements ba?!!! seriously, one of these days a dejected guy is going to find himself entering into these stores and find himself severely disapointed! :)

along recto. one of many stores of the same name actually. he REALLY must be good i suppose!