Monday, May 22, 2017

View from my window on Zhongshan Street

I'm still sick so that excuses me from writing.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Break the ice, will you?!

I just finished all the four articles from Taipei and sent everything online except the pictures (which I fear I don't have) and so, I am posting this as an ice-breaker.  This picture reminds me that I never got to meet some ordinary folks in Taiwan when I went there the past six days.  Of course, I met some of them at the train station when we were heading to Hsinchu, a city about an hour south of Taipei; or, maybe, even our  Mofa friend Jack Li, who accompanied us throughout the tour; that is, if he considered himself just like another Taiwanese. But all I can think of were those folks at the train station. They were seated at the waiting area, some of them might have been pissed off with me for taking lots of pictures, but when I looked at this photograph in my photo file and saw these motorcycle-riding men, I realized that I never really got to meet some people in Taiwan.  We were shuttled around from one place to another to meet and interview the Ministers, and on the fifth day, we met the President at the Presidential Palace. Which was not really a good experience for me because I was the only one not wearing a suit. I left it in the Philippines in a hurry to leave Makati. I know that the office will kill me if they learn about this--which they might, when they see our picture with the President. Depending on how you look at it, it might be regarded as a breach of protocol, which it is. So, I cringe. I don't want to remember my trip to Taipei because I was the only one not wearing a suit when we met the President, and everyone was wearing their best, but I merely treated it as another day in the office, where I frequently told Lyca, no, it's not important what you wear there as long as your English grammar is perfect.  Now, I learned my lesson. What you wear is important, damnit! Maybe, I should not let anyone read this.  I should make the font so tiny so that no one could read. This is embarrassing!

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Lyca, April and I went to the Century Mall to watch Emma Watson's performance in the Beauty and the Beast but were flustered when we found out the movie house  already ran out of tickets.   Deeply let down, we ambled about the building, taking as much selfies as we can.

Setting sight on something

How the sky looked like the last time I went home

Happy Easter!

I've been holed inside my room for the entire duration of the Lenten break, so, I missed all the observance of the Passion here, which, based on the telltale signs I kept seeing on the streets on the days leading up to it, has been passionately marked by the community where I live. Still, I sat here deeply engrossed in my reading through out the Holy Week until this morning, when I happened to wake up late to find it's a Happy Easter, and I'd like to greet everyone out there, sending this image of the old the old belfry of the church of the Lady of the Abandoned, and its amazing stained glass windows, which have fascinated me since the first time I entered the church's dark cavernous hall alone.

Hunt for vegan food

I discovered this vegetarian outlet at the heart of Makati but I will only tell you about it later.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Postpartum reflection

I feel so devastated after that long-distance chat with my boy. It had started well, actually, but towards the end, he had been passing judgment on me quite unfairly about the choices I made in my life, without asking me how and why I made those choices. It hurt terribly. But in retrospect, I realized, who were the people who had been judging me that way and it was not my boy. So, I suspected, he just caught that narrative from someone else, just a whiff of an idea, which germinated and came out of his mouth as his own. That's the trouble with long-distance conversations, you only have such a next-to-nothing chance of getting heard, or having some points clarified, you could not even trace how and why he had said such things. I can glean from his lines that he had some issues with me, which had never been there before, well, it must have been the fertile ground for that wicked idea from wicked people to germinate. It puzzled me for a while until I realized where he had been to recently. He accused me of so many things, including perhaps, [because this was not said outwardly, but in between lines] blaming me for his difficult childhood. (Sigh). Life, of course, had not really been that easy for both of us and I had really tried to make it easier for him, though, my best was not really that good enough. But I still think I was not to blame. You know who was to blame. How could I ever make people understand when people can't even open their eyes? They're deaf and blind! 
So, well-what do you expect? He just came back from a visit to his father, so, are you still surprised? They always blame the women for all the effing wrong that happened to their lives, don't they?  Even if it was the women who did all the dirty work for them.
Yet, to hear those things from your own son. I was so disturbed, I did not write anything the whole day.  I was just staring in space and closing my eyes to feel which part of my body hurt the most. 

Open Air Altar

Just after the Jones Bridge, as you head toward Binondo's Santa Cruz church, tucked somewhere in between the highway's chaotic traffic flow, lies a miraculously tiny piece of land that holds this oasis of faith.

Prayers by the roadside

It's Maundy Thursday, the start of the long Lenten break, which for someone working the kind of work that we do, would be the only long holiday open for us for the rest of the year.  That's why, everyone was so excited as we rushed out to help put to bed the newspaper copy last night. Everyone trying his best to keep his cool, to keep his/her mind in focus because the spirit was already rushing out the door, getting inside the elevator in a hurry to get out of the building fast to the life of untrammeled joy and freedom outside.
I merely stayed in my place. I was thinking if I had only bought that ticket, maybe, I would also be rushing home, too. Rushing to the airport to catch the plane to where the heart belongs. But I did not have such a ticket.  So, all I have is the long hours of reading and writing open for me for the long weekend.
When I reached our street, it was already 9 pm, and the vehicle I was riding could no longer get inside because the neighbors had already set up tents outside their homes--yes, tents along the roadsides, and I thought,  is this another vigil for another funeral?  But no. The tent was only for the gathering of people for the prayers to the Jesus of Nazarene,  the cross-carrying image of Christ. I was amazed by the people's observance of the Passion here. It also reminds me how, a year ago, back home in B'la, while Pa was struggling with his ailment, and I still languished in bed to recover from the previous night's late sleep, Ja tried to shake me awake because the procession was already passing by the house. He said the procession was an amazing sight, I should see it, I should at least photograph it. "I thought you wanted to be a real, hardnosed photographer? What kind of a photographer are you? You lie there sleeping while a beautiful event passes you by!" I got the mouthful from Ja while I flitted in and out of dreamland.
When I managed to get up, I only caught the tail of the procession at the end of the road, and I saw an open air altar by the roadside.  Ja shrugged.  But the sight of an open air altar amazed me because it reminded me of the pagan ways. It reminded me of some faraway Greek altars when the world was young. It also reminded me of
the Bagobo altar tambara. I loved that concept of an altar because it lays itself bare and open to the elements. Most of all, it opens itself up to the skies.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trying to blog

It took a while for me to write again because of what happened the previous month or so, when I was trying to clean up my ancient beleaguered laptop. I had unwittingly deleted the software that allowed it to detect wifi for me to access the internet.  Which explained my long absence
from this blog.
But last Monday, when the screen of the old laptop started to flicker and die, and I could no longer write even a simple journal, I began contemplating the long barren days ahead and decided that the prospect of not writing for a long time was not simply unbearable, it was unacceptable. So, I put my foot down and allowed myself to drift inside the Glorietta to get the cheapest possible laptop that my last sinsilyo can buy.
This was how I managed to return here. I'm still getting used to this new laptop, which keyboard feels strange and unfriendly, the font on the screen still feel rather painful to the eyes.  
I think that getting used to this new laptop is just akin to getting used to a new job.  Painful at first but later on, you'll get used to it.  You still feel so unfamiliar navigating the new territory psychologically as well as physically, at first, but soon, I promise, you'll get used to it.  I've already been here for over five months and going.
Back to this new machine: the port of my old card reader, which was still functional in my old laptop, no longer works here, so, I might have to run back to the mall again one of these days to hunt for a new one.
I still long for the familiarity of old things, such us my old laptop, but soon, I'll move on to more exciting things up ahead.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Thinking of the Cats

When I came home last month, I was glad that some cats still managed to survive without me, thanks to the care of T. I was glad to greet Muffin when she came home very late from where ever it was in the neighborhood she was roaming.  But it’s only now, when I’m back here in Makati, that I realized I never really had the chance to go nearer and talk to the cats. 
Muffin, like most of the cats at home, had gone feral, anyway, so it was not a good idea to cuddle her. The last time I cuddled Muffin, she bit my hands, thinking perhaps it was part of the play.  She wasn’t aware that I was not a cat. But looking back now, I could have at least talked to Muffin. I could have at least watched her beautiful eyes, which reminded me of the   eyes of a priest or a general, the bright yellow discs in the midst of a pitch black fur that earned her the moniker, Batman Cat.
Now, I'm missing her.  
My mind was preoccupied with everything on my short stay home.  It was full of Upper B’la and its depressing condition. 
I was also moping over the loss of Oreo, who failed to return home weeks before my arrival. Titing told me Oreo failed to return home a week before her sister-in-law poisoned Titing’s cat and the cats in the neighborhood. I’m wondering if Oreo happened to wander in their area, as cats often do, and had unwittingly eaten the poisoned food they had prepared.
Oreo was a good cat. Three days before Pope Francis arrived in Manila, some boys had left three kittens at the door of the Inquirer office in Davao. That afternoon, some “rugby boys” were rounded up by the police and I was sad because those might be the boys I caught feeding the kittens.  
Isn't it the height of cruelty for the police to round up the boys who had the heart to feed the cats? Some school girls from Kapitan Tomas eventually found the cats, and one fetched a carton box to bring them home during dismissal time, but minutes after she was off carrying the carton of cats, we saw an angry woman accompanying her, furiously asking her to put the kittens back to where she picked them up.  We saw them at our office door. The angry mother said her daughter cannot keep the cats because she had asthma, but I did not believe her.
Three days before Pope Francis talked about mercy and compassion, I carried the three noisy kittens in a jeepney and realized you can actually tell the character of people by the way they treat a cat.  A woman who sat beside me, I eventually learned, had thrown numerous kittens in rivers and across Samal Island. The young guy across my seat found the kitten yucky though he did not want to show it.  But a skinny, middle aged man, gently called the cats, Miiing, Miiing.
Among the three cats, the yellow one we later called HenriMatisse was the survivor, for he voraciously ate the giniling I bought from the store to feed them; then, the black one we later called Oreo, awoke from her carton slumber and joined the yellow one.  The one who did not take interest in food, and which I initially thought was dying, was the grey kitten we later called Eponine.
Eponine, who proved to be the most intelligent among the three, did not survive when he was hit by a slamming door during a Low Pressure Area (LPA) wind in February 2015.  HenriMatisse, the cutest and the most human among the three, I left alone in B’la at the height of Pa’s ailment in Davao.  I always get this image of him, sniffing Oreo inside the catbag, trying to help Oreo out. I should have put him inside the bag, too, but I realized he’s been surviving well in the village, and bringing him along might disrupt the good adjustment he was having in the place. So, I carried Oreo all the way back to Davao, where Oreo pissed on my pants when we reached R. Castillo. I never found HenriMatisse after that and I've been aching for a yellow cat with an L-shaped tail ever since, that cat who once glided the terrace of a neighbor, perked his ears when he saw me, and had bounded the whole neighborhood distance in three leaps when I called his name.
Ja described Oreo as a cat no one could ever love, except me.  In fact, it was because Oreo was that kind of cat that precisely drew her to me.  But Ja was only looking at the color of the cat, which was black, with irregular splotches of yellow in between.  The yellow spots above her eyes made Ja want to get his black pentel pen to cover the spots with black paint.  But Oreo, just like the other cats, is endowed with grace of movement and an elegance innate to all cats.  She was also full of cat wisdom and intelligence. She became pregnant months after the Pope’s visit and triggered a cat population explosion in our struggling household.  What was funny and amazing about Oreo was she never mind feeding three generations of kittens on her breast at the same time, even if her milk was already drying out. 

This simple tribute is not enough to describe such a great cat as Oreo.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

To Greet the Rooster!

I just can't get over the idea of Pam's herb garden on the 14th floor, where I spent the New Year hiding inside her room. As I thank the Monkey for an exhilarating year, I make friends with the Rooster to make this year a happier, healthier, more magickal one; but please, let us all survive this year, Rooster!  Give us your wisdom, your discernment, your talent; especially your unique way of turning up something when normally other creatures can't see anything! Give us that power to look and to see and to find the way out of anything that could constrain or oppress us.

Happier Times with Muffin

Yes, of course, but not really. Its properties showed that the picture was taken on December 31, 2015, no longer a happy time for the family but a really difficult and trying time. But it was quite a holiday for Muffin, who found the empty chocolate cake box a perfect place to rest.  She still had a lot of food to eat at that time, even if Pa, sick and bedridden, occupied all our attention. But eventually, Pa had to be rushed to the hospital, then, Eve moved him to the city, leaving the house empty most of the time; and Muffin and the rest of the cats pining for survival, except for Titing who continued to feed them! Now, I'm suddenly here in another part of the country, quite too far away. When can I ever go home to feed the cats?

White Abundant Light for Pa

I'm here on the second floor of this crowded fast food chain at a table directly facing the stairway, so that all the customers carrying their food-laden trays had to make eye-contact with me before they turn to the rows of tables to my left and eat in peace.  But it's very cozy here, a place conducive to writing (at least, to me), with a white ceiling light beaming directly above me and falling gloriously down upon my table. I plan to spend an hour or two here because I was told we have visitors at home and I don't feel like meeting people now that I'm fiercely craving to write--it's maddening, this desire to write is like demons to be appeased, you have to satisfy them because if you don't, you'd either die, get sick or go mad--but I don't expect anyone who has never experienced that to ever understand.
But the way the light falls upon my notebook page on this table reminds me of the white light at the hospital room where Pa used to spend time during his ailment. That was before the sisters whisked him off to Butuan with Ma. 
It was the largest and the most comfortable room in our hometown hospital, designed by a renowned architect who was the owner's son, with windows from floor to ceiling, and overlooking McArthur highway, where you can see buses, trucks and jeepneys on their way to Davao or Cotabato or the smaller towns in between.
The room, if you'd care to know, does not make you think of a hospital at all, with its abundance of light, and its plenitude of space, its tasteful curtains, which you can whisk away if you want to see the view, or whisk back if you don't, because you prefer the subdued light that can make you rest and relax.
The nurses, when they find you, are not as snotty there as they might be in the other rooms; they might even be a lot friendlier!  Pa and Ma and I were sitting there, looking out as we awaited the sisters coming home from Butuan the day Pa's ailment seemed to be at its worst and Pa, who was suddenly amiable and meek as a child, had been calling the name of his mother, in between moans of pain, in between the state of waking and unwaking.