Sunday, December 28, 2014
Saturday, December 27, 2014
The year is speeding away and I have a hard time coping. You asked me why eating beef and red meat is dangerous but instead of explaining, I told you it’s not your problem, you’re young; it’s for the old people to worry. We were climbing down the ravine when I inadvertently grabbed your arm because I was about to slip. What will happen if I quit? I no longer care about things as much as I used to. All I care about now is the image that I take but it's usually an image nobody else would understand. Whatever happened to Sheilfa? Is she happy in Jolo? I told her once I would bring her here. I can imagine ourselves talking, two witches in the holy land. She had a talent for images, whether they be images of the past or images of the future. I don’t know what’s happening to me now that the year is about to end, I could not get anything done. I have lost all love for life until I saw Matisse and then I saw you.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Pak Tedja, as Boom insisted in calling him out of respect, is the son of the great Indonesian painter Sudjojono, whose works are on display at the Indonesian museum that she saw the previous day. Pak Tedja described his late father as the painter who refused to paint the beautiful scenes of Indonesia but insisted on painting the real condition of his people under the Dutch's colonial rule.
But there was something else that surprised me more about Pak Tedja.
Unlike most people I’ve encountered in neighboring Southeast Asia, he was not a stranger to Philippine history and culture. He learned about Jose Rizal at a very early age. His mother, a political activist fluent in Dutch and many languages, translated it into Bahasa and introduced it to him. Was it at 15, when Pak Tedja said he was already reading the Noli Me Tangere in English? “She used to speak Dutch like a native,” Tedjabayu recalls his mother, who wrote the book, “From Camp to Camp,” about her experiences as a political detainee in a series of detention cells under Soeharto's Indonesia.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
His sudden recognition somehow exhilarated me, as if Prateehba, a continent away and living in another time zone, suddenly appeared in front of me, smiling.
Sunday, December 07, 2014
story of the backhoe (actually, excavator) used to bury the dead--and the story of the Ampatuan massacre, where 58 people, 32 of them media workers were killed in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. The road eventually brought us to the town of Tacurong, where the group of media workers slept their last in a hotel five years ago, before proceeding early morning the following day on the road to Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, to cover the filing of candidacy of the former Buluan mayor, running for governor in Maguindanao against the ruling Ampatuan clan. The media workers, together with the politician's relatives and supporters, did not reach Shariff Aguak. They were waylaid to their death in an isolated hillside in sitio Masalay, barangay Salman in Ampatuan town. They were all buried here. This was the last of their journey, the beginning of our own, as we continue the search for justice for hundreds of journalists killed in the Philippines since the so-called democracy was restored in 1986.
Saturday, December 06, 2014
I first read her essay under the dim light of a running jeepney, after opening a discarded Ms magazine discovered in a bargain bookshop. I realized my mother also has such a garden and it is through the colors of her garden that I've come to view even the most difficult part of our lives.
Friday, December 05, 2014
Jon Lee Anderson's "The Fall of Baghdad" and Ken Auletta's "Googled." Finish all writing assignments. Finish all video editing, then export and send them to the editor as soon as you can. Stop eating meat. Run. Follow the weather. Walk. Memorize all the vital statistics of storms, with an intimacy reserved only for lovers. Don't panic. Recognize each storm's strength, ruthlessness and penchant for delays and romantic detours. Pray that all people (except Pnoy) will be safe; and all cats will be saved. Master your Adobe Premiere. Monitor your cholesterol level. Finish viewing all Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Jean Claude Monet and all the rest that are dead; and move on with your life and your writing.
My love for one missing cat made me aware of so many others. I befriended a cat in Eden. He had a particularly hard life. It showed in the way he demolished a couple of fried siomai I stole for him from the kitchen. It was indescribable the way he gobbled the pieces, which I unwrapped from a tissue paper, to the utter shock of the waiter. The word "gobble" was not enough to accurately describe the way that the cat wiped out everything violently in just a matter of seconds. The word "munch" is simply too mild, too civilized, too out of place here. I think of this cat and his life in the pine forest that covered most of the 80-hectare resort, and I simply felt he might be having a very tough one. The driver of a shuttle told me cats and all types of pets are forbidden in the resort but the cats, he said, are just getting too many. I was worried about the cat. I left him eating the suman we hadn't eaten during the afternoon session. I thought it was a lowly food for a strong cat like him but he ate it when I gave it to him at the door. I hope the waiter would not be cursing at the discarded wrapper, they were banana leaves anyway, because we were already hurrying out the door to the waiting shuttle, there was no time to clean the garbage. But would I ever see this cat again? Would he remember our brief encounter?
Unlike most people, I only treat movies as secondary affairs to my first love, which are books. I may survive a day without food but I can't survive a stress-laden, hectic work week without sneak-reading one good book or one good story. (Ja keeps saying books are my primary vice). He was aghast to see how I detested books and stories that have been turned into movies, unless of course, they go through the hands of directors with discerning eye. Until I started reading Richard Brody on The Front Row, I decided to seriously begin to consider my old views against movies.
Monday, December 01, 2014
What of its owner, Ma? Sean used to ask, to which I used to reply, “The Cat owns her life, Sean, she is the real owner of herself.” So, we left our relationship with the Cat at that. She would arrive at close to midnight, meowmewing outside our door and either Ja or me would wake up to open the door. She would enter the living room, walking to and fro, telling us stories about what happened to her outside, and we would listen with keen interest, even if we don’t understand her cat language. Then, at 3 am or 5 am, the Cat would wake us up again, meowmeowing, asking us to open the door, hungry for the first stirring of life in the idle lot outside. For aside for her nightly prowl, the Cat had a voracious appetite for small things that move (including Ja's toes when Ja is sleeping).
But the cat suddenly stopped coming one day in November, shortly after my trip to the T'boli mining site and the Ampatuan massacre site. I sensed an air of finality only hours after the cat's failure to return, as if, something was amiss, something suddenly turned quiet. I never sensed such a deafening silence. Then, somewhere in my gut, I suddenly knew the cat is no longer coming back. Why? Whatever happened to this dear, dear cat?