Thursday, October 29, 2015

The No-Discussion Home

I wish I can write something good about home. After all, this was where I started my first education; and so, it deserved at least to be honored, to be praised. 
But right now, when I think of this particular home, all I remember are the things that my sisters say to me, and they are not exactly good things, nor the right or justifiable things, because they were things not scientifically verified but were born out of their own ignorance and biases. I remember, too, the things that Pa keeps saying to me nowadays, which reminds me of the things he used to say to me when we were children crouching in fear of his voice and his temper. I also think, every time I think of this home, all the things that my Ma doesn't want me to say; for Ma always wanted me to shut up to keep the peace in the house.  You see, even in my early days at  home, I was already cast as a troublemaker, a rebel.  Later, I'd learn, the activists have a name for this kind of peace: it's called the peace of the graveyard.  The peace of the dead.
So, it’s only now, decades later after I left home and returned, that I begin to understand. I was never really free to say anything at home. Not when I was growing up, not now, when I am [supposed to have) grown up. 
No matter how Ma used to expound in the classroom  the concept of a liberal philosophy, for I can think only of first taking that concept from her before I learned about it from other people. 
But at home, no one actually talked about things even when the family was in a grip of a very difficult problem because it was a home that never tolerated discussions. It was a home ruled by many tyrants or one tyrant, depending on the way you see it; and when you started a discussion there, everyone thinks you're starting a fight, and that's the reason I was a perennial outcast, always the odd one out, in that home, where I never really belonged.  No wonder then, that at 17, when everyone had their lovers and boyfriends, I ran away from home  looking for freedom; and luckily, found it somewhere else.

Is Destiny a Woman?

Destiny is not a woman--or is she?! They were waiting for Digong to walk into the lobby of the Apo View Hotel anytime that late afternoon of April to meet her.

Shocked and Awed

On my way back from Cotabato, I dropped by our old home which doesn't feel like home anymore, except for Oreo, the mother Cat and two of her four litters: Muffin and Shocklit. Earlier, I was planning to bring the other two kittens--Munchkin and BlackForest--to this place but seeing how Father whipped Oreo witless, I was thinking, no, I needed to find someplace else. I have to rescue the cats. 
Our family is crumbling; I could no longer talk to Father, who is always angry; nor to Mother, who could no longer make any sense of some ordinary things; nor to my sisters, who wouldn't listen, anyway, and who never seem to care whether the old folks are safe in the house or not, or whether they are safe going to town on their own or not. The old folks are becoming very weak. I could have quit my job to watch them at home but for my sisters' bullying, I was frightened: If they can bully me now that I still have 20 years of journalism as a leverage, an anchor of my identity, what would happen if I give all that up and be a beggar?    So, I refused to quit. 
Besides, do they really think I can just abandon my boys, just like that?
The whole house is a mess but I'm so powerless to clean it up, especially now when I'm in the mid of writing part of a book, and I don't have any choice but scratch my way to eke a living.
Father hates my books--the books that I collected and dumped in this old house which are quite many. He hates my cats and  he hates my guts. He told me in a voice that could turn my stomach inside out, I was maalam (knowledgeable), and he said it in a really deprecating tone, as if it was something I should be ashamed of, when I only warned him against eating corn that must have been contaminated by genetically-modified varieties growing in the neighborhood. He said, "maalam ka lagi," and humiliated me in front of the maid. Of course, he could not crush me. I realized that if I were an ignorant daughter, he would do the same to me.   He also castigated me for talking to my cats.  He   asked,  "Why don't you take them back to your house?" I don't have such a house, I replied. We were only renting an apartment in the city and there's nowhere else for us, nor the cats, to go. Ma regarded my books--which included my Doris Lessing collections--as garbage. When I complained I no longer have enough time to read and re-read my books, she smiled, as if to say, "What can you expect? What's the use of reading a book?" About my Latin diploma, she asked, "What are you going to do with that? Can you convert that to cash?" But this was many months ago. Now, Ma has lapsed beyond caring and disdain.
Then, adding insult to injury, sisters said, "Why don't you quit your job so that you can spend time in the farm?" Throw away 20 years of your life's work to risk an uncertain future, without the blessing nor encouragement, and with only what I can see a mocking and disdainful resistance of a wily Father. I can project myself into the future, and I can hear them say, we never asked you to sacrifice, in the first place!
Though my future here is uncertain, too, I am not the kind who would want to be crucified. After the previous Christmas party, I saw some of my books ruthlessly dumped, their spines cruelly distorted, inside cases of empty beer bottles. I went as berserk  as Jesus when he discovered the people had turned the temple into a marketplace. I said, how they're treating my books only showed what kind of people they are: real barbarians! I was thinking not of Father when I say that. I was thinking of all the drunks  at my sisters' party. I bet they only knew how to gulp beer but never read a single book in their lives! "Why did you brought them here in the first place?" Pa asked, still referring to my books. He loved those beer parties that much.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sean unfriends me

But does it hurt? Not really because he still talks to me in person, he still kisses me good night, good morning; he still listens to me when I talk to him. He still tells me about his young troubles, his classmates including the ones he likes best and the ones that pisses him off, particularly the boy who scored high in the exams because he cheated and posted his score on Facebook, so that his mother can see and share it with other mothers. He still asks me to bring home some really sweet things, including his favorite which should be our secret. He even asks me about how is it to be ostracized, which I often experienced in the past, and then, told me, yes, some of the boys also form societies like that; just like Lord of the Flies and they pressure their friends to like what they like and dislike what they dislike and sometimes, it's better for him not to be part of them  if they start acting weird like that. He also tells me he also wants some space sometimes, a little bit away from parental eyes just like the way I hate somebody snooping at me when I am writing my journals.

Sunday, October 04, 2015


Halfway-through Hanif Kureishi’s Black Album, I asked, what is happening to me? I could no longer lose myself in the story the way I used to get lost in the whole universe of words and their meanings. Is it because the camera is already replacing an old passion, rubbing away the old pleasure, replacing it with another one? Is it because I have finally lost all zest for life, and that what is left now is the empty shell of an old longing? Is it because of the blurring eyesight? Is it because I am sick? On Wednesday, while waiting for the President to walk inside the SMX function hall filled with the yellow crowd chanting Oras na, Roxas na, I discovered I had trouble breathing. Ruth handed me a piece of paracetamol she faithfully kept in her wallet, because she said she was also prone to being ill these days. I managed to go out to look for a glass of water, when I came upon Edith R., who again saved me, helped me get some hot water from the jug that stood in the corner. I did not know if the story that I sent to the papers made any sense to those who read it because I was already in such pain and in such delirium, as soon as I reached home and plopped myself to bed, I discovered I was having a really bad chill.  Maybe, I could not stand the yellow crowd. In my half-asleep, half-awake state, I was singing, “Break it to me, gently,” thinking I were Brooke Shields trying to move on from a really bad, devastating love.

Days Without You