Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Backpacker: Santa Ana, Cagayan

Previously on Souljacker

Fourth Part: The Beach

The fiery orb continues to march unopposed across the sky, as the swollen, rain-clad clouds quietly assembles where the mountains break the plains. Thunder claps in the distance. Despite the putsch of a late-afternoon shower spoiling my quickie getaway, the landscape basks in some faint semblance of summer. It's like it never rained the whole week. 

Cirrus patches scatter over the heavens forming a thin veil concealing the azure horizon, while below, the blue expanse invites sun worshippers to take a dip. It's been five years since I set foot in the beach and as my feet felt the grainy brown sands of Santa Ana's empty coastline, I was seduced to the open waters like a nymph was calling my name.

Slowly, I disappeared beneath the waves. Crushed corals lining the shore scrape the soles of my feet. I would like to walk further, to the place where even the tip of my toes would never touch the soft ground. But strong currents of the Babuyan Channel and the thought of a runaway jellyfish stinging me to unconsciousness kept me from closing the distance. 

Instead, I stood at a spot where the water sloshes slightly below my chest. A person watching at the gazebo could have mistaken me for a monk in meditation. Slightly bent, with my eyes gazing at the emptiness, I would rather be seen as a sentry at a post. For what is unseen is my hand yanking clumsily underwater, like it was arming a cannon trying to fire at miniature submarines. But it cannot do so, because everything is just in my head. 

It didn't matter if there were teen boys summersaulting nearby. They won't see and they were not the object of my fantasy. For my mind was lost elsewhere, assaulting the dirty demons who were suggesting lustful images since I arrived in paradise. Had I been a little younger, one would see me at the beach, building sand castles only to crumble as the foamy waves trample its feeble walls. Had I been with a tropa perhaps, one would see us racing across the water. 

Had I been with my partner. Well... A shooting war would be happening elsewhere, not definitely at the beach.

None were available so I had to improvise.

I was in that crouched position for an hour or so, but the cannon won't shoot. Maybe there wasn't an ammo to begin with, or I had already emptied myself long before I thought of repeating the deed. What snapped me back to reality was my excuse at home. I would be hard-pressed to explain why on earth did I get sunburned in Isabela, unless I was half-naked the whole time while inspecting the fields.  

Strong waves continue to pound my back, inching me closer and closer towards the shore. Sensing defeat, (the cannon not only refuses to fire, it had gone wimp) it was time to get out of the water.

After taking a long, hot shower, I returned to the bar-slash-restaurant with a coffee shop ambiance. As I send my tweet updates on my laptop and asking the receptionists for leads as to where I could find a public transpo leaving Santa Ana before noon,

a thought occurred to me.

Cagayan Sunshine

This is how short my stay is. In less than a day after I've arrived, here I am making arrangements for my hasty exit back to the city.

And the only reason for returning to the town center is not to take a stroll - it is to say goodbye.

- tobecontinued -

Monday, November 28, 2011

To Quote

"May mga hinahanap ako na basic lang na hahanapin ng isang babae sa isang boyfriend, sa isang lalaki. Pero, masakit man sabihin, hindi ako yun. Siguro nag-fail din ako dahil hindi ako yung kailangan niya sa buhay niya. Or hindi ako yung hinahanap niya sa buhay niya. And hindi, hindi ko mabigay sa kanya yung kailangan niya."

KC Concepcion
The Buzz

Ito ang dahilan kung bakit kahit napakadali sa akin ang tumanso ng babae, at paulit-ulit, taon-taon ay sinasabi sa akin ng mga tropang lalaki (straight) na kaya akong remedyuhan at gawing heterosexual muli ay ni-minsan hindi ko binalak tumawid ng bakod at magkunwaring attracted pa rin sa babae.

They say it is for your own survival. Para hindi ka nag-iisa sa pagtanda. Yung iba naman, to mask your hidden preference, upang walang mag-hihinala na burat at tamod rin pala ang hanap mo. It's my stand, but rather than become someone's source of misery, I'd rather be out in the open, or better yet, suspend all my pretensions of opposite sexual attraction to cover up

the real me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Warp and Weft

In a big city often covered in thick smog, there was once a family who owned a very large junkyard. The junkyard is full of rusted cars and trucks that were thrown away when their owners bought new automobiles. These cars will be then sold for scraps.

Alas! A time came when the junkyard hardly makes any money. The old cars that used to pile up in the vacant lot now directly goes to the factories that assembled them. Nobody wants to buy the land because of the ugliness of the place.

One day, Alfred, the owner of the junk yard called his 2 sons to talk.

“I am getting very old and weak.” Alfred said. “And the only treasure I will leave behind is this piece of land.” He paused, before looking at the dull landscape outside the window.

“I want you to tell me what do you plan to do with this junkyard when I’m gone?”

“Lets sell it,” Donnie, the older of Alfred’s two sons suggested. “And then when I get the money, I will start my own business!”

Donny is the older between the two brothers. He dreams of becoming a businessman someday. Since he was kid, he wanted to turn the junkyard into a toy factory.

“How about we plant trees instead, and let this junkyard turn into a small forest?” Miko said, shyly.

“Are you out of your mind?” Donny stared at Miko. “Selling this land means more money!”

“Look around you big brother.  When was the last time you saw a bird fly, or butterflies come to this place?” Alfred seemed to agree with his younger son. 

“I would like people to remember dad not as a junkyard man but someone who is friends with trees.” Donny laughed at his brother’s idea as if to mock him. Meanwhile, Alfred thought of dividing the land at once into two equal parts to keep the brothers from fighting it over.

“Have it your way Miko, but don’t come to me begging for money.” Donny said before storming out of the room.

The next week, Miko went to the mountains to buy saplings of trees that used to grow in his father’s land - before it became a junkyard. After all the remaining old cars were carted away, he planted Mahogany saplings, hoping it would grow despite the land being polluted with chemicals.

On some days, Alfred would watch as his younger son spend the whole day tending his growing garden, and smile. He can’t help but feel proud of his accomplishment. As a teacher, Miko would sometimes bring his students along to teach them the importance of taking care of the environment. 

The students would also bring tree saplings with them. Some even set free small birds and frogs they caught in other parts of the city. Though they were not sure if the animals would stay, they pressed on making sure the land becomes home to these small creatures.

Meanwhile, Donny’s business isn’t growing. The factory he built stayed small, and the children didn’t like the toys he made. He would sometimes look at the window and see a caterpillar crawling at the sill. He would brush aside what Miko told him when they were young boys, but his little brother’s words stayed inside his head.

“When was the last time you saw a bird fly, or butterflies come to this place?”

Years went by and the patch of greens finally got a life of its own. Butterflies and dragonflies flutter over some wild grass, while frogs leap on some small pond filled with rainwater. Children would sometimes sneak past the gate to pick flowers while old men, breathe fresh air - something they can’t even enjoy in their own homes.

“You were right all along, little brother.” Donny’s hair has now turned grey. His toy factory long abandoned, even the trees had taken over his part of the old junkyard.

“And I’m glad you returned.” Miko said smiling. His face now creased with age. “You should meet my grandson one of these days.”

The two brothers spent the whole morning sharing stories about their father, while outside, a flock of Cattle Egrets decided to stop by before their long journey heading to their new nesting grounds in the south.

Task: Tells of a family who planted trees and allowed ecological succession to take its natural course

Personal Notes: I just can't get over with my previous children's article that I had to write a rejoinder. It aims to uplift the somber mood pervading in that story. Like many struggling writers, my well of ideas get empty, and I find it difficult to treat a specific topic as well. To counter this malaise, (and to keep myself challenged) I started writing articles of different subjects set on a single setting.

Unfortunately, the Grade One kids won't get to read the Smog rejoinder. This article is meant for the batch ahead of them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Sad Children's Story

“Wake up my fledglings!” Eden said. 

The graceful Cattle Egret stood up from her moist nest not far from a rice field to gather around her three babies. 

The young Cattle Egrets had just learned to fly.

“Today we will go on a vacation.” The young birds started jumping upon hearing the news. It was the last day of November, and the breeze has become colder. 

“Where are we going mom?” Tony, the eldest of the baby Egrets asked.

“As you know, these mornings have become colder.”


“And its hard for us to find food.”

“Uh huh,” Bruno, the youngest of the birds nodded. 

“So we will fly south to build a new nest.” The little birds looked surprised. Their wings are not used to flying great distances.

“Don’t be scared, we will make it.” Eden smiled nervously. “But first, you must listen.”

It was very cold that morning and warm air from the sun turns water vapor into liquid before it touches the ground. The birds, including Eden have no name for it, but humans call it fog.  

The very low clouds make flying difficult because the Cattle Egrets could not see very far. 

But if there’s something Eden and her chicks should avoid, it is flying over the big city to get to their new nesting ground.

“Remember what Uncle Fifi told you about the low clouds in the city?”

“The one he flew over and then he coughed so bad, he almost dove to the ground?”


“Other birds have told me the low clouds got worse.” 

Eden was talking about a kind of fog that covers the city in a curtain of brown clouds. When water vapor get mixed with dust and very small particles, it becomes a smog. It makes flying across very hard because the birds could not only see, they also cannot breathe.

“Your grandma once told me those clouds were not there when she was still a fledgling.” The three young Cattle Egrets panted while flapping their wings to climb a mountain.

“It is when people started burning black wood, and rode metal boxes with wheels did the brown cloud appear.”

The birds may not know about burning coal or black smoke from cars, but they can see that it makes people unwell, including the children whose parents drive those cars or burn those coals in their factories.  

Sadly, unlike the Cattle Egrets who avoid flying over the city, the people simply wore masks when the smoke and fog got very bad.

“I feel sorry for them,” Mandy, the middle chick mumbled.

Eden and her three fledglings got past the big city covered in thick smog. It was hard for them to breathe, but it was the only way to get to their new nest. Below, there were no children in the playground, the windows in all the houses were closed, and only few people walked outside. The trees had shed their brown leaves, while in the distance, black smoke billows from big chimneys. 

Task: Describes how smog forms and why it occurs more often during the cold months. Tells about the dangers of smog.

Personal Note: Some stories, no matter the reader must be told in a bleak manner to deliver the message. It was meant for Grade 1 children. 

The story would be revised.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Silver Lining

I was about to cross the street when I passed by an old lady selling garlands of Sampaguita at the corner of Kalentong and Shaw Boulevard. It's already past eleven and from the way she lumbered close to the sidewalk barrier, there's no denial that she's been selling flowers since that morning.

It was easy to close one's eyes and pretend not to see. Deluded by my own troubles, I could brush off the sight as one of the truths of everyday life. But a whisper in one's ear urged me to look at the lady for a second glance. Instead of seeing a tired, exhausted woman, what I saw was my mom's gentle face. 

In a flip of a switch, my compassion was ignited.

I won't deny the state of flux. I've been withdrawn from most people. I get easily annoyed by tiny mistakes, and the recent brawl between the lesbian driver and the helper has raised tensions at home. The house is always messy. I failed to return to the university. I still have to renew my membership at the gym and the bills keep piling.

There's a talk of the maid being forced to leave before the year ends, which I somehow object (but the maid is pushing everyone to throw her out) and the sister has been nagging me to find her a sideline when I'm struggling to keep mine. There are so many things running in my head, without anyone, not even the closest ones knowing (for I choose to spare them from my own mess) and at times I am pushed into a corner, even I still question the way my life is going.

Like I said, it would have been easy to mind my own business rather than see the misery of others. But in drawing my wallet from my back pocket and pulling a twenty peso bill - to give to the old lady - I found my salvation.

"Pandagdag niyo po sa kita." I said in a hushed voice.

The old lady was astonished and when I left the scene after buying a stick of Marlboro Black, I caught her smiling at me. In leaving, I was taught two valuable lessons in humanity: That the world still cares, and that, despite my personal strife, I have not sunk yet.


Monday, November 21, 2011


It was one of those early mornings when you're obsessed over some job assignment that not a single soul can take you away from your occupation. 

Especially the people you have grown to brush off.


Spell d-e-a-d a-i-r?

punta ka lantern parade? 

One of those classic situations where persistence rewards the stubborn.

labo eh may work ako on that day 

kelan tayo kulitan? 

dunno work muna ako cecile 

suplada hmmpp byeeee 

Must gloss over your wicked, wicked nature.

pasensya na 

Apparently, she is gifted with boundless forgiveness.

hi hi hi 

joke lang 

sige work ka na para may pang gatas si junior natin 

mwa ha hahahaha 

Now mugen, back to what you're doing...

A few hours later...


oy mugs matulog ka na at dito matutulog na gud am :) 

im at work sabi ko nga sayo diba? :D

Swear, she's getting on my nerves. Angkulit!

wala na akong crush/love interest 

ung pinagtatyagaan ko landiin dito sa fb ayoko na effort-in hmmpp 

sleep na me byeeeee :) 

The barrage of replies would have resulted in a written altercation. But there and then, a flashback prevented me from sending a stabbing encore. A scene from my past life - when - I would confide to a best friend with a tinge of hesitation why a girl-friend would pay so much attention, (and sometimes sweetness) that it becomes a fodder for the ever-hungry campus-wide rumour mill.

"Hindi kaya..."

The male confidant would just smirk. Same unspeakable hunch that often leads to an awkward confrontation much, much later with the girl.

And then with a snap, I was back to the present, with my long lost self echoing the same reason.

"I'm really sorry..."

Wanting to extend my apology for the insensitivity, I sent a reply hoping it would suffice for the heartbreak I caused.

goodnight cecille. :D

But the damage has been done, and chances are, she would never speak to me again. Guilty of my transgressions, for not seeing what it was really all about, I deserve to recieve no reply.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


My partner had to go to the airport to catch the 4pm flight to Bacolod. His dear lolo passed away, and he booked a plane ticket on the very day the news broke out. As the boyfriend who doesn't know what to do with his rest day, I decided to go with him to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

Our stop was Terminal 3.

What started as a simple drop-off ended up as a grand tour of the airport. You see, all I ever wanted was to find the exit to the main road, but the guard on-duty said that in order to get out, one must get in. 

Inside the ash-grey building.

NAIA Terminal 3

So there I was, rubbing elbows with the passengers in the departure hall. It helped that I bought my big backpack with me (for I was going to the gym after seeing that JC had already boarded the plane) because it was my convenient excuse to linger inside the terminal.

The problem with Terminal 3 is that there are no connecting stairs from the departure loading bay to the arrival area a few decks below. It is what separates T3 from T1 and the Centennial Terminal. A cheapskate like me would rather walk for miles to find a jeep than pay a hefty sum for a cab going back to the city. The airport designers might not have foreseen this, and it worked well in my favor.

I could easily, so easily, use the stairs so I could leave and see the Newport Mall instead. But like a stray cat in a new house, I could never let the chance to experience what it feels like to stay inside an international airport terminal slip by. 

After all, I have never been into one.

Delta Columns

First thing I noticed was the cavernous interior. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the designers of T3 did well in using natural light instead of using too many lightbulbs to illuminate large sections of the building. The lack of chairs may have forced many to sit (and lie down) on the floor, but I won't find it a hassle as long as the airport provides free, fast and reliable Wi-Fi service.  

JC told me that despite being the largest of the three NAIA terminals, putting all the international flights from the old terminal will only lead to chaos. This was evident when I saw Cebu Pacific and AirPhil Express already occupy half the space set for leaving passengers. 

The frenzy I've seen - from people trying to check-in before the gate closes, to passengers whose flights were delayed, or those who came early to book their international trips surely double during days of long vacations, Imagine the stress of being there when everyone tries to flee the city. 

Shops and restaurants - the mainstays of local malls also operate there. They are all bundled on the third floor of the glass-and-aluminum encased building. There's a Mister Donuts and Yellow Cab Pizza. I also passed by Pancake House on my way to a Mini-Stop Store where I bought my Cobra Energy Drink. I don't know if the other two terminals have these conveniences, but I'm glad the airport authorities have set aside a commercial space for the bored, weary and hungry to rest their feet. 

Despite the pricey items, it makes you feel less abandoned.

The Marketplace: CebuPac Check-In Counter

There are two ways of seeing the NAIA Terminal 3 and it all depends on your point of view. If you are for maximum security - like turning our airports into fortresses than hubs for travel, you will find the guards too relaxed and scanty. Even the bomb-sniffing dog - the only one I've seen in the terminal showed off its other talents to the amusement of passengers

instead of checking personal belongings. 

You can even use your camera to take pictures. No one would stop you from pointing your camera on sensitive places. It's a discovery that caught me by surprise knowing that I could be taken custody for my actions.

But there I was, exploring and weaving a story with photos.

The allure of natural light

I have never been to other airports other than NAIA. Fransisco Bangoy in Davao has been lost to memory and the old domestic terminal along Airport Road could be likened more to a bus station than a gateway to air travel.

So it would be unfair to judge a place without any comparison. T3 might be new and promising but improvements could still be added to make it truly world class.

A jetsetter exhausted

For starters, more benches, in bright colors mean less people sitting on cold floors. While the idea of having a sort of picnic at the airport grounds appear unconventional, authorities still have to put potted plants inside the departure hall. The place is literally dead if not fleeting. Besides, what use is the sunlight filtering through the overhead glass windows if it won't nourish any life?

Sources also tell that there is WiFi available but one has to pay for its use. Isn't it possible for airline companies to shoulder this burden, since passengers only get to use it when flights get delayed? Also, while it benefits only a selected few, having free and reliable access to the web means our airport is business friendly. At a time when work can be done even away from the office, a wired airport is essential.

broken escalators = bad service

Terminal 3 has its flaws. The broken escalators are glaring, and so are the dark unused spaces, which could have been used to accommodate stranded passengers.

Faults may be pointed and so are the praises. The people running the airport - from the security personnel to the maintenance workers are friendly and helpful. Even the bomb-sniffing, playing dead Black Retriever, gives warmth to a usually dull and monotonous edifice. The toilets are clean. There are even plants on the sink with a disclaimer that says "I'm real, don't pinch."

Visitors' Gallery

Sandwiched between the departure and arrival areas is a sub-level with a door that opens to a narrow passage. Hardly noticeable to visitors, the viewing gallery is where well-wishers and welcoming parties catch the first glimpse of arriving loved ones.

It is also where parting couples say their whispered goodbyes.

Standing there, alone in an almost meditative gaze, I checked below to spot if my partner was among the people standing in line. He was not there. Instead, what caught my attention were the throngs of arriving people, waiting for their bags to appear at the baggage carousel.

Airport Chapel

My tour was about to end for I have already covered the entire length of the gallery. On my way to the exit, I saw an overhead sign that says Airport Chapel.

"How nice," I mused.

If I were a pious passenger feeling some jitters about my plane ride, a trip to this small room would ease my doubts. So is the effect for those left behind by the passengers.

And so I went inside to say a little prayer. Upon leaving the room, my phone vibrated.

"Boo dito nako sa erplen.. I'll text u as soon as we land. Hope you're enjoying your airport tour hehehe. Thanks for accompanying me..."

With a faint smile, I pressed the call drop key and slid the phone back in my pocket.

Its time to leave as well.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Smooth Sketch

"Julawww!! Julawww!!"

Mabilis kong tinawag si Smellycat na noon ay kasalukuyang patapos na sa pag-eempake ng gamit sa locker room.

"May papakita ako sa iyo sa Facebook, Daliii!!"  

Kaagad namang itinigil ng binata ang kanyang ginagawa at mabilis itong pumunta sa aking kinaroroonan. Sigurado kong may alam ito sa kung ano ang ipapakita ko.

"Alam mo feeling ko siya si 7incher_hunktop..."

"Weeeh? May girlfriend o, tingnan mo nga!" Matagal na rin kaming magkatropa sa gym kaya naman pati mga updates ko sa Twitter ay nakakaabot sa kanya.

"Hinala ko lang naman, pero kung siya nga yun..." Isang matamis na ngiti ang iniwan ko bago bumalik sa pagbubuhat.

Si Smellycat

Earlier that night ay may bago kaming ka-miyembro. Kaya naman abala si Coach Magnus sa pagtuturo ng proper form at execution ng benchpress, squats at dips sa boylet. Dahil na rin siguro sa pangangailang kumita ng extra ay pasimple itong nagpapa-impress sa bagong dating. Sa pagkakataong iyon ay ako ang kanyang nakitang panabla. 

"Mugs tingnan mo to." Lumapit naman ako sa computer station ng Eclipse. Doon kasi naka upload ang mga pictures.

"Student ko yan..." Paliwanag niya. "Hard workout ang binibigay ko sa kanya. Kaya naman after two months, yan na ang hitsura..." Pagmamalaki nito sa amin.

Infairness naman kay coach ay talagang nagkaroon ng result ang kanilang pagwowork-out. I-train mo ba naman hanggang mag-walk out ang mga taba, tapos mag-recommend ka pa ng diet, tingnan ko lang kung hindi maging balingkinitan ang katawan ng iyong alaga pagkaraan ng dalawang buwan.

At tunay na kahanga-hanga nga ang before and after pictures ng kanyang student. Kung dati rati ay may beer belly ito at sagging na dibdib, yung most recent picture niya ay zero body fat. May hitsura rin naman ang binata. Mestiso ito, twink na twink, at may hawig kay Coco Martin at Jake Cuenca sa unang tingin. Kamusta naman si Dennis Trillo na ka-gym mate ko na laging mukhang haggard kapag dumarating sa gabi?

"Ano oras ang work-out niyo coach?" 

"Mga madaling araw." Yung newbie naman na kanyang tinuturuan ay halos mag-pass out na matapos ang unang subok ng squats.

"Student pa?"  

"Oo sa La Salle nag-aaral." Biglang nagningning ang aking mga mata. Nagpatuloy ako sa pagtatanong.

"Mga ano oras siya dumarating?"

"Mga ganitong oras." Pasado hatinggabi na noon.

Sa sobrang excited ay dali-dali akong bumalik sa computer upang tingnan muli ang hitsura ng lalaki. At long last ay mukhang nag-pay off ang pag-iinarte ko sa pakikipagmeet-up kay 7incher_hunktop at sa halip ay siya mismo ang nagbigay ng detalye kung paano siya matatagpuan.

"so bro what's the plan of your mate? perhaps you could introduce me as a white la sallian guy. maybe you can introduce him to me since I am familiar with almost all of the people in the gym"

Isang recent private message yun sa akin. Inopen-up ko kasi ang idea na iba na lang ang ipapakilala kong gym buddy sa kanya.

"no. when is he usually go there? btw you can reach me at 09173X44X42. hope to meet you as well bro."

Hindi ako nag-iwan ng number. Sa halip, nilagay ko ang kanyang numero sa isang notepad para sakaling magtagpo kami ng isa pang ka-gym mate na umako sa aking dapat sanay pakikipagkita ay tuloy tuloy na ang kanilang pakikipag-usap.

Sa kasamaang palad ay yun na rin ang huling pagpapalitan namin ng private message ni 7incher_hunktop. Hindi na ito bumalik sa PEx, anumang pilit kong pag-angat sa work-out at fitness thread. At kung sakali man na tama ang aking hunch na si 7incher_hunktop at ang lalaking nasa FB ni coach ay iisa lang; Kung magtagumpay man ang stalking skills ko at mapatunayan na hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay straight ang may girlfriend.

Tanging isang tao lang ang makakapagbigay liwanag sa tunay na pagkatao ng aking tinataguan hinahanap. Habang kami ni Smellycat at sampu sa aming mga kasama ay hanggang balita't sulyap na lang sa kung ano ang susunod na mga kabanata.

Ang binatang makakapag-confeeeerm nun ay walang iba kundi si Bentot 

Ang aking proxy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pet Peeve #1

"Hi Mugs... Wala lang, tawag lang."

It was a text message I already received twice in a row. The first one I got yesterday. It was from a friend from Diliman. I don't know what she's getting at, but the SMS left me slightly annoyed.

Maybe it meant nothing. It might be a "papansin" moment hoping to stir a response. Maybe the female classmate has all the time in the world to try to connect to long lost acquaintances. Perhaps, she might be experiencing some life turbulences and is trying to see if the world still cares.

Sadly, I chose not to reply.

Forgive me for the arrogance but it is hard to break a habit. I have always known that I'm not a fan of SMS messaging. And during the very rare occasions I engaged myself in exchanging text messages with someone - for more than an hour, expect it for reasons of self-interest.

I guess this is the sad part of growing up a loner. You're so used to creating imaginary worlds and friends that it is easy to stay withdrawn from those who try to see if you're still breathing.

But how can I be a loner when I was very sociable as a kid. In fact, if its possible to sleep in the streets on weekends, I might have done so. While my social circle at school was more fluid, I didn't lack the skills to find kids to hang out with. I was even happier when I go solo on my little expeditions. Same thing happened in high school and college, I may not be part of the A-Listers, but I always belong to a tight-knit group that is notoriously known for its exclusivity. 

So why has it become a pet-peeve?

I guess it all boils down to being straight to the point. If someone wishes to speak with me, that person should already throw a topic. If the friend wanted to ask if I was able to enroll at the university, I would promptly reply to her inquiry. I guess this same line of thinking is what irked me when another friend asked "anong balita sa iyo?" on Facebook. Maybe I was expecting her to read my recently updated timeline as we chat, or maybe I just got tired after all her whining about the greatest love that got away.

I hope that revealing my pet peeves would not be used against me. It shows a crack in character, as well as my intolerance as to how other people conduct their affairs. I wish there is a way to feel, how its like to be helplessly dependent on other people's attention, like when begging someone for a walk, or texting someone to share your thoughts, which in my case, I tend to shrug.

But how can you do it Mugs, when you use your Twitter to blabber, Blog to ruminate and the Almighty to run to when your soul is being crushed?

Only then, will I truly understand and appreciate the need to reply.


Arrived at work five minutes after the shift began. Late again for the nth time but I will get away with it. My delayed presence is a boon for others. In an office set-up where the highest officer is able to work on other pursuits (Bentusi) and watch video clips on YouTube, and blog about anything he fancies, nobody gives a damn. The people under me are busy updating their Facebook pages anyway. At the end of the day, all that matters is the numbers game: 

That the agents must get past their quota. 

But when you come to work to find that your workstation in suspended reformation, and that you are forced to find another computer that other agents use as their own, your performance gets a downgrade. It feels like being uprooted from your comfort zone and the sudden sea-change leaves you in a state of disrepair. You cannot perform your normal functions. You feel like losing your mind elsewhere. It didn't help that my menthol inhaler, that dildo-shaped apparatus I often shove on my nose had gone missing. And the only station available is the one with the slowest processing machine. But these little changes don't matter, what rubbed the most salt to my gaping wounds is to be shortchanged for my work

How can I stretch my budget at a time when the raketship is also being retrofitted.

And so a long day will pass, uneventful. Hopefully, just hopefully, my mood will make an upswing before the shift ends.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Authoritarian Rule | Lock Down

At past 3 am, I received a text message and a missed call from my sister.  

"Nag ha-hyperacidity si Mama. Umuwi ka na." 

In an ordinary Saturday night out, I won't heed her SMS and still resume my drinking binge. But that morning, I felt something urgent about her plea. Two dance tracks later, I was saying goodbye to my friends to cut short my clubbing. 

JC decided to tag along with me.

When I got home, I learned that it wasn't as bad as to rush my mom to the hospital - to my relief. She was in her room, calmly reciting a prayer, while Baby Lenin slept beside her. After taking turns watching the baby while the matriarch went to the bathroom, I gave her a Loperamide tablet to ease the pain. 

"It must be the toxins," I thought. "Hopefully the poo-poo would flush them away.

An hour later and still, the pain didn't subside. 

It was close to daybreak when I went out to walk to the nearest 7-Eleven store near my place. I had to buy soda crackers, as per Nubadi's suggestion and that ready-to-drink Wheat Grass in can, endorsed by Maginoong Bulakeno on his Twitter last week. Mom said she felt better after grabbing a bite. 

I slept that morning with a troubled heart.  

Ten hours later, I returned to her room to check her condition. Baby Lenin was still beside her, this time awake and grabbing things to throw them out of the bed, hoping it would make a sound. When asked about what she felt, mom said the pain remains but it was manageable. You can sense the hollowness in her words.

While having lunch, I convened the house-help to give orders.

"Meron yatang ulcer si Mama. Simula ngayon, kailangan na pakainin niyo siya sa oras." It was one of those moments when my words become the law.

"Si Ate naman kasi eh, Pepsi ng Pepsi... Ayan tuloy," One of the maids butted in.

"Simula ngayon wala ng Pepsi. Kapag nagpumilit, ako kamo ang nag-utos."  

To make sure my words are supported by the higher powers, I sent a text message to the favorite aunt to seek a doctor's advice. She called thirty minutes later, while I was at Mercury Drug to see if they sell Wheat Grass Juice in bulk. They only offer the ones in sachet packs.

"Alisin na lahat ng soft drinks pati na rin kape." The favorite aunt's stern voice boomed over the headset. More than anyone else in the family, her strict instructions hardly get bent.

"Itetext ko na lang sa iyo kung ano yung gamot na ipapainom." At least she wasn't fuming this time. Si Mama naman kasi, habang tumatanda, nagiging pasaway.

I returned home with a new set of orders. Some of them were made-up to impose heavier sanctions meant to teach my mom the importance of good health. Fried and fatty dishes will be off the menu and so is coffee. The driver-slash-assistant will also prevent the matriarch from buying meals from fast food kiosks. I'm even thinking of letting my mom substitute on steamed banana for snacks. Since she will demand for anything sweet to maintain her "normal" sugar level, I have decided to experiment with these:

Pha-Max Wheat Grass 

I'm hoping the juice's healing properties will do wonders before we have to resort to more serious and expensive medications.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gang Badoy

I don't know when, or how, or why I came across her Twitter account. But the moment I began following her timeline, I became an instant fan. 

Her witty banters and personal thoughts about the issues of the day shape my own opinions. It was like meeting the cool teacher you never had. (or have, but decided not to make a run for social media) It was like returning to the university, except that learning happens, not in the four corners of the classroom, but in front of the computer while at work. I nod at her ideas and for that, I felt a little more engaged.

She is the founder of Rock Ed Philippines, an organization that aims to empower young people through alternative education. She used to host a radio talk show on NU-107 before the station had a crappy reformat last year. I wasn't able to tune in while she interviewed musicians, politicians and TV personalities, but I've heard she had a following. She pushes for youth participation, to make them more aware of the happenings in government, and believes that music lets young people get in touch with their world. Yada... yada... yada... So much for the cheesy talk. But I guess you get the drift.

Badoy's Twitter Account

The first time I saw her face was when she was interviewed for the National Geographic Channel's "Live Curious." campaign. When I told her about what I've seen, she merely replied, "Ayos ba, nahirapan pa akong mag-English niyan." Coolness to the nth level. It came straight from the gut. Before that, I used to think that Gang Badoy was a front man of a rock band. The disc jocks on NU were raving about the name, and now I know why.

But the entry is not about that. You see, I wouldn't pay this much attention, this much admiration, if not for this passage I came across on Wikipedia.

"Badoy is often noted as a hero for her actions during Typhoon Ondoy. Badoy took it upon herself to turn radio station Jam 88.3, which was hosting Rock Ed Radio at the time, into a venue for coordinating information about the situation in Metro Manila. The station had at first shifted to pre-recorded programming while its staff were unable to get to the station during the storm, but Badoy went there and insisted that it would be more useful for the station to do what it can to keep people connected and informed. Badoy insists to always include Lambert Cruz (a Jam 88.3 jock) in the narration of this story. After a few hours, several other friends and volunteers joined to assist in taking the urgent and numerous messages sent in by the many people stranded by the typhoon. Badoy believed that during the storm there's a high probability that only cell phones will have literal power and cell phones only have radios that connect to FM radio. So instead of keeping the news and information confined to AM airwaves, she took it upon herself to say FM radio should be directly involved in civic action, for once. "It just made sense." Is how she explains that revolutionary call she made during the first hours of Typhoon Ondoy."

To imagine her manning the DJ booth at a time of great need was enough to inspire. So awed I was that I became curious of her other accomplishments. Little did I know that my digging would lead to the organization she proudly represents.

Rock Ed.

And they are looking for volunteers.

I have always embraced the idea that greatness starts with selflessness, and in time of urgency, I have proven myself to answer the call.

Hoping that this little exercise to feature someone I look up to in Twitter would turn into something enriching, I signed up as a volunteer for Rock Ed Philippines. Gang Badoy may never come across this page dedicated to her, but in setting a clever example, perhaps, maybe, she has touched another soul.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


"Hey, what time do you work out in Eclipse? I'm eyeing for a buddy, if you don't mind." 

It was a private message I received the other night. As part of the gym's aspiration to become more gay-friendly, I returned to Pinoyexchange AP Work Out Thread to help the forum posters there with their training concerns. My presence also aims to connect the gay people who are members of the gym.

Like the head coach, who is also the moderator of another forum, I try to project a stern, straight-as-a-ruler image. I engage only in no-nonesense talk. I urge people to work out, (better if its in our gym) and as far as I remember, I have never entertained the idea of meeting other people.

Not even when its about showing around the gym.  

So imagine how I was caught off-guard when a user named 7incher_hunkTop sent me the private message. I won't sugarcoat my thoughts and just like everyone else, I'd be curious as to what he looks like. The way he writes, he seem self-assured, masculine, and a no-nonesense talker too, and I know some gays would bitch slap each other just to switch places with me.

I was on the defense so I replied:

"Erratic schedule ko pre eh. What time do you work out, baka puwede kita i-reto sa kasabayan mo."

I was serious in finding him a gym partner. Maybe I could introduce him to Smellycat and his beefcake boyfriend who are more capable and knowledgeable with free-weights. Perhaps @ossiepeaker who is a hunk himself (based from his DP) could become my proxy. Being single, and having the same bed preference, their arrangement would be less awkward.

Anyone, actually, but not me.

I do not know where this aversion comes from. Surely its not about personal policies anymore, or the polarities we have. I do not know even if I am being threatened by mere assumptions, or am I reinforcing my walls because instincts tell to keep some distance from someone who blatantly advertises the length of his manhood.

There is no doubt he approached me in good faith. But I guess, the fault lies with me: I am still a long way to go before I could finally make peace with my past .

And even though I've learned that we share a common timeline, ignoring his invitation would be the best course of action:

"I go there midnights. What time do you usually hit Eclipse?" 

I know a couple of good-looking buff guys who work out at around midnight. Acknowledging my own frailty, I will keep struggling to hold back my expanding frame, and just sense the boy in the distance.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The (Blog) World According To Garp

It took him just eleven words to convince me to move out of the PEx thread and into the realms of blogspot. Since the time I put up my first online journal, I never left.

A flashback:

February 16, 2004.
The Yahoo Groups

"Mej0 syrupy nga lang and s0brang dako at mahaba ang c0ntent." He was inviting us to take a peek into his world.

I have always been drawn to the written word long before I became a literary craftsman. Seldom do I read books, and for this reason, letters seem to elude me. But when a published work catches my fancy (or when an esteemed professor required a reading in class), I devour the sentences and paragraphs like a famished wanderer. Even scraps never go to waste.   

I hardly enjoy made-up tales, unless the entire piece brushes the realms of fantasy. This aversion to real-life speculation reinforced my affection to Non-Fiction. So strong was my obsession with the genre that I went all the way to Diliman just to master the craft. Five years later and I'm still struggling to cross the final lap.  

But the entry is not about me. This is a heads-up to that one person who stirred my consciousness so it would awaken in this world. For without his random (and nonchalant) blog plug, I would never find a place to lay down my broken quill.

Trust me when I say this: Back then, in the four corners of the classroom, boy I never write like this.

It was a juvenile attempt to spew out my thoughts and never feel bad about the puddle of word vomit I left as a trail. He on the other hand, was just refining his very sharp pen. And after all these years of surfacing and submerging into the pool of collective thought, he emerged once again to take his place as a precursor to what has become


"Garp said that I'm a better writer here than in PEx. Probably because I am free to do a lot of stuffs here that I can't do there and the thing is, I'm gradually enjoying my existence here. But after reading Toinks' (another prolific writer-friend) blog again, I feel that I'm still hopeless. I shouldn't have taken journalism as a course. Sometimes I still feel that I'm not worthy... to be a writer. Maybe taking up psychology would be a better idea instead. I think that I'm better when understanding human behavior rather than expressing myself through words."

Afternoon Jazz
Fullmetal Dreams
February 26, 2004

His return, after so many years of absence tells us that bloggers do make a comeback. And with his arrival comes the strongest sign to pursue my academic plans. These past few days, that little voice inside my head has been telling me again and again and again not to get terrified of Fiction.

Who knows, I may find the balls to start writing that thesis as well.

I know Mr. Garp, you don't want your identity revealed. But like a fan to a celebrity, it was giddiness I felt when I learned it was you who came back. And just to let you know, after all these years of writing and writing and writing - including our shared journeys,  

I always remember how it all began. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Backpacker: Santa Ana, Cagayan

Previously on Souljacker:

Fourth Part: Country Inn by the Sea

The earthly trail evaporates where the sea meets the land, and once again, I am back to the same spot I had just left when the sun was about to reign over the sky.

This time, there is no thrill in a comeback. My legs are heavy, like a log, and my head, woozy not because of sleeplessness but of hunger. 

The last morsels of noodles, meat and vegetables went down my gut at around 8 pm the night before, after the bus had crossed the highest pass between Sierra Madre and Caraballo. To stay more than 12 hours with an empty stomach is a feat no ordinary man could withstand.

Thank God for the skipped meals when I needed to lose weight, I never passed out.

The trike stopped in front of a two-story building that looks more like a motel, than a stately resort facing the sea. It has a narrow driveway leading to a courtyard which also serve as the parking lot. The lobby is found in a corner flanked by the conference room and the bar-slash-restaurant with a coffee-shop ambiance.

"At least the place doesn't reek of prostitutes." I thought. "Hope I found myself a much better place."

"Miss, may Wi-Fi kayo dito right?" I stopped asking about room rates and decided to just get to the point.

The receptionist confirmed what was advertised in Santa Ana's FB page. I then asked if I could try their Internet. Without asking questions, or even imposing conditions, she handed me a piece of paper with the password written on it.

This time, I was able to surf the web. 

Putangina! Sa wakas, nagtagumpay rin!

I immediately asked the partner to show up on Skype. While waiting for him to go online, I set up my temporary command post in one of the coffee shop's round tables. At the same time, I began negotiating the terms of my stay. Once I am able to show JC the panoramic view of the beach, I wouldn't look for another resort. Country Inn will serve as my shelter. 

"Ilan po kayo sa room?" The receptionist asked.

"Ako lang," I said proudly. "Ako lang mag-isa."

Before she was able to describe the features of the room, as well as the price for an overnight stay, the laptop suddenly chimed the familiar ringtone.

It was Baabaa calling.

Base Alpha (Country Inn Bar and Restaurant) 

"Mainggit ka!! Mainggit ka!!" I was teasing my partner repeatedly.

I picked up the laptop and carried it to the courtyard. I heard the receptionist warning me about the distance covered by the Wi-Fi signal, but her caution was ignored. I tried walking as close to the gazebos overlooking the beach, but by then, the sound of JC's voice had become spotty.

I had to go back.

Nothing much has been said, except that Baabaa kept on urging me to enjoy the vacation. He did rebuke my claims that I had plans before embarking on a road trip, and told me that instead of spending the day slumped in front of the laptop, I should explore.

We could always talk on Skype on another day.

After saying our goodbyes, I returned to the receptionist to seal the deal.

"P1700 ba kamo?" I took out my wallet to start counting my money. I'd be 400 pesos poorer and since I didn't bring a lot of hard currency, there's a possibility I'd be short on cash.

"Wala na bang discount yun?" The receptionist smiled.

Another attendant whisked me off to the rooms along the driveway. Two were available, one of which I could occupy depending on my fancy. There was this room with two beds for travellers, while the other had a king-sized one. Perfect for couples. I picked the latter since it was nearer to the courtyard. Besides, I don't want to see an empty bed reminding me of my solitary trip.

After dropping my bag, I stripped off my clothes and turned on the AC. I was about to take a shower but decided to switch on the television instead. I wanted to see what channels were available on their cable. By then, I was too tired to get up (for I was already in bed,) and I was getting comfortable between the pillows. Feeling the heat, and the thought of JC beside me, I began stroking my hard on, while letting my imagination fill the hole...

...inside my head.

Shit ang sarap.

Fell asleep naked and with beads of cum drying on my tummy.

Samsara Station (Family Room Deluxe 1,700 @ night - off peak) 

The sleep was a short-lived respite for I had been stirred by Tophe's phone call an hour later. I decided not to answer it. Before going back to bed, I checked the unread message on my inbox.

"Sir your room is ready, shall we go in?" Hah, if only it was worded that way. Instead he told me that the guest occupying the room reserved for me had left and he was asking if I'm still keen on renting it.

I didn't reply to his SMS. Only much later, did I send a text message telling him that I was able to get a room at Eastern Hawaii.

By then, dust, grime and the stains of my sticky manhood had accumulated on my body. Nakalimutan ko nga pala magshower bago makaidlip. Good thing, I was already naked. I tiptoed to the shower cubicle, adjusted the water heater so that hot water comes out, and took a leisurely bath. Suddenly, I found myself having a boner again and boy did I jack it off in front of the mirror until the sink was a mess.

It could have been a steamy honeymoon with the partner, but instead, I was making love with myself. Haha.

An hour before lunchtime and the pangs of hunger could no longer be set aside. I went back to the bar-slash-restaurant with a coffee-shop ambiance to order my first meal.

"Tocilog please," I told the waiter. I had to said bye-bye to my hundred pesos. To my surprise, P45 pesos made a comeback. Not bad for a hearty meal.

Between sending Tweet messages and waiting for the partner to go online again, a black cat wandered nearby and with the audacity of an in-house pet, rubbed its body against my legs. Being a cat lover, the pussy caught my attention but because I had no scraps of food on my plate, the poor feline had to make do with the endless cuddling and petting.

Twice, an attendant tried to shoo the cat away but I told her not to. I still want our picture taken.

Another waiter came back with a cup of coffee, complements of the group holding a seminar in the adjacent room.

It actually tasted good.

Mao (Darker Than Black)

The last Skype session happened at twelve noon, which is around midnight somewhere in the Atlantic. It was I who insisted the call, despite able to cover a dozen things to talk about the whole morning.

The partner and I had a brief and casual talk. Not the sing and dance he does in the confines of our own quarters at home. JC was more inclined to know what my plans are and at that time, I had none. In fact, had I failed to find a place to stay, I could simply put the laptop inside my backpack and board the same flower-hippie Florida Bus for a 15-hour return trip home.

Adik lang.

But instead, the partner's pragmatism prevailed.  

"Huy ano na! Di ka pa yata nag-offline simula kanina, lumabas ka nga diyan at maghanap ng pupuntahan." Sungit much eh?

He was right.

The secret blueprint, which I carefully and secretly drafted just days before my departure only covered the distance from Manila to Cagayan. I knew what bus to ride, the clothes and electronic gadgets to bring and the amount of cash to put in my wallet.

The plan had its failings too - like not bringing the Nano charger, or not taking into account the fact that Santa Ana has only one ATM machine, which according to my sources at the Country Inn goes offline all the time. I don't even know if there's a bus bound for Manila leaving Centro before noon.

I was there just for the Skype sessions but after the goal has been fulfilled, the itinerary is a blank slate open to a myriad of experience.

Looking back, the shoddy planning had left me with a brilliant opportunity to get to know how tough I am when left to my own devices. I was a first-time backpacker, with limited cash and limited time to see the town. What I will do after turning off the laptop will tell much about the rest of the trip.

Will I stay inside the box, or set free the great ancient trekker in me?

Babuyan Channel, Country Inn By The Sea

After saying goodnight and sweet dreams to my partner, I went back to my room to change into my beach attire.

"It's time to live my own life," I would reflect much, much later.

And with the word thrill etched in my eyes, my heart hesitates, yet relents nonetheless,

this is where the real adventure begins.

- tobecontinued - 
- final part -

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Into The Matrix

In front of the PC
I surf the web for any 
human signs that may 
hinder my continuous assimilation
with the inorganic machine.

Three years after writing the passages above, a friend who used to work at Smart Communications told me the future of the Internet:

Personal computers can access the web without the need of cables. Broadband would be useless and telecommunications companies, like the one he's working for will provide Internet service to its customers.

At a time when social media was still being developed as a platform for trash and profound opinions, and dial-up remained the main method of connecting to the web. I merely shrugged at his prophesy. I couldn't even afford a postpaid service so I relied on pre-paid cards to access my blog. I am not even a techie or someone who goes crazy with electronic gadgets so whatever he told me meant nothing.  

As long as I could go online in a net cafe, then my worries were gone.

But then and now belong to different age. It is like comparing the renaissance with the landing on the moon even when both historic turning points share only the same vein. I knew there was no turning back after we have given up on dial-up last March. It's about time we catch up with technology. And with the appearance of the first laptop inside the house, the day when we will finally cut the cables and move around with a computer in our hands drew near. 

But a catalyst is needed to start the change.

I remember telling the partner that within a year after getting my laptop, the entire house will be wired. Funny because a few months after we first met, I told him that I knew nothing about Wi-Fi and all those stuff. I don't even pay attention when tech people around me talk about their latest electronic toy.

Last summer, I told my sister to convince my brother-in-law to get a laptop. Tutal, it will come from his mom's wallet. Since he doesn't want to work in an office setup, maybe he could just find a freelance job that lets him work at home. 

It so happened too that the organization where he moonlights lent him a Macbook. Ang sosyal lang diba, considering that what he does for a living has something to do with casting the government in a bad light and organizing "Occupy Mendiola" movements year round. 


But when the favorite aunt decided to give away her old laptop, and it coincided with the thoughts of letting my mom talk to her sisters abroad using Skype, that's when the need to unhook ourselves from cables become an urgency. We cannot stay longer sharing a single Ethernet connection, especially now that the sister too has emerged from the Dark Ages. 

It was when I went home one night and found my sister's husband working on a project in our living room did the final push happen. He could have done much work with the web around. The same morning, I asked the matriarch to fund my venture. A request I haven't done in a long time. Mom understood my points and handed me fifteen hundred bucks to buy this:

D-Link N-150. P1,950 Gilmore

A week has passed. The sister seldom stays in my room anymore to use my desktop. The brother-in-law stays more often in the sala with his Macbook. And the matriarch, the one who lent us the funds to complete this revolution, had her first taste of Facebook the night the entire house went online.

Sooner or later, when the helpers could finally afford a cheap smart phone from China. They too will be wired into the matrix.

The household will only then officially enters the Information Age.

Drained of humanity,
I was left in my chair
downloading my soul.

Cyber Sentience
Poem Book Six, The Dark Side of Light, 
I-Third Year UST - 2001