Monday, December 31, 2012

A Bus Ride



I warned my mom the other day that we won't fit inside the Tamaraw FX. It's New Year's eve and our lifelong tradition says that we should all go to Favorite Aunt's place and spend the Media Noche there. But the stubborn matriarch insisted that we will all fit inside the car. She even accused me of setting up a romantic date with someone on New Year's eve and that's the reason I don't want to join.

Come New Year's eve and after all the bags were accounted, it turned out that there is just enough space for six adults and two kids. I told my mom that nothing could change the fact that we are just too many, and it would be insane to tell the maid and the driver's assistant to squeeze themselves against the wall of luggage at the back of the car.

Defeated, my mom let me go my own way. 

The jeep ride from my place in Santa Mesa to Edsa Crossing was uneventful. There were the rant tweets alongside the New Year greetings to friends on Twitter. Bipolar lang. When I arrived at the infamous crossing, my real journey began. I wasn't done yet with my grumbling when I saw the great mass of humanity converging along Edsa.

How will I get to my destination on time?

It didn't help that most of the south-bound buses will take the Skyway. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes, nothing going to Bicutan showed up. I was deeply alarmed that my seething temper will linger way past New Year. I don't want to spoil the jovial atmosphere, be seen with a foul mood, or go emo while everyone's having fun. I was told to eat ice cream to relax, others tweeted that I should chill.

Then came the bus. 

It was dilapidated; a machine that's almost falling apart. It reminded me of that hell-spawn Pascual Liner and Saint Rose buses that ply along the congested highway. It was packed to the brim - of workers - rushing to get home. I climbed the stairs only to learn that the available space was at the door. One sharp swerve and I imagined myself getting thrown out of the bus and into the pavement, with crushed bones and flattened skin after being ran over by other vehicles.

But I have to reach Bicutan.

"Konting urong lang po sa gitna." The bus conductor repeated so often, he could have recorded and played it on a cassette tape to save his voice.

"Yung hindi po magkasya ang katawan sa next bus na lang po." I felt like a sardine, sending tweets inside the can.

Lucky for us, the bus was slow moving. But every time it stopped, more people pushed themselves to get in. Soon, there was no more space that the bus conductor had to order the doors closed. We were approaching the Magallanes flyover. We must brace ourselves for the bus' 160 kph soar across the expressway.










There was a change in the wind's direction. No longer furious at what I had to go through, looking at the weary passengers made me feel that my gripes were nothing compared to what these people had to endure - everyday - just to get home. All those squeezing and shoving; a sun soiled worker's body odor wafting under your nose, the snail-paced march of vehicles along Edsa, the mad rush to be at the dining table for tonight's feast. I made a good call to let my co-worker - who lives in Laguna - to work from home. I finally understood what she meant when she would have to fight limb to limb just to get on a bus.

The cool breeze and the gentle swerving of the bus as it cruises SLEx had blown away the bad vibes I was carrying in Edsa. Siguro sa awa sa mga pasahero, and my rubbing elbows with them changed my perspective. Sabi ko nga sa isang kaibigan sa Twitter, the people here have no idea that I was telling their everyday experience. It humbled me to a point that I have completely forgotten why I was mad in the first place.

The bus stopped a few feet away from the Bicutan overpass. As the passengers from Manila get out, more people pushed themselves to get in. I guess for these commuters, the bus conductors and the bus drivers, these scenes are part of their everyday commuting. But for me, who seldom use brute force - to have things my way - the little eye-opener was heaven's way of saying that I should be grateful - still - for the perks I get.


A journey ends, as others begin. Each one reaches their destination, one way or another.



It is often that I only see my defeats, especially during this year-end reflection. But when put alongside humanity's collective struggles, it turns out that life isn't really about me or my failures and victories. It is about my blending in with others that makes my time - here on the planet - that matters.


Cheers to the year ahead.
Happy New Year! 

      


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Shelter Me From The Storm







Pinagkait man ng tahanang matutuluyan,
sa piling ng mga rehas na bakal
at malalamig na tubo ng Maynilad,
doon ay natagpuan ang
pansamantalang taguan sa
marahas at mapagtaboy na lansangan.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Specter



He was sitting at the far end of the table. He was wearing a grey shirt and a pair of jeans I must have held in the past - when he stayed home for sleep-overs. I looked at his direction, briefly, and there he was, drinking his beer while his eyes cast downward. 

He was browsing his phone.

I dropped by, unannounced at the party when a friend asked for intervention. He was having troubles wrestling his demons, and he thought my arrival might turn the tide in his favor. When I showed up, all eyes were on me. Some even walked closer, patted me on the back, hugged me tight, as he sat there, still glued to his seat.

"J," I said, as I tried to be casual, like nothing had come between us. For old time's sake, perhaps, or maybe to show everyone that there's no bad blood at all. 

He nodded in response.

Old times. It is for this reason I hastened downing my warm beer, while puffing sticks of Marlboro, like my throat wasn't hurting. I smiled. I tried having small talks with everyone, but at the back of my head, I was counting the minutes before my graceless exit.

"Kamusta ka?" He asked after toasting my bottle to his half-empty glass. 

"Ayos lang." I smiled, while walking slowly backwards. The conversation ended there.

Between the two words I was able to speak, and a hundred thoughts I wished to convey, all I remember now is his kinder, gentler face. The face I used to steal glances when he was across the table, having a meal. Or when I open my eyes in the morning, and find him sleeping beside me. Clipping my lips, I turned around to return to my seat. It's enough charade for one night. My friend is begging for us to leave.

It was never my intention to be a specter, or make everyone feel awkward. And should I have other choices, I would have bailed the tropa without crashing the scene, or cast a long ominous shadow over the unsuspecting revelers. But the friend asked to make the explanation on his behalf, for his sudden disappearance. I obliged.

After all the gestures and display of body language, and after successfully pulling out the tropa and returning him to his right state of mind, I say time and time that it's okay; that I had to come because much was at stake. But when I look back, and ask, what will linger for a long time.

It is the feeling... the fissures of the heart.

Blame my frailty for this confession. But that night vented what I have tried to keep within. For all the distance I claim to have covered, the truth remains. 

I have not moved at all.



Monday, December 24, 2012

Parting Gift



She wakes up in the morning when everyone upstairs is still asleep. As the guardian of the little one, she gets out of the sofa, washes her face, and takes the baby from the sleeping parents. The little tyke closes his eyes before everyone does at night. But his sound slumber doesn't mean the end of her work. Sometimes she stays up until midnight to pacify the tantrums of the older one. Some late evenings, she helps the matriarch climb the stairs when my arms are not around to lift her from the chair. 

Whatever I know about her came from other sources. She was twenty five, has five young kids - three of them living with their father. A kasambahay even said that she put one for adoption. Another said she took care of children, whose parents worked in a mining firm. For all her hard work, it took months before we finally spoke. To have conversations. I often distrust outsiders and seldom do I pay attention to non-families at home. 

Despite her tireless dedication; the monotonous days when her eyes are glued to the children; the feeling of being left out when the family eats at a restaurant and she has to tag along as the nanny; what stuck in my head was the time she self-medicated the elder kid by dispensing an adult cough syrup. The incident remained our point of divergence. 

It has never changed ever since.

The rare small talks however didn't stop me from knowing her a little. From overheard conversations, to quiet observations, she revealed herself as human as she could ever be. She goes out for a drink with the lesbian driver when stress knocks her sanity. She tells about her little boys, who has never set foot in a shopping mall. Once, she mentioned that my nephew's broken toys (the ones I hid in the trash bin) are playthings for her children. She even lost all her belongings when her father torched her small house. When asked for the reason of her father's malevolence, she said it's his way of turning to ash the vile memory of her estranged husband.

Trivial, her stories were. But it was these little gems of knowledge that I held close to my chest. Who would have thought at a young age, our nephews' nanny had gone through the most unimaginable of tribulations. Thinking of her children alone - the youngest - as old as my elder nephew, living in sordid, lonely condition in the plains of Tarlac makes me feel how blessed our boys are.

It is this thought, stubbornly marked in my head that lead my feet to the corners of Carriedo. Christmas is a time of giving. What better way to put a smile on someone's face by showing one's generosity where it matters deeply.



Permanence, no matter how we desired was never the nanny's intention. She announced her end of service a few weeks before Christmas. She must go home. Unsure I am, if she spared some thoughts of coming back. With better offers elsewhere, and mouths to feed at home, practicality must reign over emotions.

What I am certain of is her heart is torn apart when thinking of her separation with our kids.

"Higa mo na lang si Diego sa crib." I found her one morning, sleeping next to the younger. Her arms clutching the baby tight.

"Hayaan niyo na kuya," She said in a soft voice. "Hanggang bukas na lang po ako." Respecting her decision, I continued walking, wordlessly, until I reached the stairs.

The nanny departed the next day with farewells and well wishes that lasted longer than the other nannies before. For in our hearts, despite her shortcomings, we felt her sincerity in watching over our little ones.

Knowing that she will return to her kids, whose lives are more uncertain than ours, there was an unspoken consensus at home. Maybe our spirits are fused together when making those who serve us feel at home.


Mom and sister each have their own gifts


The nanny will never come back. But in her heart and those of her sons, a little parting gift in behalf of our little boys - she loved so much - will make them remember.


From Aloy en Totoy (Diego and Lenin)


It is in the spirit of giving that we make life enriching.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Between Exes




Yet you still value the things you've lost the most. Because the things you've lost are still perfect in your head. They never rusted. They never broke. They are made of the memories you once had, which only grow rosier and brighter, day by day. They are made of the dreams of how wonderful things could have been and must never suffer the indignity of actually still existing. Of being real. Of having flaws. Of breaking and deteriorating.




Round and round I strode around the dining room, while the host laid down the place mats on the table. She was gorgeous and charming - like the last time we met. Sniffy the Terrier barked under the heirloom table. Still unused to my yearly presence, he sees me more of an intruder than an old friend.

There on the table was a Banana Cake. It crowned a ceramic plate. Golden brown and smooth as a cushion, the host boasted spending an entire afternoon baking the cake. Also on the table was a creamy pasta inside a Tupperware container. Probably a leftover from lunch. Despite the temptations of food and stories, my eyes trailed the sunlit portal leading to the balcony.

Shunned behind iron grills and glass sliding doors, the last rays of the crimson orb bathed the garden plants with natural light. I walked closer. Slower. As memory as old as a lifetime slowly blurred the line between now and before. 

I remember. I stood there in that same balcony, while the much younger host laid food on the table. The overcast heavens still heaved of rain as the passing cloudburst left the ground soaked, and the leaves moist with mountain-kissed teardrops. On the horizon was the sun, retreating behind the clouds, and into the evening. It allowed time a moment to recall. A small frog leaped behind pots of bleeding Caladiums, while stems of Mayanas swayed after being nudged by the playful breeze.

Soon, I heard my name called. It was time for snacks.

Now many years have passed, and the scenery outside had broken my orbit around the dining table. Without even asking permission, I took out the padlock binding the iron grills to the wall. With all my strength, I forced the door open. I even lifted the glass sliding door, whose wheels were derailed. Remembrance blinds the vision. I have to step foot outside. For in the garden - despite nearly forgotten - sums the blissful days I had spent with the host.

My ex-girlfriend.

Each careful step towards the balcony is like turning a page of our story. From the time I accompanied her when her boyfriend didn't show up, to our late night phone calls that lasted until daybreak. In-between were the movie dates, the showing-up-in-class late, with the wicked grin on our faces, the leadership training in Cavite, the confrontation at the beach, the ultimatum and the intervention of the best friend, to the silver bracelet I gave as a Christmas gift. There was the untold slipping to the rainbow side, the Christmas party where I hugged her tight, the break up by SMS and the revelation that I am...

Now leaning against the common side of the fence, we would talk about boys and heart matters like we were never once, a couple.

But I recall.

Looking around the garden, the pots of bloodied Caladium, whose heart-shaped leaves turn sideways against the sun. The Mayanas, once moist and lushful appeared wilting. Dried leaves were everywhere, the steel chairs unmoved. Beyond the balcony and the perimeter fence, the once rolling hills of West Fairview are now blocked by newly-constructed homes.

There's no more sight of farmlands.

We may never embrace the life we had - the ex and I - but with every hug, laughter and visit I do every Christmas - every time there is time - strengthens the bond we now have. The romantic ties maybe long gone, sometimes, even laughed at, but in its place thrives a deeper companionship that blooms, slowly, with age.



Only the things you no longer have will always be perfect.


The Efficiency and Perfection of the Lost


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Traffic Jam Moment




I was doing some gift wrapping in the living room this morning when my nephew appeared in front of me. In his hands were toy vehicles he took out from the toy box. 

My nephew carefully arranged the toys on the coffee table to simulate a rush hour traffic. A truck and a bus, longer than his arm lead the queue while plastic cars smaller than his fist line behind. The other half of the table is occupied by my gift boxes and wrappers so the toddler had little space to move his mini-traffic jam. 

"Laro tayo," I said while putting away my stuff. Baby Lenin looked at my direction to let me know that it's okay to play with him.


December, 2012


We ended up putting the vehicles on the floor, where there was enough space to move around. There, I was making engine and honking sounds as my nephew wordlessly tugged his cars. I could have spent an hour keeping him company. But a child's play - experts say - move at a quicker pace. I wasn't done yet with his toys when he thought of doing something else.

I could have let the moment pass by without any reference to my own childhood. But just when we were about to put the cars on the ground, a flashback turned the child's play into a moment of reminiscing. I remembered a picture my mom kept in one of my photo albums.


Circa 1983



A long time ago, a kid used to play what my nephew does today when thoughts of traffic jam excites his imagination.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mercedes Benz




W 115


The boss drives a red Mercedes Benz W 123 to work. Hailing from the late 70's, the sedan is honored as the best of its time. The boss also has a large poster adjacent to his table. Framed in old wood, and with words Gut Getroffen below the three-pointed star, there is no mistake that the wall decor refers to Karl Benz' early creation.

I do not know what other Benz stuff my superior collects. But when my feet carried me to Cubao X for some Christmas Shopping, I spotted a Benz car parked on a glass shelf.

I took the toy and felt it with my hand. It was made of tin and could fit inside a shoe box. There is a certain class to its obsolescence. Arcane. Its stories speak like a sage telling the lives it had seen. I thought of my boss as I let the sedan's wheels run over my skin. I remembered the poster at the heart of his quarters.

So I asked the store keeper how much the toy was.

"Two thousand," She said.

Knowing the collectible is beyond my means, I took out my phone camera, and while the storekeeper was looking elsewhere, took a snapshot of the Benz.

"Boss Paye," I wrote, before uploading the picture on Instagram.

Perhaps in the future. When I get promoted and my salary doubles. I will return to Cubao X and swing by the antique shop. Maybe then, when the tin-plated toy still sits on its glass shelf, I'll get it for my boss, 

As a Christmas present; As a worthwhile addition to his Mercedes Benz collection.


  

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Green Thumb Challenge









My college buddies and I capped the reunion with a sleep over at the host's place. The next day, I asked one of them to drop me off at the Manila Seedling Bank. The green spot at the corner of Quezon Avenue and Edsa has become one of my guilty pleasures. I can't help but channel the Martha Stewart in me every time I go there. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent putting the Basils and Mints on plastic pots I bought at Uni-Top. However, I ran out of soil, so I asked the next-door neighbor if I could dig the earth on one of her unused pots. She gave her permission. But the pot I dug was not entirely unoccupied. Kept in a shade and watered only by the passing rain, life struggles to assert its presence with an Oregano stem struggling to grow roots despite its failure to make sunshine-catching leaves.

I pulled out the Oregano and emptied the pot of soil. I could have thrown the stem away, but the Oregano came from the same mother plant which I used to grow some years ago. It was among the casualties when a new hobby took my time.

So I ran out of soil and used the earth from the unused pot belonging to a neighbor. When I found the Oregano, I thought of throwing it away. However, since I don't have the herb in my garden; and by stroke of luck, I discovered a plastic bag of clay soil among the sacks of concrete used as flood barrier, I filled the empty pot with dirt. I then poked a hole on its surface and replanted the Oregano stem.

Sitting outside my window, I intend to make the Oregano grow. Who knows, the herb might finally break the spell and let me resurrect nearly-dead plants back to its living form - like I used to - when I obsessed about gardening as a kid.






Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Little Camper




Eve.


The director approved my two-day vacation leave early this week. It will start in a few hours, but the excuse I gave was just a ruse. Sabi ko sa e-mail, "I will attend to some personal things," which he replied "ok" after I gave my assurance that I will still look after my shift. 

Buti na lang, he didn't pry into the details of my absence. He won't get an honest answer.

-

After four straight years, the helpers won't be baking Graham Cake today. Ang tamis kasi masyado. Nakakaumay na. I recently found out as well that my mom spends more cash in preparing the refrigerated pastry, when buying a cake at Red Ribbon cost less.

When my sister asked what cake I want, I paused. Told them to buy whatever they have in mind. But when my indecisiveness didn't work, I answered,

"Black Forest."

-

I was planning that we just dine out tomorrow. But when my mom brought the idea of including my sister and my brother-in-law, I hastily scrapped the idea. The last time the family went out for my mom's birthday treat, they ordered meals like they were the celebrant.  

They even added a pancake surprise for dessert. Nakakahiya lang, we should be the one throwing a party But since we don't have money, my mom ended up paying the bill.

So I asked this morning if we could have Carbonara and Chicken a-la Kiev for lunch tomorrow. 

Mom said, "Tingnan ko pa. Late ka na nagpahiwatig kasi."

-

When engraldrin kicked off his 30th birthday with a fab house party early this month, I felt a tinge of envy.

-

Gone are the days when someone would invite me at Heat and Conti's for a birthday dinner, or someone calling the shots at the Batcave for a night of drinking and laughter. I should have savored the moments. Who would have thought it won't last.

There will be no parties tomorrow. The next Encanto reunion will be in the honor of a brother returning home for the holidays. It will coincide with the Christmas gathering, if the folks are in the mood for merriment.

As for me, I intend to spend the day like I did in the past years. The return to the Monasterio - after three months of absence - is expected. I might make a detour at Ali Mall or Isetann for some Christmas Shopping. Or maybe, I might pull a surprise and show up at my ex-girlfriend's doorsteps before turning seaward to attend the yearly get-together with my university buddies.

There is no denial that I will be turning a year older more uncertain of the future. The project I was managing at work had pulled out. The Raketship with Bentusi will be no more, and just when I no longer see myself sailing the ocean of stars, I am once again, at the helm of the planetship.

Yet, in spite of the setback and disillusionment, I never see myself getting stuck in my spot. The optimist in me speaks, in toddlers' words, every time I get to play with my nephews, or when I water the plants outside the window, or when I say a little prayer - in the wind - so whoever the words are meant will know that I care,

Still.

Tomorrow is just another day for my boss, my work mates, and to hundreds of friends on my Facebook wall. (I disabled the alert.) But if there is one thing that makes this day special - for me, and for those who would be kind enough to remember - it is my reaffirmation that I will continue moving forward and go on - searching until at long last, I find the purpose and meaning of my existence.

Cheers to the long journey ahead.


The boys really waited until past midnight to blow the cake. Next year, unahan na ito.




In the silence of Mugenspace.

All glory to the hand that shapes the world.

Happy Birthday, Joms.





 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TNB 2







Boys,

Know the subtext. Ignore the context. The next time you have a date, sip a cup of tea at this chic boutique in Ongpin Street, Binondo. 

Who knows, you might end up having an extra serving of "milk" tea, before the night is over. 




Sunday, December 9, 2012

Into The Barakos



"May gagawin ka? Wanna meet later?" A stocky guy with a headless display picture asked. His invitation filtered through a private message.

"Yup. I have work, dude."

The guy and I got acquainted on Twitter the night before. Ayos lang. I was the one who trailed first so I was grateful for the follow-back. However, things got uneasy when he invited me for coffee. I read his direct message just hours after the mutual recognition. 

The meet up didn't push through. I had no time to respond because I had to rush a neighbor at San Lazaro after being bitten by our dog. He asked again the next day. I was at work, so I replied that I will have to see if I can accommodate his invitation. He was persistent, he even offered to pick me up so we can meet. 

"Mas nakakahiya yun. But thank you for the offer." 

Behind the stalling was the slight interest in the meet-up. I had nothing to do after my shift and the Encantos had their binge already. 

But I was aware too that I will be meeting a stranger. Someone, whose Twitter timeline I just got to read, and whose motives for the eyeball remain in doubt.

"Hindi naman ako stalker or bad person..."   

Given that I would be meeting a really nice guy, and his intention was just really to talk. But how can I be assured that I can carry a conversation? That our coffee eyeball won't be punctuated by cricket sounds, blank stares and whistling of the wind?

You see, despite the liberties guaranteed by my restored sovereignty, I haven't met anyone to talk and get to know. The Weatherman is another story, and while Fox will insist that I dated an Encanto apprentice, the hangout was merely a promise kept. 

He belongs to the friend zone.

I maybe denying myself some choices. But my gut tells that there is something wrong about the guy's approach. For one, our private talk centered around his keen interest for a meet-up. He did ask about my work and my face picture and that's all. 

For a moment there, it felt like Planet Romeo.

Twitter guy sent a direct messages from the start of my shift at 2 pm, until around six, when he asked again if our meet up will push through. All I knew from our conversation was his work and that he goes to the gym. The other details, I didn't bother to ask because as the hours passed, I have grown disinterested. I guess I was only thrilled at the idea of being picked by someone at work, and maybe, enjoy a midnight cruise around the city.

A road trip with someone you just met? In your dreams, Mugen.

"I have to decline your invitation. I am needed home. Sorry."

They say that a man who runs away is either a coward, a loner with a broken spirit, or someone who relocates to a new spot to shore up his strength. From departing the sleazy land masses of Planet Romeo; to the one-on-one friendly meet-ups I've been delaying; to becoming a not-so-prudish but uber-protective Ninang instead of hunting down my own prey in the dance clubs - there is a full-scale retreat - and somehow I'm beginning to understand the reason for the apparent cocooning.    

"Kuya Joms, nandito kami sa Googel Bar (malapit sa Eclipse) inom!" Nimmy sent as a direct message just minutes before my shift was over.

In the end, rather finding comfort from guys I don't know, I chose - for the first time - to wander closer to home and get to know the people who really touched my life.

And I didn't go wrong.

It was 5 in the morning. I left O-Bar after playing Ninang to Jap Nishi the entire night. Tired and exhausted, with the smile and laughter of those I met earlier that night becoming my hangover. I went home assured, no longer I will walk alone.




Friday, December 7, 2012

An Angry God







"Hala ka, magagalit si Papa God niyan!" An elder used to say to make us behave when we were kids. The warning always worked, as it reinforces the belief of a higher being, more supreme than the adults who used to take hold of our lives.

It is an instinctive response that never fails to sway blind obedience, as each generation gets to know the Almighty by his wrath. How unfortunate that those more knowledgeable in the life of Christ has omitted the truth: That God so loved the world, he sent his son to redeem us all.

The scare tactic dates back from the time of our beginnings. When our ancestors used to worship a different pantheon forever exiled in the fringes of our collective memory. Bathala, whose name the babaylans invoked in their prayers has now been replaced by another creator. To this day, a nation still gazes on his face for a whisper of redemption. 

Obedience would have worked, if the flock still get swayed by fear. But with the light of reason, the nation gets to question the pronouncements of these men-in-robes, whose human failings find its way into the spotlight all the time:

Priests molesting kids.

Priests cavorting millions of pesos from church donations.

Priests, whose medieval thinking clash with the modern age.

It's no wonder, every pronouncements the bishops make; every instructions they hissed at the pulpit disheartens not only the believers but those, whose faith has been dimmed.

“Ewan ko lang kung yan ay coincidence lang o dahil nga may pinapasabi ang Diyos sa atin na kapag iyan ay pinag-uusapan ng matindi ay parang may mensahe na nangyayari na maraming kahirapan na nagaganap sa atin," Pabillo said in an interview with Radio Veritas.

I do not know which side God takes on the issue of the Reproductive Health Bill. I do not bother to ask, for my heart already tells me that we are too many to be nurtured by the planet. But to come from the Bishop's mouth, that the cause of all these sufferings brought by the recent typhoon was the controversial bill, then in the name of the same God, I strongly condemn his position.

To be the voice of dissent, when not a single spiritual figure disapproves the insensitive remark continues to draw me away from the flock. But I'm not giving up yet, like many others who share my principle. For when the sounds of fear are less heeded and the mandate of love becomes the new gospel, there is this belief of redemption for my religion, still.

And in times of great tragedies - like the one that wiped out the towns of New Bataan and Cateel, my humanity tells me that it's not time to invoke a wrathful God. Rather, a compassionate Vicar of Christ must step forward and lead, so that everyone - cynics and believers - would work together to ease the suffering of the fallen. 

In an enlightened age, this will be my church.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Liftoff From Planet Romeo




Dear HavokSS,

I may come up with scores of excuses for your revival. I was bored, lonely and this difficulty in accepting what I have been reduced to drove me to crash again on the same planet. I wanted to know how I will measure against other men, and see where this searching will lead me. A good lay, I thought, will turn everything okay. Sex heals, and makes people feel better about themselves.

I could have easily followed the same game play. Upload pictures showing liberal exposures of the flesh. Write kinky teasers to call the attention of resident predators. And seal the deal by picking playmates close to my launch pad. 

The planet never runs out of horny men. Sooner or later, I would know that violent impalement.  

And the invitations did trickle in - without me writing the kinky teasers, or even telling a guy that I am courting the idea of sex. I stalled, made excuses, fapped myself to cloud nine as I find the live exercise an utter waste of energy. 

Strange isn't? 

It's been a month since I put up the account. But often, I ask the reason for logging in. If I didn't go online for hook-ups, does it mean I am exploring the possibilities of dating? Nah. I've hardly spoken to anyone, especially after the Collateral Damage made me realize the pains of abandonment. I tried having sensible conversations with a few, but I ended up logging out without even sharing my digits to an acquaintance.

As for hook-ups, have you ever get that feeling of going into a battle and leaving more defeated, instead of basking in lustful glow? Pardon for bringing up some forgotten anecdotes, but I do know someone who's an expert in hit and run. Remember how he deleted those phone numbers, and vowed never to speak to those guys again? Harsh, but that's how he had coped. But there's a catch to such quickies. It distorts one's measure of people. It makes the player anxious for days - if not weeks as he evaluates the possible fall out from each strike. And its exhausting, no matter how rare you find yourself launching an attack.

I no longer wish to be in that state.

And so, we made a decision.

As we ready to be hurled back to outer space, our stay in Planet Romeo did yield not a single eyeball, or a naughty distraction. Sure there were plans, and had there anyone close enough, persistent enough, and tease enough to keep us hooked, maybe I would have capitulated. And with it, we will have to say bye-bye to all the great legacies the past union had brought us.

I do not know the conclusion of this singlehood. Would I end up remaining detached and broken for years? Or would I put my faith to someone and become his reliable wing man? If there is a sliver of light to this interlude - aside from bringing TechHarry to the manifold - I guess you are not as rebellious as you once were. And despite the not-so-close encounters, the use of "pain relievers" and after having to meet again the demon that you have always been,






Deep down we know, we have given hope another shot.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Weatherman



3:50 am


It was 2 in the morning when he showed up at the front door. Exhaustion covered his face. His faint smile, soft, crackling voice and sleepy eyes made it look like he had just been pulled from the battlefield. Only hours before Pablo's landfall, he had decided to call it a night. His watch began at twilight the day before, and way past daybreak, he was still sending weather advisories only few ever get to read.

I may not understand his work, or why does he have to stay very late, but I felt his human need. So I let him in; showed him to my room and even helped him change to his sleeping clothes - the ones I wear at home. It doesn't matter that we didn't talk; that we cuddled briefly, or that we didn't make out like we used to once I lock my door. When the blanket was spread and the television turned off, I wrapped my arms around his naked chest, his head snugly rested on my shoulders. 

Kane once said that for all the lives we lived, the struggles we faced and the defeats we overcame - all by our solitary selves, we still yearn for that one person who would make a difference: to hear from his own words that we are not alone, and that no matter the difficulties are, everything will be okay. Words were hardly spoken when he slept over, yet our hands locked and our bodies remained intertwined the whole night. And for two hours of borrowed time - before he returns sending weather bulletins, and I resume constructing my fortress while laying waste to my own fields  - the nocturnal bliss almost felt like, my veins almost pulsed like, 

the weatherman and I are already one.





Friday, November 30, 2012

Moving (On) Without A Sound




Credit


The leviathan glides on,
seeking some unknown
clearing of light at the end
of its solitary voyage,
a journey marked only
by the fearful spaces
of empty ocean.

And yet how can it survive?



The Last Leviathan, 
Ruel De Vera
The Most Careful of Stars



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hubris



Previously: Scale Back


We were learning the ropes, and the once-sour relationship between me and the client had sweeten a bit. This morning, I just penned my first business proposal - to offer our skills in managing the website's wallflower social media accounts.

The team was confident it was doing well. The CEO just sent a congratulatory note last Thanksgiving for a "job well done." But then, life sometimes pull a nasty surprise when you thought you have figured things out.


We need you to immediately discontinue work for Green Eco Store, and send us the invoice for your work to date in November.  

We attempted to engage in a reasonable discussion about the October invoice and were unable to make progress in the allocated time.


Karma's a bitch and yours truly just got a gut-squeezing uppercut - just when it felt like the universe had shown mercy, and for a moment granted me reprieve.




Unfair Assessment



A conversation.

5. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:08

by the way, you spoke to the boy?
6. X  23. Nov. 2012 - 04:11

we're friends. do you know him?
7. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:13

yeah, I owe him an apology.
8. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:14

what for?
9. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:15

For suddenly stopped texting.
10. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:19

why?
11. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:21

He got too close.
12. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:22

too close to what? am i to ask you bit by bit about this?
13. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:24

fine with me, my worry is I am distracting you. You're looking for hook-ups, I'm just here to watch. :)
14. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:29

(laughs) maybe it's best that you stopped contacting him. that guy deserves someone better. you're a kid in a grown-up's body man. grow up
15. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:32

That's what I'm telling you. I stopped contacting him without telling my reason. He deserves a little honesty dude and since you're his friend, somehow the message will trickle back to him.
16. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:35

I'm logging out. Thanks for listening Ricardo.
17. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:36

so you made a fool out of him. that's just great man. tell you what, only a few genuine guys here exist. we are rare. =) you had your chance, and karma is a real bitch you know
18. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:39

not talking to you again man. blocked.


Ricardo got me there. Yes, for making a fool out of someone, and for acting like a kid by doing a disappearing act when his friend began texting random stuff - things I don't even care like his whereabouts or the meals he had eaten. 

But more than getting too close for comfort and the emotional hang ups, there are three reasons I decided to make haste and drop the boy. First is because I'm already going out with someone, second is because I can't recognize a friend who looks down on men who act and think less masculine than him and third is because I've never been truthful from the very start.

He was looking for a discreet and straight-acting confidant. And while I can appear more butch than him. I no longer consider myself a resident of the closet. Remembering what he told me about his online pal he "nearly punched" during a meet up for being a faker, I wonder what would my fate be had he known I hug trannies and cross-dressers in gay clubs.

I wasn't able to defend myself, or relay my apologies to the boy. I don't even know how Ricardo could make sweeping judgments when he hardly listened to what I was trying to say.

Deserved or not, there is no doubt that I would be seen in different prism as I continue to stumble between companionship and intimacy. This is just the opening salvo to a saga that has happened long before this journal has been conceived. I would never know how my story book will be read tomorrow - or who I'd end up next. But just to set things straight and bring peace to someone. I'd give the discreet boy some answers and explain my sudden disappearance.

Before I lift off for my journey to outer space.

At the very least he should know: 

I maybe manly and all, but deep down, I'm already proud at heart.        




Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ninang




Masayang nagsasayaw si Bunso kasama si Shattershards malapit sa stage nang mapansin ko ang lalaki sa aming likuran. 

Maputi ang binata, nasa mid-twenties ang edad at ang mga mata nito'y nakatingin sa aking inaanak. Ramdam ko na siya ay naaakit. Hindi nga lang nito alam kung paano magpapakilala.

Nahuli ko ang binata na pilit inaabot ang balikat ni bunso. Magalaw ang kanyang pagsasayaw kaya't hindi nito napansin ang pagdampi ng kamay ng tigahanga. Umulit pa ang lalaki ng isang beses, ngunit ito ay muling nabigo. 

Sa pagkakataong iyon ay ako na ang kumuha sa kanyang kamay. Ipinatong ko ito sa balikat ng aking kasama sabay pihit ng buong katawan nito upang makaharap ang binata. 

"Go dance with him," utos ko na may pilyong ngiti sa mukha. Sunod-sunuran naman si Bunso na tila alam na walang patutunguhan ang kanyang pag-kontra. 

Nagsayaw ang dalawa at sa aking kinaroroonan ay mukhang bagay na bagay sila. Magkasingtangkad, guwapo, at parehong may ipagmamalaking katawan. Sa piring ng usok at laser lights ay naaninag kong magkadikit ang katawan ng mga binata. Bumulong ang lalaki sa kanyang kasayaw. Si Bunso naman ay sabay turo sa akin, na tila nagpapahiwatig na ako ang kanyang kausapin sa kanyang binabalak.

"Puwede ko ba siya i-kiss?" Paalam sa akin ng binata. Ako naman ay tumango sabay turo ng aking hintuturo sa aking pisngi.

"Sa lips..." Paglilinaw niya. Muli ko naman diniin ang daliri ko sa aking pisngi.

Walang nagawa ang binata kaya't patuloy na nagsayaw ang dalawa. Makailang ulit na hinalikan ng lalaki si Bunso sa pisngi, habang ako naman ay nagsawalang bahala. "Trip-trip lang," sa isip ko. Tutal, pati ang Ninang ay ipinaris rin naman sa inaanak ng iba. 

Ngunit sa tuwing ilalapat ng lalaki ang kanyang labi at makikita kong umiiwas si Bunso, naroon ang mumunting pag-aalala. Paano kung maka-iskor ang binata samantalang hindi naman ito ang ibig ng inaanak ko? Paano kung sa biglang paghawi ng mga tao ay dumaan ang prinsipe na aming hinahanap?

Hindi nagtagal at ako na rin ang umakbay kay Bunso, at sa muli ay pinihit ko ito paharap sa akin. Walang nagawa ang kasayaw kundi bumalik sa kanyang mga barkada. Bakas ang disappointment at pagkabitin sa kanyang mukha. Party Pooper man kung titingnan, pero sadyang may limit lang talaga ang flirting lalo pa't hindi naman gusto ng isa ang kanyang kapiling.






Thursday, November 22, 2012

Noises From The Blue Planet



Headline. n. a 200-character online status which features heavily on dating websites like Planet Romeo. Headlines appear with the profiles of members on the site's search results. Mainly used to draw attention or sum a person's state of mind, (for those who don't bother to read personal descriptions) a sharp observer can sketch impressions simply by reading them.

For those who are good with ice breakers, headlines can sometimes open doors and strip men naked.




Be confident but never cocky. There's a thin line between being confident and being too full of yourself. Always remember that.

Flaunting your looks and intelligence and putting people down never gets you anywhere. A modest, self-assured introduction does. I know it's just a headline, and the kid's profile doesn't tell much. But I was so impressed with his gentle reminder, I left a footprint complementing his words.  




Don't message me if you don't look good, chubby, and ugly!! If you're not aware na pangit at chubby ka, sige lang message ka.. I will let you know... Hahahaha!! bbm?

No wonder, it's always windy in Santa Mesa. What's your storm category dude? 




Looking for smart, good looking like me. No Dramas...

Ayos na sana eh... kung hindi mo lang ginawang example ang sarili mo. Major, major turn off.




Partee boy here invite invite gvgvgvgvgvgvgvggv :)

Too much poppers snorting and pill popping will make your head... airy.





Kung ikaw makakatulong sa akin sa pamasahi ko pauwi jan sa Manila ikaw na maging ka live-in ko d2 pa ako sa Davao sa tita ko add me sa FB ko...

Iahon lang sa pagkalugmok sa probinsya, instaboylet kaagad? Panalo!! Sana lang, marunong ka rin magluto, mag-drive ng sasakyan, magkumpuni ng mga sirang gamit sa bahay at magbantay ng tindahan pag gabi. 

Kailangan namin ng boy.





P.R. is an avenue for SEX, stop pretending that you are here searching for friends and lover. Be true to your intentions! Patulong po makapasok ng work, palakasan ngayon sa pagpasok, kahit maganda record mo but still need somebody whom you know inside. (all caps)

Need I say more? Ikaw mismo contradicts your statement. How will you pass a job interview when your mind doesn't know where it's going? 

Here's my tip: Attend a call center training at TESDA. May ramp-up ang mga BPOs for next month's Holidays.




Wrapping your arms around me makes me feel safe and secure... and kissing gives the feeling that I am yours.. sigh.. how hopeless can I get? can we find love in a hopeless place like this.. sigh... :(


I wish to believe Rihanna speaks the truth. But many times, people confuse love for lust, and attraction for romance. Planet Romeo can be many things: a hook up pool, a well-spring of friendship, a river to taint with conceitedness, an empty lagoon for those searching for lovers. I feel the kid's longing and I do wish him well. But rather voice my desire to find the other, I will let the other find me; learn who I am, not in a place like this.




Looking for someone to spend my life with... and if that someone comes along, my life would be complete...

You're forty. A late-bloomer bachelor in the eyes of those who don't know your preference - if you've managed to hide it from them. Maybe, you're financially stable. Perhaps, you're emotionally mature to accept whatever life throws at you. And with a market on a slump; a sagging skin and deep facial lines to complement the expanding girth of the belly; and a social life that revolves around friends you have known for a lifetime, the only one missing is a devoted partner. Someone you would grow old with.

I still have a decade to waste. But when I read his headline, I let my thoughts float in the air - wishing - for him to find his happiness, wherever he lies.




Try me once u taste u will be hooked like a web of a spider ;)

Anudaw?




Looking for top to top fun.

Oh hello there Jap Nishi. I wonder what top to top fun is. Have you become a versa-in-denial? Lol.


Amusing as it is, you can log in and spend hours reading people's headlines. And upon reading hundreds of them, one can feel the interconnection. That somewhere along, these guys might have sent private messages to one another, spoke briefly on the phone, did quickies, fell in love, fell out of love and moved on. It's like everyone had experienced a trauma or elation, that it changed their view of others - forever. 

As a result, some choose to put walls and push away those who are not to their liking (no effems, skinnies and chubbies please, posers are losers etc.) while others continue to hope of a better story even when disappointments happen again and again. It's the same routine stuck on playback, until such time when it's too difficult to leave - for it's the only place you know to meet and talk to people - like you.

Not for me.

Looking back, the noises go on, even louder in the dead of the night. But when one longs for silence, and prefers deeply detached from others, there is no other way but to lift off and leave the planet, hopefully never to be heard or seen again.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Collateral Damage (Finale)



Previously on Souljacker


"So ano ang gagawin mo kapag bigla akong nagtanggal ng damit at tumabi sa iyo?" 

"Yayakapin kita at hahalikan." I sms-ed back. Earlier, the boy asked what I was doing. I said I'm in bed, writing notes on my journal.

"Nice... Palaban ka talaga ha?" 

"Ako pa..." I replied with a naughty emoticon. "Kala mo sa akin, masisindak sa iyo ser?" He went on to create sexy scenes that would make this entry a fitting addition to this cheeky blog.

It was the night after we talked on the phone. Even sunrise had beaten us to sleep as there were so many stories to tell and life to discover. From the time we woke up that weekend afternoon, to the final minutes before midnight as we readied to sleep, we were constantly updating each other about the things we did the whole day. 

I had no idea what he was up to. Maybe he had found a really good company as we both share the same wave length. It was possible too, that after all the excuses, he was hoping I would change my mind and let him into my place. 

What he didn't know is that from the moment he crossed the line and told me some perverse things that made me stiff the first night, he was already being sized up and put to my standard. All the stories he said - from having to endure a two-timer boyfriend for six months - and catching him with another guy at the pad they both shared; to his habit of running away from his eyeballs once they failed his "discreetness" test, to his desire for a simple life, (umiinom ako sa kanto-kanto lang; hindi ako kumakain sa restaurant, namamahalan ako; i don't go to the mall) to the fact that he is in the academe and is still being supported by his parents gave me a rather half-baked but blanket idea of the person I'm dealing with.

It didn't help that his SMS became more frequent after the weekend; his words more thoughtful and sweet when we have yet to meet for a drink.

Cruel as it may sound but I have been there - a long time ago. I met guys who were very sweet in SMS but they turn cold the moment you give in to their desire for an eyeball. One time, I've wasted an entire month getting to know someone, only to find out that our first meeting would be the last as we thought of keeping our options open. 

Expectation, when laced with attachment hurt. It destroys a rather good friendship when two people aren't mature enough to accept that real-life arrangement won't work. For this reason, I have learned: You never show strong interest to people you haven't met; chill lang, or you end up biting the dust long before you're able to scratch the surface and know, if your misplaced emotions should be there.

I would never deny my fault. That I sold my narrative very well that it got another person hooked. I revealed my delicate side in a place created for the purpose of getting laid. And when I let myself step over the periphery - when I have no intention of laying claim to the new territories - I was quick to run away when I sensed ties growing complicated.

Somehow it hurts when others have to pay the price for me to know where I stand.

"Kain tayo bro." No reply.

"Kamusta na pare?" No reply, still.

"Tol?" A frowning emoticon and still no reply. It will be his last sms to me.

All it took was three days for me to figure it won't work. And what's sad is that I haven't given him a chance even to explore the corners of friendship that I promised.

But when the heart and mind are torn apart, and a revolution rages within your badly divided self, sometimes the best course of action is to shun people out.

For when the baggage becomes too heavy, even when there is someone - willing - to carry them for you, most likely, you will never see the person's value.

Until you look at them at a hindsight.

I may never know how sincere the boy was or how betrayed he must have felt after I stopped texting. But when I sought within for a resolution, the untroubled voices resoundingly agreed to keep him out of trouble.

"Better for him to become a collateral," the self said. "Rather than receive a direct hit in a personal strife he has, and will never have a part.




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Utol



Someday, Baby Lenin will look back and say.

"Yaaaaaak, I kissed you on the cheek!?!"





Your uncle told you so.

So that when you both get into trouble, and we're no longer there to fight your battles, you'll know you have no one else to lean to but your brother.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Mellow



My starving ears may have its fill of euphoric, adrenalin-dripped thumping sounds of the dance floor. But when I am disarmed and my heart is exposed, the songs on my playlist mellow to these:




Natalie Walker - Colorblind


Heard the song played on Jam 88.3's A Different Sunday one evening and the melody got stuck in my ears ever since. The Counting Crow's cover speaks of someone's willingness to come into terms with herself - whatever her state of being. And that no matter how blurry her worldview has become, she longs for someone who would accept her for what she is.
    


Billie Myers - Kiss The Rain


Kiss The Rain, to many is a piano instrumental by Yiruma. But to those who were in their early twenties a decade ago, it was a Billie Myers signature that sent a lot of kids into fits of wrist cutting. According to Myers, she was listening to Bush's "Glycerine" one day and apparently misheard the chorus. Hearing the words "Kiss the Rain" instead of "Glycerine," she came up with a song that eventually would become her timeless contribution to music. 



Scala and Kolacny Brothers - Fake Plastic Trees


A fan of Homeland must have heard the angelic voices. Yes, the Belgian choir covered the Police's "Every Breath You Take." It was used for the season 2 teaser of the Emmy-awarded TV series. But before the choir rose to spotlight, their cover "Fake Plastic Trees" used to be a playlist favorite on Jam 88.3's A Different Sunday. 



The Wailing Jennys - The Parting Glass


Nothing beats a sound distilled to its bare essentials. It is for this reason A capella for me is one of the most moving and solemn forms of music. The Parting Glass was a splendid discovery. I was streaming YouTube when I came across The Walking Dead's season 3 trailer. The Wailing Jennys' haunting lullaby got me startled and typing the few words of the lyrics on Google lead me to the song's title.

The Parting Glass is an Irish and Scottish tradition. Often sung at the end of a gathering of friends, it reminds you that all good things must come to an end. 




Guster - Either Way


Guster is one of the hardly known alternative bands that made a dent when I still breathe in the closet. Their single, "Demon" was a song I used to play every time I need a reminder as to why deception is better than showing off your true skin. Many, many years later, I came across another of Guster's single and it touched me in ways a cold wind brushes the skin. Somber and cathartic; selfless to a fault, "Either Way invites a listener to curl up in bed and stare blankly at the wall as the heart re-evaluates the need to stay withdrawn so as to keep a frail side from being exposed.