Thursday, February 28, 2013

Desecrating The Waterfront

As we raise our fists to the planned reclamation of the Manila Yacht Club, the unseen have begun to lay waste to the waterfront. The Baywalk's famed sunset is Manila's best tourist attraction.

Compassion must be given to these folks. I want to understand what convinced them to perch their tents and stack bricks they took from the ground to build homes at the Baywalk. The transients even find it more convenient to lay a piece of cardboard for them to sleep on. They cook meals behind the concrete wall, between the boulders separating the sea and the pavement. 

I wish my eyes can see their plight, and be swayed to their side. They deserve dignity. They ought to have a better life than being a squatter next to a boulevard.

But when degenerates desecrate a piece of land I consider paradise, all I can think of is carting them all one night to a far-flung place and trashing their makeshift houses.

In my heart, I wish security guards patrol the waterfront, to drive these homeless elsewhere.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Wilting Of The Flesh


You threw caution to the wind, and followed your stubborn heart. "I will give my all." You said, while rivulets of water are forced out of the spray bottle. At daybreak, artificial rain falls down your window soaking the Basils and Mints - the herbs you fear would wilt after basking under the late morning sun. The evening before, they too had their soil moist. You watered them after coming home from work.

The tell-tale sign was showing, but you thought it would be wise to ignore it. New leaf growth dried quicker than the old ones; even the healthy foliage began to wilt. The twice-a-day hydration went on for days until you came home this afternoon to find the plants stripped off their leaves. Birds were singing in the distance, you know it was their doing.

The absence of leaves expose the rotten stems. Entire stalks are decaying, the herbs are slowly dying. Realizing your fault, you left the parched soil baking.

Better to postpone the water giving the next day.

"So much for love," your empty stares failed to hide your resignation. It is as if something within crumbled into dust.

Bird Assault

"Too much and they die."   

Sunday, February 24, 2013


"I find you cute." 

A faint smile creased across my face after making a remark about his rugged looks. He was standing in front of me, next to the sink as we both took turns drinking a glass of water. He wore a neon blue cycling shorts and a grey muscle shirt, while I was wearing my casual night-out attire. I just came from a drinking binge with friends. My head was still woozy.

As to how I found myself there - in a loft - somewhere in Espana was neither planned or intentional. The host, who is about the same age as me (as his profile said) caught me off guard. I have secretly installed an app on my phone allowing me access to the blue planet

It's just a matter of time before I give in to my needs.

"Kung na late lang ng 2 minutes ang reply mo sa text ko," I confessed while holding his hand. "Wala ako sa tabi mo." I was telling him that once I get inside the house at that ungodly hour, no one, not even my boner can force me to sneak out. He kissed me before I was able to finish my sentence.

As I was browsing his profile a few steps outside the driveway earlier, there was something catchy about him that caught my attention. His pictures don't even say a lot  (his main display and only picture shows his hand resting on his thigh. Not even his torso is exposed). Maybe it was his honest evaluation of himself ("I'm just a simple guy with a crazy elusive ambition of meeting new acquaintance") or the manliness of his voice (I called his number to make it known that he was dealing with an equally straight-acting guy.) Whatever ease of ties came out of that two-minute phone call, one thing is for sure - there is an attraction we cannot deny. When he offered his place for a sleep over, I was half-certain to give in. 

What made the deed possible was the fateful appearance of a taxi cab in front of me.

It has been ages since I hooked up with anyone, and to find myself returning to the battlefield brought memories I no longer wish to recall. God knows how I pushed the envelope and tossed the dice like I don't need tomorrow. I played the game knowing I'd go home losing. It is always the heart that takes the blow every time I sleep with strangers. Maybe because unlike the Persian queen, whose head is always at the mercy of her king, I have no king to offer my head. There would be no One Thousand and One Night of storytelling for him to know it's not the expression of lust I desire,

It is the hope of finding someone (catching me in my wobbly footing) who I might find a lasting connection.

As the cab speeds toward our destination, my body jerks uncontrollably like it knew my peace will be shaken; like a cacophony of different emotions, I felt the pangs of dread, the bite of thrill, the slice of guilt and the empty truth of knowing I'd go home somewhat changed. Half-wishing to be stood by at a bend; to go home without seeing the face of the ka-meet up, was something I'd have as a consolation. "At least I might get a reminder that this is no longer my game," I said. But at the back of my head, a snub will only embolden me to claw deeper. It happened before. I only returned to the blue planet in search of another playmate.

"Sabihin mo sa guard kay Marc." He instructed after I called his number. He didn't reply to my text messages when I arrived at our meeting place.

Five flights of stairs and a turn to a corner. I found his door number and I knew there was no turning back. Closing my eyes for that one last hope - one last prayer that I'd at least leave his lair painfully content, I took off my mask and disarmed my defenses.

"Nagpapakatao lang." With a deep breath, I waited for someone to open the door.

Minutes later, I found myself in his bed narrating my tales with his arms wrapped around me.

It will be just for a night.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Return To The Fold

"May sasabihin ako sa iyo." My mom confessed one night as we were about to climb the stairs. "Nabasa ng kapatid mo yung blog mo."  

"Alam niya na ikaw ang nagpahiram ng pera." 

"Ah ganun ba?" I tried to hide the dread by pretending to be unaffected.

I knew that sooner or later, my online journal will be discovered. I have been bold in posting pictures of my nephews, and revealing in telling stories about home. I regard such change as part of growing up. For no longer I write about my sexual preference, or the gay lifestyle I have to live with.

I now write as an ordinary person.

My mother didn't bother to probe deeper into the scandalous entries I have published, and my sister never raised the topic of revelation at all - even when we argue about how she runs her life. I have no idea how many pages she was able to read, but certain my feelings are, that she learned what needs to be known.

For this reason, I had to shut down my blog, change its url, and allowed a select few to have access to it. Mostly those who bothered to ask about my sudden demise. Because even when I hardly spoke of ill feelings toward my family, having your mind and heart exposed is like walking naked around the house.

The blog is, by all accounts, my memoir.

But to abandon it and its voluminous work is like a death sentence. For many untold days, the blog was my only confidant. Just a click of its pages will reveal the past I hardly spoke to everyone. It is a slice of collective history of events and people - with me as the narrator.

And while the distillation of stories, and the change of medium has left many nuances of my life unwritten, I still believe that I weave words for tomorrow; that should my breathing get permanently stolen by some cosmic instruction, there are footprints for loved ones to trace behind.

And though I may have lost clout with the sudden change of portal. This decision, I will not regret. But to stay hidden and let the words wilt without being read, is a great disservice to those who still find faith in sentences. Words are meant to be shared, especially when penned for others to learn. This is my little contribution to the great human experience. 

Blogging maybe a dying craft. But as one of those who found voice - a corner of expression in the anonymity of the web, I refuse to disappear without putting my epilogue.

Today is the eve of my beginnings, and to remember that 23-year old boy who thought of putting into digital pages the annals of his mind, allow me to raise my pen - in his memory - by walking back into the light to share our journey.

May those who would bother to read, pick a gem or two from the stories of our time.

After Eden


Friday, February 22, 2013

To Joger

my baby
will not learn
the pangs of wants
the insecurity of my days

he will grow
well provided for
in intellectual and 
moral support.

he will be
a humanist and
a nationalist, a 
fighter and a redeemer.

November 10, 1981

My mom penned these words a month before I was born. She found the poem this morning and shared it with me. I hope I didn't fall short of her expectations. She didn't.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Sultanate and Sabah

"I agree. If there is going to be a referendum vote in Sabah, I am sure the majority of the population there would either go for complete autonomy or go for Malaysian government to govern them. There is no way the people of Sabah will go for Philippine government to govern them."

Jude Fawley
Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 21, 2013

Indanan, Jolo Island
Sulu Province, Bangsamoro, Philippines

I wake up every morning not knowing how my sari-sari store will run. Bandits hiding in the jungle show up from time to time demanding cash and supplies from people who got no money. The presence of marines from base camp drives neighbors back to their homes. Even with their road blocks in place, we never find safe haven when they are on patrol.

The pervading sense of lawlessness runs deep in my head. It warps into nightmares when I go to sleep, and weft into panic spells when I hear gunshots fired in the distance. At times, I thought of moving to Zamboanga to set up shop. But I distrust the Christians who back stabs when you're not around. My cousin in Davao had these people for neighbors. They were nice to them; they greet him every day. But in the company of other Christians, his neighbors refer to my cousin as Bin Laden's "goat."

Last week, the entire town had no power. The electric cooperative wasn't able to pay the grid. Some medical supplies were stolen at the health clinic and a teacher tended his resignation to work in a school in Marawi. Meanwhile, the Maranaos enjoy the attention of the president. The MILF were given health benefits and other social security packages early this month. I would like to think we're on to something. That at long last, we are being noticed. But my brother who works for Misuari said we were sold off in exchange for peace.


I wonder how can there be one in my homeland, when kids as young as five look up to Abu Sayaff as heroes? How can we have peace when our leaders are divided and our cousins in Manila don't give a fuck?

And how can there be peace when all I feel is abandonment; when hard working men are shoved in the ditch and royal families kill each other for attention they don't deserve?

It doesn't come as a surprise that some Tausūgs went to Lahad Datu in the name of its sultan. If they only knew their time spent occupying a land that is no longer ours was for Kiram's pleasure alone and not theirs. There is no promise of homeland in Malaysia, or a victor's welcome waiting upon their return to Simunul. They will be seen as good-for-nothing troublemakers: A big shame to everyone for causing our border crossing to Sabah more difficult.    

Given a choice, or had my grandfather didn't join that wretched armed struggle that never won our freedom, I would love to settle in Sabah.

I would rather be a Malaysian citizen.

There, I'd find peace of mind. I'd work alongside Muslims like me. The leaders I'd put into office were the ones I have chosen. Not by some birthright from days forgotten, or by some special anointment stamped by those in power in Malacanan.

It's getting dark now, and none of my wares have been sold. Not even the instant noodles I bought all the way from Jolo. It's been a month since I made profit, and no longer do I know when the promised progress will reach this corner. This charade will go on long after my grandchildren have their families.

We are used to this life.

So I don't really understand why those people up north talk of Sabah like the land is their possession, when they can't even provide our basic needs.

The gall they look past and beyond their borders when those of us here wished we belonged elsewhere and not in this place.

Lahad Datu, Sabah versus Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


"Oww... shoot!!"

The one peso missed its mark by a few centimeters. The silver coin should have landed on the small circle on the game board's checkered surface.

I should have won 10 pesos.

"Try ulit."

Garppp and Rocco were on the opposite corner of the deck, hurling their own coins and trying to land it on a square box with an assigned prize. Meanwhile, I squeezed the last coin in my hand before aiming it at a new target.

This time, the piso barrelled across the blank squares and disappeared behind the patch of potato chips and soft drinks. So much for being a gambler. I've had enough.

My friends and I were at the UP Fair to watch some local bands perform on Valentines Day. But we ended up checking the game tables, food kiosks and rides on the other side of the fair grounds.

The fair, with all its modern features had the trappings of the perya. The neighborhood fair that lasts for a week or a month, depending on who gives permission to operate it.

The game tables where we throw coins to win a prize were there, and so was the shooting galley where a player needs to hit a number of plastic birds (or stacked cans) before receiving a prize from the game master's sundry merchandise.

For a moment, I was brought back in time; back in the days when I would sneak out of the house at night and scurry towards the peryahan a few streets away.

There, among the company of gamblers, and kids who were allured to the sights and sounds of the clandestine casino, I would spend the spare change from my school baon hoping for that one chance to bring home something I could show off to my mom.

I would have made thoughtful reference to the amusement rides often seen in the perya. But sadly, I had no memory to speak of. Not when I was forbidden to ride those mechanical throwaways - those cheap thrills with their grease covered joints and pre-war hydraulics.

They are not for the faint-hearted like me.  

Instead, I would fondly remember the booth, (or hovel, depending on how you see the perya during the day) where colored light bulbs run across a large table and a spinning wheel horizontally placed next to the game master decides the prize.

One time, I placed my bet on a glassware and to my surprise, the flashing light bulbs stopped where I laid down my 10 pesos. Racing towards home with an amber-colored dining plate pressed against my chest, I gave the spoil to my mom to her amazement.

Never will I win a prize again.

The neighborhood fair lasted for a week or two, returning only a year after to attract more people to spend their cash on their gaming attractions. I didn't know how much money I lost, neither did the money I win. It is safe to say that I went home empty handed one evening and decided then and there that I won't be coming back.

Only now did I realize that somehow, the place taught me the basics of gambling.

But at the UP Fair Grounds, where a much older and stingy me walked past gaming boards and rode - for the first time - the Octopus, I felt a sense of loss, knowing too well that the sights and sounds of today's perya, is but a near-extinct novelty for the kids who found themselves there.

For those of us in the 90's, who had very few distractions, (apart from street games that we play at dusk and the Tokusatsu TV series we watch on weekends) the perya - with all its hidden vices and freak shows; its joy rides and occasional fist fights, affords us a night of spectacles and surprises to forget the troubles of tomorrow.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Relaunching The Raketship

My Elance account has been around before my chance encounter with Bentusi. Conceived with the notion of survival, its creation served as a buffer to the dwindling funds. The plan didn't push through after I met the editor. With the account nearly forgotten, it could have been erased with a click of a mouse button.

But times are hard these days and in no way can my wealth support my lifestyle. Leaving the workplace for greener fields is not an option, for I have become the trunk from which all branches spread out. Pushed against the wall, and with no one to rely on, the resurrection of the income-sourcing portal is the solution I have left.

And so I logged in using my old username. Twice, my password wasn't accepted for the wrong combination of letters and numbers. Updates had to be made with my job description and portfolio of written works. I uploaded a picture of myself - the one I had taken when the boss asked me to run a project last year. I also took skills tests to buttress my chances of being hired. 

To cap the preparation, I readied myself for a Skype interview. It will be the last leg of the process before my account is verified.

"Look at the camera while I take your picture," the caller said as we spoke using my laptop. As the sound of the camera shutter snaps my digital face, the interview was over. Email confirmation was sent soon after.

The boss was informed of the plan the next day. He was receptive to the idea given the grave situation at work. No longer just a sideline, or a work-from-home arrangement, Elance will become a springboard from which all work at the office may come.

"In the grand scheme of things..." I whispered before clicking the mouse button. I had just sent my first proposal for a writing project.

Remembering Bentusi and her early days as a work-at-home mom, I have cast myself into the open sea - and like her, maybe - I have nothing but thoughts of swimming and staying afloat.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Post Open Heart Surgery

February 14, Midnight.

At this witching hour, I was outside, somewhere at the corner of Taft and Vito Cruz. Coming from work, I swung by the last open Starbucks. Two slices of chocolate cheesecake, I bought for loved ones. One lives nearby. The other, I will bring home for my mother.

I called the receiver's phone to tell him I'm waiting across the street. I didn't tell him my plans that night, or the reason for my sudden appearance. I showed up to make his day special and to reaffirm our bonds.

I can never forget. Sappy as it sounds, but I spoke from the gut.

"Happy Valentines!" I gave him the slice of cake to his mild astonishment. "I hope you'll love it."

Past forward a year later, and the boy and I went our separate ways. And like a ghost who never left the earthly plane, I rekindle the memory so it wouldn't leave my head.

Maybe that night, or the nights when he seemed to be drifting away, I was hoping against hope that our union would go on. That one would not give up the other because he was outgrown. But fate had other plans. And despite my best, I'd still be retracing the maps that would lead me to my new direction.

In two months after the breakup, I could have been with someone else. Someone, who could put up with my moods, tame my barefoot demons, and who could have sheltered me from the sways of solitude.

But I decided with my heart's consent to prolong the suffering. Maybe, just to shove down my throat the hard lessons in loving... too much. 

In less than a quarter, I would have toyed with men's hearts. Get the attention I desired and move on, without telling my sudden indifference. I could have slept with anyone, had I didn't give a slice of faith that the weatherman will wait for me in the end.

Had he known the depth of my attachment, maybe he wouldn't quit on me too.

But it doesn't matter now. The open heart surgery is almost done.

Like the eternal chase of the sun and the moon - the star-crossed lovers who only get to meet at twilight - I'd go on, guarding every ground that is mine. I'd never let anyone cross the line and touch that soft spot that still lies within me. 

For after a decade of being found, lost, found again, and again, and after losing for the third time just when I thought I was ready to give up a lifetime, no longer do I have to prove anything. I am nearing the end of this journey and sometimes I think I had enough.

I have played nurse to flu-stricken and hospital-confined partners; been to distant corners to follow their footsteps. I have given up a laptop just to see someone parade the stage for his second graduation. I have shared my bed, my home, and even the food I eat, asking only little to the efforts I made.


But this is not how my narrative has been, and should I find myself dropping people and breaking their hearts into million pieces, may those who get to read this understand.

I no longer know if I'd give romance another shot, or let strangers take a peek at that faint spark inside my carved shell. But if there's a way I'd be found; and the resoluteness of my spirit speak once more of contentment like it is all there is to love. Let my history speaks well of me.

I have lived a life and survived.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Death Star

I still look at your picture every day,
and ask myself.

Had I been the black, shiny orb in the sky,
that took away your sunshine?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Exit Strategy

Lock the door, and make sure it cannot be opened. 

Take out the drinks from the closet - the bottles of vodka and rum you spirited away, when no one is looking. 

Draw a stick of cigarette. Place it firmly between your ash red lips. 

Puff it once to vent out your rage.  

Puff it twice to recall how the world has failed you.

Puff it thrice and feel the impulse. The black hole in place of your heart; the exit strategy stuck in your head. 

For tonight is the night. And as you take a hard look at the battle lines carved on your wrists; your failed attempts at your so-called emancipation. You thought of doing it again. Crashing here and there, and unable to bounce back. The cycle must end, under your own terms.

But first, a toast. To make the heart grow colder.

One shot, half the rum is gone. Another, and you thought of throwing up. But you held your guts so the alcohol will all go into your head, making you numb; making you sick; making you strong to do the deed before sleep lets you forget. It's time to say farewell - at least to a confidant who might see through the logic. Someone, who has no means of reaching out to those tucked in their beds, in rooms just beside yours.

You make sure she's held hostage.  

"Paghihiwalayin kami ni mommy." A text reply. She begs you to call for help.

"Mangyayari na naman ang nangyari dati." Another shot, and the bottle of rum is now empty.

Tipsy, you tried to get up and reach out under the bed. Your clammy hands feel a sharp, pointed object. A weapon you've kept to be used against no one but you. Once again, under the illusion of freedom, one slice to severe a nerve and blood flows between the flaps of your skin.

Staining the sheets.

"Hindi nag work eh." You sent to the confidant. "Hindi ko pa yata time." Your dark sense of humor drives the helpless soul opposite the line insane.

"Let's try another method." Now you're chugging the bottle of vodka.

With all your strength, you reach for the bar inside the closet, the stainless steel beam where you hang your nursing uniform you wear at work. Securing a knot, making sure it doesn't slip under your weight, you wrap the other end of the blanket around your neck, tighter and tighter until the noose is too difficult for anyone to untie it. 

Before it is all over, before consciousness slips away as you slide down to the floor, you think of a reason to abort the self destruction. Thoughts of your mom, who had time and time again came to your rescue. Thoughts of your dad who would always drive and pick you at work. And then finally, thoughts of your beloved, who had stuck with you through thick and thin, your flare ups, mood swings, and self-inflicted bruises. You think you are doing this for love: a love that is all yours forever and ever.

It makes you smile, at least, before the onset of the black out.

A few minutes later, your phone starts ringing. It's the confidant.

It keeps ringing and ringing, but the phone will be answered no more.

So young and so beautiful, Amor, 23 succumbs to the idea that there is joy in putting an end to one's own life.

May you rest in peace.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Freedom Fighter

In a twisted dreamscape, we live under a mad tyrant whose armies are sent to conquer the world. There are those opposed to his ways. But they are forced to work underground or risk exposing the resistance. It so happened that I am an assistant working for one of the opposition, a leader whose face and body features are identical to those of Milla Jovovich.

We live in a three-story house overlooking the sea. The lady has a vast collection of dolls which makes her home eerie to live in. One morning, I stuck my head out the window and saw the tyrant's army on the march. They have established a beach head along the waterfront.

I alerted the mistress to their presence and urged her to flee. She did without hesitation leaving me and a servant to delay the intruders. Soon, I heard the soldiers knocking at the door. Thinking it was a random house belonging to a local, they didn't force their way through.

I opened the door. 

The one assigned to the search party was a young soldier. Possibly a new recruit. Behind him was a mature looking grunt who appeared to be his superior.

They searched all over the place, while asking random questions to me and the servant. The servant reminded me of Corazon, the black lady with a low-pitch voice in Marimar. Her pot belly, big flabby arms and buttocks and dark skin are too distinct to mistake her for someone else.

As the search went on, I remember taking some items from my closet. I have this feeling they will burn down the house after we are taken custody. 

"Kaano-ano mo ang may-ari ng bahay?" The young soldier demanded answers.

"Tita ko po, pero matagal ko na hindi nakikita." I said while ducking on the floor.

I was ready to make an escape through the side windows (after putting a pair of boxers, a small toy I found inside the drawer and a picture of me and my mom I snatched from the frame inside my pants.) when I thought of a better idea.

"I want to serve the army someday," I said, to my captor's amazement. 

We were about to leave the house when I heard the servant whimpered. Apparently, the other soldier was touching her private body parts.

"Ang laki ng suso." He said softly. "At ang tambok ng puwet."

"Sir paano yun, maiistorbo natin sila." 

"Isara mo muna yung bintana." The young soldier ordered.

I don't know if he was simply letting his superior off the hook, or he wanted to join the fun before returning to base. But without second thought, I grabbed my captor's crotch and squeezed it gently. He resisted. He even went so far as to drop to the ground to keep me from unzipping his pants. 

I knew he would sooner give in, but my sight began failing and my surroundings slowly fading. Before I was able to make my next move, I was driven back to wakefulness and realized I have fallen asleep.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Custodian of Heaven

The earth is the cradle of humankind, but one cannot live in the cradle forever.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Russian Rocket Scientist, 1895 

Ascent it goes into the night sky, as dozens of distant white orbs still visible to the naked eye envy its passing.

More luminous than the morning star, and closer to Terra Firma than the silvery Luna, the International Space Station glides quietly, as the rest of humanity remains unaware of its swift and sudden transit.

Word came out around mid-afternoon. I was about to cross the street when the message alert was sent to my Gmail. Early this year, I signed up to a service that tells when the orbiting laboratory will be over one's head. 

I thought it was a fluke. 

But on that day the Spot the Station did wonders. The outpost in the sky will make a dazzling flyby. Rising from the sea and into the moonrise direction, the space station, with half a dozen souls taking up temporary residence will dash across the city at quarter past daybreak.

I raced towards open grounds to witness the spectacle. The waterfront was my direction as the open waters allow for an unobstructed view. But time was against me, and my luck was running out. With night time fast approaching, I was left with a nearer choice from the train station: 


I arrived at the park with just minutes to spare. Putting on my eye glasses, I craned my head upwards in search for the celestial apparition. Venus blinked twice, along with Jupiter and the Pleiades. In the northern sky, close to the horizon was a faint red dot. 

Mars appeared on the hunt. 

Into the makeshift stage I walked, and then lied on my back upon reaching its surface. It was at the middle of a clearing, just behind the dancing water fountains. The spot was densely packed with people. Below the stage were a couple of lovers dating. Not far were friends relaxing. It would have been amazing to see them scouting the sky.

But their lives are bound by earthly pursuits.

Between flipping my phone and looking up to scan the heavens, I invoked the genius of the science gods with a thought prayer.

"May their calculations never prove incorrect, and the satellite's trajectory put it where it should be." I searched the sky for signs.

"I didn't go all this way to see nothing." 

And then, as it was written in the electronic mail; and as described in Wikipedia, a bright, slow moving object appeared where the sun had earlier set. It crossed directly overhead like a lone angel watching over the mundane lives of a busy planet.

International Space Station (Center)

Not even a kid asking for solicitation could disrupt my moment. My thoughts were with the man-made object as it flew overhead. Mistaken as an airplane, it moved without a sound. Its luminescence said to be the third brightest comes from the sun, as its rays bounce off from the orbiter's solar panels.

As the ISS graced the sky, my thoughts go back to a time when the machine was still being conceived. Science fiction or science fact, dreamy friends spoke of tomorrow, like our lives dwell high above the earth plane.

"Eternity lies in the heavens." I whispered as the International Space Station disappeared from my sight.

And as time - my own time aligned with the present, and the voices of old friends faded into memory, I left the stage slightly stunned and buoyant.

Somewhere over the mantle of darkness, my eyes had seen what lies beyond the cradle.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Age of Restoration

I was sitting in the outer pews, in a church that has always been home.

In quiet solitude, I sat there as the breeze playfully caressed my skin, and the frosty afternoon sun yielded behind the mass of clouds. It's been ages since I returned. Nearly five months after I have said that one prayer that turned my life around.

I could have been some place else, perhaps at the Manila Seedling Bank to scout for herbs to put outside my window; or in the nearby hills where I retreat to watch the city illuminate as darkness blanket the sky. But I chose the monasterio as my destination. To restore old ties maybe, to confide to my creator the contents of my heart.

"Carlos Celdran convicted for Damaso Act," the feed read on Twitter. I was about to perform my acts of redemption when I thought of checking my account. The timeline fills with collective uproar against the decision. The indignation was directed at the priests who run the holy shrines I found myself in.

It is no secret that I have experienced doubts with my religion. I had my share of condemnation, repugnance, even disdain to those who blindly followed instructions I never embraced. I have seen how some men-in-robes sunk to such lows one could never thought doing. With my modern leanings in full swing and hypocrisy shoved down my throat by the same church I belong, I was close to believing that my faith no longer aligns with those of my religion.

I was tempted to join another sect.

But faith is something I have, without the trappings of doctrines. For this reason, I have deep respects for other creeds that don't lay claim monopoly on salvation. I may not show up during Eucharistic celebrations or pay attention to holy icons occupying the corners of my home, but I still know where my belief lies, even when it was being shrouded by forces I could no longer understand.

I sat there, in that long wooden chair, with moving kneeling pads across my feet. Not sure to pursue my intentions, or walk out as another non-believer.

"Do you still affirm that the temple is in your heart?" I contemplated.

"What brings you here in the first place?"

And then, like a sudden passing of the wind, I remember how I fell from grace. From that one intercession "to end the cycle," to the painful disunion that came a week later.

It was never easy to crumble into pieces, and lose the very earth that keeps you grounded. Something within had been disillusioned, and for this, I stopped going to church. But for some reasons, I have managed to stay afloat. Wounded and hurting, faith never faltered. And even when it seemed like I had to go through the most difficult upheavals on my own.

Somewhere in the cosmos never left. It took me some time to see it, but revelation is getting through.

"Count your blessings," the inner voice said. "Even when your heart could not easily see, the light shining before you."

"And don't mind the priests. They're as imperfect as you are."

I smiled.

With a pocket bible beside me, and a teal rosary wrapped around my hand, I began the Apostles Creed with my eyes closed and with my mind recalling the graces.

"...The pay raise, the chance to manage a project and earning the goodwill of the client, the arrival of the weatherman, meeting the Barakos, a prosperous holiday, a flat-screen TV from a relative abroad, the return of the helpers who have left, the random acts of kindness I never spoke, the recovery of Diego from sickness, the new laptop from the favorite aunt...."

So many to thank for. And my eyes began to see.