Sunday, March 31, 2013

Floating, Still

"Ano gawa ng asawa ko?" 

Reading the text message, his words sting like toxin, paralyzing my head down to my chest. "It wasn't uncalled for." I thought. "There is intimacy between us, but that I am beginning to resist."

Like many stories, ours started on the surface of the Blue Planet. I was tempting fate and wanted to get laid. His private message caught my fancy. It was a tease; one that thrills the joystick below my groin. In just a few short, sleazy exchanges, he was able to see my face, and get my number.

Complements were made and that's where our ties took off.

Meet up was arranged the following day. "Let see where this goes," I said. But I made it clear that there will be no sleep over even when we like each other. There is chemistry, that I can say. And for two straight days I was under his spell. 

He was years ahead, but his boyish face makes him look younger than me. He was charming, assertive, and his journey spoke of guts and ambition. Traits I never had. His confidence disarmed me; I was enamored. And for this reason I disappeared on the Blue Planet. 

Because attachment would not let me find a distraction.

Among those I have seen, he was the first to meet my buddies. I was ready to introduce him, not because we are going steady but my attraction was strong. Friends approved. He was fun to be with. The tagayan ended close to daybreak. It's late. I offered my place, like he always wanted. and when he laid beside me; when our bodies merged in a carnal communion; and when our lips locked in a moment of heat, the sticky orgasm left me shrinking.

"I am not yet ready."

Perhaps I will never will.

It's been a week since our chance encounter, and his continued presence; his calls, texts, his twitter feeds remind me that I am prone to breaking expectations. I disappoint people. Perhaps he sensed the growing distance and he copes in ways he always knew. The way he says "iloveyou" to strangers, or his selfie uploads, and his posting of BBM Pin without telling me, hint of his insincerity.

Or maybe, I am making up excuses not to let my guard down.

I don't know. 

It is hard to tell where we stand. Vagueness makes room to slip pass his patrol and on to my emancipation. I have no intention of confirmation, nor recognition that he has part in my life. After getting used to doing things on my own, no longer will I let others have domain over me. 

Not with him.

His question will remain unanswered. No matter how it hurts - to admit - that it will not work out in the long run, to remain detached assures that our ties will not be severed. 

So this is me after six months. Troublemaker extraordinaire, careless teaser and conjurer of forgettable revelries, one look at how my life is going tells that even when my heart fondly remembers belonging to someone - to be in love and think nothing but the happiness of the other, 

It is wise that I should be left to my own devices. 

Because in truth, I bring nothing but sadness.

For over 4 years object S31 has remained in a stable Geosynchronous Orbit around Earth. It is theorised that the object possesses massive intelligence. No effort of communication has been successful since its initial arrival where it emitted an intense display of light in response to the cautious approach of the International Space Station. 

Very little is actually known about Object S31. It is the topic of much international debate and tension as to how to next proceed. It is stil unclear as to what the object's intentions are. It is theorised that the object is in fact one singular organism of intelligent design (created by some other intelligent life form) yet this too is the subject of much heated debate. 

Though there has been no official go ahead for any nation to further study the object up close, the International Space Station has remained locked in orbit beneath it since its arrival. Due to this, the space station has rapidly under gone hardware repurposing to make it more efficient at close range studies.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Stuff You Never Tell Friends

That I didn't go to work, not only to spare the company from paying my holiday pay, but I was in fact, running away.

That I no longer know the future of my profession, or the plans the director has for everyone in my team. 

That I am losing money faster than I can infuse fresh cash. I may have the means for income generation, but distraction keeps me from making progress.

That changes at home, with the departure of the lesbian driver for overseas work will alter our way of living. No longer can I sleep at night knowing there is someone who can drive if needed.

That I allowed impulse overrule reason and once again, the rage within will claim another collateral.

That one fine Good Friday, I had seen the truth; that I am spiraling out of control and is close to hitting rock bottom. With no comfort in the present, nor a future to lay on, I chose the path that would remind me of hope.

That in his abode, I may find salvation.  

The Tuna Sandwich while watching the last few minutes of American Idol; the dog walk around the complex, and the friendship I made with the Poodles; the heart to heart talk about my whirlwind romance and the imminent fall out, the consummating sound trip; the remembrance of timeless bonds that continue to grow.

What's in store for me remains to be seen. But on that day, without anyone at work knowing where I had been; To see my brother and to find myself reclined in his couch as I played Imperion, while he surfed the web using his tablet; and as mellow pop music played from the Bose speakers; calm descends upon my being.

Garppy may have been spared the details, but when I walked home after my visit to his apartment, I went away a little more faithful of tomorrow.

Friday, March 29, 2013


"Traditionally, the position of the Church regarding other religions was clear: The Catholic Faith is the only true religion, and outside of the Catholic Church there is no salvation. With all charity, the emphasis was on bringing the lost sheep back to the fold so that Our Lord's desire "that they all be one" might be fulfilled."

It is one of those little known churches in New Manila. 

Built along a quiet street, in a sloped corner surrounded by mansions, whose thick, concrete walls rise up to block the mercy of heaven, the House of God doesn't even have a parking lot for pilgrims. A hint, that maybe, it doesn't want to court attention.

The sanctum was a chance discovery. Mom and I were having our Visita Iglesia when someone belonging to our party suggested a sound idea: that we should give up our journey to the Church of Jesu in Ateneo and Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in Diliman.

"Mahal masyado sa gasolina." They reasoned. My mom agrees. "Hanap na lang tayo ng mas malapit na simbahan." She said.

With the aid of Google Map, I searched the area for places to visit. Something closer; better if it forms a string - like a rosary - with the last two churches to complete our pilgrimage.

"Kanan ka sa Betty Go-Belmonte," I instructed the driver. "Kung saan maraming tao, nandoon ang simbahan."

But the road was eerily empty. There were no faithful marching towards their destination, not even cars lining up as each one look for a tight space to park. As we cruised deeper into Betty Go, doubts begin to cloud our vision. Maybe there's no church there after all.

And then, we passed by a strip where a traffic build up happens when there is supposed to be none. Cars line both sides of the road as well. "I think we found our church," I said in a hushed voice. The holy shrine, shrouded by trees, was a little bigger than a chapel. It has no courtyard, and the gate directly leads to the balcony. If not for the people wandering outside, nobody would ever think they are standing in front of the Our Lady of Victories Church. 

The Our Lady of Victories is a two-story edifice, whose naive and altar lie above ground. Parishioners must climb a steep stair to reach the entrance, and it was this flight of stairs that initially puts us off. Only when the security officer told us of a ramp at the back of the church did we decide to pick my mom, who was waiting inside the car, and visit the sanctuary. 

Upon entering the chamber, a first-time guest will be amazed at the church's opulence. The wrought iron chandeliers suspended on the low ceiling, the ornately crafted hardwood pews, the massive retablo in front of the gilded altar, and fine terracotta covered the floor. The naive harkens to the old days. There is a whiff of Baroque in the interiors.

Looking around, I was thinking. Maybe, a very rich patron had given away his fortune - including his estate - and this church was the fruit of his charity. It is when I noticed the pious ladies with long, flowing veils covering their heads did I realize we have entered a place very different from the ones we used to go.

Turning my head around I saw pamphlets on top of a coffee table. I took one to read its contents. Seeing the words "Pope Pius" and "Vatican II," I began to grasp the idea behind the founding of this Church. It finally answers the question why there was a sign outside saying "Latin Mass only".

I turned a page of the pamphlet and read the article's title. "Who are we?" In bold capital letters. There and then, the remnants of the Dark Age appeared in the austere faces of those around us. At this time and age, there will always be people flinging themselves to the trenches, resisting the march of modernity; and whose religion had seen better days, before a grand council wiped out the old, orthodox ways of communion with the almighty.

In silence, they still profess their righteous conviction.

And I wish one day to take part in their celebration.



Monday, March 25, 2013


Anyone who stands between me and my freedom; my penchant to pursue a direction in my own pace; my elemental slide to melancholic solitude, risk being run over and getting stuck under my wheels. This is me without rails, without a train station to drop my baggage, with only a sliver of light to see my terminus.

It sucks to be a runaway train.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


So this is how it feels when your creation seems to slip away right before your eyes.

It began this morning - with a raid on my home planet. Cache of resources has been taken away without my knowledge. It was followed by another heist, which I was able to intercept just minutes before the assault took place. Lacking firepower to prevent the intruder, he took away what remains of my provisions. The hostile player didn't stop there. His third attempt turned out to be an invasion. There was time to prepare, and even craft an edict, which I sent to my team members.

Royal Decree XVII-A-IIXV
An Act of War Against Lord Vather and the Empire

We, the Royal House of Travessia, under the munificent graces of His Excellency, King Jai'ren Romanus Travessia III, the cause of joy and prosperity across the realms, having studied the latest incursion of this barbarian leader, Lord Vather against the peaceful people of Galente declares war against the Empire.
Whereas: The King feels the suffering of his people and is one with them in bringing justice to those who led the attack on the defenseless planet of Galente.
Whereas: The King recognizes the might of the Empire, but to lift the spirits of his broken people decides to send the Cerulean Fleet to make Lord Vather account for his errors. He must learn that the Realm of Mugen will not permit these merciless incursions into its worlds.
Whereas: The King, in his infinite wisdom knows that Galente cannot stand alone, thus recognizes the importance of allies in Centaurus. He may not be there to personally thank these governments, but he throws his support in building a coalition that will protect, not only the realm, but those worlds belonging to the community.
Whereas: The King approves the construction of a shipyard and defense installations on Galente, making the planet able to construct its own ships for protective measures.
This Royal Decree takes effect once the Cerulean Fleet arrives in Centaurus. Notice of War will never be sent to Lord Vather or his allies. The Royal House of Travessia entrusts the execution and promulgation of this decree to Viceroy Rafael Allende Smith.
Giventh this year of the Goddess, August 20, 3023. Gods Save The Realm.

I was having fun, really. The challenge stimulates whatever brain function I picked from playing strategy games in the past. Believing that ground defenses can hold block the assault, construction of flak batteries took place at the start of my shift. Four hours of tireless construction, while waiting for reinforcements to arrive; to finally thwart the invaders back to their world. I was confident of victory until the zero hour came and the painful truth opened my eyes to the hopelessness of my situation.

And so the countdown begins before someone steals my planet. Much as I would like to believe there is a possibility of retrieving a saved game, or even the dimmest of hope for my creation - to endure and one day get back at whoever caused this disruption - I have no choice but to admit defeat. With allies nowhere to be found and hails remaining unanswered, it is my best guess that Galente is a lost cause.

Perhaps in another game play. When I am able slip past the invader's attention and my new worlds prosper without his knowledge, I will get back what is mine and bring to his desktop the helplessness I have felt.  

Friday, March 22, 2013


It is easy to accuse my own mother that her careless tongue was the cause of my two-day lockdown. If psycho-science holds the key to everything that is true and infallible, then the reason for my strange malady was her harmless observation that I've gotten "a bit fat." 

Not a day after, my body showed signs of break down.

But behind the seemingly convincing reason for the muscle aches, low-grade fever and itchiness of the throat, what people don't know are the activities I did before posting on Twitter that I am feeling under the weather:

  • Huffed and puffed a pack of cigarette in two days + binge beer drinking.
  • Had four hours of sleep before I showed up for work.
  • Went to the gym after my shift. Had to lift 135 lbs for Bench Press and Front Squats. Five repetitions. Five sets. Not to mention the Military Press, Sledgehammer and Kettlebell Swings.
  • Went down six flights of stairs while carrying a Balikbayan Box full of used clothes.
  • Had gone through rush hour traffic to get to Navotas to deliver the said clothes.
  • Ate dinner at 10 in the evening. Last full meal was at 10 in the morning.
  • Shoved another stick of cigarette before going to bed.
  • All that happening in one day. 

My body has gone through some of the worse punishments ever imagined and I was confident that it can take another beating. But lest I forget, the strength of a twenty seven year old is no longer reliable when you are thirty one. 

The oatmeal dinner cannot even satisfy my nutrient requirement. 

So I spent my rest days in bed. Playing Imperion all day, while taking short naps in between. If there's a consolation to the forced grounding, I've learned that the reason why my herbs are dying is because the birds keep on nipping its leaves.

And that Mylar Tape is not available in Ace Hardware and National Bookstore. I need to find a way to keep the feathered pests from harassing my babies.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Game Geek

Since Garpppy and friends have been talking on Twitter their favorite video games, allow me to join the fun and share a thought or two, about the video game that keeps me busy lately.

The game is called Imperion. Developed by Travian Games, Imperion is a browser-based, resource management game that is set in the future. In a gist, you are given a planet from where to start expanding. You can annex planets to mine resources, colonize worlds to stretch your dominion, and research technologies to aid your imperial ambitions. 

Imperion is a massively multiplayer online game. It means that all your rivals - the ships attacking your poorly-defended colonies belong to another human player. You can join alliances for protection, or pick fights with rivals knowing there are players watching your back. However you choose to play - whether to send ships to raid worlds, or develop colonies until they become part of your war chest, the goal is to increase your score and outrank other players. 

I was invited to sign up and play the game. What began as mere curiosity became an addiction, which now forces me to go online several times a day. Getting hooked up, however, didn't happen overnight. I was not raided like my incognito accounts, or encouraged to play more as my score steadily rises. It required a little creativity and imagination to elevate my gaming experience.

Galaxy Screen

Great Leader Daemon,

We, the citizens of Colony P23452601 have established ourselves recently in the Centaurus Galaxy. Our people are a ragtag band of refugees escaping the Nolian Civil War on Fornax. Our planet is utterly defenseless against hostile and powerful invaders, a pirate base operates just outside our doorsteps.

Recognizing your military might, the colonial government of Mugen has voted to request for military protection. In return, we shall become vassals of your mighty state and contribute our wealth for your civil works.

We wish only to live in peace. Let us reach our aspirations by becoming part of your league.

Yours Truly,

Minister Jolee Ferieah
Travessia Landing Site, 
Colony P23452601

Star System Screen

The Cruxis High Council recommends to Fleet Admiral Messier Eins to send all fleets to Kratos in preparation for war with Emperor KronosGG of Tartarus system. All colonies are now sending all their resources to the Military base Kratos.

On 27.02.13 03:49:51, Mugen wrote:

Travessia, Galente - The Daemon imperial fleet has left Galente Space. This information was confirmed by Admiral Harvey Juice this morning during a press briefing with the prime minister. No word has been said as to the reason behind such pull out. Even PM Guerrero-Blue declined to explain the fleet's mysterious disappearance.

Opposition representatives believe that such pull out will exact a heavy price on the government. "There's a possibility of under-the-table resource exchange happening here" Councilor Vinnie Holliedaze suggested. "Their expedition force is far bigger than our own navy, they won't leave that world just like that!"

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports that a massive evacuation of civilian population is happening on Kratos. Sources close to the Cruxis imperial court refuse to comment on what is happening in the empire.

-  Breaking News: Daemon Navy Leaves Galente Space

Planet Works Screen

Frontierra Listening Post, Mantavara - Unconfirmed reports claim of massive damages and thousands of lives lost as the nearby planet of Stormo was sacked by another nation, our sources know only as "Agemo." 

Embassy officials from Kenpachi are still verifying the news as the Fallen Government cannot be reached at the moment.

Meanwhile, right-wing colony representatives in Galente are demanding military intervention on behalf of the Fallen. 

"How long shall we remain idle as small nations next to our borders are being raided by bandit kingdoms?" Uma Oppenheim, planetary representative of Aquario asked. "We should send our fleets to teach these bandits a lesson!"

Representatives from both Lumina and Lantis also share the same sentiment. "The Dreamwalkers asked for our help in the past and what did Greykane do?" Menthe Tarragon of Lantis says. "We literally kowtowed to Invictus and publicly apologized to the Dictator." 

"How wimp can we get?"

- Bandits On The Loose: The Fallen Homeworld Capitulates


As it has always been, I tend to romanticize my space-based strategy game and turn it into space opera. In the past, I did it with Master of Orion. The back stories I wrote on Word Document when I was in high school still remain on my disk drive today.  

These side shows not only sharpen my writing skills. It also puts a layer of character to an otherwise stale game play. Imperion's overused plot, conceived by its creators hardly sell. The game's repetitive nature (unless one belongs to an alliance) will bore a player before he could send his colonists to find new worlds to settle. 

What I didn't foresee is that there are players out there who are wired up the way a storyteller weaves narrative into images. One belongs to my alliance. Once he felt at ease putting his writing to use, our way of seeing things added a rich element, which, though may not be relevant to others, keep us playing for the time being. 

Icarnian Sketch- Today the Incarnian Imperial officials took the podium today and assured the public that the current blackouts due to the aggressive new Naval Expansion Act would soon be coming to an end. When questioned, Councilman Kilnirn was quoted, "Both Miran and the homeworld Orcin are beginning radical improvements to their power grids." 

When reporters finally got their feet in the door it was discovered that our home planet of Miran has already begun a huge expansion into hydro electricity, building three new dams in frontier settlements which will pipeline power via large transparamic cables. Environmental protesters attempted to blockade these improvements but their bodies were easily gathered and transported after the extreme cold caused hypothermia on a massive level. Senior Engineer Staffmaster Beordue was quoted, "The Paramic Ice Tundra couldn't stop us. I can't imagine why they thought they could. 

In other news, the Miran private sector gained a powerful ally when Incarnian Mining Tycoon Yeshua Black announced the current construction of twenty more mining ships. "With enemies on all sides of us we can't rely on bloated alliances and fat beurocrats to keep us safe. Simply digging our resources from the ground will take too long. These new teams will bring about 130,000 more resources a day, ensuring the Incarian Navy and your every day needs are met with immediate reprieve." He said Saturday during a surprise speech made at the breakfast table with one shocked Imperial official. These new teams along with his new "Single Comet" technique promises to bring in over 300,000 resources alone. Yeshua was heard saying, "Yes, you can spread miners out and find all sorts of comets and asteroids to mine from but if you spread out you become fodder for others. With my new protocols we can target huge meaty comets and with several crews working on the same one we not only get our resources faster, we also ensure that our mining crews are even better protected. Safety comes first. Especially on the frontier."

Please see page D-3 for the story continuation for "Frontier? I'd rather have my intestines colonized by Xen" and "Kittens: Secret assassin or cuddly pet?"


In reply to one Greykane Allison III,

It has come to the attention of the Order of Diskay, that a break be proposed. In light of the information currently attained this would seem a neigh suicidal request. The Dictatorial alliance is both well armed and highly aggressive. They care little for anything outside their current self interests and will not fear to bring about a highly labored assault for the mere insult of turning coats. The suggested actions you levy would bring about a certain war upon all the allied worlds. 

With that in mind it should be brought to your attention that you have the full backing of the Gods' Hammer fleet as admiraled by the Diskayian Order royal guard and his Imperial Majesty Remedes Lirin VI.

-Order of Diskay Knight Master, Sir Yeshua Black
Long live the Republic. Long live the Empire.

Times have made imagination a rare commodity. Lucky are those who can still put rich scenery, to an otherwise bleak field that cheapen one's gaming experience.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tactical Fall Back

Hi Wash

I regret to inform you that I have failed to transcribe the audio files you have sent.

I did my best to understand, and faithfully write the lecture, but the lecturer proved too challenging to comprehend. It might be because I am not a native British English speaker, or I cannot simply put into writing what the lecturer with a Russian (?) accent tried to convey.

Audio quality is another issue - my technical know-how limits my ability to enhance the audio files.

Attached are the partially completed notes I did. I hope the next contractor will be able to use them.

Again, my deepest apologies. Thank you for your patience.

Yours truly,

There is a universe of difference between writing and listening. 

One requires creation, the other, follow without question. Now that I recall, dictation is not really my strength. I used to copy notes from other students during lecture. I have no patience to listen, much more, to understand.

I have long accepted that I cannot do the job. Yet, to walk away without putting up a fight isn't really my idea. I do not know how much effort, or drive did I put in this project but at the very least, it was a collective decision. My work buddy, Allan agrees with my evaluation.

"Continue bidding," My boss said, when he caught me staring at the wall one morning. "If you only knew the price of my failings, employees lost jobs because of my wrong moves."

I looked at him without saying a word. I was too embarrassed to admit my limitations.


Much as I would like to think that I did the right thing: to let the client find someone else who is more suitable for the job, and to spare myself from performing below expectations, there is now an unmistakable scar that will haunt me every time I bid for a freelance job. I was given the opportunity and then ditch it because it cannot be done.

But I know too, that this has happened before. That my decision to give up not only lead to the cessation of obligation, I found myself happier with my choice. 

From my one-week stint as a cadet in the COCC program; to the walk out I did during my first call center job; to my decision not to push through with the SEO writing with another client; to the one-week love affair with someone before the Ex. The next chances proved to be the sweet spot.

Following the boss' words of wisdom, I decided not to retreat from bidding. As we negotiate new terms with Wash, somewhere in cyberspace the search continues.

Hoping the next time a client takes notice of my credentials - the professional services I am to perform is something drawn, closer to the heart.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Visit To The Dentist

"Kuya puwede mo ba samahan si Lenin sa Saturday morning sa dentist niya?" It was a text message from my sister. "May raket kasi nun si [insert name of husband] ako may report." Since I have no plans on that day, and bringing my nephew to the dentist would not get in the way of work, I replied "ok" to her request without asking the details of the visit. 

Come Saturday and I had to get up early. We have to be at the dental clinic before 10 and at 8:30 in the morning, I was still defying the calls to leave the bed. It will take me an hour to get ready. Meanwhile, Lenin was already done taking a bath. I checked him in the master's bedroom hoping the little tyke woke up late. 

"Bilisan mo at baka mahuli kayo," my mom warned. I barely paid attention to what she had said. Instead of going to the bathroom, I returned to my room to water the house plants.

The morning rituals didn't take long to finish. I was even able to have my breakfast while the nanny changed into casual wear. But despite the whirlwind preparation, we would still leave late. The driver slept elsewhere the night before, and she hasn't returned home yet.

Instead of waiting for her to arrive, we took a cab to get to the hospital.

The dentist was a charming, middle-aged woman who seem to have a way with kids. She didn't get mad even when we were 30 minutes late. She also kept on saying that my nephew is a "behaved patient," which I bought without question. After all, I was not around during Lenin's first visit. I have no idea what trouble, trauma and inconvenience he gave when he went there with his dad.

The procedure immediately started after the brief exchange of pleasantries. You could see in Lenin's eyes the growing fear as the dentist's chair begins to recline. She wrapped her arms around the panicking kid as he was trying to get up. It was her way of keeping him from being frightened. Meanwhile, I positioned myself near my nephew's feet to make sure a familiar presence is there should he starts crying.

He is up for some unpleasant dental experience.

"Open your mouth Lenin," the dentist instructed.

"Aaaaaaaaaaahhh!!" I opened my mouth to show my nephew what to do.

The friendly dentist showed us the places on his teeth where cavity starts building. She also told us the proper way of brushing, and the food my nephew should avoid eating before going to bed.

"Try to teach him to get used to drinking in glass," she told us. My nephew's nanny listened while Lenin tried to shield his eyes from the glaring light. "Plaque builds up kasi kapag natutulog ang bata."

I know that tooth preparation for Dental Filling is quite unpleasant even for adults like me. The jolt sometimes result in nasty pain when the sickle probe hits a rather large tooth decay. I know some people would rather receive analgesic to spare themselves from the sting. How much more, if one has to go through such procedure without any pain reliever at all.

Soon, my nephew began to wiggle as the procedure went on. Twice, thrice, a couple more times the Dentist assured that the fixing is almost done. But the truth is, her words delayed the inevitable. Lenin would soon squirm in pain.

Knowing that I could do little, I held his hand tight. 

"I'm here," I said. He calmed a bit, even for just a moment. But the filling had to go on, and as the composite resin begins to cover the exposed cavities, you would know that my nephew had just enough. The occasional whimpering became a loud bawl.

"Tapos naaaa!!!" At last, the procedure was over. Everyone felt relieved, including the lady dentist who suffered bite marks on her gloved fingers.

As a consolation - for all the troubles my nephew had to go through, he received a rubber balloon - shaped into a dog by the dentist herself. Personal touches were made - including drawing the eyes and mouth - to make the balloon resemble a real-life canine. After instructions were said, and my nephew allowed to leave, the attendant went to the desk to account for the dental services they did.

"Sir, bale may P1,000 pa kayong balance from Lenin's last visit." 

"Yeah," My mom told me about this balance before we left. She even gave a thousand pesos to pay for it.

"Nilagyan po natin ng tatlong pasta yung ngipin niya ngayon, so the total amount you have to settle is P1,500." I smiled sheepishly. I didn't bring any money.

"O sige, okay lang ba if I give you another one thousand tapos i-balance mo na lang yung natitirang P500?" The attendant gasped before agreeing to my suggestion. When the deal was sealed, I went to the nearest bank to withdraw the cash - and an extra crisp P100 bill for my nephew's meal.

The visit to the dentist was over in just an hour. But the experience was enough to bring back old dreams of me - and him - and once, my ex-partner of finding the three of us at Toy Kingdom, and buying Lenin the toy he desires. It was the first time I was given full confidence to look after our brood. And it felt like my responsibilities over him - and his little brother will expand as the two tykes grow older.  

As we walked towards the exit, I told the nanny that my last dental check up was half a decade ago. It was when I had a tooth extraction since I could not afford having a Root Canal.

"Ang mahal pala magpa-dentista ngayon." I said, while thinking of going to Centro Escolar University to avail their free dental check-up. 

The nanny nodded to affirm my observation.

Folding the receipt before sliding it inside the flap of my bag, I suddenly figured why I was asked to accompany my nephew. Like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, the cash out my mom and I did these past few days hint of financial difficulties. This reality became clearer as my nephew, the nanny and I neared home.

"Wais talaga..." I smiled.

Since no one at home could afford it, my sister lured me to committing to the appointment knowing that I have no choice but to pay - once the dental procedure is perfectly and flawlessly complete.


Thursday, March 14, 2013


"Allah created the armies, and he also created the hawks. Allah taught me the language of birds. Everything has been written by the same hand," The boy said, remembering the camel driver's words.

The stranger withdrew the sword from the boy's forehead, and the boy felt immensely relieved. But he still couldn't flee.

"Be careful with your prognostications." said the stranger. "When something is written, there is no way to change it."

"All I saw was an army," said the boy. "I didn't see the outcome of the battle."

Paolo Coehlo
The Alchemist

A few hours before the conclave had chosen it's new Pope, a little bird - a seagull perched on top of the Sistine Chapel chimney. Smoke billowing from this chimney signals whether the Roman Catholic Church has a new pope, or the cardinals must go through another round of voting. For a world waiting for the outcome of the ballot, the avian became a source of news. A diversion - to a highly tense and deeply secretive process of picking the next leader of a chuch - that had seen dark days in the past several years.

Social media allowed ordinary people to pitch in their thoughts and ruminations. Many tweets served as comic relief as the faithful contemplated the future of their religion. I myself made light of the situation; never foreseeing the augur the seagull brings. For mere mortals like us, seldom are we given readings about the plans of the universe.

When the Camerlengo announced "Habemus Papam," and a humble Jesuit named Cardinal Bergoglio appeared on the balcony, nobody still figured what the seagull meant. Only after the new pope adopted the name Francis did things become clear as the light of day.

"Saint Francis was the patron saint of birds," my mom said when I entered the master's bedroom. She too was watching the events in Vatican at 3 in the morning.

"I always knew it was a good omen." I told her, before leaving the room. I went to her bedside to show her the picture of the laridae as it flew away from the chimney.

While science has afforded us to make reason with the universe, there remains a sliver of doubt that we have all the answers to mankind's most profound questions. What is my reason for being? Is there a hand that really shapes everything? are some of the questions I still ask before going to sleep. 

My belief system has granted me this insight - to acknowledge the stuff that lies beyond - because personal experience had taught me to feel these almost imperceptible folds. I may not immediately see these disguises, but I know there are forces that defy reason, or logic that senses can not even fathom.

But let us not delve into my philosophical observations.

I was half-certain to shop for a new religion had the conclave chose a more conservative leader. That, or I will no longer take the hierarchy very seriously given its hypocrisies and series of flawed decisions. Only a handful of priests still have my respect. Many of them Jesuits I read in newspapers, or introduced to me by my ex-girlfriend.  

So when Pope Francis emerged behind the curtains and asked the audience to bless him before he blessed the world, my faith in the church has somewhat been restored.

"Cheers to the good days," I tweeted before turning off the television. "May the new pope serve as inspiration."

Monday, March 11, 2013


Ang sabi ko dati, kaunting tiyaga lang at magbubunga rin ang katamaran ko. Sino ang mag-aakala na napaka-competitive pala ang makipag-bid ng projects, lalo na at may karanasan at work experience ang karamihan sa mga bidders? At sino ang hindi mafru-frustrate pagkatapos ng mga negotiation na wala rin pala patutunguhan?

Hindi man halata ngunit nagpapanic ako. Nagpapanic dahil nakikita ko ang nangyayari sa workplace at alam ko na kinakailangan ng pagbabago. Nag-intay ako, at umasa na sa bawat pagsali sa bidding, may isa - ang magkakamali (o tatama) na i-consider ang aking proposal. I even had to lower my price and shorten the turn over delivery just to make the cut.

And it worked.

Dumating man ang panahon na muling makabangon ang kumpanya, at ako ay maging tunay at deserving na project manager. Babalik-balikan ko ang isang Lunes ng madaling araw na may isang katrabaho na nagngangalang Allan ang tumawag sa aking telepono upang ibalita na sa amin na-award ang project.

Tatlong oras man ang tulog at laspag ang diwa, pakiramdam ko pa rin ang tamis ng tagumpay.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wheel Chair

With her calloused hands, she squeezed the aluminum ring and pushed it downward. The wheeled device gains speed. Kinetic may be its reason for moving, but to cover some distance, the contraption must be bumped from behind. 

It doesn't matter.

The one supposed to push the wheelchair is just steps away, watching. For now, she has the catwalk to herself.

The sheer joy of walking was taken away from her at an early age. Struck by an illness that has no cure, her legs shrunk and her muscles withered. She stayed in a hospital to rehabilitate her legs. The atrophy ceased, but Polio had changed her outlook on things. She would walk with two wooden stilts for the rest of her life.

A decade ago, she would receive her first wheelchair. It was a Christmas present from my first real paycheck. She would go on, doing lectures and be seen in places with a set of wheels. And as time takes away her strength, the more she depended on the hand powered transport to move around.

She would get two more wheelchairs in the course of time. The latest was a gift from the Favorite Aunt, after she asked if my aunt knows someone who sells it second hand. While I found its sturdy aluminum frame and thick seat pan strong enough to accommodate an extra, overweight toddler, the matriarch would sometimes complain that the wheelchair was too big. We didn't notice it at first, until she paid a visit at Tahanang Walang Hagdanan and tried - for the first time - to push her way around in a custom-built wheeled device.

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan is a haven for the disabled. It sits on a sprawling property at the heart of Cainta. Founded by nuns, the place is run by people, whose legs and arms no longer attach itself to the body. It is a center for empowerment and support, where one is measured not by the completeness of his body parts, but by his life accomplishments.

The matriarch felt at home.

"Kaya pala sumasakit ang balikat ko." She said after checking out the place. Folks there had told her that her wheelchair's arm rests are too high. "Pag-ipunan natin yung wheelchair na sinubukan ko ha?"

Raising funds took three months instead of a couple of weeks. Unseen events left us cash-strapped. Even the matriarch at first had second thoughts. The new set of wheels is beyond our means. And the only way she could procure it is to use my Mastercard.

Even that was uncertain too. We have not asked if TWH accepts credit cards.

Nevertheless, we drove all the way to Cainta, hoping to switch the matriarch's old contraption for a custom-built one. Nothing is achieved if we keep postponing our visit, when one has made it a priority.

We headed straight to the assembly plant after we had arrived. It was a two-story structure with steel ramps that lead to the upper floor. People at work sat on chairs fastened with wheels. Introductions were made and soon, the matriarch was transferring chairs. She spun its wheels and moved around the workshop. It didn't take long to make up her mind.

She will get a new wheel chair.

However, our hopes were put out after the attendant - an amputee who walks around with crutches revealed that they don't accept credit cards. They have no port to swipe it, which the matriarch didn't understand at first. I had to explain that Tahanang Walang Hagdanan is a non-profit group, whose small-time enterprise could not afford such convenience.

I saw her face sink.

Foreseeing such event, new decisions had to be made. We agreed to pay in cash instead. After all, 8 thousand pesos is a bargain. Should we walk away from the offer, we might not get the same privilege again.

To return home with a new set of wheels didn't really go well for me too. I have no faith in the craftsmanship, and to pay it in cash - just when I spent a fortune elsewhere will further dry up my savings.

It was difficult to impart my money.

But to see the matriarch - my mother - getting cozy with her new wheelchair didn't leave my thoughts. How can I spoil her mood, when the device is all she aspired since New Year? Besides, I wouldn't pay it on credit. It means that even when I lose money, I don't have obligations with the bank.

It doesn't hurt that much when you look at it on the bright side.

And so we bought the wheelchair and paid it in full. It would take some time for us to return, so we took a stroll and explored the place before leaving. 

"Ang tahimik pala dito," my mom said as we glide across empty corridors and barely-furnished dormitories. 

"Okay lang, I love this place." I was looking at the trees.

She then told me about her stay at the Orthopedic Hospital as a kid, and how she felt being left out after being bullied by other patients. Meanwhile, we reached the outskirts, and the children's chatter now fills the air. The school next to the estate had just dismissed its classes. Turning around to return to the parking lot, air raid sirens blare from the nearby town hall.

Work is over for most of the townspeople. It's time for us to go home.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


In my sleep, I was in a distant place. Somewhere stateside, where the air was dry and nippy, and at the heart of downtown were rows of Art Deco office buildings criss-crossed by four-lane one-way streets.

To get around, one must walk in layers of clothing I would not imagine wearing in the tropics. I recall putting on my hoodie for the cold weather gives me headaches. Part of the nocturnal narrative has now warped into oblivion, like smudged ink on a wet paper. But I remember stepping foot inside a hall occupied by a huge well-kept library.

I didn't stay long inside the library - with musty bookcases that touched the ceiling. Instead, the library's narrow corridors served as passageway to the other side, where a courtyard gave way to old oak trees. Beyond, was a chest-high concrete fence separating the verdant refuge from the post-modern avenue.

Before I could even walk out the door, I remember catching up with a Caucasian guy, who didn't seem to notice my towering presence. I followed him as he walked past the courtyard and into the street outside. I kept tracing his footsteps when a familiar voice called my name.

"Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!" It was my dad.   

I stopped following the Caucasian guy and walked towards my father instead. His face could not hide his disappointment - like he was, the last time he paid a visit. He told me that my life was going nowhere; that he didn't expect me to end this way. I didn't heed his words, nor paid attention to his observation. It seems this time, the old man is growing impatient.

It's been years since my dad passed away. And for some reasons, we kept correspondence in my sleep. I told these bizarre encounters to my mom, and she too is mystified. After all, she and my sister never got a visit from my dad.

Not even in their sleep.

Back in my dream, we decided to take a stroll. Nobody talked. We passed by a Chowking restaurant and I invited him to eat.

He declined my invitation. 

"Dalawa na apo mo ah," I tried to break the ice once more, hoping the news would put a smile on his face. But he remained aloof, silent, like he just showed up to say something straight from the gut.

"Huwag ka na magpapakita sa akin!" He said in a stern voice.

Before I could say a word, the dream was over. It was almost noon and no matter how I twisted and turned in bed, I can no longer go back to sleep.

Stunned, I told my mom what happened. Once more, we tried to weave a reasonable explanation to all these disturbing and recurring visitations. I wish to know the cause of his anger and if there is something that could be done to win back his favor.

"Baka naman dahil hindi ako nakapunta sa sementeryo nung Death Anniversary niya?" I was looking at the mirror while I spoke. The footprint of years my face no longer hides.

"Baka naman narinig niya yung mga sinabi mo kagabi?" She said in a jest. My dad's sister sent a text message the night before. I thought it would be prudent not to reply.

It's no secret that I had a falling out with my dad's kin; that I am no longer swayed to my aunt's side as she recounts the hardships of having a troublesome son. My cousin, in his outbursts in the past punched her in the face. Without work to support his two kids and a wife that didn't even finish high school, their house relies on dole outs and occasional remittance from a TNT uncle. 

Perhaps, I have grown tired of their hopelessness; of the cycle of violence and my aunt's refusal to act on it. At a time when everyone at home struggles to keep the house afloat, hearing word about the troublesome cousin only adds to my frustration.

Sometimes I wish we were never relatives at all.

So I told my mom before I went to bed that their problem is no longer my concern; that I would rather waste my strength keeping my own house in order.

The contents of the text message no longer matter. Even my sometimes-vile sister said it serves our cousin right. Meanwhile, my mom said it would give my aunt the freedom to run the house the way she sees fit. And so we all agreed to get on with our lives and not mind her troubles. That was until my father showed up in my sleep, and received a rather icy reception.

"Ikaw na nga tumatayong padre de pamilya ah." My mom rallied to my defense. "Hindi ba niya yun makita sa kabilang buhay?"

Her assurance sufficed to ease a troubled heart. I was even saying that dad could have at least approached me nicely. But I guess, one's nature doesn't change - even in the afterlife. He was, and will always be the ill-tempered father I had known.  

And like how our father-and-son relationship had been, it was easy to ignore the dream. It can be seen as a manifestation of the subconscious; a mere creative expression of the mind. But at a hindsight, who am I to defy the departed when he chose to speak to me? Can families simply walk out from each other, when our ties have been close - at best?

So I let my heart lead the way and overturn the instructions of the mind. After all, I may speak of the family tragedy in all its regrettable details. But never can I claim that we were left without flotsam to hold on. We can still afford to lend an ear, even when our eyes refuse to see the misery in our midst.

"Akala ko kinalimutan mo na ako." My aunt sobbed as we walked away from my father's grave. "Ang hirap hirap..."

"Maging matatag po kayo." I hugged her tight before parting ways. "Hindi kayo pinapabayaan..."

She may not know the reason for my unannounced visit. But most certainly in the great beyond, a restless soul has been appeased.

Monday, March 4, 2013

First Quarter Loss

There are days I wake up in the morning, bestirred by the idea that in all the sunrises and sunsets of the past sixty days, I have never accomplished anything.

The thought of stagnation puts out the light of daydreams, one nerve ending at a time.