Friday, May 31, 2013

Mirror Universe

Seldom do I wake up in the morning to bad news; a blessing I am always grateful to embrace. Lately, it's about boys whining about their boner, or colleagues telling me they can't go to work. But today was different. I received an SMS from a friend's mom asking for prayers. She was facing a worrisome health condition, alone and with little relief.

Now you ask, why is the friend out of the picture? Why did my friend's mom send her text message to me, instead to her daughter? The answer lies on top of the Corcovado, and between the white shores of Ipanema and Copacabana. It knocks, at the door of her suite, overlooking the Atlantic where she is staying for a vacation. 

My friend won the grand prize early this summer, when her new flip-flops earned her the golden ticket. It was supposed to be a cruise trip in the Atlantic, but conflicts in schedule made her settle for the Rio De Janeiro instead. She left last weekend with a Mongolian friend. Her snapshots were all over Facebook and I was happy to be a mere observer. However, roles changed when her phone's roaming features suddenly didn't work. I was thrust in the moment I could not refuse.

"Favor naman, can you please tell my mom I'm ok dito sa hotel sa Copacabana." She sent a direct message on Twitter. 

"Her number is..."

From there, I have become an extension of her house; A liaison between mother and daughter. I have become someone ready to lend a hand - a friend she can reach out for help. But what didn't cross my mind came too soon, a sad reminder of the reason why she can't be with my friend on the far side of the planet.

"Pls help me pray for normal bp. Now very high. Am taking meds."

"I will po. May kasama naman kayo diyan?"

"Stay out maid... please don't tell..." She doesn't want her daughter to worry.

"Ok po..."

There was no need to worry after she assured me that she had taken her medicines. All she asked was prayer, and not for me to rush her to the hospital. But as I was eating my lunch, a part of me could not stay still. What if she just takes lightly her condition, and it turns worse?

Who will make decisions in behalf of her daughter?

"Manong, Caltex po."

With my mom's approval, I left home not to go to work. But instead, rode an FX going all the way to Fairview. It wasn't an easy trek, at such short notice. Even when I visit my friend, thinking of the distance usually cause me to call off the visit. But as I always do out of the blue, I went there putting myself in somebody's shoes;

What if it happens to my mother?

How does it feel when none of your friends can go see if she's safe?

And so it was a clandestine swing, where I dropped cans of Pineapple Juice and gave First Aid lessons to the one in-charge. My friend's mother was resting when I arrived, with only the maid present to receive me. Between the arrival and the departure, only three things stayed in my head:

  • Apply warm compress to the nape to stimulate blood flow to the brain.
  • Make sure the helper stays overnight, until my friend returns.
  • Learn the name of the helper. She introduced herself as Inday.

I didn't stay long, and left after parting my instructions. On the bus going to the office, I received a text message from my friend's mother, thanking me for the visit. She also said that her condition has improved.

In my head, I am planning for a follow-up visit.

I kept in touch even at work - as I was the go-between Rio and Lagro. Relieved of the outcome, I was even told that relatives came. To make sure my friend's mom has company. The stay-in maid will also arrive tomorrow.

To go at great lengths like that would count among the unsaid deeds I have done to others. Promising not to breathe a word, I have to drop this one for reasons of significance:

Since the time her daughter spoke to me again, there lingered the feeling that I will always be a stranger to her. I guess, she has not forgotten, or has never accepted the person I had become. More than for humanitarian reasons, or for some ends that would lead to my atonement, there is no denying the ties that bind:

Somewhere in an alternate timeline; in a mirror universe where I never learned to fall for men, being the first and last - her daughter that is. The lady I checked this noon could have been more than just a family friend.

In a parallel present very different from this life, she could have been my mother-in-law.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


"Break na kami."

"Ikaw una ko sinabihan."

Imminent, their end is. But when I was stirred from my nap after Garppy's message caused my phone to vibrate, the only reply I could send is that at long last, he is free. 

It is not that I don't sympathize. He has been preparing himself for the day they would become apart. Garppy does not believe in long-distance arrangement. His ex seem to have abandoned him right after he decided to take up medicine in a provincial school.

It was a clean and mature break-up, my brother said. The regrets that were never spoken has been addressed, with the other accepting the fault. Both are distracted by their individual pursuits, that it appears the separation is just an interlude in their busy lives. Or maybe, they knew all along that it was forthcoming. 

What they needed is to seal the disassociation.

A couple ending their relationship has always been a time of mourning. We would invoke the merits of freedom, but freedom in it's essence means you are on your own. Alone.  As Garppy said, he had not just lost a lover, but also a best friend. They stayed together under one roof, slept in one bed, ate the same meal. They shared tales nobody has ever heard, and made love like tomorrow never happens.

Such union, albeit imperfect, is irreplaceable. And even when my brother has taken aggressive steps to search for another, it will take some time before he can find love again.

I know this because of my own searching. Summer has ended and rains have arrived. Seasons change, clouds continue their march, the sun sets, the moon rises. And yet, with death giving way to life, and lives rise after a tragic fall, I remain unmoved:

My heart still frozen, and in suspended animation.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Showbiz Republique

Ave Dionisia

The die was cast, and the victors proclaimed. Half a year of courting the nation through glitter and dazzle end with the sacred ballot fed into the machine. In the hours and days after the precincts were closed and the votes tabulated, we learn who made it in the senate and contested government posts. 

The outcome was largely predictable, thanks to surveys done before the election. Those outside the magic circle accuse the activity as something that conditions the mind. It is, to a degree. But the results were essential to predict the final outcome. It was designed for losers to embrace defeat (or spend more on TV ads to increase exposure); to stimulate opinions (or trigger a Twitter and Facebook bullying spree); and suppress operators from twisting the results. (which I think will never happen so long as Brillantes threatens to pass his resignation note) 

Of the eleven candidates I picked for the upper house, only four won. One flew all the way to the top, proving once and for all that her father might have been the president all along. The mayor I chose for my city lost, and so was his pair. I didn't vote for any representative as she ran an uncontested race. 

Under different circumstances, the outcome will be difficult to accept. Liberal minds got a beating in the senate, while traditional politics reign supreme in many parts of the country. But because of a very trusted election authority, details that could have been trivialized were largely ignored. Rival parties went home with their spoils, and kingmakers were satisfied with the compromise (Erap returns to politics as Mayor of Manila; His son, JV Ejercito is now a senator; and Nancy Binay slammed her critics by placing fifth in the senate count). The recently held election has never been about platforms of governance or anti-corruption-slash-social progressive advocacy, it is a battle of the stars and the cult of personality had won.

This is how I see our Universal Suffrage, and how it is practiced the way Pinoys do. Elections are about affluent families contesting control and authority over towns and provinces; has-been TV and Sports personalities rubbing their fading clout to jump into politics; throngs of masses queuing to vote for candidates (the highest bidder) who paid them.

Elections these days masquerade as one big fiesta: where election volunteers, supporters and their families are fed and clothed (with the candidates' face emblazoned on the shirt); the candidates themselves singing and dancing to woo spectators; and news outfits sensationalizing events to make it pass as breaking news.

Dysfunctional, you may say. The truth is, there is no perfect democracy. Even those gifted with intelligence revert to their savage instincts when the outcome turns against their favor. What more for the plebeians who are prone to fits of passion?

But this is the essence of free expression; to exercise the right to choose leaders the way we see fit. The reason I embraced the outcome despite the inclusion of candidates I didn't vote is because the final tally reflects the choice of society. There was no monopoly of the intellectuals and liberals there; the masses were well-represented.

We are still yet to learn if the leaders we chose do their job as expected. If Nancy Binay finally speaks in the podium and Grace Poe shines the way her parents did (in showbiz). Whatever the outcome, there is certain guarantee that the government listens.

Public opinion feeds their ratings.

Like the network wars that go on with every season, Malacanang cannot afford to receive low ratings. Especially when trust in government has always been high. There is always someone paying attention to what we speak; what we try to voice out in the streets and on the web. 

This is it folks. We have just become a Showbiz Republic.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Finding Neverland

Across the teal seascape lies an island not far from the port. Locals say the sandbar is uninhabited, and tourists set foot on its white sands to enjoy an unobstructed view of the ocean. To get there, one must rent a boat. And for a sum - a little cheaper than a one-way bus ticket to Manila - backpackers are allowed a night's stay to camp, and enjoy the outback.

Seen from the pier at San Vicente, a short hop on a boat and off I separate from the mainland - the first in ages. But I chose to stay behind because it was getting late. I have to return to the hotel before dark. Arriving at the town that same morning, I only have a day to look around. For at daybreak, I am bound to catch a bus in Tuguegarao that will bring me home.

I would look at the picture above and remember; sitting quietly at one of the berthing rings and observe the fisher folks haul provisions they will bring upon their return to the sea. I remember walking towards the water's edge, to spot smoke trails on the verdant Palauig Island across the channel. I remember catching my breath, every time I get reminded of the distance I have covered; of the fact that I am staring at the vast expanse separating me from Batanes; of literally being at the periphery, with my eyes cast on the blue horizon.

The endlessness seemed to be within reach.

There are vestiges of memory that I wish to put into words - like braving the neighborhood with my laptop inside my bag, or the chocolate-skinned women staring at me with those curious eyes, or the saffron sunset, making a grand farewell before a gathering of clouds.

In retrospect, I regret that I rushed back home; that I should have spared another day looking around and learning; that the trip should have been more about me, and my journey towards self-discovery.

But the purpose of the trip was achieved, and I dove into the cradle, having a little more faith in what will can accomplish. The escapade will be a stuff of tales still weaved years after it was first spun. Despite the heart no longer having the strength to wander far from home, the memory is still fresh like it happened just yesterday

And yet, recollections resurface with the gentle touch of wind, and my thoughts carry me to that same port, looking at the empty stretch of road, tracing my beginnings. I want to return, this time for reasons of indulgence; a hearty treat for the little explorer in me. For old time's sake, knowing i'd no longer be as bold as youth can afford. It will be a fitting send off, for the world might no longer be in my head.

There goes the memory of Santa Ana - the land jutting out of the valley of Cagayan. It would be the last great escape, before I sunk back into obsolescence, and for years, the proud bastion of madness taking up residence in my guts. I have been asked, time and again to hop on a plane, a bus or even a boat; to see places never before seen. Friends offer companionship. Strangers willing to be my travel buddies. But what words fail to speak, I will now put down in letters:

Leaving my footprints elsewhere has always been an intimate experience. 

I will run away one of these days, unannounced and planned in secrecy. And until I have my fill; until my heart grows weary of devouring what my eyes have yet to see, I shall be unbound. The memories I will gather will be my selfies.

And like the sandbar at the middle of the sea, there remains a part of me, untouched and untamed. I will stay obscure and distant, until the neverland in me is found.

Friday, May 24, 2013


A text message:

"Good. Kelan ulit tayo magkikita?"

"Not sure. Balik work na ako bukas. Siguro sa inuman with Karl Martin (Papa Tagay)"

"Kelan yun?"

"Kapag nagtawag siya."

"Namiss kitang kasama hahaha... Sorry ha."

The eye-ball was set at the RCBC Plaza. Outside the Fitness First Platinum gym - where I thought of checking out the branch to pass time. I was ten minutes early - a rarity - when I agree to see someone for dinner or friendly banter. But after indulging myself listening to the agent complete his sales pitch while pretending to be interested in switching gyms, I ended up ten minutes late for my appointment. 

The guy was five foot, six inches tall and dark skinned. He wore thick, dark-rimmed glasses, and donned solid blue shirt to accentuate his black slacks. In text messages, he would always raise his drawback. That he mostly get rejections. The reasons, I will keep to myself, but there is a grain of truth to his modest self-assessment.

I tend to plan my engagements very carefully. Not because I am picky, but because I wanted to cherish the moments of seeing another person. I try to be comfortable with him, and probe questions that would lead to knowing the soul better. So that even when the outcome ends in a fruitless venture, I would leave good impressions for others to find my trail. 

With him, the eye-ball was half-cooked. There was a general impression that it was rushed. The day before, we were mere strangers. The night ended with us digitally inseminating one another, and as our ties grow the next morning, we were already hurling sweet nothings like love was forthcoming. This is what he believed in; the idea I didn't consciously sell. For me it was all part of the searching, and just like the hangouts before him,

I have learned to leave the heart behind.

We found ourselves sitting in an empty chair across Mary Grace. Words were barely spoken. My growing disinterest had already set my eyes elsewhere - perhaps to that cute acquaintance I saw at Fitness First's locker room. But I tried to be civil, and performed as if I was doing a show. I invited him for dinner. At Stoops, where their famous Bagnet draws executives away from the business district. It was a sumptuous meal, despite burdened by a memory. 

For it was the other who first brought me to that place.

After our meal, I invited him for a walk. To talk, and perhaps rekindle the short-lived bonds we had over the phone. He told me his story, his family and his regrets in relationships. He was a planet-dweller, and his past flings and boyfriends he met there. I told him of my ex, and with each hand picked words, there was the subtle hint that I preferred embracing the memory. 

He tried scaling his arm around my broad shoulders. I stood still, to show him I did not care. He caressed my back as we walked past unlit light posts, I doubled my cadence to distract him from his advances. For some reasons he didn't figure my masterful stroke. Perhaps, my decline was too subtle, or I was too nice unlike the ones before me. The fact that I went the opposite way going home instead of joining him at the train tells that I'm better off going solo.

It pains me to recount the story; to savor the feeling of relief, when I saw him climb the stairs going to the train station; of the cold spell hovering above my phone's touch screen when he sent a complement enjoying the dinner; of the treatment he continues to receive now that I have restored myself to my senses. Looking back, to tell that I have no issues being in bed next to him didn't drive him away. It was a sign of approval, a signal for him to pursue and win me over.

Such is the narrative of men who know only of fleetingness; and who find great comfort looking through stained glass, hoping to figure a shadow behind the breakable wall. I don't know what missing is. I even try not to speak the words. 

Because the last time it was truly felt; when all the dormant memories came tumbling, like tears that were never shed. I was hugging my guy tight.

No words. Only stillness.

The longings of one's absence convey in the oneness of skins. 



Thursday, May 23, 2013


This Smashing Pumpkin's song has been on playback for three weeks now. 

Every time I play the music, or watch the clip on YouTube, the ambient loop drowns my ears and fills my chest with stones. Billy Corgan's nasal voice and his somber appearance add to the pervading gloom, and knowing the story behind the music video - of the actors having grown older after first appearing in 1979  - completes the overall mood for soul searching.

At first, I didn't know the reason I got hooked after all these years of having the music file on my playlist. It is when I learned what the lyrics meant did I understand why Perfect comes close to the feelings that still linger after pretending they don't value anything at all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Until It Sleeps

A text message

"Thanks JM... Mwaaaah... init."

"Init alin?"

"Panahon ahihihi... Tuloy nang init ng katawan ko."

"Hubad ka!"

"Yun na nga ginawa ko."

"Edi presko na."

"D pa rin."

"Tigas ba?"

"Medyo. Kanina pa to. Hahahaha."

Lust, is a four-letter word that weakens bonds when it shows up before the admission of attachment. It values nothing, save for the moment of heat, and tends to suffer cold amnesia, once the craving has been met. 

We know this by way of experience; by going through solo-flight frustrating trips of finding another. The frustration springs not from those we cross paths, it swells from within like a tumor refusing incision. 

We wish, we don't have to go through such exercise in cruelty. Of using someone and engaging in remote passion to suppress the libido. Caution has been said foreword: once one dare cross the line, there is no stepping back. Good intentions become moot. Sweet nothings and implements of romantic notion turn irrelevant.

We can lay out an army of words to articulate our defense. Provocations of the naughty kind become the battleground of a relaxed mind. But when attraction only sees a reflection, and real intimacy is just a figment of the imagination, turning digital to get off sometimes stand in-between candy coated attention and sticky complications.

Less it will hurt when fallout is spelled out.

And so we come to a full stop before setting our sights to a new direction. Pursue, the boy may put forward, but the mind is clear that we mean no union. 

It will be a classic case of "landi landi lang."

We hope that he can see through the growing distance; in the rarity and disinterest in our text reply. Because the way we hear the murmurs of the heart, it will take sometime - a very long time before someone could breach it. At least the boy will have a better standing than the one before him. But sadly, no matter his declaration of attraction, his time is up.

He is just a passing fancy.

"Buti na lang at di ako masyado dumikit."


"Oo nga eh, Umiiwas ka."

"Edi natusok ako ng wala sa oras. Haha."

"Kung papatusok lang naman eh. Mabait naman ito."

"Haha masakit."

"Hahaha... trip mo ba naman akong makasama sa kama? Ahihihi."

"Ang libog ay libog. Hahaha."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

An International Incident


Beijing-based Xinhua News Agency reported on its website that a Taiwanese fisherman died Thursday morning after a Philippine Navy ship fired upon a fishing vessel in seas south of Taiwan.

Xinhua said the deputy head of Taiwan's fishery administration, Tsay Tzu-yaw, disclosed details of the incident.

Citing Taiwanese media reports, Xinhua said the Filipino ship dealt severe damage to the fishing boat while chasing it for an hour "after killing the fisherman" in waters 180 nautical miles southeast of the southern tip of Taiwan.  

Fiction, my account tells. But the narrative may not be far from the real story. Let it be a guide that this is purely speculation. Whatever the outcome of the investigation should be accepted more than this word-weaver's tale.

And so it is on a normal day. A lone Philippine coast guard ship patrols the waters off Mavudis island in Batanes. They spotted boats. Fishing vessels in full stop in the middle of nowhere. Ships, that have no business in these waters. 

The calligraphy on the boats' stern were a giveaway. They hail from up north, probably from a country that keeps harassing the fishermen far west of these islands. They have been spotted, fishing in these waters since time remembers. Often, the authorities pay no attention. They can't catch them anyway. But this coast guard vessel needs to perform its duty. It's tuna fishing season. 

Much is at stake.

Hails were sent to the vessels. There were no replies. The coast guard ship tries to approach one. To board, search and document what can be found as evidence. But instead of submitting to the boarding party, the unknown vessel turns around, and in full throttle tries to evade the Philippine vessel by ramming it. Shots were fired, but they don't matter. The crews need to flee into friendly waters. 

The boats scattered in two directions. 

Infuriated, the captain of the coast guard ship - the one who was supposed to apprehend, ordered pursuit. These transgressions have been going on for some time - and to be honest - the authorities are weary. The boats, with calligraphies for a name outrun their much larger pursuer. They are used to this mad dash as they operate in hostile waters. Pirates and coast guard patrols outclassed, these fishing boats' propellers are built for the chase. Small but not flimsy, they can outrun anyone, especially, when fishing quotas are yet to be met.   

What they didn't expect is that the pursuers will shoot this time. Maybe, the coast guard captain had a very rough day - or perhaps he had heard so many complaints from locals that the yellow-skinned, chinky-eyed ones take those that should have been theirs. It has to stop, really, or else, locals will lose faith in the men guarding these waters.

The hot pursuit goes on, and like robbers trying to escape the police, one has to give up the other in order to get away. Full engines at maximum, the faster boat leaves behind its pair; the one that couldn't catch up; the one that will be in the news around the world a week later:

Guangdaxing No. 28.

The apprehender sees a target. One that is slower, smaller, and easier to catch. Aiming for this boat, they started shooting to make it stop. It doesn't and has no plans to do so. Betrayed by their comrades, it is in their resolve to head back to their homeland to make others answer for leaving them behind.

For offering them as the sacrifice.

Projectiles flew in all directions. It punctured holes, on the port, on the stern and on the bow of the hapless boat. The engines keep running, as it didn't suffer a direct hit. Hails were sent to any friendly vessel for assistance. "Hostiles!" Said in language only they could understand. Ten minutes, fifteen, the coast guard ship closes the gap. Whoever is running the boat must make a quick decision or suffer the consequences of their violation. For what? for honor, for loved ones, for the betrayal of those who abandoned them? 

Such is the fate of small people trying to make a living. But nothing can be done. The floating fish factories already hold domain over much of the friendly coast. The government doesn't care. They make money out of these fleets.

As the boat's captain contemplates on giving up; of turning over to foreign authorities, a friendly voice responds. Hails come from the local frequency. At last! He hears words that soothe the most troubled of hearts. Help is on the way, the voice said.

They will be escorted back to the home port. 

The pursuers fall back as their radio also heard the command. No longer do they hold authority over these waters to contest the incident.  

With a sigh of relief (and a heart that keeps pounding), the captain accounts for his men. Those who have lived to return to the sea and those who have died in this unfortunate chase. Everyone seems unharmed, he thought, except for one - the person who made their flee possible. Dashing towards the badly hit engine room, the captain saw blood on the floor. At a corner was the old man gasping his breath: the true regent of the fishing boat.

There in his dying moments, he spoke his last words.

"My son."  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Leadership By Example (Last Part)

In a few hours, the polling stations will open. The public will cast their votes, and a weary nation, will at last see their lives return to normal. This is the last leg of the elections and we, as masters of our fate have options to pick the ones who will serve our interests.

I was supposed to pick 12 senators, with JV Ejercito being the tenth. But a last minute revelation of a colleague who lives in San Juan changed my decision. 

Now down with 11 handpicked candidates to carry on my social vision, I present the remaining five to complete my line up. It is my sincere wish that both you and I share the same bets. 

7.  Hagedorn, Edward

A mere glance of his photo and Hagedorn can be swiftly associated with local villains. The ones you see forcing leading ladies (often starlets) to bend over (with their undies down) and hitting even his henchmen with a gun.

But Hagedorn is Hagedorn, and no matter what your perception is, this scruffy guy has and will always be a protector of Mother Earth.

8.  Casino, Teddy

Right or Left, Casino will always be their commie bastard. A social activist all his life, Teddy has swayed more people in the parliament of streets, than in the ballots or in people's homes. A puppeteer in the shadows, his vast network of faceless ideologues are even feared by the US Embassy staff. He has called every sitting President "tuta," and any civil disobedience is a bust without him as the guest speaker. But no matter his reputation, Labor Day rallies and State of the Nation Addresses are boring without newsmakers citing him a soundbite.

So what's my reason for voting for Teddy?

Simple. In a vibrant democracy, everyone should be represented. Even the militant ones that are associated with this candidate. I don't know what laws he will sponsor, or what antics he'll amuse/annoy the public. But one thing holds true. Casino speaks for the laborers, wage earners, and peasants.

9.  Cayetano, Alan Peter

Alan Peter Cayetano is the kind of lawmaker you do not want to cross. First, he does his homework well. His cross-examinations can squeeze the truth out of the most hardened hostile witness. Second, he doesn't mind picking fights with colleagues if it means exposing what is rigged, anomalous, or downright deceptive. Third and last, he seem to be a principled statesman - like his father - who wants nothing but the best for the country.

Despite his untarnished reputation and good track record at the Senate, the very reason he gets my vote is because of Pia Cayetano. Her charm, social media presence and the causes she stood for had virtually rubbed off her brother.

10.  Madrigal, Jamby

There is this photo I saw on a newspaper many years ago. It was Jamby and Tito Guingona, drenched and shivering while being interviewed by the press. Jamby was defiant. I am sure it's the first time she was hosed during a rally. And she was already a senator back then.

I would never forget the image, and for a time, she encapsulates what an iron lady is. I may refer to her - in jest - as a lesbian, a woman with balls, and even if she performs poorly on surveys, the photo will always be a reminder of her defense of good governance. 

11. Gordon, Dick 

Dick Gordon wields a sharp tongue, and all throughout the campaign season, he is the most vocal critic of the administration. A keen observer however, cannot put the blame on him. A media casualty from the last presidential elections, favorable news seem elusive to this public servant. For all I know, after his usefulness has expired, he has been written off; his accomplishments mothballed into the recesses of the nation's memory.

But I remember. He was the brains behind Wow Philippines. He transformed Subic from an abandoned outpost into a world-class free-trade zone, and as a hardworking administrator who delivers, the laws he would author will be a boon to the economy.

Richard Gordon maybe the last on my list, and the only UNA on my ballot. But he gets my support, now and in the years to come.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Leadership By Example (First Part)

I say on Twitter that we have a perya in place of elections and a showbiz republic for a government. Don't get me wrong, for I am proud of our Democratic process - in spite of its glaring faults.

In other parts of the world, people kill each other for the choice we hardly value. North Korea has a demi-god for a leader, while Syria is a battlefield with no god at all.

Pity are we, for not seeing the worth of our political franchise.

So this coming Monday, I welcome my chance to vote, for in my hands lie the fate of the country. The candidates of my choosing not only represents my voice; they sum up my ideas of nation-building.

The first six candidates I will put on my ballot are the following:

1. Angara, Sonny

For one, Angara is cute. Sonny is the type you would likely introduce to your mom, and show off to your friends. I even had a twitter post (that he favorited) where I said that if gays elect as one, he will get the Rainbow votes.

Ignorance is bliss, and despite the bad press hounding him and his scion, (a news report alleges that the Angara family are land grabbers in Aurora, and that APECO is riddled with corruption) he still gets my vote. 


Because he is educated, smart and young enough to be swayed to the progressive side of the Senate. He has experience in public service and voted for issues I am passionate with - like RH Bill and FOI. 

2. Hontiveros, Risa

Her magic alampay ad campaign didn't amuse me - not at all, but her track record did. Risa has been at the forefront of Women's Rights and Responsible Parenthood when other politicians brush them off as distractions. When the debate on RH Bill divided the country, she stood firm and tirelessly shored up support - uniting all progressives so that forces against the anti-population measure will never again have their clout. 

I remember meeting her in a wake, a year after she lost the last elections. She was elegant and graceful; beautiful beyond description. In my awestruck moment, I still remember the very words I said,

"You will always have my vote." 

3. Poe, Grace

If Risa's magic alampay ad campaign didn't work, Grace Poe's poignant moments with Susan Roces in a TV commercial caught a whiff of nostalgia. It was emotional. The dialogue reminded me of a time when Fernando Poe Jr. had my sympathy when he ran for President.

Poe was also a guest at Magandang Gabi Vice, where she gamely translated MTRCB's SPG bumper into gay speak. While these sketches have nothing to do with my decision to include her on my list, seeing her eloquently speak in a national debate cemented my support. 

4. Villanueva, Eddie

From Conrado De Quiros, Inspire

While they haven't succeeded, I'm not knocking their convictions. I don't know Villanueva at all, but he comes across as an earnest fellow on TV. His religiousness or piety doesn't look contrived, or like a plaid suit that can be put on and off. He doesn't have a reputation for being crooked, which is more than can be said for many of the candidates. When he says he will not abide even friends and relatives who fail to hew the straight and narrow, he doesn't at all sound like Erap saying walang kama-kamaganak, walang kaikaibigan (no relatives, no cronies). 

5.  Aquino, Bam

There used to be a time when I posted on my Facebook Wall to never put another Aquino in public office. The comment stirred passions, and some heated responses from friends who know Bam personally.

I even said, to comfort those seem affected by my sweeping statement that I will reconsider my judgement. Bam has no appeal to me, and I hate that he's trying to look like his slain uncle, Ninoy.

But I am a well-informed person, and I know Bam's work in Micro finance and Social Entrepreneurship. For his expertise alone, he can author laws that will benefit the poor. The Aquino brand of leadership may turn off some, but with Pnoy enjoying high trust ratings, why should I go against the collective?

6. Magsaysay, Jun

History would tell that I am not paying attention - at least with Jun Magsaysay. Aside from being endorsed by Sir Chief, I am keenly unaware of his accomplishments. Is he the one who exposed the Fertilizer Scam? And did he bolt out of the ruling party when public opinion sways against Gloria Arroyo and her corrupted ways?

I still need to get my facts straight.

What I do know is that Jun Magsaysay is an honest public servant, whose statesman qualities have endeared him to people who have seen him serve.


Retail Therapy

It was close to dusk when hubby and I arrived at the Liberty Center. It took us an hour's drive to reach the supermarket from his apartment in New Manila. Blame the traffic along Shaw, and the unscheduled detour at the bank.

Holding my hand before leaving the car, he reminded me of the list. I smiled and planted a kiss on his forehead. He then stepped on the gas to look for a parking space nearby. My partner will just catch up as I move around the aisles. It is the end of the month, and as men of our houses, we are in charge of procuring supplies.

Cheesy, the passage reads. But it was how my head sketches scenes of me doing groceries. The ones I did don't count, because shopping was done, mostly, to replenish my supplies.

It was when the Lesbian Driver left, that the real possibility of doing groceries for home leaped beyond imagination. It was her, the helper and my mom doing the rounds every month. I only join when their supermarket trip falls on my rest day, or when the doting grandmother tags Baby Lenin along.

Insight made room for adjustment the last time, and as the Lesbian Driver's final act, she drove my mom to Puregold Araneta. I followed not to add my provisions - and become a freeloader - but to create my own list and observe how they gather the consumables.

After the bags were counted, and the items stacked in the overhead cabinet, the shopping list was done. Collected in a Microsoft spreadsheet, it is the closest recreation of the needs I will have to get once the succession smack me right at the heart of the monthly restitution.

A month has passed, and it is time to return to the supermarket. Without a car to shuttle the entourage, I was able to convince my mom to let me do the grocery with the helper. Realizing her limitations, she puts her trust and gave me the money. Fourteen P500 bills, I counted after withdrawing them from the machine. I added another two - from my own reserves - in case I spend beyond the budget.

"Tide Original, meron ba?" I asked the attendant. "Yung 1750 grams, wala?"

"Palitan natin ng Hot and Spicy yung sampung Century Tuna." The list dictates the 155 grams tin cans. "Ako lang naman kumakain niyan."

What normally takes a quick round of getting the items took almost two hours of circling the aisles. It was part because we shopped at a smaller supermarket where I could use my SM Advantage Card. I also didn't print the shopping list, and instead browsed my phone to keep track the items I still need to get. When we have run through the checklist, we learned that two items were not available. These will be procured by the helper when he returns to Puregold.

For all the cranial make-believe, reality stripped the romantic notions I had with grocery shopping. It was a rushed act; a chore squeezed before the start of my work week. Rather than savor the bliss - of having to ruminate between milk brands and sardines; or glide the shopping trolley between the display racks, my right hand held the phone above my chest while occasionally nudging the wallet under my boxers.

It's no fun when your family's money is latched to your skin.

And when it was time to carry the bags home, only the kindness of a trike driver spared us from the scorching heat of a high noon sun. The cabs passing by were already occupied and rival commuters wait up-street. So much for a glamorous parade of wealth. We came off as pedestrian as third-world shoppers leave the wet market.

Still, much is to be said about the first time I went grocery shopping. The list provided the blueprint of the essentials at home. I came to appreciate the value of setting a budget and sticking to it. And lastly, I was able to experiment and get items that are superior in taste and quality. Stuff hardly seen at home for they are seen as something pricey.

I would tell my mom later on that rather settle for something bland and cheap - like 555 Karne Norte, might as well stick with brands preferred by our tastebuds - like Purefoods. After all, I saw my sister cooking one when she didn't like the food on the table.

There's no harm in following one's indulgence.

You may call the experience a dry run; a household duty that would occupy my rest days in the months and years to come. The scenes may not be flowery - like the one I had in mind, but it was drawn from a familiar narrative: of me becoming a domesticated guy who only wants the best for his loved ones. I won't be surprised if in the near future, a familiar sketch would put a faint smile on my face. I was told visions come to precede the acts, and from what my heart whispers, the universe already conspires in my favor: that my happiness is just waiting to be unboxed.

Spam appears on the shopping cart. The first in history.

"Stay beside lola while I get the car." Baby Lenin tilts his head behind the matriarch's wheelchair. He was looking at the brightly lit KFC across the street. Apparently, two hours of shopping has made the little tyke hungry.

"Gutom pa ikaw? We'll just go drive through na lang para may pasalubong din sina nanay."

"Gusto ko chicken nuggets." Baby Lenin said in his squeaky voice.

"Chicken nuggets is your baon for school." I told him. "It's for you and Baby Diego."

After all these years plotting my life's direction, I would emerge from the winding and uncertain passage by putting the brothers to school.

The college where I attended my kindergarten.

Walking towards the parking lot, I caught glimpse of the skyline. Makati shimmers in the distance. Remembering the journey, and how, for the longest time I refused to see the road ahead, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing those detours and baby steps landed me on the same spot. Albeit a little late than what I've set.

"It's the faith that truly matters." I remember how I used to have daydreams of this moment.

It's all according to plan.

"See you in an hour, hon." I sent a text message on my touch-screen phone. "I'd be happy if you can join us next time," I didn't wait for him to reply.

Switching on the car's engine, I closed the door and shifted the gear to reverse. I still have to pick my loved ones waiting at the curb.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Half Glass Full

Lights went off a few minutes before midnight. 

It's a Blackout, as I have suspected. Feeds from Twitter points to an island-wide power shutdown. It's the second time this week, and skeptics once more speculate a no-election plot. But who doesn't want an election? Not the president. The nation has been conditioned to vote, and to deny the privilege, is trouble waiting to be unleashed.

The animated banter continues to trickle on social media. What's different these days is that people are always connected. One will never feel alone - even in the dark. I was getting ready to leave the room; to tell my mom to vacate the master's bedroom. I can always give up my quarters if it spares the kids - and the matriarch the suffocating conditions there.

I can always lay a mat and sleep in the driveway.

But more than anything, I was keenly aware that the metropolis is blanketed in darkness. The skies - for the first time in recent memory - will have dominion over the luminous cityscape. I would star gaze to my heart's content, and maybe - their fleeting distance would take away the annoyance I feel within.

"Luzon-wide ulit ang brownout" I told my mother.

"Bakit daw?" asked my sister. 

"Hindi ko alam. Power deficiency sabi ng Meralco." Power deficiency my ass. At twelve midnight?

I didn't offer my room as I felt the cool breeze still lingered from the AC. But when I returned to my room to put something to cover my upper body, the lights flickered, the electric fan whirred  - and for a blip that would probably be forgotten when I wake up tomorrow - life returns as if it never fluctuated.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Put Me To Sleep

Ganito ang kadalasang oras ng pasok ko sa trabaho:

Sabado. 2pm to 10pm. Sabay diretso sa Eclipse gym; sa inuman sa Timog; o saan mang party na maimbitahan. Uuwi ng madaling araw. Matutulog ng bukang liwayway. Babangon ng tanghali at mag-gagayak pabalik ng trabaho.

Linggo. 2pm to 10pm. Diretso uwi sa bahay pagkatapos ng shift. Maghahapunan, magsisipilyo, at maliligo. Kadalasan ay makakarating ng kuwarto ilang minuto bago maghating gabi. 

Magbubukas ng TV, ililipat ang channel sa Cartoon Network pero dahil hindi makatulog dahil nasanay na gising buong magdamag, papatayin ang TV, manunuod ng porn sa laptop, magjajakol at pagkatapos labasan ay pipilitin matulog. Huling tingin sa cellphone ay pasado alas-dos. Oras ng pasok sa Lunes, alas-sais ng umaga.

Kaya naman pagsapit ng Lunes ay laging magulong kausap. Yun ay kung hindi tulala o bastusang natutulog sa workstation habang dinadaan-daanan ng mga katrabaho. Martes ay umaga pa rin ang pasok. Ngunit dahil rest day na ang kasunod na araw, madalas ay balewala na ang antok.

Subalit nitong nakaraang dalawang Linggo ay nabago ang tinuturing kong routine. Sa halip na Martes ng umaga, Lunes ng gabi ang balik ko sa opisina. Yun ay matapos ang shift ko sa hapon. Tulog lang ang pahinga at madalas ay kapos pa.

At dahil kinakailangan, ang Huwebes at Biyernes ay naging panggabi. Sabado ay KTV night ng barkada at Linggo naman ay summer outing kasama ang buong ka-opisina. Walang tulugan galing sa party. Alas-diyes na nang makarating ako sa bahay galing Laguna.

Samantalang alas-sais ulit ang pasok ko kinaumagahan.

Sa loob ng dalawang linggo ay nakalimutan ko ang mga petsa, ang sarili kong body clock at pati na rin ang mga kasama sa bahay. Lambing lang ang pagkikita namin ng aking ina. Ang tulog ay naging mailap, kapalit ang pagiging productive sa trabaho na may kasamang pagsusungit na hindi sinasadya.

Ang lahat ng ito ay dahilan ng pagdating ng isang account na hanggang sa ngayon ay nasa testing phase pa rin.

Martes ng umaga nang umuwi ako ng bahay. Natulog ng anim na oras. Inutusan kumuha ng pera - para ideposit sa bangko, at pagkatapos ang errands ay dumiretso ako sa gym dahil Biyernes pa ang huling buhat ng bakal. Martes, nakauwi ako ng bahay gabi na. Saktong pasimula naman ang mga pang-gabi sa trabaho.

Hindi pa tapos ang product testing. Ang Game of Thrones episode 6 ay dina-download ko pa rin. Ang blog ay napabayaan ko na, habang sa mga susunod na araw ay pila-balde pa rin ang mga utos, mga naiwang trabaho, at mga pangakong pagtatagpo na noong isang linggo ko pa ni-set.

Ang sarap matulog. At kung ipipikit ko lang ang aking mga mata - sa mga oras na ito, mas nanaisin kong huwag na itong imulat pa.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


"It was the first time I sang that song in a KTV." I told Garppp during Fox's surprise birthday party.

"It was a song he recorded." I said, without looking at the ex who was catching up with a common friend across the table. I forgot to say to my confidant that I keep the music file, still. 

"It was his first song to me."

The ex was invited at the party upon my request. The celebrant was our "surrogate father" and as the organizer, I find it appropriate to have his presence. The message was relayed to my best friend, who didn't show up because of another reunion. While the ex's presence no longer affects me the way it did the first time. There remains burning embers of the fire we once had - despite claims of dousing every memory associated with him with ice water.

The union was deep and there is no way I can easily emancipate myself from history.

With that, I think I will kick the bucket a little farther to make sure the memory could hurt me no more. And to let new memories take root, hopefully replacing what I still treasure within.