Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mono No Aware

"Hindi ko kayang mawala sa piling niya," He would tell me the last time we had a one-on-one drinking session at the Casa.

A week later, he would go down as one of those injured in a tragic accident that had taken the lives of seven unfortunate souls. Two of them were seated beside him at the back of the bus. With luck on his side, he was able to recover after undergoing a difficult and painful head surgery.

His lover would never leave his side. In his days of drifting (he didn't even know that I was there a day after he was transferred from the ICU), the only person who could make my friend remember was him.

The person he confessed he loved more than anyone else.

Mono no aware -  is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence, or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.

Jungle Age

It is said that great stories are weaved from scratch, a one-sentence idea conjured inside the writer's head. From this spark, a storyteller spins a narrative. Contrived on a digital loom, scenes suspend disbelief. Characters fleshed out turn life-like, and tales swirled from the creator's mind become arcane tapestries pressed into a single book. 

Some become well-loved by all. 

But not all storytellers are able to warp and weft a yarn. There are those lacking the skill to spin a convincing narrative. While others, despite possessing mastery to fabricate moving pictures with words, are denied the use of loom. Their tapestries lay hidden and collecting pixie dust, unread by those who might revel in magical tales untold.

These bards of the written word journey the world, for places that readily embrace their works. They sing fiction that are beyond the machinations of man. Their intrepid souls cross dimensions to bring back fabled accounts of dwarfs and dragons; or slide through alternate landscapes where werewolves, vampires and zombies live among men. In the universe of Google, every imaginable story comes to life. What is sought is a repository, and an audience to hear these enchanting tales.

I have come across many places, where stories incubate before they get published. There is Wattpad and Deviant Art, and some blogs whose links have already slipped my mind. There is not much to say, for my stay in these places were in passing. Only when I stumbled on Jungle age did my words affected other writers.

I lingered, like a restless spirit, searching for answers.

Jungle age is a community of writers and readers. The works uploaded on the website are supernatural and science fiction in nature. Unlike with other writing communities, where approval of one's work comes in the form of "likes," readers of Jungle age are encouraged to leave comments using a template that helps writers improve their drafts.

One look, and those used to the symmetry and clean lines of Wattpad would be driven away by Jungle age's dry layout. Same with those used to the clutter and timelessness that is Deviant Art. Like the stories posted in its mundane pages, Jungle age is a work that has remained in canvass. Imagine a mecha under construction: the upgrades are put together - shaped, by an unseen hand, to make the glide across the website a more cherishing experience to audience and storytellers alike.

Promises abound when a work has room for improvement. When icons overlap with headers, or chapters need to be arranged in a chronological manner for readers to appreciate stories; you know the work is not yet over. However the shortcomings, I see well the clearing: of how Jungle age can transform and become a place for struggling fiction writers - to find inspiration and guide. It is because when other storytelling communities, whose readers have been reduced to clicking icons like "thumbs-up" and "stars," Jungle age asks for substance when leaving comments.

It is like attending a writing workshop and getting improvement suggestions - for free.

I have faith that behind the seemingly featureless page are stories that deserve a reading. For these tales are masterfully spun, and whose tapestries deserve to be seen by all. I have met visionaries, whose discipline to pursue the chapters of their work is unrivaled. I have spoken to young writers, eager to learn and practice the craft.

"One day, you'll become a great writer," I once wrote to a seventeen year old storyteller.

Many of the great works I began reading when I first stepped foot on Jungle age are still far from their ending chapters. There is the challenge of refinement, and direction the tale have to take. But in all the days I logged in - and nights spent drowned in stories, some narratives were weaved so beautifully and with clarity; the author decides to take them out of the loom.

Hey, everyone! I just wanted to give you all a special update on "Staying Human." Not only have I finished writing the story, I've been able to publish it as well! Right now, it is available to download from for FREE! It will also soon be available on in print for $4. Thank you all, I couldn't have done this without all your encouragement and support. Every vote, and comment meant more to me than you could ever imagine. If you want, go download the story and share it with your friends- I need all the exposure I can get! 

Looking back as one of the collaborators, to see through someone's work getting published is a reward unto itself. Like an infant gently ushered out of the womb, a writer's joy, in some ways becomes mine as well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Surface Tension


All these talks of hard-ons, these morning leanings of sending your naked selfie to strangers;
these digital encounters that fling you beyond the occasional desire
to seek shadows beyond your realm
speak of one thing, and one thing alone:

Deep down, you long to be
cocooned in the arms of another.

It doesn't matter if he's a stranger or a friend,
all you ever wanted is to belong.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ndoto Blue 002

"Ma... I want to seek your permission." 

"What is it?" She asked.

"I'll be getting a new phone." I stood next to her bed that early morning. "But I hesitate buying the one I like because the phone is expensive."

"Get it." She orders. "Baka hindi mo na ma-afford makabili ng mamahaling cellphone next time." 

Her advise got me thinking.

If there is one thing I have never outgrown, it is to consult my mom every time I make a personal purchase. Especially, if it will carve deep into my pockets, and the acquisition is more of a luxury than a practical move. 

Part of the reason was my upbringing. I was raised to discern the value of my possessions. When I was a kid and wanted to buy a new die cast toy car or an Ultraman action figure, my mom pressed me with benevolent persuasion. It was meant to weigh my purchasing decision.

"Practical ba yan?" She would ask.

"Hindi ba puwedeng next time na lang natin bilhin iyan?"

The habit was carried over to adulthood.

So even when I had the money, I hardly spend on bling. I don't have tablets or expensive phones, like my friends. All my earnings go first to savings. The mobile phones I owned were either freebies from my post-paid phone subscription, or hand-me-downs. In fact, the first phone ever given to me was an Ericsson GF788. I was in college at that time and Nokia 3210 was the status symbol. My dad could afford it and yet, I was sending and receiving SMS on a handset, whose tiny LCD screen made long texts difficult to read.

It was his old phone and it doesn't matter. I was into desktop computers to bother myself with the latest trends.

Before I'd step out of the university, he would pass over to me a Nokia 3310.

Returning to the present, the decision to get a new phone only took a day. It was a Saturday, I remember, and instead of working at home, I was in Megamall to get my first-ever, paid hand-held device. Sure, there are bills to pay, a Christmas season approaching and unseen spending that may come my way. But because I already had my mom's approval; the go-signal from the only person I would trust with my money, indulgence was no longer a source of guilt.

Switching on my Samsung Galaxy Mini for the last time, a few press of the button and it crashed before I can even access the applications.

"Hopeless." I shook my head.

Ndoto Blue on Samsung Galaxy Mini

"A new phone has indeed become a necessary expense."


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ndoto Blue 001

Ndoto Blue on Canon Powershot A495

Crash, Voreign did, every time the boss makes a phone call about an urgent work-related task. It was crunch time in the office, and also the time I left the workplace early so I can repack the relief goods for the victims of the typhoon. It was a tense situation to be in, where the client threatens to pull out their business, should we fail to comply with their new instructions. It was already difficult to find an Internet cafe to write an email. But for the boss to receive a dropped call, because my phone turns off must have been a very frustrating experience for him. 

I said it would never happen again.

It is less than a year before my old phone gets replaced. The Samsung Galaxy Mini came as a freebie when I signed up for a postpaid plan last year. For all my faith in the Korean brand, the gadget would not last for two years. I could have Voreign fixed the next day, but then, indulgence has been a distraction. I was already contemplating what phone to buy next, should the present finally breaks down. 

Coach Blakedaddy recommended Sony Xperia, since I was looking for a camera that snaps high quality images. Pictures, I could proudly show on Instagram or elsewhere as long as the digital repository complements the artistic merit of my subjects. He also suggested Samsung Galaxy S4, because I am a heavy social media user. But then, when the Mini gave up - prematurely - I had to dismiss the idea of getting another Samsung. 

Overnight, the acquisition of a Sony phone suddenly became appealing to me.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Man In The Mirror

I was down with a flu since Tuesday.

My muscles ache and my skin singe with fever. I had runny nose in the morning and at night, chills wrap me to sleep. I was in for a bed rest - I had spent a day obeying my body's demands for sleep and more fluids. Come the next morning, I was up in bed and back to weight lifting. I even took pictures of sunset at the Manila Bay on my way to the gym.

Part of the reason for going out was to return the umbrella Giboy forgot to retrieve from my bag last Monday. He was in the city and since my shift ends in the afternoon, I decided to accompany him getting his driver's license at East Avenue. He reminded me of the umbrella last Wednesday morning, and knowing he spends his work outdoors, returning his possession was an urgent matter. I don't mind commuting all the way south to spare him the inconvenience. 

It was necessary.

The journey, however, had put so much strain that the flu made a nasty comeback upon reaching home. I had to take the blue pill before going to sleep hoping to wake up feeling better. The body responded well and I was out of the house to attend a meeting the next day. My presence was required at work. It was Thursday, the same day Papa Tagay was set for surgery. After seeing the boss and two of my colleagues, off I go to the Heart Center to visit my buddy.

I was told by Santi and Panda to go home and rest. They too showed up to express their support for our friend's medical procedure. They said, I was still recovering; that I should not force myself to act like I have no flu. I nodded at their suggestion. I even let Panda see me ride a jeep going home. But stubborn, the self is, an offer from someone to keep me company when I said I wanted to drink changed my direction. At half past seven, I was at the Mount Carmel church offering prayers. Not done with my request for divine intercession, I walked all the way from Aurora Boulevard to E. Rodriguez reciting the rosary. 

All the cabs passing in front of me were occupied.

Meeting the stranger, and having a drink at Quattro Bar took my mind off things. Yet, at the back of my head, I was very conscious that careless words may lead me into trouble. His questions were laced with curiosity. His fascination, evident in his bespectacled eyes. There was no doubt I had the advantage, but I refused to acknowledge his attraction. Strange as it sounds, but I too, lament that those days of sensible exchanges will not prosper. In real life, we simply differ. We paid the bill unsure how to spell the friendship I was willing to offer.

Awkwardness seem to shadow the message exchanges that came after.

And once more, the flu made a comeback.

Friday and I was back at work. Unwell, but my mind stayed bent performing like the malaise hasn't beset my body. I was able to wrap the day completing all the tasks at hand. I was even able to return to the gym, to work out like my chest wasn't even hurting because of cough.

"Such we are creatures of habit," I left on Twitter before resuming my work-out last Wednesday. "That we rather suffer the consequences of our actions than to break our routines." 

The same question was asked of me by my drinking buddy last Thursday.

"Don't you find routines boring?" He said before smoking his cigarette.

No longer I recall the answer, or how my excuse for living had put a smile on his face. But knowing my penchant for changing decisions at whim, and solitary movements, without considering the convenience of others, routines hold me in place when outward perception dissolves in chaotic mess. You may call it discipline, or other lofty expressions that say the same thing about commitment. 

But when I no longer see everyday patterns, and certainties in days ahead; when I feel constants being overwhelmed by changes, and that my place is befuddled by events not of my doing, the resolve to cling to time-bound habits I faithfully repeat with every cycle is a reflection of my inward response to situations. So it doesn't matter if I'm down with flu, or buried beneath piles of work, with approaching deadlines.

Routines must stay in place, only as to tell my feet the direction I'd be going.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Ding, the ex-boyfriend of Pilyo was rushed to the hospital early this month because of gallstones. He had to undergo surgery two days after being confined at the Medical City.

A week later, Panda found himself sitting in one of the chairs at the emergency room of the World Citi Medical Center because of swollen appendix. He too, had to undergo surgery to excise the pouch-like tube, which in pictures appeared to have grown the size of a small hand-held communication device.

On the third week of November, Papa Tagay was one of those injured in a vehicular accident. A bus lost control along Edsa and ran over several waiting commuters before slamming into another bus. While our chap wasn't among the casualties, he was seated at the back of the bus that was hit by the passenger carrier that lost its break. He cannot remember the blow, only blood dripping down his face. He was discharged at the Makati Medical Center three days later after suffering concussion. 

We thought he was already recovering.

But we were wrong.

I received a direct message on Twitter this morning from his partner telling me that Papa Tagay was once again rushed to the hospital. He was to undergo an emergency medical procedure. A clot formed somewhere in his brain and has now blocked the passage of blood. When I paid a visit at the Heart Center this afternoon, my friend was visibly weak, unable to sleep because of the sharp pain he felt.

We are still waiting for news as to the outcome of his Ventriculostomy

I do not know how to put it in words, but I see a pattern in all these unexpected surgeries. All the people subjected to the forced laceration of the skin belong to the same group who get to see each other for our weekly drinking binge. From Ding (who happens to be Santi's present partner), to Panda and now Papa Tagay, it seems the series of unfortunate events affect the ringleaders. 

Much as I don't want to think about it, but we still have eight days before the month is over. And when I look at the situation with superstitious and ominous eyes, the only ring leader left; spared from all these handiwork of an unseen hand, is none other.

But me.         


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Actus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea

It is a matter of fact that in the past few weeks, I have been visiting friends who were confined in hospitals, work even on my rest days, go to repacking and donations centers to lend my hands in relief operations, sneak out every Saturday nights to meet friends, or sleep all day because I was up the whole night.  

Guilty as charged and I have no appeal. I maybe physically present at home, but my mind wanders elsewhere.

But what caught me off guard was a remark from my mother. For someone who is not "out" at home, and is not dating (even sleeping) with anyone at the moment, what she told me after barging through her door to demand a hug put me in a mild state of shock. 

"Wala ka na oras sa akin." She said in jest while stroking my hair.

Gangnam style
Cornered? Let's Dance

"Ang oras mo nasa boyfriends mo na."

Actus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea - The act does not make [a person] guilty unless the mind should be guilty.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Walk I did a few weeks ago. Before the super storm made landfall in the Visayas, and my feet were still eager to see sights that evade me. From the walled enclave of Intramuros to the choke full of trailers below the Del Pan bridge, all I did was walk; walk towards the mouth of the river that flows not far from home.  

You may consider me a riverine. A kid raised next to the river. My earliest memories of my dad include crossing the Nagtahan bridge on foot with him. I still recall that sense of wonder, as huge barges pass beneath the bridge; creating ripples that slosh along the banks, parting water lilies in their procession towards the sea. I remember holding my dad's hand, as tugboats pull the behemoths toward their destination. I would get drowned in my imagination, as I see myself boarding the same boats as we chug our way towards parts unknown.  

When I turned older, I would sit on a floating terminal while the Metro Ferry boat unloads passengers heading to PUP. The swirl in my head, as waves stir the pontoon used to force me to flee to the banks. Soon, I would look forward to these fluxes as they have become a well-spring of excitement. In moments of stillness, I would spot bubbles on the water's surface. Little movements that lead to solid evidence of life. It seems, and I was told, by the birds circling above my head that the river is still alive. Dying, yet giving life to creatures hardened by the ebbs and tides. 

There is no denial that the river is stinky. Sometimes, dead animals float along the water's edge. Its surroundings have turned lifeless, its waters a vial of death. But the river remains a romantic retreat. In high school and college, part of my urban stroll is to ride the ferry going upstream, where city lights and skyscrapers change the backdrop of my beloved metropolis. And there are days still, when I cross the historic bridges or sit in crumbling walls of the Santiago fort, I would imagine a time when people used to wine and dine near the river's edge; when children take a dip in its sparkling waters, or when the superstitious still warn of mermaids dwelling at the belly of the watercourse.

How lovely it is to live in such time.

In all the years I have stood next to the river and daydreamed of times when it used to be teeming with life, the very place where it drains has been a mystery. Part of the elusiveness is the inaccessibility, of the perils and dangers found where the Pasig meets the bay. And one day, while remembering the guy who once told me his dream of setting foot at the confluence, I thought of embarking a solitary trip in honor of his memory. 

So walk I did, pass the trucks waiting their turn to enter the port terminal, pass the gates where container vans are stacked, and pass the homes and hovels that make up the bustling urban landscape at the rim of a reclaimed land. There, I found what I've been searching; a longing my eyes delight in indulging; the river's edge, a few steps away from the sea:  

Baseco Compound, Tondo

"Nakarating ka ng Baseco ng hindi mo alam?" A store vendor at a sari-sari store told me with incredulity. I didn't answer her question.

"Okay lang po ba mag-ikot ikot?" 

"Okay lang naman, basta huwag ka pupunta dun sa may dulo. Magulo dun." She warned.

A sea of trash it may be. But the river mouth remains a poignant discovery to me. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Disquiet Morning Of Fury And Rage


"Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God." The old lady holding a wooden rosary implored in a cracked voice.

"That we maybe worthy of the promises of Christ." A chorus of terrified faithful mumbled in response.

"Let us pray."  

It was nearing daybreak, and no one has slept yet. The howls of death has kept them craning their necks to the ceiling, as the corrugated aluminum sheets on their heads tear up like it was being trampled by invisible hooves. Eight souls counting three kids huddled together inside a small room. Hidden under thick blankets and with their hands wrapped around their mother's waist, these children shiver every time the walls shake.  

Days before landfall, authorities made rounds around the neighborhood beseeching families to stay in concrete shelters. A handful heeded their call. But not this family. Believing their two-story home can withstand the winds of perdition, the patriarch of the house decreed it would be best for them to stay together as the swirling oblivion passes through.

"Our house is far from the shore" he said to his wife "There is no chance the sea will barge through the door." 

Nightfall came, and a televised speech from the President urged people to move to higher grounds. It was aired live in the evening news. The lights flickered as he spoke, prompting the maid to ready some candles. Outside, the winds warned of the approaching tempest. Electric wires swayed, while whistles in the air (the eldest among the three girls compared the sound to a jet plane that is about to take off) grew louder as the hands of time inched closer to midnight.

There was no sleep, especially for the one who sealed the fate of them all. He switched on the transistor radio, but only white noise can be heard across the airwaves. Looking at the window, all he saw were red skies lit by lightning. His judgement now clouded with doubts, he began to question his decision. 

"Was it the right thing to stay?"

"Or should have I let them evacuate in Maasin, where my in-laws are living?" He felt a gentle hand land on his shoulders. It was his wife.

"Everything will be alright." She smiled.

At four in the morning, the lights went out. Somewhere in the distance, they heard a loud thud. Like an electric pole crashing to the ground. With the winds now showing its ferocity, the family believed the worse is almost over; that the eye wall was directly above their heads. 

"Anytime soon, this will be over," The matriarch assured before leading the prayers and raising her hand to do the sign of the cross. However, cut from the outside world, the meteorologists tell of a different story:

"The eye of Typhoon “YOLANDA” was located at 62 km Southeast Guiuan, Eastern Samar (10.8°N, 126.2°E) with maximum sustained winds of 235 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 275 kph"

The worse is yet to come.

It is already morning but the sun is nowhere in sight. Faint blue light illuminates the windows, only to be blurred by horizontal rain bands splatting against the frosted glass. The winds, in its fury uproots a nearby Acacia tree. It leans precariously next to the balcony. Its branches clawing deeper into the walls as the furious squall tries to lift the wooden beast off the ground.

Fear begins to show in the eyes of the old lady. Never before, in more than half a century of memory has she seen such winds able to smash a tree against the concrete skin of her home.

Clutching her grandchildren, intuition tells that they should leave the doomed quarter: To move to a room away from the windward direction. Just when they were about to reach the door, the ceiling collapses. An iron beam smashes into the matriarch's head knocking her down, and pinning her body to the floor. On the verge of losing consciousness, she mutters the words "leave." while blood gushes down her face. Unable to grip what just happened, the wife yanked her husband, and her father-in-law out of the room. The remaining family members crawled towards safety as broken glass and toppled objects now litter the corridor. 

There was no time to mourn. No time to weep, as the tempest reveals its full strength. The typhoon is now directly above their heads, and the gale's shrills is all that is to hear. It screams destruction; like the gates of Hades have been forced open and all the wretched, cursed souls of the underworld force their way out of the bottomless pit. The groans of horror as the wind holds sway over the ruined house will become stuff of nightmares for many sleeps to come

- if the remaining family members ever get out of this hell alive. 

The wind pounds the walls, and rips the roof. Clothes fly out of the dresser while beds and bookcases overturn. Doors slam against their frames. Eventually, they fall to the ground with their hinges and locks twisted. The mass of air puffs what remains of the house, that it was no longer safe to stay on the second floor. It means a perilous escape towards the staircase. The bathroom downstairs might be their last hope. 

With the patriarch dazed and on the verge of break down, it was the son, the father of the three children who made the call. With a rope knotted around the waists of her wife, helper and three daughters, they inch away once more, inch where four pillars and a concrete slab may spell the difference between life and death. Twice they had to duck, for the winds had almost lifted them off the ground. Soaked and trembling, with sprays of water slapping their faces, they go on, making every breath as their last. Turning his head to where he had last seen his dad, curled and sobbing as he repeated the words "I'm sorry," he saw no one. Gone was the old man, and the room where they took shelter.

Reaching the staircase, the ground floor was nowhere in sight. Instead, waves, upon waves of water - the storm surge they were all warned about has swallowed everything in its path. The house shakes once more, as the walls on the ground floor are being eaten away by the torrent.

"Abandon all hope," his thoughts say.

But his heart resolves to live on for many more tomorrows to come.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I was telling Giboy the other night that the reason I avoid watching the evening news is to spare myself from the pangs of helplessness. That I know, it wouldn't help to shed tears, or share in the collective grief when something can be done to ease the suffering of those who have lost their homes and loved ones. 

As news feeds continue to air on TV screens, Typhoon Yolanda pummeled Eastern Visayas, and left a trail of destruction never before seen in recent memory. Seen in video clips are shell-shocked survivors limping around a flattened city; scavenging food or looting department stores in downtown Tacloban for something to eat. Sometimes, they would step foot on human remains still unclaimed inside ruined houses. Those who were unfortunate to survive the tempest do these acts to go on living; to see through the light of day in  cracked glasses, permanently scarred by nature's fury.   

I keep their sufferings in mind and let them haunt my thoughts. 

Because the moment instinct kicks in, nothing would stop me from rushing towards the front lines; to enlist and volunteer. To be in places where canned goods, rice and instant noodles are repacked and sent where aid is needed.

Time is of the essence and help must reach the eastern provinces a day after the storm's landfall. For this reason I sent an SMS to my boss. 

To allow me to go undertime last Friday. 

"My sister and my brother-in-law had a nasty fight," I said as an excuse. "I was asked by my mom to intervene." The ruse worked. In less than an hour after sending the text message, I was off to Pasay where the DSWD called for volunteers.

My presence, however, was cut short because I was urgently needed at work. I returned the day after to make up for the lost time. There, from twilight to daybreak, I was hauling the essentials - arranging them on tables so that when the tons of rice arrive from the Social Welfare Department's warehouses, it would be easy for the next batch of volunteers to sort the supplies and slide everything inside the relief bags.

What has been done in the past deserves a repeat performance. I was there when one of the largest TV networks called for volunteers during Ondoy. I've sent myself to ground zero to personally deliver supplies to calamity stricken areas. I've been a taskmaster, a logistics officer, a kargador when few men would volunteer to carry sacks of relief goods - and - as I've realized lately, you don't show up and lend help for personal indulgence.

You offer time because it is the right thing to do.

Because of this overwhelming desire to act.

It's been four days since the strongest typhoon to make landfall barreled across nation and help has not yet arrived. If you find me in one of the repacking centers in the city, I was there on my own accord.

"Ako po si JM at gusto ko po magvolunteer."

All it takes is a straight introduction, and a clear intention. The Philippine Red Cross and the Social Welfare Department always needs extra hands.

Especially in the godless hours of the night.

Update: The Bayanihan spirit has now touched everyone. Even the night shifts have been taken over by eager volunteers. God bless this nation.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Everything That Could Be Done

The whole planet is watching on CNN, BBC, every major channel, the passage of the fastest typhoon in history, leaving jet streams behind and the world will see how our government handles an unimaginable catastrophe, already CNN has admitted that our government has done all that a government can do. If loss of life is minimal and post-passage relief is quick and vast, this is the legacy that has eluded PNoy, two years before he leaves.

We cannot choose the time and place when we are vindicated but this looks like it for him. 

Great job so far.

- Teddy Locsin Jr.

That is a combination of images from Japanese and European weather satellites, also on Nov. 7, 2013, at 13:00 UTC, around local midnight. These satellites are in geostationary orbits, 36,000 km (22,000 miles) above the Earth’s surface, and provide a much broader view. You can see Haiyan to the right, the city lights of the Philippines almost underneath it. Lights from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India are to the west, and Australia is far to the south. The brassy glow on the left is sunset over the Arabian Sea and the east coast of Africa, Oman, and Yemen. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Faded Glory

There must have been a time when the more affluent of the middle class flock to this place; a trading post across the Quinta Market where grocery items and liquors were sold at prices we yearn today. 

In those days, a seasoned shopper, much like you and I surveys the goods on display: stateside commodities sought after because of a generation's acquired taste. The postwar reconstruction is over, and yet, much of the merchandise in this store comes from abroad, from the liberators and colonizers we have long patronized in these isles. 

There is Anchor butter for breakfast and merienda, Coca Cola sodas for refreshments, and Sun Maid raisins for snacks. In another rack are cans of Campbell soup and Libby's corned beef. There is Alaska powdered milk down the aisle, as well as Royal instant noodles for those who are too lazy to cook. Best Foods mayonnaise and Hellman's ketchup belong to the condiments, and Gerber - the only processed baby food at that time can be procured with the help of a store assistant.

Such different time.

Speculation abounds as to what this grocery looked like in its prime. Did it occupy a much bigger space? Did it face stiff competition from rivals across the street? Were my elder folks been here and spoke to its owners. 

Did they know such grocer exists? 

For when I stepped foot inside and bought a lone Fibisco Chocolate Cookies as a bait, there lingers a sense of loss for a time that has already passed. 

"It might just be counting the days," I thought as I snapped a picture of the Lagomarsino Totalia printing calculator on the table. 

Looking around for traces of the shop's busy past, I caught glimpse of an old man, probably in his late sixties. He was wearing a white shirt with orange stripes, and was sitting at his desk. As he quietly sip a drink, while reading a paper, his frail frame appears to have live through a time of glory; of a romantic age where mom and pop stores reign. Unlike in the present where everyone goes to monolith supermarkets and supermalls, his time must have been a little more humbling knowing storekeepers like him can't have everything a shopper wants.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Leafing Through

"Dare mo ako," I asked Nox as the two of us busted a move on the dance floor.

"Dare!!" He said, without batting an eyelash.

Earlier that night, I went to the gym only to find out that they are open until 10pm. It was past midnight when I arrived. With no place to go, I asked my DJ friend Cal Soesanto, where to party. 

She said, Bed Manila. 

So I went there, for the second time after they moved to Greenfields, Shaw. At Bed, I met some Twitter friends - by accident - and decided it would be better to hang out with them than to go solo. Para naman maka-bond ako with friends I only get to see online, and to spare myself from getting into trouble again.

Because the last time I went there, I ended up going out with my dance partner days later. It didn't prosper. The "date" was a disaster. Before that, during Bed's closing in Malate, a couple invited me for a threesome - which I declined. Said, "I don't play this game anymore," before walking away from the horny bastards.

That night, I thought I could leave the dance floor without causing any incident.

But I was wrong. I was a tease from the moment I entered the club until the minute before I leave.

Fate was kind however, for I was able to part heartfelt words to people who mattered. I was able to tell Nox how I admire his long distance relationship with Ron. They have been together for almost three years. We talked about their future, their plans of getting married, and my wish - to one day - get to read Nox's Facebook where he's sharing his trip to Oslo.

To visit his partner for the first time. 

I was also able to share some good moments with Babit, the guy who made a cameo on the Indie Film, Camera Obscura. The silent film has sentimental value to me because of the ex, and Babit, having played a role in that movie has somehow touched my past - in a very endearing way. While we didn't get to talk - like Nox and I did, his presence was a relief, especially since one of their friends was someone I had my eyes on. We were getting physical and every time I get reminded that Babit was watching, I come to my senses and hold back the rage I had for his friend.

Finally, Ron was the one who found me while smoking outside Bed. I was having second thoughts of going in, and while weighing my decision, I saw him looking at me. There was instant recognition - and association with his boyfriend. Ron called Nox who was drinking inside, he, in turn, convinced me to get in, and the rest was history. In their presence I realized that I could leave my comfort zone and still feel at home.

And as Ron and Nox danced and kissed in my presence, there's this whisper of hope, that one day, I might find myself dancing and kissing my partner on the same dance floor. Perhaps not there, but in some other place that would forever be special to me. I might have had a different story to tell for this entry, but it was their sweet moments that held me steady during the naughty incidences I had with the rest.

Kasi nga, ang harot ko, and since I was perked up, it was easy to hook up, had I wanted to.

Maybe it was in my way of doing pelvic thrusts in the air, or bending my knees and dropping my hips on the floor, or arching my neck like reaching an orgasm that caught others' imagination. All I know is that I have always been a horny dancer. This thought, I recalled, when Prodeeboy once told me about a guitarist who made sexually charged facial expressions while he performed on stage. Prodee claimed he had a boner just by looking at him. And in the way I stuck out my tongue, or kept sensual eye contact with my bet, I was subconsciously doing a mating call that others found hard to resist.

An inflated assumption.

All I know was I was able to kiss a dance partner, felt someone's six packs as his hand guided mine into his torso, and had hands sliding inside my pants to check my limp package. In times of inebriation, it was easy to let go. And that night, the urge to drop the inhibition brought me close to being reintroduced to the clubber that I was: the Malate Kid who went to gay places every Saturday to occupy a portion of the ledge and show off.

It was fun then, and thrilling, still. But at the back of my head, I made a promise that none of these, will be seen by the Next: The tease that I am; the command I show on the dance floor; and the moves that get me into trouble every time I go to dance clubs lately. These will all be, but a figment of the imagination. A fiction story I put in my blog to write my days of singlehood. The Future will just know me as a clubber who happens to be passionate in Electronic Dance Music.

For him, I'd just be the domesticated type. The artsy geek who drinks every weekend with friends.

And that's what I'd become.

So perhaps, for the last time this year, I kept my word by mounting the ledge once more: To bring back the dancer in me, and to celebrate friendships that are often overlooked. I raised my fists into the spotlight and closed my eyes to let the music take control. In my head, all I hear was the track "Eat, Sleep, Rave Repeat" bouncing off the man-sized speakers and the howls of friends watching from the dance floor.