Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rinavia Prime

Previously: Neverwhere
         The Third Book

Barely a week had passed after the near-troubles with the two boys, and the Weatherman is back, making his presence felt, just when it all seems the long chill between us was about to set in. You see, we maybe too cozy in each other's presence, but when leading separate lives, the distance makes it look like we are mere acquaintances. The issue comes from hardly engaging in small talk. I would make attempts at reaching out, but depending on his mood, he would cut off the conversation just when I would like to prolong it. I never complained. He also pays little attention to my activities online, even when we speak of the same thoughts, and when my obsession strikes, I would stalk all his social media accounts just to glance at the things that keep him preoccupied. Sometimes his fascination with others fuel this jealousy, and to avoid getting hurt (or mad, whatever comes first) from being neglected, the habit of looking around has become a necessary distraction.   

Only that, it never gets me anywhere.

Now back to the Weatherman, he sent an SMS asking for a favor. It came as a complete surprise since we had nothing in store for the coming weeks after watching the Azkals semi-finals game last Independence day. The favor wasn't that much, knowing the situation he found himself in, and without having to think it over, I acceded to his request, especially since he had to pick it up at the most convenient place for me. He arrived an hour later at my doorstep, and without even saying a word, we found ourselves lip-locking inside my quarters, like we did when he came back into my life early this year.

To describe the moment as pure bliss would be an understatement for someone who has harbored this tenderness for three years. All I know is the futility of searching when the Weatherman holds sway over me. Someone has to step up, or the cycle would tear me apart. Not to spoil the day-long cuddling, I spoke my mind while having a stroll at the Malacanan on his way home. 

"Hanggang ganito na lang ba tayo?" The Weatherman was in for a complete shock.

I told him what has been going since the events of Deus Ex Machina, and no amount of pretending will erase the obvious that we treat each other as more than just friends. 

"Walang ganito na magkaibigan." I was referring to the deeds we do in private. Through and through, I have never seen him as just a lay. "At sa tuwing naiisip ko na masaya tayong magkasama, nanghihinayang ako sa maaring mangyari kapag pinili kong muling lumayo at maghanap ng iba." 

My words were broken and devoid of eloquence. 

"Ayokong malaman mo isang araw na wala na ako sa iyo."

I told the Weatherman of my plans for us, of how I think of no one to see the world except him. I reminded him of our common passions, of what keeps us getting drawn into each other's spheres. I asked how he sees me, and his vague answer makes my plea a little more unsettling. "You're very special and I can't think of anyone who enjoys the same things I do." 

"Wala pa akong nakakasamang iba sa ganitong mga lakad."

Maybe he was careful with his words so as to emphasize his non-commitment. Perhaps, he really felt nothing beyond the trappings of lust, and the companionship we enjoy every time we have these scheduled hang-outs. But given how our lives seem to cross paths without ever realizing that they bind us closer, I proposed a more steady arrangement - one that would at least make us hold on to something even when a romantic relationship may not be forthcoming.

"Can we at least be exclusively dating?" He was silent. "Exclusively dating means we're not in a romantic commitment, just the fact that we won't see anyone else." 

A further elaboration and the Weatherman finally said yes.

It was not the most ideal settlement, one, who is head over heels would find himself accepting. An observer might even think it was a desperate move by someone who would seldom let anyone breach his walls. I personally think it was done to collect more memories; and weave enough stories of being together, so as to make the Weatherman realize what I might become should he let me into his life. For the way I see things, it is easy to win someone's attention. It is the unwillingness to explore the possibilities that lead two intimate couples to drift apart.

"I really want to grow with you," I squeezed his hand as we sat next to the river. In the distance was the Quezon Bridge and the street scene during a Monday rush hour. The disclosure lead us to talk more about us, and what our lives were when we were still in someone else's arms. The day ends knowing it would be a struggle to win his heart back, the heart I almost had when he and I found each other many years back. But knowing I might never see no one beyond the Weatherman, and the difficulty of finding someone like him, risking everything in this seemingly puerile experiment might eventually win us a lasting bond.

Love might be a long shot, but at least, I would never have to confess again the sins I commit in the name of escaping his gravity.

Suspended between the eternal and the temporal, I have begun to orbit his world. 




Sometime early this month, a new found acquaintance from Twitter asked me to go out and see a movie. I would usually decline such invitation given my habit of watching a film only with someone I'd probably date with. But he was into indie local films, and after seeing the movie trailer on YouTube, I thought it would be worthwhile to see the feature about a local and foreign couple trying to adjust to living together despite their cultural differences. It was a comedy, slice-of-life flick and since I had declared a week-long respite from work, I said yes to the stranger and saw the movie with him at Greenhills.

Although the cliches made my eyes squint, the film deserves my time, and so was the guy who took the extra mile to see that I was comfortable in his company. We parted ways without ever crossing the threshold between platonic friends and flirty mates and for that, there was a cause for continued engagement. It's after a few hours later, over the company of friends and bottles of beers that he said the "L" word.

"I think I like you." He sent over SMS.

If I were not holding back, I would have replied. "Too fast bro."

"Thank you." I tapped on my touch screen. "Let's evaluate that the next time we get to meet." 

The next time is not forthcoming.


That same night, I found myself drunk and raving at O-Bar after joining the table where Nishiboy and some old friends were. While hooking up was never a plan (I broke the no-clubbing rule after hearing that my favorite DJ, Cal Soesanto will be spinning at the club), I had a feeling that I was being eyed on the dance floor. One guy wrapped his arm around my waist, and before daybreak, made his intentions clear that he wanted a companion. Instead of going with him to some place away from the club, I walked straight to the exit, hailed a cab, and went home without saying goodbye. Because of my inebriated state, I only knew from Nishi that the guy who was eyeing me was a secret crush on Social Media.

Fortunately, I wasn't aware.

This walk out incident didn't stop us from seeing each other, and after a few days of daily correspondence on Viber, decided to meet for a late dinner on a Thursday evening. The guy was a contemporary, who like me, wasted half of his twenties dancing from Wednesday to Sunday at Government when we could have been preoccupied by other things - like saving the world. The only difference is that I made my death too slow, that it was almost unfelt: I religiously went to the clubs only during weekends, never made friends on the dance floor, and never binged on drinks like he said, he did. We too came from the same university, and became members of the opposing political parties. Too bad he already left the campus when I took the reigns of power from our seniors.

The late night dinner was extended until past midnight, when we found ourselves looking at the distance, on a curb somewhere at the Cultural Center grounds. By then we knew there was mutual attraction, only that it was still in its infancy, and could change at any moment. We sealed the night with a kiss, and I went home a little doubtful of my true feelings for him.

"Let's find out," I told myself while taking out the pair of boxers I slid inside my bag. The events would unravel in a matter of days.


For some reasons the correspondence just ceased to continue, like what happened with Jake the Dog and the rest, who, I considered as more than just a passing fancy. It so happened that it was never my habit to pursue or waste people's time when I feel a pinch of indifference. While letting go is easy, at a hindsight, you cannot help but question what made two intimate people drift apart. Is it because no one wants to show how the other is badly needed? Or because things are happening too fast, life refuses to accept the new order? Or maybe, all we ever wanted from someone is a moment of distraction, because deep within, there are hang-ups that remain unresolved? Eventually, you end up accepting the simplest of conclusions: timing, and you move on without regretting your decision not to stay.

The events of this month showed how quick the turnover is, with two strangers succeeding in getting my attention in just a single night. It may also be seen as a demonstration of my charm had I been active in the dating scene. But instead of marching forward, and continuing the search for a pair, (or another temporal object of affection) this apparent cycle serves as a wake up call: face the present disposition with the person who caused this all, or repeat the same meet up story until they all pile into your puddle of guilt.

After all, just days before you met these men, you watched an Azkals game with Him, and made out on a bus as it cruised the expressway going home, and simply because you are losing your mind thinking how long this complex arrangement will go on, you look for another way out, to find a more permanent settlement with another, or at least a counter should a time come these random hang outs with that one guy, who meant everything to you, would no longer happen.

You were never serious on letting go.




Go Beyond. Create Tomorrow

Every four years, youth athletes from around the world come together for the world’s biggest winter sporting event. In 2016, they will go to Lillehammer, one of the oldest winter sports destinations in Norway.

The Youth Olympic Games medal consists of stylized snowflakes and ice crystals representing the winter climate and proud skiing culture of Lillehammer. The main snowflake at the center is formed by five youth athletes from all the continents represented in the Olympic rings. Inseparable at the base, these youths symbolize unity, peace, friendship, solidarity and fair play. The arms form letter “Y” which means ‘youth.’ It is also the universal symbol for peace, for which these games are held, to foster harmony and cultural exchange among young people through athletics. 


It was one of those random direct messages from the Weatherman asking for small favors. Around last summer, he submitted a medal design for the Youth Olympics Games. He was asking me to write a short description of the medal, and how it symbolizes the event. Knowing that I won't have the perfect narrative for someone's creation, I instructed him to draft an introduction. I will supply the right words. And so he did send a short blurb about his work, which required little polishing. That same afternoon, I sent him my version, which, became his entry for the contest.

The rest is history.

Though the Weatherman never got the prize, (the chosen design was from Romania) the collaboration was a milestone I have never achieved when I was in a relationship. It was a communion of two artists, who made attempts to accomplish a common goal out of their desire for recognition. It maybe said that my contribution was merely to articulate what the designer had in mind. But for me, it was a demonstration of a talent my inspiration may not be aware of.

He will join design contests each time he comes across invitations in the future, and hopefully the next time he decides to showcase his work, it will be conceived by two minds: One who creates symbols and images through digital illustration,

And one who masterfully put words to make the opus stand out from the rest.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Same Love


On Gay Marriage Pt. 1
On Gay Marriage Pt. 2
On Gay Marriage Last Pt.

A deeply divisive ruling in the Supreme Court of the United States of America has made gay marriage legal across the land. It was a historic decision, a liberating precept that allows all couples regardless of sexual leaning to form a union that is protected and recognized by the state. It was a struggle that is as old as the first riots of Stonewall, and a victory shared by all people who put love first before the wrath of God.

The global jubilation was immediately followed by a collective derision. Religious conservatives call for civil disobedience. Those who speak of abomination were being mocked on Social Media. Meanwhile, closer to home, friends are pitted against one another all in the name of creed. In a nation where the Creator has the first say in everything, flocks risk burning bridges just to speak their conviction. While my own Facebook page is free from such bigotry, others were not as fortunate as me. A same-friend voiced his disappointment on Twitter after two of his girl best friends wrote on their wall their scathing rejection of gay weddings. 

He fears he may never be accepted.

The gay marriage debate has been going on long before I embraced my sexuality a decade and a half ago. From a mere thought of people who might not even understand the separation of church and the state, the possibility of such family arrangement and social policy grows with each generation being exposed to the wonderful world of gender diversity. And all along, I saw how minds change. While hypocrisy lingers with each dose of religious poison, I have faith that the progressives will prevail in the end. 

And my stand has remained, no matter how swift the changes are. Same love will become commonplace, and while a government-sanctioned union may still be light years away, the certainty of marriage equality will reach these shores some day.

Baby steps will still get us there.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Depth Of My Fidelity

No longer apparent, my words were.
This time it is for real.
You may never hear me speak of vows before you,
much like you would even care.
But behind your ears, let me assure my sincere intentions.

I take our exclusivity agreement very seriously.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Place In Displacement

It has come to a point that I have nothing to write, not because personal narratives have eluded me, but maybe I'm just too preoccupied catching up with life, after I choose the path of wanton abandon. 

I have yet to recover from that week-long absence at my jobs.

What I have learned from the deviation is that routines need to be sustained. Otherwise, the carefully crafted lifestyle built from embracing a humdrum existence might get broken, and the sudden newness in experiences might overwhelm me, like it did, when I spent days out of my cave and reaching out to people until I spread myself too thin.  

I will tell more in the coming entries, if I manage to get back in the zone, in spite of the pressing demands of the raketship, of the home affairs, of the troubles that I need to sort out after the consequences of my actions. All I am saying is that I still linger and I will keep sharpening this craft, even when the luxury of time, and creation appears to be in a full-scale retreat.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Parliament Of The Streets

I walked with these people to stop the Vice President from running for higher office for the following reasons:

  • Corruption. It's in the news long before Jojo announced his candidacy for the presidency. From his unexplained wealth when he was still the mayor of Makati, to his acres of land in Batangas, which was never declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth, to the overpriced construction of a parking lot building next to the city hall. He goes around the country telling locals that he is being persecuted without ever answering the accusations thrown at him and his family.
  • Traditional Politics. When Jojo becomes the president, everything will return to the way it was. Politicians preening as if their constituents owe them the social services they receive; Politicians attaching their name next to government projects and freebies. Politicians, whose sense of entitlement keeps things from getting done. The first family, whose children are already in various elected posts will only turn the entire country into their personal fiefdom, like in GMA's time.
  • Media Spin. After floating the idea of Grace Poe becoming Jojo's veep, which the esteemed Senator respectfully declined, the veep's political party responded by accusing the latter of being a foundling, whose citizenship should be questioned in court. This press release, backfired, and a few days later, Jojo claims he too, was adopted. Recently, the first daughter made comparisons between a family of doctors and politicians in defense of dynasties. She questions the logic behind preventing generations of political families from holding offices when professionals freely pass their knowledge from elders to children. Refutations came quick, and a doctor even wrote an open letter challenging the Senator's impaired logic. 
  • Promotion of Mediocrity. Anyone who supports a Binay presidency after all the scandals and corruption allegations came out is either from Makati, who enjoyed freebies and social services offered by the local government, or countryside folks who are used to the culture of mendicancy being practiced throughout generations. A Jojo Binay victory would mean the triumph of a leadership with no long-term vision except for the enrichment of his family (and friends) and the perpetuation of his power.
  • Term Limit and Foreign Policy Changes. Jojo would definitely want to stay in power for as long as he breathes and to live this aspiration, he would have to change the constitution to a four-year presidency, with a choice to get re-elected once again. He would also work with China to resolve the West Philippine Sea issue since they have the resources to develop the area, virtually giving away chunks of territory to Beijing, which the second Aquino government tried to protect at all cost.
  • Collective Action. I have always believed that should Jojo wins this election, sooner or later, someone will mount another People Power at Edsa. I have already committed myself to the cause, and the first step is to seek like-minded individuals who would stand for what is right and good for the nation. Like what I've said to Leah Navarro during the short walk, forces aligned with the Vice President are slowly making their presence in social media. It is up to reformers like us to shake people's indifference and show what is at stake if a person with a dubious character reign over the land.


Friday, June 12, 2015


Previously: San Nicolas, Manila
               Turbulence At The Home Front

The San Nicolas walk trip was born out of curiosity, when instead of riding a jeep at the corner of Abad Santos and Recto to go home, I thought of traipsing further into the bowels of Divisoria to find what's beyond Tabora street. Lately, I've been spotted at the central flea market looking for cheap home items such as hangers with clippers and large water containers

The last time I was there, I searched the side streets for a rain poncho.

Now the rain poncho is not for me, but for Kuya O, who is my mother's personal assistant. Since the monsoon season is beginning to bring cloudy skies and late afternoon showers, a complete rain gear is needed by family members who often needed to go outdoors no matter what the weather be. With him having to hold a large umbrella while pushing a wheelchair from the State University going to our house a few blocks away, there is a likely chance that my mom will get wet, so he asked for a rain coat the last time heavy thunderstorms inundated the city. 

And my response came swift.

Kuya O's request was a fitting excuse to return and explore my favorite marketplace. He had asked for a rain protection gear with a transparent membrane, one that is hard to find that not even department stores might carry such types in their stocks. I already looked for one in Quiapo but didn't find any. 

Thus, my only hope is Divisoria.

Even in Divisoria, looking for a raincoat proved quite difficult. None is being sold at the malls, and outside, while cheap varieties exist, even an uninstructed buyer can easily glean how the edges can tear up with one slight pull. An industrial-strength coat should exist somewhere. One that is used by fishermen who is working in rough seas.

And so I walked further, beyond the row of department stores with names inspired by numbers, until I came across a street where tarpaulin sheets are being sold. Here, raincoats are displayed outside the shops for pedestrians to see. There was this one brand the vendors often spoke, and while it was slightly pricier than the first ones offered to me, the vendors I met at the tarpaulin shops vouched for the coat's quality simply by speaking its name.


It was expensive indeed - by Divisoria standards. The raincoats fetch a price twice the generic varieties, whose hem appears to be made by the same material as the plastic pouches one uses when collecting trash. The cost did turn me off at first, so I made rounds again until I found myself at the same street where the rain gears are being sold. As a first-time buyer, there was no one to consult, until the second vendor who spoke of Spartan's near-rubbery texture being proof of its durability said one detail that made me seal the deal.

"Gawa po dito ito."

The vendor's words were drawn from the gut, not because he was desperate to make a sale, or because of his faith in the product, but because he knew many buyers would choose the cheaper ones dumped by the mainland Chinese. I'm sure, Spartan's quality has already swayed me to get the rain poncho. But on that inconspicuous day, a week before the nation celebrates its Independence, something profound had struck me, like a long lost love has been rekindled: In a time when cheap imported goods flood the market, and the local brands need to rely on a good name or cheap labor to keep the industry afloat, there is a tinge of pride and comfort knowing I'd still be willing to shell more for an item that is Philippine made. We may speak of nationhood in the face of adversity in our waters, in beauty pageants, or in sports, but what purpose does our sovereignty serve without collective patronage for things that truly make us stand on our feet?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

San Nicolas, Manila

San Nicolas is squeezed between the financial hub of Binondo, the tourist spots of Intramuros and Luneta, across the Pasig River, and the mighty ports of Tondo. It is the smallest district of Manila, and the least known, except for Divisoria, the famed marketplace for all-things mura. Even this morsel of knowledge isn't available to many, (shoppers and store attendants alike) since the block with department stores ending with numbers 8 and 9 are associated with the chinky-eyed traders of Ongpin. Often snubbed for its ruggedness, this forgotten corner of the city lies heirloom gems, very few bother to see.

The main reason for its apparent remoteness is the lack of transportation going in and out of the district. From Divisoria, a wanderer has to brave the narrow, and sometimes pickpocket-infested streets beyond Juan Luna, to realize there is something to see aside from the jaw-dropping bargain items that came all the way from China. Meanwhile, slums and sixteen-wheeler trucks greet pilgrims, should they make their way in from Bonifacio Drive. An unsightly welcome to a place that never promotes its disappearing landmarks. While there is a street across San Lorenzo Church that can serve as the main artery leading to San Nicolas' ancestral heartland, strollers and their tour guides continue their journey instead toward Intramuros, which can be accessed through the much familiar Quintin Paredes street. Considered to be the Makati Avenue of pre-war Manila, most banks and lending companies still do business here, given its nearness to Binondo.

With San Nicolas' remoteness already driving sightseers away, what puts the spear into the idea of turning this corner into another tourist spot is the communities' disregard for its heritage sites. That, or the practical and enterprising nature of its people require every dwelling place functional even when conservationists decry the misuse of architectural relics. Here, ancestral homes belonging to the once wealthy industrialists of the Spanish Manila are left in the custody of informal settlers. Many have been abandoned, or even demolished, to make way for high-rise apartments that serve only the transients of Fujian and Guandong. 

It is a sad, sad thought that while there is much to glean from these once palatial abodes - their glorious histories and bittersweet tragedies, none of the original occupants might still be around to tell the tale once a storyteller finds the courage to write what there is to unravel. Given the spread of the urban blight, along with the pockets of urban renewal happening across the district, even a passerby like me may no longer recognize the old San Nicolas, should I decide to return one day and flesh out my story.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Repository

Only once before, did I walk within the cavernous halls of the National Library. It might have been for some petty research work, back, when the state university in Santa Mesa was my stepping stone towards enlightenment. The library at the University of Santo Tomas, while much smaller, packs a lot of rare tomes. I have doubts, this edifice in Kalaw Avenue cradles on its shelves the collection the Dominicans of Espana have, giving the impression in college that this central repository of books has always been of little importance, a destination, only curiousers and hardcore researchers would consider a gem in this obscure corner of the city.

In the age of the web, research can be done in the comforts of one's private quarters, in citing passages in Wikipedia, or maybe Facebook, depending on who's narrative to believe. The library, while I knew in the time of my youth as a happy place, is now nothing more but a shell where people escape the noise drowning a discordant metropolis. It is this thought that made me check the Pambansang Aklatan, not to linger and gain knowledge, but to accomplish some mechanical writing work.

It gets tiring when you're doing the same repetitive job at home everyday.

In my head, I believed the library was a place that welcomes anyone who needs a quiet space to gain clarity, much like a secluded park. It doesn't matter if the pilgrim simply visits just to look around, study, or in my case, set up my workstation in some long table at the opposite end of the room. Beyond the iron fence, seamen of different ranks waiting for their papers to be processed, wandered about, leaving little question this Bauhaus-inspired architecture is assaulted by the tide of ambulant vendors peddling their wares. What surprises me was how different my imagination was from reality. The National Library, while unheard of among the pedestrians outside, and seldom visited by students is actually getting a face lift.

The place isn't forgotten at all.

The accommodation was Spartan, but the kind librarians of the general reference section still offered me a place to open my laptop and do some snippets. The sounds of construction work downstairs may have been a source of distraction, but it was the elation of reclaiming some lost ground that made me accomplish what needs to be done before my computer's battery ran out.

When the renovation has been completed, in two years, perhaps, the library may offer more space for guests to access their mobile devices in a place with reliable WiFi and lots of power outlets. It would also be a splendid idea as well, to leave a hall for people to express their art through the medium of their choice. (like painting or interpretative dance) While it would take some time for me to return, since the construction work leaves little space for visitors to get around, it is with much appreciation that my visit allowed me to tinker with imagination, and see what lies ahead. In some near future, when the nation's heritage takes the spotlight with the opening of the Museum of Natural History and the Art Gallery nearby; when the restoration of the Metropolitan Theater in Lawton, as well as the reclaiming of some green areas in the tourist belt make some headway, I hope the Pambansang Aklatan returns to prominence, not just for people who need to do scholarly work; but for those who find the allure of books stimulating in conducting their business pursuits.