Monday, January 22, 2018

Sa Muli

That I am writing to myself, and the future, hoping that in the ripeness of time, I will be found.

February 25, 2014

If this loss of internet connection resulting in the temporary cessation of work meant having the time to write a blog entry, then so be it. Nothing could be accomplished anyway and this long-delayed submission of essay needs to be done, as I'm no longer certain when I would find the leisure to do some long-form catharsis in the near future.

The silence to the invitation has served its purpose. While I was eager to join the call, I preferred to remain uncommitted. Work demanded much of my time, that even when I drove my mother around the city, it's essential that I bring my laptop with me.

Driving a car, as it turned out, was a deeply mental and spiritual exercise. I think it's the gridlock during the rush hours. (mother dear, prefers going home early in the evening, whether we visit her favorite holy ground in Quezon City, or lately, her old happy haunt at Dapitan Crafts Market) One thing is for sure, I go straight to bed once we arrive home.

Also last week, I have been summoned by fellow truth-seekers in Timog for an evening of protest in defense of Rappler. The online news portal has been under siege by this regime lately. Supporters of the government say the company has violated the constitution, but when you ask exactly what was being violated, nobody gives a clear answer. Maybe because understanding Rappler's corporate arrangement might be too complicated for ordinary folks. Maybe there's so much propaganda being rolled out, that nobody bothers to explain anymore how the Philippine Depositary Receipt (PDR) actually works. But truth be told, I too, find it difficult to understand how that news organization gets its funding from foreign investors. It is just a matter of faith, and reliance to some of the luminaries in the Journalism field that I cast my lot with them, and while the facts Rappler newswomen write may be disputable to some, the Freedom of the Press is being attacked by the state, and so, I lent my presence and stood alongside the Leftists and the Journalists that chilly Friday evening.

Never in my 14 years of blogging have I been so invested in issues affecting the nation than I am today. I have been transformed from just being an anonymous online persona whose search for affirmation and sense of purpose preoccupied much of his everyday life, into something whose presence on social media has attracted a lot of attention from both sides of the political divide. (A senator called me "Gago" last New Year and it was in the news for almost a week.) It's like blogging all over again, except the contents of my digital personhood is being transmitted faster into the world wide web than when I was in this portal. And it sometimes makes me overwhelmed that I want to recall the old days and revisit the journey.

When I was merely a Planetship aimlessly drifting in this gay space.


Like an old, familiar confidant, I would like to commit to writing what had happened during these years of silence; of how the Encantos went their separate ways after being together for more than half a decade; of how I found acceptance at home, with my mother and my sister; of how I turned my back to clubbing after 10 years of reigning on the dance floor; of how these two years of union with the Weatherman rewarded both of us, not only of love and kinship but growth in our own intertwined lives; and of how this desire to give back and recognize this connection to our Maker drives me to grasp the truth and everything that is just and good. Sure, there were things that I have had to give up. But at a hindsight, it seems, I've simply begun looking outward, now that I no longer feel lost. 

L'Heure Bleue would still be around and I will try to come and visit once in a while. But now that the internet is back, I would have to go back to Desk and later, on Upwork, as this is how I've now learned to live.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage

Previously: To Die For Digong

My parents are both social change activists, who, in their youth, marched in the streets and had run-ins with authorities. My dad (bless his soul) was imprisoned during Martial Law, and my mom, who is a Sociologist held various posts in Non-Government Organizations after Democracy was restored. In a home where liberal ideas were openly discussed and somehow encouraged, I grew up knowing more than what the average kid did. In my youth, I saw Conrado de Quiros, Cheche Lazaro, Solita Monsod and Randy David as my champions. To say at least, I was informed, and this was amplified by the college program I took at the University. And although I never became a Journalist by profession, in every essay I wrote and in every spur-of-the-moment thought I posted on Twitter, I tried my best to speak the truth. 

Or at least, pass along the message.

I thought this worldview would have escaped me as I sink deeper into matters of domestic concerns. But no. Though I have refrained from writing anything political after the present powers that be took charge of the government, I continued to speak out against the wrongs of this administration. From its decision to allow the Dictator to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, to the brutality that is the Oplan Tokhang, nothing seems right about how we are governed. Two years and counting and all I can think of is how we are sold to the Chinese, how the TRAIN law will make more people poorer, how the plunderers were set free and are now making a political comeback, and how the media outlets critical of this government are being bullied to submission. With Fake News proliferating on the internet, and friendships broken because of the Dilawan/DDS divide, it seems there is no hope in sight. And the people who I once looked up to in my youth appear to have grown silent as we edge closer to a new kind of dictatorship.

There are times I wish I would just wake up and realize that everything is just a nightmare, and that, the candidates I have chosen have won last elections. But the painful truth spoils your newsfeed with bad news every day, with barely a pause to absorb the impunity and corruption done under this administration. And it seems the struggle will drag on as the worst is yet to come: The idea of "Federalism" is being peddled in the countryside as we speak of a no-election scenario in 2019. Should this become a law, local political families will have more say in the government, allowing them to rule like princelings in their own little fiefdoms. Also, Marcos Jr inches closer to getting the elected Vice-President unseated knowing his family can bend the Supreme Court to their will (Hello Sereno impeachment). Things have now become so ugly that I have started shunning friends who continue to justify this regime. 

I will remember each one of them, and judge them solely for what they stood today.

May this be the last time I would write about how fucked up this country is. While hope remains for a sunnier tomorrow, I am more inclined to believe that the damage done has become so irreparable, it will change everyone once this freak show had seen its final run. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Paying The Price

Previously: The Slave Driver

Friday begins like any other day: He wakes up, checks his phone for Facebook messages from his partner, checks out Slack for messages from his "other" job, and if he still has the time, signs in on Gmail to check for corrections given by clients in his "official" job. Gmail browsing is just an option today as it is his official "rest day." While others are gearing up for the work-free weekend, life goes on for him. It's been years since he last had a real rest day that he has learned not to entertain thoughts of burn out. He doesn't even ask for Vacation Leaves anymore. 

Half a year ago, his department at the Snippet Writing job was dissolved. It was swift, with over 50 souls suddenly finding themselves looking for a new job a week after the retrenchment was announced. While the department's demise was expected, (blame it on automation) and that the General Manager graciously provided a lump sum to keep everyone afloat for a month, not everyone found work as easy as he had. Barely two weeks after he was axed, he found employment in another company that moderates human-generated product reviews. 

Lucky for him, isn't it?

And so, despite the toils of having to manage two full-time jobs, he has accepted his lot without any reservations. He needs money - more than anything - as he realizes that one job could never support the demands of home. Now, he has to bring his laptop all the time, rely on his phone's mobile network to connect to the Internet, and squeeze work anywhere he goes. He has to give up his social life, (as his remaining free time is divided between his family and his lover) leaving all catching up with friends, and all invitations for coffee meetups, indefinitely postponed. 

It is the same reason he has stopped going to the gym for over a year now, cease long-form writing, which he used to have time to do - religiously, tend to his herb garden, which is experiencing a slow death, refrain from getting lost in the simulated worlds of his PC Games, even though he could afford new DLCs or expansions on Steam anytime. 

But at times when he could afford to think and ruminate his situation, he still wonders if it's all worth it, to accumulate this wealth in exchange for giving up everything that he once was:

...But today was a not-so-ordinary day. In preparation for a very big wedding he will attend tomorrow, he spent the whole afternoon getting a haircut and pedicure at GC, tried new specs at Executive Optical, bought new leather shoes, a pair of slacks, a new long sleeves, a ready-to-wear necktie, and a pair of socks which he will wear at the event. He was able to pay his house's mortgage tax, eat lunch at Bonchon, and bring home a Shrimp sandwich from Wendy's for his mom, without ever feeling a pinch on his savings. (But of course, most of these were paid through Mastercard) 

But still...

It is the price he has to pay - and will continue to pay until he can keep his two jobs because times have changed, and much as he wishes for an easier life, the choice is between liberty (with empty pockets) or a little sense of security (while never really experiencing the joys of living). By now, the choice is clear: he has to endure this all. 

He has two more hours to toil for his other job before he can get some sleep. After which, he has to start another work day soon after the wedding reception is over.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Nostalgia In Blogosphere

"Where have all the fireflies gone.

Come out, come out, dear bloggers.
Spread your wings, cast your light.
Let us all fly home one more time."

  January 4, 2018


"Use whatever format you want: essay, short story, 
poetry, photo essay, whatever.

We are a diverse community. We always have been. 
Go at it however you want.

Let's all publish our entries on January 20.
Then send me a link to your posts after you have published them.
I'll update my entry and add links to your post.

See you all in the blogosphere.

  January 4, 2018.

There is nothing here but memories, of exciting times when voices echo through this chamber. Slice-of-life narratives abound, and so were erotic vignettes that titillated the senses. There were confessions of dreams, pronouncements of grand schemes, and whispers of accomplishments celebrated in distilled stories. Some found closure as they laid down their burdens for eager voyeurs to read, while others learned that life could imitate art in-between cryptic paragraphs. 

A community flourished in this place, publishing blog entries, day in and day out.  It didn't matter what you write. After all, the strength of your words came from personal truths. And although the style set one blogger from another, in the end, one thing has always been certain: everyone was welcome to tell their stories.  

In this tight-knit space, where one is connected to another, real-life friendships burst forth and multiplied. Anecdotal evidence now scatters the social media pages of ex-bloggers engaged in some form of collective merriment. There were romantic unions too that bloomed here, and while others have withered through time's passing, a few endures to this day.  There is no denying that we have carved divergent paths after we have outgrown this fancy and all that is left is a hollowed shell replete with draft narratives and words left unsaid.

How I wish we could bring back the old times.

Cocooned in the cradle of microblogging, (with 280 words now, to tweet your thoughts in exchange for swift catharses) a return to long-form writing is nothing but a pipe dream. It is something that I have begrudgingly accepted now that penning this blurb meant giving up precious hours before slaving again for my two jobs. But there is a wish to rekindle old ties; to bring together kindred souls back, and I for one wouldn't miss this chance to again say hello to old companions and read their lives after blogging. So I return ahead of everyone, to tell some of my stories, in hopes that this collective call to write "One More Time" would be answered by the rest.

Once more, this is Mugen, and here's to writing.