Monday, June 30, 2008

Sanity and Madness

Monday, June 30, 2008

He climbed out of the valley, wondering if he were mad. But if so, he preferred his own madness, to the regular sanity. He rejoiced in his own madness, he was free. He did not want that old sanity of the world, which was become so repulsive. He rejoiced in the new-found world of his madness. It was so fresh and delicate and so satisfying.

- D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love

Friday, June 27, 2008

Spending Time in the Pantry

Friday, June 27, 2008

It’s been a while since we’ve had a mini party in the office, like the one we had today. It’s great to see everyone together - not inside the conference room, threshing out work problems but inside the pantry, enjoying the food and sharing lots of laughter. More than a few has already left moving on to other worlds, but we remain a family, still.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

ATTENTION: Mr. Anonymous

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Muffled Solitude sorely misses your comments.

Inner Irritation


The irritability that kept them apart had no external cause, and all efforts to come to an understanding intensified it, instead of removing it. It was an inner irritation, grounded in her mind on the conviction that his love had grown less; in his, on regret that he had put himself for her sake in a difficult position, which she, instead of lightening, made still more difficult. Neither of them gave full utterance to their sense of grievance, but they considered each other in the wrong, and tried on every pretext to prove this to one another.


- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is Marriage Inevitable?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is it because it’s the marry month of June? Is it because I’m already 30 and the clock has started ticking? Is it because I have a boyfriend who obviously loves me very much? Why do people – a total of seven for this month and still counting – keep on asking me if wedding bells are in the offing? I always answer, do I have to? If I can get away with it, I won’t. A good, loving relationship does not always have to lead to marriage.

Or does it? Is marriage inevitable?

Getting married, does it ultimately boil down to making the bond legal and, therefore, recognizable by the state? Or is it about exchanging vows in the presence of witnesses - to love and to cherish…till death do us part – and, therefore making it formal and irrevocable? Or is it to make the coupling conform to social norms and standards and, therefore, merit society's approval? Or is it about having the relationship blessed by a Supreme Being? If all couples, on their wedding day, are blessed by The Almighty, how come countless marriages turn out to be cursed?

Like any other girl, I like the idea of the beautiful wedding dress, the flowers, the wedding march—the splendor only weddings can bring. But underneath the pomp and pageantry of the wedding is the reality of the marriage itself and the bittersweet, unrelenting effort needed to make it work.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Just To Get Away

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How nice it is to go on a road trip one of these days. Anywhere will do. A week’s vacation in some quaint place would even be nicer. To get away, even for just a moment, from the routine uneventfulness of my life, what a nice thought.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Men in Uniform

Monday, June 23, 2008

I learned today that my “crush” in high school has gotten married. The idea so tickled me that I just needed to write how this person started a phase in my life – a ludicrous fascination with men in uniform (and their fascination with me! :) People mistook it for a trend. But it wasn't. It was just a phase – a phase I’m so over with. Looking back, I can’t help but laugh at how silly I was.

Back in high school, I didn’t know that time and again I would have my head turned by a uniform. I didn’t know that this classmate I had a “thing” for would be forever known for his involvement in the Oakwood mutiny. I didn’t know that the first guy I’d fall hard for and also the one to first break my heart would be a man in uniform. His infamous break-up line, “Anj, can we be just friends?” that back then made me cry like there’s no tomorrow now just makes me smile. In spite of this, I was foolish enough to again fall for a uniformed man. I didn't know that i'd be so deluded to believe that the winged man I thought I can soar with would only leave me hanging in mid-air, destined for a free fall. To say that I was mistaken is an understatement.

Going up the military ranks, my ill-fated relationships with men in uniform started with a USCG lieutenant and ended with a PAF lieutenant colonel. Thank heavens, it never went all the up to the highest ranking officer. The uniform, which for me used to signify authority and strength of character, is now just another piece of clothing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why can’t it ever be simple?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Everything’s so much easier then. While we were preoccupied with grades, hanging out, sleeping over, the latest hits on the radio and the minutiae of whims that never fail to amuse us, we never thought that life would be this complicated. Carla wistfully yet succinctly said it: “Hirap talagang tumatanda. Andaming issues. Haaaayyyy…”

The persistent question Jennifer and I have been asking ourselves and each other for years is this: Why can’t it ever be simple? Why do we always end up being hurt? Why do we always end up hurting ourselves? We deliberately enter into something that we know fully well would lead to nothing – our eyes focused on the here and now and blinded to what is out there and what will happen after. Is this a humanist approach to life? Or is it an affliction whose inexorability has chastened us to beaten acceptance?

The momentary truce with life we once begged for has expired. It has, yet again, started to batter us down to our knees and won't let up until there is no fight left in us.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Darkness made by enfolding arms

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

“What Lily craved was the darkness made by enfolding arms, the silence which is not solitude, but compassion holding its breath.”

- Edith Wharton,
The House of Mirth

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fathers' Day?

Monday, June 16, 2008

You wonder why none of your children greeted you yesterday. Has it occurred to you that your absence is the very reason for their indifference? Your children having ceased remembering how it is to have a father present now cannot find the relevance of celebrating fathers’ day. When you chose to abandon your family, you also chose to not exist for them anymore.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dating is Hateful

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dating is hateful, relationships are impossible, sex is a hazard. The men are narcissistic, humorless, crazy, obsessional, overbearing, crude or they are great-looking, virile, and ruthlessly unfaithful, or they are emasculated, or they are impotent, or they are just too dumb.

- Philip Roth, The Dying Animal, 2001

Friday, June 13, 2008

Je Ne Sais Quoi

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why is it easier to vent, in written form, the plethora of rages and resentments within us than to express how happy we are? Why is it less difficult to write about our personal feelings of woundedness than to write about the joyous moments in our lives?

Because happiness writes white.

Writing about pain and anger has a soothing, cathartic effect. More than the pitiful glances and unwieldy yet well-meaning efforts of others to comfort me, writing about how I felt gave me a sense of control over things and made the opaque feeling of hopelessness lighten and pass from view.

A few months ago, I spent days with the love of my life that were so beautiful, they leave me speechless. I wanted to write about it but I cannot. I managed some vignettes but every moment was glorious that to even attempt to describe the whole experience would be like an act of desecration. How can I give words to the je ne sais quoi dimension of happiness?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I
AM A FILIPINO
By Carlos P. Romulo

I am a Filipino - inheritor of a glorious past, hostage to the uncertain future. As such I must prove equal to a two-fold task- the task of meeting my responsibility to the past, and the task of performing my obligation to the future. I sprung from a hardy race - child of many generations removed of ancient Malayan pioneers. Across the centuries, the memory comes rushing back to me: of brown-skinned men putting out to sea in ships that were as frail as their hearts were stout. Over the sea I see them come, borne upon the billowing wave and the whistling wind, carried upon the mighty swell of hope- hope in the free abundance of new land that was to be their home and their children's forever.

This is the land they sought and found. Every inch of shore that their eyes first set upon, every hill and mountain that beckoned to them with a green and purple invitation, every mile of rolling plain that their view encompassed, every river and lake that promise a plentiful living and the fruitfulness of commerce, is a hollowed spot to me.

By the strength of their hearts and hands, by every right of law, human and divine, this land and all the appurtenances thereof - the black and fertile soil, the seas and lakes and rivers teeming with fish, the forests with their inexhaustible wealth in wild life and timber, the mountains with their bowels swollen with minerals - the whole of this rich and happy land has been, for centuries without number, the land of my fathers. This land I received in trust from them and in trust will pass it to my children, and so on until the world no more.

I am a Filipino. In my blood runs the immortal seed of heroes - seed that flowered down the centuries in deeds of courage and defiance. In my veins yet pulses the same hot blood that sent Lapulapu to battle against the alien foe that drove Diego Silang and Dagohoy into rebellion against the foreign oppressor.

That seed is immortal. It is the self-same seed that flowered in the heart of Jose Rizal that morning in Bagumbayan when a volley of shots put an end to all that was mortal of him and made his spirit deathless forever; the same that flowered in the hearts of Bonifacio in Balintawak, of Gergorio del Pilar at Tirad Pass, of Antonio Luna at Calumpit; that bloomed in flowers of frustration in the sad heart of Emilio Aguinaldo at Palanan, and yet burst fourth royally again in the proud heart of Manuel L. Quezon when he stood at last on the threshold of ancient Malacañang Palace, in the symbolic act of possession and racial vindication.

The seed I bear within me is an immortal seed. It is the mark of my manhood, the symbol of dignity as a human being. Like the seeds that were once buried in the tomb of Tutankhamen many thousand years ago, it shall grow and flower and bear fruit again. It is the insigne of my race, and my generation is but a stage in the unending search of my people for freedom and happiness.

I am a Filipino, child of the marriage of the East and the West. The East, with its languor and mysticism, its passivity and endurance, was my mother, and my sire was the West that came thundering across the seas with the Cross and Sword and the Machine. I am of the East, an eager participant in its struggles for liberation from the imperialist yoke. But I also know that the East must awake from its centuried sleep, shape of the lethargy that has bound his limbs, and start moving where destiny awaits.

For, I, too, am of the West, and the vigorous peoples of the West have destroyed forever the peace and quiet that once were ours. I can no longer live, being apart from those world now trembles to the roar of bomb and cannon shot. For no man and no nation is an island, but a part of the main, there is no longer any East and West - only individuals and nations making those momentous choices that are hinges upon which history resolves.

At the vanguard of progress in this part of the world I stand - a forlorn figure in the eyes of some, but not one defeated and lost. For through the thick, interlacing branches of habit and custom above me I have seen the light of the sun, and I know that it is good. I have seen the light of justice and equality and freedom and my heart has been lifted by the vision of democracy, and I shall not rest until my land and my people shall have been blessed by these, beyond the power of any man or nation to subvert or destroy.

I am a Filipino, and this is my inheritance. What pledge shall I give that I may prove worthy of my inheritance? I shall give the pledge that has come ringing down the corridors of the centuries, and it shall be compounded of the joyous cries of my Malayan forebears when they first saw the contours of this land loom before their eyes, of the battle cries that have resounded in every field of combat from Mactan to Tirad pass, of the voices of my people when they sing:

Land of the Morning,Child of the sun returning…Ne'er shall invaders
Trample thy sacred shore.

Out of the lush green of these seven thousand isles, out of the heartstrings of sixteen million people all vibrating to one song, I shall weave the mighty fabric of my pledge. Out of the songs of the farmers at sunrise when they go to labor in the fields; out of the sweat of the hard-bitten pioneers in Mal-ig and Koronadal; out of the silent endurance of stevedores at the piers and the ominous grumbling of peasants Pampanga; out of the first cries of babies newly born and the lullabies that mothers sing; out of the crashing of gears and the whine of turbines in the factories; out of the crunch of ploughs upturning the earth; out of the limitless patience of teachers in the classrooms and doctors in the clinics; out of the tramp of soldiers marching, I shall make the pattern of my pledge:

"I am a Filipino born of freedom and I shall not rest until freedom shall have been added unto my inheritance - for myself and my children's children - forever.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Basin in the Mind

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And when she gained the privacy of her own little shack she stayed on her knees so long she forgot she was there herself. There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.


- Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937

Cholinergic Urticaria


Hives caused by heat – I suffer from them every single day. Ever since I moved here in Manila, them bloody hives have become the bane of my existence. As the heat intensifies every summer, my sweat glands are agitated, the red, mosquito bite-like bumps spread all over and the itching gets worse and worse. Antihistamines do not work; they only manage to make me sleepy and woozy. Come to think of it, I must be allergic to my own sweat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

First Day of School

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Was it such a long time ago that I’m among those who are simultaneously dreading and eagerly anticipating the first day of school? It definitely was. It’s been so long that everything seems to have changed.

Being a product of the public school system – from Grade One all the way to graduate school – I can say that my generation of public school graduates can hold our own with graduates from private schools. Not having an expensive education never held us back from what we can do. Now, I look at the sorry plight of school children in public schools and it saddens me how disadvantaged they are compared to the more privileged ones in the country. Those who can only rely on a good education to better themselves are the very ones who are deprived of what they most need.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Love is not enough

Saturday, June 7, 2008

When I first read Anna Karenina, I was too young to fully grasp how nuanced it is; what an exquisite simulacrum of reality it is. A couple of months ago, I learned that a new English translation of this Tolstoy masterpiece has been published and a team of literary critics is revisiting it. Following their lead and rereading it myself, it astonished me how different the novel is from how I viewed it before. The passionate love affair of Anna and Vronsky illuminated how love can be so limiting—love is not enough to keep a relationship going.

I have seen couples head over heels in love at the outset but who, in a matter of years and even months, cannot stand each other’s presence. Like other countless marriages that wasted away, I witnessed how my parent’s marriage imploded. All these made me skeptical about love’s longevity and the idea of “happily ever after”. Although I still believe in love, I’m not so sure if it lasts.

If love alone cannot sustain the relationship, what does? What reverses the seemingly ineluctable “falling out of love”? Speaking for my self and my significant other, what sustains us from within and what makes our relationship work are our shared values and beliefs and a lucid understanding of what each needs to do and where we both want to go. Ours being a generationally and geographically challenged relationship is all the more difficult to sustain but we always go back to the beauty of how we started and realize that such thing must not go to waste. These may not be enough, or they may be more than enough to sustain what we have. In life, there are no absolute certainties and I’m not under the illusion that ours, unlike other relationships, is an exception. What I know, what we both believe in, is that we can try--we can do our damnedest best to make it last. And we are.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I turn sentences around

Friday, June 6, 2008

I turn sentences around. That's my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. . . . Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on my sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning. And if I knock off from this routine for as long as a day, I'm frantic with boredom and a sense of waste. . . . And I ask myself, Why is there no way but this for me to fill my hours?


- Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer, 1979


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ass Whiter Than Shoulders

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I was listening to the recent program of Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life, “The Prosecutor”, and one particular guy said:

My dad always used to say, ‘Never trust a man whose ass is whiter than his shoulders.’ And it’s good advice.”

What could he possibly mean? It probably has something to do with class distinction, e.g. workers vis-à-vis bureaucrats and decision makers. I’m still trying to figure it out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NBI Clearance

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It was still dark when I arrived at the NBI Clearance Center, a quarter before 5 am. I was already number 90. Numbers 1-89 must have slept there. Feeling hot and hungry, growing tired and alternately standing, squatting and sitting Indian style on the pavement outside the center while staying in line, we were finally let in the building by 8 am. They were only admitting 450 applicants per day so close to a hundred people had to be turned away. Inside, we were made to wait for another hour. Not having much choice about it, I waited it out in the company of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Then I lined up for the form, filled it out, lined up again for the thumb printing, and then again for the picture taking. After the mug shot, I was told to wait once again.

While waiting, I thought of what I learned from this pursuit for an NBI Clearance:

  • How kind strangers can be. Amidst the confusion, the guy standing in line behind me, Mr. 91, (who, unlike me, was just there to renew his clearance) gave me valuable tips on what to do and where to go.
  • What not to name my children. According to the NBI Officer, we should refrain from naming our children: 1) after our own names (think: juniors and roman numerals I-IV); 2) with a dash, slash, asterisk or any other punctuation; 3) with generic, common names. It’s better to give them unique names like (quoting the officer), “Timberland, Northumberland, Upo and Patola.” Not following these naming tips will surely be detrimental to their own quest for an NBI Clearance.
  • What to bring when applying for a clearance. 1) a book, a magazine, an MP3 player or anything that will keep you entertained while waiting and increase your tolerance for boredom; 2) A chair. There are no seats outside the building and, inside, chairs are rented out for five pesos each; 3) Wet wipes. They charge another five pesos for a 3x3 inch piece of alcohol soaked paper; 4) Packed lunch and breakfast. Or you’ll pass out from hunger.

By 2 pm, I finally got the clearance: “No record on file.” Hallelujah!

But why, then, remain married?


But why, then, remain married? To tell the truth, he didn’t know. Sitting it out for thirty years is indeed inexplicable until you remember that people do it all the time. They were not the only couple on earth for whom mistrust and mutual aversion furnished the indestructible foundation for a long standing union…. They had to be: the only couple who found each other’s behavior so tediously antagonizing, the only couple who deprived each other of everything each of them most wanted, the only couple whose battles over differences would never be behind them, the only couple whose reason for coming together had evaporated beyond recall, the only couple who could not sever themselves one from the other despite ten thousand grievances apiece, the only couple who could not believe how much worse it got from year to year, the only couple between whom the dinner silence was freighted with such bitter hatred….


- Philip Roth, Sabbath’s Theater, 1995

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

May 31 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008
 
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