Thursday, April 30, 2009

With Distinction

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wouldn’t it be great to be remembered as the hot babe in campus instead of the chunky geek who graduated cum laude in college, as I am surely remembered now (if remembered at all)? Graduating with honors is hugely overrated. It creates an illusory label of “intelligence” on an otherwise average intellect. People assume that I’m bright when, in fact, I’m not.

Aside from all the prestige that goes with it and the accompanying perks like getting discounts for enrolling in law or graduate school, the medal becomes less of an honor and more like a restraining collar. People hold you to very high standards just because you graduated with distinction. Needing to live up to such lofty expectations, you are not allowed to make mistakes. As people won’t cut you any slack, you also have no right to slack.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Credit Card Callers

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why can’t those credit card people leave me alone? I get calls from them almost every day, saying the same spiel, asking the same questions, delivering the same come-on lines, offering the same products and services. And every time they call, I also give them the same response: I am not interested. Why can’t they stop bugging me?

They start with the usual questions: Do you have an existing credit card? Do you already have an account with so and so bank? What is your full name? What is your mother’s maiden name? What is your complete address? Where would you want the card to be delivered? Blah blah blah. They ask all those questions without asking me if I need a credit card or if I’m interested in having one. Why do they assume that everyone they call is interested?

Sometimes, before they can say anything, I already tell them that I am not interested in any of their products. When more persistent ones ask why, I respond, I don’t have to explain anything to you, do I? Sometimes I let them blabber on and on about their product before telling them of my lack of interest. This annoys them (I can tell from their voice). You should have told me from the start, someone even said. I responded, well, you never asked. When they start asking me about maiden names and such, I tell them to just look it up because they obviously have information about me in their database.

I know, I know. What a bitchy thing to do, huh? They're just trying to do their jobs like everybody else. But when you get a call like that everyday while in the middle of work, what else can you do?

I just want to be left alone.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

those who say yes and those who say no

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Frankly, I'm convinced that the great divide between people is between those who say yes and those who say no, I'm well aware before you remind me that there are rich and poor, weak and strong, but that isn't the point, blessed are those who say no, for theirs should be the kingdom of the earth, Why did you say should be, The conditional was intentional, the kingdom of the earth belongs to those who have the wit to put a no at the service of a yes, having been the perpetrators of a no, they rapidly erase it to restore a yes.

- Jose Saramago, The History of the Siege of Lisbon, 1986

Monday, April 27, 2009

500th

Monday, April 27, 2009

It’s been two years since I started blogging, and I have now reached my 500th post. There was a time when I thought of dropping out of the virtual world and completely expunging my Internet existence. As previously written (20 February 2008), here are the reasons why:

Irrelevance

I started blogging to deaden the sound of my anger and staunch the sobs heaving from the innermost part of my being. Now that they’re deadened and staunched, does my blog still hold some vestige of relevance? Why keep it going if it has already served its purpose?

I quote an old blogpost (24 May 2007) entitled, A Healing and a Wounding:

I never had the ability to keep sorrow to myself. Whenever something bothers me, I have to write everything down. The compulsion to write is always there, even if words oftentimes fail me. Writing has always been a source of solace to me - the exacting struggle of expressing my deepest feelings clears my mind and detaches me emotionally. My blog is a result of my waking up alone everyday, embittered and slightly dazed, struggling to ignore the presence of pain yet assailing the source of it with subtle but stinging words. It was both a healing and a wounding - a way to exhume and bury memories, unabashed hopes and unassuaged dreams; a way to break away from the spell of despondency.

From that day, I have somehow healed. Painful memories have been buried and replaced by a renewed sense of hope:

It used to be simply a place to wait for the dark depths to sail safely past, hoping that, somehow, it might muffle the deafening silence of my solitude. Now it’s not merely about exhuming and burying painful memories but a sacred indulgence and a means of brokering, yet again, a truce with life. (This Blog Has Evolved, posted 18 September 2007)

Emotional Exhibitionism

To be a blogger means you are willing to share all juicy tidbits, every gory detail, and each sordid and undignified aspect of your life to the faceless web-surfing masses. Do I continue exposing myself that much? There are things that must remain private and unsaid:

On this page, so much goes unsaid – emotions that can only be revealed in private; things that can never be for public consumption; thoughts that can - and should - only be shared with that one, special person. What is written carries meaning intentionally hidden and more profound than what is seen through a cursory glance. The intent is not to mislead or bewilder, but to be understood by the person who can understand – that person who can read through what is obscure and what remains unsaid. Sometimes, that - which is left unsaid - is what really matters. (So Much Goes Unsaid, posted 28 September 2007)

A Sacred Indulgence

I eventually decided against closing this down. I cannot imagine depriving myself of the sheer pleasure I get from writing. It is through writing that I make sense of the world I live in:

I write about my life and the world that I live in. What’s wrong with that? People who believe that blogs are merely fodder for voyeuristic appetites are simply missing the point. If you don’t like our thoughts, ideas and pictures plastered all over the internet, tough. Close your browser, shut down your computer, and go sit in the sun. It’s not as if we, bloggers, are forcing you to read—or like—our plasterings. I write about the trivialities of my little world. That’s how I make sense of it. How do you make sense of yours? (Plastering, posted 22 October 2008)

Chronicle of a Love Story

This is also where our love story began. In this interlinked, virtual world swarming with millions of blogs, D visited this site and never left. He entered my life and has no intention of leaving.

Having been used to all conversation mired in obfuscation and prevarication, meeting somebody who is pure and true can be truly overwhelming. Aching with unabashed hopes and unassuaged dreams he found me. My beau ideal, that someone I can to talk to, the one who answered my invitation - he who loves me without expectations and with every fiber of his being has arrived. (The One, posted 11 October 2007)

Since then, Muffled Solitude has become a repository of dreams coming true and happy memories being relived. It will remain a chronicle of a love story and a witness to the wonders of the future.

A Celebration

Tracing it from its very humble beginnings, when only Kayni, Jennifer and D faithfully follow what is written here everyday, this blog will continue to celebrate life’s joys and struggles:

Gleaned from the blogs I follow regularly as well as that of my own experience, blogging is, indeed, a celebration of life - the joyous and the painful; the ordinary and the extraordinary; the arbitrary and the capricious; the dark, somber and intense; the light and funny; the sacred and the profane; the usual and the unusual; the factual and the absurd. (Articulated Thought, posted 7 April 2009)

Thanks for reading.

to keep fate from being fate


...human unrest is futile, the gods are wise and indifferent, and above them is fate, the supreme order to which even gods are subject. And what of men, what is their function. To challenge order, to change fate. For the better. For better or for worse, it makes no difference, the point is to keep fate from being fate.

-Jose Saramago, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, 1991

Friday, April 24, 2009

Les Miz

Friday, April 24, 2009

Susan Boyle singing I Dreamed a Dream with such poignancy captured the world’s attention for epitomizing the triumph of the human spirit. I, too, was fascinated with it but for a very different reason.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving


Her singing that song reminded me of those days in high school when we had our very own production of Les Miserables. Though only a few played the juicy parts (Edwin as Valjean, Joe as Javert, Rebekah as Fantine, Christine as Cosette, Zarah as Eponine and Carlo as Marius), and most of us, including me, are mere street sweepers and students shouting for “one more day to revolution”, I am sure all of us remember—to this day—the songs from Les Miserables. We spent months preparing for the production and in those months all we heard were those songs being played again and again and again. Some probably hated the whole thing; but being bombarded with it every day, we can’t help but memorize the words, lilt, tempo, pitch, and melody of each song.

Of all Les Miz songs, this is my favorite:

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!!


As a wide-eyed high school student, it gave me a sense of hope – when we become that angry and fed up with what’s happening, we will find the strength to fight and stand for the world we want to see and live in. Sixteen years later and less wide-eyed than before, I still cling to that sense of hope.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Screwed

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

(Sorry guys, I just need to get this out of my chest.)

My grandmother trusted our neighbors so much that she got screwed out of her own property. The house in Baguio and the land where it stands on have been in the family since 1984; but we recently found out that the whole lot is now titled under somebody (a neighbor) else’s name. How it happened, I do not know.

I felt physically sick when I learned about it. How can we lose the only place I call home?

Can we reclaim it? I don’t know. I see a long legal battle in the offing.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Babies, Toddlers, Tweens, Teens

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I noticed recently that most of the pictures many of my friends have been posting on Facebook are of their children. Has it been that long since we were merely babies, toddlers, tweens, teens, ourselves? Now our generation is generating an entirely new generation! Amazing, isn’t it?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Obsessive-Compulsive Gift

Monday, April 20, 2009

It is funny how six months before the trip she already had the whole thing planned, memorized, analyzed and organized, to the most excruciating detail - the names of streets, piers and bus and train stops, their distance from each other, how much the fare is from one stop to another, the countless places to stay along with the various reviews written about them, what to do, where to go, when to go, how to go there, the reason to go there, how long it takes to go there, what to where, what not to where, what to say, how to say it, and for every contingency, what to do and where to call. Like a person preparing for her make-or-break graduate school comprehensive examinations, she read, did intensive research, took down lots of notes and committed everything to memory.

She is one crazy girl, as most believe her to be.

Obsessed with ritual and order, her mind assiduously searches for connection and coherence, though most of the time there is none. Looking at the world in some refracted way, she takes every single thing apart to such an insane extent and overanalyzes everything till there is nothing left to analyze. She does not let up until she has understood all the subtleties and integuments of an argument. She does scene-by-scene analyses of films, chapter-by-chapter analyses of books, and line-by-line analyses of songs just to capture their essence and satisfy her mind’s demands.

Her fixation with perfection can be terribly annoying and harshly limiting, if not slightly destructive. It makes her grossly critical of things that do not pass her “standards” and highly intolerant of what she perceives as ‘mediocrity’. With her peace of mind hinged on things being in their proper places, she forgets that, oftentimes, there is order in disarray and beauty in imperfection.

It sounds really crazy, even scary, but that’s exactly how she goes through life. Painfully aware of and duly chastened by her obsessive compulsive tendencies, she is resolved to look at it as a gift, and not a disorder, an aberration, or a curse as it appears to some. She struggles to rein her obsessive compulsions in and use them for more productive ends.

How else can she deal with it?

How else can we deal with our complicated and conflicted selves?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two Years of Muffled Solitude

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Muffled Solitude turned two today. To celebrate, here's a poem by Dylan Thomas:

In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Not for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why Bother?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sometimes I ask myself, why do I even bother? Only a few read my daily drivel, and what they read probably doesn’t make any difference, anyway. If nobody cares, why bother? Why do I put so much effort to fashioning sentences that earns me neither a grade nor a profit? Because I love to write. Writing is a form of introspection where I can examine and reexamine my thoughts. It’s through writing that I can concentrate and put some semblance of order to the chaos contained inside my head. Nothing, not even the lack of readers, can make me refrain from finding the proper words to describe my life and the world I live in.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Jungle

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lulled into indifference by the trappings of a charmed life, we have distanced ourselves from the wretched world of the beyond destitute. It took a book for me to realize this. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a savage indictment of labor conditions and factory life in the Chicago stockyards, was published in 1906. Ironically, the world of crushing poverty, depravity and despair he vividly and realistically depicted in his novel is very similar to what majority of Philippine society still suffers from today. The deplorable working conditions that exist in the country at present are comparable to what another country had experienced 103 years ago. Thinking about what that means moves me to tears.

..the real estate man cheats him by selling him a house on the installment plan with hidden clauses he cannot read, and which eventually cause him to lose his home; he is unmercifully speeded up on the job and suffers injuries; he and his family are afflicted by horrible diseases; he is laid off and blacklisted, and goes on jail unjustly for smashing the face of a brutal boss. One by one, Jurgis and his group are crushed: the old men are thrown on the scrap heap to starve, the women turn to prostitution to live, Jurgis’ wife, attended in child birth by an ignorant midwife, dies from lack of proper care and his infant son is drowned in one of the stinking pools of green water around his wretched shack.

Sounds familiar, right?

We are continually made conscious about the plight of the poor by snippets from the news and the measures of poverty and unemployment government agencies usually churn out. Reduced to mere statistics, they, the “dregs of society”, are invisible to most of us. Their world, a cradle-to-the-grave struggle to survive pervaded with a sense of hopelessness and defeat, is unseen, unheard and unfelt.

Have we become too inured to this jungle right in front of us?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Guilty Pleasure

Monday, April 13, 2009

“I can’t believe you’re watching that show,” D said after I regaled him with some of the most recent highlights of American Idol. But why not? Watching it is definitely more fun than watching the news with its day-to-day staple of inexorable iniquities. Though denounced by some as pandering nonsense and idiocy, the show is still widely followed by lots of people—I included--who take pleasure in watching it. Maybe it’s precisely the show’s “inanity” that appeals to us. Its offer of an hour’s respite from life’s woes and drudgery is simply too hard to resist. In this world where things are sometimes taken too seriously and there’s a dearth of things to look forward to and to take pleasure in, a good dose of idiocy and frivolity can be incredibly refreshing.

Besides, watching what some disdain as a “silly” show doesn’t make you silly, does it?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Book Hunting

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My sister and I were supposed to buy a couple of swimsuits but we ended up spending more time hunting for books, instead.



After five hours in five second-hand bookstores, we were able to unearth these treasures: Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Voltaire's Candide, Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, C.S. Forester's The African Queen, Brian Morton's Starting Out in the Evening and James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential.

So why don't I just go to a normal bookstore and purchase the books I want? Because second-hand bookstores are more fun. The pleasure is not in immediately finding the exact books I want but in digging through all those piles of books and leafing through the many musty-smelling pages and then discovering the treasures within. It's the thrill of unexpectedly finding a book I've been looking for for a long time and haven't found till then. It's the joy of watching other book hunters so much more savage than I am that sweat profusely flows from their foreheads and invisible emanations involuntarily come out from some unknown origin in their bodies. There is nothing more sacred than to be surrounded with rows upon rows of books and a few fellow book hunters.

"Looked at rightly, the possession of any old book is a sacred trust, which a conscientious owner or guardian would as soon think of ignoring as a parent would of neglecting his child. An old book, whatever its subject or internal merits, is truly a portion of the national history." (William Blades, The Enemies of Books, 1880)


Friday, April 10, 2009

Fairy Tales

Friday, April 10, 2009

There must be something wrong with me. I watched Slumdog Millionaire with my sister yesterday, and I didn’t like the movie as much as she loved it. The cheerful way privation and destitution were depicted I found a bit distracting and the love angle I found unconvincing. Have I become too jaded that I don’t believe in the conquering power of love any longer? The idea of a person’s entire existence geared towards finding and holding on to that One Great Love has ceased to be believable for me. Though some are lucky enough to have found the love of their life at first shot, most of us have to try several times.

The person you thought was The One for you turns out to be The One for somebody else, too. The wedding you have dreamed of all your life becomes a mistake of such massive proportion and the origin of enduring lamentation. We’ve all suffered from the bone-crushing pain of heartache; we’ve all loved and lost. But eventually, we have all managed to move on and find love anew.

Though completely disillusioned with the institution of marriage, I still believe in love. I just don’t believe in fairy tales anymore – with the whole “and they lived happily ever after” that papers over what actually happens afterwards, when the hard part of love begins. When the romance ends, the whoopee cushions deflated and the all-consuming rapture dissipates, that’s when the fairy tale ends and reality begins.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Articulated Thought

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I love reading others’ posts as much as I love writing mine. Blogs, especially the ones I follow, I find deeply absorbing. There are some who perceive blogging as a big lump of inanity and frivolous talk. They obviously fail to see the transformational power of articulated thought in blog form. It is where the author turns something dull and prosaic into a very interesting and insightful read. It is where I hear sobs heaving from a despairing bosom or screams of rage, resentment and frustration finally voiced out. It is where I read posts so beautifully and earnestly written that the author was able to—borrowing Updike’s words—“transform pain into honey.”

Blogging, which is a constant articulation of one’s thoughts and feelings, is not an easy feat. It takes a fecund imagination, healthy amounts of vanity, narcissism, insecurity and self-deprecation, time to spare, ebullient creativity, some sense of personal drama, writing that comes from the deep places of the heart, the right balance of tact and candor, eye for detail, stylistic flair, maturity of insight and, above all, a passion for life.

Gleaned from the blogs I follow regularly as well as that of my own experience, blogging is, indeed, a celebration of life - the joyous and the painful; the ordinary and the extraordinary; the arbitrary and the capricious; the dark, somber and intense; the light and funny; the sacred and the profane; the usual and the unusual; the factual and the absurd.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Afternoon

Monday, April 6, 2009


My younger sister (who is staying with me this summer break) and I had a tiring yet productive afternoon today. We bought a two-day supply of DVDs, which we plan to watch for the rest of the holidays. First on the list is the love epic, Dr. Zhivago. I can't wait to be immersed in this "tumultuous tale of Russia divided by war and hearts torn by love." Next is the HBO miniseries, Tsunami: The Aftermath. It chronicles the wake of the tsunami that ravaged the coast of Thailand in 2004. In line, too, is the recent Academy Award winner, Slumdog Millionaire followed by Watchmen, which is based on the graphic novel of the same title. And last on the list is the anime flick, Saiunkoku Monogatari, a Chinese tale set 600 years ago, which my sister insisted we should buy. With these movies that let us travel to Russia, Thailand, India, the United States and China, we don't have to leave the house to have fun.


Friday, April 3, 2009

One Good Friday

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's just a few days before Holy Week so I thought of posting these pictures that were taken six years ago, when my friends (Jennifer, Carla and Jonathan) and I decided to spend Good Friday at Mt. Cabuyao in Tuba, Benguet. We started the 8.5-kilometer hike--which is really more of a climb--at five in the morning and reached the peak of the mountain (with peak altitude of 2025 meters) just in time for lunch.

I can sill remember Carla asking, "Malapit na ba? (Is it near already?)" We haven't even had time to reply when we saw the marker. We're not even halfway through!


(from left : Carla and I with the twin radars behind us; Carla, me and Jennifer, posing amidst the boulders)



We were so hungry when we arrived that we immediately unpacked the food we brought - hotdogs, salted eggs, chicken nuggets and rice. And then we had a picnic right there, on top of the mountain, overlooking the city.



Here are the two disk-shaped radio transmitters, most popularly known as the radar, that Mt. Cabuyao is famous for.



And on our way back, around noon, the fog began to creep in.



So how do you intend to spend Good Friday and the rest of the Lenten Season?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Everybody's Running

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I watch the local news everyday and it seems like everybody wants to run for president in next year’s national election: the priest governor of Pampanga; the head of the Jesus is Lord Movement; the founder and servant leader of the El Shaddai Movement; the current Vice President and alleged owner of an island down south; the recently ousted Senate President whose wardrobe, as shown in his isn’t-it-a-bit-early-for-that TV campaigns, is mostly orange; the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) Chairman who is so into pink, instead, that even public urinals scattered all over the metro are in that color; the multiple-term-holding incumbent mayor of Makati; the newly appointed—yet already dreaming of the highest position in the country--Secretary of National Defense; the former DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) Secretary turned Mr. Palengke turned profanity-hurling Senator; the former President charged and imprisoned for plunder but pardoned immediately after. The list just gets longer and longer. Or is this a case of “the more, the merrier”?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bangkok Chronicles Six: The Dress That Caused a Blister

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It was the afternoon before our return flight to Manila. We were already on our way back to the hotel when this double-breasted chocolate brown plaid linen dress displayed in one of the clothes stalls caught my attention. At last I found a dress I like, I thought to myself. Since the store doesn’t take credit cards, D and I counted our remaining baht. We had to think twice: If we’d buy the dress, we will only have eight baht (approximately 22 cents or 11 pesos) left. With the belief that it would be gone if we just return for it and the assumption that it would be easy to go to the nearest currency exchange to get us more baht, we decided to buy the dress. We assumed wrong. Not a single bank was open for business (we forgot it was a Sunday) and there weren’t any establishment nearby that offers currency exchange.

With our remaining eight baht, we couldn’t afford the boat ride back to the hotel. We couldn’t even afford a tuktuk ride! We couldn’t even afford a bot
tle of water! We had to walk a considerable distance back to the hotel - exactly two piers away! Terribly exhausted when we arrived, we still couldn’t help but laugh ourselves crazy for that afternoon’s misadventure. And what made it crazier was when we discovered that D developed a blister from all the walking that we did. Until now, he blames my dress for it.

April is the cruelest month


April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

- an excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922)

 
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