Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lost on Lent

Tuesday, March 30, 2010



I admit, without shame, that I am a Lost junkie. Hooked on the infinitely looped, multiply time-lined, deeply mythologized, preposterously plotted, literary-referencing, duality-themed TV show since it first showed the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42, I intend to spend Lent watching the show's first five seasons all the way to this season’s episodes with my siblings who have long since contracted the bug from me. I don’t know, but maybe it will turn out more like a form of penitence and not self-indulgence.

(photo courtesy of Michael Myers)

Monday, March 29, 2010

plugging the stench

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dealing with pompous bags of wind and their pathetic posturing on the internet has never been easier.  More confident in a world where face-to-face interaction is not needed, they think they could get away with their online come-ons.  Catching the faintest whiff of bs coming through, I can always plug the stench by ignoring their messages or going offline. And they can't see me rolling my eyes, either.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

i need to get in shape

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Today I went to the mall to do some shopping. I haven't even bought the thing I planned to buy when I realized how tired I was already. If a couple of hours of walking around the mall leaves me exhausted, how could I ever survive the four-day Inca Trail hike that we plan for next year? I need to get in shape!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Solace of Books Endures

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I can still remember how reading Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 gave me comfort when I first got my heart broken. There were a number of times in the past when I, a child longing for the company of her parents, would turn to books as a source of refuge. Now that I feel myself descending, yet again, into the dark depths, reading is what impedes me from plunging headfirst. The solace of books endures.

My life during the first three months of the year can be summed up according to the books I’ve read and how they’ve given me pleasure, relieved my boredom, changed the way I think and kept that hovering sadness at bay. Here they are:


I know this is highly irreverent, but revisiting Jane Austen’s novels felt like watching episodes of Gossip Girl and reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera made me lose my patience. “Come on, you two! Get together already!”--I cried out, as if the characters could hear me. Some of the scenes in Bernard Malamud’s The Fixer got so unbearable that I had to put it down.

The non-fiction books, which I assumed were utter blahs, turned out to be page turners: Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves that I relished reading, finished in one sitting and would have wanted to be four times longer than it is; Sam Ridley’s The End of Faith, which I absolutely love; Matt Ridley’s Genome – who would have thought that a book about amino acids, genes and chromosomes can be so riveting that it can't be put down? And above all is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s biography written by Gerald Martin, which wasn’t only about the life of a great man but the history and politics of South America. I savored each page and dreaded the book’s end: I wanted it to last.

Though some of the books are obviously travel related, all took me to places I’ve never been before: to Paris in Wharton’s Madame de Treymes, a small town in Italy in Hersey’s A Bell for Adano, Mexico’s southern states in Greene’s The Power and the Glory, Kiev in The Fixer, Bath in Austen’s novels, New Orleans in Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, along the Mississippi in Twain’s Tom Sawyer and a New England Village in Wharton’s Ethan Frome. And it was Florentino Ariza’s clandestine love affairs with countless widows in Love in the Time of Cholera that kept me from obsessing about the plane crashing when we were on our way to Boracay.

Books have been--and will always be--that which is sacred in my life.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

hope made a show of reviving

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So they moved on again--aimlessly--simply at random--all they could do was to move, keep moving. For a little while, hope made a show of reviving---not with any reason to back it, but only because it is its nature to revive when the spring has not been taken out of it by age and familiarity with failure.

~Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Monday, March 22, 2010

Special

Monday, March 22, 2010

Something becomes special when it hardly ever happens, and when it does happen it takes you by surprise – like a night spent with colleagues over a sumptuous seafood banquet, unearthing a good read from a mountain of trashy ones, or a two-week vacation with a loved one whose absence is felt for the rest of the year. When you hardly go out and spend time with people, when you lead an uneventful, solitary life devoid of the accoutrements that make it a charmed one, the simplest of things becomes truly special.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weight Issues

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Close friends, colleagues, my boyfriend, and practically everyone I know have, in some form or another, concerns about weight. All of them think they’re fat, although some are actually not. Some yearn for that flab-free, healthy body and continue to hope against hope that, without really doing anything, they will get it. With endless self-recrimination, a few obsess about losing weight and get satisfaction from every spoonful of food that they deprive themselves of. And there is always reason to celebrate when somebody who has long been struggling with his or her weight has finally triumphed in slimming down.

Who doesn’t worry about BMI, calories, and metabolism issues nowadays? I do, too. Though I’ve lost a lot of weight through the years, which I am thankful of, and learned to accept my flaws, I still harbor a faint feeling of dissatisfaction. It is impossible, I know, but someday I might wake up looking

from this to this

I can only wish.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What’s the good of either of us going anywhere without the other one now?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

“If I missed my train where’d I go?”
“Where are you going if you catch it?”
She stood silent, her hands lying cold and relaxed in his.
“What’s the good of either of us going anywheres without the other one now?” he said.

~ Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, 1911

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

a backdrop for celebrating friendship

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The tattoo on my leg has long faded, yet that rare feeling of exuberance I felt while those curly vines were being drawn remains. I find myself still basking in the warmth of those luminous, sunlit days my friends and I spent on the island. The typical seaside sunny scene that surrounded me—people in swimwear and various states of undress wandering around with their bare feet in the powdery soft sand, the sky’s blue brilliance dotted with multicolored parasails, hawkers tempting easily tempted tourists with a variety of wares, adjacent restaurants that made me feel as if I’m in the middle of a mall and not along the beach—was a mere backdrop for celebrating ties of friendship.


As we were jostled and lurched sideways by the boat, I felt how simple and easy it always is to be among friends whom I can happily reminisce about the past and ponder the future with. I never felt the need to explain myself--or why, when or how I did this or that--because they already know. They understand. Uninterrupted by the unnecessary and unhindered by the lack of common ground, our endless conversations, like our friendship, flowed beautifully.

Friday, March 12, 2010

They call me 'A'

Friday, March 12, 2010

For reasons that are beyond me, people at work are wont to call me Miss A or just plain A instead of the three-syllabled name my parents gave me. With some part of me rebelling against the reduction of my name to just a single letter, I haven’t grown accustomed to being called A. A represents a one-dimensional person: that person who gets her work done with a maniacal sense of order. Beyond that my colleagues know nothing about me and would not want to know more, anyway. I’d rather be called Jill as my oldest and closest friends do. Jill, a name from childhood, is who I am to those who know me the best.

And worse yet, hearing my full name has now become a rarity. I think I am the only person left who calls me Angeli. Why can't others do so, too?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

travel is utterly romantic

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"…We headed off through the ragged gorgeousness of Bhutan, and after a few days the same giddiness we’d felt the first time around started to return. What is it about traveling that inspires that feeling? Is it that when you’re with someone and you’re not at home, you’re in a sort of bubble together, floating through the world, peering out at it together, bound to nothing—jobs, chores, social obligations, dry cleaning that needs to be dropped off—but each other? Is it that when you travel you can invent yourself anew, and the new person you become is freer and more engaged and more engaging that the persona you left at home? And even if you’re not in love, is this still what makes travel so seductive—the creation of a new buoyant version of yourself, unpunctured by the familiarity of people who know you and know that you have another self? Whatever it is that makes it feel this way, travel is utterly romantic and the experience of it is the experience of life idealized, and it makes you feel romantic, and romance-able, and this transformation seems more what makes it magical than any particular lovely landscape or fascinating culture you might encounter. Even bad experiences when you travel seem almost mythical—they are bad experiences, but also stories that you will tell around a table sometime later, exotic and fascinating in their badness." ~ The Best American Travel Writing 2007 edited by Susan Orlean

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The depth of my ignorance is deplorable.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In preparation for our trip to Cambodia several months ago, I read Maurice Glaize’s Guide to the Angkor Monuments, which succinctly describes the origins of the Khmer:

Established since prehistoric times in the lower Mekong valley of the southern Indo-Chinese peninsula that included not only present day Cambodia but also Cochinchina and parts of Siam and Laos, they were in fact a mixture - from an ethnological rather than a linguistic point of view - of people from lower Burma and various barbarous people from the annamitic chain, themselves in turn quite probably deriving from Negroid and Indonesian roots. The Indian contribution apparently resulted from a natural expansion towards the east for commercial, civil and religious reasons rather than for any brutal political motivation.

As I was reading the passage, it dawned on me how unaware I was about our Asian neighbors. I know nothing about them. The depth of my ignorance is deplorable.

How is it that I know more about American culture – from its pop stars and TV shows to its literature - than that of the countries that the Philippines is supposed to share a common ancestry and geographical region with? How is it that I can vividly recall the story of Remus and Romulus and the birth of Rome but not the reign of the kingdom of Siam and the decline and fall of the Khmer empire? Why do I know the myth or Sisyphus, but not the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata? How come I know more about the Holocaust but not Pol Pot’s killing fields? My lack of knowledge about such things brings me guilt and shame.

Except for the Chinese whose culture has penetrated our everyday lives and the Koreans and Japanese who have invaded Philippine pop culture, our Asian neighbors are not within our immediate consciousness. Whatever cursory knowledge we have about their culture and how it links with our own is learned only in school (if it’s even taught at all) and easily forgotten. Our culture and educational system has been saturated by Western ideas and standards that there is no space left for that which is Asian.

It is only when we go to a foreign country that we identify ourselves as Asians. As Filipinos in our own country, we do not have an Asian identity or an Asian consciousness. We never identify ourselves with the Thai, the Vietnamese, the Lao, with Cambodians, Sri Lankans and Malaysians; and it’s only when we go to an Asian country and we are mistaken for a local that we realize how similar we are to our neighbors.

We are from Asia but have neither become nor thought of ourselves as Asians. How shameful. How sad.

Friday, March 5, 2010

we did not learn our love for words, books and writing in school, did we?

Friday, March 5, 2010

A colleague has mistaken me for graduate in humanities or mass communication. She was surprised when she learned that I have an undergraduate degree in economics and psychology and a master’s degree in social development studies. I don’t blame her, because my present line of work really has nothing to do with development studies in the social, historical, economic and political realms. I have completely diverged from the social development path I originally planned to take.

She said that it’s the way I write that made her assume that I studied the whole thing in college. Maybe I should have. If I majored in English or literature or journalism, perhaps I’d have become a better writer—or even a good one--armed with the appropriate technical skills learned in school.

But then we did not learn our love for words, books and writing from school, did we?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nursing a Cold

Monday, March 1, 2010


I spent the weekend nursing a cold. It’s been more than two years since I’ve had one that I felt like celebrating it. And what else provides the best succor than staying in bed immersed in the life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez? So complete my absorption into the events that lead to the creation of the town of Macondo that I forgot the soreness in my throat and the painful throbbing in my head.
 
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