Friday, April 30, 2010

Revisiting

Friday, April 30, 2010

We made our way in increments, although the center of the city can be covered within an hour’s walk – up Session Road to the small carinderia at the provincial bus station where we had dinakdakan, pinapaitan and pinikpikan,* local dishes we’ve long been craving for; towards down the road for some of that ice cream almost everyone is eating with what seems like delightful glee; towards Burnham Park where we paid homage to the heart of the city we all grew up in.

  

It was an afternoon of revisiting all those familiar places, a bubble of time that momentarily assuaged the longing for the harmony and comfort of what we’ve always considered as home. Our hearts bursting with merriment and thumping, we’re-back-we’re-back, we breathed the cool Baguio air and immediately felt invigorated. Nothing marred the tranquility of our walk, which ended when the streetlamps lights were lit, illuminating everything and letting us find, yet again, the city we thought we have lost.




*Dinakdakan is a dish of grilled chopped pork’s face, ears and tongue blended with lemon, onions, ginger and pork’s brain or mayonnaise; Pinapaitan is a bile-flavored stew of goat tripe and innards; Pinikpikan is chicken soup prepared by beating a live chicken with a stick prior to cooking.

In a Haze of Nostalgia


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Necessary Longueurs

Thursday, April 29, 2010

When in the middle of Marcos Highway on our way back to Manila the back tire of our bus suddenly fell apart and we had to wait an hour for a new ride to arrive, it helps that I’m reading a book that contains these words:

“To me, travel was not about rest and relaxation. It was action, exertion, motion, and the built-in delays were longueurs necessitated by the inevitable problem-solving of forward movement: waiting for buses and trains, enduring breakdowns that you tried to make the best of.” (Paul Theroux, Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, 2003)

If we think of delays and mishaps as necessary, then there remains no reason to complain.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sexy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A friend’s recent status update got me thinking about what “sexy” is. The image of Maximus played by Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator instantly came to my mind. And it’s not his biceps that I find alluring but his commanding presence and air of authority. There is something infinitely attractive in a guy who knows what he is doing and is capable of admitting it if he’s not. Appealing, too, is that tall, fifty-something guy I’ve seen several times in our office building who made bald sexy by the confident way he carried himself. Looking at him, you would think that hair is merely a distracting accessory he is better off and can do without. And of course, I find D sexy for his lack of concern for how he looks. He knows he could get away with it simply by the density of his character. Men with enough personality and magnetism can always make looks a non-issue. A guy who spends much of his time with his nose buried in a book I find sexy, and not the one who prefers to pump iron in a gym.

(P. S. I can’t help but laugh at myself when I later found out that the tall, bald guy I was talking about who looks like Marlon Brando's Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now is Mr. Araneta, the owner of the building.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Snooty

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Like Monica Belucci’s character in Malena who, every time she walks down the street in that small Sicilian town, gets curious—and oftentimes, lascivious—stares from people all around, I felt unsettling looks thrown my way. I am not a sultry Italian beauty like Monica, but why those glances? Do I look that odd? Is it the way I walk? Or the way I dress? Or is it because I’m the new girl whom they see walking past them every day? Abashed by the attention and at a loss on how to respond, I walked on with a snooty air—which I hoped would make me invisible but did not. The glances persisted for years.

Having grown accustomed to their glances, I’ve slowly discarded my snobby ways. I have learned that, when smiled at, it’s easier to smile back than to maintain an inscrutable face; that it feels pretty good to be greeted with friendly faces as I walk by; that it’s simpler to say hi than to pretend that I did not hear anything; that it’s refreshing to chat with the man who sells newspapers, the officer who apprehends traffic violators or the lady who sells coconuts – who all gave me insights I couldn’t have thought of; that being snooty could get really tiring.

As I walk from home to work I now look forward to the friendly glances and hearty good morning greetings that I receive when I pass by. What used to be a source of discomfort and embarrassment now brings joy to my days.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The devil only knows what choice

Monday, April 19, 2010


“…man everywhere and at all times, whoever he may be, has preferred to act as he chose and not in the least as his reason and advantage dictated. And one may choose what is contrary to one's own interests, and sometimes one POSITIVELY OUGHT (that is my idea). One's own free unfettered choice, one's own caprice, however wild it may be, one's own fancy worked up at times to frenzy is that very "most advantageous advantage" which we have overlooked, which comes under no classification and against which all systems and theories are continually being shattered to atoms. And how do these wiseacres know that man wants a normal, a virtuous choice? What has made them conceive that man must want a rationally advantageous choice? What man wants is simply INDEPENDENT choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead. And choice, of course, the devil only knows what choice.”

~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground, 1864

Friday, April 16, 2010

An Opportunity to Break Away

Friday, April 16, 2010

Life affords us too few opportunities to break away from the tedious sameness of everyday existence that whenever one presents itself we can’t but grab it before it slips away. And that is why I am going home to Baguio in a week’s time. The change in the weather, the familiarity of my hometown, the sight of both the old and the new will certainly raise me from this languor and listlessness I’ve sunk into.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

whimpering endlessly

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It is funny how in just a few days I got dinner invites from two male friends who both got dumped by their girlfriends. Though I like the company of friends, I cannot listen to a guy who whimpers endlessly and pines away the night—and, I hope not, the rest of his life--for the woman he lost without wanting to shake his shoulders till he stops acting like a girl. If after more than five years and he still hasn’t gotten over her, then my presence and whatever I say—whether harsh or sympathetic—won’t really make any difference, would it? Life is too short and too beautiful to be spent in whimpers.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Centripetal Logic of Obsession

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Intrigued by the Nagisa Oshima’s 1976 movie, Ai No Corrida (In the Realm of the Senses), when I first read about it in college as “some kind of a litmus test of prospective suitor’s cinematic stamina” with its legendary graphic scene of castration,  I knew at that time that I had to watch it.   And I did - several times since then.  My fascination with the film grew when I found out that it is based on a real incident that happened in Tokyo in 1936 involving Sada Abe and Kichizo Ishida.



Violating all rules of censorship, decorum and decency, the movie can be easily dismissed as hard-core porn disguised as an art film - or the opposite, art made to look like pornography.  As porn, whose primary aim is to titillate its audience and deny them any reason to think or analyze, the movie fails. The erotic scenes lose their prurient quality as the film reaches its sordid, yet profoundly romantic culmination.  Through its sexual explicitness, the film has captured the centripetal logic of obsession and an all-consuming love that knows no boundaries.

Whether art or porn, In the Realm of the Senses is definitely not for the prudish or the easily perturbed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

as we learn we must unlearn

Monday, April 12, 2010

“Skepticism is as much the result of knowledge, as knowledge is of skepticism. To be content with what we at present know, is, for the most part, to shut our ears against conviction; since, from the very gradual character of our education, we must continually forget, and emancipate ourselves from, knowledge previously acquired; we must set aside old notions and embrace fresh ones; and, as we learn, we must be daily unlearning something which it has cost us no small labour and anxiety to acquire.”
~ From Theodore Alois Buckley’s introduction to the Iliad of Homer, 1899

Sunday, April 11, 2010

nothing interesting enough to write about

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It is now Sunday morning, and I have not written anything since Tuesday.  I simply didn't have anything interesting enough to write about for the past few days. I considered writing about the educational programs of presidential candidates, but thinking about it already bored me out of my skull. I also began writing about one of my favorite movies, but it started to verge on impropriety that I had to dump the whole idea.  Not being able to write about things that I want to write about leaves me no topic at all.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

spring and all its flowers

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Spring and all its flowers
     now joyously break their vow of silence.
It is time for celebration, not for lying low;
You too - weed out those roots of sadness from your heart.
~ Hafiz (1320-1389)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dress impeccably and they remember the woman

Monday, April 5, 2010

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” (Coco Chanel)


In a world where substance is essential but appearance still matters, being—or attempting to be--perfectly well-dressed often brings astonishing perquisites. I’ve tested it a number of times, and it always works. It worked last Wednesday when I was on my way home to Cavite. While waiting in line for a tricycle ride, I was offered a seat by the barker. He said, ma’am baka mapagod kayo (you might get tired). I at first declined, but he insisted. It felt good to take that weight off my feet after a long walk, but to be treated like a lady felt even better.

It works whenever I want to create an impression and be treated seriously. And if I’m not treated seriously because of the way I dress, I get my revenge—without really doing anything—from the look on people’s faces when they discover how wrong their presumptions are. It can sometimes be an advantage to be mistaken for a girl who doesn’t care or know anything beyond beauty and fashion.

Aiming to be impeccably dressed all the time gives me, in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “a feeling of inward tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow.” Clothed with the raiment of confidence, I can hide my fears and insecurities and make myself presentable to the world. By appearing perfectly well-dressed, I can draw people’s attention away from the flaws underneath.
 
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