Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Changing Priorities

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Priorities often change suddenly throughout the day. If you are asked to quickly do another task, how does that affect your mood?

I usually ask that question to our applicants. It won’t affect them much. That’s their usual answer. But then again, what they say may differ from how they’d actually feel.

With priorities constantly in flux is how a typical day at work goes for me. As soon as I start working on something, I immediately get summoned to work on something else - something that calls for more immediate attention. The textbook I’m editing gets squeezed in between interviews and meetings; the research project I’m working on gets interrupted when suddenly I need to write an article, a contract or some other communication. All these and yet I’m guilty of making time to write for my blog. (Just like now, they’re calling me to attend a meeting so I need to continue writing this later.)

I don’t call it multi-tasking. It’s more like rapidly shifting your focus from one thing to another and maintaining the quality of your work without freaking out. It gets really distracting sometimes, particularly when I cannot give my full attention to the work I’m supposed to be really doing; but since it happens to me almost every day, it’s something I have not only grown used to but also learned to enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Closing Lines

Monday, June 29, 2009

The good thing about living a solitary life is that I can freely devote most of my spare time to reading. Though I spend lots of time devouring books, I am still far from finishing all of the titles included in my reading list. Twenty-seven percent of the total – that’s how far I am. What’s funny is that my list of “books to read” lengthens faster than my list of “books that have been read.”

Below are the titles and authors of the books that I’ve read for the past two months (May 1 to 29 June). I've also quoted the closing lines of each book for such lines say more about the book’s power and beauty than any description I can give.

  • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
    Ishmael gave himself to the writing of it, and as he did so he understood this, too: that accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
    What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement? It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was.
  • Paris Trout by Pete Dexler
    And she would lie in the dark until morning sometimes, wondering which one of them it was.
  • The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
    And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.
  • Candide by Voltaire
    “All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”
  • Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra
    And I shall remain satisfied, and proud to have been the first who has ever enjoyed the fruit of his writings as fully as he could desire; for my desire has been no other than to deliver over to the detestation of mankind the false and foolish tales of the books of chivalry, which, thanks to that of my true Don Quixote, are even now tottering, and doubtless doomed to fall for ever. Farewell.
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
    But I shielded it with my hand and it burned again to light me along the dark passage.
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
    Fortunate country,that is one day to receive hearts like Alexandra's into its bosom, to give them out again in the yellow wheat, in the rustling corn, in the shining eyes of youth!
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
    The children were sleepy, and morning would dawn as early and demanding as always. Time to go inside and cover up the coals and pull in the latch string.
  • Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton
    But as she waited, holding her lover’s hand, she found herself thinking that she wouldn’t mind if it never appeared: the night was astonishing already, just as it was.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How well do you know me?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just for the heck of it, I created my own “how well do you know Angeli Picazo” quiz on Facebook. It wasn’t that difficult because the application already suggested several questions that I merely chose from and provided options and correct answers to. One of my closest friends, a friend since we were in the second grade, answered the quiz. She got eight out of the thirteen questions.

Does it mean that despite more than two decades of friendship, she doesn’t really know me that well? Of course not. Of all my friends, she’s the one I keep in touch with almost everyday - though we live in different countries. She’s one of the few who knew me as--and to this day calls me—Jill, my name from our worry-free childhood and not as the weary and worrisome Anj as I am now known.

Does it matter if she doesn’t remember how old I was when I first went out on a date or from what branch of service the guy I went out with was from? She knows how I felt then—the roller coaster of emotions I went through, not just during that first love affair but throughout all of the relationships I have had. Does it matter if she doesn’t know that I am into opera and country music? That’s something I don’t admit even to myself. With each other, we can reveal our deepest secrets, our darkest selves without the fear of being judged, shunned or disliked.

Sometimes we assume that we know somebody very well, and it astounds out to realize that we really don’t. The beauty of a great and lasting friendship is that through the years we get to discover things about each other—whether good or bad— and we remain friends in spite of it.


One says Hello to the other and the moment falls from the other moments like a pebble from dark space, and again, Hello, calling to the other as if falling onto the other from dark space, and after some hours the word itself is like the small sounds we make when we touch each other with our mouths, and Hello, Hello, and now, if one wanted to greet the other, to say I greet thee, to separate the sound of the call from the other sounds, which are not calls to the other but to the space from which the pebble falls and into which time moves in all possible directions and we do not, one could not.

By Sarah Manguso

Friday, June 26, 2009

Men Everywhere

Friday, June 26, 2009

Suddenly, there are men everywhere. Were they there the whole time longing for attention, and I just was not aware of them? Or is it only now that they began to notice me? Or perhaps, the moment I stopped looking was when they started appearing.

I remember when I was still a dowdy college geek, oblivious to members of the opposite sex and disdainful of fashion trends. Closeted in my small world and totally naive, it took me a while to learn about the power of charms and physical appearance. Socially inept, snobbishly distant, terribly insecure, I kept mostly to myself and my small circle of friends. I attended my classes without talking to anybody. The presence--or absence--of guys never mattered to me, and I become noticeable to them only when they needed to borrow my notes or copy an assignment. Or so I thought.

Is it the lost pounds, the carefully painted face, the provocative clothes that make a girl visible to men? Perhaps not. They probably see us but we simply don’t see them. Men are there all along—like us, women--wanting and waiting to be noticed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Thursday, June 25, 2009

After a weeklong hiatus from writing, it occurred to me how I missed the blogging world. It is now time to crawl away from sorrow and back to the things I love doing. The trickle of melancholic thoughts has not been completely staunched; yet I write once again, for only through writing can I regain my lucidity.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Friday, June 19, 2009

Mounting waves of loneliness threaten to engulf her at times when she least expects it. She feels its presence even when surrounded with colleagues and particularly when she goes home at night and closes her door to the world. Her eyes fall on the empty couch, the somber walls, the lone glass on the kitchen counter and she braces herself against another wave.

Beneath the pretty clothes, the sparkling laughter and the sweet smile is an utter desolation whose very existence would astonish anyone if they’d only look closer. Beneath the confident exterior is someone struggling not to fall apart.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

the man of her dreams

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Last night I started reading Brian Morton's novel, Starting Out in the Evening. The last paragraph of the book's first chapter made me smile:

They had never met, but he picked her out instantly, and he came toward her smiling. Old, fat, bald, leaning awkwardly on a cane. The man of her dreams.

It sounded so strangely familiar.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Catching Up

Monday, June 15, 2009

How invigorating it feels to be in the presence of two of my oldest friends, Carla and Hazel. We hardly ever see each other anymore that those few hours spent with them became so special we almost did not want the night to end. That night I was able to escape, though momentarily, my life of monotony and needless anxiety. Their presence reminded me of who I was and who I have always wanted to become.

Me, Carla and Hazel at Capriciosa (13 June 2009)

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Saturday, June 13, 2009

It gets really frustrating sometimes. Like plankton being tossed and twirled, tumbled and whirled by ocean currents relentless and strong, I feel helpless. As days flow in and flow out and everything around me ebbs and recedes, isn’t there anything else I can do but drift through life and wait?

And wait. And wait.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa (1896)
Ni Andres Bonifacio

Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya
sa pagka-dalisay at pagka-dakila
gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa?
Alin pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga, wala.

Ulit-ulitin mang basahin ng isip
at isa-isahing talastasing pilit
ang salita’t buhay na limbag at titik
ng isang katauhan ito’y namamasid.

Banal na pag-ibig pag ikaw ang nukal
sa tapat na puso ng sino’t alinman,
imbit taong gubat, maralita’t mangmang
nagiging dakila at iginagalang.

Pagpuring lubos ang nagiging hangad
sa bayan ng taong may dangal na ingat,
umawit, tumula, kumatha’t sumulat,
kalakhan din nila’y isinisiwalat.

Walang mahalagang hindi inihandog
ng pusong mahal sa Bayang nagkupkop,
dugo, yaman, dunong, tiisa’t pagod,
buhay ma’y abuting magkalagot-lagot.

Isn’t it good to be reminded of this once in a while? Happy Philippine Independence Day, everyone.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

independence day

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Unyielding and deaf to reason, he cannot accept that his stifling grip on me, once inexorable, is now all gone. I would have none of him anymore. The day I refused to let him hurt me was my day of independence. From then on, he no longer wields any power over me. Whatever he says, does, or thinks, I remain unmoved. I am free.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Monday, June 8, 2009

A great book should leave you with many experiences and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.
- William Styron

I got a wonderful gift from Jac today: a journal whose leaves I can fill with sc
ribblings, “anything to express my eternal love affair with books.” Books and writing – two of the things I love most in life!

Leafing delightfully through it, I discovered that some of the journal’s pages ask for the following (which I then proceeded to answer):

The last book I finished reading… Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Would I recommend this book to a friend?

One book I never thought I’d come to love… Bangkok 8 by John Burdett
Preconceptions that made
me reluctant to pick it up: Aside from the cover which I found a bit cheesy, I’m not really a fan of the exotic thriller genre.

This movie did justice to the book it was based on…
The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Reasons why I co
nsider the film as a good adaptation: Here’s where we cannot grumble that the book is better than the movie.

One book I read as a child that I still love today… Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal
Things I realized about th
e book after reading it again later in life: The Philippines in Rizal’s time is no different from how it is now.

My favorite characters in literature are… Howard Roark, Lily Bart, Aureliano Buendia, Yossarian and Mickey Sabbath.

What I love about these characters: Howard’s hair color, Lily’s eyelashes, Aureliano’s armpits, Yossarian’s feigning and Mickey’s licentiousness.

Most people are raving about this book. I’m not… Underworld by Don De Lillo
What convinced me to read this book in the first plac
e: It’s among the Times top five best work of American fiction in the last 25 years. I just had to know why it’s up there.

The most dog-eared book in my collection… Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

And I quote: “Will I really? . . . Will I really take the ax, will I really hit her on the head, split open her skull. . . Good Lord, will I really?”

I found this book hard to digest… Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
One thought I can’t get out of my head after reading the book: No wonder some hailed it as one of the most influential books of all time AND the second most dangerous book ever.

I would give my right arm just to meet this author… Philip Roth
One reason I fell in love with his work: His
irreverent, in-your-face, deliberately provocative style of writing.

Thanks so much, Jac!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Her name is Jennica, my sister, 17 years younger than me. I saw her grow up from a chubby baby with her legs up in the air while sleeping to this young lady who is now taller than I am, wears lip gloss, and yet continues to take pleasure in watching Dora the Explorer. I used to change her diapers. Now she can wear my clothes.

One might think that I’d feel old seeing her so grown up. I don’t. In fact, I feel young when I’m with her. Through her eyes beaming with youthful exuberance, I rediscover the world. She makes me appreciate, in different ways, things that I otherwise would merely ignore or even disdain upon. She is not just a kid sister; she is my best friend.

Between the two of us, I’m supposed to be the grown-up; but I believe that I learn more from her than she does from me. With her candid, no-nonsense approach to life, she is the one person I can count on to tell me the truth. When asked about her opinion on things—from relationships to my outfit for the day to choice of movies and hairstyle—she tells me with painful clarity what exactly she thinks. Though astute and precocious for her age, she has not yet—and I hope she never does—learned the often used skills of obfuscation and equivocation. She was only 12 when I had my heart thoroughly chewed up and spit out, but I found humor and solace in how she unknowingly cheered me up.

She once complained why she was never included in our old family pictures, those pictures that show our parents and all of her four older siblings when we were still young. That’s because we were already grown-ups when you were born, we explained. That unmistakable I-missed-so-much look crossed her face. She did miss a lot. She was not born yet when our family was still a family, together and unbroken.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

He’s back! The guy using a calculator for a mobile phone is back! (For those who are not familiar with the guy, click here.) I saw him on my way home for lunch today. With his hair a bit longer and now wearing a new set of clothes, he generally looks the same. I felt so glad when I saw him that the puddles I had to traipse over, the sudden gusts of wind messing my hair, cars spattering water all over my bare legs, the gloomy sky threatening rain anytime – did not matter at all.

Is it just a coincidence that I stayed up late last night to find out the story of the “madwoman in the attic”--Bertha Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre—as hauntingly narrated in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea?

Is it also a coincidence that the guy who sat beside me during the seminar I attended last week is now sending me daily complimentary copies of the broadsheet BusinessWorld? (Not flowers! At least, something different this time.)

These unexpected gems of madness, they make our lives more interesting, don’t you think?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Proud to Call Myself a Filipino

Monday, June 1, 2009

In just a few days, the Philippines will be celebrating its 111th year as an independent nation. I think about it, and my heart swells with overwhelming love for my country. It may have been left behind by its neighbors, gone to the dogs and branded as one of the most corrupt in the world, a nation of servants, and a stinking hole populated by crooks, losers, dregs and scums – I still love the Philippines. Living in this country has reached such a dismal state that its citizens—the very best of them—have chosen, or are compelled, to live anywhere but here. But despite all these, I am still proud of my country, proud to call myself a Filipino, proud to wriggle in the muck with those who stay behind to dream of--and strive for--change.
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