Tuesday, March 30, 2021

There is something we can do

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

“We have to do something.” It’s the phrase that seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days, the unofficial slogan of our moment. And yet almost no one does anything beyond reiterating the need to do something. We either don’t know what to do or don’t want to do it. So instead we stagger across the battlefield, firing blank after blank without aiming: something, something, something … 

But there is something we can do. Choosing to eat fewer animal products is probably the most important action an individual can take to reverse global warming—it has a known and significant effect on the environment, and, done collectively, would push the culture and the marketplace with more force than any March."

~ Jonathan Safran Foer, We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, 2019

Sunday, March 28, 2021

I Wasn't Here

Sunday, March 28, 2021

I wasn't here when the Philippine government placed the country under enhanced community quarantine. Having lived in a small, isolated town that sheltered me from the virus for close to a year, I can only gasp in disbelief when I hear stories about the draconian measures taken to control the spread of the virus in the Philippines—the 6 PM curfew, the travel and quarantine passes, the limited public transportation, the checkpoints, alphabetically ordered grocery runs, only people between 18 and 60 years old allowed to leave their homes, all establishments closed except for those that offer essential services, leaving many without jobs and any semblance of hope.

I came home four months ago when restrictions have been eased, and since then it became clear to me the need for such desperate actions. Now that we've reached 17% positivity rate and almost 10,000 new cases per day for three consecutive days—all attributed to a) more transmissible variants of the virus circulating in the country, b) government incompetence in the local and national levels, c) Filipinos' disregard for basic health protocols, d) all of the above—the country will be returned under enhanced community quarantine starting tomorrow, and I will get to experience at first hand the things I only heard about before. What used to be mere anecdotes has now become reality. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

The narrative flow of our minds

Friday, March 12, 2021

"Logic dictates that writing should be a natural act, a function of a well-operating human body, along the lines of speaking and walking and breathing. We should be able to tap into the constant narrative flow our minds provide, the roaring river of words filling up our heads, and direct it out into a neat stream of organized thought so that other people can read it. Look at what we already have going for us: some level of education that has given us control of written and spoken language; the ability to use a computer or a pencil; and an imagination that naturally turns the events of our lives into stories that are both true and false. We all have ideas, sometimes good ones, not to mention the gift of emotional turmoil that every childhood provides. In short, the story is in us, and all we have to do is sit there and write it down.     

But it’s right about there, the part where we sit, that things fall apart."

~ Ann Patchett, The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life, 2011

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Endless Days at the Beach

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

My tan has faded, but my memories of last year's endless days at the beach have not. At this time of the day, I would usually be my favorite spot, sitting under one of those coconut trees whose fruits passersby always warn me about. "Cocos cayendo," (falling coconuts), they'd always say. 

While families carrying their own umbrellas, chairs, bodyboards, and what appears to be two days' worth of food and beer trickled in, I'd be eyeing the granizados vendor and debating with myself on whether to indulge in that sweet treat. The sun would be shining, browning my skin to the darkest it's ever been. I would move to a shadier spot and reapply sunblock. I'd look around, happy to witness that life continues, somehow.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Writing is the act of saying I

Monday, March 8, 2021

"In many ways, writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clauses and qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions—with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating—but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space."

~ Joan Didion, Let Me Tell You What I Mean, 2021

Friday, March 5, 2021

After 363 Days

Friday, March 5, 2021

After 363 days of not setting foot in the office, I reported for work last Wednesday. Being in the office felt like nothing has changed yet everything has changed. The building remains squat, drab, and grey, but the parking lot that had always been packed with vehicles was, on that day, empty. The guard who barely glanced at our IDs before now checks the temperature of everyone entering the building. The lobby is newly renovated, and the biometric machine is gone—replaced by an online timesheet. 

When I entered our office, it's as if I was never gone at all. My table was exactly how I left it, organized and clutter-free, yet coated with a year's worth of dust. The page of my calendar was still set to March 2020, the month when our lives were upended and the whole world changed. 

From my seat I used to observe employees from other departments going up and down the stairs, but on that day there was barely anyone in sight. Most are still working from home and only report for work once or twice a week. When my colleagues arrived, I greeted them as if I just saw them yesterday. We actually did but online.

Monday, March 1, 2021

That life is lighter and more playful than I’m giving it credit for

Monday, March 1, 2021

"I love these geese. They make my chest tight and full and help me believe that things will be all right again, that I will pass through this time as I have passed through other times, that the vast and threatening blank ahead of me is a mere specter, that life is lighter and more playful than I’m giving it credit for."

~ Lily King, Writers and Lovers, 2020

 
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