And just like that, it’s over. No get-together, no celebratory jig. Just staring into space: dark, dark space, punctuated every now and then by passing headlights.

They say the reason why some people are scared of death is that they’re scared it’s going to hurt a fucking lot when it happens. But I figure that’s because most of them envision it to be, as the phrase goes, going out with a bang, or even with the slow, pained sputter of expiry on a hospital bed, faint imaginary strings singing in the background. But things don’t always go that way, and sometimes, things are over even before anyone’s had a chance to process the fact.

That’s what this past few months, and this night, have felt to me: a little death, less like a splash, more like the little plop you make by dropping a rock into water. Stand up, walk out, sit down, and then, nothing. Mentally beating yourself up, after all, doesn’t make a sound.

I want to say that I did my best, let God do the rest, yadda-yadda. But the thing is, I can’t. Faith is for people who’ve worked in tandem with their Creator, not for those whose pathetic hubris is backed by some dumb, misanthropic assumptions regarding human nature and morality.

But I tried. I split myself into two people. Or, perhaps more appropriately, 1/3 and 2/3. Or maybe more like 3/5 and 2/5. But who cares about the numbers, when all you need is the fact of inequality? Two people with different weights. The one with the heavier weight buckled, and he blamed the other one. The image might look like it would make a good cautionary tale, only there’s no lesson to be learned.

There is no sense of achievement when nothing makes sense in the first place. None of that lauded impetus that has time and again spiraled people into piercing the heavens. Just a brief, brief respite between drudgeries.

Splitting yourself is tiring. And I am tired. So, so damn tired.

Everything feels… heavy. The weight of the wrong memories coming at the right time and vice versa, of disappointments, of unmet expectations (hubris, I tell you), of believing yourself perhaps not blessed, but in some sense fated to be where you are right now (such hubris, I tell you). On top of all this, the burden of knowing that in the end, you have only yourself to blame: empowering at times, suffocating the rest of the damned way.

I hate competition. Wait, let me rephrase: I hate competing with anyone other than myself. High School Musical, surprisingly, said it best: We’re all in this together. Who cares for the numbers, as long as we make it through, inequality be damned? Being the best would be nice, but anyone who constantly needs to be the best is probably sick in the head. Not that being sick in the head would matter if you’re the best, anyway.

Congratulations, all of us, for making it this far. Now, excuse me while I crawl into a corner and cry myself to sleep.

believe me, this is not what you think it is

Little has changed from a few years back, but what has had rippled outward, slowly, eating at the color of this place.

I remember then, not too long ago: when someone called us out, we called them out too. We knew that no one was perfect, that we were all flawed pieces walking on the same floor. And we embraced this: our flaws, the flaws of others, the way we embraced their talents, because there was, to our minds, no way to do one without the other.

And so our flawed thoughts were spewed forth in flawed words, to which were added even more flawed words, until, little by little, all the color that was in between the flaws could do nothing more than burst through, and fill the rooms with life, an iridescent electricity that passed through the flaws and made things appear perfect, even if only for moments at a time.

Nowadays, though, one cannot spit out a flawed word without anyone retorting with something no less flawed, but black and colorless this time. One color against a torrent of black, swallowing life and leaving nothing but ennui. Said in jest, but in truth spewed to protect flaws that, through years, perhaps an entire life of concealment, have become stigmata, never to be seen through leather gloves, long sleeves, and half-true-mockeries at the entitlement to be offended.

memories of shaded circles telling me that I should be a college professor

Psychological tests–those ones that have you shading circles and stuff regarding how you think and feel in certain situations–should, in theory, be open to straight-faced lying and whatnot to make them downright inaccurate.

They work, though, because deep down, everybody’s just screaming for help, and all that is left for the testers is to determine what sort of help one needs.

dumb, or, thoughts while inhaling hypetrains

Having no school the next day is always a perfect excuse to get those extra hours of sleep, slack off a little bit, regain some imaginary momentum in the real world. Been trying to catch up on things as well, both academically and geekily: things need watching, reading, listening. An anime episode here, a series there, a game quest over yonder. Working the brain in more ways than your everyday semi-memorization exercises.

Nobody wants something that insults the intellect, after all. People are getting smarter every day, everyone who creates has to understand that. And when people get smarter, the world unfurls before them: little things come into focus, subtle things suddenly jump out, thoughts and things start to interconnect in the uniquely beautiful way creativity and imagination are produced.

There’s something to be said, then, about those who adamantly defend the dumbing-down of the mainstream. Using master plot as an excuse for coming up with content that doesn’t serve to stimulate the senses and the mind is nothing but degrading to all, whether learned in literature or not. And you wonder why people start hating local mainstream fare when it comes to television and movies (for the record, I haven’t watched TV at home for more than three years now, and I’m not really regretting it). To underestimate the audience simply makes things worse for everyone: them, you, everyone you work with, the entire industry. And the effects are long felt after a season ends, whether prematurely or not (*sobs for Firefly*).

It doesn’t help that the good stuff is so hard to find, either. Because it really is a social class thing: the richer you are, the more stuff you’re exposed to, the bigger the influence on your tastes (cue-Marxist-rant-about-modes-of-production-here-I-guess), and I don’t think it should be, marketing be damned.

talas, men

(original note circa Jun 2014)

I was taking a jeepney ride home, staring at nothing and everything at the same time: car bumper barely hitting car bumper, smoke-belching buses pretending to be F1 racecars, the grimy underside of an overpass, fences with “Bawal Tumawid Dito”, people selling cigarettes, candy, and softdrinks by the roadside, when I happened to see something peculiarly thought-provoking written at the backside of a taxi cab:

Jumar, Jerome, Jeremie, Jeremiah

At any other moment, it would have been banal, like every other random sight one sees while on a ride home, the-journey-is-more-important-than-the-destination quotes be damned. At that time, though, it sounded like a spell, some sacred mantra not unlike those inscribed on anting-antings, incantations to keep evil or mischievous spirits away. Having them, apparently, be the names of the driver’s four children was icing on top of this delicious cake of alliteration.

Then it hit me: maybe the Filipino is not so much forced to be creative as he is inspired to be. His is an environment where every day is an exercise in puns, visual design, and so on, stretching the imagination.

In such an environment, can one honestly do any less than create?

up close, the view from the distance


It’s our third anniversary today, but the first one where we aren’t together. Plane tickets become absurdly expensive the closer they are to their flight dates, and we didn’t plan this out enough.

True, you made the decision to return to Cebu to be with your family in your new home, but remember that we made the decision to make this work. Long-distance relationships, they say, have a knack for screwing up, with only the question being the when of it; people already get themselves into so much shit even when they see each other everyday, what more for people who don’t, relying on nothing more than a few chat messages and Skype calls for assurance?

If anything, though, this relationship has taught me one important thing: how to appreciate time, to focus on the short presence rather than on the long absence, to take it all in while it’s there.

They say that the best way to truly understand something is to look at it from another angle; seeing the things that lurk on the dark side of the moon, and if they’re friendly enough to hold a conversation with. I think this is what this distance has done: given us another dimension with which to frame things through. I notice that when I am with you, I am fully alive, fully present–body, mind, soul–as opposed to those times when people reach the point where they simply force themselves to be together, squeezing themselves into mental and emotional spaces that are only good for one. This space also gives us both time to wander, to learn more about ourselves and re-frame everything every now and then, and I think it’s doing us both good. I am reminded of a new-age philosophy I once read, which described human interaction as a form of sharing energy–I am tempted to call it The Force because of the appropriateness of it all–and this system falling prey to two people’s addiction to each other’s energy, which runs to both their detriment after some time. I think that our relationship, because of the space we have, has culminated in a sort of steady comfort, a feeling that you’re all the better for the simple fact that there’s someone to “come home” to, in a manner of speaking; that you’re not THAT worthless a person, no matter how big a depressed misanthrope you’ve become.

They also say that the awareness of death is what teaches us to come to an appreciation of life, that those at the pinnacle of this awareness regress to the ancient religious concept of sleep as a little death, and waking up again as a little resurrection, akin to the cycle of day and night: Ra vanquishing the crocodile, Amaterasu coming up when Tsukiyomi isn’t around, Shamash doing his regular patrols as guardian of both east and west. Thankfully, this awareness of ours comes at a cost that isn’t as permanent, though there are times when all I can do is count down the days to the next flight out, or your next flight in, whichever comes first.

This distance sucks, and I see it in how you bawl your eyes out right before we part in the departure area, which I think sees more than its fair share of tears on any given day. But, in a way, I think this is one of the healthier things we’ve done so far, until the time we’re sure we can settle down in a more comfortable galaxy, whether here or far, far away. I’ve told you what I plan to do with my life, and I assure you that we’re getting there.

The Fourth is with Us, as it has always been.

Happy Anniversary, dear. I love you.

this is what you get for sleeping at 7pm

Dreamed that I became really good friends with Anne Curtis, but messed it all up when I accused her of secretly switching herself with a gay impersonator on one occasion, finding my mistake out only when it was too late and she wouldn’t talk to me anymore.

Even in my dreams, I am a misanthrope.