Monday, September 02, 2013

In Front of the Lens


"So there is no hope for change?" I ask him.

"No", he says. "They're all crooks. What matters is: they're my crooks."

The beach was almost deserted. Earlier, there were locals swimming and it was strange watching them play a ball game in the sea while fully clothed, wearing shirts and shorts. But stranger still were the women clad in burqas while bathing, their eyes, faces and bodies hidden from the world.

I was in Malamawi island located in the southern Philippine province of Basilan. Accompanied by four escorts, we rode a small boat and motorcycles from Isabela to bring us to this place.

It was, indeed, beautiful. By five in the afternoon, the locals have left allowing me to quietly ponder on things. On what I have seen of the province, my conversations with Arnold, the soldier tasked to guard us and keep us safe, the wonder one feels when he travels to distant lands.

In this photo, I am posing. I know I am posing. I want you to know I am posing. As the French philosopher Roland Barthes once said, "In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art."

It will become part of my History of Looking. "For the Photograph is the advent of myself as other: a cunning dissociation of consciousness from identity."

I want to be primitive, to speak to the empty spaces in each of us. To distill an experience into a single image, a single photograph.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Love at First Sight


"Ahia, I'm here at the hospital now," Shobe said. "My water bag broke. But baka tom pa tong si baby lalabas. (But I think the baby will come out tomorrow.) Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers."

This month, I flew six thousand five hundred miles to meet a special lady for the very first time.

Her name is Alessandra, the daughter of my sister Honeylet. We call her Ali. She is six months old. Her skin is white as snow, her lips red as blood, and her hair black as ebony.

It was love at first sight.

"Who is that strange man I see?
By the Gods, is he related to me?"

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Originally written in Facebook on Aug. 9

When you finally arrive, sometimes you discover everything you know about a place is both true and false at once.

Don't tell my mom I went to Basilan, the stronghold of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. The last frontier, where only the bold and reckless will go.

Today my friend and I visited a military camp and spoke to soldiers who just had an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf. One of the troops was killed in the firefight. We heard of places like Al-Barka, traveled to Lamitan from Isabela with an army escort. We spoke to local government officials, businessmen.

Peace and order, everyone's screaming for it, dying for it. Some are hopeful about the peace negotiations with the Muslim rebel group MILF and the creation of the Bangsamoro land envisioned to establish peace. Others aren't so. Bangsamoro, ARMM referring to the : they're all the same, one of them said.

"So there is no hope for change?" I ask him.

"No", he says. "They're all crooks. What matters is: they're my crooks."

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Gossip Girl: Kiss Yesterday Goodbye

Little Boy Blue
"I stepped up the game. I kissed him again and unbuttoned my jeans a little."

Up and at them Upper Eastsiders! New day, new gossip. Because after all, what happened yesterday is old news. And who cares about that? 

Spotted: Kane canoodling with someone else's lover. Uh oh. Careful K, you might want to wipe that smile off your face 'cause we hear the boyfriend is pretty fucking pissed.

Two months earlier

"Oh my Godddd honey!" I said to Arlan. It was a Saturday morning and I was at a sports fest with friends from work. I was trying without much success to get a guy to notice me.

"One of the organizers looks so cute!!" I squealed. "Ang laki ng arms niya. Parang kayang kaya ka niyang buhatin with one hand. (He has such huge arms. Like he can easily lift you up with just one hand.) I want to introduce myself and tell him, 'Can I touch your arms?'"

"Gaga! Huwag! (Fucker! Don't!) Just say, 'So ... obviously, you work out. San ka nag gy gym? Work out tayo minsan. (Where's your gym? Maybe we can work out together some time.)'"

"Aaaaaaayyyyyyyy," I said as we both burst out laughing.

I did get to meet Jj later on. We were introduced by a common friend. I tried to engage him in a conversation but all he gave were one-word answers. Aaaaaahhh, he's not interested, I told myself ruefully. Such is life, I've learned. We don't always win them all.

But it turned out I did. The next day I was surprised to see he followed me in Facebook. Ah ha! So he did notice me, I said to myself. I was rather pleased. A few days later, I sent a friend request and we later on started chatting.

Jj was smart, engaging. We talked about our interests, the songs, films and writers we like. He told me he loves Herta Müller, Elfriede Jelinek, Thomas Bernhard, Bret Easton Ellis, and Alberto Moravia.

"I have stacks of unread books," he said.

"What was the last book that made you go  'Wow! That's amazing'?" I asked.

"Ah. Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard," he replied. "It made me feel like I want to disappear too and be a woodcutter"

Wow, a cute guy who actually reads, I mused. It must be my lucky day.

A few days later, I was startled to receive a message.

"This is Jj's boyfriend speaking. I read your chat messages."

Fuck. So he has a boyfriend.

"I am sorry, I didn't know," I said. "I didn't mean any harm."

"I know. But harm was already done."

Pretty soon, it was over. My account was blocked and we stopped communicating with each other.

And so time passed. Days turned into weeks, which turned into months. Until one day ... 

*Beep* I checked my inbox and was surprised to receive a message from Jj. He was asking me how I was, and we talked a little. Carlo was celebrating his birthday that night so I asked him if he would like to go. 

I had work the next day but I wanted to drop by. I always try to make it a point to go to birthday celebrations. I know they mean a lot to people.

Jj and I kept chatting during the party. I teased him that he doesn't dance. He said he needed to be drunk first. I poured him glass after glass of alcohol. We were both filled with tension, or at least I was. I could feel our bodies meld into each other as I reach for my drink, hands briefly touching.

In the middle of the night, Carlo pulled me over. "So ... tell me ... who is heeee?"

"Hahaha. Wala. He's ... a friend," I said casually.

Carlo gave me a disbelieving look. "Come on K. We all know you never just bring a guy to a party. But I like your style: new party, new boy."

We both laughed. "Gago. (Fuck off.) Besides, he has a boyfriend so you know ..."

"Well ... I'm sure you know what you're doing," he told me before going back to chit chat with other guests. "Or do you?" He gave me a knowing look as he waved goodbye.

We were almost home and I was about to drop Jj off. We were both tired, a bit tipsy.

"Hey, it was nice to see you again," I said. I realized I did enjoy the night with him. The thrill, the illicitness of our rendezvous reminded me of 

"So ... do I get a good night kiss?" he suddenly said.

For a second, I was paralyzed with the moral crisis facing me. What do I do? I asked myself. What do I do?

A wise woman once said, in life there are only three kinds of girls. There's the girl you marry, there's the girl the girl you fuck, and the m there's the girl who opened Pandora's box. Now which one are you K


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Doors of Escape

This world to her was but a tragic play
She came, saw, dislik'd, and passed away

-----Inscription on a girl's tomb, Southwark Cathedral, London

Two months ago, someone died. To be more precise, she killed herself. I don't know her, only of her because my friend wrote about her death and I read it. Many days have passed, yet I still think of her at times, of people like her.

This is what my friend wrote in Facebook on May 22. It is, perhaps, one of the most beautiful and most horrifying things I have ever read.

So, you leave us, this world, for a place I do not yet wish to discover myself, your heaven or hell, or nirvana, or whatever better place you thought might be more to your soul's liking.
You were only 28. Your mother called you brilliant, moody, frustrated. You said she didn't know the half of it. Well, now she knows the all too tragic whole. 
Your brother was the one who told me, and asked if I had any inkling as to why you did it. I said yes, and reminded him of how I told him so, forwarded to him the email I sent a year and 2 months and 11 days ago, an email I asked permission from you to write, and you said it wouldn't matter, he wouldn't care enough to do anything about it. He did, actually. He called me, and asked to talk about it, I said that he should talk to you, and soon, and I guess that never happened, did it? 
Your brother admitted as much. He said he didn't talk to you about it because he didn't know what to say. He still doesn't.
Your family wants me to go to your memorial service. I said no, I don't do funerals. If I could help it I wouldn't even attend mine. I suppose in that sense I wouldn't be there, as I'd be dead. Like you are.
Your dad asked for me to do your eulogy, because "the way she talked about you, parang kilalang-kilala mo sya. (It seemed like you really, really knew her.) The days after she went to you, she was really happy" - and I asked if that was what he wanted, to remember you as happy.
Thing is, you weren't. It's why you offed yourself, right? 
Now, why would I want to eulogize about someone who couldn't stand life to the point she killed herself? I don't want to, because you don't deserve anything after this, what I write.
You made your choice, and everyone you leave behind in your wake will have to live with that, including myself, and I choose to rid my memory banks of you, so I will not be riddled with night terrors, waking nightmares, sadnesses brought about by the failure of showing you the brilliance that I did see in you, the beauty of your fractured soul that you did not have the strength to fulfill. 
You blind, tragic woman, you failure at life, you sweet sweet idiot. Wherever you are, I hope you never have peace.

In his book The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss talked about the four doors of escape people use to cope with pain.

First is the door of sleep. As most of us know, sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. It allows us some distance from things that have hurt us. When we feel extreme physical or emotional pain, we often fall unconscious, the mind's way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.

Second is the door of forgetfulness. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep too heal quickly as I'd like to believe. Oftentimes, the mind stores painful memories behind this door, the ones we are unable to face yet. As the film The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind shows, "How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot."

Third is the door of madness. At times, the mind is dealt such a blow it creates a new world to hide from the old one. And in this new reality, we can be free of our suffering. Free.

And last is the door of death. The final escape.

Tonight the rains have come and I think of the dead girl, her family, the people she left behind. I don't know her, I don't know her name. I've never met her. Yet I cannot forget. How could they? Does suffering beget more suffering? Did she finally find peace? Too many questions, too little time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sunday Nights


Originally written in Facebook on July 7

It's a quiet Sunday night and I'm drinking a glass of wine before I sleep, reading what people have written today in Facebook. I see a girl talking about wanting to change, a man celebrating his newfound love, a mother telling a funny story about her daughter, a girl posting photos from a party last night.

It warns my heart, these little updates that allow me a glimpse of my friends' lives. Their joys and sorrows.

Yesterday, I witnessed a man and a woman marry each other. Weddings always make me feel sentimental. It's one of the most beautiful things in this world, I think.

Today, I bumped into a friend and I found out he broke up with his boyfriend. Hearts get broken every day, some might say. Still, I know it’s not easy.

"Hay ... I'm sorry to hear about what happened," I text him.

"Thanks Kane," he says. "I had to cut my losses. Got tired of getting disappointed. Something to talk about someday."

Someday, the word echoes in me. Perhaps one day, we'll be gathered around each other and perhaps by then, he'll be sporting his old jolly self.

"I'm confident as I'll be having you as my inspirational guide," he tells me.

"Oh honey. I'm certain you're more manageable in matters of the heart. I always fumble and stumble."

Longing is full of endless distance, the poet Robert Hass once said. One day when I'm fifty, I'll look back on Sunday nights like these and tell myself, "Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings."

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Gossip Girl: July, It's Kind of Wonderful

(Originally written in Facebook last night ... just before midnight.)


"The relentless march of time is inescapable. It changes everything; people, relationships, friendships. Sometimes what once was, can never be again. It really is, perhaps, the most formidable enemy of all. But without it, we wouldn't be what we are: human. With all its frailties and tenderness and pathos."

Gossip Girl: Tick Tock

"Wakey Wakey Upper Eastsiders, Gossip Girl here. When the summer heat fades and the rains start to fall, we all know it's time for K's birthday. But with nary a man nor family in sight, it looks like Birthday Boy's back to being Lonely Boy."

Evening, Upper Eastsiders. I know it's late but I just couldn't resist giving you one last piece of gossip. 

They say time changes a man, but it looks like old habits die hard. 

Spotted: Our favorite it-boy Kane celebrating his birthday with a pretty new accessory. Who is he? Where did he come from? But the real question is: is he a one-night fling or someone who just might be the real thing?

Oftentimes, we celebrate our birthdays in remembrance of things in the past. For what we have achieved and who we have become. But for some, it is always the future that excites. For all the promises of what could be.

Because you know what they say. Anything could happen. 


Friday, June 28, 2013

Little Talks



"So tell me, what's today going to be like?" I ask him while we were still in bed. Our games are always like this.

He closes his eyes and pretends to look into the future. "I see a rainy day ahead, traffic jams. Lots of work to do," he replies. He opens his eyes, looks at me and smiles. "Then, you will come home to me."

"Will I be rich one day?" I tease him.

"You will come home to me. That is the best I can do. You will come home to me."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gossip Girl: Cock-a-Doodle-Doo

Warning: This story contains (very light) sexual references. Please do not proceed if it may offend you.

Previously on Gossip Girl:
The Inglourious Basterds

"But evolving is a tricky thing. You can't change without changing the world around you.

And not everyone might see your transformation the same way you do. But if you can make it through and truly be reborn, then maybe so can I. 

So beginning today, the past is just a prologue. It all starts from here."

Guess who's back, Upper Eastsiders? I know its been awhile but I'm here now ready to serve you the latest on what's up, and who's going down. Let's start, shall we?

Word is our favorite-it boy A has had more than one rude awakening this week. Could it be ... that someone dared to dump our Queen Bee?

One beautiful bright morning, I sent a text to my friends.

"So .. last night, I made love to a seven-inch cock," I said. "And it ... it loved me back. Happy Monday boys and girls!"

"It must have been some cock, eh? So do you think it's clever and wise?" Arlan replied.

"Honey, it was just a one-night affair! Or ... perhaps two. But it was quite something, I must say."

"Well, I fell in love with one cock until he got too cocky. He's been laying it a bit thick so I told him, 'You cockroach! You forget yourself!'" A said.

Wow, he's really angry, I thought to myself laughing. "What the fuck! You called him a cockroach?? Hahaha."

"Now I regret it. Anyway, as Vackie told me I'm only twenty-one and I'm allowed to make mistakes," he said. "(Groans) I just miss him."

"You really like this guy?" I asked him, turning serious. "I mean, seriously?"

"Honey ... Huwag kang magulat ha (Please don't be surprised)."


"I am in love with him."

This just in. It looks like the Ice Queen has finally met her match. And she's all lit up. But careful A. You know what they say, one day you're the muse, the next you're old news.

Ten days ago, I witnessed A and Cockroach Boy smile at each other coyly, hold hands, until the night ended with a big bang inside a rolling, rocking vehicle parked outside a restaurant as the sun crept up. Needless to say, I thought it was spectacular!

Bravo, I whispered to myself as I slowly munched on a breakfast of fried rice, scrambled eggs, longganisa, and adobo, waiting for the car to explode. This ... this is how you do it.

"And so ... how is Friday boy?" I asked Arlan the next day.

"Please please please please! Let us not call boys Friday guy or moment ago boy. It is so nasty," he said, as we both laughed. "But seriously, wish me luck honey. I like him."

"Oh come on," I replied grinning. "You and I both know how this story will end."

"You're so judgmental, bitch," A quickly replied. "Between the two of us, you are the real Ice Queen."

"Hahaha. What can I do? When your history is filled with decapitated corpses with their hearts torn out."

"Seriously ... sumeryoso ka gaga ka talaga! (Be serious and stop it!)," A said. "Haaaay ... it tends to get lonely up here. I need a permanent consort!"

But days later, Cockroach Boy suddenly stopped responding to A's messages. Guess who didn't like that very much?

"Honey, does he really like the guy?" I asked Vackie.

"Well .. maybe. But I think, naiinis siya kasi naisahan siya (he's upset because someone pulled one over him)!" V said as we both laughed.

"Who would have thought?" I said. "The player gets played."

A few days later ...

"You feel better?" I asked Arlan, checking up on him.

"I miss him up to now so I guess I haven't recovered; I'm still ill. This disease called love. Haaaay. So you .. you'd better not fall in love!"

Note to self: don't fall in love.

"Anyway," he continues, "I've been working out. Later, I'll trim my hair. The best way is not to win him back when he sees me; just get a new cock. A better one."

I could feel his voice hardening. Uh,oh. Looks like the Ice Queen is back.

"Let's go out this Saturday, Republiq / Cabana. Reserve the day," he said in a commanding voice. "Guys will fall and we'll just fuck them all."

They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Nowhere is this truer than in the Upper East. Buckle up ladies, looks like we're in for a rough ride.

I may have been gone a long time, but it seems some things are forever. A broken heart. The threat of war. And the fall of the mighty.

And just because I've seen it all, doesn't mean I've seen everything. And I must admit, even I didn't see this one coming. You may think my best days are behind me, but this old girl still has some new tricks.

It feels good to be back. And try as you might to fight it, you know you missed me.


Monday, June 10, 2013



It was late Saturday night and I was on my way home from the theater. I had just seen the French film Rust and Bones, which starred Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. I thought it was brilliant in the way it portrayed people who inhabit the edges of life, their "sinewy determination, their guile, and above all,their recklessness," as Rachel Cooke wrote in her review for The Guardian.

So there I was ... driving home, listening to music and pondering the film when my friend Brian texted. He was partying at club Haze where Cosmic Gate was performing.

"Hay ... I'm so stupid Kane," he said. "I've already spend 4,300 bucks. I'm with my crush kasi."

"Honey, it's okay," I said. "These are the stuff memories are made of."

"That's what I'm thinking. Haayyy! For the great memories!!!" Brian replied. "Thank you K, I'm glad you understand me."

"Of course. You know me. What do we treasure when we're older if not moments like these," I told him.  Things one cannot hold on to, I thought to myself.

"The price we pay for great memories," he said. "Hay ... things like these were free when we were young."

Oh ... but we did pay a price Brian. We paid for it dearly. With our youth.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Labor of Love

Ship Ahoy

"It was magnificent. It was like New Year's eve, it was like the fourth of July, it was one of the best moments of my life as a journalist. I was overwhelmed. Feelings of joy, of wonder, of inexplicable emotions got me teary-eyed and I thought to myself, 'Wow, am I a lucky bastard or what.' I actually got to see this."

Originally written in February

My teammates from India to New Zealand and I were all gathered for our annual meeting via video conferencing. It was a big day, with the VIPs (Very Important People) flying in from New York and Washington to Asia to join us.

I was excited to see my teammates and to hear from our managing and executive editors whom we rarely interact with. I belong to the South Asia economy team, and we write economic reports for the region. These  are typically stories about central banks, finance ministries as well as the regular economic data such as inflation, exports, etc.

During the meeting, the editors announced the winner for the story of the year. Each year, they choose from among the works produced by my team. It's a sort of recognition for the best reporting we've done in the past 12 months.

And then they announced that I won.

"It was a very tough call," Chris, a managing editor explained. "We had a lot of very good stories last year." He enumerated some of them which included a story about fruit and vegetable sellers in Australia, Ferrari deaths in Singapore, and cobweb-covered crates in Vietnam.

"But we all think that this story about the changing demographics in Asia was the most compelling, the most visionary and agenda setting," he said. "In many way, this is the kind of reporting that characterizes what we do. It doesn't only tell you what's happening now, but also what's going to happen in the future. It was a unanimous decision."

I was stunned. I didn't even nominate anything I wrote. You're supposed to nominate your best work, but I did not nominate anything since I didn't expect to win. I know I'm good, but as I keep telling my friends, I work with some of the best minds in the world and the stories they write are the kinds of news reporting that prompt governments to take action, change policies, create laws.

I could feel a silly grin growing on my face before I realized I was on a video call and they could all see my reaction. I tried to be calm but inside, all I really wanted to do was scream and shout. My God, I won. Me.

It was one of the happiest moments of my life. That night as I slept, I suddenly thought of the strange journeys we take that lead us to unexpected places. I never planned to be a journalist. It was one of those things that I accidentally fell into. I thought of the years I've spent being a reporter, dreaming of writing stories that one day can change the world.

Maybe, I thought as sleep slowly settled in, that day is not so far away.

"Now I'm just chasing time
With a thousand dreams I'm holding heavy
And as we cross the line these fading beats have all been severed
Don't tell me our youth is running out
It's only just begun."
---Foxes, "Youth"


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Just Dance


Wish You Were Here

"We danced that night, and had our first kiss. But what I remember most is how when I hugged him tightly, he wouldn't let go. Naramdaman ko na ang lungkot lungkot niya. (I felt how terribly sad he was. How forlorn.) 

And I thought to myself: here we are, two lost souls clinging to each other for comfort because we are sad. And at that moment, we only had each other. I realized I needed someone who could give to me, who would bring me joy.  

But it wasn't him."

It was going to be a long night. Raffy was returning to Qatar the next day and we were all gathered to celebrate his departure the best way we know how: bars, boys and alcohol.

At exactly nine in the evening, I tweeted my friends to wake them up. "Wakey, wakey Upper Eastsiders. As a Black Swan ballerina once said … it's time to dance."

We were supposed to meet at around ten thirty for late dinner and then drink. With the prospect of five bars and clubs ahead of us, I was half excited, half dreading the night. Excited to see my friends (and possibly meet a hot guy), while dreading the copious amounts of alcohol that will surely flow and the certainty that the night will not end until the sun rises. One must not forget, after all, that I'm no longer a spring chicken and that these endeavors are more prone to tire me that they used to.

Still, like a good soldier (and friend), I decided to brave the night. By two in the morning, we were in the third bar for the night and downing glasses of Jack Daniel and shots of Jägermeister.

And it was then that I saw a short, lanky young man chatting loudly with his friends at a nearby table. I could tell by the volume of his voice that he was a bit smashed. They raised their glasses, and he suddenly offered the saddest toast I've ever heard.

"For all the wounds that never heal!" he shouted, while beads of perspiration trickled down his face. Startled, I paused midway during a conversation with a guy, and I turned to looked at him closely. He couldn't have been more than 23, 24. I wondered what could have happened that made him say that. But then again, I suspect I already knew the answer.

Much later, I did get a chance to meet him and I teased him about what he said earlier. "So … for all the wounds that never heal, eh?" I said, grinning at him.

"What? Haha. I was just joking," he replied, laughing.

"Time heals all wounds," I told him, offering to him the much-repeated words of Geoffrey Chaucer. He smiled, and nodded briefly, but I knew those words don't mean anything to him. At least, not yet.

I wanted to console him, but how do you sum up the wisdom of years in a few minutes in a packed and noisy club? They were playing a song the crowd loved and people were swaying and dancing, bumping into each other while my friends were already starting to surreptitiously get the numbers of guys they liked.

"You know," I told him, "When I was going through a difficult break-up, whenever I was out at a club, I took comfort in the words of a wise woman who once said, 'Just dance … gonna be okay'."

We both laughed. "It may sound silly … but I did. I danced and danced, and … she was right. It's gonna be okay."

The next time I saw him, he was dancing with his friends. His eyes were still sad, but I could see he was trying. Perhaps, all he has for tonight to comfort him is the alcohol, and the music, and his friends. But that's good enough.

And maybe one day, he'll make it too.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

Shotgun Wedding


"What you want, nobody can give you."
---Mary Karr, "Lit"

My phone beeped.

"It's official K," C texted. "We're together as a couple!!!"

"OMG! You fuckin' got hitched! Congratulations! I'm happy for you!!"

"Honey," I told Vackie. "May boyfriend na si Carlo (Carlo now has a boyfriend). Call it a shotgun wedding or whirlwind romance or one last desperate attempt to escape being an old maid, but he did it."

"OMG! You mean he actually managed to find a good man and keep him?" he replied as we both laughed. 

"I know!" I said. "Who would have thought? Imagine, after all these years... "

Sometime late March, Carlo and I sat down over bottles of beer and discussed our seeming inability to find romantic partners. What's wrong with us? we wondered. Were we being too picky, was there a dearth of suitable candidates, were men not attracted to us?

"Ang tagal ko na ring single (I've been single for a long time now)," C said. "When people ask, I just say four years but it's really a lot longer than that."

"I've been thinking, I'm always too careful. You know me. Maybe I should take a chance," he continued. "What about you?"

What about me? I pondered silently about the question as I took a swig of the beer. "You know what I've been thinking about lately?" I said. "How I was about 18 when I first started watching Sex and the City. Carrie was about 32 then and, now can you believe it? I'm as old as she was in Season 1!"

"And I wonder, haven't I've learned enough from watching all those girls date, break up, date all over again? I thought somehow we could skip all the messy dating part and go straight to happy ever after," I continued. "I guess not. And sometimes, I get to think I'm really becoming the ultimate single girl."

Like Carrie and the girls. Stable jobs, parties, dates. One after another. But as someone once told me, "I am happiest when I'm in love." Those words echoed in me.

And so when people would ask me why I'm not with anyone, I always give the same response. I'm always the date, never the groom. That is my fate.

The past few weeks have been a little difficult. Carlo has always been one of my constant companions in the last few years, always the one raring to go out, to have a drink. Saturday night would come and his call for action would be: "Where are we going tonight?"

But ever since he started dating, we haven't really spent time together. I miss him. I understand, of course. I know the drill oh-too-well. And I am happy for him. 

That night, I texted him.

"I'm really happy for you C. I know how beautiful and amazing it is to find love. You, of all people, deserve this. 

I miss you, but I guess that's part of it. I love you "

Days passed. One day, I was startled to receive a message from a guy, well, if we were to be completely honest, a guy I ... kind of like. My heart … fluttered

Be still, I told myself. He couldn't possibly like you. He's just … being nice. Nothing more. But secretly, I wished he did. I wished he did.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
---Samuel Beckett

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The In-Between


Gossip Girl: Mi Querida Señorita

"So, are you seeing anyone?" I asked her.

"Yes," Fran replied. "And he's married."

"Hey hun, kamusta?" I asked.

"I'm okay. Eto, drinking on a Tuesday night," Fran said. She laughed, and it was bitter. The type that cuts you up like tiny blades, hard and dry. Fran had just broken up with her boyfriend of two years, a man she had deeply loved. It was an agreeable decision but things are starting to get messy.

"Wow … someone's starting the weekend early," I quipped. "You okay?" I sighed.

"Not really." She paused. "Inis ako hun. He told me he was going to be out of town last weekend but he got back pala Saturday. Nakita ko lang kasi na tag siya sa isang photo."

"So I texted him 'I didn't know you were back'." And he replied, "Oh, I didn’t know you wanted to be informed."

"I said, 'I didn’t know you didn't want me informed.' And that was it."

"Naiinis talaga ako hun," Fran repeated. "He's cutting me off. Fuck. That's what I do. I cut people off. But this time, I'm on the receiving end. I thought he was better than this."

"I'm sorry honey," I said, trying to console her. "I guess it sucks when people disappoint us. Nakakainis no?"

"Are you sad that it ended, or how it ended?" I asked.

"I'm sad it ended. But I'm not sad how it ended. I'm angry at how it ended."

I laughed. "I can just imagine how you feel. It must have been like a complete shock. Like Pearl Harbor. You were caught in a stealth attack!"

"Bravo! Round one goes to him," I said. "I'm excited what happens in the next round. What if he becomes sweety sweety uli?"

"Ayy naku," Fran said. "I won't be caught off-guard again. This time, my defenses are up."

"Hahahaha. We'll see honey whether those walls will hold."

That night, I got to thinking. Is it our fault that we let our walls down and let people in? Was all the joy we experienced worth all the pain once a relationship ends? Is there really an un-messy break up?

Earlier this month, Carlo and I were giggling talking about the love month and all the excitement it brings. But February is ending. This morning, I woke up and felt it. It's the season between the seasons. It's no longer cold but neither is it blistering hot. I call it the in-betweens. It makes me feel incredibly nostalgic and a wee bit sad, like something's slipping away and you try to hold on to it. But you can't.

Seasons come, and then they go. That's just the way it is. Just … the way it is.

Friday, February 08, 2013


"Ahia, I'm here at the hospital now," Shobe said. "My water bag broke. But baka tom pa tong si baby lalabas. (But I think the baby will come out tomorrow.) Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers."

Ahhhh... and so it is time. My little sister is giving birth to her first baby. I guess she's not so little anymore.

"Thank you for letting me know. So you'll stay there for the night? You feel ready?" I said. I was excited, nervous, and a little sad I wasn't with her. I knew this was one of those life moments you'll never forget. I suddenly felt acutely the thousands of miles that stood between us.

"Yes stay na. Connected to the monitor and I'm on fluids already. Ito pala feeling ng patient (So this is how a patient feels)," she said and laughed. It was nervous laughter. She was quiet for a while.

"My back hurts though," Shobe said. "Hopefully I can get some sleep before showtime begins tomorrow. I'm a little anxious kasi i don't know what the pain will be like but I'm ready for it. Kakayanin."

"I understand," I said. I was getting teary-eyed. I was worried for her, I wanted to hug her. She's my baby, still, and that will never change, no matter how many babies she gets. 

"But ikaw pa Shobe! You're one of the bravest person I know," I said, as I tried to cheer her up. "And pain is good, once in a while. It reminds us we are alive."

The next day, my dad texted. 

baby Alessandra
born 1/28/2013 5:31 p.m.
white complexion 7.02 pounds 19.5" 
she's a happy baby girl.

And just like that, life begins anew. Honeylet, daughter, wife, sister, is now also a mother. You know what Dad, I'm happy too.