Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Random thoughts on a January day

Habang nakasakay ng jeep papasok sa unibersidad, bigla kong natanong sa sarili ko (habang naalala itong isang tula ni Stephen Dunn):

Is it really possible to know what goes on inside a marriage, even that of your parents?
No, my parents are not about to divorce. In fact, applicable din naman yung tanong diba sa mga marriage na naglalast? Napaisip lang ako bigla kasi ibang klaseng dynamics din talaga ang kasal, hindi lang sya basta contract on top of a relationship eh, hindi lang sya basta governed by romantic notions such as love, commitment and companionship (although they appear to be its core principles). I'm sure what I'm saying isn't new to your ears, I guess this is just the twenty-something in me realizing this stuff  on a more personal level, tipong nagsisimula na kasi akong maka-relate talaga. But this is not even an attempt to answer that question.

Napa-ponder lang tuloy ako, what about my situation and my future? Sa susunod talaga na may magtanong sakin na relative (no matter how well-meaning), sabihin ko kaya na, "Ay, matagal pa po yun... (sabay hirit) matagal pa po kasi ang same-sex marriage sa Pinas." 

Pero hindi nga, what about us party to same-sex partnerships (especially for those who believe in marriage and desire it), how different are we able to (or forced to) construct our notions of a long-term relationship without the possibility (or remote possibility) of marriage? Without comparing which is better or worse. I'm not saying marriage is the pinnacle of a relationship between two people, but surely marriage could provide something beautiful (or different, for the not-so-romantic) to gay relationships. And for us to be denied that extra something just because, well, just because (go deeper, is there a reason really?) isn't that just non-sense? And to think we have to fight for it, still. Sure, you don't need a stamp of approval from society/religion to engage in whatever relationship, which is your own business. But.

For me, what is at stake here is that we are being excluded from (or accused of attacking) the very same values we choose to uphold through ourselves and through the personal lives we try to lead. No kind of relationship holds monopoly on love. On commitment. On one of the most inexplicable experience of what it is to be human. That is ultimately the kind of acknowledgement we want to prevail. Nothing ever nullifies a person's love for another, not even sexuality.
How come the debate can't end simply with that?

It is the same with parenting and family. What limiting (and ultimately without compassion) belief it is to think that children only thrive within a father&mother environment. Kung commercial ito ng rubbing alcohol, pwede. But in the real world as it happens, it is not sufficient. Nor is it necessary. Instead it should be recognized as one among many possibilities. What merit does that argument hold to the exclusion of other family arrangements (not only that of same-sex couples) that put the welfare of children first? None.

Naisip ko nga, hindi ba mas deliberate choice nga ang pagbuo ng pamilya for same-sex couples (let's say)? Of course, that doesn't mean their children would  fare better than the rest. So why the fear? Why the prophecies of doom? 

Do they think that gay couples connive secretly with each other in their pretend-not-Valentine Feb 14 dinners or in their post-anal sex cuddling, saying, "Surely mas maraming borta mas masaya, Meynteyn!" or "Fuck this broken wearisome world! Let's go raise some child of darkness (for lack of "a mother's love") who'll certainly grow up to be a pedophile or mass murderer," and then proceed to create a family? A family where they will devote so much of their energy and time, expend a big part of themselves, and invest their dreams on?

That's all the proof you need to be able to believe in your human heart that, sure, gays are out there to destroy humanity. They are threat to humanity because they are all too inhuman to want calling each other Husband (or Wife) and, maybe, even chase around the house grandchildren of their own.  

Sabi ni Vik, gusto daw nya ng anak na pangarap maging stockbroker. Ako, future Nobel Prize in Physics winner pwede na.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taking stock

The following is an e-mail from the past, composed 11 months and 24 days ago, on December 10, 2010. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org

Dear FutureMe,
I am writing this today, it's Dec 10, 2010.
Ano na nangyayari sa'yo ngayon? Ano na ang plans mo?
Are you in a relationship? Are you happy?
Well at least try be for this day :-)
Good luck!

Dear PastMe,

Nagulat ako sa email mo, nakalimutan ko na 'to totally. Nakiliti ako nung nung pagbukas ko ng email ko at andyan yung sulat mo, para kasi akong nakatanggap ng isang napakagandang balita.

Ni hindi nga ako makapaniwala halos isang taon na pala ang nakalipas. 2011 has been a year of metamorphosis, actually. And you know what? It started unfolding the day after you wrote that letter. Just one day, truly, sabi nga nila: what a difference a day makes. All I did was to open myself.

Or, maybe to put it better, to finally break down all the walls I've built to challenge myself with. It was a labyrinth I am no longer in need of. I thought I needed to triumph over some Minotaur at the heart of it, but there was none after all. I admit there was some dark pleasure in being haunted, even by your self.  And all these years, I had a hard time knowing where the maze actually stops, and where the real world begins.

But then you sneak in some light little by little. Watch how new shapes are limned out of the familiar darkness you knew only by touch, and discover the usual doors and windows that comes with a usual home, a bit unkempt and musty, but yours altogether.

There is room for others here, too, if only you welcome yourself to stay.

Pastme, I've met a lot of new people, and together with the old, all of them have made this past year the landmark in a man's life that it has become. And then there's also this one who wandered just by my door, I happened to have let him in despite the dishes waiting in the sink. He said he doesn't mind and I hope to high heavens he really really meant it so. Because in my room, I pinned this oddly-fitting photograph of two people sharing the same smile. Outside the frame, you can't see it, but he holds him in his hands. The pronouns pertaining to which person does which make for bad grammar, but this is not about grammar.

I am now getting back to those remaining dishes.

There are days to sit out under the sun and sky. Search yourself and make plans. And again when some don't work. Take walks when it hurts. Clean your desk once in a while. Kiss inside the movies. Say stupid things, write badly, fail to meet deadlines. Breathe deeply and take the world in, isn't it all there? Don't you just have to will it and choose?

Uncertain as ever the future is, you go on and meet it nonetheless. And is there any other way? But remember to carry always a space in your heart and a bigger one on your head. Hold not yourself back, but take anchorage in what you hold dear. Let your hands them remember well.


Friday, November 25, 2011


well, gusto ko lang magshare ng tula. Nakita ko kasi ulit yung notebook ko ng handcopied poems, marami-rami din akong naisulat dito, yun nga lang hindi ko na natuloy. Binabasa ko ulit yung mga tula, yung iba maaring hindi ko na gusto gaya nang dati, yung iba naman andun pa rin yung unang talab gaya nung una ko silang nabasa. 

I've always loved this poet, Stephen Dunn, ang personal kasi ng mga tula niya, mostly meditations. Tipong reading his poems is like hearing someone talk to themselves out loud, at gusto mo lang umupo at pakinggan siya. For me, he's a person with such a lovely humanity.

Essay on the Personal
by Stephen Dunn

Because finally the personal
is all that matters,
we spend years describing stones,
chairs, abandoned farmhouses—
until we’re ready. Always
it’s a matter of precision,
what it feels like
to kiss someone or to walk
out the door. How good it was
to practice on stones
which were things we could love
without weeping over. How good
someone else abandoned the farmhouse,
bankrupt and desperate.
Now we can bring a fine edge
to our parents. We can hold hurt
up to the sun for examination.
But just when we think we have it,
the personal goes the way of
belief. What seemed so deep
begins to seem naive, something
that could be trusted
because we hadn’t read Plato
or held two contradictory ideas
or women in the same day.
Love, then, becomes an old movie.
Loss seems so common
it belongs to the air,
to breath itself, anyone’s.
We’re left with style, a particular
way of standing and saying,
the idiosyncratic look
at the frown which means nothing
until we say it does. Years later,
long after we believed it peculiar
to ourselves, we return to love.
We return to everything
strange, inchoate, like living
with someone, like living alone,
settling for the partial, the almost
satisfactory sense of it.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Differences, and ugh that yellow smoothie

I think I've always been class conscious. It's one of the reasons why I particularly am not nostalgic over my college life and kept to a small company of people over those years. And especially after that ruse moments before my graduation with respect to my being a scholarship recipient (which was practically a rude reminder I take it of my middle class standing), my affection towards that certain college-basketball-crazed institution practically went nil.

You see I have, what I'll call it generally, "car issues." It's that discomfort and insecurity for example when I first found out my boyfriend drives his own car or otherwise practically has a driver. It's that feeling of alienation during my undergrad days that made me avoid solo trips to a nearby Mcdo (mcdonald's for pete's sake!) with its throngs of fellow students calling their yayas and drivers for sundo. And don't even let me get started on Starbucks.

Early college years before I rented closer to school, I hated Mondays and early classes. Those usually spell braving the rush hour and the mad traffic along SLEX. So I learned to stand farther from the train doors, away from the daily mob action and potential pickpockets. To cool myself under where the aircon vents are. To pick the best seats on a bus. To demand the right change because I know exactly how much my fare costs and when there are hikes. Which is why I have mixed feelings of resentment and envy for those who come late to class because of "difficulties" with campus parking lots.

Why me? Why them? Those kinds of questions. Why can't my father who has an office job even buy a family car? Who gets to decide that this shitty gymrat RayBan-in-hand (but hot) freshman and his new company of cool guys deserve their own rides while I have to lug my backpack (and sometimes a hand carry even) across the whole of the metro twice a day? In what way could I say that I'm perfectly okay with that? The questions began to touch on moot issues of who deserves what, meaning, less of a sense of fairness but rather of entitlement, which frankly aren't the right issues, though they may be closest to heart.

So you learn to accept facts of life, and learn to ask other questions. (Or at least get a move on.) Perhaps those less naive, those more positive. You know, those with "importance". Like what career to take? Should you follow your dreams? Or which stable job leads fastest to a car? Hehe.

Over the ease gained after downing few beers, I once told my boyfriend I've realized how different our paths appear to me. If I do adhere to conventional standards of success for "my class," I will work to earn enough for a car and a place of my own. And even then stability is no guarantee. But once you accomplished that, then no one gets to say you haven't succeeded. That's something a man can take pride of, and in no way do I look down on those material aspirations.

What I realized is that it translates already to years, to different priorities that will motivate our separate endeavors as two individuals. So there's a wee bit again of discomfort there. Again. At differences. My weak point really, I admit. (In a way, aren't some differences harder to take from partners, than even from closest friends?)

Actually what got me to revisit and muse on this topic is some trivial incident. Boyfriend treated me to a drink on his usual hangout/study place Starbucks where I only order half the time. That particular time I was resolved not to. Because I can't afford the luxury. Because to be practical, a coffee worth 2-3 decent meals is a luxury for me. Because of so many circumstances that leave me sometimes bitter like my resentment for my less-than-capable father; and since I want a vacation with my boyfriend, because I needed to accept tutoring the exact kind of students I am most insecure to so I could manage myself by myself over the break between semesters. Boy, was I unable to keep my calm and I almost gave in to an unfamiliar anger. (Because a part of me was embarrassed?) Good thing I didn't. It was a well-meaning gesture after all. But I just had to pause and reflect afterwards why I had that so intense a reaction. Turns out it's an insecurity I still have to keep working on.

You know I have that opposite equivalent of a poker face, and it was so easy for him to see how ruffled I was. Yes, I got angry. But I knew better than to talk at the heat of the moment, what with my legendary incompatibility with coherent speech.  So what I did was to take down a big gulp of whatever that yellow smoothie was (And for the record, I  didn't like that flavor, haha, not complaining though, free is free), together with a good measure of ego and pride. In no time, I could smile again.

Holler to V, it's our <3rd month. Hey you fine mister you.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pagsasanay sa Retorika | Lumang Tugtugin

Ano bang nakita
ng puso kong ito sa 'yo?
Kapag ika'y kasama,
anong ligaya ko, sinta.

Bakit labis kitang mahal?
Yakap mo'y di ko malimutan.
Bakit labis kitang mahal?
Sumpa man, iniibig kita.

Isang ngiti mo lang
at ako'y napapaamo.

Heto na ang pinakahihintay natin,
heto na tayo magkayap sa dilim.
O, kay sarap ng mga nakaw na sandali
habang tayo'y magkayap sa dilim.

Heto na naman naririnig,
kumakaba-kaba itong dibdib,
lagi nalang sinasabi:
pwede ka bang makatabi?

Oh babe isang ngiti mo lang 
pawi na ang aking uhaw.
Huwag ka lamang tatawa
baka ako'y malunod na.

O kay ganda,
O kay gandang mag-alay sa 'yo.

Dahil kung ikaw ang yakap ko
parang yakap ko na rin ang langit.

Yung simple lang
Walang iba pang sasarap
sa pagtitinginan natin.
Sana ay di na magwakas
itong awit ng pag-ibig.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Master Speed

by Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still—
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

Para kay V, na laging handang tumigil

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Upward-beating heart, hay Rilke

from Letters to a Young Poet

Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it.

     It is also good to love: because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, are not yet capable of love: it is something they must learn. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered around their solitary, anxious, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and therefore loving, for a long time ahead and far on into life, is: solitude, a heightened and deepened kind of aloneness for the person who loves. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person (for what would a union be of two people who are unclarified, unfinished, and still incoherent?), it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances. Only in this sense, as the task of working on themselves ("to hearken and to hammer day and night"), may young people use the love that is given to them. Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must still, for a long, long time, save and gather themselves); it is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives are as yet barely large enough.

-Rainier Maria Rilker, May 14, 1904