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Epitaph on a Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

– W. H. Auden, January 1939

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20. Elon Musk

“Thank you for your efforts on building a better planet despite all the criticisms, despite all odds. Thank you for weathering the storms. Thank you for being brave.”

I ADMIRE the man for his conviction, for standing up for his principles, for not listening to his idols and mentors on what he has to do, for having deaf ears on their never-ending opinions for him to stop innovating, to back out and forget the idea of challenging this world’s perspectives.

He makes it seem like his bourgeois status is irrelevant whenever he speaks, when he tries to explain things. His eyes glitter like the stars in space. 

But aren’t we tired of the congestion, of inhaling toxic gases everyday from petroleum-fueled cars? 

We are all witnesses on the rising effects of pollution to humanity caused by petroleum-fueled cars. There’s tons of health problems and issues that the governments of the world have to deal with for its citizens. Global warming is happening not because of the of nature’s processes, or the imbalance in the ecosystem. It exists because of our own actions. 

And so, he built Tesla, Inc..

It takes guts to build a company out of nowhere and get over the hump of the financial crisis in 2008. 

Wikipedia described Tesla Inc. as an “American automaker, energy storage company, and solar panel manufacturer based in Palo Alto, California. Founded in 2003, the company specializes in electric cars, lithium-ion battery energy storage, and, through their SolarCity subsidiary, residential solar panels.” 

When I first heard that company name years ago when I was still studying electrical engineering in the university, I remembered right away the inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla, who I look up to because of his genius and passion for science. As someone who wanted to work in one of the hardest and most challenging fields ever, he inspired me. There I was, imagining who I could become someday. I also once told myself that it’s so fitting that Elon named his company after Nikola Tesla because of his contributions. It’s a form of respect. 

All creatives works, all novel ideas come from those pioneers and thinkers who are courageous enough to question everything, to take the status quo head-on. They are those who do not dwell too much on the “now” but on what the future holds. We are where we are today because of the continued search of humanity for advancement and progress. But sometimes, we hinder each other, demotivate those who oppose us, those who are different from us, and tell ourselves that we are right without conducting objective examinations. Sometimes, we unknowingly victimize the creative genius in all of us. 

While it is true that owning an electric-powered Tesla car will cost you a fortune, still we should appreciate the attempt to turn this world upside down. 

I hope to meet Elon Musk someday. I hope to have coffee with him. I hope to finish reading all of the books that influenced him. And I hope to personally tell him: “Thank you for your efforts on building a better planet despite all the criticisms, despite all odds. Thank you for weathering the storms. Thank you for being brave.” 

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You

“With your presence, your warmth, I believe I can do great things; that I can reach my dreams with your help. I can’t imagine my existence without You.”

I CAN’T imagine life without You. I can’t imagine doing things just because I want to, or just because of my desires. I can’t imagine waking up each day without giving You thanks or remembering your goodness. With your presence, your warmth, I believe I can do great things; that I can reach my dreams with your help. I can’t imagine my existence without You.

Please talk to me every time, every second of my life. Please be patient with my shortcomings and mistakes. Please listen to my prayers, spoken or not. Please guide me always.

I hope to see You someday, to offer You everything that I have, my whole being. I hope to sing You songs and offer You thanksgiving in your paradise, in eternity.

I hope because you are God and I am not going to ask for anything else.

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Dear words, ideas, and letters

Dear words, ideas, and letters,

Let me sleep tonight. I’ll listen to you as soon as I wake up. You can bug me the whole day all over again if you want to. Or if you get tired, find someone else. You’re free to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Your writer

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Escape

“When you close and seclude your country from international trade, can you expect economic growth? Can you expect your people to think critically in a global scale for them not to depend on what you feed them every day of their lives?”

IF YOU want to start a war and destroy a territory of your adversary, you don’t divulge your plans. You just do it. No threats. No clamor for the world’s attention. No senseless imaginary epistles to the media.

The North Korea’s leadership in its desire to infiltrate the world over the past few years have been doing unspeakable things. Labeled as a rebel to a world where the international police is the United States, they continuously terrorize the psych of those who wanted to keep the current order.

Can you imagine being one of the more than 160,000 people living and working in Guam with a looming threat for you to be vanished on the surface of the Earth? Can you imagine attempting to sleep at night before the deadline thinking that you might no longer see tomorrow with all its beauty and grace? I can’t.

I still wonder what’s really going on in North Korea. There were reports of starvation, deprivation, and abuse towards its citizens. When you close and seclude your country from international trade, can you expect economic growth? Can you expect your people to think critically in a global scale for them not to depend on what you feed them every day of their lives? I pity those people: brainwashed, ignorant of the outside world, walled literally by the selfishness of those who call themselves leaders of the new world.

The coming days will be interesting. The hype is here.

North Korea succeeded in getting the attention of all of us. The next question is, what now? According to the latest report, they delayed the launch of the missiles to pulverize Guam as an ally, a forward fortress of the United States in Asia-Pacific. But for how long? Is it just a stunt, a publicity, a tiring move of North Korea for it to test its presence in the political arena?

I hope that no war will emerge in the coming decades between countries. We’ve all seen and read how destructive and pointless wars are to those involved: lost lives, gone dreams, and endless call and cry for help.

We are all different. We are diverse. We all want to move forward, to be in a better position, to be great. But again and again, we have two options on how we can achieve these: to promote life and peace or to be catalysts for destruction.

They say that history dictates who the heroes and villains are; books marvel the real ones and forget the pretenders.

But today, all we can do is to keep believing. To believe that the threat to our lives will no longer be there; that they managed to escape from us.

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19. Passing the interview

“In a one-click-please-answer-me-now world where Google is at the top of the food chain in technology, it is expected that one can easily answer the questions cited. But no, it’s not the case.”

NOBODY LIKES to be rejected. It is an innate need for us to be accepted, appreciated, and valued by other people. It’s one of the reasons why there’s awarding ceremonies, recognition days, and ‘best’ and ‘most outstanding’ titles that the world societies give to deserving individuals.

But we’ve all gone through it or faced it. A simple job interview maybe weeks or months after school or college graduation. By then, with all the might that we have, we faced men and women in suits, ties, and leather shoes. It’s no longer a joke. Everything’s real and we’ve got to cope or else we’ll be left behind in life.

Come to think of it. For more than a decade, we’ve unconsciously prepared for this momentous event. Yes, we want to be successful, to earn money, to buy everything that we want. We want to enjoy, be in a more comfortable position, and sip hot green tea in an island in the Pacific. We crave for meaning among the millions of things around us. But nobody told us the Dos and Don’ts in an interview.

Hearts pumping. Sweats everywhere. Minds juggling.

What are your weaknesses? How about your strengths? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? What is your greatest achievement? Why do you want to work here? Why should we hire you?

In a one-click-please-answer-me-now world where Google is at the top of the food chain in technology, it is expected that one can easily answer the questions cited. But no, it’s not the case. Because some of us memorize what we’ve got to say for the Big Day, we forget the essentials why managers and executives sit down to talk to us (some do it over Skype or through a telephone call). One can easily sense if the provided was based on a script in a computer or smartphone somewhere. The interviewers are not dumb to fail in measuring you up. Interviews happen to gauge you, your values, your virtues, your principles, your outlook, and you, the whole package. Accepting you means saying yes to a future that they cannot foresee with your talents and capabilities. It’s a form of investment.

Failing an interview happens. It happens to those who are not qualified or to those who did not prepare: being oblivious, not following the dress code, being impolite, unorganized resume, missing documents, wandering mind. To be accepted and appreciated and valued is something that we all long for. But first, we should ask: Do I really want this? Did I make the necessary preparations? Can I imagine myself working in this corporation, company, or entity?

It is not easy to pass an interview. But if you’re chosen and if you’re deserving of a nod, of a yes, of the opportunity, expect that you’ll exit the door with a smile on your face or you’ll wave goodbye at the person on the other side of the screen with gratitude in your heart.

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18. One train ride, two weathers

“I find it fascinating how the train’s doors can be one’s windows on this journey.”

EVERYDAY, I ride the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) to go to work. Most of the time it’s crowded. But sometimes, seats are empty, the existence of air conditioning units can be felt because of the cold breeze coming out of them, and the passengers vibrantly chatting to each other; men and women and children, all collected in a closed, moving machine.

But in a rare occasion, while cruising through the highway, I observed how weather changed. At the Guadalupe station, it’s raining so hard that you can imagine yourself enveloped in your white, comfy bed sheet in your room. The vehicles on the street are stuck and wet. Small and large, private and public, they have the same fate. But four stations later and after few kilometers, the concrete road below seems untouched by a raindrop. It’s like you’re looking at a different world. And with wonder, you realize that you became a link to two dimensions.

I find it fascinating how the train’s doors can be one’s windows on this journey. They say that the MRT reveals who we really are. But I think it also reveals the variations in different places, the weather, the people, the clouds above. It reveals the complexities of the things around us, that what’s happening to one place can’t be expected to unfold to another. Nothing is really the same or equal. We can choose to think of all the complaints that we wanted to address to its management whenever we’re informed that a defective train causes the delay or we can choose to just enjoy the ride.

And at the end of the day, it all boils down to our perception, to our eyes, to us.

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17. The sun’s up

“We are spirited away from the meaning of everything because of all the noise, news, frenzy, trends, and flash reports.”

WHEN DID you last look up at the sky to appreciate the heat and light coming out from the sun? When did you last pause to see the finer details of life?

We’re all busy doing a lot of stuffs. There’s a mountain of responsibilities and deadlines that have to be met and sometimes, these things exhaust us. I know the feeling. I understand. But because of all these things, we sometimes forget to give ourselves a break; to reflect and once and for all determine to ourselves the essentials of everyday existence, the reason behind everything, our ends.

While we understand that everything that we see is fleeting, we’re consumed by our own doing. We are spirited away from the meaning of everything because of all the noise, news, frenzy, trends, and flash reports.

Today is a start to do otherwise.

Give thanks and smile at the Starbucks crew who prepared your drink and wrote your name on its container. Help that old woman at the stairs on her way to the train station’s ticket booth. Press that up or down button when you see a hopeful passenger rushing to get inside the elevator when you got off. Yes, even if she’s few meters away; sacrifice a lit bit.

If you have spare time, remind yourself of the joy you had when one afternoon you just stared at how nature moves: the ants as they transport their food or tirelessly search for one, the waves of the ocean that bring peace inside, the wind that caresses you every time, and the sun as she continuously glows with your appreciation or not.

And say, “There’s more to life than this.”

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16. Published

“I believe that everyone’s a storyteller but the challenge is to have a grasp on what’s worth writing about.”

WHEN I first held a copy of Philippine Daily Inquirer years ago (the largest and greatest of Philippine broadsheets) and realized that they accept column article submissions, I told myself that someday, I should get published there. I fell in love with its opinion column ‘Young Blood’ where the twenty-something and below gets featured. It was then that I dreamt of being a writer.

I’m still a work in progress, every aspiring writer will tell you that. But after getting published, it kindled hope in me to be a regular contributor. It became a catalyst for me to be a better observer, a finer listener, and to pause more. A lot of things are going on and it is our job to translate them into words. Sometimes I sulk after learning that an unexpected thing happened which is natural.

I can say that being idealistic is an important element to be able to write. You have to hope that there’s a better world ahead and you have to be part of the public discourse, a contributor, to get it. You may fail miserably, you can get rejected multiple times but these are all part of the process. I can’t think of a successful writer today who never experienced rejection.

To understand that there’s a gatekeeper who filters all of the submissions makes it beautiful. To understand that millions of people wanted to write but die dreaming about it places writing at a whole new level. I believe that everyone’s a storyteller but the challenge is to have a grasp on what’s worth writing about. We have our own gift, our own passion when it comes to creativity. We all have our own point of view which surely differs from others; different opinions on an issue or an idea. different mindsets.

But isn’t it true that every published work humbles you? It is not easy to generate ideas. You have to keep moving, keep believing, keep working. Yes, it’s work because you spend time, energy, and intellect to accomplish it. But since you enjoy doing it, time flies by without you knowing it.

I still have a lot of dreams but I hope that this will remind me every now and then that they are attainable. And I hope that it will do the same to you.

To just keep going. To write.

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15. Pluviophiles

“It’s when raining that everything makes sense.”

I LOVE it whenever it rains. I like the cold weather, the bed weather, the suspension of classes (when I was still at school) because of the heavy rain. I like listening to the sound of every drop, the tiny and huge ones; the roof asking for mercy on its never-ending greetings.

They call us Pluviophiles, those who find joy and peace of mind during rainy days. For a number of times, I bicycled while it was raining, played basketball with my friends during a downpour, finished reading a book in one sitting while there’s a typhoon, and challenged myself to a 10K road run while everyone’s inside their houses watching programs on tv or savoring their hot, flavorful soup.

Rain cleanses our roads and reveals our inability to follow simple rules like throwing our garbage at the right place. Whenever it rains continuously, some areas become flooded. You can see plastic bottles and plastic bags floating; street kids diving into the murky water as if it’s a swimming pool.

Rain transforms us. More likely, traffic’s everywhere. People are on the rush to escape, to get off the road, to reach their destinations. But if you’re stuck, moods change, conversations become lighter, and we get to see and observe the little things around us.

It’s when raining that everything makes sense.

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An Open Letter To ‘Kita Kita’ (I See You)

“We realized what we’ve been missing, what we’ve been waiting for, what it takes for us to willingly go to a theater and spend a little amount to treat film as an art form, an experience, and arm ourselves with so much respect to our culture and our gifts as a people.”

Dear you,

At a time when we grew tired of being bombarded with films with worn out formulas and endless sequels, you came as a delightful surprise. We felt helpless when the news broke that the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) changed its format all over again and chose to revert to its old self which saw the return of familiar staples in the annual showcase. But being pulled out of last year’s roll of MMFF movies with all the controversy that surrounded it is the best thing that happened to you. 

You are an unexpected visitor in our consciousness and so, I would like you to have this that we may not forget each other as time passes by. Let me reminisce the memories we had the same way Tonyo and Lea (played by comedian Empoy Marquez and award-winning actress Alessanda de Rossi respectively) did. It’s about an hour and a half of a roller coaster ride that you and I experienced together. Let me start counting: 

One. One bicycle ride of Lea in the introduction and it hit me. I remembered a scene in the 2000 South Korean romantic television drama Autumn in My Heart where the main characters were biking on their way home from school. The background music was captivating. Lea’s vibrant face greeted us with a smile. Her eyes were magical. 

Two. Two questions popped inside my head: Firstly, did Alessandra and Empoy really act?  And secondly, is it true that they’re not friends before? It’s as if cameras were positioned in front of them and everything just unfolded, like in a reality show. It’s as if they’ve known each other so well that we felt the comfort in every pat on the shoulder, hands, and sometimes on the face. We saw ourselves in them, on how we deal with our friends and loved ones.

Three. Three elements made you outstanding: unconventional love team, cinematography, sincerity. Infested with ‘pabebe’ love teams around, the pairing of Empoy and Alessandra is something that we’ve never seen before. The visual texture of the film, the pacing, the overall mood are remarkable. As a country that has gone crazy with South Korean dramas, you captured us with pleasing imagery all shot in a foreign land: a garden with various types of flowers, plain green fields, rain. But more than these, you’ve shown us sincerity. Yes, sincerity that we’ve not felt in Filipino movies in a long time. I sensed it in every line, in every laughter whenever a joke is delivered.

Four. Four producers gambled on you. Piolo Pascual, film director Joyce Bernal, Erickson Raymundo and Suzanne Shayne Sarte made it possible for you to exist. It’s a difficult time for producing films. How many film studios have gone bankrupt in the Philippines? How many creatives and writers tried but failed? But they saw something in you. They saw your potential and cleaved to that. They’ve displayed courage all throughout the process which is a great example to us. 

Five. Five times I tried to stop myself from crying. Five times I saw those sitting at my left shed tears because of you. 

Six, seven.  Six or seven times I reminded my mother who’s in her sixties to refrain from giving her comments to some scenes for it might distract the other audience members. In the past, we would humorously tell her to not sleep inside the theater or she’ll miss the flow of events. But for the first time since she got her senior citizen I.D. card which gives her the privilege to watch movies in all theaters in our city for free, she did not fall asleep watching you. You got that hook. 

Eight. Yes, for eight instances I watched your trailers. It is also the number of times I hoped that you’ll be a blockbuster. I felt how your writer and director, Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, attempted to offer us a novel recipe that we can enjoy and be proud of. And she succeeded. No pretensions. No awful chemistry. No forced twists in the story. 

Nine. You left me with nine trademarks that will forever stay with me: cabbage, teddy bear, banana, heart, bell, bowls of ramen, Sapporo beer cans, paper cranes, and baby dragonfly. You gave each of them a different meaning that has never entered our imagination before. You thought us how to look at the minute details, the small things, and know how to value them. 

Ten. Ten million pesos was the amount of money that has been spent to bring you to life. But you know what? Because of that amount, we got to see ourselves better. We realized what we’ve been missing, what we’ve been waiting for, what it takes for us to willingly go to a theater and spend a little amount to treat film as an art form, an experience, and arm ourselves with so much respect to our culture and our gifts as a people. 

They say that your success banked on word of mouth. But I believe, it is because of word of heart. Our hearts finally spoke after a long time of silence and we just listened to them. You are a relief, a refreshing reminder of who we are as Filipinos. You made us believe again on our creative capacity, on our genius when it comes to storytelling, and on our distinct voice deep within us; that we may see and love even with our eyes closed.

Thank you for everything.

Sincerely yours,

Kabayan

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14. Having a mentor

“A great mentor does not just point to you the negatives but also the positives. They should meet you at your best and remind you that there’s still tomorrow even at your worst.”

CAN YOU consider your boss a caring mentor? How about your teacher at school? Or does your trainer constantly motivate you to reach your full potential?

We all need honest and sincere people in our lives. They are those who are willing to take the risk to divulge to us the areas where we can improve on, the part of our work where we miserably break, the shortcomings that we overlook. We need another set of eyes from those who truly want us to progress and not be stuck. Not for anything else, not for their personal gains, not for their biases, but because they feel that it’s the right thing to do and because jealousy and selfishness are not in their vocabulary. We receive absolution from them whenever we feel like we committed mistakes that we’re guilty of or whenever we fail them.

While it is true that there are times when we suffer just seeing our mentors, those moments that they share with us their lives is more important. They are supposed to inspire us. We listen to their feedback and adhere to their advice after careful analysis in our head.

Various books have been published about leadership, mentorship, and success. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers said that those who succeed in life do not just have talents. There are a lot of people who are talented but are not successful. He discussed the value of timing, influence, culture, and environment for one to stand out and reach their peak. And in the environment, our mentors are included.

Their presence in our lives is a game changer. Mentors pave the way for us to have a glimpse of another point of view. Another point of view means comparison. One gets to have the choice on what path to take, when to pull the trigger, and better understand the consequences of every decision.

A great mentor does not just point to you the negatives but also the positives. They should meet you at your best and remind you that there’s still tomorrow even at your worst. They’ve been there and done that. Their experiences are unquestionable only if you know each other very well. Trust is vital for any relationship to work.

If you have a mentor that you look up to, be grateful. Not everyone is given a chance to have one. They help us create things and with grit, make a difference.

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13. Family dogs

“It was in his second month with us that the answer to why some owners sleep next to their dogs came to me.”

I USED to hate dogs. I used to cringe every time I see one wandering on the streets under the open sky, near our house, or even inside my room. They’ll bark at you unceasingly if you’re a stranger to them. Some will bite you without any notice or voluntarily and confidently share their saliva by licking your feet, your hands or sometimes your toes.

I can still remember how I told myself that I will never touch a dog again. In my childhood, one afternoon, our family dog bit me on my right cheek while I was eating a crispy fried chicken leg. My mom immediately approached me and tried to disinfect the wound with soap and running water. Her grip of the nozzle is still vivid in my memory. I couldn’t understand the gravity of what happened and the possible consequences of being bitten by our dog then. I didn’t know that it has to be taken seriously.

After going through careful examinations in the hospital, my mom told me to be brave because I had to be injected with Rabies vaccine just to make sure. I took more than five shots. All the doctors were fond of saying the same thing every time they held my arms: “Be a man… It’s just like a bite of an ant.” 

But one day that fear vanished inside. Everything changed when my younger brother bought an apple head Chihuahua in a pet store in the neighboring city. My family named him Chua and he greets me whenever I get home. He runs so fast that those sleeping in our living room have no choice but to be awakened. No, it’s not because of his short loud cry but because he runs over them. He’s a consistent and amenable welcome committee member.

Wagging tail. Tiny paws. Hanging tongue.

I would play with him as he nuzzles my leg and my anxieties would temporarily exit my mind. My initial distaste for him transformed into delight. It was in his second month with us that the answer to why some owners sleep next to their dogs came to me.

With the right fit, fun will show itself naturally with them around. Give it some time.

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12. Discovering that you are a creator, an artist

“Fail. Stand up. Discover the creator, the artist in you even if sometimes it’s scary.”

IF YOU see yourself as a creative, do not give up. If you believe that you are an artist, embrace and nurture your craft. If you think that every cell of your body directs you to do more, to work on your passion, to reach the farthest limits of your imagination, try. And if an idea pops up in your head out nowhere, while you’re brushing your teeth, while taking a bath, while pouring tomato sauce on your plate to make your special dish, while walking, jogging, or sprinting, while waiting for the one that you love in a cafe, Japanese restaurant, or on a bench somewhere, while reading a book, or while riding a bicycle, a car, or a seesaw in a park, listen.

The world is filled with people who call themselves artists and poets and writers but do not know when to listen and be brave enough to spend their time to give their art its own form, life, and space. They do not want to feed themselves with new perspectives. Everyone is born a creator but not all of us are courageous enough to face its inexplicable faces, its inescapable enigma.

Fail. Stand up. Discover the creator, the artist in you even if sometimes it’s scary. I know because it frightened me to write this.

But we both know that there’s no other way.

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11. Finally owning a copy of the book you love

“Yes, it’s a blasphemy to treat a book as more special than its neighbors by just the cover, or the author, or the summary at the back cover. But we’re all guilty of this crime, aren’t we?”

TRUTH BE told, being a book hoarder or a book lover is not easy. You plot your calendar with nearby book sales, you ask your friends if they want to donate their books to you or you carry a basket around a bookstore and try to limit yourself with the budget for that month. Most of the time you fail. You just don’t know why.

But there are just some books that even if you wanted to own them and embrace them and smell them the first time you saw them, you just couldn’t. You wait for the right timing, the perfect opportunity. Sometimes, they are the hardbound books with glossy pages, full of pictures and texts that can blow your mind away. You crave for them. They are the type that you prepare for, think about, and not just settle for if you don’t want to go home empty-handed after going for a hunt in the mall.

Yes, it’s a blasphemy to treat a book as more special than its neighbors by just the cover, or the author, or the summary at the back cover. But we’re all guilty of this crime, aren’t we? We have our favorites. We fell in love in the author’s way of thinking, their perspective, their choice of words; the structure, the voice, and the characters they created.

Tonight, I am going to open the pages of a coffee table book by Kuya Daniel Razon. The title of the book is Get It Straight with Daniel Razon. Tonight, I am going to revisit the interviews the award-winning journalist had, the issues that have been tackled, the truth at every turn of the page. Tonight is the night that I’ve been waiting for. I was not present during the book launch more than a month ago but to understand that there’s more to the book than meets the eye is a treat itself.

Stephen King, Malcolm Gladwell, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Adam Grant are some of the greatest authors today and I own a copy of almost all of their books. But that one purchase, that one black coffee table book by Kuya will always be in a league of its own.

So at this point, think about that one author that you admire most. Think about the things that you realized after reading one of his or her works. What did you feel when you first held it in your hands? What were your thoughts?

Of the mountains of books that a book hoarder or a book lover has in any part of the world, there will always be that book that will stand out the most. And that book, whether hardbound or not, whether made of glossy pages or not, is what they’ve long waited for.

It’s all worth it, isn’t it?

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Na-‘Kita Kita’

“Siyam na beses din akong aasa na hudyat ito sa muling pagtitiwala nating mga Filipino na kaya nating makagawa ng quality films na tatangkilikin at pararangalan maging sa international stage.”

HAYAAN MONG gaya nina Tonyo at Lea, magbibilang ako:

Isa. Isa kang rebelasyon, Empoy. Pinahanga mo kami. Matagal ko nang naisip na higit ka pa sa pagiging komedyante, isa kang artista. Naramdaman ko ‘yon noon dahil ‘ika nga nila, kapag komedyante ka, marami kang hugot, maraming pinagdaanan. Salamat pinatawa mo ‘ko sa sinehan kasama ang pamilya ko ng ilang beses. Maraming pinaiyak ang sulat mo.

Dalawa. Dalawang tanong ang nabuo sa isip ko habang pinapanood kita, Alex: una, umarte ka ba?; pangalawa, bakit parang ang tagal n’yo nang magkasama ni Empoy? Parang ang nangyari eh tinapatan ka ng camera, kinilig at lumabas ang dimple nang natural, at ayun! pelikula. Salamat sa mga patak ng luha mo sa dulo ng obra. Hanggang ngayon, hindi makamove-on yung ate ko sa napanood niya.

Tatlo. Tatlong elemento ang kapansin-pansing angat ang pelikula: unexpected love team, cinematography, at pacing. Pang-international yung dating. Salamat direk Sigrid Andrea Bernardo. Isa kang alamat! Hinangaan ko ang bawat eksena at anggulo. Nakagawa ka ng isang produkto na may kombinasyon ng lahat ng mga nabanggit na kinunan sa ibang bayan.

Apat. Apat ang producers ng pelikula: Piolo Pascual, Direk Joyce Bernal, Erickson Raymundo at Suzanne Shayne Sarte. Maraming salamat sa pagtaya. Sa panahon na nilalangaw ang industriya ng pelikulang Filipino eh naglakas-loob kayong gumawa, magisip, at magpuyat. Salamat sa pagpapanumbalik ng tiwala sa talento natin bilang mga storytellers at creators. Salamat sa respetong ibinigay ninyo sa aming mga manonood. Nabusog kami sa halakhak, lungkot, musika, saging, puso, at tunog ng kampana.

Lima, Anim, Pito. Naglalaro dito ang dami ng beses na pinaalalahanan ko ang nanay ko sa pagbibigay niya ng komento sa mga eksena. Madilim ang sinehan, maraming tao, at oo libre ang senior citizen sa sine sa Makati area.

Walo. Walong minuto bago mag-umpisa, ang haba ng pila para makabili ng cheese popcorn. Sa pagmamasid sa paligid, ilang dipa lang ang layo ng ilang tv personalities na nagaabang: Julius Babao, Bubbles Paraiso, Raymond Gutierrez. Physically fit na nga si Raymond gaya ng nabalita.

Siyam. Siyam na beses kong pinanood ang trailer. Siyam na beses din akong umasa na sana maging blockbuster movie ito ngayong taon matapos ipull-out last minute sa MMFF 2016. Siyam na beses din akong maniniwala na hudyat ito sa muling pagtitiwala nating mga Filipino na kaya nating makagawa ng quality films na tatangkilikin at pararangalan maging sa international stage.

Sampu. Sampung milyong piso ang budget ng pelikula. Inasahan ng mga producers na kikita ito ng 50 hanggang 60 milyong piso. Sa huling ulat, umabot na ito sa 200 milyong piso. Samantalang hindi ang takilya ang sukatan ng value ng isang work of art, gaya ng pangunahing karakter nito sa una, may higit pa sa nakikita ng mga mata. May ipinaramdam ang ‘Kita Kita’ sa mga manonood na matagal nilang hindi naramdaman sa ipinalabas na mga pelikula sa Pilipinas.

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10. Impromptu hosting

“You have to be sensitive to their needs like a mother to her child; be aware when to emphasize your thoughts and ideas.”

HAVE YOU ever been asked to be the instant host of an event?  Well, it’s thrilling. But if it’s in your blood, you should always be ready. It should not be a burden to you.

It brings a different feeling whenever you stand in front of a lot of people. Their eyes are glued to you. Their ears and minds waiting for your every move and instruction. It’s about being in control and a catalyst for laughter to surface in a room of desserts and awards.

Conjunctions are essential; witty lines are required. As the life of the show, you must have a mastery of what’s supposed to happen next. But as an impromptu host, the challenge is tenfold. You have to gather in less than 2 minutes all of the information that you can get. You have to familiarize yourself with the kind of audience you have: their likes and dislikes, their inhibitions, the limits in culture and religion. Or else, you’ll fail without you knowing it. You have to be sensitive to their needs like a mother to her child; be aware when to emphasize your thoughts and ideas. Timing is a valuable commodity; facial expression matters.

After all, hosting is acting. It’s a performance for the audience to have a good time, to enjoy and forget some sections of their lives. Yes, even if you’re notified shortly by your boss while sitting next to her in between your sessions with your mud pie topped with vanilla ice cream.

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9. Birthday bash!

“Because each year is not promised. Open yourself up. Choose to be free.”

ALTHOUGH IT’S something that has been planned weeks ago (and even if it’s in my Outlook calendar), still, attending a birthday bash at work adds a sense of enjoyment inside.

There are games and songs and Q&As and strangers in a room full of balloons, cakes, and gifts wrapped in variety of colors. But do you know what’s more exciting than these things? It’s the chance to be reminded that one day in the past, you were born, may be, surrounded by relatives and nurses and doctors who were all smiles looking at you – the newest arrival, the cutest creature, the innocent one. It’s hard not to put value into it. It’s difficult to comprehend everything that had to happen for someone like you to exist: your parents met, they fell in love, decided to raise a family, hardships and challenges in between. They never cowered to face life head on to nurture you, to give you the best life they could give, that you may grow up to be a good person. Again, good. Good which sometimes we take for granted because of the menacing distractions around us.

And so, if you’re in your twenties, or thirties, or in your senior years, give yourself a break, play and jump and laugh just because you want to as you completely cross-out the 365 days that have passed. Because each year is not promised. Open yourself up. Choose to be free. Be birthday bashed!

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8. Package delivered

“It’s wonderful to imagine that a person spent his or her precious time thinking about you, your wants and desires; for preparing everything that’s inside the box.”

IT’S HEARTWARMING whenever someone appreciates us. It’s when a friend or someone we know give thanks to a small, little deed that we did for them. It’s when they reciprocate our goodness because we never bilked them at any point. While it is true that we should do things for other people not expecting in return, it’s still overwhelming. It could be a favor, a long-forgotten help that we offered for them in college or at work, or because of a recent event which had you both rejoiced. Whatever it is, it surely puts a smile on our face.

But do you know what’s more exciting than that? It’s receiving a package. Cutter. Tape. Unboxing. Bubble wraps. And sometimes a letter.

We may be living in an age when things are done in an instant but nothing beats a box that came from a different place; a present that’s been well-thought-of. It’s wonderful to imagine that a person spent his or her precious time thinking about you, your wants and desires; for preparing everything that’s inside the box.

Words are special but actions matter more. Blessed!

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7. A stranger got you covered

“More importantly, when did you last imagine yourself in the place of others who are suffering or in a challenging situation?”

YOU’RE ON your way home. It’s cold. Rain started to thunder the streets. You were excited as someone who sees the sentimentality that every drop brings. It was fun at first but you realized that you have no umbrella or coat with you. You searched for a cover but you couldn’t find one. Open area. Noise. Smog. And then a stranger with an umbrella came along and asked you: “Do you want to join me? We’re headed to the same way, maybe?”

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? How many times have you asked someone who’s exposed to the pouring rain if they need help and whether they wanted you to share your umbrella with them? It doesn’t happen that often. We all have our reasons and I completely understand that. That little touch of kindness, which is a bold gesture of empathy and compassion, speaks a great deal about a person’s values. Yes, it’s unsafe sometimes but it’s still a good act that some of us forget. “I don’t know who they are, why should I even care?” is our favorite line.

But what if that time comes that it’s you who need help? What if you’re on your way to work to attend a very important meeting and it suddenly started to rain and you’re hindered because you forgot to check the weather forecast earlier that day in the area and you didn’t bring your umbrella? What if you cry helplessly inside for but nobody cares? More importantly, when did you last imagine yourself in the place of others who are suffering or in a challenging situation?

They say that real heroes lie within us. We just have to recognize them and believe that they exist. Sharing an umbrella is a heroic act. Do it. Don’t hesitate. Wait ’til it’s raining cats and dogs again.

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6. Accidentally seeing an old friend

“What if it’s a restart for both of you? What if it’s a spark for your lives to be reconnected?”

YES, IT’S awkward. The first few lines matter. But the ineluctable element is surprise. And we all love surprises.

It’s when you see a familiar face on a train, on a bus, in a mall, or at an airport. You ask yourself again and again if you’ve not mistaken. Aware that the only way to get to the bottom of things is to inquire, you look at him or her in the eyes. It’s a risky move. You can either feel like you just saw each other yesterday, like nothing has changed, or the years of the absence of communication took a toll in your bond and you became strangers.

It’s worth giving a try. Because the laughters and tears that have been shared in the past can never be replaced or altered. Experiences can never be erased. What if it’s a restart for both of you? What if it’s a spark for your lives to be reconnected? Approach him or her and discover for yourself if the line is still there. Let the motors of curiosity flow in your veins.

I still remember how I took a chance on an old friend standing just few feet away from me on a running train one day.

I approached her and asked: “Hi. How are you?”

With fascination, she responded: “Great! It’s nice to see you again…”

And the unuttered stories revealed themselves and engulfed us at that moment with hope, joy, and inspiration.

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5. The elevator’s available

“But if you’re running late, it can be considered a blessing from above for your wish to be heard. There’s sweat and blame and reasoning going on.”

YOU FELL in love with the thrill of reaching out to something, of being a triumphant being, of defeating time itself. But inside your head, you only have one wish: let the elevator be available for you not to be late again.

An available, working, and sometimes empty elevator doesn’t happen that often especially during rush hour. The building is full of people who use it on their way to the nearby mall or restaurant or just because they want to breathe in fresh air outside the confines of their office. But if you’re running late, it can be considered a blessing from above for your wish to be heard. There’s sweat and blame and reasoning going on. Images pop in your head every time: your boss reminding you of the Code of Ethics of the company for tardiness; the guard who doesn’t miss the chance to inquire what went wrong; and your conscience itself silently telling you that you’re better than this.

            Shift:  9 A.M. – 6 P.M.

            Ground floor:   8:55 A.M.

            4th floor:           8:57 A.M.

            9th floor:           8:59 A.M.

            Time in:             8:59 A.M.

“This will never happen again” you would say. “I promise.”

And it’s a good thing that you work on the 9th floor. Can you imagine the struggle of those assigned on the 32nd floor?

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4. Someone offered you a seat

“But for some reason, unexpectedly, someone offered you a seat. You’re surprised, puzzled, and at the same time grateful.”

YOU’RE ON your way home. You’re on the brink of total exhaustion. You wanted to tightly embrace your pillow to forget all the body aches, the outside noise, the unavoidable rancid smell from other commuters, the challenges of the day. You missed your soft, smooth bed that assures you home. But you couldn’t. You stood on a train. When you got in, no seat was available. It’s jam-packed again. It’s hot. You wanted to rest right at that moment. But for some reason, unexpectedly, someone offered you a seat. You’re surprised, puzzled, and at the same time grateful.

There, on that scene, you’re reminded of the goodness of people. You felt more comfortable and relaxed. You listened to your favorite songs. And as you alighted from the train, you stared at the stranger who sacrificed for you and you wholeheartedly offered your gratitude. It was an unforgettable day. It was a gift.

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3. Bubble wrap

“There’s a sense of relief whenever we puncture air out of each bubble with our thumbs.”

WHEN IT comes to some of the simplest yet satisfying experiences, squishing and bursting and popping of bubble wraps will always be at the top section of the list. For every delivery and purchase with a box, free bubble wraps will always be present. We silently look forward to that regularly spaced, pliable transparent plastic with protruding air-filled hemispheres as part of the package. There’s a sense of relief whenever we puncture air out of each bubble with our thumbs. It’s a superior alternate to stress balls and way safer than throwing plates, appliances, or cellphones on a concrete wall. It’s so compelling that we want to hear the enticing sound up to the last bubble. Bubbly wrap yourself up!

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Collision

IT’S NO longer a question of who’s braver, of who made the first move, or of who wrote the first letter. It’s all about how your universes collided. It’s about that one moment you saw each other differently; when the sun started to shine brighter; when time seemed to pass by faster; when you pictured the future together with no ounce of doubt in between. It’s the certainty of us at each sunrise that makes other things secondary like transitory blank slides. It’s about choosing each other every morning as you take life’s unpredictable rides.

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2. You won in a raffle

“And the winner is… (your name).”

BE IT a washing machine, a rice cooker, a Starbucks gift certificate, a bunch of cash, or an SUV, nothing beats the feeling of being a winner. Yes, a winner in a raffle draw that you did not even think about when you attended a party, a TEDx talk, or dragged yourself in a meeting, a conference, or a company event. Everyone stared and cheered for you as if you’re a gladiator who just triumphed over a pack of beasts at the Colosseum. Your heart beat faster and faster. The room erupted with joy. You solemnly followed the rules and voilà! “And the winner is… (your name).” Congratulations!

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1. You woke up today

“And leave all the heavy baggage from yesterday to move forward.”

WHAT’S MORE fascinating than that? Isn’t it awesome to realize that you have another chance to make things right, to reconnect and build ties, to laugh and smile and greet the security guard who’s been up all night to secure your workplace?

Declare that today, you’ll do better. Pronounce that you’ll own this day and treat it as if it’s your last. Forget about your shortcomings and failures in the past. Restart. Recharge. And leave all the heavy baggage from yesterday to move forward.

You woke up today and that means you have another opportunity to enjoy life and appreciate everything. Yes, even the little things.

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Fleeting perfection

I WANTED to write about President Duterte and his third rape slur but I couldn’t. I wanted to discuss my dismay on the reinstatement of a police official in the Espinosa slay but something’s hindering me. I wanted to tell you my support to the Office of the Ombudsman in its move to press charges against former President Benigno Aquino III for mishandling the Mamasapano operation during his term in which 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members have been killed by a mix of rebel groups in the south but I won’t do it. I wanted to write about poverty, education, and health problems of my country but a part of me doesn’t want to.

I guess it’s because it’s Sunday. We deserve a break, don’t we? We do not want to hear any negative, saddening news on this day. We worked all week to spend this day for ourselves, our families, and our friends. I fully understand where you’re coming from.

Because of these, I am not going to delve deeper on what’s going on. Just like you, I am going to treat this day as a gift that I won’t let anything taint it with reminders of corruption, murder, homicide, suicide and of children in a state of shock, covered with blood, and white ashes because of bomb explosions. Because this day is a fleeting perfection and one should shy away from all distractions.

And so, I hope to see you next Sunday when we’ll transform all over again, to try to forget everything, and to pretend.

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An Open Letter To The Woman I’m Going To Fall In Love With

“In that moment when you wanted to give up, when you feel like I don’t exist, I will show up not with a tie and suit and greasy hair; not as a fountain of answers to all your worries; not as a dashing prince charming riding a white horse under the summer sun.”

(La Nourrice, Georges Seurat, 1884-85)

Dear you,

I know you’ve been waiting for me to finally come along, for us to meet, to have that ‘slow mo’ moment, for one of your dreams to be granted, for you to believe in the power of a prayer again, but please understand why it’s taking a little longer.

I still got a lot of growing up left to do. I have to understand myself better: strengths and weaknesses, what trips me off, what excites me, my motivations and aspirations, my personal goals. No doubt, I’ll commit mistakes and will get hurt so that when we finally meet, I’m stronger and more prepared to face the tides of life with you.

Please keep believing. Believe on the goodness of people. Don’t put up those walls right away when you meet a stranger you do not like. They may not have the same perspectives as you do, but who knows, they may have good and pure hearts. Give them a chance, learn to listen to their stories if the situation asks for it. Be there when they need a shoulder to lean on. Of course, it is inevitable that there are those who look like a saint on the surface but a beast inside. Be sensitive enough to distinguish and identify them as early as you can. Test them. Protect yourself always.

Never cease praying. No, don’t just pray for me, a yet unknown soul in a planet of about 9 billion people. Pray for your family, your country, and those who are in the midst of conflicts on different parts of the world. I think about them the same way I think about you. Just the thought of you fuels me to face each day with cheer in my core. I wonder how you look like, the tone of your voice, your laughter, your eyes, how you wear your hair…

I don’t want us to just be passive citizens of the world but contributors and workers for other people to be awakened to the reality that we should care about each other; that they may transform their societies towards the echelon of authentic progress.

Travel. I want you to discover other cultures and understand that we’re but a speck of dust in the vast universe. Learn another language, try their delicacies, and savor the warmth of their welcome. Take photos with them with a smile on your face so that when our hearts finally meet, we’ll share our experiences and learn from each other.

In theaters, I will hold your hand. We’ll laugh and cry and be scared to death together. By then, we’ll buy large-size popcorn. We’ll visit every museum, art gallery, and exhibit that we like for us to reconnect with the beauty of history and appreciate the passion and dedication that dignified men and women who have existed even before you and I were born have poured to their works. We’ll have infinite exchanges of our favorite songs and music artists and we’ll sing together whenever possible. I vow to be a loyal audience member of your every concert performance; the intimate ones, just you and I while staring at the sunset.

Enjoy your coffee. I want you to have those serene episodes for you to get in touch with your own thoughts, with your deepest dimensions, while taking a sip from your cup. Someday, we’ll talk and share our ideas about everything.

I know that whenever it rains, you think about me. You imagine us leisurely walking together on the sidewalk with mutual respect and admiration. Someday, I’ll hold your black umbrella and I’ll share my coat with you. We’ll find home in each other’s arms.

In that moment when you wanted to give up, when you feel like I don’t exist, I will show up not with a tie and suit and greasy hair; not as a fountain of answers to all your worries; not as a dashing prince charming riding a white horse under the summer sun. I will show up at a time you least expected. You’ll know that I have arrived because I will never give up on you even if you’ve put up a wall before I knew your name and yes, even before I said ‘Hi’ to you. You’ll know that I am the one that you’ve been waiting for because I will never let you doubt my sincerity and love for you. And then, I will show this to you and you’ll understand why it took me a while.

You’ll never be alone again.

Sincerely yours,
Your man

(This piece has been published in Thought Catalog on the 21st of July, 2017.)

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Sa ating dalawa

umuulan…
nasaan…?

ilang tula na rin ang naialay at naisulat
habang sa isipan ngiti mo’y nagmumulat
kung anong sunod na sasabihin at
bibigyang-buhay

ilang beses nang pinilas ang mga pahina
ng kuwaderno na minsan mong hinalikan
nang mabasa ang pangalan na, oo, sa
nakalipas na panahon ay walang
sawang binigyang-kulay

ginamit ang mga titik upang malaman
ang umpisa at malirip ang mga kalaliman
ng pagsinta na nagliyab sa pagasa nang
isang beses ay pinigilang umalis sa harapan –
“Nandito ako…”

ang sabi mo noon, ngunit narito hanggang
ngayo’y naaalala ang mga pangako ng pagiisang
dibdib, ang paghamak sa mga yugto ng
nakaraan na itinuring na walang
puwang kahit anino

ng namamagitan sa atin, ngunit hindi…

isang araw sinabi mong babalikan mo siya
at aasa ng magisa sa pagtanggap niya,
sa yakap niya, sa muli niyang paghagkan,
sa tinig na noong una’y kinamuhian mo’t
pilit binura sa isipan, nang
tuluyang kumawala

at heto, muli, ako’y binabati ng mga patak ng
ulan, tinatanong kung nasaan ka, kung
anong nangyari sa ating dalawa
at kung paano wawakasan sa
huling titik ng ‘yong
pangalan

aasa…

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“Sexiest Women”

This world celebrates the “Sexiest Women” and wonders why rape cases are all over. This world feasts on the flesh of ladies in two piece and ranks them annually as if being at the top is the greatest achievement that one can ever receive. This world wanted them to show off their curves and forget about modesty. Glossy magazines with “almost naked women” as the cover is “art”, a form of expression according to their lexicon. And this world is still trying to figure out why some men lust over their lives – hands tied, blood everywhere, no clothes on.

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Hanggang sa dulo

Nabuwal na minsan sa paghabol sa’yo,
Nagtanong kung tunay bang ikaw at ako –
Sa dulo, mamahalin ba o lilimutin din?
Gaya ng iba na napagod pagsapit ng dilim?

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Paglisan

Umaga’t gabi’y ginugunita ang mga alaala,
Saksi ang ulan, araw, buwan, at mga tala,
Upang manatili ang pagibig tuwituwi na,
Sa paglisan mo’y lihim na nangungulila.

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Bago pa man

Nahumaling bago pa man nalaman ang pangalan,
Bago nginitian nang magkasalubong sa daan,
Noong wala pang ibang kakilala o kaibigan,
Bago pinisan ang mga bituin sa kalangitan.

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Soulless breathing beasts

My heart bleeds for you tonight. All three of your children have been killed. Multiple stab wounds. A slashed throat. Your wife was allegedly raped. She attempted to run, to seek help but the perpetrators silenced her on her way out, in the doorway. Your blind mother-in-law faced the same fate.

My heart bleeds because of this unspeakable crime that has been committed by soulless breathing beasts to you and to your family. I can’t imagine how the next couple of weeks will be like for you. Your house in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan will no longer remind you of a happy home but of horror. But please remember that there are those who care. There are those who wanted to embrace you, to comfort you. There are those who see you as a man who never backed down from a trial in this gruesome form. And that there are those who will be vigilant for justice to be served.

I am one of them.

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Seattle’s Best Coffee

Never again will I buy and drink a medium-size cappuccino from Seattle’s Best Coffee 6 hours before midnight and expect to have a complete 8-hour sleep in preparation to a meeting with the Assistant Operations Manager at work the following day.

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Against fake

In a world of fake rice, fake cabbage, fake relationships, fake free WIFI, fake unlimited mobile data, fake profile pictures, fake accounts, fake artists, fake recruiters, fake licenses, fake promos, fake public servants, fake journalists and fake news, we have to remember that there are still thriving rays of truth around us. We just have to know where to look.

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Finding home

There is hope in me that the people in Marawi City, as soon as the war ends, will receive the help they need to start over; that the aid from the government and international community to rebuild their lives will not be put to waste; and that the appeals for donation to those who have been displaced will be heard. There is hope in me because the President of this country came from the south and because he made a promise that their voices will be recognized. There is hope in me because in one way or another, we know how it feels like to be locked up in a challenging situation. It must be difficult to accept the reality that you have to all of a sudden evacuate from your comfort zone with no extra clothes, toothbrush, or other personal belongings to bring with due to threat to your life. I hope that the war would soon be over. I hope that they find their way home again, our fellow Filipinos – the civilians, the police officers, and the soldiers.

I hope.

Photo credit: AFP Getty Images

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Forgive and forget

It’s Sunday and I have been reminded of two powerful acts to have a more meaningful life: forgive and forget. Everyone makes mistakes and for one to be forgiven, one has to forgive first. But true forgiveness happens when the mind and the heart no longer remember the sin that has been committed by another person.  So, please forgive and forget. Yes, before you close your eyes today… Before the moon and the stars sing you a lullaby.

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#PrideMonth

AS VARIOUS sectors around the world celebrate the ‘Pride Month’ that aims to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally, I can’t help but remember one fact that has been shared during the most recent HIV/AIDS seminar at work and on my readings on the data from DOH: “Sexual contact remains to be the main mode of transmission with 942, most of which are from the male-having-sex-with-male (MSM) population with 820.” Again, ‘male-having-sex-with-male (MSM)’. I believe that facts like this hinder the Filipino society from accepting the LGBT community as a whole including the quest of some of them for same sex marriage to be legalized in the Philippines.

Yes, they are some of the most creative people that you’ll ever meet. Vibrant. Colorful. Some of the tv personalities, writers and thinkers I look up to are advocates for this cause. But in a machismo world where Strongmen rule, it would still be a major challenge for the LGBT community to be seen differently, as an equal. No, not when ‘male-having-sex-with-male’ ranks first on the causes of transmission of HIV/AIDS.

As I see it, until the number becomes close to zero and when the majority of us finally see them beyond the statistics, will this country jump with joy to celebrate with pride with them.

Photo credit: JakartaPost.net

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The chaos

Because sometimes you meet someone with no idea how and why it all happened and soon after you can no longer imagine your life without them. You see them in the future, a part of your every plan, and suddenly you care to discover the hidden things inside of them, their deepest secrets, their stories – unspoken, waiting to exist in another soul. You forget the old you because you’ve never felt more like yourself than right now, beside them – being seen, stared at… And with all the chaos inside your head, you are certain about one thing – love. This is love to me.

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In the name of ‘growth’

Appreciate those who look after you, those who make the sacrifices for you and those who think about your growth as a person. The greatest mentors are the most sincere ones. We can all feel it when someone truly cares. Be grateful to them because not everyone is given the chance to work with these kind of people. With all my heart, thank you!

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An eyesore in February

“In this age, when Facebook is taking over the social media spectrum and as it promotes connection all over the nations of the world through Internet.org, our generation is slowly being disconnected in our own cause to the former path, the old conduct, the conventional ways of our forefathers on how we should handle ourselves on the matters of the heart.”

HAVE YOU ever seen a couple committing PDA (Public Display of Affection) and while you see them in your head as immature, nonconformist beings because they couldn’t contain their overflowing love and passion for each other, they also reminded you of how you perceive love?

In February, a jeepney driver played familiar love songs on my way to work. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to that type of music. I associated every song on his playlist with someone. In every line. In every pause. But something strange caught my attention. An eyesore.  A man and a woman sitting in front of me, who were in their early twenties, were entangled in embrace, whispering words in a somewhat heavenly language that made them participants of a cycle of the following order – stare, smile and giggle. At one point, they laughed in unison that it awakened the old woman who was beside me.

“What the heck,” the old woman uttered out of exasperation.

They looked at her and continued.

The young man was wearing a slim-fit jeans and medium-sized, buttoned polo shirt with an open-jawed crocodile logo on the left side. The vibrant woman was wearing a pink dress, which was tailored according to the Yaya Dub fashion craze.

It started raining. Inside my bag was my umbrella. Inside her pocket was his hand.

“They are probably on their way to a date,” I told myself.

I looked around like an investigator trying to determine the pulse of the other passengers. I wondered if the any of the adults would butt in the moment. Nobody said a thing. We were all staring at them. They were in a bubble, in a zone, in a place that’s not dictated by the culture, expectations, and norms of reality. For them, we were just strangers. That we’ll forget about them once we get off the vehicle.

The driver glanced at them twice through his rear view mirror. He clearly lost his spotlight.

My mind was juggling ideas. But above everything, there were two things. I closed my eyes.

One of them was cultural. They were the living examples of some members in my generation’s non-conformance to the conservative ways of our parents and the generations before. My mother always reminds us how she was courted by my father. There were gifts of variety of goods – sacks of rice, banana, and sweet potato. Livestock were also offered to the family of my mother. Kundiman was very alive. He serenaded her. But no touch. No dates outside the vicinity of the eyes of my mother’s parents. Until one day, she fell in love with him because of his charming smile, red lips, persistence and for being a gentleman as expected to a Bicolano. They finally had their first date when they pronounced their vows in the wedding.

Would you want courtship to still be this strict?

In this age, when Facebook is taking over the social media spectrum and as it promotes connection all over the nations of the world through Internet.org, our generation is slowly being disconnected in our own cause to the former path, the old conduct, the conventional ways of our forefathers on how we should handle ourselves on the matters of the heart. Those that belong in the generations before are judging some of us as immature and irresponsible by our “liberated” actions of expressing our feelings to the one that we love that they observe in public.

And the other one?

It’s the hypocrisy of some of us.

Pirated pornographic materials are rampantly sold everywhere despite the effort that the Optical Media Board (OMB) and other organizations put. Provocative, sexy dance numbers of human beings who call themselves “artists” in noontime shows are being viewed by millions of people. Prostitutes roam the streets of the key cities in Metro Manila during off-hours. We are aware of all these things. But isn’t it true that these are worse forms of immorality, of PDA, of violations of the values that we take pride us a people?

Some of us judge those who show their affection in public in a form of warm embrace, HHWW (holding hands while walking) and quick kiss on cheek.  We instantly put them in a negative light. But we are forgetting the bigger demons of immorality that are in front of our eyes. After all, we are a Christian nation, aren’t we? 

While it is true that courtship and relationship setups have changed as time passed by, there are still many Filipino millennials who take to heart the value of merely going out on a date with someone or spending time together in a museum or cafe, of waiting, of not making rush decisions to be with the one they love. They still care on how the people around them see them which is a responsible way of handling their hearts in public. And since it’s the love month, expect these eyesores to be more rampant than any other time of the year. 

As I opened my eyes, I saw the landmark stoplight few meters away. The “celebrity couple” was still giggling. The other passengers no longer care. It’s still raining. It’s cold. He’s keeping her warm. She loved it. I opened my bag and searched for my black umbrella. While I question everything that I understood about love and romance, I glanced at them again. For I know that I displayed my affection in public for the one I loved once in my younger years. And probably, you did too, right?

“Nong, para!”

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Sincerity

you shivered when you
first saw her
your voice trembled
ice cream melted
coffee spilled
hands quivered
the ‘Hi’ and the ‘Hello’
do you still remember?
because years from now
you will smile about
these not as signs
of shyness but
as clues of
sincerity; to remind
you of how blessed
you are to be
with her
that you chose each other
and you ended up
together.

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First love

There are emotionless and soulless entities in the world that you have to live with. They will suck everything that you have until you can no longer recognize who you really are. They will try to fit you in the same box that the men and women before you had to endure. Don’t let them stop you. Please write, compose, draw, paint, innovate, and create. Challenge this world’s perspectives and have the courage to go against the tides with a clenched fist and a roaring heart even in silence. And when you doubt yourself and that nobody seems to care, remember the reason why you accepted the fight. Embrace your first love, recognize your gifts, listen to the voice deep within your core…

Never settle. Never give up.

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Dear Boy who’s named after Superman

Dear Boy who’s named after Superman,

From the moment
We laid our eyes on you
We imagined the great things
We’ll do together and we
Knew something was real:

You got us with your smile, Kent.

Every time we held you
Your warmth ruled us with
Pure, unpretentious love
A feeling that God has
Reserved for us.

You travelled with us, talked to us
In a language that at first we
Couldn’t understand
But the joy in between us
Bridged the gap.

We were given two years to enjoy
Each other’s company
It was a short time
We will surely miss you.

We’ll miss how you stare at us
How you tried to mimic how we speak
How you embraced us with
Your soft, tiny arms
How we held hands when
You had your first walk.

We’ll miss how an icing
Covered your face on
Your birthday and your
Dimples made our day.

We’ll miss your sincerity
Your voice, your peace
Your laughter in times of
Chaos and celebration.

We’ll remember you for all these
For the adventures that
We shared together.

And everyday we thank God
For meeting you
For witnessing your
Extraordinary journey.

You will always be our Superman
Our little boy with an imaginary
Cape made from heaven.

Love you always,
Your family

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Fallin’

On this day, he gave her a flower as one should,

With a poem unlike no other because he could,

She loved its scent like a lively butterfly in a garden,

And in a sea of strangers, she whispered, “I’m fallin’.”

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Wally

Napangiti ako nang makita kang muli,

Itinaon sa kaarawan ng kaibigang matalik,

Sa harap ng TV, nakayukong nag-sorry,

Bakas lungkot sa mukha, humihibik.

 

‘Di ko naisip na may pangalawang pagkakataon,

Sa iyo’y igagawad sa susunod pang mga taon,

Nguni’t pinatunayan, may higanteng kaloob,

Sa sibat ng manguusig, ‘di nagpakubkob.

 

Sa unang Kalyeserye, inaabangan ka,

Sampu ng milyun-milyong tao na umaasa sa komedya,

Himala ngang tunay, ang kalimutan ng madla,

Iskandalong bumalot, anino ng mala-payasong karera.

 

Traffic sa EDSA, nawawalang parang bula,

Tindahan nagsasara, taxi at trike tigil-pasada,

Nando’n sila nakatunghay, naguumpukan,

Animo’y mga langgam, bago pumatak ang ulan.

 

“Lola Nidora” ang trending mong ngalan,

Sa Wikipedia entry, mababasa kung bubuksan,

Nacurious ako sa pinanggalingang bayan,

Bikolano ka rin pala, gaya ng aking mga magulang.

 

Nais kong malaman mo – nagagalak kami para sa’yo,

Kahit alam naming sa loob mo, puso’y nagdurugo,

Dahil pagkatapos ng palabas, papasok ang katotohanan,

Isa sa mga anak – nasa pagamutan, malubha ang kalagayan.

 

‘Di lang ako natuwa nang iyong hadlangan,

Pagkikita ng Albub, ‘di na lang split screen ang pagtitinginan,

Acting ni Maine Mendoza, mukhang totoo na!

Akala ko ba dapat mahinhin, gaya ng isang dalagang Filipina?

 

Naisip na pamagitan – plywood lang naman,

Maigting na pagyakap, hindi pa pinagbigyan,

Ilang dipa na lang ang agwat, ‘di pa nag-atubili,

Ano ka ba Alden? Nag-moment pa kasi!

 

Iyong mga kasama, todo ang suporta,

TVJ pangunahin na, si Michael V nag-post pa nga,

Commendation, wika niya, sa’yo ay nararapat!

Nakabangon ka na nga, sa pagpapala ‘di salat.

 

Inyong programa, may dalang aral sa tuwina,

Pagtupad sa pangako at salita, walang kasinghalaga,

“Patawad mga kababayan,” ilang beses nang nasambit,

Panghahawakang mahigpit, pagbabagong pilit.

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Ulan, Tren, at Gabi

Naramdaman mo ba ‘yung hangin, tila malamig?

Parang may sinasabi, sa una’y malabo ang himig,

Ngunit habang tumatagal, lumilinaw, nauunawa,

Hindi ko alam kung dahil sa ulan, o dala ng awa.

  

Napansin mo ba na tuwing gabi, madalas,

Naglalakbay ang diwa, hindi mo namamalas,

Gaya ng ibon sa himpapawid, isip mo’y laya,

Nagbabago kang bigla, nagiging makata. 

 

Noo’y iniisip ko, lahat ng tao ganito,

Ngunit nagunita na mali ang akala ko,

Hindi lahat may ganitong pagkakataon,

Ang ila’y nagsasabi na walang kabuluhan, dapat itapon.

  

Pinilit kong itago ang pag-ibig sa letra at salita,

Dahil ang inhinyero, sabi nila, ay marapat na hilig ay agham at matematika,

Hindi ba’t marami pang higit sa numero?

O dahil makitid ang daluyan ng dugo sa kanilang ulo?

 

Magsulat ka hanggang kaya mo,

Gaya ng ginawa ni Rizal para sa’yo,

Hindi siya nagpapigil sa armas ng kalaban,

Dala niya’y may kapangyarihang humiwa, tagos kalamnan.

 

Naramdaman mo ba ‘yung hangin, tila may ibinubulong?

Sa tuwina na lang habang nasa tren, jeep o naghihintay sa kakanlong?

May mga namumuong ideya, pangungusap, kumakatok, naghahanap ng masisilungan,

Mapalad ka, kasapi sa lahing tagapag-ingat ng kanilang pahingahan.