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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

#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

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.

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!

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!”

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.

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.

Invisible or not

“Who would want to forgive those who betrayed, abused, and beguiled us? Who would want to forget the hardships some of us had to endure or our loved ones had to experience?”

TODAY, WE celebrate the 119th anniversary of the declaration of our people’s emancipation from Spain. But are we truly independent?

In the clash in Marawi City between the government forces and the Maute Group carrying ISIS flag and ideologies, the President did not know of US help beforehand. He was surprised like a child despite being the head of the state who has access to every sensitive information and channels regarding national security. How about China’s irrefutable bullying when it leisurely transformed some of our territorial islands and islets in the South China Sea? But in addition to these, I believe that the invisible wounds in the past still haunt us: the declaration of Martial Law at the latter part of the Marcos regime, the death of Ninoy Aquino, Jr., the decay of the people’s trust and confidence to some government officials because of corruption, the unsolved crimes, the human rights violations, the forced disappearance of activists like Jonas Burgos, the Maguindanao Massacre where 58 people have been killed, the failures in the justice system, and the insensitivity of the machismo-laden Congress and Senate to children’s and women’s rights. We remember one or two of these every now and then not because we want to but because similar things happen or intertwined events surface on the news that hinder us to forgive and to forget. Who would want to forgive those who betrayed, abused, and beguiled us? Who would want to forget the hardships some of us had to endure or our loved ones had to experience?

Maybe, we need this moment to know how we should move forward as a nation. Maybe, just maybe, today, we’ll understand the true meaning of independence that the dignified and brave Filipinos in our history fought for that we may live in a country that’s unchained, unlocked, and free from elements of oppression and suppression; that we may continue to be vigilant with a peaceful heart not with rage or with the spirit to destroy; and that we may transform this unhappy country together against the 15th to 18th century Spain’s variations today – invisible or not.

Pause and pray

THERE’S AN ongoing crisis in the Philippines that’s worse than the Maute group attack in Marawi City. Yes, it’s greater than the Filipino fascination with heroes and cursing of villains. It’s our attempt to simplify things by resorting to one-liners, labels, and generalizations. It’s more convenient to describe single mothers as ‘na-ano lang’; the 16 million supporters of the current president as ‘Dutertards’; the PNoy true believers as ‘Yellowtards’; the corrupt media men and women who sold their honor to be a voice of a particular party instead of binding with the truth and reason as ‘Presstitutes’; the millions of addicts as ‘sub-human’; the gays and lesbians in our midst as ‘worse than animals’; Muslims as ‘terrorists’. These do not accomplish anything but create more divisions. And while we are busy figuring out how others are different from us, or on how one’s opinion gravitates from fake news at a glance, we forget to listen, to read, to research, and ultimately, to convince ourselves that in times like this, it’s best to pause and pray for our country.

I hope

IT’S FRIDAY. The Cavs lost in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Metro Manila is in high alert due to the early morning attack in Resorts World Manila where 37 people died either by gunshots or suffocation while 50 got injured. The relatives of 11 soldiers who were killed by the ‘friendly fire’ of government forces in the Marawi crisis mourn and despise the senseless death of their loved ones. The supporters of the president continue to downplay the right and left criticisms when he joked that his soldiers can rape women under martial law in the Philippines. These may trouble some of us but not those whose eyes and hearts also see the awesome things around. It’s when someone gives up his seat for you on an MRT/LRT train or on a bus. It’s when you realize that you’re on vacation leave today because it’s your birthday. It’s when someone offers you food or drink for free. It’s when someone commends you for your valuable contribution to a cause. It’s when you face the truth that your balance is greater than your expected remaining amount when you are about to withdraw in an ATM caused by miscomputation on your part in the absence of receipts from previous transactions. It’s when you push the button for the elevator and it’s already there. And maybe, just maybe, it’s when you sense the calmness and confidence in Lebron James, coach Tyronn Lue, and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers in their showdown against the 4-All Star backed adversity like the Golden State Warriors after a 22-point Game 1 loss to emerge in the end as back-to-back champions in the NBA. I hope.