An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

29 March 2006


And then when the sun has travelled halfway across the sky, I, sated from noon, awake from my siesta, open my eyes for the second time in the day and see a world saturated with color, ablaze with glory, and rich with the laughter of one particular child at play.

And then my eyes are sanctified. And then my heart is purified. And then my body is justified.

And then I am saved.

16 March 2006


There is an evil moment right before waking when everything seems to pause, and in that moment of suspension a dark and unbearable weight hovers over us until we make a movement – lift a hand, twitch a thigh – and then the heaviness lifts and we are fully awake.

The pause is important. It invests in us a conviction that it is important awaken.

I did have my pause, and the heaviness of it was malevolent. But when I finally opened my eyes...

...there it was: Light.

15 March 2006


I got home very late last night smelling of sweat, dust and gunpowder from the Hell Week of the Urban Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Course being held at the Philippine National Police Special Action Force Training School in Fort Sto. Domingo, Silang, Cavite. The course, also called Sureshock, runs for four months, and Hell Week is the final gruelling week where the participants perform some of the most mentally, psychologically, and physically difficult exercises, made more difficult by the requirement that they not sleep at all.

Let me tell you, it's a killer. Twice a day runs of thirty kilometers per run, in fatigues, combat boots, and full firing gear, and sometimes carrying another person in a stretcher. Full immersion in water and then hours of physical exercises imediately afterwards. Tactical planning for various crisis cases. Raids and close quarter combats. Intelligence work in preparation for the different kinds of assaults. Sniping. Endurance firing. Rest is only for a few minutes a day, and there's no sleep.

It's a killer.

Needless to say, I haven't been living my usual cerebral, contemplative, sheltered life where I spend my days reading and writing in air-conditioned, broadbanded comfort. But I feel comfortable in my new environment, which is strange. I never planned my career to go this way, but here I am, writing for the PNP Special Action Force. I didn't even need to adjust much. I was like fish thrown to water.

Perhaps because this is an entirely different world of fresh new material for me. The terminologies for Sureshock alone makes me feel giddy. The details of this world, the sound of it, the smell, the texture, is fascinating. The smell of steel and gunpowder, the eye zeroing in on the target, the delicious eternal moment between trigger slack and squeeze, the feel of the pistol recoiling in the hand -- sheer poetry. There is perfection in the seconds-long execution of a high-risk vehicle assault, an assult that takes hours of planning, rehearsals, reconnaissance, and weeks and weeks of intelligence work. The firearms, the targets, the concise raids and invasions of a series of kidnap-for-ransom hideouts really sweep me away. I just lose myself and become material. I dissolve under the fierce sun, my ears ringing at the loud shots, my arms hurting from the handling of the firearms, my lungs breathing in dust and fiery air, my mind on nothing but the goal.


11 March 2006

After intensity

Something strange happens when intensity enters a life. First there is a freezing of time, and then comes the implosion. But the strange thing is not these, but that the intensity lasts only for a moment, and yet for an eternity after that, nothing is ever quite the same. Everything else is effect, a luminous progress, a conscious and enlightened departing from that point onwards, an expansion.

It is not so much an experience as a subsuming, or a kind of burning. An entire universe could rise after it, but the great, unfathomable magic and life of that universe is nothing compared to the power of the big bang that came before it. Like reading a captivating novel, for instance, and then closing the book at the end and seeing the rest of the world differently from then on. Or writing a story that gets to the very core of the author's own heart and after the very last period life seems like an ocean of secrets. Or finding love – passionate, sudden, inconvenient, terrifying, monumental, consuming love – and then losing the momentum, and then having it dissipate. And in order to cope with a universe of knowing that’s increasingly spreading itself out after the moment of highest intensity, one just streamlines one’s life, limiting one’s priorities to the sparest and most significant of lists.

And after a while, it grows on one. It gets under the skin and becomes blood. It occupies the body, flows through the veins, throbs regularly, and gives life. The fire of the subsuming might have died down to an ember but the glow is still there. Eternal. Resolute. Singular. Numinous.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night I wake up and I could feel something passing through me. When I am driving I sometimes hear a voice whispering something in too low a voice to be audible, but the timbre of that voice, that distinct and unique pattern of breathing between certain syllables, sounds vaguely familiar. And then sometimes in the midst of a flurry at work, there comes a few seconds of pure silence, and I pause, and then I catch a glimpse of someone, a fleeting image, a vague face, or a silhouette in the distance.

These are what's left -- the memory of words said, of promises given, black holes of possibilities not turned to flesh, a genealogy of desire that goes beyond a hundred years. The universe is slowly spreading out, flattening itself, creating distance between constellations and galaxies. There is supposed to be a logic there, an explanation for the movement, the growing, the expansion. But how to account for the fire that burns all throughout reality, slowly eating at its edges? In time, there will be only space and light remaining, a smooth and even fire, perfect, reliable, age-old effect of the intensity that started it all. It is the intensity after the intensity, different but no less intense, and it lasts.

04 March 2006

Things from old nightmares

Decoherence is an attempt to explain and understand the second phase of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics deals with the most microcosmic components of the universe, and Phase One of it is the phase in which all these particles that make up the cosmos are hovering between possibilities, between varying stages of entropy. Phase Two is the phase in which the particles are already measured, detected, seen, largely by human intelligence and the tools at its disposal, at which point the particles break the entropy and decide what existence or reality to take.

It’s quite philosophical. If there is no one there to see the particle, it is ambiguous, undecided, ghostly, hovering between millions of possibilities and alternate universes, but the moment someone appears with a measuring tool or a detector, the particle immediately casts its own history irrevocably.

However, this does not render irrelevant all the other possibilities that the particle did not eventually decide to go by. The quandary of quantum mechanics now is to how to account for all those possibilities that are lost once a particle is seen and witnessed and measured and placed in space and time, because all these possibilities are somehow part and parcel of the history that the particle cast itself into upon being detected, just that they have been overlooked before in the race to make sense of the particle’s end-point. Thus Decoherence, an exploration of the various explanations that may account for these lost possibilities, to not ignore them, to give them some form of cognizance or honor, or at the very least, reason them into either irrelevance or oblivion.

As this is the nature of the physical world, so it is the nature of human reality. It's not fixed at all. Even when history happens, there is always an arbitrariness floating around, hints of possible outcomes, of futures not chosen, of what-could-have-beens. The world is a combination of things both lost and found, layers upon layers of wishes, wants, desires, failures, gropings, an ocean of opportunity rendered secret by just an eye, by just one human decision made. And yet, even as a destiny is cast, all other possible destinies, though rendered irrelevant, still linger in the consciosuness like unsolved equations, like a square root unextracted, like an algebraic value not rendered in its simplest form.

I still think of the possibilities that my life could have had had I never met certain people, or taken certain paths. Like things from old nightmares they come to me in visions when I am awake. Like when a man appears with the ability to see me for who I am, and I decide who I want to be. I cast myself into a state, breaking my entropy. But I feel that it is simply beyond me to analyze how all those other lost possibilities could have had an impact on this route that I have chosen to take, this man that I have chosen over all the other men in the world. I am no physicist; I cannot decohere. I am perfectly content to just have love, which is, by the way, also a kind of history and just as irrevocable.