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 November 2013

'Tis true

That when someone’s character is so dark and scheming, and that someone hurts you and you do not deserve it, you need not retaliate at all. The universe itself will declare revenge in your name, and will provide a glorious resolution for you, without you lifting a finger or saying a single word. Lady Justice, faithful soldier of an orderly universe, will strike the blow.

And perhaps, despite the blindfold over Lady Justice, she is not really that unseeing. I have reason to believe that her eyesight is so sharp and intuitive that, blindfold or no blindfold, scale or no scale, she can see beyond made-up faces and public personas to the kind of heart buried deep beneath the fake surface, and she will always know when to lift her sword. And after the moment of judgment, life will go on as decreed, until darkness anew calls on Lady Justice to intervene again.

At any rate, I’m okay, and life goes on, now wonderfully, happily, productively. Maybe this is also what the universe is telling me: I must live to tell the tale, in my own way, in my own time, because writing truthfully, beautifully, and unforgettably about it is the best justice of all.

[Image credit]

22 November 2013


Although I have never been able to attend a masquerade ball in my life, I have always been fascinated by the concept of it. There is a theme, and there must be masks. No matter that the masks don’t really mask who one is, it’s the masquerade of being masked that matters. I love that people seem to exert real effort on the costumes that will fit the theme -- at least that’s what it looks like in the movies I watch and in the online articles that I read about masquerade balls -- and that they make the masks real works of art.

But isn’t that what we already do in real life? We put on masks -- makeup, literally, and a public persona, figuratively. We dress the part we want to play: executive, graduate student, starving artist, yuppie, poet, professor.

Even our language is masked. We don’t always say what we feel, out of the concerns of politeness, decorum, and diplomacy. We don’t always reveal what we think, to keep from hurting others, and we don’t always express what we mean, for fear of being misunderstood even in the explaining. Sometimes, we cry out for help, but even those are masked. They are not literal cries for help, but jokes filled with meaning, a word edged into an otherwise banal statement, a story told in a casual manner.

I am part of this masked crowd that wades through the ocean of civility with a calm face, a brave expression, a smile and a joke every now and then, polite laughter, and a social life that seems normal. But underneath, I am nothing like that. Only the people closest to me know who I really am inside, without the mask. An elite few have accepted me, and have stayed with me all their lives. One got very close, saw behind the mask, and did his best to  love me anyway and even removed his own mask in the process. But it was not meant to be. We got blinded by each other's image.

So after he walked away, I just put my mask back on, and continue to wade through the horde in this ball, still hopeful for what life will bring me.

Because beneath the mask, I still believe in love. I still can find happiness in this masquerade ball of life. Someday, someone new and strong and honest and true will walk up to me and say, “I know who you are, even with the mask on, and I love you nevertheless, even without the mask.”

[Image credits: 12.]

15 November 2013

My mother

is celebrating her birthday today.

And on this day I cannot help but wonder how her life was like when she was my age.

When she was 38, I was 17. She had just gotten back from four years in California with Da, and I was not the same person that she left. I was older, more headstrong, more broken, more lonely, more angry, more unpredictable than ever, and impossible to handle. Most 17 year-olds are. But in her eyes, I am nothing like the rest of that population. She believed I was special.

So she stayed with me, and worked with me, and though it was not easy -- for her as well as for me -- and nothing was perfect, I shed off that grunge-y, angst-y shell and was able to start making peace with who I really am inside.

Now I am 38 myself, and I have not experienced half the pain and difficulties she went through when she was 38. I have it easy, mostly because she saw to it that I won't go through the same difficulties she had, and for that I am grateful.

But as life must have it, I must go through my own purgatories, my own abysses, my own confrontations with the devil, and there are times when I absolutely must do it alone, and I'm glad I got through them. My mother taught me how.

Now life is still not perfect, but I know now that for as long as I stay true to myself, and be respectful of my own core values, then all will be well. Sometimes I forget that, I admit, but I always eventually go back to who I am. I always come home to where I belong.

Happy birthday, Mama Eden.

[Image credit]

Under the spotlight

Last November 10 I was Philofaxy's Reader Under The Spotlight. I talk about planners and Filofaxes and organizers, and other tools that help me manage my life. Check out the full post here.

08 November 2013

Second chances

Yesterday I attended my very first class for the one and only class that I am enrolled in for this semester in the University of the Philippines, Diliman. This time, I am attending just one undergraduate class, in compliance of a prerequisite for me to study for a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature, Major in Literary Theory. I was admitted to the program just last October, and I have begun attending classes only yesterday, at the start of the second semester.

This would be my second Master's Degree, after my Master in Business Administration from the Ateneo many, many, many years ago.

CL was never my first choice as a major for my second Master's Degree. In 2002, I was admitted to the Master's Degree Program for Creative Writing, and it was an exhilarating journey for me. I was fresh out of the province, living with relatives in Quezon City, and still working for my freelance consultancies, and I was thrilled to finally be learning first-hand from the biggest names in Philippine Literature. These big names actually read the stories that I wrote for class, and told me what they thought about them, and I, in turn, can tell them what I think as well. Finally, they have become real people for me, writers who also struggle with the writing craft on a daily basis, like I do.

Still, that did not help to dissipate the star-struck feeling I always get when I interact with them, either in class, in writers' gatherings, in lectures and symposiums, at book launches, or elsewhere. In keeping with my brown-nosed method of formal study, I enrolled in each and every class being taught by my literary and academic idols, even classes that were not required of me and which I knew will not be credited. And those classes were difficult! And many of them got me only a grade of INC.

Nevertheless, I persevered in flying around aimlessly inside the College of Arts and Letters, only wanting to experience studying at the feet of the masters. Of course it will come as no surprise that the program eventually expired on me, on the tenth year, which was last year.

But of course I have vowed never to leave UP without a degree. So I pleaded with my Graduate School Coordinator, who fought for me as best she could, and I also pleaded with my Vice-Chancellor to grant me an extension, but I understand that they had to put their foot down at some point. They could not just keep students in there, un-graduated, forever. And like my coordinator and two-time professor told me, "It's not that we don't want you here. It's just not good parenting."

And so here I am, starting again. This time, I am on a strict study plan that spans only five very tight years. And I have a ghost theory for it, and I am very excited about it, and so are my enrollment advisers, and my professor for this class that I am taking this semester.

I, of course, am grateful for this second chance, knowing that I shall have to prove myself worthy of the slot this time. I shall have to work harder, submit better papers, have more focus, devote more time, get better grades, and come up with a final work that will surpass everyone's expectations of what a ghost theory is.

And I am grateful not just for this second chance, but for the many other second chances that I have been given in my life. I am not a perfect girl / daughter / employee / mother / wife / student / consultant / editor / writer, but through sheer grit and the conviction that I was born to write, write, write, I have more or less been able to redeem myself by doing the one and only thing I know how to do well: to write.

So I write down a plan, write down a definite schedule, write down tasks and duties, write down deadlines, write down what is expected of me, write down everything I need to do to make myself worthy of this generous second chance. And I write down my ideas, write down what is real and true and important, write down what I want to make true, write down my dreams and my desires and my future.

And in so doing, I also write away my fears, write away my sadness, write away my pain. Because that's the only way I know how to cope, to survive, to become better: by turning everything into words that I can actually hold in my hands and deal with.

I am a writer, and that's what I do. Finally, I have found the gumption to claim the title for myself.

[Image credits: 1234]

01 November 2013

Take care, my love

Your home, where you belong, and where you have always found peace and quiet and comfort, will be here waiting for you when you return from the difficult journey that you have to make.

And when you finally do come back to this home that we have made real and true, beyond all legalities and beyond all social conventions, you can be happy and at peace and silent once more, and you can finally rest inside the warmth and safety of the love that we have built together, this time for all eternity.