MA Creative Writing student at UP Diliman from the Land of Buko Pies.

Also a runner, photographer, cyclist, florist, dreamer, and believer.

Showing posts tagged literature

The Words to Your Song

If I were only to borrow all the words that exist, I will borrow the most ordinary, the ones that the great poets ignore and pass their skillful eyes over. I will pull them together, create a song for you that can be played day in, day out. It would be so ordinary, so bland, that no one else would take notice or pay attention. It would play as the sun rises, as it sinks underneath the darkened horizon. It would play as a child learns to walk, as a marriage ends, as a kite rises into the sky, as waves touch shore of an uncharted island, as the light of a dead star finally reaches the end of its travel. It’d be so ordinary, it will fail to resound. It’d be so ordinary, mundane things will be infinitely repeated to its tune.

But it will linger. It will linger in your consciousness, stay dormant until you find yourself walking alone in the dead of the night and it is then that it will come. You will suddenly hear it, reverberating in your ears, as if you’ve been hearing it all your life. You will mouth the words and then you will know—a song could only be as real.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord make me, make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there’s despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy

Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love

For it is in giving, that we receive,
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned
It is in dying, that we are born again to eternal life

Lord make me, make me an instrument of your peace

Everything Happens Under a Blanket of Stars

He offered his hand and I took it in mine. We looked at how our hands fit together. Pleased, we began.

Doubling the Stars

   I plunge into thoughts of you
   as the night sky envelopes
   the continent of my longing,
   the rivers of my hopes.

  In the vast ocean,
  I wait for the wind
  to push your sails nearer, closer
  carrying the breath I need.

So I calm the waters
to reflect the stars,
surely it would not hurt—

   having two maps
                                 that both lead to me.


A Feature of Time

Tick tock,
the time goes.
And the memories fade
in my head,
green to auburn,
auburn to earth.
Lub dub,
my heart goes.

Lub dub—

Breathe Again

Car is parked, bags are packed, but what kind of heart doesn’t look back
At the comfortable glow from the porch, the one I will still call yours?
All those words came undone and now I’m not the only one
Facing the ghosts that decide if the fire inside still burns

All I have, all I need, he’s the air I would kill to breathe
Holds my love in his hands, still I’m searching for something
Out of breath, I am left hoping someday I’ll breathe again
I’ll breathe again

Open up next to you and my secrets become your truth
And the distance between that was sheltering me comes in full view
Hang my head, break my heart, built from all I have torn apart
And my burden to bear is a love I can’t carry anymore

All I have, all I need, he’s the air I would kill to breathe
Holds my love in his hands, still I’m searching for something
Out of breath, I am left hoping someday I’ll breathe again

It hurts to be here
I only wanted love from you
It hurts to be here
What am I gonna do?

All I have, all I need, he’s the air I would kill to breathe
Holds my love in his hands, still I’m searching
All I have, all I need, he’s the air I would kill to breathe
Holds my love in his hands, still I’m searching for something
Out of breath, I am left hoping someday I’ll breathe again

I’ll breathe again

10 things I think I learned during my weekend by the beach:

  1. It is pointless to decide on something that has already been decided for me.
  2. Hoping is different from expecting.
  3. It is pointless to worry about things I have no control over i.e. other people’s feelings.
  4. I commit a grave injustice when I compare myself with/to others.
  5. Everybody needs more alone time.
  6. I need no completion. Even with a broken heart, I am whole.
  7. Every day when I wake up, I become a new person without ever losing all that’s sacred to me.
  8. Ahead of me are countless possibilities.
  9. The most crucial decisions in life are made alone.
  10. I’m happy with my decision.

I’ve met quite a few

In general, I try to avoid people who treat me like I’m a property to be owned, coveted, or controlled. I avoid people who only see me as a challenge to be conquered, who box me up into either a liability or an asset, like this whole complex me can be reduced to a summary of checkpoints. I avoid people who like to balance things out—how much is given, how much is received. Tip the scale a little bit and you unearth the hibernating monster. These are the people with expectations. These are the people who love in order to be loved. They go all in because they are expecting something in return—sometimes it’s love, other times it’s security. Every time, it is conditional. They are the ones who will hop on each ride they come across, go far only to realize that whatever it is they’re looking, they’ll never find.

I avoid them because they still need time to grow up. I know. I was one of them.


I hear your name,
being said by the rain that pelts
on the roof above,
by the curtains breathing in and out,
as a dog howls through the silence.

I see your face
as I close my eyes;
the stars of the night
twinkle their dead light, exhuming
the life out of my temple,
into this impossible breadth

between you and me. 

You know, two weeks ago, I cringed at myself when I chanced upon these old photos. It just seems too goody two-shoes of me. I feel like I was pretending to be someone who I was not. Like I was trying to make a difference in the world (a la Angelina Jolie), finding my town’s version of Africa, assuming a handful of previously owned bags was what they actually needed. As if giving them away was going to end a terrible plague or help fill their stomachs with nutrition.

If you had followed my blog (of the same URL) a couple of years ago, you would have actually witnessed the birth of this project. I think I remember stating and defending myself that the reason why I was posting the said project was so that I could inspire you, my readers, to try and do something good. And although I’ve had a few responses from my readers about how they plan to also give back, I’ve never really actually had a desired feedback from anybody.

Last week, I was on the wheel waiting for my mom to get in the car. She was on the sidewalk, coming from the ATM machine, and was about to get in the car when one of the sampaguita kids approached my mom and told her something I couldn’t hear. My mom later told me that the kid was actually asking her to remind me about a bag that I was supposed to give to him, just like what I did some years ago.

“A bag?” I asked my mom.

“He said he has been expecting one from you. 'Di ba namigay ka daw ng bags noon?” My mom reminded me.

I remember that I interviewed the kids, took photos with them to document my good work. I also wrote about them and exposed it to you, my readers. I told you of their dreams, what they wanted to be when they grow up, what their parents’ do for a living. I gave you their names. I gave you their faces. I did all those things, but after two years, a broken heart, and a new occupation, I have forgotten them. The wonderful thing is they haven’t forgotten me.

All this time, I thought all of my efforts were in vain. Honestly and even though it shames me, I was kind of looking for a pat on the back, an itsy-bitsy commendation from my peers and mentors. In retrospect, maybe that’s why I wanted to air the project’s progress. I wanted to be liked. It wasn’t enough that I get to do something good for others, I had to broadcast it. I was so busy looking for an approval from the people I thought mattered, that I forgot who really mattered. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my readers. These kids who smiled upon realization that they were going to get a bag, they’re the ones who mattered. I was so caught up with the work and the light that came with it that I forgot why I even thought of doing it in the first place. True, at first it was to pacify my guilt of having too many bags. But I had decided long after that to transform the guilt into a good thing. I had good intentions and although I wasn’t on-point in the delivery, I guess that intention pushed through. (Am I being too hard on myself?)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though I felt like this Let Them Go Project I had attempted to do wasn’t all that laudable and successful, the fact that one kid remembered it and regarded it as a good thing makes all the difference to me. I also realized, after more than 24 months that this project has been on-going, that when you’re trying to do something charitable or selfless, it is best that you do not show it to the world. Let the good that you’ve done remain between you and the receiver. And then forget about it. Never do a good thing because you seek some sort of reward for it (not even to make yourself feel better), not even a morsel of praise. I believe that in that way, the good deed is rendered pure.

This will be the last post I will be posting of The Let Them Go Project. I do hope these posts have somehow made you think, goaded you to do something good which you’ve always been planning to do but never quite got to doing, or even made you believe in dreams and the power of giving. I am happy I have let you in on a good thing, but like what they always say, all good things must come to an end. In this case, though, it will just come to a shhh.

The Things We Left to Fester

A part of you slips out of your own skin, taking everything you once held sacred. You reach for it with your bare hands and the formless, shapeless you slips off your fingers, never to be held once more, never to be read, never to be kissed. Lost more than free.

The you is like a book of unread poems, the collective meaning will round the earth like ravenous ghosts, haunting their definition and weight which they will never find. Haunted more than haunting.

The you is a bottle of wine poured onto the parched ground, every last drop untasted, leaching to the ground, yearning for the gravity that’s both cruel and kind, present and absent. There more than here.

And the you is his more than mine.

Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be, whether a long string of perfectly blue days that begin and end in golden dimness, the most seemingly chaotic political acts, the rise of a great city, the crystalline structure of a gem that has never seen the light, the distributions of fortune, what time the milkman gets up, the position of the electron, or the occurrence of one astonishing frigid winter after another. Even electrons, supposedly the paragons of unpredictability, are tame and obsequious little creatures that rush around at the speed of light, going precisely where they are supposed to go. They make faint whistling sounds that when apprehended in varying combinations are as pleasant as the wind flying through a forest, and they do exactly as they are told. Of this, one is certain.

And yet, there is a wonderful anarchy, in that the milkman chooses when to arise, the rat picks the tunnel into which he will dive when the subway comes rushing down the track from Borough Hall, and the snowflake will fall as it will. How can this be? If nothing is random, and everything is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer to that is simple. Nothing is predetermined, it is determined, or was determined, or will be determined. No matter, it all happened at once, in less than an instant, and time was invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the enormous and detailed canvas that we have been given - so we track it, in linear fashion piece by piece. Time however can be easily overcome; not by chasing the light, but by standing back far enough to see it all at once. The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever was is; everything that ever will be is - and so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we image that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly beautiful. In the end, or rather, as things really are, any event, no matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but something that is.

Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale

10-Day Tumblr Challenge [Accepted]










Day One

  1. You don’t know me and the only reason you’d have the faintest idea of my existence is through the Lambily. In spite of that, I want you to know that your music has literally saved my life. This space is too limited to articulate all the moments in my life that your music did that, but it did. Trust me, it did. Thank you, Mariah Carey.
  2. I found him, grandma. I finally did. It may not be the greatest of circumstances, but I’d like to let you know that all I see is the beauty in it. I will always treasure the times you’ve listened to me and for all the other moments to come. I miss you. I love you.
  3. Miguel, I’m sorry that the two of us would never have the clean slate we wanted. I pray that you’d find the strength to be whole, on your own, as it should be. Only then can you search for the right one to share your life with, your completeness with.
  4. Dan, thank you for the love we shared, the love we lost, and the love that will always be there in that magnificent point in our own timelines. I hope everything’s well with you.
  5. BB, I’m amazed at the longevity of our friendship. And in each day that goes by, I whisper a heartfelt thank you to the Author of Life for knitting our lives together.
  6. Notice you are on the 6th because, well, it’s the 6th! Your mere existence gives life to my hopes, truth to my smiles, and joy to my days. Know that you’re now one of the reasons I continue to breathe.
  7. Baby P, you will always be my favorite exception, my favorite cool kid, the emancipator of my spirit. And I love you everyday for steering my life into the right direction (whether or not it was unknowingly) after I made a few wrong turns.
  8. Grandma Lety, thank you for teaching me how it is to be faithful, to love without conditions, and to forgive without end. You are always remembered and loved.
  9. Liam. Oh, Liam. Your happiness is my happiness. Thank you for continuing to be there. I’m glad that I gained you at the time when I thought I had lost everything. You will always be my asset. Know that I’m always here. Always. 
  10. Treasure him. Love him like he deserves to be loved—faithfully, fully, and without lapses. Either do that or I will. This is not a threat. This is a promise and I’m quite good at keeping promises.

Day Two

  1. I am a hopeless romantic: cloyingly sentimental and perennially idealistic. (Everyday, though, I learn to be more of a realist without losing my childlike innocence. Whut?)
  2. I floss every night.
  3. I like long showers because they almost feel like I have my own personal rain.
  4. I believe in the power of literature.
  5. My head records video clips of important faces, places, and scenes. 
  6. My sense of smell brings me back to people, thoughts, and emotions.
  7. I like long drives: I like the possibility of experiencing the changes in weather as I cruise through open roads. I like the sudden outpour of rain. I like it when raindrops hit the windshield and how they build up and cloud my vision momentarily. I also equally like it when the sun holds primacy in a clear, blue sky. How the shadows of the tree branches and leaves dance on the car’s dashboard. And I love how the warm sunlight feels on my skin as I steer the wheel to a land I have yet to see.
  8. I have set a limit to the number of years I could live in a city: 5 years. As of this date, I have lived in a city for a mere 5 months.
  9. I like wearing sunglasses. I like hanging out in relatively dark, dimly lit places. I dislike white light.

Day Three

  1. Be honest with me.
  2. Sing me songs.
  3. Read what I write.
  4. Tell me when I’m wrong.
  5. Skip work to see me.
  6. Want to be a part of my family.
  7. Listen.
  8. Make me think things through.

Day Four

  1. This novel I’m writing
  2. Which job to take/apply for after my MA
  3. Music (which song and artist to listen to, usually I end up listening to THE MOST SUCCESSFUL RECORDING ARTIST IN HISTORY)
  4. Words—I’m one of the Universe’s depository of words, phrases, and sentences.
  5. I constantly daydream about travelling to other places.
  6. You.
  7. Food!

Day Five

This is probably the hardest part of this challenge because I sincerely try not to regret the mistakes I’ve done in the past (I fervently believe everything in the past has brought me to where I am, honed me to become the me of the now), so this is like voluntary backsliding! I also believe that the things we regret the most are the thing we didn’t do, so…

  1. I resent speaking ill of others, whether warranted or not.
  2. I wish I hadn’t looked the other way during the times when I was aware that injustice was being done to my fellow men.
  3. I wish I hadn’t believed every other promise guys flung at me.
  4. I wish I hadn’t eaten 2 cupcakes and 2 mini cheesecake pies (?) last night.
  5. I wish I hadn’t planted the buddha bamboo in front of my terrace, it’s now a little out of control, and the leaf debris is just, ugh.
  6. I regret my first kiss; it was utterly unromantic.

Day Six

There are so many people who mean a lot to me. How can I go about this Day Six? Hmmm. So basically, my life revolves around my family, my friends, my intimate circle of friends (the closest friends I have), my mentors/classmates, my former office mates + religious community friends, and my love life (huwow!!!).

  1. My family 
  2. My intimate circle of friends
  3. My mentors/classmates at graduate school
  4. My former office mates + religious community friends
  5. Love life (Population = 1)

Day Seven

  1. People with very weak principles
  2. Adulterers
  3. Narrow-minded gals and guys
  4. Inconsistent people

Day Eight

  1. Family-oriented
  2. Sentimental
  3. Patient and understanding

Day Nine

  1. :’)
  2. :-D

Homogeneous mixture of good and bad

No matter what happens, I will never find enough reason to deny the truth that in my life, I have been beyond blessed to have encountered people who’ve shown me goodness. These people have given me hope in this world and I want to foster that hope. I want to be one of those people who can fan into flame tiny sparks of hope. That’s why I always try to do the good the thing, the decision that my conscience dictates is right. I’d rather get hurt than be the cause of someone else’s hurt. Most of the time, the decisions that I make end up doing just that. You’d think that has driven me to stop. But I was raised in a way that I could clearly see that there is ecstasy in suffering and how, if endured for the right cause, it leads to sublime happiness. And sometimes that’s all I have to hold on to.

I try to carry on and carry on. I carry on until the realization hits me on the head like a big raw egg and the truth trickles down my body, sticky and putrid. I am no saint. I am weak. I am extremely selfish. I am conceited. That’s the point where I slowly retreat, hit my back against the wall, slide down, and bury my face in my hands. Forgive me Father for I have sinned, but I am tired. Very tired. And sometimes, there is sublimity in that, too.

Our what if is as wonderful as our what is

Our playlist has grown since day one. You know, the one we’ll play on shuffle and on loop as we cruise the roads of this country—four wheels on the terrain, four eyes on the open road, and two hearts that crave and search for identical things. With our geographical points beside each other, we’ll slice through the map and find that our trail leaves no bread crumbs because getting lost doesn’t scare us. It shouldn’t scare us because there is no getting lost when you’ve been found. And with nothing but a mere sheet of glass separating us from it, we’ll watch the sky and ask it to concoct a show that will showcase the clouds, the rain, the sun, the moon and the stars, and all the beautiful hues we’ve been marveling at since we were mere kids, unknowingly capable of falling this deep in love, kids who loved innocently and felt how it is in its purest form. And that’s how we’ll feel then, gazing at the sky every now and then, as our path becomes arbitrarily longer.

I am suddenly bothered by the possibility that our plans will never see the light of day, will never be experienced or felt—like we’re building for this future that isn’t even coming.

But then I push my mind and my heart against each other. And I am revived again. Our dream is revived again.

I wonder. As I head out my front door and into the garden, to gaze at the stars and the moon that cast there silver spell on the night grass, I wonder if, like the number of stars, there is also an infinite number of realities out there.

In one of them, I am sure, our playlist continually grows, with old undiscovered songs, with new songs every week, and with songs that have yet to be written. We’ll find that our trip never ends, that the road never ceases to exist because we build them when they run out, unbound by space and time. We transcend our memories and the limitations of the human brain and body. And maybe that is why we’re inexplicably happy when we imagine ourselves in that way, together. Maybe we’ve already felt it, maybe we’ve already been to places, and the emotions that pour in when we they do are nothing but the residual debris that get to travel cross-realities.

When the time comes, we’ll go back to our rawest form of matter and find that these dreams were equally real and valid.