Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Chapter



It’s a Sunday afternoon and I have nowhere to go. I should have slept half-naked there in my tepid shelter with only a rusting industrial fan to ventilate it but my feet are yearning to stride somewhere my mind doesn’t know about. So I have decided to walk and survey the neighborhood. I live in the city and in this part you can rarely see empty spaces where your eyes could find rest. On every imaginable lot stands buildings, apartments, schools, all roads lead to high rise structures, so barren and distressing. A soaring condominium rises above the horizon surrounded by scaffoldings as it is yet to be completed and where the train lay near its base.

I have settled here for weeks now since I started working in a law firm as an associate. I commute every day taking two jeepney rides just to get to the office. Oftentimes, I arrive late because I have yet to adjust myself waking up early in the morning in order no to be caught up in traffic jams. I have no choice but to let myself be employed for the meantime and not to put up my own law office for lack of resources and experience. But don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working under the supervision of an Atenean. I am learning a lot of things including certain realities I have yet to digest and understand.

From here on, I will be transferring vignettes of my life to a new site entitled: The Fledgling Lawyer. I can’t help but be sentimental about this. I have lurked in this corner for years and have wept all the tears and shed all the blood that came with what Frost once described as one’s love quarrels with this world. I tried to trace back what made me decide to put up and start this blog and has realized that little has been really devoted to telling the story of the death of thirty thousand fishes.

The death of thirty thousand fishes refers to my childhood. It spans years of being with fishes every second of my younger days. We have this small fishpond near the river and miles from our house which I used to tend for years before it was later mortgaged and sold by my father. I have witnessed many splendid moments and miracles in that pond which I used to tell my sister will be later captured in a memoir I will write before I die. I used to be left alone in that small hut standing in the dike near the river to look for cranes which will dive in the pond and eat those little fishes which I tediously feed everyday. Those little fishes which I must protect according to my father because it is because of them that we get to eat three times a day.

There are many unforgettable memories among them is the fondling of a swarm of hungry fishes as I put my hands full of caked feeds underneath the water, the nibbling of thousand gentle creatures, the splashing of salt water, the scorching heat and the sparkling sight of fishes reflecting the light of the sun through their silvery scales…scenes I could not just leave behind the pages of forgotten reminiscence. The water spout which passed by the river on that stormy day in June; the sound of the motor banca and the feeling of its nearness in the middle of the night; the packed dinner which my father delivers to me every night, always late and leaving me starved; the bickering between me and my father and how he almost beat me to death; the sight of him lying in the banca prostrate and almost dead. Rich and haunting experiences that molded me into what I am now.

From here on, this blog will be devoted to those recollections. Whenever I will have the time to ponder and reflect on them, I will make sure to immediately write them and rush to an internet shop to post it here. I will say goodbye to this journal for now and make it a repository of my past. A cathartic activity I hope to share with you. It was a pleasure to meet all those who had time to visit this blog some of them fellow bloggers who share the same experiences in life. Ciao…

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Love on Paper



A blot of ink
starts a serenade
of words.

On an infinite line
flows a rush
of feelings
only this pen could attest.

A gentle grip
and then slither
a smile, a thought
that runs
in a complicit
intertwine
between love
and paper.

And you hope,
again,
a smile.
Could it ever be
written on this scrap
when all that it is waiting
is a period
to end,

this love
on this paper,
now flying
in the air.

Translated in Spanish

Amor en papel

Una mancha de tinta
comienza una serenata
de las palabras.

En una infinita línea
los flujos de un apuro
de sentimientos
sólo que esta pluma puede dar fe.

Un agarre suave
y, a continuación, para resbalar

una sonrisa, un pensamiento
que se ejecuta
en un cómplice
entrelazan
entre el amor
y el papel.

Y que espera,
otra vez,
una sonrisa.
¿Podría ser
escrito en este trozo
cuando todo lo que está a la espera
es un período
a fin,

este amor
sobre este documento,
ahora que enarbolen
en el aire.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ravaged


It was like an atomic bomb has been dropped in my little town. As the bus passed along villages, one cannot waver at the communal feeling of sorrow and sadness because of homes destroyed and lives lost as typhoon “Emong” (codename: Chan Hom) wreaked havoc Thursday evening, May 7th in Western Pangasinan. Our house in Bani was not spared from the ravaging storm packing winds of 150 kph with gustiness of 185 kph uprooting electric posts and trees, toppling off cars and trucks, displacing thousands of families from their homes.

I have never seen first-hand such a tragedy and stark irresponsibility in my whole life. It is in these times that you ask immediate relief and aid from the government and you get nothing in response but the same voice that you heard while you say those words. News came Friday that relief operations were on the way to affected towns and communities but as to when will those promised help filter in to the helpless families who have no roofs under their heads while torrential rain continues is still a million dollar question (not so during election time of course). Only in the Philippines. Families are left on their own to fix their homes while they put makeshift shelters near the road local government officials sit down and talk about how they would deal with loots brought in by the automatic release of calamity funds. Our incarcerated community leader has been filling in news from his cell that families will receive aid equally whether rich or poor and it made the poor people cry foul necessarily but what do you expect from a mad man who has no sense of justice at all. So that compounds the gravity of the problem: bad leaders plus ravaging storms plus poor communities equal: catastrophe.

So here I am, appealing to you all who will have the chance to read this to help in spreading the news that our communities need help in order for families in this part of the country rebuild their lives which were gravely disrupted and shattered by the recent calamity and the irresponsibility of the government. What they show and feature in the news is a minute reflection of the overall disaster here in Pangasinan. Government officials are always quoted in the news commenting on the damage to the fisheries owned by a few affluent businessmen but where are the countless people left homeless and what about the efforts to help them? We have yet to see and get help.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Boy is now a Lawyer

Heavy downpour hits Baguio this morning. Visibility is low and the temperature drops as well.It's my second time to visit the city since news came that I passed the Bar exams. It's my first time to visit the city as a full-fledged lawyer having taken my oath, having signed in the Roll of Attorneys and having given my corresponding Roll number. The bliss and excitement naturally had died down by now and I am off to face the realities accompanying the event, the fact and the truth. I still have no concrete plans to share with you about how to direct my newfound career. People in my small community have all been coming and visiting the house at Pangasinan to congratulate and to consult me about legal problems and whether I like to accept their respective cases and bring them to court. Problems like land disputes, election bouts, and collection of sum of money (that made me think whether I really uplifted my standing to a higher level or whether I demoted myself into being a mere collector of debt) have been flooding in making my life a little busier than before, a little bit dignified, if I may say, a little bit fulfilled that I am finally experiencing things which only happen in my dreams. I am also caught in a dilemma of whether to pursue private practice without capital making me more alluded to the insinuations of my father that I must accept cases without intial payment and have the proceeds of the case slashed into half in my favor and my uncle’s horrific statement that I should no longer let myself taste poverty by all means or whether to pursue work in the government or in a private company allowing me to have a fixed income for the meantime with prejudice of course to my career advancement and litigation experience. I am more bent into working with the Supreme Court having said everybody I meet with pride that I will be working there soon. However, uncertainties regarding that surface and I am now yet again bothered as to how I will pursue both worlds: a stint in the government and private practice. . .as to how I will reconcile both. . .well, I must figure that out soon.

So here I am, documenting a workshop here in Baguio for the meantime, letting myself drift away from all the realities I am facing. Letting myself indulge while I am booked at this classy hotel in Gibraltar Road necessarily surrounded by thick pine forests because it is still near the Camp John Hay Reservation area. I am booked here in this hotel where they pretty serve sumptuous food that pleases my gastronomic tastes; where a piped in music with endless jazz music reaches even the toilet and into unimaginable spaces; where a grand piano lies there at the ballroom waiting to be played; where laughs and giggles pervade rooms and halls even during an “unconventional”mass; where I felt for the 2nd time that I am shredded into pieces and had levitated in the air for a while only because of a heart-shaped paper that was given to me by that dame that always give me shivers. . .because in that paper she wrote something I will never forget in my life.

I am finally a lawyer and although some friends who likewise passed always say that fact of being such has yet to sink in their minds, in my case, it long before did. My success could not in any way be attributed only to my capacities but to many people who have supported me all the way, always believing in me and never letting me feel discouraged. I dedicate this to them. Although still a big responsibility lies ahead on how I will pay this forward rest assured that efforts are on the way including an online legal aid forum which I will put up soon that will be devoted to the public to help them in their legal concerns.

Finally, while I look back to all the experiences I went through in law school and during the review some of which are captured in this blog, I honestly felt and ask how did I make it considering that I almost gave up everything. But look at the beauty of life and happy endings. The boy who once witnessed the death of thirty thousand fishes is now a lawyer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Without Words

I am grappling for words to say
To capture my feelings on this day
Words fall out and wither away
Suddenly my world became mute
Mute to tackle despair and despondency
I throb in pain and take them in
I swallow the bitter and the harsh
Digest them and find succor
About their absence and cleansing
Still they are here creeping silently
In the midst of equilibrium they weigh
Equally on both scales
Scale of tranquility, scale of hostility
Scale of tranquility to blight
Scale of hostility to magnify
Now I am wondering how it is painful to be a man
To experience love and its sudden loss
Both cathartic and devastating
Makes me think the process of love is a wheel
It will end up miserably somewhere
After bliss comes melancholy
The cycle will stop, it will
If it won’t then insanity spills

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holding Back

Lately, there have been many times I wished I could write down everything that has been happening on my mind. But every time I try to sit down on the swivel chair, open a blank document and start to frame my mind the words the rich thoughts vanish in thin air. I could not point to a specific factor that blocks the stream of thought from my brain to my fingers. . .on to the keyboard and into the screen. Maybe it’s just that I have too many concerns right now, too many problems at hand, too many obligations to perform, too many expectations to meet. I am overwhelmed by the fact that I can’t barely make a scratch or a dent out of all these. I mean I can’t even run the process of figuring out what to do with them. It’s like I am staring blankly at all of them pokerfaced devoid of any emotional attachment. To me, they’re not stars, they’re not a school of fishes whirling around in the water, nor a rainbow. . .they’re just a pale and dull book from the cover waiting perpetually to be read. As I stare at them, they breathe infinite silence and I do not want engage in them.

I wished I had the freedom to mention them here so that I could finally liberate all the hitches inside me but I loath about other people and the world over knowing the details unnecessary for them to know. I mean everything has a boundary, a wall that needs to be fortified, an enclosure that needs to be secured. Every man who does not want to shed all of him would know the feeling of hesitance. There are regrets of deciding not to remain anonymous here in this corner for I am now bound to keep secrets and not write them here. So, I would have to limit and become a rigid writer for days to come not until I decide to leave this refuge which I started about three years ago and have the archive tell the visitor that the last post of the author would be on this day. That has been the case ever since. Back in college, I remember a professor in a writing class tell me that I write in general terms. . .that I hold back too much of me. Not until I had the opportunity to explore in another writing class to tell haunting stories about my childhood and the unexplainable torment I had to go through. Not until I thought about blogging and had the venue to pick up the pieces little by little. However, this I tell you that whenever I end up writing something about my life there’s something inside me which tells me: I wish I could have told you more. . .I wished I could narrate the back stories. There’s still too much to spill to erudite you and myself over.

I have to breathe deeply for most of the time. Heave a sigh. Imagine a scene in my childhood where I stand in a door opening, stolid like a post, watching the shafts of light penetrate the window and hit the floor illuminating the room and creating an incandescent look. It was three o’clock in the afternoon. I could see the sun glimmer. I stood there until the sun was finally lost in the horizon. I stood there alone seeing the sun reflect its last rays of light for the day among the leaves of the trees, on rooftops, on children’s faces throwing cracks of laughter with each other; reflected in a child’s eye who was wondering how could have the sun brought momentary peace to him. I stood there wanting to be with the fading sun forever.

I don’t want this feeling. Experiencing dualities: bliss in the evening, and struggle the morning after and not being able to chronicle such travails here in this corner.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Being 27

Another year was added to a growing number of years of a not-so-constant trend in living a life that seemed to be so intricately intertwined now. I was born on Valentine’s Day, 1982, so my mother says and my birth certificate indicates. Foggy memories of an estranged mother always speak about a crammed room full of unmarried women in their late 20s giggling, a traditional birth attendant preparing birthing paraphernalia, boiling water in a kettle shooting hot vapor. The cynic in me always thinks about loose perspectives brought about by excessive infatuation with the idea of a child’s birthday falling on February 14th, of the idea that it is too emblematic of a lover’s fruit so executed in complicity, of the idea that so a relationship may be glorified in the height of its heydays. Maybe it was on the 13th or the 15th or on the 29th and because of the fears of a drought in leap years.

But it is, 14th etched indelibly in the registers consistently. All those years when I get to be socially active and was entering the realm of social environments did I come to realize that there are some consistencies, commonalities within the celebration of a birthday so engrossing for people except me. Why aren’t you named Valentino? was a question never to be not asked because it’s a protocol and You must be kulang-kulang because you were born in February was a supposition I can quite vouch? For 27 years I have been rammed up with those conjectures that sometimes distress me for their built-up ordinariness and sometimes elate me because I am a figure or a ¬go-figure elated to have more and more people remember my birthday and be a recipient of all their bright and common wishes of a longer life, many-more-birthdays-come, and wishes of well-wishers of a sumptuous treat at a fancy restaurant (just-kidding).

Yesterday I had a steamed white chicken for breakfast at a Chinese Restaurant, a call from my mom all the way from Oregon, a morning song from my love streamed all the way through my ear canal like a cleaning cotton bud tickling the softest part of me, a dinner treat from my boss at a Korean Restaurant with her lovely daughter seated in front of me were the best gifts I ever had. There are wishes, yes, like enrolling in the Environmental Law Program of the Lewis and Clark Law School, a better economy at the close of the year, bright prospects for this year, my name included in the Rolls, a cure for my sickness, a life with my love still intertwined strongly beyond a boa-constrictor’s capability, purging in the government, more rights for the underprivileged like me, alleviation of poverty, more sincere and true leaders for this country and more aftertastes of coffee from my love.

27 and I am old. Woke up early this morning quite a bit terrified by the documentary on the ice meltdown, the rising sea levels and the cataclysmic consequences. There’s not enough action to stop it, taking out of the picture the role of governments, the fact is that there is really no stopping now the phenomenon because all the efforts to cut carbon emissions today if and when the IPCC’s instruction will be followed without skirmishing sovereign egos, will really never halt anything except only to mitigate the catastrophe. The documentary has a footnote on climate change refugees, its rise and its probable impact on matters of survival, dwindling resources, and state-to-state conflict. There’s a lot ahead really. I may never cross through such events within my time but it keeps me wondering about the future of the world and generations. Sometimes this news really makes you old but the inescapable fact is that you’re part of it.

So here’s my definition of being 27 in this century. It is about thinking, trying to belong to a world of causes making even the slightest of difference, making one’s voice heard, trying to blend love with every issue that comes, trying to live life to the fullest while you can, achieving for others, and just being me, being you.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pursuing Little Stars


On January 23rd we cruised the bay
Calm and still waters
Lying beneath
Silent witnesses of flourishing love
Our eyes meet somewhere
There at the ebbing tide
The moon-shadowed beach
Wind lashed waves
There at the harbour
A lamppost
That illuminates lovers
Regaling a night
Of bliss
Pursuing little stars
That blanketed the night sky
And mirrored in our eyes
In the depth of the waters
Sparkling

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Remembering Fewer Things

I didn’t remember that I’ve been here for two weeks, lethargic it may seem.

I didn’t remember that I’ve taken the Bar almost six months ago.

I didn’t remember that I’ve lived in a room alone for six months starting April of last year with only thick books and litters of papers, photocopies, mixed-up post-its of different colour plastered on the wall near the reading table almost devouring the half space of the wall.

I didn’t remember the fascination of reading on the uppermost floor of the UP Law Library looking through transparent glass windows giving a view of blooming acacia trees and a looming thunderstorm far distant.

I didn’t remember how Eunika always remind me to hear mass at the dome-church after the review classes and early in the morning right after the break of dawn during Saturdays together with veiled matrons.

I didn’t remember that I had stomach cramps every eve of the Bar exam and how I have clung to Maalox for temporary relief.

I didn’t remember how a person intruded my life, my privacy, too bluntly, and how I liked the idea of exchanging vows rather than marriage.

I didn’t remember how the time ran after September of last year, how quick events took place and how near the results would be released.

I didn’t remember why I cried last night.

I didn’t remember why I had this stiff neck today.

I am trying to remember the good things in life that had happened and relishing the memories. Like bubbles they burst in an instant, have ephemeral life but lingering aftertaste. They jolt the eerie landscape and disfigure it for a better view.

I am trying to remember those days when I sit on the dike of the pond watching the sun set finding comfort in rages of red, the fading light, and the softness of the breeze, trying to think while ripples continue to disturb the water below how the little fishes living within will survive another day of heat in summer.

I am trying to remember how time and one’s life progressed and how they reconcile each other.

I am trying to remember how astonished my friend was when I showed her my own version of Scream by Edward Munch in oil pastel crayons.

I remember the two cans of putty from Lydia and how it relieved my stress.

I remember the dinner two nights ago, the tenderness of the steak and the great gravy.

I remember that I have a home to return to and dogs waiting for me.

I remember my plans before the tempest and the drive to bring it back to consciousness again.

I remember that only two days are left for this holiday and I am back to work again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thursday, 3:00 pm

Since I have no motivation to continue my work on the glass ceiling phenomenon (a research on the problem of women climbing up the corporate ladder and tracing such problem on the case of women who experienced such phenomenon and ended up becoming entrepreneurs) , alone in the room with nothing to do in mind, I just have to talk to you. Yes, you.

You know, I don’t feel like as in okay today. I feel so very unproductive lying on bed almost all day punctuated only by the call of nature, the call of my stomach, and other calls of what have you. Of course, I don’t spend all day lying only because that would be transgressing the desires of the mind. So from time to time my friend and I watch DVDs of all sorts. The one that made me broke into thunderous laughter is Marley and Me. And who’s not, the Labrador is just so adorable his masters just can’t throw him away with all the wreck that he is causing the family. It made me so envious. The dog brought prosperity out of all the shards he left each day of his existence. He brought materials for the writer to pen in his column, a bond to keep the love in the family, and a lot of guffaws and licking that warm the heart. Marley’s a horrific mad dog minus rabidity. Perfect.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button may be some kind of a lullaby that keeps on weighing down your eyelids forever. But it has definitely a unique story: a man who’s born to grow backwards, literally. The plot is quite worth the guess at the start. Okay, yes, your guess is as good as mine: two lovers . . .one’s growing backwards (counter-clockwise) the other growing, ah ,normally (clockwise). Of course, you might say like me that they would surely meet at one point in time where they both have the same age. They surely did, hah. The periods close or near that meeting point are cloud nine. But imagine a wife nursing his husband at old age. . .quite terrible. Terible. But of course if love really matters, faithful and forever. . .as Kenny Rankin has proposed. . .then that isn’t quite a problem except that the baby-husband should be bottle-fed now. Seriously, what I like about the film is its different take on the problem of time. . . love is blind, age doesn’t matter neither height, ah-ah. Benjamin might have changed his mind he wanted to become a Dracula instead than to look old, clueless. F. Scott Fitzgerald might have other reason why such portrayal. Better read.

Still with me? Just had cheesecake doughnut for snack. The fan’s spinning since last night because it’s hot as hell inside. The beach is a perfect getaway. We might dip ourselves tomorrow. A siren could be heard from here. A piano’s being played slowly. Then just the sound of the fan. . .A framed picture of two lovers in front of me. A soul who would like to be freed. . .Bye for now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Living out of a Duffel Bag

A throbbing pain in the head, clammy feeling over my whole body, oily hair that shines until now because of the wax I put on yesterday, empty thoughts, load of writing engagements in the wait, hushed overtones of a bad day ahead. Had doughnuts and two bananas over milk as breakfast alone because my friend had just left me here in his flat. I wasn’t able to sleep last night because I watched the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. Had to stay up until past three in the morning to watch the whole coverage of CNN of the event at Capitol Hill. My friend told me that he’s been there and said that the space underneath where the podium stands lies a fountain . “What’s the statue at the top of the dome?, “ he asked me. I said I have no idea. He said that it is Lady Freedom and that there is a policy in Washington that there will be no other structure that will be built in the state that will be higher than Lady Freedom. “But it seems that the Washington Monument is taller than it?,”I asked. He said that it is not. I don’t believe him (but I never told this so as not to embarrass him). I just have to google it. He was fascinated by the frozen pond and the people walking on it. It seemed (it actually is) that everybody’s freezing but the news feed just showed that the people we’re feeling like it was 17 degrees. With the hordes of people that must be because they produce body heat that could higher the temperature around the area. At least one million people have shown up to hear Obama at Capitol Hill. The world has watched him speak of global unity and a new era in US leadership. Obama’s rise to politics and his election as President will be an inspiration and a mark of a new dawn in history if he will be able to deliver his mission to win global cooperation in response to the pressing needs and problems of the global community only a leader as charismatic as him may be able to achieve.

As for me, hah, don’t feel well now. I have to eat my lunch and pack my things in a duffel bag, laundry (lot of it) caused by my days of stay here in southern Philippines. It’s been a blissful week that ended with, well, learning that every day is a growing battle, not fought, not won over neither lost, but a battle that stretches to infinity only I could imagine. A friend has a good idea of how our personality becomes a hero and anti-hero at the same time. She said that in the process of finding ourselves we become protagonist and sometimes antagonist clinching in a battle deep inside us. It is a painful process she says and then abruptly, “I hate you.” “For what?”, I asked. “I don’t want to read you, it keeps me nostalgic.” Cannot do anything about that.

By the way, to you who’s reading this, I will bitterly miss the aura of a French villa, the chirping of caged birds, and the quiet solitude of a flat which you told me to treat as my mi casa. Baguio, here I come.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Comeback


I am hundred miles away from home. I have come this far to pursue happiness. Never sure if I will really find it here but I am hoping that the journey to it would bring me back to my old self: the secured, content, and vigorous me. I don’t know if my foresight still works for me to plan things ahead. What I do know is limited to the time and space which surrounds my existence at the moment. I am too young they say to think about these things, to think about dark solstice and frozen nights. I myself can’t imagine why I have become the person that I am now; to reach this phase where life seems to weigh down on your being so much: a stomp to the reality that life can never be for those who slack behind and wait till the coming of the inevitable ending.

So here I am trying to make an impression out of things that I am not yet bound to live miserably if I choose not to be. So here I am returning to what I love most: telling you my story.