From a Davao Diary

Nonfiction by | April 19, 2009


There I was, one pleasant morning, on a long sweaty walk that started at the Davao City Hall and led to the unimposing Gaisano South Ilustre mall downtown: moving, maybe lost, but moving. Even though according to the locals I actually came close to the Chinatown of the largest city in the world, it was a stretch that struck me as more Western than Oriental: diners and billboards, no teahouses, and no lanterns.

No matter. Why exchange sixty minutes of sun and solitude for anything else? The weather was agreeable, and I was enjoying being a traveler, as opposed to being “just a domestic tourist.” Only briefly did I stop: upon a minor assault of hunger I had breakfast at a McDonald’s at one corner of an intersection. I forgot for one reason or another to take mental note of the streets’ names, a habit I had acquired in Manila. It was something else which I let guide me: the kites being flown above –looking like seven sperm cells in the clear blue sky– or something simpler perhaps, and vaguer, such as an impulsive fearlessness of the unknown. Whatever it is, if the guide disappointed, I still would’ve moved, just moved, in what R.L. Stevenson had once called “the great affair.”

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Endangered Pink Road and Sunflower Streets of Mindanao

Nonfiction by | April 5, 2009

Travel is the trendsetting lifestyle in the planet. The Venusian backpack is now virtually galloping from
one island to the next for many reasons: some maybe looking for men, some looking for love, some wanting to see places, and some maybe for work. Why do women travel? How are they different from the way men travel? Women may bring extra clothes all the time, for they are privileged to decorate themselves. An extra scarf will make a difference.

One of my most beautiful travel experiences are my journeys with women. It is travel by intuition rather than linear guide book driven. Women always carry candid open secrets, real meaty stories for they pay attention to details and listen to their hearts. They can hear the wind, touch the clouds and dance in water. These are the magic in women.

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Six Degrees

Nonfiction by , | March 29, 2009

Six DegreesI am better than you. We are better than you. They are better than you. You are better than me.

What made you say that? Why did you say that? How can you say that?

Our senses are fixed only on what we perceive. Black and white. Short and tall. Fat and thin. Male and female. The list goes on and on and on. The question remains: are we really all that different from each other?

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Our Cow, Red

Nonfiction by | March 15, 2009

I cannot recall how our cow was called “Red”. Maybe it was because of his color. Red was really a bull, but I prefer to call him a “cow”. At the time Red was acquired I was still an infant. My vague memory of Red was at three, close to the concluding years of World War II.

There were trees and bushes around the clearing in the forest of Cotabato. The sun was bright and warm. Red was lying down on the grass under the shade of a tree. He had horns (like a Texas longhorn) so he must have been a bull, but I prefer to remember him as a cow. My older sister Norma, was standing on his head, holding on to a tree branch, while she picked fruits. A dog napped near the cow’s belly.

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By the Sea, Sun-Kissed Children

Nonfiction by | February 22, 2009

There is a place in Zamboanga that is almost obscured by the onslaught of the fast paced life in the city. It is there, behind the revered structure of the La Nuestra Senora de la Virgen del Pilar, past the lighted candles held by the pious as their prayers rise, past the stalls that sell cotton candies and cheap rosaries, past the old acacia tree where placentas placed in shopping bags hang from its branches.

It is a place where a mere game of basketball is almost a religion, where women with baskets of fish on their head walk on rickety slabs of wood strung together by ropes. They walk cautiously, lest they plummet to the water below, which is almost solid after years and years of human waste of every kind have amassed. But they walk with fluidity and grace, like dancers listening to the ancient music produced by the tides of the sea. The men, whose flesh are wrinkled and dark, walk with a gait that belied their years.

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On Moving Forward…Then Staying

Nonfiction by | February 15, 2009

Tonight, I look at my child, with her hair bunched up like a fountain at the top of her head, with eyes wide and seemingly wondering whether I’m going to pick her up or not, and feel something painfully heavy on my chest.

A year ago, I had made a very selfish decision not to have her. Before she turne 2 months, I resolved that the creature inside me was not going to make my life any better. In fact, I had decided that her
presence will only bring an onslaught of bad luck and a multitude of clinical depressions. I had wanted to let her go — even forced her to leave.

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Good Luck and Stay Happy…

Nonfiction by | February 15, 2009

All romantic relationships are bound to hit nasty ground in the end — those that were mine, at least. I console myself with the idea that it’s how you loved in the moment that matters. Knowing that you have given yourself wholeheartedly and had possibly been made into a better person is reason to move forward. I tell myself that although I have lost, I have tried hard. At least I discovered who I am and what I am capable of doing. This I learned through someone who, at one point, I thought defined my being.

“You should meet my cousin.”

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Letter to My Atheist Brother

Nonfiction by | February 8, 2009

What I’m going to do is just share you something because, by having said that you’re an atheist, you remind me of what I was then and the thoughts that I harbored and the journey that I had to go through. Perhaps, your statement is a blessing because it has challenged me to write down and crystallize everything that I believe about God.

But before I start, I just want to ask that you own your statement. It is so easy to say “I believe in God” but it is a wholly different matter to say one doesn’t. To say that you’re an atheist is itself a product of deep reflection and hence must not be uttered in jest or mere fun. I expect that you take your statement seriously because this is a serious matter to begin with.

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Nonfiction by | January 25, 2009

When I see myself in mirrors, I don’t notice my mother’s nose, my father’s eyes, or my aunt’s lips. I do see my reflection but I don’t recognize myself. What I see is my father, what I recognize is a molded reflection of my father’s.

My father may not always have been there for me, but I believe he made sure to be there at the exact moment I had a weak grasp of what was going around me—he made sure to be there to help strengthen my grasp of what was worth gripping, of what was worth holding on to. Here is how I knew.

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Beginning with Inkblots

Nonfiction by | January 18, 2009

inkblotsTo write is to be in service to the moment, a moment that seeks to captivate and allure as well as to express the complex nature of emotion. I have written for as long as I can remember because I have found the necessity—no, rather, the conscious desire and comfort to see my thoughts and feelings materialize on paper and hence become my reality through which all can awaken and develop a sense of meaning and value.

I write because I feel the urge to enter into the practice of rediscovering the simplicities and complexities around me through the aid of both imagery and words, each story and each poem pulsating with life, striving to describe, to impart insight, to prove, to share—for life, I believe, is in itself the lifeblood of all things written and to be written.

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