Saturday, November 8, 2008

December 31

“Ellie, please get up.”

I grumbled at the voice, rolling around and enveloping myself with the blanket more tightly. I felt an impatient tugging at my foot.

“Gimme five more minutes…” I muttered almost unintelligibly.

“You said that five minutes ago.”

“Oh? Gimme…ten minutes then.”

“Ellie.”

“Okaaay. Fifteen.”

“Ellie!”

I felt something—fingers—grasping both my ears, and before I knew it, I was being dragged out of bed. The pain came sharp like an electric shock and I shrieked, yanking Gabriel’s hands away. I threw him one of my most dangerous death glares and he contested that with an insulting one-sided smile.

“Good morning, Miss Ellimere.”

I huffed. “Yeah, good morning. I only have an hour of sleep after a day full of endless nagging from mom when I put toothpaste on the cake instead of icing, after the very day I lost my MP4 and found it clogging the toilet bowl, after that big stray cat sneaked into my room and scooped Fondant and Nougat out of the pudding basin where I put them while I was cleaning the aquarium, and then my ears would be pulled away from my face—yeah, good morning, maybe it’s the best morning in my life.”

When I finished the sentence, I found myself panting. Apparently, Gabriel was shaking with hidden laughter.

“Whoa,” he gasped mockingly, his irritating grin widening. “That’s a machine gun of a mouth.”

I groaned, scratching my hair in a flurry of soot-black strands, reached to grab the nearest pillow and flung it to him. He caught it in a one-armed embrace while saying, “You’re still so childish.”

“And you’re still so irritating. Why are you here anyway?"

I bit my lower lip, feeling its chapped surface as I regretted what I just asked. Why are you here anyway? As if he’s not gone away for so many months. I let my heavy lids fall to shield my eyes from whatever my words might produce—a hurt face of an angel, staring with disbelief. And feeling as if I need to cheat now, one of my eyelids flipped open out of flexes, and I was glad to see an ever-smiling celestial creature.

He hugged the pillow with both arms as he regarded me with his coal-dark eyes. There was always something so mysterious with those eyes. They were not bright—in fact, they looked like just holes bored into his sclera. But if you would look a little longer, you will notice something so intense, something so alive, dancing in the cold vacuum of his pupils. The same old eyes I remembered so well.

His stare became more unnerving, and it sent a shiver down my spine. His smile was still there, but not with the natural bliss. It was manipulated, and that just added to the annoying atmosphere.

“What?” I asked, irritated.

Silence.

It’s as if my words never reached him. I shrugged, pulled a stuffed bunny from my bed and threw it to him. It bounced from his face and it somehow broke the thickening hush with his involuntary “Ugh!”

I laughed when he threw the bunny back with a mischievous smile.

“Come on. There must be a reason for you to barge in here and wake me up so early.”

I studied his reactions carefully and drew an inward groan as I realized he had learned to control his facial expressions during the past few months he spent away from the town. Now, I couldn’t seem to figure out what he was thinking about. In the past, I already know what he would say because every single word was painted on his face. All I could see now was an expressionless countenance with black embers in his eye sockets.

He sighed, a few wisps of his bangs puffing an inch from his forehead then settling down again.

“Just as I’ve guessed. You’ve forgotten.” There was an edge of bitterness in his voice.

I shrugged, crinkling my nose. “What is it?”

“Ellie,” he said, a few lines creasing his brow, “it’s the end of the month.”

Squinting at the morning sunshine spilling from the open blind just behind him, I wondered out loud, “Aside from New Year’s eve, I can’t remember anything to be celebrated today.”

“Exactly.” He said curtly.

“Exactly, there’s nothing to be celebrated today aside from New Year’s Eve?”

“Exactly, you can’t remember it.”

The rest of the morning was spent with me annoying him about the other thing aside from New Year ’s Eve.

“It was a promise,” he said finally when after hours of coaxing him for a clue.

Oh, I thought. “I’m sorry about that. I’m really forgetful. What did I promise you, anyway? Was it some kind of amusement park treat or I’m-it-tonight at the theaters? I’m sorry but officially, I’m broke today and—“

“It’s not you who promised,” he cut me out icily. “It’s…me.”

His last two words were too cold for the warm approach I gave the conversation. I shifted uncomfortably on my seat. He hadn’t touched his bowl of ramen; he’s just playing with the chopsticks, tapping them against the wooden table with an irregular rhythm. We were on Toru’s, the nearest Japanese restaurant from my residence.

“Hmm,” I moaned and prodded the swirls of my own noodles with the chopsticks, toying with the bear-shaped fried egg in my bowl. I poked little eyes on it, and wished that I didn’t, for they just reminded me of his unsettling stare. So it was him who promised, I thought. But why does he sound like it was my fault?

“Hey, do you want California maki instead?” I offered when after some more minutes he just tapped and tapped and tapped there like an idiot, staring into his noodle soup with an expression like it was a cesspit of smelly hogwash. “They make the best of maki here, much, much better than the convenient store-rolled ones.”

He stiffened, as if considering my offer. “The mangoes are tart.”

Silence succeeded, then after getting that he’s slowly warming up again with the talking, I snorted and shrugged. “You can remove them. I always love the mangoes. They make the dish a bit tastier, you know. Without them you’ll feel like just eating rice with artificial crabmeat.”

“It’s not that I don’t like sour things,” he whispered almost soundlessly. “They just remind me of your face.”

My eyes widened at his statement. “Oh yeah?”

“Oh yeah.” He gripped his chopsticks in one hand and began idly stirring his ramen, like a witch preparing a weird draught. He was actually preparing some kind of potion in his mind, ready to prescribe it to me so that it would wash away all the sanity left in my head.

“Your face is sour,” he strongly stated, a smile curving his lips. “Actually, your whole self is sour. It kinda tells me that even though I’ve got a sweet tooth, it doesn’t mean that I won’t enjoy tarts, too.”

“What do you mean?” This time I really twisted my face so that it would apply to the situation. Sour.

“You’re different,” he said. “Uh, let’s take a bag of confectioneries for an example. There would be too many sweets in there, you know, lollies and caramels and butterscotches. Overtime, I will have to stop eating them because I’ll get severe toothache. But with sour candies, I can always have them—and I can display my funniest and ugliest expressions when I eat them. Just like you, Ellie. I can always have you around without worrying about anything, and I can display my ugly personality without any anxiety.”

“Absurd,” I commented after a minute of dead air. “Now just tell me, you want maki or what?”

“Sure, sure,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck, covering his face with his bangs that were not long enough to conceal his flushed cheeks. Our order arrived minutes later, and we ate in silence, once again sulking in the deep abysses of our own thinking.

It was me who ate the whole tray of California maki.

He said he doesn’t want to eat anything today. I thought he was sort of dieting, but he has already shed the baby fat to give way to his chiseled features. He has…grown up.

And he’s grown up way too fast. I mean, I still have the characteristic childish roundness even after I turned seventeen. It made a slight revulsion in my system, but I clamped it down so that he wouldn’t have to ask me what’s bothering me. He always knows it, from my…sour expression alone.

We took a stroll under the broad daylight—a weird hobby we always do together when we were small. I coaxed him to tell me about the ‘promise’, but it’s like I’m just talking to a wooden statue. I even felt like I would rather talk to a real statue, for it wouldn’t have to look me straight in the eyes with hollow seas of
shadow. I shivered at his stare, felt the need to look away and tried to savor the last hours of this year.

It still felt like the last New Year’s Eve. Shivering in our jackets as we walked side by side, we adored the colors in the huge canvass of the sky as the day surrenders to the evening, the stars winking at us with premature fireworks. In the distance, we could hear the din of excited small firecrackers and the laughter of the street urchins.

The reddish shine of the ending day was too precious, especially today. I breathed in as the wind blew, sighing as it kissed my cheeks. We have no direction in mind, but I realized we just made our way to the woods. The trees loomed above us, their monstrous shadow falling on us with a certain kind of weight. I almost imagined them as real monsters, trunks twisting to expose a face a thousand times more sour than my own, branches stretching to wrap our bodies and squeeze us like a toothpaste tube. I gulped and suddenly noticed that he was extremely silent. No matter how much I want to tug at his arm and urge him to talk so that my attention would be diverted from the trees, I forced myself to shut up and wait for him to open his mouth without telling him to. I knew better than to talk to him. He never liked it when people distract his quiet times.

I forgot the tree-thing altogether as we reached a certain part of the woods, nostalgia kicking in. He wordlessly pointed somewhere a large, moss-covered rock stood against a white flower-bearing tree that I couldn’t identify what. I thought at first it was that tree he was pointing at, but I noticed something else a few feet away from it.

Standing against a backdrop of dark trees was a small mock shrine, its off-white walls now browning with age. It was reclining with the crab grasses, the rust-caked roofs halfway detached from the mushroom-ridden ceiling. The barbed fences were down now, frail with tarnishing. Chalked vandalism, mostly of stick figures scattered around a false hopscotch, adorned the bamboo flooring. Outside, a voodoo doll-like figure stood as a security guard, black button eyes gazing at them like accusing them of irresponsibility. I recalled christening him “Lt. Cottoncloud” as we advanced towards it.

“The shrine,” I whispered, dumbfounded. “I never knew it was still…alive.”

Gabriel chuckled. “It wasn’t properly preserved, but at least it lasted up to this date.”

I stooped to arrange Lt.Cottoncloud’s wig, which was made from a floor map head we thieved from the locker room when we were in elementary. “It was still special. But I thought it was destroyed after the typhoon that hit the town when we were seven. I remembered I refused to go to this place because I cannot bear to see what it looks like.”

Gabriel stooped too, only to dishevel the wig of the little lieutenant I just arranged. “Way to go, Lt. Cottoncloud. You did a good job in protecting our refuge.”

He hesitated for a while, then spoke, “I’m sorry. I can’t restore it to its original state. The first time I saw it today, it was semi-recognizable. I’ve tried my best to make it look as if nothing happened. As if time didn’t pass by and worn it out.”

I let out an abrupt gulp of laugh, tapping him on his shoulder.

“Gabby, our shrine’s still alive. You made it stay alive. That’s what is important. But you tell me—when you said the first time you saw it today, it means you saw it before we even went here? I mean, you’ve been in our house so early.”

He sighed. “Ellie, today doesn’t start at seven in the morning.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“That you’ve come here even before the sun wakes up?”

“I passed this place first before I went to your house.”

“I know, but Gabby, it was prohibited to go into the woods until it’s morning. It’s too dangerous here; a lot of people who go in here vanished and they were never seen again.”

“But I’m here. I didn’t…vanish.”

“Yeah, and you’re not caged in our community jail. Local cops were guarding the place, you know, and lots of foolish teenage boys were already caught. Sneaking into the forest to expose whatever kind of courage—or craziness they want to expose.”

“I’m here,” he firmly stated. I couldn’t find a word to say anymore, not after he paralyzed me again with that stare. He sighed, advanced towards me and flashed a sad smile—the kind of smile that was double-edged. It made a part of me lighten a little, but there’s still a part of me that was pulsating in a indescribable ache.

“When we were still little brats,” he began, eyes still glued to mine, “I used to leave you in this shrine, with a promise that I would return. I’d keep my promise, but I was always too late. It’s either you were crying because it was already dark or you were already asleep after hours of waiting for me.”

I giggled. “Oh. Yeah. It was good to reminisce those moments. Yes, you would return too late, but I always feel better because you’d bring me a handful of bonbons and a bottle of fireflies. You’d give me a piggy back, and we’d—“

My smile perished when I sensed some pressure in the atmosphere. “Something wrong?”

“Ellie, I hope you could forgive me.”

Confused, I tilted my head to one side. “Forgive you for what?”

He didn’t answer directly. He moved closer, clasping our hands together. I felt the little earthquake in his system, all condensed into his palms. His voice didn’t deny the shaking, too. “Before I left this town…exactly a year ago when the clock strikes twelve tonight…I promised that I’d be back before the year ends. December thirty-first.”

I scrunched my eyes close when I felt a beating pain in my skull. I swallowed hard, focusing the reply that I would give him. “You always make promises—they were too many of them. I don’t effort to remember all because I know you won’t let anything unfulfilled. I don’t care if it’s wrong or late or anything. What’s important is that you are here. Now I know why I can’t recall that promise you’re talking about. It’s because I don’t care about it, and it won’t matter anymore. Because you’re here. With me.”

“B-but.. You see, it’s… uh, how do I put this…”

I angled my head aside in slight amusement though there was still a dull pain. “Is there any problem? Don’t think too much about it. Anyway, you’ve fulfilled it—December thirty one today. New Year’s Eve. I don’t think we should have issues about that.”

I pulled my hands gently out of his and heaved a heartfelt sigh as I secretly struggled to maintain the tingling feeling his skin contact left from mine. “Hmm.. don’t you think it’s getting darker?”

He nodded. “You should be going home now.”

“Won’t you come with me?”

He shook his head. “I’m afraid not.”

There was something in the way he was acting that there was some kind of a terrible secret he was going to continue to hide after nearly blurting it out.

“You ought to go home now, Ellie. I’m sorry if I can’t accompany you home.”

“Is there something wrong?”

“No, nothing.” He nodded to the direction out of the woods. “Go now. Please be safe.”

Without saying anything, I turned on my foot and started to march on, waving him goodbye. I struggled hard to zip my mouth shut; there’s a wave of words that needs release, but I think I still have another time to set it free. Not now, I told myself.

“Ellie.”

I stopped in my tracks, throwing my head back.

“Please come back here before the clock strikes twelve. I’ll be here. I promise.”

I fled from the house easily, as everyone was busy with Media Noche, with the radio turned on full blast with the song “Auld Lang Syne” playing.

Harder to avoid were the dancing firecrackers on the street and the jumping children swaying glow-sticks in the air. They reminded me of the Star Wars movies. Soon, the air was thickened with smoke.

It was quite a relief when I reached the woods, because there, both the noise and the smoke were being warded off by the thick clumps of trees.

But when I saw him, the relief on my chest vanished, the stillness building up a prison that I thought would have no escape. My whole body shook with utmost disbelief. I told myself that this was one of his practical jokes, but my heart told me well enough that it was true.

He was standing there, next to our self-made refuge. Right in front of him, tucked in Lt.Cottoncloud’s wig, was a brownish paper folded and tied with a red ribbon. I struggled to walk forward with my legs wobbling like jelly. I fell to my knees, my trembling fingers disobeying my command to wrestle the sudden weakness I was feeling. I tried again, and I was able to life the paper.

I unfolded it with the remaining strength I believe I have. Before my eyes tumbled the neat writing of Gabriel I used to envy back in high school. It was a letter.

Ellie,


It was quite disrespectful to talk to you like this, but it’s all that I can do.You know I cannot afford to break any promise that I made with you. But, just as I always say, I’m always late. Everything in my life seemed so untimely.


I’m very happy to meet you. Do you remember the first day I met you? We were only five-year-olds then. You have your face pressed against the display window of our candy shop and I went out to give you a confection. I told you that it was sweet, but it wasn’t—it’s sour. You tasted it, your face wrinkled, and you said, “Whoa. You’re right, it’s sweet. Let me have another one.”


That’s very you. You can make yourself believe something IS, even though it ISN’T. I guess this will be a bit hard for you, but I still suggest you don’t effort to make yourself believe IT’S NOT TRUE. Because it IS.


I won’t forget you. I can’t. Always with me are the images of the young girl who’ll rather talk to her paper dolls than the other kids, the girl who loves fireflies and butterflies, the girl who loves life. The girl who eventually became my life.


But I guess I’m not qualified to be with you. You know all too well, destiny is so cruel. It caught me—its manacles too tight that I was left bruised. I’m sorry for giving up. Please forgive me.


Minutes from now, the clock will strike twelve. I guess I cannot wish you anything but a New Year, a new beginning. Don’t think that I will not be there for you. Just remember the first day you learned to tie your shoe, I’ll be with you. Just remember the short-lived glow of the fireflies in the bottle, I’ll be with you. I’ve always been and always will be with you.




Continue to live, to grow. Continue to love.
This is so untimely. Please forgive me.




GABRIEL.
December 31.



I reread the letter more than thrice, and before I even knew it, my cheeks were flooded with tears. I found myself catching my breath as I sobbed. Slowly—very slowly—I turned my face to his direction. I paid my wristwatch a quick glance. Deliriously, I started breathing a countdown: “Four…Three…Two..One…H-happy New Year, Gabby…”

He was standing right next to our little lieutenant, cold and unmoving. There was a bundle of withered chrysanthemum at his foot, and his shadow under the fireworks-lit sky makes a long cross that towered over our shrine. Written on him was:


HERE LIES

Gabriel Cordova
BORN: October 19, 1990
DIED: December 29, 2007



I learned from his relatives that he died of brain cancer. He had it even before he left the town, and kept it secret from me. On Christmas, he knew he was going to die. He was fighting for too long now. That night, he became outspoken on his ‘pending’ death. He requested to be buried next to our shrine, and wished not to tell me until January 1.

He came back to fulfill his promise to me.

He always makes promises—they were too many of them. I don’t effort to remember all because I know he won’t let anything unfulfilled. Not even death.

~FIN~

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Floating Letters

Dear whoever-you-might-be, my all time best friend and crime partner,


MA! Hahaha. Sure you won’t be able to read this, because (1) you’ve got BAD eyesight and (2) you don’t care about the computer and all its “craps”. Maybe I’ll say this to you in person sometime in the future, you just have to wait for that tremendous drama. Anyway, I just want to say I’m still up to continue our crimes! *smirk* No matter how crazy I may seem, I’m still going to be you superhero. You know that, and I promise that, though you’ve been my super-duper-megalicious-extraordinary-heroine all this time. I guess I cannot help but get a little cheesy here again, but I do love you! We often snort at each other when topics like this were put on the air, but it’s true. Take a good care of your health.. Errrr, I may close this part with a quote from Stephenie Meyer’s NEW MOON: “I’ll do everything I can, but I’ll appreciate a little help.” Very well said.


Dear whoever-you-might be, always-standing-there-for-US-no-matter-what-happens,

I’m not going to keep my recipient anonymous: dadsie. You may not read this, knowing how you abhor the very site called Friendster because you cannot get me AND/OR my sister to dinner during weekends. But just the same, I want to say I appreciate whatever you’re doing for us. Maybe I’m not at best when showing my gratitude, but I love you more than anyone. You’re the only man in the world I love this MUCH. I have my lapses in exposing my care for you, and I’m sorry for not being very showy. I guess you’ll know that, anyway. I just think I’m good at hiding things, but everyone’s actions seem to say I’m otherwise. You also notice that?

You yourself try to be subtle in your own feelings for us children, but you unconsciously produce BIG holes where your emotions spill out. Mother knows that, and she feels that. But I won’t deny you have your own lapses—though, those lapses were overlapped by everything you give to us. How can anyone be so kind? You’re the coolest guy around. And if ever you DO read this, please expect me to hide under the blankets ‘till you decide to drive your way—–away to your work in Tarlac. It’s the corniest piece I’ve written for you. I’m cheesy by nature, anyway (the books are the culprits!). And I take that after YOU. Ha-ha. Please take care! Even if you’re miles away from me tonight, please know that I’m praying for your safety. I love you. *smooch*

Dear whoever-you-might-be, the most mischievous pixie-like creature to ever roam…our house,

Well it’s you, sizzzlingster. Hahah. One piece of advice: keep on being the dangerous creature I know. And since I’m 101% certain you’ll not read this entry *and even if a miracle occur and you DO read this, I doubt you’re going to get at this part, since lots of reading intimidate you that easy*, I’m not going to be very corny, like my letters to mom and dad. Stay as fierce as you are, and don’t forget to study well, and don’t indulge yourself too much in Jonas Brothers, and don’t forget to wash the dishes when it’s finally your turn, and don’t forget to put your shoe rags in plastic bags before cramming them in your bag, and don’t forget to set your alarm clock so that we won’t make another round of blaming contest in the morning, and don’t forget where your portion of the bed is because it kind of pisses me off when you sprawl in my ‘territory’, and don’t forget all of what I’m saying, flashing your innocent look and that all-too-annoying, “ano ulit?” Oh well. Knowing you, you won’t obey a single word from me. But still….I heart you! You’re the best damn thing next to annoyance. *smirks* Kill me.


Dear whoever-you-might-be, keeping on pulling at my optimistic side,

Whether you’re expecting a DSLR camera, musing over a funny children’s show character, cuddling a new bunny, celebrating over 15,000php kickback or preparing for a busy modeling career in Bangkok, I just want you to know that you’ve been a good circle to me. Thank you. I’m doing all the best that I can so that I can stay with you. All will fall into their respective places, and no matter what the outcome, I know it’s God’s will. I might be the worst pessimist in this universe (just check out my previous blog entry), but I think I can take after Pollyanna as much as I can. Thank you very much, from the bottom of my little charred heart (boo-hoo!). I love you all! Thank you for everything.


Dear whoever-you-might-be, er—you MIGHT be. Yeah, you. Whatever.

Uh, hi! Keep smiling.

Dear whoever-you-might-be, the best and most rockin’ lassie in the punk world,

I know you’re doing well and that you’re very happy right now. You’re getting what you deserve gradually. Honestly, I missed you so much! We still DO talk over the internet, but I want to see you again in person. I love you, bettttch. You still have me if you have problems, though I doubt you’d run to me, since it was always ME who ran to you when I’ve got a problem. Sorry for being the klutz that I was, the reckless person you’ve come to know. FAVOR! Give me one virtual big hug! I love you. You’re like a sister to me. You’re now painting your great fairy tale. Have your happy ending, and consider me a part of the story when you’re still not encountering your fairy god mother. Please be safe!


Dear whoever-you-might-be, the person whom I trust very well and I will continue to love,

Of course you know who you are. A dear confidant, a very intelligent person, an understanding co-dreamer. Thanks! Even if I haven’t seen you in a long time now, I still feel you like you’re just here beside me. And oh, thank you for those words you say were ‘subtle’, though they ripped right through my thorax and stung my heart *sniff*. Well. I just miss you, that’s what I’m trying to say. And oh, I know you’re going to be okay, like what you’ve said. You’re one of the strongest people who barged into my life. And well, thank you for tolerating my psychotic side, about the angels we talked about and how beautiful their wings were, about trading our own distorted views of the world, about the bittersweetness we learned to keep in each other’s lockers. Just one favor: please let me worry about you. I know you could make yourself alright without help from anyone, but I’d love to help you in the best way I know. Keep in touch, sis!

Dear whoever-you-might-be, the same lazy high school buddy I’ve always known from giddy-hood,

HEY! I know that even if I say I’ve got a portion of you in one of my entries, you’d still decide not to look at it. I couldn’t imagine someone else THAT lazy! Anyway, as long as I know that you haven’t forgotten me, I am ok. Though, I’m still going to talk as if you’re going to read this. I missed the funny times we have together, those times you shed your held-in emotions to me, those times when we helped each other and sometimes mock each other. I just missed you WHOLLY! *hug* I hope you’re just doing well. I still have a few sources from NTC and PLM about you. YEAH, I’m keeping track of what you’re doing, hunny. Stalker? hell, like I’ll stalk anyone like you. PEACE! Please be safe, that’s all!

Dear whoever-you-might-be, you little creatures I met online, people who despite talking with digitized technology still managed to build true and bizarre friendship,

Who else? Thank you guys for keeping the bridge strong. I used to believe that online friendship were some sort of crap, but that belief changed after I met you guys here: this little sweet thing I called my popsicle, her best friend whom I share my venom with, their Indonesian friend who I can always talk to in the wee small hours of the day, their gorgeous part-Japanese, part-Chinese, part-Filipino kid friend, some more dark creatures who wanted so badly to own the perfect guy Edward Cullen, and recently a smart Murakami-addict who talks a lot like Bob Ong. You’ve got one-of-a-kind personalities that I won’t find anywhere else. I don’t make friends online just to pass time; I do that because I want to reach out to people who may want to reach out to me as well, who may want to write memories with true people connected by the modern science. Keep it stronger, and let the circle go tighter. I wish you all the best in your lives outside our digital world.


Dear whoever-you-might-be, still up at two in the morning and typing these dead letters of sorts,

Oh well. Why you’re still up? Still bored? There’s nothing left to do now but enjoy the rest of the sembreak, but how about some sleep? You could finish all those PULP back issues on some other day, and you could download songs the whole year. Just sleep NOW. You notice how big you’re eyebags were already? Umm.. how about your fuzzy mind right now? And what the heck crossed your mind to stop this entry for a while……….hey you’re back, after frying some bacon and scrapping cold rice from the pot?! Breakfast two hours after midnight?! Hey you’re crazy! You’d get FATTER, silly! Er. Whatever. You’ve got problems? You’ve got a lot of people you can run to, like the ones you wrote letters to, the ones above this letter, and the one just ABOVE. He knows what’s the best for you.

And hey? What’s with that mischievous thought? Hey wait———-

Not-so-dear whoever-you-might-be, the gremlin who keeps on squeezing into my world for me to notice your hate notes,

How about a trip to hell and back? Ah, no, ignore the ‘back’ part. Just stay where you belong.*

*I can be extremely mean when I like to.


SINCERELY YOURS,

Airiz

Monday, October 13, 2008

Race between Hesitant Heartbeats and Ticking Clocks

The clock’s second hand will catch us.
Like it always does.

It’s going to be my final day of my first semester as a sophomore tomorrow. You may think I am just wasting my time here typing this entry (mainly because the finals exams ARE NOT yet over and I ought to be reviewing my notes—shucks, it’s Sociology-Anthropology!!!), but I think these wasted minutes here are worth, well, reading. For future purposes.. to remember how foolish I am to prioritize blogs over exams. Pshaw.

Oh well. My semester has been great—the original thirty-plus members of the A104 now have depleted into ten Journalism students. Fear swept over me upon learning of our small number at the start of the semester, for the course might get dissolved. Fortunately, it does not— even if it looks absurd to have a world-renowned media practitioner and professor to sit inside the circle of ten journalism newbies (actually, attendance sheets were often numbered up to five only, since the other five intermittently attends the subject) like we were in a picnic of sorts. XD

The semester was crammed up to the brim with new experiences that only college life could give us. We took up our first major subjects—News writing and sports writing, with the *ahem* personality I just talked about earlier, Mr. Guillermo Santos. He was a great professor, and he fully understood how we procrastinate in his subjects *bad students!* He was extremely patient, for I know how irritating it was to have students like us. XD. Under sir Gil, I managed to set foot in Destiny Channel studio and watched a live episode of sir Gil’s talk show. I remembered getting too occupied with what we were going to do there that when the time to go home came I realized that I don’t actually know how to get home. XD I took a cab with one of my classmates and I safely managed to get home *and without any interrogations, as my mother has finally fallen asleep when I arrived*.

Another awe-inspiring professor, Ms. Renalyn Valdez, “resurrected” to create a sequel to her communications subject with us. I loved her subject, seriously, and I was a bit sad that the semester has ended that soon. I would surely miss how we imbibe the lessons on the theories and how we apply those theories in our lives, I would miss the pressure we felt in the essay-type exams that was the unique Ma’am-Ren-style, I would miss the days of funny activities, the furtive camera shots we took when the atmosphere got too soporific… One particular memory would keep on pulsating in my mind for a long time, I know: the time when I, Mamu Kit, Debbie, and Kianah invaded a small space outside Starbucks to make our journal entries, at intervals inserting jokes and sipping our Frappe. XD That was a remarkable day.

This sem is remarkable in my lame sports history. We got to have bowling for P.E., and it was exciting! Yeah, I admit I’m not really good at it (with every ball lofted or thrown into the canal) but I enjoyed playing it. Professor Victoria Banzon was a rather friendly teacher. Chatting with her is more like chatting with a friend

Then there enter Ma’am Consolacion Sauco, who like Ma’am Ren came to teach us again, with Philippine Literature this time. I’ve got a bunch of genuine classmates in this minor subject. Most of them were HRM students and they loved to mock our professor by shrieking “number one!!”, whenever Ma’am Sauco would talk about her achievements. And of course, would I ever forget the day when she got infuriated with me when I allegedly laughed hard that it irritated her? No way. And for final defense, seriously, I DIDN’T laugh hard. I just smirked *bang*.

And speaking of the professors who ‘came back’, let’s put Professor Dindo Danganan in the roster. He’s back to teach Broadcast Journalism. His subject was a dead ringer of his last, and this sent us a little irritated. We didn’t even have the chance to get full service from the MAClab!! Anyway, it was in his subject that we first made our first documentary about a radio station and our very own petite news show. Though that doesn't necessarily equate to the wasted P1,500 paid for the lab services.

Moving on… I didn’t mean to always look forward on Tuesdays and Fridays like there haven’t any other Tuesdays and Fridays that passed my life, but I felt like it. This has many reasons: first, it was the day of the Writing in the Discipline subject. I like English. In Professor Josephine Galicha’s subject, I, together with two co-journalism students and a taekwondo jin, produced our very first college baby thesis. It was about the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, and we were able to interview one of those who lived to tell about the tale of the said mystery—Mr. Bruce Gernon (Time out! I am planning to post a separate blog entry about him, by the way). Her class was okay, but I took note that more students here were more interested in talking to each other than listening to our professor. Her surname was often punned to “Galit cha”, loose Tagalog equivalents of the words “she’s angry” *AND to avoid plagiarism, I acknowledge Ms. Kianah Amil for coining the terms*.

In the process of making our paper, our Sociology-Anthropology professor, Mr. Nestor Velasco, helped in giving us almost all the necessary things we need. That was very kind of him; he was in fact very kind to everyone. There were times that he felt his kindness was ‘abused’, and those times were the moments where his life stories would come out to either inspire or bug us (at some level, for there are stories that were repeated and repeated and he didn’t seem to notice that he was actually repeating them). But his kindness was undisputed. He was generous and considerate. He would be happy, I know, whatever path he might take in his life. God knew who the real kind people were, and He will make them happy. XD

I’m growing up and sooner or later I know I will be leaving this college, too. For now, I will enjoy my stay here, with all those people I have mentioned above. The memories that swirled in this electronic page and in the gutters of my head will stay forever—and EVER.

And with these ending lines, I say THANK YOU to everyone for this semester. I felt really great, and no matter how hard my hesitant heartbeats race with the ticking of the clock, the second hand will always catch us to get us back to reality. Like it always does.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Maganac Corps: OFW's in the Arab Kingdom

Thirteen years ago, there was a Japanese mecha-themed series that featured an Arabian private group of forty guerillas. They were called the Maguanac Corps, whose members were all gestated in test-tubes due to problems of natural pregnancy in outer space (the series was set in a modern era called After Colony or AC when Space colonies were established outside the Earth Sphere and were capable of sustaining life).

They were by no means major characters, but they stamped an ineradicable mark in my head, and well, heart.

The name of the paramilitary group, Maguanac, was derived from the Tagalog word “Mag-anak”, which means family. After a few researches about why the Japanese creators came up with this, I learned that that our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) were not only renowned in our country as heroes, but also in other neighboring countries—and possibly even around the world, since the show was aired in almost every corner of the planet after it gained huge audiences in the United States.

The most famous ‘heroes’ were the OFW’s in Saudi Arabia, as it seems, thus the name of the Middle Eastern group in the show. The camaraderie between the Arabians and the Filipinos were also known internationally. In the show, the group was backing up a fifteen-year-old Arab in his fight against oppressors.

I noted that the Filipino trademark ‘close family ties’ was globally known, too, as was shown in the series. All of the forty members of the circle were test-tube babies but they treat themselves with pride as though they were born normally; they live as one family, supporting and loving each other unconditionally even though they were never really connected by blood. This was a flattering truth, but I would like to emphasize that this fact was just a trivia and was not entirely the center of my blog entry.

The underscore was on what was happening to the Filipinos in the Arab Kingdom.

Last October 14, an overseas Filipino worker was executed after the Appellate Court and Supreme Judicial Council of Saudi Arabia affirmed the OFW’s death sentence. Jenifer Bidoya, also known as Venancio Ladion, was convicted of murder of a Saudi national. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wrote two letters to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in December 2007 and July 2008, requesting clemency, but the family of the victim pushed for ‘quisas’ or appropriate penalty.

In June 2007, another Filipino, Reynaldo Cortez, was also beheaded in the same country after he was convicted of murdering a taxi driver who allegedly tried to sexually assault him.

In July of the same year, three of seven Filipinos were meted the death sentence by a Saudi court for killing their three compatriots whose bodies were dismembered and found in Southern Jeddah in 2006.

The list went on like an exaggerated roster of criminals I remembered laughing at when I watched it from a kiddie cartoon. But honestly, there was nothing in this situation was funny at all.

One day, I found myself grimacing at a TV commercial (and a conspicuously premature political campaign for the 2010 presidential elections by a well-off senator) about the stories of the rescued OFW’s. The narrator of that commercial was lazily annoying, and it somewhat added to my chagrin. Violence against women was something that always gets on my nerves and it sets my mood almost on the verge of irrationality. What was happening? Where was the almost-perfect image of the Arab-Filipino camaraderie–or the non-blood family ties they shared as it was shown in the thirteen-year-old series I mentioned above? It could be argued that the series was fictional, but the creators themselves said that the said characters were molded after the real relationship of Arabs and Filipinos. Moreover, you could never make something like that if it has no basis for reality.

Going back to the murder tales, I never really know when the list started, whether it was even more than thirteen years ago or less than a decade ago. No matter how old it was, it made an impression to me that the world once knew that everything was all right long, long ago. It was almost sickening, in my opinion, how the government repeatedly takes actions to save the OFW’s who were precariously near the mouth of death. I did look to the other side of the story to weigh everything, and the stories no normal person could barely stomach were, at an angle (if not at EVERY ANGLE), unforgivable. That rings a bell: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. When you take a life, you must send a kind of payment in the form of life too.

I am by no means a traitor; I’m still a Filipino, but even if I would be in the shoes of the family members of a convicted OFW, I would just leave it all to God. God would forgive, that was unquestionable—but how about the family left by the murdered? I heard about self-defense tales, abuse stories (to a high extent I did sympathize about these especially about women), inescapable tortures that led to murder…But let us widen the range of our perspective—aren’t the Arabians humans too? Whether they were killed intentionally or not, they did still have life. They breathe. They have families. Why should we put the law in our own hands? Sure there would be a way—God, or whom the Arab people call their Allah, would make a way for these crimes to be brought to justice. We have no authority for the precious thing called life.

God is the judge. Let destiny roll in His own will.

Then, there were still stories about the Arabian victim’s family pardoning the murderer—saved OFW’s. That would be a relief for the nation, and I was somehow left dumbfounded at the divine power that a few people could give nowadays. I guess that would be it: FORGIVENESS. Probably the most deific act in human history that could change one or thousands of life. It was sad that it was in the nature of humans to slowly— so, so slowly grow up to know the meaning of true forgiveness. And as a human myself, I wouldn’t paint white whiter. It takes me time to forgive, but when I do, the burden locked in my chest would be suddenly removed.

So to end the entry here, I would leave a silent wish (with a flurry shower of imaginary dandelion seeds! Wee!) that the Maguanac Corps image would somehow float back after being drowned by years of dark tales. I hope it would be sooner.



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(BTW, the Japanese series I was talking about was Shin Kidousenki Gundam Wing. :D)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Widowed for Weeks

There are several moments in my life that I want to freeze into something that I could hold onto forever.


Or, for a three fourths of a lifetime at least.

For instance, I want to bring home a portable box of the raindrops dribbling against the cobblestones of Intramuros; the cotton-candy clouds thawing into a sea of pink sunlight; the ragamuffins leaping in uncontrollable excitement over the steel rails of the local railway; the crimson of the sunset dyeing an abandoned doll on the bench; or even the simplest things that I treasure, like my father’s smile. They were more than precious.
Sure, I could always keep them in my heart for an eternity, but some kind of a material remembrance would be better, right? Especially that I have this irritating sometimes-long-term-and-sometimes-short-term memory loss. Well, I have the answer: photography.

Indeed. And admittedly, this light-drawing thing is something that could make my hair stand on end or stain my cheeks with patches of curiously inconspicuous pink (perhaps due to my ashen caramel pigment, eh?) just by staring at the photos. Wow.

My father finally bought me a Canon F55-F55D just recently and I was beyond grateful for it. I started wreaking havoc with it, clicking here and clicking there until my ecstasy would be cut abruptly when the LCD panel blink to tell me that I’ve ran out of ammo (read: film). It wouldn’t be long when I’d be joining the ‘battle’ (of sorts, in a sense that it eats up a big, JUICY slice of time from my already crammed up schedule) again, because I would do anything to resume….’fighting’.

And just more recently, since we ran short of cash for the payment of the heap of bills that have been pinned up impatiently on our refrigerator door, mother have to pawn the camera to a friend of her. I felt like widowed, really, but I couldn’t do anything. Besides, mother was more important; our supply of water and electricity were important too. I think Kaleido (the name I christened the camera) could wait.

So I stopped the shutterbug-ging for some time. It was a bit timely, since my schedule tightened up a little (just a little) more with a little (just a little yet again) more school bunkums. But as the month of June waved bye-bye, we were able to redeem Kaleido after we paid off the pawnbroker with half my allowance my school provides me monthly.

I wasn’t able to return to the same level I left off the last time I spent with Kaleido, but my love for him didn’t trail off. I didn’t have much spare time, that’s the only problem. Purchasing ammo was out of the question too, because my mother kept on stacking lessons about austerity in my head time and again. (And boy I was conscientious about the bucks I splurged!) Anyway, I’ve bought myself my very first i-mag photography magazine and I think it’s quite practical to study more about photography before running around like a moron with a little black machinery dangling from her neck.

Okay, I’m a self-proclaimed mad schoolgirl but my Kaleido isn’t a machine by any means. He’s my love! I would give him full-time attention this coming October, when the first semester ends.

I’m looking forward to it. XD

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Indelible Rhythm

It’s like I peered back through the binoculars of time.

This afternoon, when I was walking to school with one of my classmates, I happened to bump into my former music teacher. My knee-jerk impulse was to shriek. I pushed my way through the wall of souls desperately hurrying to catch the second bell for their first period classes, and for some time I and my teacher giddily exchanged long-time-no-see palavers and questions—like what old friends would do.
Our conversation didn’t last for even five minutes, but it’s like my four-year memories with him streamed forth in my head.

Mr. Augusto Baldoz has been my music teacher for four high school years. My high school stood in the nest of the shadowed streets of Tondo. And Tondo it was—encircled by abandoned slaughterhouses and frequented by weird-looking hoodlums and red-eyed street urchins. I chose to study there for no apparent reason at all, but I never regretted being enrolled there. One of the reasons why this was so was the Indonesian folk band I joined there, conducted by Mr. Baldoz.

The band plays Indonesian ‘gamelan’ instruments called angklung. Being a part of such a group, I was thought how to read musical notes, how to compete with other ensemble the same as ours and how to maintain discipline at all times. Our band gained little recognition at first, but we took baby steps into the limelight.
Rehearsals were held everyday after classes. Oftentimes, our practice dismissal comes at seven-thirty in the evening, but there were still some times when have to stay in school until midnight.
One of those times was when we were to perform in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). We would only serve as the musical accompaniment of our school’s apparently district-famous Sining Lahi Dance troupe, but it was an honor all the same to be the part of such a performance.

We, the angklung players,—who still were on the ledge of hopping into our second teen year—were feeling lightheaded. We were but small creatures ploughed out from a small school in the crime-infested Tondo, and a concert in front of large audiences was quite dreamy.

Rehearsals in the center lasted up to a week. And, take it from me, it was a hell of a week. At the time you were on stage, you wouldn’t be treated like a child. Age didn’t seem to exist, and slowness equals a mouthful of sermon from some bearded stranger backstage. Committing mistakes would receive castigations, and being a young person wouldn’t be an excuse. We were surrounded by adult performers who from time to time would blab out some peculiar stage term, plus the director and production stuff throwing commands that we small people weren’t aware of fully.

Each group participating in the cultural concert would have one-hour rehearsal. We were scheduled somewhere near the last hour of individual practice, so often times we kill time ambling above rooftops where we could have the panoramic view of the Star City, or we would just take forty winks backstage after wiping wax to our bamboo-bodied musical instruments. We laugh all we could and talk all we could as much as possible, for when it came to rehearsals, such childishness were banned already.
Tearful dress rehearsal and general rehearsal came and passed, and it was finally our moment of truth.
The feeling was incomparable.
The lights were off at first of course and at that time my heart was drumming against my rib cage. It’s like I want to shrink. I feel very weak-kneed, but somewhere behind the nervousness was the blooming excitement.
An eternity seemed to pass before seemingly hundreds of blinding lights blasted open, drowning the vast stage. I squinted, but my sight couldn’t pierce through the glow. It was surreal. Since the lights were aimed at us, we couldn’t see the audience. Right before our eyes were just lights and more lights—our conductor wasn’t even onstage. We have to keep our aching smiles plastered to our faces no matter how we want to grimace or frown in deep jumpiness. I remember my teeth chattering while I pleaded for the scene to be fast-forwarded and at the same time to be slowed a little more. The sensation was nondescript altogether.

When our performance ended, the lights exploded to a total darkness, and we broke into our fastest moves to reach backstage. Emotions poured unlimitedly there. Soon the whole concert came to an end, and the whole cast would have to take the final bow. You couldn’t simply imagine how breathless I was when all the lights were opened to reveal how big the audiences were.
It was almost 1 A.M. when we got to return to our school. Tired but definitely happy, we bid farewells and goodnights as each of us write an indelible page of a once in a lifetime experience in our hearts.

Our CCP concert wasn’t the sole large performance we have. We also have been given the opportunity to play the national anthem during the flag-raising ceremony in Malacanang in the Independence Day of 2006; to play in the Sea Bees Navy base to welcome American officers; to give entertainment a cultural show in Olongapo City; to play Christmas carols along the streets of Tondo, and to annually play in Luneta park for four straight years—all with small or no compensation at all.

All of these rolled back into my head. It was sort of nostalgic that I longed to see my former band-mates again or at least take a stroll in the streets of Tondo. I peeled the superficial fact that it was a very dangerous zone. It feels like home, actually—where I would be safe.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pitch-black Somethings

I’ve had my life in a clean, new slate.
I cannot afford to mess it up like what I did the last time.
But never did I say that I’m going to shrink into a boring little mouse in a corner. I’ll go in the most adventurous paths, in an effort to print the most memorable indelible pages in the story of the life of this street urchin-like creature. It’s not going to be in vain. I know it.

Well, my sophomore year started out good enough. The original forty-people class depleted into an eight-student cluster…not a wholly new set of professors, but quite interesting batch of course subjects…a gang of senior “mature” males smirking around my little group of still-giddy females, a friendly seatmate in Philippine Literature class who seemed to have got a volume of Satanism encyclopedia locked up in her head, an ulcer-inducing schedule…among other things. Effortlessly, I can make this semester unforgettable.

The first week seemed a bit long enough to learn a bunch of things. First, I’ve learned that I still have a LONG way to go before I could reach my destination. Second, I learned that it isn’t easy to adjust from a juvenile world into an adult-dominated one. And lastly, repeating mistakes is sometimes a bit too easy to do especially when we let our minds go half-floating. Hmm. Don’t get me wrong. There’s just no way that I’ll be relenting at this stage of the game.

*sigh* I feel like I need some sort of a sister figure to guide me through my college life. Not that I’m saying that my parents and sisters are not helping me. My motts’ there for moral help, potts’ for the financial slice, my younger sister…well, she’s there to sip out a little pressure with sometimes too off-colour jokes. My older half-sister is there to join my younger sis, of course. (Gaah. Mentioning my half-sis here, I cannot help but to remember how unique she is. She have me wearing a two-inch thick Eskimo jacket of sorts in a sunny afternoon, have me eat raw clam from the bar-chow leftovers of the drunkards in the alley, and—I just narrowly escaped it—have her hair dyed a bright green. Anyway, she re-colored it black after some time.)

Back to our school-underworld stuff, yes, I feel the need for an older figure to whom I can run into whenever I have problems in school. Each of us in the family has our own things that we deal with personally. Well, I cannot surely run into my father to accompany me to buy a secondhand book in Recto while he crams to finish his report due thirty-minutes later or ask my younger sister her views about Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s head-spinning holiday economics. *sigh*

In our regular group (Mamu, Debbie, Eliza, Jedidiah and me), we’re more or less coeval, and we have our own personal problems as well. I just really hope that I can have someone who will try to listen to my pitch-black….somethings. For some time I will need someone who I can ask about how she did her research paper back in her college years, if she felt unnerved when she first stepped into a room crowded with adult people, or if she like feminine-looking boys too.

Right now, what I have are these three creatures: me, myself, and I. Accompanied with murmured pushes to myself to go on and guidance from above, I think I can survive. Even though my friends and family cannot help me fully, I know they are there to help me in the best way they can when I ask for it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lessons Before Re-School-rection

The drowned staccato chorus of the stray brown birds was what actually woke me up that Saturday. It was a wonderful thing, I realized, for such nice pieces of music to shake you from your bed for you to see how the sun paints the canvas of the sky with a distant, subdued pink at daybreak. Sometimes, it’s sickening to continually hear the mechanical resonance of my celfone’s alarm clock or to feel the impatient tugging of my mother at my feet to yet again rise to a seemingly chaotic underworld called the college…

Don’t get me wrong, I love the school. It’s just I’m a little saddened that this is last Saturday of my first vacation as a college student. But I must admit, I’ve learned a lot this summer alone and I’m grateful for it. Here’s the breakdown of what these “lessons” are:

Learn Not to look at the Wrong ends of Binoculars

It’s exhausting to live in the past. Some people simply don’t know how to leave the past. They happen to unconsciously scatter fragments of these to tangle with the present. More often than not, from these time morsels crawl out a creature that swallow the ones who look back with pessimism. Personally, I believe that at some point, all of us tried to hold on to our past—the variation is only how long we stay trapped on the same ground. A lot of factors affect these differences in our when’s: God, family, friends. The people involved reach out to help us and God—as always—lends a helping hand. That’s when the wheel will be driven out of the gutter and we race into the roads of our lives again.

We must learn to move forward and leave—though not forget—our yesterdays. They still are a source of life’s lessons, how our flaws make a seed of refreshed hope to straighten our mistakes and not repeat them. In the recesses of my memory, I remember reading a quote written on the plastic sachet of a hazelnut-flavored coffee that goes like,“Not repeating mistakes is a form of progress.” Very true. Young crops like me need to grow up after some series of grave misbehavior and a chiding from life’s greatest teacher—experience. Don’t just grow old—grow up.

Be Proud of Yourself

That’s right, folks—“No matter who you are or what your circumstances may be, you must live in a way that you can be proud of yourself.” I got his quote from a fictional forty-man Arab private army, the Maganac Corps, who, despite being gestated in test-tubes, lives proudly as if they are born naturally. I strongly agree with their ideals—after all, we are all sculpted by our Creator as His most valuable gems in his treasure chest
Sometimes we are clobbered by our own rebuking that we have got no right to be somebody to rise in the limelight or to just plainly show that we are proud to be alive. One of the reasons that mushroom includes their status in life. But do we really have to underscore that we are just poor or something worse? As South African first black president Nelson Mandela said, “We ask ourselves, ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be. You are a child of God and your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others will not feel insecure around you. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give people the permission to do the same. And as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates the others.”

For my last words: There’s just no reason to sit in a corner and sulk about how small you are. Because in truth you never are small.

Give

A selfless spirit is barely existent in our world nowadays. Even so, the roots of selflessness haven’t died yet in every human heart. We can give—we are just bashed by the notion of our well-being’s status if we let our clenched fists go loose: “If I give this away, what will happen to me? If I give this away, will I ever have it again sometime?”

Let’s have this analogy: in baseball, a catcher only has one glove. Why? Because at some point we still have to have something to throw back. In life, too much receiving is unhealthy. Even in the smallest possible way, we must have to give something back.

Bouncing back to the subconsciousness that is all-too-concerned with ourselves, one reason why this very thing dominates our system is that we choose to ignore the smaller but truthful voice sprouting from everyone’s hearts—telling us that if we give, we receive something greater in return. It’s only a matter of choice.

Live as your heart tells you.

For more than one occasion, whenever I am doing something that makes me happy, someone (yes, there is that permanent someone) will ask me, “What are you doing that for?”, “Is that important?” or “Will you get something from doing that?”

Yeah, like what all I’m doing would only end up flying to the wastebasket. And if they do end up that way, well, so what? Practical people tend to overlook the simple joys of life. They believe that doing something without compensation is martyrdom, amateurism or plain ignorance. I live my life as my emotions tell me: I do something that I feel is right, something that can put smile on my face. Is it feckless—who cares? I’m happy doing it and I don’t regret—I never regret—something that makes me happy, no matter how good-for-nothing it may be. This is my choice. This is how I wanted my life to be. After all, it is a matter of choice on how you will view things. Take the path through life with rose-colored spectacles, go. View something good as bad, be it. Practicality is never a bad thing, but we don’t have to let it shellac our deep desires to be happy.

Defy the stereotype

Admittedly, I am a rocker by heart. I love rock music—be it pop or horror punk, emotional hardcore, alternative, Christian or—come to think of it—J-rock. Only, what I don’t understand about these genres and the people attached to them is that why should there be “rules”?

Some sorts of ‘rockers’ (or whatever they may call themselves) have “rules” like, “I should be a rebel, I should clip safety pins and needles on my face so I can be considered a punk” or “I should be heartbroken, I should slit my wrists so I can be called an emo.” Like hell they should.

I’ve encountered lots of people squeezing themselves into one genre and haughtily announce that they are finally a member. And personally, these people make me sick.

This may be considered a grave confession but it doesn’t matter now. I do used to cut myself out of depression and “craps” (sorry for the term; can’t find any better ones) about my family and personal relationships but never did I do this for the sake of being called an emo. I started writing with blade back when I’m in second year high school and by that time I still don’t know what an ‘emo’ is. Of course right now, I’ve already graduated from that…that barbaric stage in my life but it’s the cause why I was tagged an emo up until now. And admittedly yet again, I must say I accepted being one, probably because my former childish self thought that there are MANY emo’s—that there are a lot of people who experienced the same pain I felt. You know, that sort of I’m-not-alone-in-the-feeling thing. I even took a liking to its Valentino Garavani-tinged sense of fashion and of course, the music.

It’s just there are those people who mar the genre’s image. Slit this and cut that, bleed here and weep there—exposing themselves as icons of pathos. Meeting such people makes my intestines tangle with each other.

So maybe, I thought to myself, I could defy the stereotype. An emo who loves life? Sure thing. It is not posing by any means, it’s telling the world that there’s no single person alive who is heartbroken all the time. And sure I’m still an emo—I said I don’t live in the past, but I don’t forget who I had become in my past. It is still me, and the name carries on.

And I must say I should be defying all the other threadbare traditions of those street urchin rockers ( I coined the term—for those kind of rockers who have ‘rules’). I don’t have to have piercing. I don’t have to spit out dirty phrases in each and every time I get a chance to, throwing out “sh*t” or “f*ck” even if the situation doesn’t call for it. I don’t have to have tattoo, I don’t have to drink or to smoke so I can call myself cool.
This is only an example of standing out among worn-out creatures. You can do the same in any other aspects in life. As a giddy woman said in a local iced tea commercial, “It’s cool to be different”.

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Whew! So I can say that this summer is worth cherishing. Actually, the vacation only served as a time for me to reflect all my past years as an adolescent. It feels good, really, to learn something and apply it to our lives. Uh..well, hours from now I should be rummaging in my drawers to find my uniform and all my other old school stuff. Intramuros is a sort of a black hole—the primordial walls and the cobblestones, the intimidating pen battles loom to devour everything. But one thing is for sure: there are lessons that I’ve already engraved in my heart and they will never be wiped out even by the strongest of time warps.