Month: January 2011

fitful sleep

(In a Southern City)

Stabs of worry woke me up from a fitful slumber. The rumble of a truck added to the sense of agitation that swirled around me in the cold blue dark of dawn. I groped for the lamp’s switch and chased away the crushing weight of anxiety with a warm yellow light.

In waking life, there are still unresolved issues. My studies have been halted because of non-existent funds. My employer refused to communicate regarding the status of the company and until now has not given our November and December wages. It’s already two months past November, and I kid myself that everything is still going to turn out all right. Another co-worker resigned yesterday. I worry about her. She had no other means of providing for herself, had always depended on the funds from her job.

Bills to pay.

Mouths to feed.

Bodies to clothe.

Wants and needs to satisfy.

I also wonder how long I can wing this one out.


contemplations of a parachute jumper

(In a Southern City)

I’ve uprooted myself again.

One boat ride taken yesterday morning landed me in another city by dusk. And I miss my loved ones left behind in my tropical jungle home. Perhaps I am not really cut out for a nomadic existence because my heart bleeds each time a ritual of parting takes place.

Still, I wear the mask with the painted smile. I have duties to attend to here, in this other city. It’s my own free-fall jump. Without the altimeter. Without the false sense of security attributed to the straps of a nylon parachute digging on my glenohumeral joints. Tah-tah, love. See you on the next month’s turning. Or if I manage to land safely after this crazy dive. Just like that – usually.

But I’ve made the decision now. There was a clearer deliberation after spending several weeks in a place where the air was clear and the nights were pitch black. There, I saw things in their proper perspectives. Eureka amidst the palm fronds.

I am taking a packet of seeds on my next journey back.

another impulsiveness on a sun’s day

I brought rain to this tiny city, that I did. The city was in the throes of sunny weather yesterday and I brought my gloom along for the bus ride to this place. The moment I stepped off the yellow Ceres liner, raindrops splattered down from iron-grey clouds. Welcome! Welcome!

When the bus drove off, the streets were empty of any other means of transport. Most people had sought shelter from the sudden downpour.

That I was far from home was something of which I had no clear explanation.

It was one of those impulsive decisions that I’m prone to have every once in a while. I don’t know how it happens. Probably has to do with a certain slant in the sunlight or the barometer reading at 6:09 in the morning. I don’t know what sets off the impulsiveness.

Or probably, it has something to do with the waxing and waning of the moon. Like legendary folks who have powers of lycantrophy but rue the after-effects of chasing prey the morning after (the excess hair, mud, and gristle on the torn bed sheets and the telltale finger or claw on the puke that one has to flush down the drain), I feel out of sorts when the impulsiveness passes and I discover that there are things that happened which I normally wouldn’t have done.

Fortunately for me, I had kin in this city. I made the impromptu visit and was greeted with warmth. I stayed the night and set out the next morning lest I had the fit again. As I boarded another yellow bus for Dumaguete, the clouds darkened again. The rain caught up with me while the Ceres liner was exiting the city limits. It drizzled throughout my trip all the way back to my tropical jungle home.

Perhaps I need some prescription meds or a silver slug amulet. Or probably a heavy duty raincoat or a golf umbrella.

your messiah on a harness

It’s the second meeting with friends, and before us lay the ruins of our lunch: shawarma-rice containers, corn chip and chocolate wrappers, empty soda cans, and the remnants of candy/marshmallow/rice cripies-sprinkled ice scramble. We’re in the food court of one of Dumaguete’s older shopping centers, meeting up in what we all hoped was going to turn into a regular event, a getting together of Super Jj, The Monkey Keeper and yours truly.

We just finished our “main course and side dish”, and The Monkey Keeper was holding court by narrating a series of experiences she had on the second day of January. The noise coming from the mall’s amusement center provided the background music for her retelling of a story told by someone who was supposedly enrolled in SU’s creative writing program.

What this creative-writing-program kid told her started off as a promising horror story. So, Super Jj and I made ourselves more comfortable in the best way possible when one has to deal with Lee Plaza’s food court chairs. This was a story, and we love stories.

We shut off the noise from the arcades so that we’ll catch each unfolding of the plot as The Monkey Keeper retold the story of a grave digger who had a penchant for looting the graves of  rich dead Chinese who were certain to be buried with ancient coins in their caskets. Predictably, like any good rehashed horror story, the ancient coins of the dead were supposedly cursed. Jj and I waggled our eyebrows: This is going to be good!

However, the story suddenly branched off into a badly concealed deux ex machina – complete with the inevitable exploding volcano, earth tremors and landslides our country is notorious for. Then it became a Filipino parody of Washington Irving’s Rip van Winkle, which then morphed into – what it seemed to me – a Dawn of the Dead story line. From that, the story mutated into a parable, with the grave digger being transformed into a Messiah figure on a harness. Jesus on a harness. Then the narrative evolved into a prose with an ecologically nihilistic theme that, all of a sudden, became a humorless standoff between death and salvation. It ended there… a parable of the lost soul that had Jesus Christ on a harness and the figure of a gullible Grim Reaper.

The original writer of the story actually feels good about his magnum opus, and would willingly tell anyone who shows half an interest about it or if they mistakenly buy into the false advertising that this story was “the best one ever written”. And he does not care for feedback.

But we had feedbacks, and we discussed the story’s merits (or lack of them) for a good part of the afternoon, causing someone to fail to return to the office after her lunch hour and nearly forgetting that she’s supposed to pick up one daughter from school.

Anyway, here’s the general aftertaste left by the best story ever on our psyche:

The Monkey Keeper felt that she just heard the plotline of another local TV station’s soap opera (teleserye).

Super Jj gave a trademark one-eyebrow-raised expression and a yell: “What????!!!!!!!!!”

I echoed Super Jj’s yell… So frustrating. Like being promised candies and chocolates but was instead given a cucumber and grapefruit because these latter ones are healthier and better. Blech.

It would have been a very good story… ~Sigh.~


I’ll put a disclaimer here:

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

I admit to writing off-tangent plot lines myself. But still… the kid’s enrolled in a creative writing program that’s supposed to enhance his writing skills. I think he’s missing out on a wonderful opportunity to really shine as a writer if he continues to proceed with that single story that he considers as his masterpiece.

vagrancy and the cold

(In the tropical jungle)

It’s freezing. And I am broke. That’s how the new year caught up with me… penniless and shivering.

I wonder how vagrants survive during the winter months.

Still, the entire household finds means to get by. At least we don’t purchase gas for our cooking fire. Although the firewood is quite damp, we can still build smoky fires to heat our instant coffee and cook our dinner. It’s all about survival this first week of 2011. That and practicing how to be grateful for the simplest blessings in life.

I wrote something down on the pad of paper I always keep handy on my work table, and my scribblings say:

I will not heap curses upon your head; instead, I ask the Universe to pour blessings unto your life that through you others may be blessed as well.


I penned this down when I was nearly tearing my hair off in frustration. Funds that I expected to arrive before the old year ended didn’t come in. There was no sumptuous new year feast that I envisioned months before. I am now flat broke and powerless to influence the glacial flow of funds. Still, I am humbled that I have understanding and generous loved ones to tide me over this lean period.

Here in the tropical jungle home, we’re busy finding ways of tightening the proverbial belt. Just this morning, a person who buys scraps and junk came by and we were happy to sell off the cans and bottles that Ta’s sister has accumulated from the past year. The cans were weighed in at 28 kilograms. Our contributions to the war effort.

I’m trying to put off the inevitable decision-making that I must face before the middle of this month.

This all sounds vague as of the moment. Maybe it’s for the lack of caffeine. I’ll scavenge around the house for loose coins so I could buy instant coffee.

Don’t mind if I can’t greet you a happy new year just yet.

Still, brightest blessings be upon your life always.

here is home

(In the tropical jungle)

It’s freezing cold. I just finished a couple of articles about electricians… wrote from what I knew about electricians – that they are in charge of things, um, electronic. Actually, I did fill in the article with grit that I grabbed from a government-run website that described the nature of the electrician’s job and the qualifications in order for a person to become one. Dry stuff, but I do take comfort in the thought that what I’m doing gives me the means to line my nest with warm quilts and my stomach with rice, meat and vegetables.

Rain patters softly on the roof and finds its way in through the holes in the rusty GI sheets; there’s barely a dry surface on the floor. The waterfall quality of our roof and the fact that the central cottage is about to cave in if the dogs sneezed together are the things that make me wish that I could extend my stay here until I could help set things right again.

Perhaps these things are making me decide more speedily on where I should spend this year. Home.

It’s not Kansas. It’s home.

My tropical jungle. Here, I am amidst the ferns, the moaning bamboo forests, the swaying coconuts, the tree frogs, the coffee-hued soil…

The past two years that I lived far from home were essential. The time apart placed things in their appropriate perspectives. But I guess it’s time to buy that return ticket. Before the dogs forget my scent. Before the ferns have flourished and withered. Before the jungle refused to embrace me as ever her own.