Wednesday, June 30, 2004

You know you're getting old when your body doesn't work the way it used to. It doesn't take as much abuse as it has before and still function properly. I've never been hospitalized my entire life and I've never had to go see a doctor. Not until very recently.

Ok, so it started a week ago when I couldn't go to school because my back, neck and head hurt like hell from what I assumed was high blood pressure. Its the smoking probably. Or the excessive caffeine intake. Or the late nights having sex with my newfound boyfriend. Or the lack of any other form of exercise since I quit going to the gym last year after my father died. Probably a combination of all of the above.

And then I go and contract urinary tract infection. I thought maybe it was the condoms. Horror of horrors I thought my boyfriend gave me an STD. Although it was quite impossible, the thought crossed my mind. But there it was. After texting a couple of med student friends, I self-diagnosed UTI.

It burns when you pee. And you go rush to the bathroom every hour or so. Its incredibly annoying at best and painful at worst. When you're in the throes of love, you don't really think about how unhygienic it is sharing your body with another person. And a man at that. And well, you know how unfinicky men are about their bodies.

"The mouth is the dirtiest part of the human body." So said the OB-gyne I saw yesterday. Don't get me wrong, I love oral sex. But how come nobody told me it can give me an infection? :-/

Monday, June 21, 2004

I watch too much MTV. Saw them on the MTV Movie Awards. Damn...that was an electric performance of "Maps." They sound like an improved, less-boring White chick vocalist drips hott sex....hehehheeh :D

Their lyrics don't make too much sense tho....stoned ramblings perhaps? matter...its all about the music bebeh!

2 freebie mp3s at their website. Check it out!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Plea to A Boy

Stop your legs from running so fast. They’ve carried you nowhere quick. Escape is all that you want it seems. Dreaming faraway lands, fighting invisible battles, wielding swords in your books, in your computer games, in your mind. You fight. You fight useless battles over and over and over. You wage battles in your head where you constantly lose. Who are you fighting I’ve wondered. What monsters must be slain? You’re far too old to fear ghouls and goblins under your bed. Far too old to hide underneath your sheets.

Let me see your eyes. Stand tall, stand up straight. Face the world without fear. Should you fear, do not show them. Should you fear, steel yourself. Should you fear, just say “Fuck it. Fuck you.” Look at people’s eyes when you speak. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You’ve killed no one, hurt no one. You’ve no malice, no ill intentions, no meanness. A kind soul you are most times. Forgiving. Maybe too forgiving, most of all, of your faults.

Time is not finite. Hours, days, years gone by will never come back for you to reclaim. You must hurry, it will not wait. Feel the urgency in your mother’s creased forehead, in her sometimes panicked eyes. She is steel but she will not be young forever. And I? Well, I will not be your baby-sitter. I have my own demons to slay. Feel the urgency of now. Stop running away.

How does a woman teach a boy to be a man? I don’t know. Let me wear the pants then and speak to you the way he never spoke to us. In our father’s stead I implore you. You must wake up now. You’re no longer a boy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A Woman I Love

You looked beautiful in your yellow blouse, showing off your tan lines, your curves. Your teeth seemed to glint each time you opened your mouth to laugh. It had been quite a while since I last saw you so carefree, so unconditionally happy. It was the best birthday gift you've ever given me, seeing a side of you you've kept under wraps for so long a time. I'd missed you. And I remember.

I remember you as a girl so full of spunk and balls you ignited. High school kids we were. Stupid and naive I was. I'd had my wallet stolen in a bookstore and you gamely suggested we run after the snatchers, all four of us fourteen year-olds in our blue and white uniforms. It was futile, but made me feel better. That day I decided I wanted to hang around you and be your friend. The details are hazy and I don't remember everything, but that was a landmark day in my head and I look back to it with fondness. I'd discovered something wondrous, now I know. You were beautiful then.

I remember you as a girl who cared nothing of what people say. Sashaying down corridors unmindful of what the other girls thought of you. A snob, they told me. A show-off, they told me. You simply shrugged it off and went your merry way choreographing dances, directing stage-plays and plotting pranks in your head. You were beautiful then, and worthy of admiration.

I remember you on our first day in college. Giddy we were, wide-eyed, on the threshold of higher learning. The doors of the university were open, cavernous, overwhelming. But afraid I was not, because I had you by my side. Together we dared the world to come get us. So eager to taste, smell, hear and see all that we could. We tested waters previously unknown, even forbidden. Fearless we seemed. Indestructible.

Then the months go by, and people have come around, beside and between us. We’d found life-long friends along the way. And found loves. HE came. Your first love, your first agony. He broke you, this I know now. And in pieces you were for a long time. Young and inexperienced, I couldn’t share your pain. You were hurting, but I couldn’t fix it. I didn’t know how. But as they say, time heals all wounds. You glued the pieces back together somehow, but you were never quite the same. Still beautiful you were then, so fragile yet unwavering. But the light you once had around you didn’t shine the way it used to.

Looking back I wonder now if I could’ve done something to change how the chips have fallen. Have I failed you, I wonder. Last Saturday, on my birthday, I glimpsed that light that once shone from you so brightly, inviting me to come near. Perhaps, bit by bit, it will come back. And so, I am hopeful. A decade it’s been, you’re still beautiful now. And I love you.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I Heart Manila

"Aren't you glad we're from Manila?" On a night bus from Barcelona to Madrid, a strange thing to say indeed. But I looked over to my friend and said this with a wide smile and not a little bit of smugness.

It was in the middle of the night when we woke from the commotion. The bus had stopped on the side of the road and two armed officers were on board, speaking in rapid Spanish with two young American women, roughly our age, from right across our seats. I was clueless to what was going on. I tugged my friend's sleeve asking her to translate. She shushed me and listened intently to the exchange. One American woman spoke in relatively fluent Spanish, calmly but with urgency, seemingly explaining something. Her friend looked distraught. The Spanish officer asked a few questions while casting sweeping looks over the passengers. We could've been an ad for United Colors of Benetton. A bus full of people of different creeds, tongues, smells and melanin content.

The tension inside the bus was mounting as the American's voice seemed to ring more with urgency. The whole bus was quiet, save for an occasional cough and murmur. From my six units of Spanish I surmised the two young women lost something. Some 15 minutes passed and the officers got off the bus. They spoke with the driver on the side of the road, beams from their flashlights moving to and fro.

I turned to my friend with expectant eyes. The distraught young woman apparently lost her wallet. Cash, traveler's cheques, credit cards. She had left it in her backpack on our last stopover and upon climbing back on the bus, found that it was gone. "How stupid can anyone get?" I thought. What a couple of dumb Americans. I looked reassuringly at my orange Benetton backpack with all my important belongings in it, squashed between my legs, with the straps wrapped around my ankles. My friend patted her money belt, safely tucked underneath her sweater. Nothing prepares you for "roughing it up" in a foreign land like growing up in Manila.

Innate distrust of strangers, paranoia, and "It’s a jungle out there" are lessons taught us Manileños. Sometimes these are hard lessons learned, but most times, we’ve been taught these common-sense facts from cradle to kindergarten, to grade school until we have it completely drilled in our heads that "It’s a dog-eat-dog world." Trust no one, rely on no one and always question a seemingly freely-given helping hand. There’s all sorts of scams, modus operandi and criminals (petty or hardened) out there to get your money or do you bodily harm. You know this and I know this.

You don’t leave your backpack, let alone your wallet in a bus-load full of strangers. Not for a quick cup of coffee from the vending machine not quite ten meters away, not for a minute, not for a nanosecond. But for two young women from God knows which quiet little American suburb, the thought wouldn’t occur that someone might rifle through their belongings and steal their valuables while on a stop over on a bus-trip in Spain. They probably wouldn’t think twice about handing their bag to a stranger on the side walk while tying their shoe strings (as one Spaniard did me). Growing up in this city hardens you and prepares you for the simple fact that people are not to be trusted and they will dupe you given any chance they get.

One wonders what it might be like to have grown up somewhere else. Perhaps, being less in shock when you find your wallet, with all your money and credit card in it, at the lost and found, intact. A few weeks before this bus-trip I had accidentally left my wallet in the school washroom in Paris. It was but a few minutes after when I remembered I’d forgot it in the cubicle. There was queue after me. I knew I was fucked, but I went to check anyway. No wallet. I then went to the administration office in panic and asked, but with little hope, whether anyone had given them a brown wallet left in one of the toilets. And lo and behold! Someone found what I’d lost and returned it promptly to authorities. And no, no one was hanging around waiting for her reward for having been a Good Samaritan. I think it was the snotty Swede who came after me. I hated her guts, but at least she was honest.

If I’d grown up in Stockholm, like she did, I’d know I should wait for the green man on intersections before crossing because the minute I step on the road every frickin’ motorist within a five meter radius will stop to a screeching halt for me, the mighty pedestrian. If I’d grown up in Vancouver, I’d know “beggars” on the streets strumming their guitars and drawing crowds are doing honest “work,” not a diversion for pickpockets to pilfer unsuspecting folks' wallets. If I’d grown up in Tokyo, I’d know someone offering to help me change a flat tire doesn’t expect a service charge.

That is why it always, always shocks me when I receive random acts of kindness in this city. In a span of a few days I believe I’ve set a record of sorts. My car’s radiator needs repairing and has been overheating but I hadn’t known this of course til after a few times I’ve stalled. The first time a cab driver stopped and offered me his expert diagnosis. He popped open his trunk and poured water in my radiator while at the same time mildly berating me on the importance of car up-keep. It was an ungodly soggy day. I wasn’t overly concerned for my safety since I was on a major thorough-fare and I wasn’t alone in case the driver got any funny ideas, but I was guarded nonetheless. After my car maintenance lecture and a couple of gallons of water later, the cabbie and I were both on our separate ways with only a smile and a heart-felt thanks exchanged.

The second time my engine sputtered to a halt in Philcoa on my way to UP for my first class. Two traffic policemen on motorbikes went to my rescue. Like the cabbie, I only got a lecture on being a wiser motorist but forgiven for my ignorance since I was a young woman with nary a clue on car trouble-shooting. One astutely poured water for me while the other directed traffic build-up. Two tow-trucks cruised by but Pour Water Officer told them off. Tense I was since these are policemen and in our sick-sad world of course, cannot be trusted. But apart from an occasional glance on exposed cleavage, they sent me on my way without hassle. No rewards, no nothing. Just two civil servants doing their job. Incredible? There’s more.

Last night a tall young man came up to us in Glorietta 4. “Are you watching Dawn of the Dead?” he asked. We nodded yes. “You want tickets? We can’t use these and they’re not refundable. We have to be somewhere in a few minutes.” My boyfriend took the tickets and inspected them. Yep, same date, right time, legit tix they were. He reached into his pocket to pay the young man, “You have change? I don’t have smaller bills.” Tall Young Man beamed a toothy smile and said ”OK lang sige sa inyo na,” then quickly hurried back to his waiting girlfriend. We couldn’t believe our luck. Who gives away freebies these days? Mistrustful we were all through dinner and coffee. Come screening time we were half-expecting the tickets to be declared unacceptable by the movie ushers. But we were motioned in without trouble. Yep, someone had honestly given away movie tickets.

Moments like these one marvels at little signs of goodness in people. Yup, even here in our dirty-ugly city of Manila. Moments like these one realizes there’s hope yet.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


I crave your smell, your taste, your skin. I crave hearing your voice, our talks, our meetings. I crave seeing you walk, your earrings, your jeans, your big toe. I crave touching your thighs, your shoulders and arms, your chest, your mouth, your tattoo. I crave listening to you speak in 3 different languages, the way you woo me in Ilocano. I crave your gaze, your smile, your laughter, your breath. Does that make me love you? As each day passes and each time I see you, I crave you more.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Mango Mafia

Peacefully you sip your overpriced but yummy coffee in a quiet little corner, minding your business, absorbed in a book, or juicy gossip with a friend. She sneaks up to you, little woman that she is, lugging her huge backpack, and slips you a little tiny gift card.

You open the card with a cute bunny design and read in straight block letters:



Upon closing the little bunny card your heart is touched. What an ingenious way of earning a little bit of extra cash to go to college. What an industrious young woman, persevering despite the odds. She must really want to finish school and help her starving family in the province. So you shell out a little bit of money and buy her 7D Dried Mango Chips. And you figure out she must be from Cebu, because thats a staple brand from that city. You don't mind that she's selling it for twice its actual price, because what the heck, its for a good cause.

Smug in your good-hearted generosity, you hand her your money and congratulate the hard-working young woman for her efforts. You ask her what her course is and she quickly replies, "Theology at Trinity College." Wow, and its all for the greater glory of God Almighty. You feel a bit guilty because by accident of birth, you don't need to do what she does in order to go to school. With a nod of thanks and a hesistant, shy smile, she goes on to the next table. On to the next set of unsuspecting victims.

You see, this happened to me thrice in a span of a week. Twice in an uppity cafe and once in a gas station. Little innocuous women, young and fresh-looking, wide-eyed innocent. Just trying to make ends meet. Strange that its the same little card, same block letters, same 7D dried mangoes, same bunny design, same sob story. And to think, I felt so good doing a little bit of charity.