The Space Between Us

There’s  a difference between loving from afar and loving too close.
They say proximity measures affection and relationships are defined by intimacy and commitment

When you are too near, you can hear the person’s breathing next to you.
Even the sounds that are not of interest, they catch your ears
like how someone snores and that repetitive surprise fart
that is intimacy. that is live performance

When you are miles apart, you define intimacy
by private messages and phone conversations
they are always private and people will always think you have a quiet time with your boo
but in your head, it has an overflowing passion, as perfect as a sonnet

Sometimes some things are beautiful from afar.
I can invent our life together in photoshop, in wonderland
I can’t see pimples nor trace the rough edges of your face.
They are replaced by a flat screen and a smooth surface.

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But as I make a reality check, it is mundane, just like one of the stories

When I pat you on the back, I am patting a pillow or a pet
when my hand is reaching for your hand, it is reaching for a phone or a mouse
when I crack a joke, I can’t hear you laugh
the decibels of your laughter, and the stretch of your lips
are replaced by three letters, LOL
Going to a cinema meant going to a website
Your voice over the phone sounds like the best customer service
Your mass weight and body mass are shrunk into text, jpegs, and emoticons

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You can spend hours staring at the camera, but there is nothing more awkward than staring at someone face to face
I miss the awkwardness
which leads to losing a taxi ride, forgetting our itinerary, losing our cash.
Sometimes I feel like gadgets are living things too, I cuddle them to sleep.

Face to face, silence is a beautiful and meaningful pause.
It is an opportunity to take a deep breath for the arms to extend or the fingers to lock
and for my eyes to find your eyes
There’s a space between us
and between us is a black hole where all the warm hugs, teardrops, and long gazes, are trapped
And the airwaves can only send   “hahaha” and “hehehe”

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Happy Hearts Day to all girlfriends and boyfriends in long distance  relationships! 😀

Photos taken in Sky Ranch, Tagaytay

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Dear Cebu

Dear Cebu,

When I think of you, I think of seaweeds, and receding beach line,

I think of boho and YOLO

pool
but you are such a city that never takes a nap.
You don’t have an insomia yet but please have a lunch break and rest when you can
The streets are never bare
that I cannot sing “On My Own” or think about about my lover across the sea
For it takes a lot of time and presence of mind just to cross the streets.

I thought I was beautiful in Cebu
because everyday there was always a man offering me a motor ride.
But then I found out it was not a free ride at all

Even the driver’s most dashing smile comes with a price
That’s when the moment I learn I shouldn’t depend on any man for a car or a ride
Sometimes it’s better to walk alone
than to pay 40 pesos just to be home.

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Cebu, you are like my first love and last love.
too familiar and ignored that I buried in my 2-gigabite memory
Like last love, everybody tells me they want to grow old with you
they build a house for retirement, they build a home, they make love, they make choices

kamayanseafood
You are mixed. You are flavored. you are the home of my taste buds
I like how you take my hands and let them explore the flavors of the sea.
I thought I wanted to be a mermaid because I had no fear of depths
But when I met you I wouldn’t want to be mermaid ever
I will trade my fins and be human again
because I am always a pescetarian, who cannot swim for her life

You are not too quiet. You are not too noisy
You are funny. You are friendly
You care. You smile.
You excite me
But just like any other city, you become predictable, commercial

You may mean business
but t it will be my pleasure to meet you in odd circumstance
in serendipity, in suit and tie, in slippers and loose jeans

and unlike other cities of the world, you welcome transients to stay forever

Sincerely,

The woman who fell in love with a Cebuano

Transient

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I feel homesick. No, I am not homesick. Manila is not my home. To me, Manila is the local New York filled with spectacle, glitz, and noise. It’s amazing how our ideals in life change. We change our preferences in life: the jobs we want to have, the people we want to follow,  and the way we spend our money.

When I found out I had to leave Manila, I had mixed emotions. I was happy because I knew my life would be a lot easier moving to a smaller city but at the corner of my eyes, tears were building up. I was overreacting but leaving a place where I spent significant amount of time could be very daunting. The idea that I might not come back scares me. As I rode the bus, I was nostalgic as if I was breaking up with a boyfriend and I was trying to reminisce everything. I thought of my friends, my awkward moments in college, my surprisingly enjoyable master’s degree, the malls, the city routes I learned to be familiar with. Then again, I was just being myself, the overly sentimental and emotional self.

Someone told me, “How much more if you’re leaving abroad?”

I joked,”Yun nga eh. Aalis ako pero local lang ang lilipatan ko”

I definitely don’t miss the traffic of Manila, the five-hour bus ride, nor the 30 minute MRT ride. It was suffocating to live every day of my life chasing, worrying, and waiting. And I think I have adapted that kind of mindset, that panicky and restless girl. My sense of distance and time changed when I started working in Cebu. How far is far? How near is near? How heavy the traffic is?

On a lighter note, I like the food here. I realize my taste buds are really Bisaya. I get to eat my favorite food all the time, kinilaw or Ceviche (for a classy word) and guso and lato , the seaweeds.

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I told one of my former work mates: “I think this is a place where I want to grow old”

“Emo(tional)kaayo ka,” she replied.

Walang forever as what they say

But we don’t try things because we necessarily want them forever.

We try because it’s worth the risk

So..

Let’s be transients forever!

February Diary

DSCF0734I am surrounded by gloomy weather. I am trying my best to think of fondest memories to cheer me up. This brings me back to an interview question from an executive, “What makes you happy?”

For the past few months, I was preoccupied with so many twist and turns in my life and my thoughts are clouded with many premature plans, and grown-up errands that I cannot pinpoint what exactly makes me happy. I cannot even think of happiness in its simplest form.

I just try to look back which month I was happy or at least a month that I never thought of being sad.

****

“They like you,” the teacher said after I had an hour teaching English.

That was my first day of an ESL (English as a Second Language). My depleting funds pushed me to get a temporary job while I was finishing my MA.

I did not know what I was going to teach. I did not have enough time to prepare. Then there were three boys who were waiting for me. They looked older than me (haha!). They probably thought I was close to their age. As days went by, my group class grew bigger. Sometimes, I had ten as maximum number of students but my regular group class consisted of five students. And I had one-on-one classes on of top that. It did not really sound a part-time job.

They were Turkish students who chose to pursue college education in China and spent their vacation break in the Philippines all for the sake of studying English. My students were very polite and kind. My student would get me some tea and bread.

On my first day, one student asked: “Teacher, is this your first time teacher?”

He continued,”For a first timer, you are very good.”

I also had this one funny student who kept reminding me that I was too old and that I should get married. He was kind enough to give me a special offer: “When you reach 30 and still single, I will help you find a husband. My dad owns a jewelry shop. He has many friends.”

He made me laugh in so many ways. He said: “You… get married…. impossible but me, go to Harvard possible.”

I did enjoy my short-ESL-teaching stint because it was filled with fun and light moments in class. We were always laughing and talking. I felt a certain sense of fulfillment when I witnessed my students progressed and when they showed gratitude. I got the weirdest remarks “Teacher , you look like my grandmother because she’s short and dark.” And the winner: You look like a Bollywood actress” (haha)

Maybe in the future, I might go back to teaching. For one reason, I like the feeling of being young. I like to laugh. I like to talk. I like to smile. And it gives space for introverts like me to be with people. Maybe that’s my version of living a teenage dream – young and happy.

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Learning

They say journals are good learning tools. I am documenting a few things I  have learned from the past few weeks.

I am done with my fieldwork with a group of home-based women workers. They are highly skillful. They can create doormats, jewelry boxes, fashion accessories, and other crafts.

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If you have a group of women who are senior and who practically know more than what you know, what else can you possibly contribute? So what we did we made a series of workshop with topics on gender and personal development. It was also one way for us to get to know them more as part of our community immersion. We at least tried to be creative and resourceful.

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share your dreams with vision board

share your dreams with vision board

Lesson learned:

You do not have to “teach” so that others can learn.

We don’t develop people, people develop themselves (Julius Nyerere)

As cliché as this may sound but experience is the best teacher. There’s nothing like spending time with the community.

Skill/s gained:

How to think on your feet

What can be improved:

Let the hands do the work

Activities that keep your hands busy fosters better participation.

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We did a gender sensitive training for kids. Gender and sexuality for kids? It’s quite heavy and serious themes for children but there’s always a child-friendly way to do it. We had three main activities. First, we asked the kids to draw body parts of boys and girls. And they had a nice sketch of body parts. Second, we let them categorize photos of toys or items according to gender. Third, we asked all them to draw specific jobs like doctor, teacher. It all boils down on three points:The only difference between boys and girls is their body parts. Boys and girls can like the same things. Girls can do what boys can do.

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My group mates in Feminist Pedagogy

Skill/s gained: Patience! Haha

Kids are more challenging compared with adults because they show you that they’re bored or uninterested. There was one participant who did not want to do the drawing activity and when we asked him why, he just replied “

Tinatamad ako (I’m lazy)” That was brutally honest!

What can be improved:

On my end, I think what needs to be improved is time management. They have short attention span.

And have some extra kindness, fairness and friendliness

It helps to have one figure of authority

 

 

 

To all the wonderful mothers in the world

To all the wonderful mothers in the world,

Full-time or part-time,

your role is always permanent.

With career or at home,

you always have a job.

Today, the world reminds us to give thanks to our mothers but the truth is the world is in debt of gratitude for your service to humanity.

In this world where we exchange goods and services with cash and credit, a mother’s work is often undervalued. In fact, most often, a mother’s work is not considered real work. If it does not generate income, it cannot be called work. When we ask full-time moms, what are their jobs, most mothers would respond they are not working.

But what is work? Work is not a self-entitlement or a  status symbol. This is what we do that consumes our time, energy and resources. This is what we do in the service of others. Mothers are overworked and exploited at times. They work beyond office hours. They are always on call. And they have no fixed job description. They have mastered the craft of multi-tasking. Whether they have a job outside home or not, they are always overworked.

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To those who say they are just mere housewives, wake up. Your work as mothers are not of less value just because you are not paid for what you do. Think of this if no one does domestic work at home and if no one takes care of the children and husbands. Husbands cannot perform their work well. Children cannot perform well in school. If all mothers revolt not to do the care work, what will happen to our society?

If you have enough income, you may hire a house helper or a nanny. But that does not discount the society’s poor perception on women’s reproductive work. The fact that domestic work are paid less shows how our society does not recognize the contribution of women’s reproductive work. When a woman cooks, she does it for free as it is expected of her but when a man cooks, he is called a chef.

To all mothers, if you sell makeup, networking products, bananaque, and peanut butter, think of yourselves as real workers who are earning well. Our culture often assigns women as secondary earners but take pride of every coin you take home.

You, mothers are the first people who taught the world charity. You exemplify labor of love. You teach us to care. You teach us what it is like to volunteer. It is selfless and generous. It’s no wonder why mothers are always involved in community work, church and social work.

Take time to pamper yourself. You deserve more than thank-you cards and flowers. You deserve a lifetime recognition of the efforts you’ve made for your children, your family. You deserve a vacation leave from your lifetime job, motherhood.

You are important not only to your home but to the society as well.

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