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.

back-to-back-1

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”

back-to-back

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

Photos taken in Sky Ranch, Tagaytay

Worth Forgiving

moving forward

moving forward

There were nights that I could not sleep just because I could not forgive. Whether it was a mirror or a name, it reminded me of how unfair life was. I wanted to curse and use all the swear words that never came out of my mouth.

When I remember those nights, I feel nothing anymore. Looking back, the reasons were frivolous to extinguish anger and grudge. It is just a story, like everybody’s story of moving on and forgiving. When every detail of the story turns vague and blurry, this is how I know I have forgiven.

I am very much aware that people experience much worse in life. To say, “forgive”, is over simplified for someone who is going through a complicated life. When I think of how grave other people’s offenses are, is it possible to just forgive? Are they worthy of forgiveness?

It is easy to forgive when the offender realizes his mistake or when we see the offender punished.

When I think of what Jesus did in the cross,  it reaffirms the famous quote: “To err is human. To forgive is divine.”

This  passage is one of the many teachings of forgiveness in the Bible.

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:33-34

Worth Begging

TN14When I was in grade school, I wanted to join our speech choir. More than half of the class were part of the speech choir. I would watch my classmates rehearsed every school day. I did not understand why I wanted it so bad. All I could remember everyday I would ask my teacher if I could join. I was very persistent like a die-hard suitor who would never let go until there was a finality of no. My teacher would reply, “We’ll see.” And my hope grew big that eventually  I would be part of the speech choir. I had no memories of being disheartened or discouraged.

I was just a kid.  I was too young to have puberty issues  on body image, allowance, crushes, honors. I  had no idea what self-esteem meant. I just wanted to be part of  the speech choir. I did not try to look for reasons  my teacher did not handpick me to be part of the speech choir. Maybe she thought I could not afford to buy the costume or she just did not like me. The reasons were not clear but I did not bother to know why. The only thing,  that was very clear to me, was that I wanted to be part of the speech choir. I kept asking my teacher until it became part of my school routine.

One day, my teacher got so annoyed. She did not give me the usual friendly reply “We’ll see.” My presence  felt like a  head louse thriving on her head.  It was as if she wanted to scratch her head and just get rid of me.  She told me she would let me join if they would be needing more people.

I waited.

And waited.

I forget how it happened. I just remember I was with my classmates performing the Frog Singing School. Our group won the interschool competition. I would not have celebrated the victory of my classmates if it were not for my eagerness to join the team.

Looking back, I can’t believe I have that kind of guts to ask my teacher everyday if I can make it. I find it embarrassing. I had no inhibitions and fear on asking my teacher. I did not even question if I really deserve to be part of the speech choir. I did not question the criteria of my teacher or did I have what was required. I just wanted it hard enough, the way a five-year old boy throwing tantrums,  forcing her mother to buy  a candy.

I wish I still have that kind of courage and determination that never doubts, never fears. It was not even a big dream or life-changing event to aspire for. I could have just let it go, the way we let balloons and kites leave us, the way we let our coins fall on a wishing well. But  I was just “makulit” and simply interested.

This reminds me of a blog I read days ago. In the blog of Mark Manson, he shared that instead of asking “What do we want in life?”  We should ask, ”
“What do want to suffer for?”

He wrote:

“A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.”

He continued:

“What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.

There are some things we really like to have. It is not a question on how much we want something but it is how much are we willing to give up or to suffer. Sometimes, the question should be like, “What are things worth begging ?” What are the things you are willing to lose your pride just to get it?  When rejection knocks at your door, it steals your pride and sometimes gives you a token of humiliation.

Sometimes you just have to wear thick face to get it.

If you fall

If you fall in love with people like me

I will take you to museums parks, and monuments

Pinto Art Museum

Pinto Art Museum

I will take you to every place that promises permanence
Hoping that in every place you may find forever in those brief moments
we share

On my way to Pinto Art Museum

Pinto Art Museum

McArtthur Park at Palo, Leyte

Macarthur Park at Palo, Leyte

Temple of Leah

Temple of Leah,  Cebu

for we encrypt histories in monuments
and every piece of art adds value to collector’s items

Baluarte, Vigan

Baluarte, Vigan

2015801120436

I want to freeze our stories with those artifacts you see
and when your eyes can no longer find beauty in me
you can always look back at those paintings
for paintings outlive my youth
hoping that the details of my face are crystallized
in those paintings you see

Pinto Art Musuem

Pinto Art Museum

I will take you to places born with stories
so that even if you choose to forget our story
You will never forget the heroes and artists
whose lives and works outweigh our story

Juan Luna Shrine, Ilocos Norte

Juan Luna Shrine, Ilocos Norte

Panday at Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

Panday at Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

I will always like to take you to museums
I will always want to be with you in museums
because in those places we make an illusion of forever

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Pinto Art Museum

This piece is inspired from Caitlyn Siehl’s poem, “Do not fall in love with people like me”

🙂

No art, no he-art

“The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.”

-Michelle Obama

Sometimes people ask why you buy books,  handicrafts, materials for scrapbook and painting, watch a play, a concert.  I wonder why people have to look for special reasons. I do acknowledge that there are more important things in this world but I don’t think that it’s a waste of money nor waste of time  to be involved in these art forms. I think art is an investment. Most of the time, we think art in terms of its cultural value. But art has a personal value and has a long term-effect to an individual (whether you are a sender or receiver of art). In the same way how food nourishes our bodies, art nourishes our senses. I am not saying spend more on movies and concerts and spend less on food and clothing. I am not saying go and watch an indie film. I am not saying buy a book even if you’re broke or start collecting comics and paintings. Engage in an art that is accessible and palatable to you. It may be a visit to a museum, studying make-up or reading a graphic novel.

Art is not for the middle-class, for the élite or educated. Some people are willing to spend for liquor and buffet meal but find it expensive to buy a book. Some people buy the latest gadgets but question you why you buy a ticket for a live performance. It’s strange because these are equally unnecessary for survival yet we find a high calorie dinner and an extra cellphone more acceptably rewarding.

So why is it not a waste of money and time?

Art is an experience
Experience may seem ephemeral but experiences cannot be taken away or stolen. An experience is personal, priceless and unique. You cannot copy experiences and you cannot borrow senses. Hence, a friend who shares you how convincing the movie is, how amazing the concert is,  is different from a friend who shares another apple to you.  What you notice a lot in a live performance, or what you see in a mural is not always the same with others.

wicked stage

Wicked Stage

Art makes us human
We are way beyond our biological functions. We are the only creatures that can appreciate design, craft, and showmanship. We sense. We feel. We favor certain sounds and colors. We critique. I guess we should practice what is innately unique in human nature. Let’s find beauty in shapes and sizes, find satisfaction in sounds, sights arrangement, and rhythm. Everyone has an inner artist.

found this painting on SM North

found this painting on SM North

Art gives us another way of looking at things
An example of this would be a bed scene or an adult scene. These are scenes that some people are not comfortable to watch and talk about. You try to close your eyes watching a nude scene because you think you’re not supposed to see it. I just watched Cock of Redturnip Theater and the adult scenes were very intimate. What’s interesting is that the actors are fully clothed and barely too close to each other.

cock

Art mirrors feelings, aspirations, and reality
As the common definition of art in textbooks, “Art is an imitation of life.” A piece of art is one interpretation of real objects, people, life events. He might be a designer, playwright, poet, makeup artist or a graphic artist. Sometimes, I watch a film, I discover not only new ideas, but new feelings, new dreams or maybe they are just suppressed thoughts that are overshadowed by daily routine. When you listen to music, or read a short story, you think there is a medium that identifies your emotions or represents your thoughts.

Art when done with good taste, it adds depth to humanity
I don’t want to sound too serious nor do I want to sound like an activist but sometimes art gives inspiration. A novel can call for a revolution. Paintings teach history and religion. Spoken word poetry (I’m such a big fan) makes beautiful life stories.

Art is a product of hard work, great minds, and talent
This explains why a piece of art is pricey. Every product of art has to go through a creative process and every artist deserves a talent fee. By supporting what they do, you are continuing the  legacy of a special breed of human race who are passionate in what they do.

 

Megaphone

The night of  November 8 was one of the most difficult nights to get by. I was crying over the phone as my friend and I were talking about the news of the super typhoon Yolanda that hit our hometown Tacloban. I monitored updates in Facebook and cried some more as I read some of my fellow Taclobanons looking for their families. I woke up in the middle of the night, sobbing, calling “Mama.” I called my brother and parents for the nth time but all I could hear was the telephone operator. I was waiting for news about Tacloban the whole day. All we had were reports and videos taken around seven in the morning. With so much tension and anxiety, I complained why entertainment shows should continue to be aired when we who left our families in Tacloban were very desperate for news. I kept repeating in my head the little information we had. Water reached 15 feet high in downtown area. Portions of roof were flying. The trees were dancing. Electric wires were fighting the wind. I calculated the chances of how my family could survive, how far was our house from the sea, how sturdy our walls were. I imagined broken glasses and water covering our house. I thought of my elderly parents and my teenage nieces.

Not my city

When I first heard the news about the devastation and violence in Tacloban, my reaction was: “That is not my city.” I used to believe it was one of the most quiet and peaceful cities. “Don’t go there. It’s not safe. People steal and kill.” I read a lot of warnings before I went to Tacloban. Some people associated this unruly mob behaviour with the stereotype given to Warays. They were known to be war freak. I don’t have a Waray blood but I was born and raised there. I am one of them and it pains me to know how chaotic my people and my hometown are perceived. It was a safe place where my brother biked around with his pricey gadgets. In my entire life in Tacloban, I walked in the streets without a fear of threat.

I arrived in Tacloban on the fourth day after the typhoon. We passed through the nearby towns that did not have extensive media coverage, Tolosa, Dulag, and Abuyog. The mountains facing the Pacific Ocean had nothing but barren soil that complemented the murderous sea. The coconut trees were perfectly cut as if there was a giant ax that chopped them all. As we entered the city, I could not recognize Tacloban anymore. It had no civilization. People were everywhere looking for food and news. They lived up to their name, “Waray” which meant “nothing”. I was speechless throughout our trip.

Not God’s punishment

In the midst of this crisis, I wonder why someone would drop the words’ God’s punishment’. If you were a victim of Yolanda, these were the last words you would want to hear. Those who were heavily affected by the typhoon were those who lived near the coastlines. They were fisher folks, people who built their dream houses, ordinary people who had nothing to do with PDAF and pork barrel. They were far from people who lived near the gates of hell. To utter the word punishment is unbearable for a person who lived a decent life and lost everything in a short span of time. We try to interpret God’s message with positivity and end our philosophical explanation that those who survive have more work to do and those who are gone have completed their mission.

No megaphones

Tacloban, an urbanized city turned into a small village where strangers talked liked close friends, where the main source of news was by word of mouth. Without electricity and clear communication lines, people were eager to share and receive news. When we walked our way to our parents’ house, people were a lot friendlier than usual. They asked how we were doing. They were clueless that the entire world was watching them. I’m glad that there was no television during the most crucial moments because it could have been more depressing to hear news on how ill-equipped our government was and how insensitive some of the leaders were.

Much has been said about the destruction that took place in Leyte and Samar. Bad news were widely spread but supply of food, water, fuel, and good news were limited. When I was in Tacloban, I wished there were some military personnel or officials who had megaphones used to pacify tension in the crowd. People were panicking for unverified news. If there was a voice out there, it could have saved more stores from being ransacked. It could have shortened the line of people waiting for C130. It could have uplifted their spirits. If someone with a megaphone strolled around the city with a simple message: “Everything is under control. We are doing our best to help,” it could have improved the situation in Tacloban. Stories of rape and bandits circulated as quick as fire but stories of relief goods and free services did not reach that far. By this time, I hope there are megaphones in Tacloban.

Spreading hope

I stop browsing photos showing the destruction and depression in Tacloban. I want to see more photos, more news stories of camaraderie, compassion, resiliency, and hope. Tacloban was a beautiful city surrounded by seas and mountains. It aches me to know that what most people know and what most people see are ruins and death.

My family is fortunate to have survived. I guess we who have been spared  from the typhoon, we who are given a chance to live longer owe the victims of the typhoon some hope. We need more good news. Instead of saying “When you go to Tacloban you will be depressed”, say “When you go to Tacloban you will be inspired by the courage and the resiliency of the people.” Instead of saying “When you go to Tacloban, you will be harmed,” say “When you go to Tacloban and help, you will be rewarded.” Instead of saying “When you go to Tacloban, you will feel like it’s the end of the world,” say “When you go to Tacloban, you will feel like it’s going to have a new beginning.” Instead of saying, “When you go to Tacloban, you will see death,” say “When you go to Tacloban, you will find life.” When you see people fixing their houses, finding food to eat, protecting their families, looking for their loved ones, lamenting over the dead, you will find the meaning of life in its barest form.

answer

Note: Written November 25, 2013

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