Sunday, February 26, 2006

Quick Sketches

1 - Trevor

Damnably late. Always damnably, god-forsakenly late. What is always taking him so long?

Trevor is the kind of guy who never gets anywhere until he's there. He takes his half-distracted brain everywhere with him. Like a disoriented ghost, you never know where he is at the moment regardless of whether he's in front of you or not.

"Sorry, sorry!" he swishes in, disgruntled as a pursued pig. Hair disheveled, hands flying everywhere - - his pockets, his bag, behind his ears. "Where is that fucking pen?"

I sighed with disgust. "You somehow have it clipped on your hair." I yanked it off hard and he winced as I somehow pulled of a few strands of his hair. I was amazed about how satisfying that felt.

"Oh, fuck. Was it there all along? Fucking pen." He scratched his head. "That kinda hurt, Lily."

2 - Carl

"She says I'm not human enough." Carl shook his head. "Whatever does that mean? I'm breathing, right?"

Sherry waited a while before speaking. "You do have a tendency to be disjointed with the world. I dunno, maybe it's that."

His eyebrows went up. "Disjointed? You mean I don't connect?"

She bit her lip and took a while before she answered. "No and yes." Another pause. " Not entirely diconnected but more of avoidant somehow. It's like you put barriers on your emotions. Like checkpoints. Uhm... you're entirely too logical about how you should feel. It's as if you have standards on how much you should allow yourself to be happy about one thing, y'know, and how sad you would be for another."

Carl's shoulders stooped. He shook his head again. "That doesn't make sense!"

"Well... I am describing you, right?" Sherry said and shrugged.

3 - The Visitant

"If you are who you say you are, how come you don't know the difference between people you should bother and people you shouldn't?" Willa asked, her voice falling into an imperious monotone. "The difference between people who care and people who don't, those you should awaken and those you should let sleep?"

The kid grinned at her in response. "You're not asleep, you're just pretendin'. You're awake, just hidin'." He scratched his black, spiky hair.

"I hide? But you're the one all decked up in black mascara, wearing black clothes in a forced imitation of the dead. You make no sense."

"Hey!" The green of the kid's colored contact lenses seem to flare. "I chose to dress like this, I chose. Tomorrow, I could wear blue or neon pink. Thing that matter is I chose to live this way. What about you? What is it you want?"

"It's no business of yours!" she glared at him.

"You're moving around, half-blind, half-dead, half-mute. You're not there. You are -- dear angel -- a half-lifer."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Not for the Impatient, the Logical, the Sympathetic

Today is Saturday. Today is Saturday.

I repeat this to myself as if it is a benediction to keep evil away. Sunday will be too close to what I dread. I am like a child with this phobia against Mondays. I do not like it; I believe I'm better off without it whether I foresee it would be difficult or not. Childish and immature, yes, but as real to me as a humongous Math examination. Funny that the two things I hate the most start with the same letter.

Anyways, I haven't completely recovered from my illness. Yes, I was truly sick yesterday. And judging from my entry, unwell not just in body. Hiding behind a name does not help much nowadays. People are so much sharper, more clever. Freud's theory on projection didn't help much in keeping this coping mechanism a secret either.

Today though, being Saturday, was like a healer's balm to my soul. I can rise at ease and with peace without giving much thought to responsibilities I'd rather be without. The tasks set ahead for me during weekends seem to be more bearable than work.

On Saturdays, I can wake up late. I can stretch on my bed, half covered with my blanket, fully awake. I can wait til the trickles of sunlight pour into my room and let its warmth tickle my arm, my neck, my face.

This particular Saturday, I stepped out of my room and the heavy garlic smell of Vigan longganisa assaulted my nose, pleasantly, mind you. At the breakfast table, Mummy was less nagging, Daddy was relaxed. Even Ella permitted a bit of lightheartedness albeit her tons of homework. As they chattered, I think they were discussing Ella's wish to watch that Close to You movie (I tried not to cringe), I suddenly felt separated from them. It was as if I was an outsider watching this happy family discuss happy, trivial things at the breakfast table. I was alarmed that my sorrow will dare take me away from the only thing I knew to be safe, my own family, if I let it. Well, I will not permit it.

Today is Saturday. I will not be sad. And with great effort (it felt as if I swam my way up to the surface), I made my way back into the heart of the conversation. I was determined to wash the dishes, water the garden plants, clean the upstairs bathroom without even allowing a twinge of darkness to distract me. Half the day passed. My limbs amazed me with their able functioning. Have you noticed that my chores consist of those which involves water? :) I have noticed. Something about it cheers me up. Its cool, viscuous form soothes me.

Afternoon came and I hurried to finish a book I was too afraid to read when darkness falls. About vampires and stuff. (Well, there's your problem, says the inner psychologist. Read happy books! Read the Bible! I had to supress the other inner critic from saying that the Bible isn't exactly an outright cheerful tome) When I looked up, it was 6:30 p.m. and the inescapable dread filled me again. Saturday - - at an end.

Enough! I am so tired of this childishness. That is how I think of it - - this depression is just an immaturity, my inability to accept things as they are. When I think of it this way I see myself as flawed. There must be something wrong with me because why can't I help myself? Other people seem to be doing quite fine. Their lives couldn't be easier than mine. We are living in the same impoverished times, the same cruel and harsh world. Why aren't they crying their guts out as they lie in their beds at night? Or if they do, how come it never shows on their faces in the morning? Have they a more special relationship with God that I could only seem to reach once in a while? I have no idea how I could fall so far from grace. I try and try to remain enfolded in divine protection but I lose it time and again. It's as if my soul needs to compensate for all those times I was sated and blessed. The darkness lashes out a hand in revenge. And all of it is my fault. Somehow, my internal reaction always seem to be wrong.

Does my words bore you? Or maybe you cringe in embarassment because I am discussing this - unfortunate sadness for all the world to read? It's not proper, is that what you are saying? There are things best kept a secret. But if you are my friend, you who read this, you will let me rave. You will let me be the lunatic tonight because it is my only way to say it. To let it out.

You will encounter me along the corridor, you will meet me again in some restaurant or another. We will greet each other, we will laugh, we will eat. The knowledge will not let you be at ease if you hold on to it. You will always think now, she is not everything she seems to be in the surface. Maybe, you will not even like me, your initial affection for me turning to mistrust. I will not mention this to anyone in my "normal" life. We will not speak of it. I do not wish you to pull me to a silent corner asking me if I need help and if I need a psychatrist. I hope you would see that the only way i can get over this is to write about it. My fingers are now able to unleash the sadness pooling inside me for over two decades. Let it go. Let it be.

I still might prove to be the genius everyone seems to believe I will be. I just plead for the time to work it out. And in case I fail, I just pray for the chance to let God be my deliverance. Wherever I might have failed Him in being His Warrior of Light, I will seek his forgiveness and ask only for peace.

Friday, February 24, 2006

All Cracked Up

My name is Violet and consider yourself forewarned.
Turn away now, cautious reader, who does not wish to dwell on dark epiphanies.

I am young. I am spoiled. I am spineless. I am almost nearly insane.

I haven't been feeling well for months now. My mind had been alternating dark and bright. My body, sensitive to my varying moods, has been on the verge of a breakdown - - just waiting for the last pin to fall and break its back.

Today, I woke up to an overcast sky and knew something was wrong.

Today, my mind is dark. In response, my body was at the throes of another sickness. Couldn't get up. Couldn't go to work. Couldn't function normally. I could just muster enough energy for the frequent trips to the bathroom and only because it was necessary. Ha.

This is me talking about depression and diarrhea.

The only solution I know is to benumb myself, severe myself from that source of black emotions which I know would swallow me if I remain connected to it. Slept all day and escaped half of it. It's just that tonight, when my Dad realized I was unwell enough and skipped work, he admonished me for not taking better care of myself. He told me not to avoid doctors and physical exams. Well, I wasn't. Those General MDs wouldn't know how to cure what's really wrong with me though.

He then proceeded to tell me, I should remain strong because he's depending on me. The whole family was. And he looked so hopeful saying that, so sure in his conviction that it shattered me inside.

Poor Daddy. He thinks his little girl is so able, probably made of superwoman stuff. He cannot see the cracks in my personality, the filaments of instability that has wrought a web about me. I stared into thin air a few seconds longer than what would have been the normal reaction, unable to assure him I will be alright. I do not have the courage to assuage him I can carry all of us out of the squagmire. I cannot lie to my father.

A few nights ago, my epiphany came from watching Oprah - - the cruelest of all ironies. The peddler of pop culture and all modern trivialities led me to the scariest realization I ever had. Her topic was mental instability and she had celebrity guests describe their plunge into darkness. My formal learning from Psychology kicked in. I was only too happy to analyze their symptoms, enjoying the fact that I can diagnose them before they admitted it themselves. It was then when something started to whisper inside my head until it rose to a scream. The idea started to jump up and down trying to get my attention. Finally, it dawned on me. "Listen, they are talking about me."

It chilled me to know it was true. I had been living life like a golem ever since, knowing that my ability to function is only due to the fact that it seem to have been hardwired in my system - - act normal, act happy. Inside though, the awareness settles heavily; not normal, not happy.

I tell you this only because it is all I have to say. I do not need your platitudes. You will not convince me I am okay. Only God can save me and I am the only who can find my own way. I already know He has plans for me or else He would've given me what i wanted long before - - permanent peace. This dark journey is for me alone.

I will see you on the other side. And if I don't, well, you dear reader, with your happy life ahead of you, would never really know.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Signs of Life

Rescuers in Leyte has just reported hearing signs of life from underneath the mud covering what used to be a public elementary school. Wishfully, some of the kids have survived. Even after 3 days of being buried, some hope must remain.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country are showing signs of life as well. Why does it have to take a disaster to get people to do something? Volunteers abound in the area. People from nearby communities are digging to recover what they can. The US Marines have momentarily suspended their war games and lent a hand as well. Media grabbers such as politicians and their wives spend hours on the field to join the cause (and the publicity). Donations are pouring in from everywhere. This disaster has become a Filipino thing.

But where were these politicians when they should have been implementing stricter laws against burning forests for charcoal? Who listened when their dire future was foretold by the town lunatic? I am not saying we deserve what has happened. I cannot even imply that those children did anything to deserve to be buried in mud. My only lament is why do we have to do things too late? Why can't we be, just for once, do something in time or even way before situations reach the critical level? So many lives could have been -- and still could be -- saved.

I pray that someday it will not take so many deaths anymore to awaken this slumbering nation. Take a pulse, choose a move and do what you can now.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Writing Life

Book in Hand: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova alternating with
Writing with Style by John Trimble

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"Writing is very easy. All you do is sit in front of a (typewriter) keyboard until little drops of blood appear on your forehead." - Walter W. Smith

"The writer must be in it; he can't be to one side of it, ever. He has to be endangered by it. His own attitudes have to be tested in it. The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarassing him, always." - Arthur Miller

"Sometimes you get a line, a phrase, sometimes you're crying, or it's the curve of the chair that hurts you and you don't know why, or sometimes you just want to write a poem, and you don't know what it's about. I will fool around on the typewriter. it might take me ten pages of nothing, terrible writing, and then I'll get a line, and I'll think, "That's what I mean!" What you're doing is hunting for what you mean, what you're trying to say. You don't know when you start." - Anne Sexton

" A writer's problem does not change. He himself changes and the world he lives in changes but his problems remains the same. It is always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes part of the experience of the person who reads it." -Ernest Hemmingway

"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit-detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have it." - Ibid.

"A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." - Thomas Mann

"The first rule ... for a good style is that the writer should have something to say." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"Maybe the hardest thing in writing is simply to tell the truth about things as we see them." - John Steinbeck

"This is what I find most encouraging about the writing trades: they allow mediocre people who are patient and industrious to revise their stupidity, to edit themselves into something like intelligence. They also allow lunatics to seem saner than sane." - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (ouch! hehe...)

At Work and Play

Pics from PBSP's 35th Anniversary Event
at the Dusit Hotel, Makati (Jan. 24, 2006)

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The Luzon Regional Operations Team

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Me with the Bosses (have no idea what I'm doing here)


Finally, a complete Book Club Picture
Book Swap Meet / Gimmick last Jan. '06

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From left: Peloyski, Edward, Me, Yel and Norms

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Confederacy of Four-Eyed People

Christmas with the 7 Gorgeous Diwatas (minus 2)
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From left: Petit, Dre (standing), Me, Yel and Leah

The Diver

Back in College, the one class I utterly fell in love with was Hum I. We studied Literature (oh bliss!) and took our time reading a lot of short stories. It was a time when I felt I was unfurling to the world, and the words I have began to understand came into full blossom under the careful tutelage of my young woman professor. We were exposed to the different genres of literature, and I learned to like most of it. One of the stories though that simply stuck to me was that of Tina Cuyugan's The Diver. It's a story about a girl who took a bath in a creek where a carabao was wading. It was kind of weird, that story. It had this very sensual ring to it, this girl coming into an awareness. I interpreted it as sexual, and it bothered me a bit that there was a carabao in it. Haha... sobrang di ko ma-gets!

Of course, when we discussed it in class, there were some who interpreted the story as a form of implied bestiality. But I knew there must be something else in it. It doesn't strike me as pornographic and I don't think the girl went anywhere near the carabao at all. In an essay, I muddled my way through it, but my prof's comments were lukewarm and I think I didn't exactly get it right. I remember writing that the carabao awakened something in her and unlatched the "floodgates of her sexuality." Erg! I cringe now, and based on the comments of my prof (she wrote "whoopeee!"), I think she tried hard not to back then.

No, I think now. That isn't exactly right.

Yesterday, I saw this guy in a light which reminded me of a carabao. Not that he was ugly or squat fat. It was just the brownness of him, the sturdiness of his built, the solidity of his shoulders. He smelled of crushed grass and churned earth and that male scent you catch a whiff of sometimes. It wasn't unpleasant. It just smelled - - - basic. Simple. But then again, not.

It brought to mind the short story again, and it seems it is an epiphany that came too late for the desired 1.00 grade. However, it could be just the right time now for me to try to understand it again for the purpose of general existence.

What if the carabao was the maleness of things? What if the girl in the creek was experiencing the unfurling of awareness about the sensuality of the earth? Water was slapping on her thighs, her toes curled in the muddy bottom of the creek, slight breeze on her shoulders, sunlight on her face and then there was that carabao sharing the bath with her. She probably did not understand how she fit into things, how she could be one with that familiarly alien feeling of just being too big for her own skin?

"As she stood ankle-deep in the middle of the creek, so sharp was the girl's awareness of her not-belonging, both within and without, that she wanted to weep in a sudden, fierce irritiation. Wordlessly, she wished herself to be reduced to an element, like gold or air, rid of all that was murky and immeasurable in her."

And just as this feeling washed over her, the carabao stands from his muddy repose and looms over her. She sees its immensity, its solidity and roughness. Belonging there in the middle of the landscape, with it's black, pitiless eye staring at her and rendering her transfixed. The warmth of the carabao's body pulling at her lower belly where a thread of her womanity unravels and gravitates towards the animal. She stands with the heat of the afternoon sun on her back and the coolness of the water around her feet.

The image it presented did not differ with what I felt staring at this guy's nape as I was jolted, bruised black and blue, inside a stuffy vehicle struggling to overcome a bumpy country road. Closer. I wanted to be closer.

"She found that she had been absorbed efortlessly into the animal's gaze - how did it happen - and now hung suspended on its glistening surface, slowly revolving. She struggled a little then, like a fingerling on a hook, but remained caught.

She continued spinning, slowly at first, then picking up speed, faster and faster, until the air was sucked out of her, along with all sense of time. What was her name? She no longer knew. There was a series of loud cracks. The girl realized she was fracturing all over, like an egg. As she spun, sections of shell broke off and were scattered, releasing thousands of fine filaments which had lain underneath, and which now streamed into the atmosphere.... her body crackled, bright as molten grass. Her hair streamed in the searing wind. The landscape was alien and yet entirely familiar; the lakewater she knew, was thick and bloodhot and fathomless. Raising her arms, the girl assumed the classic diver's position, and plunged."

Oh, what is the secret of this story and why does it stay with me after all this years? It scares me and yet I remain fascinated by it. It speaks to me but I don't know what it's saying. It's been telling me to do something for years, but the details keep avoiding me. From where should I fall and what into? How do I dive when I know not how to swim? And when I do drown, who will be there to save me?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Et tu?

Ils disent le Français est la langue de l'amour, et je suppose que c'est le meilleur jour pour l'employer. Mais je dois complètement compter sur Babelfish parce que je ne sais absolument rien au sujet de parler en français.

(They say French is the language of love and I suppose today is the best day to use it. But I have to completely rely on Babelfish because I know absolutely nothing about speaking in French.)

¿Soy engaño, si? Estoy realmente más en el país con español. ¿Pero entonces otra vez, USTED cuidaría para guardar el preguntarse de cuál es yo el INFIERNO que habla?

(I am cheating, right? I'm really more at home with Spanish. But then again, would YOU care to keep wondering what the HELL am I talking about?)

Even I cannot check if the translations are correct. Saw a few wrong connotations with the Spanish version already. Oh, well, Babelfish can only do so much.

St. Valentine's Day is over. It barely registered in my mind. Ha, sure, there was an unusual number of people wearing red today, and even I had to defend why I wore pink. Some of my workmates received flowers and little heart balloons from their loved ones. But other than that, it's really nothing else.

I was more aware that there's this awesome concert happening at the UP Sunken Garden right now and I am not there. Or maybe, i just kid myself. :) Good Lord. 24 years and counting.

Si usted me conoce, después usted sabría de lo que estoy hablando.

And that's how I'm not spending Valentine's Day.
Now I go back to my initial question.

Et tu?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Pope Defines Love

"Love is not dependence but a gift that makes us live. The freedom of a human being is the freedom of a limited being, and therefore is itself limited. We can possess it only as a shared freedom, in the communion of freedom: only if we live in the right way, with one another and for one another, can freedom develop." - homily of Pope Benedict XVI

Advanced Happy St. Valentine's Day. :)


Book in Hand: The Night Dance
Song in Mind: The Sundays

There is this little baby hope, this flowering bud, this hesitant firecracker that is surging inside my heart. I do not name it, I hide from it, I place it far away where my mind cannot reach because I cannot hope, I cannot want, I cannot dream of it.

All I know is that I cannot know it. To presume would be to murder myself. It would kill me to hope and not have it. It would be like falling in love in a romance fated to remain unrequited (haven't I had enough of that?). It would be like blossoming into a garden and have a storm ravage me. It would be like opening your arms to an embrace and meeting cold air as you close it. It would be like a kiss that vanishes before it reaches my lips.

It's so small and fragile. Let it remain tiny. Let it remain inconsequential. Let it remain anonymous. Just pity, what a pity, my heart feels it would burst with the enormity of it. The vastness of my longing. The cavernous desire. Something so big that it looms over me, and yet I choose to see just a nugget of it. So that I can swallow it, cover it with the fear of never having it. Let the gold drown in the grey areas of my soul.

Oh, watch us, dear Lord, those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give Thine angels charge over those who dream and sleep.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ain't No Mountain High ... Enough

Book in Hand: Strange Stories, Amazing Facts published by Reader's Digest in 1977
Song in Mind: Sadly, it's that Sam Milby Song that goes, "Shine my only star... shine my only star..." (Kasalanan ni Terteen ito for putting it there last Friday pa)

Our phone had been down since last Saturday thus effectively barring me from updating my blog from the most convenient place, which is, at home. I had been itching to write down a lot of things, a lot of them hysterical stuff which wouldn't feel quite that interesting when not told at the heat of the moment (uhrm, you get what I mean). Anyway, I'll just try to scribble down a few stuff, those that I can still remember but don't expect them to be funny anymore.


Terteen is a colleague of mine and we all call her Tertz for short. She does not read this blog (I'm fairly sure of this) because I don't think she likes reading at all (hehehe, just kidding). :) I don't know why I'm writing about her right now (maybe because I can still remember her singing that stupid song with accompanying chicken dance). It's also her birthday this Monday (Feb. 13, thus her name) and I'm racking my brains for an appropriate gift. Unfortunately, I do not have enough funds to buy her something more expensive than a hundred bucks because the FREAKING SALARY ADJUSTMENT WAS DELAYED YET AGAIN and I was pinning a lot of plans on that extra cash. Anyway, before this post becomes yet another rage message against the Finance Unit, I will just think of happy thoughts and maybe convince Tertz to do the same. I'll just conjure up some iodized salt and convince her it's pixie dust and that'll be my gift for her. Pag lumipad nga siya, ewan ko nga lang how I will react. Faint, maybe.

(Hay Eman. Ikamamatay ko na ata na hindi makakalimutan ang munti mong awitin para sa ating mga bisitang Toastmasters. )

The local division of the Toastmasters Club in Manila did a demonstration in our office last Friday. I have heard of the TC, and it sounded like a good organization. I even have friends who are members (and called Toastmasters already). But when the people who did present to PBSP showed their stuff --- ay, turn off.

I guess I was expecting too much from them. I was cringing everytime the facilitator pronounced speech as "spitz" (as in parang aso, Japanese spitz), I counted seven (but that was before I fell into self-induced comatose). Another one looked like a tall Joe D'Mango (his "spitz" lacked wit, but I give him credit for his good voice quality) while the other one looked like a resurrected Inday Badiday (who speaks so softly she probably is in the habit of talking to herself). But what really took the cake is the Icebreaker speech where a woman was asked to deliver her "Introduction-of-Self Speech" to us. I really should have been forewarned by the title of her piece which, in all originality (this is called sarcasm, people), she called, "Ain't No Mountain High..."

I guess she hasn't read the guidebook for gestures yet, because she started her speech with a fist clenched in the air. The gesture was so disconcerting and too distracting that I have no idea what her opening line even was. She then proceeded to enact a declamation piece about her life. I do not mind her mispronounced words because I can see she grew up with a dialect. There were no real incongruous wrong grammars and the one unforgiveable thing she did was right at the very end.

Her conclusion was that she is ready to face all challenges in store for her, and she ended with the line, "Ain't No Mountain High!" Then she bowed. With a beaming face, she waited for our applause.

It took everyone a couple of seconds to realize that she has actually finished speaking because no one heard the right ending to her coined aphorism. Applause came via delayed telecast, and even as we clapped, I can almost hear the people thinking "Good Lord, say the word --- say Enough!" That omitted word hung heavy on my mind the whole afternoon, nao-OC ako. Hindi ako makatulog. Parang lahat naging mali sa mundo ko. Bitin.

Arghh!! Pwede ba - - Enough, enough, ENOUGH!!!

I'm sorry if I sound like an elitist. Please believe me when I insist that I accept spoken English in all its forms as influenced by cultural dialects. I do not look down on people who cannot speak English well, say like the Americans do. I don't speak that amazingly myself.

But, okay. I guess for them, they feel improved already. And who am I to argue with that? If there'll be a Toastmasters Club in PBSP, I might as well join because I'm pretty certain the people would be all right (walang TH). And the good thing about their little demonstration was that it helped me appreciate my dad's talent all the more.

Hay. Sorry ha, pero mas magaling lang talaga ang tatay ko. Hindi kasi siya tunog fake.

It was my dad who trained me to speak in front of an audience. Oo, promise. Ilang oras din niya ako pinatayo sa harap ng salamin na may hawak na hairbrush habang nagsasalita. He said, I can tell for myself when I'm starting to sound fake. I just look myself in the eyes through the mirror, and if I don't get distracted or I don't start cringing, then I'm probably doing it right. He was the one who taught me how to feel the crowd and how to think on your feet to get their attention. He taught me never to look like you're an actress delivering a script. Own the words you are saying, memorized or not, and make it sound natural. Make it sound like you are really speaking to them. He used my student council and debate team days as training ground. Unfortunately, in college, I was only able to deliver two big speeches (ok lang, hit naman pareho). In PBSP, mejo nanghina kasi confidence level ko kaya hindi ko na siya na-practice. So I guess, joining the TC can only do me good.

Yeah, I guess that's right. So I should stop my immature fault-finding and prepare to be criticized as harshly as i have judged others. Tsk, tsk. Ako kasi eh...

Yan, scared na. ENOUGH na nga.