Monday, August 28, 2006

Sagada

By jove, I might as well have been hit by thunder and it would have the same effect.

I totally did not expect I would enjoy the Sagada trip. That's just so like me to refuse acknowledging that something could actually be nice instead of bothersome. I tend to discourage myself from expecting too much. Huh. That's like my style for everything. Including falling in love.

This I promise is true. Sagada is a higher experience. You could not go there and not be changed somehow. The travel to the place alone is physically battering, and you would need a stout heart to hold on to the hope of making it through alive (especially when we had to brave the rough, winding road while it was raining). Once you get there though you know the way up was well worth the effort. I never knew the mountains could be so gentle. I have never felt more at peace with the world than when I was up there amidst the pines and the persimmons.

The people were gentle folks who welcomed strangers warmly. The poblacion gave me the feeling that I was safe. No one would be snatching my cellphone even if I use it in public. No one would grab our stuff from the jeepney even if it was unguarded. Maybe I'm exaggerating things, I may have been just extremely lucky not to lose any of my stuff. Or... I could be right.

I fell for Sagada, with absolutely everything I am.

Now, I stare into space and smile into the nothingness of the air. Things inadvertently fall from my grasp and I don't know why I klutz around. And everytime I remember that Sagada is 13 hours away from Manila, my chest hurts, I can't breathe and I want to cry.

I have to go back there. If only to get a piece of my heart which I wasn't aware I've given away until the very last minute.

Shoot. I want to go back so badly that it hurts. :(

Pics to be posted soon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Name Game

I like to play this game where I conjure up images of how that person looks like and what his character is based on his name. Take for example:

Michael – is a tall guy with pale, cheeky or chubby face. Their eyes usually look kind.

Stephen – has a mousy kind of face. If he does not possess a cherubic kind of aura, then he probably looks predatory.

Amos – lean, angular with a hungry look in his eyes.

Carol – bubbly kind of girl and she’s got peaches and cream complexion.

Amber – a bitch.

Ian – tall and broad-shouldered bloke, but usually slow in either talking or walking.

Edwin - an old person, a grandfather (sorry to the Edwins I know)

Edward – kind of kingly

Charles – kind of loopy.

Norman – a tall, Slavic looking guy who can only form two English words per minute (sorry, Norms)

Sherry – a sweet-smiling girl akin to the liquor she’s named after. I tend to imagine her looking nice in red.

Cecilia – a girl who likes to sing and ends up becoming a school teacher when she grows up.

Noelle (fem.) – slim, wisp of a girl who talks in stage whisper all the time.


That’s just some of it, and I don’t know where it comes from. :) But it was nice playing it anyhow.

I better head off to sleep now. It’s gonna be a long weekend.

Take A Deep Breath and Here We Go

Book in Hand: Tales Before Tolkien

Laptop--- check.
Book --- check.
Drawing Pad and pencils--- check.
Sanity---- uhm... okay, pwede pa.

Looks like I'm all set to start a hell of a week which will end when September hits.

On my way to Sagada --- (people say Yey! Wow! I say, Boo! Hisssss!) --- for official business. That'll eat up my Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Come Monday, I have a presentation to a member company I am still totally unprepared for since the meeting was set at the eve of my departure for Sagada. On Tuesday, I would be visitng school after school looking for a Computer Lab Project beneficiary. On Wednesday, I fly to Bicol and I won't smell Manila until Saturday.

Hope I won't drop dead, knowing I just had a 39 degree fever last Monday.

And dear Lord, I do need money because:

THE MANILA INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR STARTS AUGUST 30 AND ENDS SEPTEMBER 2!!!!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Just Barely

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Whenever I se a blank piece of paper, images of what I want to fill it with rise unbidden. I have so many fantastic things I want to capture on page. The possibilities keep me awake at night and I even rehearse it over and over inside my head.

This how I want to do draw it.

This is how I want to write it.

All fantastic things. Brilliant and achingly beautiful.

That is, inside my head. When I try to translate into the physical world what was so marvelous in the metaphysical, I find my hands inept, my patience at an edge, myself so completely lacking.

I am Orphelia afloat in a sea of creativity but I cannot even move.

Do you see why I am frustrated? Nice try, try again, thank you for trying.

Parang tanzan ng Coca-Cola laging pumapalya.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Little Girl Who Wrote

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who couldn’t speak her thoughts. She grew up believing that all nice little girls should always listen to their parents because they are wise and powerful. She was taught that nice little girls always try to be good to every one.

She likes it when people are pleased with her for being cheerful and helpful. They heap praises on her, calling her every name that is bright and beautiful. She saw how these praises make her parents’ eyes glow with love and pride. Oh how wonderful it felt to be loved by them! She knew then that she could never ever make anyone angry with her. She must not hurt anyone, or make other people think she is a disagreeable child. She. Must. Be. Perfect.

Everybody looks at her and sees someone beautiful inside. She never told them that inside is exactly the place where it hurts. The feeling is worse than being stuck inside a box without much air to breathe. It is much worse than wearing a mask that does not fit; a mask that presses on the wrong curves of her real face --- it scratches and scrapes her skin. She knew that underneath the mask, the wounds are bleeding and raw. Yet she cannot take it off. She is certain that if she did, everyone would see her real face and realize she is ugly.

But once upon a time, this little girl grew up. She learned that life would never be fair, not even if she was the nicest girl in the world. She found the beauty of stories. She found the power of words. Upon that time, the not-so-little girl found her voice.

No, she was not strong enough to speak her true convictions in public. Not yet. But she found freedom in writing down her thoughts and feelings. It still hurt to expose herself to the scrutiny of everyone through her written words. She does not always like to announce to everyone the details of her life. But this girl wanted to be a writer. She wanted the objectivity that is necessary for a narrator of life. She wanted to get the little words out of the way so that the big ones can come. She saw self-disclosure as a way of training herself for the most important revelation of all:

That she is beautiful after all.

Without the mask.
===================================

I am truly sorry to those I have hurt in the course of my daily blogging exercise. I do not mean to be mean. I just do not want to mince my words. I admit that at times I get carried away and I am still learning my control over the power of words. But when I am writing, I am out of the box. And no, I will not let anyone stuff me back in ever again.

I promise to gain more control, and perhaps, restraint. At the end of the day, I am still nice after all. Just without the plasticity.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Sound of Settling

She told me, "It feels nice..."

She was looking at me with eyes begging for understanding. Her hands were fluttering to her tummy, her bag, her hair. "It felt nice that a guy would ask you to marry him even if there is no pressing reason. I mean, I'm not pregnant. We're both not desperately old."

At this point, she was nodding her head. It's as if she's finally convinced again that she was right to accept the marriage proposal.

"It's probably the best that I could hope for." she concluded.

"Do you love him?" I asked.

She smiled thinly. "Love him? Yes. But not all the time. There is no perfect relationship, Liv. There's just this."

"Are you sure?"

Again, the confusion rose to her eyes. But she answered, "Yes."

=======================================

Oh, dearest. Please, I ask you to be sure.

Last Night

Last night, I was dreaming awake about what I would do with, let's say, 5 Million Dollars. Books and beads aside, Here's what I came up with:

An Island Resort.

I will buy an island off the coast of Palawan or Puerto Galera and turn it into a resort. It would have to be large enough to be partitioned into 5 area themes:

1. Enchantment - where there is a cottage shaped like a hobbit house with round door under tree roots to boot, a mini Rivendell and a Narnia-esque house where the front door looks like an enormous closet

2. Writers' Haven - these are the simple cottages facing the sea. One would be facing the East for those who love to see the sun rise. Two would be facing the west, to see the sun set. One of those cottages would be exclusively for me. Each room is fitted with a desk top, a writers desk, internet access... the works for a writer.

3. Superstar Area - Hmmm., I'm not sure how this would look like yet.

4. The Main Hotel - everything super-class

5. The Beachfront - there'd be 5 large huts to house different kinds of restaurants/ shops

Another detail I thought of would be that, I would enroll all my staff into an English Proficiency Program so that they would sound like SagadeƱos and would have no problem catering to foreign tourists. :)

And I want to make it exclusive. (Though this detail still doesn't rub well for my "equity for all" point of view)

I would also put the books I would have published by then so that guests would be enticed to read and / or purchase my books.

Of course, before all this can happen, I have to write those books first so that Oprah will notice me and make me her Book Girl. Hey, if she's got a psychologist and an interior designer on retainer, she can have me as her Book Girl. She'd love my first book, and my second, so that she'll invite me to select her Book-of-the-Month stuff and present it to her beloved audience. People would love me, Oprah would love me, they would all think I'm adorable and amazingly young for such a good writer. (Give me a break, I'm dreaming lang naman eh!).

Then Neil Gaiman would take notice and invite me to do a Documentary with him where we would be investigating the different world myths, their sources and relevance as well as present the different magics that people believe in.

By then, I'd grow so rich and famous and 5 million dollars would be like, my per annum allowance.

Hay, I know, I know.

Dream on, you say. :)

Believe me, I will.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mischa Won't Let Lindsay Hog All The Glory

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The OC's Mischa Barton was recently in Sydney, Australia to promote the country's local designer clothes. Would've been totally cool, 'xept that she couldn't even remember the label of what she's wearing.

To top it all off, once interviewed, she said she was totally psyched to be there because she wanted to check out the city and its river.

Can somebody tell her that Sydney is a coastal city? You know like, near the freaking ..... ocean?

Lindsay wanna do a Monroe

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actress Lindsay Lohan wants to entertain U.S. troops in Iraq and follow in the footsteps of her idol, Marilyn Monroe, who visited soldiers in Korea during the 1950s. But first, Lohan plans to learn how to shoot a gun.

"I've been trying to go to Iraq with (U.S. Senator)
Hillary Clinton for so long. Hillary was trying to work it out, but it seemed too dangerous," Lohan, 20, told Elle magazine in an interview that hits newsstands on Wednesday.

"I wanted to do what Marilyn Monroe did, when she went and just set up a stage and did a concert for the troops by herself," Lohan said. "It's so amazing seeing one woman just going somewhere, this beautiful sex kitten, who's basically a pinup, which is what I've always aspired to be."

"I'm not afraid of going," she said. "My security guard is going to take me to a gun range when I get back to L.A., and I'm going to start taking shooting lessons. He says if I'm going to go there I should know how to shoot."


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Of all the stupi.... Argh.

Okay, this girl wants to go to Iraq, so she should learn how to shoot. Yes, because, you know, like, just in case somebody starts shooting her in the middle of her song number, she could, like, get out her revolver, and like, shoot them all down.

I like Lindsay. But it doesn't seem to stop her from saying all the stupi... hay, whatever.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Little Gods

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Not all of us appreciate fantasy stories. But all of us understand grief, loss, pain and ultimately, joy. We all understand death. For all that you hold sacred, read this amazing short story. Really.

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2002/20020204/little_gods.shtml

God, I wish I wrote this.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Rugby People

My colleagues and I were talking about street people using rugby earlier this week, and I found myself paying more attention to them. It's not that I expect them to go berserk or try to kill people right in front of my eyes, but there's just something about tragedy that makes you want to watch it unfold until you just can't tear your eyes away. I've seen a lot of the Rugby People, most of them are young. I've seen the delirious happiness in their eyes as if they were watching the clouds part for them as they fly in the sky. Coincidentally, what I saw today took my breath away and replaced it with a hard dark lump I cannot dislodge from my throat.

I was with my sister helping her do research when we came upon a family seated in a less populated area of a certain university. There were four of them: the father, mother and two kids. The mother was cradling the baby in the crook of her left arm. In her right hand, she was holding a clear plastic bag and she kept sniffing it. When she wasn't sniffing it, she was laughing aloud and exclaiming her delight over the thousand things we could not see. The baby in her ams though was crying. Meanwhile, the father must've been already way high because he was rolling back and forth on the grass. The other kid, she must've been two or three, was picking up God-knows-what from the grass and eating it.

It felt painful to watch them. It was more painful though to walk away and to pretend we didn't see anything. Up to now, I still don't know what I should have done. Should I have informed the police? Gave them money? Bought them real food? The kids, at least? I don't know. How do I even approach them? I feel fake for calling myself a development worker and not knowing what to do. It also makes me feel a little sad because, how many of the things I'm doing at work is really helping this family and the thousands just like them? I feel utterly useless.

The rugby people really are just Hungry People. Hurt People. Tired and Hopeless People. Thing is, they are Our People and we don't know what to do. I can't see poverty ending in our lifetime. And honestly, I don't even think we really, truly know how to start.

Bookworms are Officially Hot?!

A recent news item on The Guardian has people coming out of the woodwork and stating which books being read by people in public will make them look at that person twice... and maybe chat him or her up.

As it turns out though, this can't be just any book. Specific turn-offs were listed as part of the comments. It seems that Dan Brown is a huge no-no. Add to his pile erotic books and romance novels. Whilst some went as far as saying that anything in the current top ten bestseller's list is too tacky. Meanwhile, the item stated that the best spot to be caught with your nose in a book is inside the commuter train.

Huh. Just imagine that here in the Philippines.

I'm not saying Dan Brown is good or that I like his stuff, but here The Da Vinci Code is already considered intelligent reading. The fact that they're reading a non-textbook material is enough to label them as literary. Plus the fact that we're largely a Roman Catholic country where the Bishops have discouraged people from even touching the topic with a ten-foot pole makes it interesting to Filipinos. And romance novels? Ha! Girls devour them here. 8 out of 10, I see a girl with a book, it's bound to be chick-lit or those Judith McNaught and Nora Brown stuff. And who said you could read inside the MRT, or worse, the LRT? Where do you think we'd find the elbow room to even turn a page? We'd have to hold the book two inches from our nose and risk being bumped all the time. Or better yet---- how do you read standing up, stacked like sardines in a can with the biggest accumulation of BO ever recorded? You could barely let your chest rise and fall to allow proper breathing!

I do get how it feels though. I do perk up around people carrying or reading books in public (the bus, malls, restaurants). I am guilty of trying to crane my neck whichever way just to catch a glimpse of the title and the author. I warm up to people who read stuff I like, let's say Neil Gaiman or Jonathan Safran Zoer. Seeing people read Harry Potter makes me feel as if I was part of a magical society connected by the same love for that Potter boy. Let's not even start talking about people I see reading Lord of the Rings because I can't help but grin at them with happiness and kinship even if they end up thinking I'm some kind of weirdo. I also feel a distant awe at guys engrossed with a Dostoyevesky or Hemmingway. I think people who read Murakami or Ishiguro are cool. I smile when I see people reading comic books with silent mirth in their eyes. On the other hand, I think people reading Shakespeare in public are pretenders or are required by their High School teachers. People reading War and Peace are just show-offs. I'm sorry, but that's how I feel. :)

Another observation is that Pinoys love to read Self-Help and Instructional books. I.e. Purpose Driven Life, How To Meet Friends and Influence People, The LEadership Quotient, LEading with Soul, Business Blah-blah, Drucker Like this, Blink. Hmmm.... Obviously, I'm not a fan. I understand that non-fiction books help people gain knowledge from people who claims to know more. But I can't help but think those people are boring. I mean, they're probably great spiritual beacons or business tycoons or advanced thinkers... I respect them. But I just can't join them. The only non-fiction I like to read are by Robert Fulghum and Sarah Ban Breathnach.

In conclusion, bookworms being the new Hotness in this country isn't happeing just yet. Books still can be considered a luxury to most. But I can always wish, right? That if ever I meet someone, he's still not stuck in his Star Trek / Star Wars spin-offs and won't be pretending to like the classics or my kind of fantasy books and is erudite and intelligent and not as snobbish about books as I am. Hehe. I mean, that's really praying.