Dear Lover, Some Little Thing I Owe You

Dear Lover,

I don’t remember saying “We’d see the entire world together”. Or maybe I did, but entirely forgotten because a few memorable places would actually already do.

Remember when I told you I’m taking you to Baguio? In my head I was actually telling you I’m taking you home. And just a month ago, I did. As promised, we took the midnight bus. We did not have the luxury to recline our seats as we missed the bus we’re supposed to take. I would have wanted to keep the curtains open for you to watch the outside pass us by, but I chose that you take rest instead, for mostly, the ride we took were all freeways in sight.

The sun had already declared its might by the time we arrived. I briefed you of my soon-to-be tendency to point out random places and tell stories of what happened then and there. You let out a small laugh because I have already started right before I warned.

We jetted to Tam-Awan Village after that. We were greeted with a massive wall of graffiti my friends did for the village. It looks brighter and a lot less gruesome than it had been. We were welcomed by my old friends, whom to you are new. But at that moment, I knew you knew what I meant how faces become places and how places become faces. Their sanctuary has also become ours.

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You insisted we take the trek past the view deck before leaving. You loved how the weather afforded us a sweat-free trek up until the borders of the village. We hopped on to museums – of people and works you knew. Might have been because you met them once, or I acquainted you with them as per stories told then and there. We took the road up to meet the Oble of the North. I roamed the halls I used to roam. Some ten years ago, I was here, without any idea we’d exist here at one point.

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The night has finally put on its veil just as the rain poured, we sought refuge in a cafe because I promised to give you a taste of the best Strawberry Shortcake. I knew you’d find it not sweet enough, you requested for a slice of Apple pie. We felt we needed something to refresh our palette so we crossed Session Road and headed to an artsy vegetarian restaurant. I know I promised you a glimpse of a lesser known road but equally beautiful as Session, but the weather did not afford us – it was washed white from where we stood. Oh, it was that night you took literally The Magnetic Fields’ The Night You Can’t Remember – deluded with alcohol, you forgot how you wounded up in our room the following morning. And I, of course remembered, how you took a cold shower and jumped to the bottom bunker naked.

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The next day was a stroll on Baguio’s scariest. I must say, I am one lucky person – to have someone like you who looks at these kinds of places with utter admiration of beauty and history rather than what they are shallowly known for. I love how you marvel and wonder like a kid presented with an idea that aliens exist or something. And of course, you made the same face when confronted with a plate full of meat and protein. We took a cab home that evening. It was a toil getting one along Session Road, but it was along the trip you admired Baguio’s city lights. You struggled to take a photo from the moving vehicle. I laughed a small laugh and slipped into my mind that image of you in awe of Baguio’s lights.

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I took you out for touristy things the following day. You knew this was not my forte, I hated to do this actually. We strolled Burnham Park, maybe I just had to lend you stories which unfolded there – afternoons at the playground and some moments affront the lake. We judged a few people because it was what I used to do there. We felt a pull towards SM Baguio, you insisted we watch a movie for sixty pesos. But that was then, two hours spent at the cinema now costs a hundred and fifty. Well, still not bad these days. We stayed a little while at Harrison as we did thrift shopping that evening. It was not really your thing, but I got you sniffing around looking for vintage shirts you could parade and be proud of.

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We woke up early the next morning to oblige for everyone’s pasalubong requests. I took you to the outskirts of the wet market – not everyone has ever been to where vegetables from La Trinidad or Sagada is dropped off, not everyone sees how vendors wash their goods onsite, and not everyone knows there’s a fifteen peso kilo of carrots there.

We no longer left the village after that. We strolled back again to the roof deck, but we caught rain. We missed the sunset, which beauty I promised you forevers ago. However, we were presented with a dazed view of the mountains and South China Sea. We stayed there for a little more while, unmindful of the sharp shudders, without need of a coat, a jacket, or a warm cup of coffee. It’s like a cheesy scene in a movie bound to make you cringe and giggle at the same time.

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I thought the trip would be totally over when we set foot at the bus. On the way down Marcos Highway though, you pointed out again how beautiful Baguio’s city lights were and how it kind of reflected the serene night sky. Just when I thought we missed that part on the beginning of our journey, you brought it to me even before it came to an end.

I kind of smiled myself to sleep, knowing those days have been very exhausting, but promising and exciting. We may not have been able to tick off all that was in my Baguio checklist, but I was glad to have brought you to my heart’s home. Now, it’s yours as well.

Love always,

Asteorra

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When “it” is Over

I remember to have written before in my old defunct blog something about love, loss, and longing, and the waiting, uncertainty, and anticipation entailed. It was about you.

***

I have already been used to not seeing you, not speaking to you, not even thinking about you. You were my “could have been”, though eventually I deemed you my soulmate. Sounds weird I know, but remember when we went around randomly and wasted time on things that were irrelevant to our lives yet seemed to have made sense? Those became remembrances that brought clarity as to how and why we can never be. Those were the moments that haunted me, but at the same time hauled me back to safety and sanity whenever I was in great irrepressible pain.

I even wrote to you and wrote about you. How can I not? When you were the one who taught me the meaning, value, and gravity of each word, more than the dictionary could ever offer. Of course, I added romanticism to that. That’s how we deal with things and people we used to love, right? Also, I could not help it then, knowing that’s the farthest we could ever/never be.

***

And as you always do in the past four to five years, you came to me as a surprise. But this time, with utmost realness (discounting the fact that it was virtual). It was not surreal though. Nothing magical, really. It was unexpected, I cannot put a feeling on it. This was what I wanted years ago. This is what I would have given up things for. But that was not an option then. All we did was pack our things up and leave.

It kind of makes me happy though of the time we have spent apart. Maybe we needed that to wonder and wander. Maybe that was one way of making us grow and realize some things. Maybe it brought us into thinking how we cared for each other in each’s absence.

This is my story of love lost. A narrative of longing, waiting, and anticipation that have gone. It will never be the same love as before. This is now the kind of love/friendship far more than your words can convey.

I am thankful I already have my life on track, and to have people I have lost back is a mere bonus. I guess friendships really do not end. You gobbled up your own words. In the end, it came from you even; that it has to be rekindled.

You were one of my greatest (and weirdest!) friends after all.

Dear Lover, I am taking you to Baguio

It actually feels like saying, I am taking you home.

People normally beat the five to eight hour travel to Baguio for a glimpse of the Lion, for a walk up Mines View Park, for a stroll around Burnham, for a taste of strawberries, and for a million pictures they could post on Facebook and Instagram. It is a heartless journey; sad to say.

I won’t be taking you to those places. I’d take you on a different travel.

We’ll take the midnight bus. We’ll draw the curtains to the side and watch everything outside pass us by. I’ll ask you to close your eyes as soon as we get into the freeway. No, it won’t give you an infinite feeling as that of Charlie’s; but I’d let you feel what it is like being somewhere and nowhere at the same time. You’re moving, but stuck. You’re lost, but not really.

You have to recline your seat upon arrival at Pangasinan and La Union, I’d like you to look at the stars and how clear the sky is. You’ll notice a great difference when we arrive at Baguio. You may take a nap after the admiration, but I’ll wake you up when we’re already mid-way Marcos Highway. You’d open your eyes to the sunrise overlooking the mountains and the sea. I’d point the direction of South China Sea and watch your face glow, with awe and wonder and a teeny bit of sunshine.

We’d get off the bus and tell you to exhale on your hands and watch your breath become visible. I’d laugh because you’re another of those I asked to do it and did. We’d walk around and get breakfast somewhere. I’d tell you this is where my blockmates lived, this is where I would’ve marched for Graduation, this is where a white lady shows up, this is where I was almost robbed of my phone. We’d rest in a familiar place. I might even request them to have the fireplace set up for a Baguio newbie like you.

We’d walk up and down Session Road. We’d pay a visit to the Cathedral and its chapel. We’d take the stairs at the side so I could show you the tilework which seems to say, This way to the Cathedral. We’d say hello to my friends over at La Azotea. I’d show you their small gallery and sit by the window for a cup of Cordillera coffee. We’d look over a busy, beautiful, but less-known road. Its beauty overshadowed by the famous Session Road. We’d continue walking and stop at thrift shops. We’d wonder at how cute and cheap Japanese toys are, but we’d be disappointed and sad upon finding out they no longer work the same. I’d get you a leather jacket you’d only get to wear here and bury in your closet once we get to Manila. We’d walk farther, to Burnham Park this time. I’d take you to the lake. I won’t tell you the story that existed here. You know it, you’d think about it for a while, and smile.

We’d walk across Burnham and up the hill leading to the Café by the Ruins. We’d stroll a little back to get a jeepney leading to Tam-Awan. We’d hike up its slopes and rich terrain. We’d enjoy throwing coins at its bamboo wells. We’d cross its hanging bridge. We’d get a massage at one of cottages. We’d stay at the view deck and wait for the sunset. We may not be able to see the South China Sea on a cloudy afternoon, but this is, beyond doubt one of the most breathtaking sunsets you’d ever have. We’d stay here until sundown, after the artists have finished their sketches and are already dancing in the dap-ay. We’d drink with them and eventually stay at their cottage because we’re too tired to travel for the night.

We’d be greeted with Cordillera coffee in the morning, and freshly baked bread, and herby scent of pesto. We’d bid them bye and head on to my then school. I’d tour you around and introduce you to yet another Oble. We’d cross the street and pretend I am marching for my College Graduation.

We’d decide to go to the Botanical Garden next. No, we won’t take photos of the locals in colorful costumes. You know I despise that. We’d walk (again) instead and follow the trail to the Greenhouse and sneak at the ongoing exhibition inside the house made of scrap bottles and plastics. We’d take closer looks at uprooted trees and flora. We’d walk even more until we reach Wright Park. We’d throw coins and make impossible wishes in the rectangular well. We’d take a rest at the hills and take a book out to read because taking photos of with The Mansion as background is too boring and mainstream. We’d take a jeepney ride back to the City proper. I’d point you to this and that, to the haunted Teacher’s Camp, to the haunted White House, to the Pink Sister’s Chapel, to Korean Restaurants, To Diners, and to schools around.

We’d climb the only mall that exists in a hill. We’d drop coins and use the telescope at the top floor. We’d watch a movie because it’s cheap at Php 60 per screening. We’d view the entire city and look at it as if it existed in our palms. We’d stroll a little further for a Pizza and Pasta stop at Volante’s. I’d tell you stories of how I met friends here whenever I visited. We’d consider going to the market by then. We’d get our friends dreamcatchers, and pasalubong because they are suckers for that. I’d tour you around. From where the best Ilocos longganisas are, to where the cheapest vegetables are, to where the biggest and most literal ukay-ukays are. We’d take a cab home because we have too much to carry. We’d give Manong driver no tip because he might get offended and upset, but we’ll reward him with a warm smile instead.

We take a warm bath and spend the rest of the evening preparing dinner then cuddling at the fireplace.

We’d leave with happy and contented hearts the next day. On the way home, treading down Marcos Highway, I’d like you to close your eyes and feel how it is again to being somewhere and nowhere. To feel a sense of affinity and longing to the land you just left. To feel what it feels like to have found and left a home.

That was my home. It has been yours too.

To All The Profs I’ve Loved Before

A little more than ten years ago, when asked what I wanted to be when I grow up. I cheerfully say “I want to be a teacher”. It was in the late years of elementary I decided not to be one because realized I will never ever possess the required patience of the job.

I remember not having a favorite person from the faculty in grade school and high school. Though I must thank my Language and Phoenix, and Reading Comprehension teachers in grade school. They made a mean grammarnazi out of me. They pre-arranged my love for books and the creepy silence of the library. They made reading and writing a leisure – from which I decided to quit Language and Literature in college, fearing I won’t be reading and writing the same way again.

I owe “Thank you” to my Values teacher in high school who required the entire class to read Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince and made me read aloud my analysis of each chapter. Those were the earliest Barthes exercises, I guess. And to my fourth year English teacher who made me speak of 19th century literature. I felt amazing presenting in class that George Elliot was actually Mary Ann Evans and so other literary trivia. It felt like disclosing Illuminati secrets in national TV. I was an awesome geek. And I owe another word of gratitude to my fourth year adviser who gave our class daily dosage of the chill pill. She taught us to let loose and be fun midst the stress and pressure of finding a good college.

Then came college, which was a lot different. Spending it in UP made it complicated. I had to juggle academics and extra curricular activities. Not to mention, UP is a microcosm of society. There are different communities and you get to interact and deal with them one way or another. My professors made the whole journey more than bearable. The varied approaches of learning made learning itself interesting. Along the way, what I initially found complicated, I eventually deemed enthralling. UP paved the way for the real world. My professors did.

Yes, UP profs, They laid out facts, opened possibilities. They taught me that matters should be viewed like a a kaleidoscope. It should be seen in different perspectives to get a better understanding. And you take everything and every angle with it – the bad and the good, the beautiful and the ugly. They taught me that it’s the same thing with life. You can look at it whichever way you desire, but you have to accept it with all its positive and negative aspects. Use whatever is too much to make up for the less. Balance what makes you feel bad with what makes you feel better. Seek knowledge for that you lack understanding of. Take challenges as lessons.

With this, I certainly owe them more than thank you’s.

*This post makes me want to go back to school. Seriously.

In Case I Forget What It Is Like To be Twenty Two

Yes and No.

Yes, I am twenty two. And no, I am not making a countdown with the less than fifty days left for me to be twenty two.

I would just like to make a rundown of the things that existed in the life of the twenty-two year old me. I’ll cut the drama and excitement of a sixteen year old, which I believe is my heart’s age anyway. And by default, everything will go in a random order.

  • Spent the eve of my 22nd birthday with an awesome surprise thrown by really awesome people.

 

  • Gatecrashed the Philippine Fashion Week. My friend and I cut her black ribbon in two so I can have a pretty good seat.

 

  • Reread my favorite books and got a copy of “Love, Stargirl” as a birthday present from my sister while sifting through piles and piles of books in Booksale.

 

  • Became addicted to torrent downloads. This is more of a confession actually. My music and movie downloads have gobbled up more than half of my office computer’s disk space.

 

  • Earned the “Curatorial Courage Award” during one of my paper presentations/workshops. Now that’s sarcasm from the academe.

 

  • Traveled out of the country for the first time. I spoke to strangers and felt at home in a foreign land. It was actually in art I found refuge.

 

  • Published an article for an exhibition. I did this for the love of the artist group and my unending fondness for my heart’s former sanctuary. I sounded like the very same girl who wrote my thesis though.

 

  • Built a sort of book club or a book swapping activity with my friends. I believe this helped my friends understand me better, just so they know where my thoughts and ideas spring from. You can say that my randomness has probably come out from the variety of books I read – from young adult (Polly Horvath and Jerry Spinelli) to philosophical (Kahlil Gibran and Richard Bach).

 

  • Had my heart broken for the nth time and found it gradually mended through surprising and unexpected ways. He has certainly taken the alternate route to my heart.

 

  • Finally received original copies of my Diploma and Transcript of Records. UP and its genius system!

 

  • Wrote short love notes to random men of my life for the whole month of February. No, I am not boy crazy.

 

  • Got my SSS, TIN, PhilHealth and etc files. This sounds rather shallow, but this made me feel like an adult.

 

  • Spent McDate evening aka cheap fastfood dinner with friends. This is also an ode to adulthood. It’s a meeting where we address our unfiltered thoughts on work, career, family, and love over a less than a hundred budget meal which is deducted from our mean salaries. Yuppie talk.

 

  • Spent the eve of Valentine’s Day drunk and bore a whole lot of emotional and alcoholic baggage throughout the day. Epic, yes I am.

 

  • Signed up for a WordPress account for serious blogging. Well, if this does seem serious.

 

  • My brother graduated. Since then, he has made lots of money more than I did, compared to my whole employment history.

 

  • Received a present nine months prior to my birthday. I just woke up one morning with the news that I’m going somewhere a week after my birthday. He didn’t only have the travel tickets, he had in hand the passport to my heart.

 

  • Had one of my post-PR’s plagiarized by a writer. Sigh. Somebody forgot her writing ethics.

 

  • Spent the Holy Week away from home for the first time. Just loads of plain fun in the sun. Not to mention, we almost got lost on the way home.

 

  • Got myself a phone and ipod from my own money. Adulthood made me feel good I didn’t have to ask extra from my parents.

 

  • Got addicted to Timezone’s Terminator and Silent Hill. Money and f-words spent and said in the most relevant way.

 

  • Went totally crazy about food. I raved about chicken wings, soup, and sandwiches most of the time. Plus, it seemed like there should always be an open food tab while working. I don’t like food, I love it!

 

  • Went night trekking during a storm for my first mountain climbing experience. I have earned more than the courage of a pro.

 

  • Lost two mobile phones in less than a month. This is the best thing I’ve done in my whole life. Ever.

 

  • Grown equal fondness for cats and dogs since Mr Snooze has a pack of dogs and cats, and dreams of becoming Philippines’ Cesar Millan.

 

  • Edited my friend’s short stories for a project, in which my own past love affair became her basis for the story.

 

  • Received a warm and cheerful welcome at a hospital after riding an ambulance. It didn’t develop a love for hospitals though. It’s still traumatizing.

 

  • Executed a fail but rather sweet surprise for someone. I’ve been always into beautifully written love letters, exquisite music and lyrics, good books, and delectable food.

 

  • Created a history of us together in letter form compiled as “Guess How Much I Love You”. It’s a lengthy bullet list of little things that answer a lot of why’s and how’s.

 

Keep Your Head and Drop The Gun*

Everything that can happen in a day, happens in a day.

Relieved, Overjoyed, Moved, Proud, Pained, Loved.

***

Here’s a journal entry from January 2010:

Everything was finished his morning. Our year-long battle has finally come to an end. I can’t consider it a victory or defeat. We weren’t in between. We were floating.

It started the same months last year. I’ve cried buckets of tears, mentioned the worst of bad words, and cursed every human being/institution that was digging for our graves.

It is a bottomless pit we do not deserve. We had shortcomings but they were not in any way equal to what they have decided for us. It must be the other way around. They should be the ones pushed into the abyss they have dug themselves. Who are they to implement justice without listening for truth? It’s a shame for them to implement law and order when they themselves make the words devoid of their natural meaning.

But we are not to topple down the pit they have prepared for us. We wont let it end just like this. We were in this together from the start, so we will be in the end. I have you and you have me, and we have more people who care and believe in us. We will still smile and laugh just because we can and simply because there’s no one that can stop us.

And for you, old fag who cant stand on your own feet, who doesn’t know context clues, who doesn’t know how to use your articles well, who runs to your mom who’s a poser academician, who comes to thesis defense without a Review of Related Literature, whose character is just as fake as your nose: I hope that you are happy that people suffer for your materialism. I hope you get a chance to grab a dictionary and find the words trust, friendship, and truth. I hope you get a lot more people to love and appreciate you and lastly, thank you for making us/UP ASS love each other far deeper.

***

This goes the narrative a year after:

This sounds weird and relatively pathetic, considering I am already out from school two years now but I finally got my Transcript of Records and my translated Diploma. My real Tagalog Diploma though was misplaced somewhere in the Records Section of the University Registrar. This is not new though, but the people from my college promised they’ll work this out.

This delay is merely a result of some utterly shallow matter I better not recall – though it actually made some of my academic moments rather sweet and victorious. It all felt like Graduation once again. It was a re-enactment of the rite. The Transcript of Record handed over by the clerk behind the glass window was like the rolled paper given to me by our College Dean.

Honestly, I was lead beyond that memory. I was back to the nights when I had to put the mouthpiece on mute because I was talking (and swearing) to this poser academician over the phone chattering about NBI, The Philippine Collegian, and her notes to the University President. I traveled back to the meetings with my professors and College officials as we lay-out possible solutions and remedies. Meetings like those always end up with hugs and encouragement from them. I was brought to humid afternoons when I had to be excused from class (and even miss quizzes from Psych) just to have briefings and question and answer portions.

Yeah, I only had twelve sheets of paper in my hand, with the Centennial hologram in each page. Yet I felt all the pain and trauma my last year in college was. And that, certainly, felt a lot like freedom.

Or it might also be because I was overwhelmed by the Sablay and Sunflower Season. But yeah, I felt like I am free and totally out of college, even though I honestly long to be back. Sigh, there’s only two more months to decide whether I’d be getting a Master’s degree.

Also, I checked up on my College Org. I got the chance to have lunch with them before their Snap Elections. But it’s no ordinary lunch. Just last week, a faculty from our Department was appointed Director of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. He said that such honor occurred because of the exhibition my College Org has organized with him. I can only feel proud, blessed and thankful.

It’s over. We ended up winning.

***

*from Stars’ Today Will be Better, I Swear!

Day 25: Dear A,

I used to run away from you every time. I even left my bento just because you were headed my way at the cafeteria one afternoon. I used to give you hundreds of lame excuses why it is impossible for us to have lunch together. I rejected thousands of your calls, I even had my sister pick up my phone instead.

But guess what? I voted you for the University Student Council even though you were among the yellows. Perhaps, that’s the sweetest I could do.

Day 21: Dear V,

Remember our words after our songs at the karaoke one February night? It was a sad yet comforting exchange. Your words were raindrops falling into my old rotten well of words. You didn’t cry. It wasn’t necessary. Your words bled for you.

Tables have been turned. Last year was my year, this year is yours. Mine has become the raindrops, yours has become the well.

Day 20: Dear I,

You’re one of the men I believe I am required to write a long letter to. But you’re tired of reading too much stuff I’d rather save you one later.

That makes this note-writing project perfect for you. I wouldn’t write you long and winding sentences. I wouldn’t dedicate you music-like compositions. I wouldn’t string together beads of words for you.

Just that, you probably know what I ought to say. You never read my mind, you listen to my heartbeat instead. And this: Ours will always be one of my favorite friendships.

Day 18: Dear E,

CLASSIC. That’s how you called me the last time I saw you. I have asked you why you used such word for me. I was too eager to squeeze from you a pretty good answer but you just reiterated the word as if it really meant everything that I am.

I was somehow flattered.

And just so you know, I only like you every time I am with you.