Friday, April 16, 2010

On Pots and Pans

I could still remember Nanay shared once over a family dinner that she had the hardest time giving birth to me. The youngest among her three boys, I, she recalled with an evident memory of pain and some sense of achievement, simply had the largest head. For hours, she endured the arduous labor, but when given the option to go to the hospital for cesarean procedure, she still politely declined.
Probably she thought it would be a rather easy delivery – my brother Bing-Bing was born the easiest, she said, and our Kuya Bong-Bong, being the first born, was a rather difficult delivery for starters, yet somehow within her threshold. The thing was, I surpassed that threshold.

And so one sunny morning of March, I was born through Nanay’s agony.
“You were really big,” she would tell me, “…8.8 pounds. Your brothers were only around seven. I really had no idea how you were pulled out of me.” She also told me the midwife could not get me fixed into a position for easy delivery because I moved a lot inside her womb as if I did not want to be parted with her. “That’s why forceps were used, and that is still evident even now. If you put a light on top of your head, you will notice some sort of a ring, like an angel’s halo…so you should start behaving like one…” she musingly said once or twice.

Being the youngest had its perks. I was always at the receiving end of everybody’s love and affection. I could almost always get what I wanted and for the things I would die to have, I turn on the waterworks on Nanay. This way she would really sense that I would love to have a particular toy because I usually did not cry. So even if cash-strapped, she bought me the toy robot I was crying for during one of our town fiestas. The next day, she found my newest toy broken into two while I went back outside playing with dirt.

Even so, my Nanay never laid a hand on me. Even if I was the little devil, it was very seldom that I got her beating…but I did get a lot of scolding. She would say it again and again and even remind me months after of her nuggets of wisdom: “Respect your elders and follow their wishes”, “Save your money to buy what you like”, “Buy only what you really need”, “STUDY HARD”.

We should all study hard, she said, because she would not be able to give us a better legacy than education; maybe because she never finished her education. She was in her second year in college when she found out she was pregnant with my Kuya Bong-Bong, her beautiful disaster. Immediately our grandparents had Tatay and Nanay married. And from then on, she took on her lifetime role.

Initially though, married life proved to be very challenging for Nanay. The youngest in her family herself, she did not know a lot of household chores, like cooking. Tatay told us once that she used to serve him burned tuyo and sunny side up egg. But it was the most delicious burned breakfast he had ever had. After that though, he taught her how to cook, and she proved to be a quick study.

As we grew up, it became harder for Nanay to make both ends meet. Kuya Bong-Bong just graduated from elementary, Bing-Bing had Boy Scout fees and her little Bunsoy kept pulling her skirt, asking for more candies and toys. Tatay only had a blue-collar job in a construction company, earning two pesos –or less– a month. So it was decided: Nanay would help out in the household finances.

She started selling balut and penoy and other home-cooked meals in the then, emerging Makati Central Business District. After selling her food wares, she must immediately go home and cook dinner for us. I can imagine she also stayed up late at night doing laundry and cooking meals for tomorrow for her patrons.

While she was out working, I was left to the care of our relatives. I often cry every morning as I see her walking out of our door, holding two huge plastic bags –her labor of love– but when afternoon comes, I was always excitedly awaiting for her return. And when she finally arrives, I often ask her to carry me, which she always did with a smile, even if her whole body could have been aching out of fatigue.
Years rolled by and things started to get better. Tatay was accepted as a cook in DSWD, Nanay put up her own canteen in Makati and we three kids stayed in school. Bing-Bing and Kuya helped Nanay in preparing the ingredients for the menu while I was the one in-charge of washing all the pots and pans used early in the morning. Imagine waking up to a mountain of dirty dishes at nine years old. Nanay gave us all responsibilities, and it defined our character.

Later on, our business –named after me – relocated and went bankrupt. We had to shut it down.

I believe one of the most admirable characteristics of my mother is her way of building strong relationships with people she meets. Regardless if they were a street sweeper asking for additional chicken meat or a strikingly successful executive asking for a tissue, she did her duty to them with gusto and sincerity. So at forty years of age, she was still admitted by that executive as a janitress in his company, and then promoted to clerk, which she held for more than ten years. She remained friends with the street sweeper.

During this period, my family suffered a tragic lost when Bing-Bing died one stormy night of August. It was most tragic to Nanay, more painful than my birth. Barely months in this first year in college and it had to happen. And it had to happen on a night when the storm raged on across Metro Manila, our house got flooded and Bing-Bing painted a better life for us when he graduates, as we took our last supper with him.

The storm in our family came and passed and Nanay remained resilient even in grief. Slowly, her disposition improved, but did not mean she forgot about her son. It was just that she could now talk about his life, and not his death. He had been a very good son from the start. Little did she know that it was because of her.

On the other hand, Kuya Bong-Bong was admitted to a marine academy to become a seaman. He enrolled during the time when hazing was rampant in Fort Bonifacio. This troubled Tatay and Nanay a lot. Without cellphones or e-mail at the time, Nanay relied solely to Kuya’s scheduled home visits during weekends. I often woke up late at night seeing her clutching her rosary and deep in prayers during these times. Thankfully, her prayers were always favored as Kuya always appeared in our doorstep.
But it seemed that the heavens saw a huge potential on my mother’s character. Tatay got paralyzed after an incident. The doctors said he would not be able to move his body from the waist down. Kuya was diagnosed with hepatitis due to the academy’s poor sanitation and I had one year to go before graduating elementary.

But I did not see her weep. She was always our pillar of strength. She may have cried, even expressed her resentment to the heavens, but she probably kept it to herself. She was not the type who would go down that easily.

She went back preparing meals, this time for her officemates. Every four in the morning, our neighborhood would be filled with a waft of different enticing aroma coming from our kitchen. She did not seem to stop. Not even storms in our life had completely defeated her. But one morning, as she cooked in our kitchen in a knee-deep flood, I saw how Nanay’s spirit got broken.

She was completely done packing the meals all neatly arranged on top of our glass dining table when I woke up. The storm made it hard for her to shop in the wet market and she was just relieved that she was able to have several ingredients reserved for her. Sweaty and tired at the start of her morning routine, she was probably thinking of having our house raised higher than the ground when suddenly our glass table shattered from the heat and all her hardwork fell in the murky water. She could not do anything about it. She just sat back and cried and I could not comfort her. She still did not know I was awake and have witnessed it all. Even now, I still regret the awkwardness I felt when I saw her vulnerable and not the way I have known her to be.


One of the important things I learned from Nanay is that whatever life we will have will all depend on how we cook it. Some may burn it, and other may get burned themselves. There are times that we may be too quick in putting out the fire and have to cook it further. But we should always boil to soften the hard resentments. Peel away pride and cut generosity into manageable pieces to serve as many as it can. Nevertheless, we may flavor our own lives the way we like it, but we should keep in mind the people we will share it with. We should cook out of love.

In her lifetime, Nanay got burned already. Sometimes her cooking turned out to be salty and there were times it is too sour. But it made her wiser. On the other hand, I sometimes disappoint her and I taste it even in her dishes. I also regret the times I told her it did not taste good; this, coming from her son with the biggest head. But through it all, she never fails to fill our needs even if sometimes she gets the smallest portion of/for herself. That is just how my Nanay is. She knows how to cook well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


(binalot ako ng matinding pagnanais na tumula. kaya kahit pagod na sa lahat ng nangyari sa maghapon, heto't umutot pa ako ng isang poem.)

Tirik ang gabi.

Saksi ang anino sa pagbili
Ng pag-ibig na isang kilo,
walang bakas ng pagsamo,
o pag-suyo.

De-ora ang kalakalan
Ng mga kalamnan.

Mahirap na nga ang buhay,
Lalo na ang bumuhay
Ng isang patay,
Na dinala sa hukay ang iyong
Ang iyong puso.

Sadyang nakalulungkot
Ang kabalintunaan,

Na kung bakit bawal
Magpalabas sa loob
O dapat mahal ang magmahal.


A Vagina's Letter to His Owner

Dear Boss,
I would like to tender my resignation as your Vagina -the major source of your identity, sexuality and happiness- effective immediately.
Why, You may ask? It's just because I do not feel I can grow as a person in your possession. For 24 years, I've served you loyally. Yes, I admit. I may have a some flaws in the beginnning, letting out the piss all over the crib, but I learned the ropes, right? Since then, I've given you so much. I've been there for you when you needed to piss, and I did every single moment of it heavenly for you. I was there when You had your first crush. When you watched a porn for the first time, I acted accordingly (even if you close your eyes, I know you got turned on).
So now I'm leaving you. And I thank You for all the wonderful things you've done for me. You trimmed my hair. The first time I bled, I thought it's going to be my end, but you took care of me. For that, I am very grateful, month after month. I will also miss the special attention you give to me, how I smell like a rose with each wash.
But, as they say, some good things never last. For the first time, You let someone hurt me. I pleaded and pleaded, but you never heard me, as that monster forced me open up to my breaking point. And...I broke. I don't know how else would I be able to move on, but I feel it best to both our interest for me to go away for the moment. To where I'm going I don't know, but I need to find myself first. I need to heal. I need to rest.
By the time you read this, I'm already gone. Please don't try to look for me. I'll come back when I'm ready.

A Vagina's Tale

I remembered talking about how having sex and drinking have too many commonalities. One, is that both feel good when actually doing it. Next, is that sometimes you actually do not know what you are doing, but you let your most basic instincts guide you. And lastly, You will either hate yourself for doing it the morning after, or pat your back for a score well done.
Well, sometimes you may experience both of them at the same time. You're drunk, and you had sex. In the morning, you won't have any recollections of what happened but you feel weird at the region between your thighs. It'll be the worst experience you will ever have. And considering it's supposed to be your first time to get laid...sayang.
All the girly dreams of flowers and butterflies as both of you ride in a fluffy cloud suddenly burst and you'll only be with a carnal monster thrusting his way in to you. This, certainly, is not how you envisioned it, but you were the one who provoked the creature inside. Time and again, your friends told you to move forward with your life. And for God's sake, your friends already told you to moderate your drinking if you cannot be the wiser one!
So I guess and I hope you'll be wiser next time. Best if there won't be a next time. This is a lesson you have to learn on yourself, and it sucks (hehe, sucks...) to have it exchanged for something so special. Well, have I introduced you to vaginal repair??? =)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Letter To Myself from a Parallel Universe in which You/I made The Other Option.

Dear Me,

Hi. I guess by now We already know what were the consequences of what We did. Well I hope you are happy with your decision and I guess I’m happy with mine. Well, as early as now, I guess we should accept the repercussions of what we did, right? You chose left, I chose right. You were wrong, and I was right. Hehe, just kidding...Ok I’m sorry…hey hey wait up!

Anyway, how are you doing!? It’s been roughly three minutes since we part ways. Well, if you’re gonna ask me, I am so relieved I didn’t go with you. Haha! Kidding again. Okay…uhm, I know you man…and we love us, right?, so don’t get me wrong okay? I have nothing against what you did, but it’s just not my thing. Well, yeah, We can be a bit spontaneous sometimes, but doing that!? It’s like the craziest that we have done. You could have put our life at risk. But still, I could not cross the line and blame You. We just love the thrill right? And yeah, nothing serious happened. It’s high time for you to realize that I know You and no matter how many times you say you’ll commit suicide, You just can’t do it. *Chicken*. And by the way, it’s not as if it’s new to us to get something intangible broken in the first place.

You’re doing the right thing now. Let it all out. Let it hurt you just enough to almost kill you. After that, you’ll be much stronger…and…maybe wiser? Don’t get me wrong, okay? I’m no genius than you are. We’re just the same after all. And these things I have the indulgence to say because I’m practically inexistent in your part of the universe. And that’s what I’m here for: to make you realize that I won’t be there for you. The moment you made up that decision, I’m already gone and there’s nothing that could make me return, and scientists haven’t come up with a time machine yet. Even so, why ask for the time to go backwards to that moment you made your stupidity? Okay, OUR stupidity. We always go back to that same scenario, playing it over and over again in our heads and we don’t notice that time doesn’t wait for us. Time is the hill of our rolling existence and not a single thing exists backwards. So don’t be hard on yourself, wishful thinking if you could only turn back the time. God is generous enough to give us memories to encapsulate a chunk of that time to be kept safe in our hearts and minds. Consider yourself blessed.

Actually, you are more than blessed. Aggh,’ve become wiser than I am (I’m just more prudent, hehe) and I will never know the outcome of what you’ve done. When you’ve taken that chance, I actually envied you deep inside because I could never do it– and I guess, I’m not destined to do it. You became my what if same as I am now your should have. As they say, we cannot have it all. Taking the vitamin brand won’t help. And look at Whitney, she sang a pathetic song about almost having it all. Now she’s a junkie.

So I guess this ends here. You stay strong. Keep the faith. Soon we’re gonna meet again, and at that junction, may the best man win.


Yourself from another Universe


I'm handsome here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Cried Over a Fucking Celine Dion Song II

I should’ve just gone straight to home after work that evening. I could’ve just read my January book in my room, but I found myself ordering my usual at Starbucks.

So after my eyes got tired, I went out of the coffee shop expecting only to hit the hay early. But no. My genius feet weren’t tired yet of thinking where to lead me next. So it brought me to the department store.

It was actually not a bad idea. I mean, I could use the opportunity to find something to buy for myself. For years, I’ve neglected myself on some physical aspects, I realized.

Let’s start with clothes. I really don’t buy clothes based on how they look on me primarily but on how much they cost. So if I see that it somehow suits me and it is affordable on my definition, I’ll buy it. I also had two pairs of jeans. The older one I bought (2009…it was 2000 then so 9 less 0) nine years ago while the newer pair, seven years ago. They are the only jeans I have and both pairs are mysteriously getting smaller. Maybe my mom should follow the laundry directions indicated, moving/growing forward. I also shun the idea of buying designer colognes because I’m not seeking to be smelled at in exchange for a hefty price. I take a bath every day, and that’s enough for me. When it comes to shoes, I actually have three pairs. One black leather and a moss green for going to the office, and a high-cut Chuck Taylor for casual days. All of them haven’t got a proper cleaning from their owner. A friend also made me promise that I will buy a watch as all professionals should wear one. Well, I promised him to probably buying one, so I haven’t broken my promise yet – or will never.

I almost grew up not giving a damn on how I look like. I always think of the price I have to pay for looking good. I thought, physical appearance doesn’t really matter, as long as you are a nice person. So my face was pestered with pimples and for months, I carry the map of the galaxy. I didn’t seek professional help. I relied on cheap astringents instead, and it made it only worse.

So that night, I searched for something that will be good on me. I went up and down the floors, one moment looking for a shirt, then a pair of rubber shoes, the following moment.

A new pair of jeans.
A designer watch.
A weekender bag.
A chair to sit on.

I could not seem to make up my mind. I discovered that it’s very frustrating not to know what I was looking for. And to make things worse unexpectedly, that freaking song started to drill its way to my senses.

I know there’s nothing wrong in being practical and thrifty same as being extravagant if you have the means. I’m more than capable of buying “happy” that evening, and a part of me which I could not make sense of, probably figured out what’s happening.

That night, I was not able to buy anything shiny and new. I was still wearing my tattered pants and my Chuck Taylor imitation.

But I discovered one thing: sometimes, our eyes get too tired of putting up with what we keep in our hearts, and it would not hold up longer than we expected. Even if our logic could afford to buy practical reasons, it won’t fill in to something that we need eventually. We may not know what actually happens to us, but nevertheless it happens; and it’s the worse feeling. At the same time, it’s a revelation:

I went to the mall to find something of worth, but realized it’s not even there in the first place.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I Cried Over a Fucking Celine Dion Song

Don't know much about your life.
Don't know much about your world, but
Don't want to be alone tonight,
On this planet they call earth.

There are times when we thought we’re already complete as we are and that we should be happy about it. We thought we are already satisfied with what we have and I don’t understand why some people are not satisfied with what they have. This is regardless if they’re with someone significant or not, for me it depends really on our own preference in life.

So we thought we’re just living our ordinary lives, happy with the way it seems to be. Then we’ll meet someone who’ll make us realize there’s something so much better than our meek existence. And when you meet that one, it will feel like something’s missing in your life; suddenly, we need them to be part of our world.

You don't know about my past,
andI don't have a future figured out.
And maybe this is going too fast.
And maybe it's not meant to last,

We crave to tell them what we’ve been through in life…All the triumphs and sorrows; the things that made us who we are. We seek affirmation and we seek solace from them. Although we are uncertain where all these things will lead to, we bet our emotions to the greatest game in this world.

But what do you say to taking chances?
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there's solid ground below
Or hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say,What do you say?

We think of it over and over. We don’t know what to do or what to say exactly, but the heart speaks what the mind can’t comprehend. It’s a natural high. It’s like riding the rollercoaster for the first time. Apprehensive at first, you feel like backing out but when it starts to move, you just hold on to anything and pray and hope everything will just be fine.

I just want to start again,
And maybe you could show me how to try,
And maybe you could take me in,
Somewhere underneath your skin?

What do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there's solid ground below
Or hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say,What do you say?

And there’s just no other way to be certain but to try it out for ourselves. We wanted them to be part of the ride – to experience our highs and lows, and to hold on to each other when things seem to go wrong.

And I had my heart beaten down,
But I always come back for more, yeah.
There’s nothing like love to pull you up,
When you’re laying down on the floor there.
So talk to me, talk to me,Like lovers do.
Yeah walk with me, walk with me,
Like lovers do,Like lovers do.

But that’s not always the case. Sometimes the thrill dies down and we crash and burn. We thought that we have someone beside us, but we’ll only find an empty space. We’ll feel like an idiot. We’ll feel we’ve been robbed and something inside of us can’t be replaced anymore. Rock bottom. At some point we’ll start picking up pieces of us; try to put ourselves back again and start building up a much higher wall.

What do you say to taking chances?
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there's solid ground below
Or hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say,What do you say?
Don’t know much about your life
And I don’t know much about your world.

Then again, no matter how much we say to ourselves that we won’t make the same risk, we do. We take our chances. We jump off the edge without knowing if it’s worth it, or we’ll just crash and burn. But maybe, just maybe: we’ll be thankful afterwards when we fail on that another attempt. Because no matter how much we say to ourselves that we’re happy with the way things are, we’re just waiting for that another moment we could feel we have loved again.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

First Quarter Plans


1. Back to work, overtime for two hours everyday. Jog around High Street after.
2. Buy sneakers. It's been ten years since I had my last pair. A testament to my couch potato-ness.
3. Climb another mountain with officemates. I love the outdoors when it's not rainy and muddy. Either Jan or Feb
4. Avoid binge eating.
5. Fix papers for government ID replacement cards/company health card.
6. Hepri's bday
7. Igi's bday
8. Buy a weekender, sando
9. Start loosing beer belly.
10. Moderate my drinking.
11. Find out when's the schedule for PDA Season 3 auditions.


1. Bro's bday
2. Ton's bday
3. Climb another mountain with officemates.
4. Overtime. Overtime. Overtime.
5. Expected annual salary appraisal.
6. Watch Dresden Files.


1. Mah bday. No bday celebration. Do charity.
2. Rachelle's bday
3. Ryan's bday
4. Khey's bday
5. Alwyn's bday
6. Apply for a credit card
7. Prepare for summer

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The day he arrived in Manila was one of the most exciting moments of Emeliano’s life.

The sun was up at its scorching peak but he didn’t mind it at all. It’s as if the stress was washed away by the scenery in the horizon. He stuck his head out the window of the bus as the wind of a better future kissed his face with a welcoming coolness. He saw towering concrete buildings racing for the sky, bustling pedestrians, a few calesas and automobiles. All these sights made his heart leap with joy. It’s just the beginning of wonderful things to come, he probably thought.

Manila for sure was on a transition to join the industrialization of other key cities of the world, and it was a risky transition that he just had to partake in.

He came from Bicol– a strapping young lad ready to seek greener pastures in a promising city that was Manila. At eighteen, Emeliano left home to fulfill his dream of a better life away from the fields, the trees, the mountains and the sea.

He felt discontented living a life among farm animals. He loved his home, his parents, his grandfather and his brothers who were scattered among his uncles and aunties back in his hometown. Indeed, he loved them with all his life, but there was a fire in his mind and soul that raged on. It was dark during nights in the province and he had heard tales of enchanting lights, blinking all throughout the night in another place. A better place.

He’d only had experience working in the fields and in the sea, with occasional jobs in construction sites and as a cook for a rural eatery. He didn’t have any diploma to show, just the optimism and ardor to make it in life. On that glorious day of his arrival, he only had a couple of bills in his pocket and a piece of paper with a direction to reach his destination,

He stayed in the house of his Tiya Maria in a little town in the metro called Pateros, the center of commerce and trading of balut and the then, famous alfombra slippers in the 70’s. He shared a room with his cousin Imben who just ended his work with a construction site as the building neared completion and lesser workers were needed. Together, they went out everyday looking for a job.

Emeliano landed a job in construction. He worked day and night, as a foreman and as a help in his auntie’s small piggery. He was efficient in his job; making sure materials were well approximated and evenly distributed. He was entrusted of keeping the inventory. He also took care of the pigs, making sure it was well fed and clean. He also did rounds in the neighborhood to collect kitchen and table scraps to be used for feeding the pigs. In one of those instances, Emeliano thought the city already threw all the beautiful things it could throw at his direction.

It probably happened one sunny Sunday morning.

To be continued…

Setting the Plot

Pateros is the smallest of the seventeen cities and municipalities comprising the Metropolitan Manila.

Before 1700, it was only a barrio of Pasig called "Aguho" or "embarcadero". Aguho was derived from the name of numerous shady trees planted along the Pateros River, while "embarcadero" means a small port. As a port, Pateros was the focal point of trade and commerce not only for the entire Municipality of Pasig but also for the neighboring towns. It also served as harbor for the Malay, Chinese, Swedish and Indian vessels that periodically called to disembark merchandise and to engage in commerce. These were the reasons why Pateros as the most progressive barrio of Pasig was given the name Aguho or embarcadero.

The Chinese traders who eventually settled in the town introduced the most famous balut industry and alfombra-slipper making. The name PATEROS came from the Tagalog words “pato” – the duck that lays the eggs for balut making, and “sapatero” – the word for shoemakers.

The sound and stable income of Pateros led to issuance by the Spanish Governor General of a decree in 1700 creating it as a Municipality. In 1896, when the Philippine Revolution broke out, many Pateros inhabitants joined the Katipunan in the struggle for freedom from Spanish rule. These patriots attacked the Spanish soldiers fortified at the Pasig Church. The following year, the Spaniards retaliated, and after burning Pasig, swooped down on Pateros, Malapad na Bato and Taguig. On August 06, 1898, Pateros joined the revolutionary government of Emilio Aguinaldo.

On March 29, 1900, Pateros was made a Municipality by virtue of General Order No. 40. Act. No. 137 of the Philippine Commission promulgated on June 11, 1901 incorporated Pateros with newly created province of Rizal. Two years later (October 12, 1903), Act. No. 942 consolidated Pateros, Tagig and Muntinlupa for purposes of economy and centralization, with Pateros as the seat of Municipal government. On March 22, 1905, the "Municipality of Pateros" was changed to "Municipality of Tagig". Later, Executive Order No. 20 dated February 29, 1908 separated Pateros from Tagig. Pateros regained its independent status as a Municipality on January 1, 1909 by virtue of Executive Order No. 36. On November 7, 1975, Pateros became part of the Metropolitan Manila through Presidential Decree No. 924.