The Ugly Side of Love


She looks at you from across the room, your heart beats just a little bit faster while you recall the lovely afternoon you spent by the seaside. A slow smile spreads across your face as she mouths the words “I love you.” Right that moment, you feel everything is right in this world… and that there’s no way you’ll love like this again.

Seven months later, you’re cursing the day she was born. This, ladies and gentlemen is not a story of love gone bad. This is the true story of love, with all its fats and trimmings. If you’re sixteen and still optimistic about the idea, do yourself a favor and stop reading this; you’ll just be disillusioned. On second thought, maybe it will do you some good to stick around and learn a lesson or two. Brace yourself, oh innocent one, you’re in for the shock of your life.

Many definitions have been attributed to romantic love. We have the oft-repeated slam book phrase“Love is like a rosary, full of mysteries”, the highly-clinical “it is a feeling commenced in the hypothalamus”, the cynical “It is the best excuse to make a complete ass out of yourself” (oh wait, that’s my personal definition), and the one lifted out of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s book, “looking together in the same direction” (mostly used by men who want to sound smart while trying to get into your pants). I won’t even get into the details of the different levels of love by Plato because this is a blog, not Philo101. What am I trying to point out here? Your definition of love may not always be in congruence with that other people. For example, I know of a woman who is happy even though her husband has fathered children outside of the marriage. As long as she and her family are well-provided for, she is content with the idea that her husband is a loving and responsible man. What may seem like utter foolishness to you is sweet, tender love to others. Just like religion, it’s useless to argue about it. We each have our own ideas. Don’t think that this is the ugly part yet, I’m merely reintroducing the basics.

After establishing what love is for you, you decide, or maybe not (good for you!), to experience it for yourself. Perhaps the warning you got from your parents or your already-hitched friends weren’t enough, or maybe you’re into self-inflicted pain, I don’t know; but you still go ahead and plunge into the world of relationships. Excited, you can’t wait for that first hit of love. As is often the case, you take the first thing that remotely looks like love and take it for the real thing. Sex is usually the main culprit why you stick around for something fake even when your friends are telling you you have the cheapest taste in women or that you’re in need of new prescription for your eyeglasses. After a while, you get a hold of yourself again, and you call it quits. It hurts, and you make a big deal of showing it to other people. They, however, aren’t sure if you’re really in pain or bemoaning the fact that you won’t be getting laid until further notice.

But the the gods are good, and you find yourself falling again. With renewed vows to make it work this time, you pour all your energy into making sure your partner feels what you feel. Everything seems so beautiful. The sun is shining just a bit brighter. There is a spring in your step. You forgive people easily, even wishing them a good day as they mutter apologies for smashing your face with their bags while getting out of the MRT. You feel that the moon is casting a glow on your face just to mirror the radiance within.

You insufferable narcissistic twat. Not everything is about you, as you will learn in the succeeding months. You’re in for a very rude awakening.

I will let you in on a little secret that rom-coms conveniently leave out in the script: Love is a messy inconvenience. Yes, despite the headiness that you feel during the first few dates and the rush of excitement that comes after finding out you listen to the same bands, you will still come into the realization that love is ugly. If you can delay this as much as possible, well and good. But once you stumble upon this revelation, there is no turning back. All the things you once found attractive in your partner become the very things you will hate his/her guts for. Then comes the make or break part. You decide whether you can leave with these imperfections (because if you are anything like the deluded cretin writing this post, you would assume that all  the issues in your relationship are through no fault of your own), or you can decide to stay and wade through the muck.

Love is ugly and you know what makes it uglier? The fact that you would have to go through crap like this many times before finding someone who is willing to stick it out with you despite your own hideousness. And even if you are lucky enough to find that person, both of you will still go through repugnant things that will make you question your sanity.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? Because I feel like finishing a draft that I made three years ago, that’s why. Also because I feel it is my duty to remind humanity that except for Meryl Streep, nothing is perfect and everything needs work – including you, me, and relationships. So whether you are posting “Single Is Sexy” status updates to convince us (more like yourself) that you’re okay with being single or wearing one-half of a couple’s shirt (in which case, I am judging you), please be reminded that having a Valentine is more than someone give you three pieces of Ferrero. It takes utmost courage to plow through the ugliness of a relationship to finally see its beauty.


“Tell me I’m beautiful,” she told him while she played with the buttons of his shirt. He was always amused when she asked him to do this. It was as if she was not the confident woman that many men fawned over; it was as if she was a woman-child, unsure of herself and her power. “You already know you are,” he said, unzipping her skirt and letting it fall to the floor. He kissed her as he worked on unbuttoning her blouse. “Yes,” she said breathlessly. “But I still want to hear it from you.” He trailed kisses from her jawline to her collarbone and acquiesced. “You are beautiful,” he said in between kisses “and your mind makes you even more beautiful.”

It was true, he found her attractive because of her passion for anything and everything intellectual, it was just a bonus that she also happened to be aesthetically pleasing. He could hardly believe his luck when she agreed to go to his place on the pre-text of checking his book collection. He knew she did not drink and hated the glass of light beer he ordered for her. In fact, she hardly even touched it which was probably a good idea as it assured him that she came to his flat unadulterated by liquor.

They were already naked and he reached behind her to turn off the lights. She turned them back on. “No,” she said rather firmly, “I want you to see me. And I want to see all of you.” They were hardly gym buffs and their penchant for rice has taken a toll on their bodies so he was rather perplexed by her request. All this faded away though, when she finally opened her body to him. He forgot all his questions, all his inhibitions about his beer gut, and all the rumors he heard in the office that soon, his boss will be giving him his walking papers. She was the only thing he could see, hear, and feel right now. She felt him shudder and knew it was over. She looked at him with the same wide eyes she had looked at him before they had undressed each other and saw his expression change from ecstasy to exhaustion.

His eyes remained shut for what seemed like forever. They finally opened and they were on the ceiling, the glass on the table. the clothes on the floor. They were on everything but her. She was not particularly surprised. He always found it uncomfortable to look at her and she never bothered to figure out why. Slowly, she disentangled herself from him and put her clothes back on. He lay in bed, both mesmerized and disturbed at the way she methodically put every piece of clothing on.

“Did you…” he need not have asked, she already knew what was on his mind. “Yes, I enjoyed myself.” Kissing him lightly on the mouth, she bid him farewell. It was the last they would see of each other.

He would always think of himself as one of the many men she ensorcelled but it could not have been farther from the truth.

He was her only indiscretion and that was already enough.

Si Juan At Ang Bulubundukin


Tanghali na nang nagising si Juan ng araw na iyon ng Lunes. Palibhasa disoras ng gabi na siya nakauwi mula sa isang pagtitipon sa Malate. Buwisit na buwisit man siya sa kung sino man ang nag-isip na idaos ang pagtitipon doon, nanatili pa rin siya upang uminom at makihalubilo. Bigatin kasi ang panauhing pandangal at gusto niyang magkaroon ng pagkakataon na obserbahan ang anak ng mayor na pinagkakaguluhan sa siyudad kung saan siya nakatira. Sa totoo lang, hindi niya maunawaan bakit maraming babaeng nagkakandarapa sa lalakeng iyon. Hindi naman siya katangkaran, wala rin siyang taglay na kagwapuhang gaya ng kay Piolo, at kung paniniwalaan ang mga usap-usapan, hindi rin naman daw matalino at idinaan na lang sa donasyon ng building ang pagtatapos sa kolehiyo. Nahuhumaling pati ang nobya ni Juan sa lalake at kahit medyo naiinsulto siya sa tuwing kilig na kilig na kinekwento sa kanya ni Stephanie kung ano ang kinain ng anak ni mayor sa kainan kung saan siya nagtatrabaho, tinitiis ni Juan sapagkat gusto niya rin malaman kung ano nga ba ang kinakain ng mga gaya ni Linden Gregorio.

Malamang maiinggit si Stephanie kapag nalaman niyang pumarty kagabi ang nobyo niya kasama ni G. Gregorio at nagkapalitan pa sila ng kaunting salita. Nagtanungan lang naman sila kung saan gumraduate at saan ang probinsya ng bawat isa pero para kay Juan unang hakbang na iyon para maging malapit ang loob niya sa lalake.

Minsan napagkamalan na siyang bakla dahil din sa pagnanais niyang mapalapit sa kaklaseng lalake. Nagalit pa siya noon sa pinsan niya dahil isa pala siya sa mga tumawa noong napag-usapan sa canteen kung naka-panty ba si Juan sa ilalim ng uniporme niya. Matapos niyang hamunin ng suntukan ang mga chismosong kaklase, namatay na ang usap-usapan at bumalik na sa normal ang buhay ni Juan. Hindi na siya muling niyayang magbasketbol ni Freddie sapagkat natakot etong manumbalik ang isyu at machismis kay Juan. Hinayang na hinayang siya noon. Hindi dahil sa may gusto siya kay Freddie kung hindi dahil hindi siya nagkaroon ng pagkakataon namakasakay sa mamahalin nitong kotse.

Natapos sa kolehiyo si Juan ng walang parangal pero malaking karangalan na sa kanya ang pagkakaroon ng nobyang nakasabayan si Sandara Park mag-apply sa Star Circle Quest. Ni hindi umabot si Stephanie sa lupon ng 12 manlalahok pero sapat na para kay Juan ang nadaanan si Stephanie ng kamera at pinag-usapan sa eskwelahan ng dalawang linggo.

Tumunog ang telepono ni Juan at dali-dali niya itong dinampot. May mensahe galing sa kaopisina niyang si Martha at tinanatong nito kung nasaan na siya. May pulong sila at ng kliyente nila ng ala-una at siya na lang ang inaantay. Panandaliang nag-isip si Juan kung magmamadali na ba siyang maligo at magbihis pero sa huli, naisip na lang niyang magdahilan para hindi makapasok. Nag-text siya kay Martha at sa kanilang bisor, “Sorry di ako makakapasok ngayon. LBM po.” Bumalik siya sa pagtulog at nanaginip na anak rin daw siya ng mayor.

Dapit-hapon na nang nagising muli si Juan at nakita niyang tatlong beses na palang tumawag ang kanyang nobya para magpasundo. Gusto na rin sanang magdahilan ni Juan kay Stephanie pero naalala niyang kaarawan nga pala ng kapatid nito. Naligo siya at nagbihis, ginamit niya ang mamahaling cologne na nangangalahati na pero hanggang ngayon ay hinuhulugan pa rin niya sa kanyang kaopisina. Inabot ng isang oras ang byahe ni Juan at pinilit niyang ngumiti para kay Stephanie pero sa loob-loob niya, nagrereklamo siya sa layo ng pinagtatrabahuhan ng nobya at nanghihinayang siya sa pamasahe samantalang pwede namang magkita na lang sila sa bahay nila. Sumakay sila ng taxi papunta kanila Stephanie at doon kinwento ni Juan ang kanyang napuntahan kagabi.

Walang regalo si Juan para kay Sandra pero gaya ng mga nakalipas na taon, nangakong siyang ibibili niya ito sa sweldo. Tumango lang si Sandra pero natatandaan niya ang mga bag, sapatos, at cellphone case na nauwi sa drawing. Hindi niya alam bakit nagtitiis ang ate niya kay Juan. Mabait naman siya, lalo na noong umpisa, pero ngayon parang wala nang inatupag kundi maglagay ng larawan sa Facebook at Instagram. Minsan na rin niyang tinanong sa ate niya kung bakla si Juan pero matapos niyang mahuli ang kapatid at si Juan sa may labanderya, hindi na siya nagduda pa.

Pumwesto si Sandra sa tabi ng lamesa kung saan nakapatong ang kanyang handang ispageti, barbecue, pritong manok, at mocha roll. Sabay-sabay naman siyang kinuhaan ng letrato ng ate at nanay niya. Rinig na rinig ang buntong-hininga ni Juan. “Jologs talaga”, sabi ni Juan sa sarili. “Pagkatapos niyan lalagay nila agad sa Instagram tapos may tatlumpung hashtag.” Hindi niya napigilang ibahagi sa kasintahan ang kaisipang ito na sinagot naman ni Stephanie ng irap. “Ano ba pakialam mo, e kaarawan nung tao? Ikaw nga walang pumapansin sa mali-maling spelling mo sa mga caption mo eh.”

Tumahimik si Juan at panandaliang napahiya. Pero pinakalma na lang niya ang kanyang sarili sa ideyang makakahalubilo na naman niya ang anak ng mayor sa Sabado, kung saan inimbitahan siya ng kaibigan ni Juan manood ng konsiyerto sa Subic. Hindi gusto ni Juan ang mga bandang tutugtog pero dahil halos lahat ng mga naging kaklase niya sa kolehiyo ay pupunta sa mala-Woodstock na okasyon, minabuti na rin niyang tanggapin ang imbitasyon. Nangutang siya sa nanay niya para sa tiket at pambayad sa hotel na tutuluyan nila pero hindi niya inamin sa nanay niya kung para saan ito. Sinabi na lang niyang na-holdap siya. Ang kanyang ina naman niyang naawa, pinamili pa siya ng mga personal na bagay gaya ng shampoo, sabon, at deodorant.

Umalis si Juan bago mag-alas dose ng gabi. Nakiusap si Stephanie na doon na lang siya matulog pero ayaw ni Juan kasi walang wi-fi ang kanilang bahay. Kailangan niya pang kumonekta sa internet para maka-chat si Linden na kaka-tanggap lang ng imbitasyon niya sa Facebook. Nagpadala din siya ng imbitasyon sa malayo niyang kamag-anak na ngayon ay nagtratrabaho na sa ABS-CBN bilang manunulat pero hanggang ngayon di pa rin niya ito tinatanggap.

Kasabay niyang umalis ng bahay si Sandra na hindi pinayagan ng opisinang ipagliban ang pagpasok sa araw na iyon kahit kaarawan niya. Gaya ng nakagawian, tinanong ni Juan si Sandra kung bakit hindi ito nagsasawa sa pagtrabaho ng napaka-iregular na oras at sinagot siya ni Sandra na sanay na siya dito. “Ayaw mo bang subukang magtrabaho sa amin, kuya? Sigurado matatanggap ka agad magaling ka pa namang mag-Inggles.”

“Ayoko. Hindi ko kaya yung oras ninyo,” ang isinagot ni Juan pero ang katotohanan, ayaw niya sa call center. Nababaduyan siya. Pinagmamalaki ni Juan ang titulo niya bilang “researcher” pero kung aaralin ang kanyang ginagawa sa opisina, kinokopya niya lang ang nakikita niya sa internet at nilalagay ito sa Excel. Si Martha na ang nag-aaral ng mga numero at gumagawa ng mga suhestiyon base sa impormasyong nalikom. Hanggang ngayon, walang nakakaalam kung magkano ang kinikita ni Juan kada buwan. Wala pa ito sa kalahati ng sinasahod ni Sandra pero mas gusto na niya yun kesa tawagin siyang ahente.

Hindi na siya natulog pag-uwi at baka tanghaliin na naman siya ng gising. Lutang siya ng Martes, Miyerkules, at Huwebes pero nagising ang diwa niya noon Biyernes, nang ipatawag siya sa opisina ng kanilang bisor.

Pang-ilang absent niya na pala yung noong Lunes at huling pagkakataon niya na pala iyon. Naalala ni Juan na mayroon nga pala siyang pinirmahan na papel na nagsasaad na kapag nahuli siya ng dating o lumiban ng trabaho, maaari na siyang alisin sa puwesto ng kumpanya. Maraming terminong legal na ginamit si Juan at nanakot pa siyang magsasampa siya ng kasi sa DOLE pero walang pagbabago sa reaskyon ng kanyang amo. Padabog na umalis si Juan ng kwarto at nilinis ang kanyang lamesa.

Hindi siya makaimik buong gabi. Hindi niya alam paano niya sasabihin sa nanay niya kung ano ang nangyari. Malamang mahihirapan siyang maghanap ng trabaho dahil hindi maganda ang dahilan ng pagkakatanggal niya. Nagkwento ang nanay niya ukol sa napanood niyang telenovela pero imbes na magkomento si Juan sa kabakyaan ng nanay niya, gaya ng ginagawa niya sa tuwing nagkukwento ito sa mga napanood niya sa telebisyon, tahimik lang si Juan at tinapos ang kanyang hapunan.

Ibinalita niya kay Stephanie kung ano ang nangyari. Noong una may simpatya pa sa boses ni Stephanie pero noong nalaman niya ang dahilan kung bakit sinibak si Juan, nagalit siya sa nobyo. “Ano ka ba? Di ba pang-ilang beses ka nang sinabihan tungkol diyan? Bakit ba hindi ka nagtanda. Paano ito ngayon, paano tayo?” May takot sa boses ni Stephanie sapagkat hindi pa rin siya dinadatnan ng kanyang buwanang dalaw at kutob niya may nabuo sa huling pagtatalik nila ni Juan.

“Ewan ko. Pwede ba huwag mo akong sigawan? Hindi na nga ako makapag-isip eh.”

“Palagi ka namang hindi makapag-isip eh, pero kapag sosyalan ang bilis bilis mo gumawa ng desisyon. Sige sabihin mo paano ngayon yan pag nag-background check ang mga susubukan mong kumpanya?”

“Ano bang alam mo, waitress ka lang?” angil ni Juan.

Tumahimik si Stephanie sa kabilang linya at naipit ang kanyang mga salita ng mga hikbing nabuo sa kanyang lalamunan. Pinatayan niya ng telepono si Juan bago pa niya ito marinig na umiyak. Hindi na sinubukan ni Juan na tawagan siya. Kinuhaan na lang niya ng litrato ang tiket ng konsyerto bukas at pinaskil ito sa Facebook at Instagram.

“Pare ang tagal mo, nauna na sina Michael at Linden.” reklamo ni Abet kay Juan pagdating nito sa lugar na napagkasunduan.

“Pasensya na tsong,” sagot ni Juan. “Yung mom ko kasi ang tagal sa banyo.” Mama talaga ang tawag niya sa nanay niya pero “mom” ang sinsabi niya kapag nasa harap ng mga kaibigan.

“O tara na.” yaya ni Abet. Inabot ng apat na oras ang dapat dalawang oras na biyahe papuntang Subic pero hindi pansin ni Juan ang oras. Hindi niya rin pansin ang siyam na mensaheng pinadala ni Stephanie. Ngayong gabi, mayroon lamang siyang tatlong hangarin: ang makinig ng musika, maging kabarkada si Linden, at malasing.

Punung-puno ang hotel kung saan sila nagpareserba at mahina ang aircon. “Hindi ito nangyayari sa Manila Pen,” pabulong na sabi ni Abet. Sinegundahan siya ni Juan kahit na ni minsan hindi pa siya nakkakatungtong maski sa garahe nito. Bumaba sila at pumunta na sa konsiyerto kung saan lasing nang tumatalon sina Linden at Michael. Aksidententeng nabuksan ni Juan ang mensahe ni Stephanie kung saan tinawag niya si Juan na “Becky Sharp”, pero agad itong sinara ni Juan para makuhaan ng litrato ang banda.

Bukas pa mababasa ni Juan ang iba pang mga mensahe ni Stephanie. At gaya ng nauna, buburahin niya lamang ang mga ito sapagkat hindi naman ito dapat pag-aksayahan ng panahon. Uunahin niya munang kuhaan ng larawan ang kakainin niyang agahan.

13 Most Annoying Terms of 2013


My karaoke-loving neighbor on the left just hit an all-time high on the machine with his 17th rendition of Pusong Bato, the one on my right just cranked his radio up a notch so we can all hear Pitbull’s latest (illegally-downloaded) single, and the entire street is covered in soot. I should be putting the finishing touches on our media noche but as my mother kicked me out of the kitchen, I have nothing better to do than write this list of the top 13 words that made me groan in 2013.

Pag may time

Oh. My. Goodness. How in the world did a repetition of a certain word followed by this line become one of the most overused phrase of my generation? Push up push up din pag may time, Facebook Facebook din pag may time, tulog tulog din pag may time. Arrrgh! Bigti bigti rin pag may time!!! I know a lot of people who are also bothered by this phrase and they have used it themselves either as a way of mocking the zeitgeist or as a symbol of surrender to the powers that be. As the old saying goes. if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Join join din pag may time. Kill me.

Yun oh

The first few times somebody said this to me, I would actually turn around to check what the other person was referring to.

Yan tayo eh

Ikaw lang yun.


Sounds a little dirty and not family-oriented at all. Then again, that’s just me.


Oh Yolanda, not only did you wreak havoc in my country you also introduced a word to people who took liberties in using it without bothering to find out what it means in the first place. I cannot call the people in Visayas looters, even if some of them got electronics instead of food. For all we know, they were thinking what they can acquire to sell when things in their town return to normal.

Just sayin’

Want to unleash a torrent of ranting and wash your hands off of the consequences? Add this phrase after your long tirade.


Regardless that some people claiming that this is now acceptable, I refuse to use it.


I believe that every woman should be allowed to dress and act the way she wants without the judgment of other people. I believe that no girl is ever “asking for it”. I also believe that “slut-shaming” is a very problematic term in describing the embarrassment others want to cause women who prefer to live their lives against people’s notion of how a lady should act. Why call her slut in the first place, eh?

Enough said

… and its variations, ’nuff said, nuff sed, ’nuff zed (shudder). Enough said is this year’s “that awkward moment”. Take a random moment, smack this label on it and watch as people automatically assume that what you said was actually something of substance.

In some cases though, this expression is totally warranted for. For example, a friend once posted on FB that her daughter claimed she was already full yet went back to the buffet table for more bacon. Her husband commented, “Bacon. Nuff said.” and that was truly a beautiful moment.

Lake show

Obviously, I am not a Lakers fan.


A real nerd never owns up to this title. Same thing goes with real geeks.


There are a lot of mean people out there who truly hate on  you for no reason. My ranting right now makes me a hater. However, if these folks consistently”hate” you for the same thing and your mother agrees with them, then they are not “haters” but just people.

Anything included in a hashtag that’s not really a trending topic or something that people particularly search for

This is pretty self-explanatory.

A Letter of Apology to People Who Have Seen My Selfies

Dear Selfie-Loather,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am sorry for any spelling mistakes I may commit as I am typing in a dark room, with only the monitor of my laptop to serve as my light. I fight the urge to turn on the camera and take a photo of myself as it would defeat the purpose of this note. Let me begin by saying I am sorry. I am sorry for flooding your timeline with self portraits that not even my mother likes to view on a regular basis.

It started out innocently, as a way to have a profile photo on the now-defunct Friendster. What started out as a need to be identified among the bazillion site users turned into an obsession on finding out which angle is more flattering. The advent of camphones and faster internet access only exacerbated the situation. I was just one of the many college students who updated her social media profile more than she was poring over her readings of Habermas and Marcuse. Around the same time that I registered for my sophomore classes, I also registered for Multiply and quickly filled my profile with albums of about twenty photos each dedicated to me, myself, and I. Other friends labeled their albums “Vanity” while I stuck to the more chic-sounding “C’est Moi”. As sophisticated as the album was named, there was nothing cosmopolitan about the so-called random shots taken in the bathroom, on the soccer field, and in front of the clothesline. Yet I did not think I was offending anybody since nearly everyone I knew (or at least everyone on my friends list) was doing it too. It is with this mindset that our selfie obsession survived the shutting down of both Friendster and Multiply (may the rest in peace) and trickled to Facebook and Instagram. Then again, trickle is too mild a term to describe the onslaught of photos on social networking sites. Suddenly, everyone’s face is online and there is no shortage of captions/excuses that accompany it. Breakfast? Flight out of town? Manic Monday at the office? If it happened, then there’s a selfie to document it. I am guilty of doing all these, I just draw the line at posting photos of my new haircut. Does that mean I’m better than anyone else? Not at all.

See, selfie-hater, the tendency to take photos of ourselves is a habit that we have inculcated in the past seven years or so. Oxford Dictionaries crowned selfie as word of the year and it’s only a matter of time before the National Mental Health Association classifies it as a compulsion. We have angled our heads just so and pursed our lips ever so slightly many times already that we can do it with our eyes closed and without a front-facing camera. This does not mean that we do not understand your angst against cam-whoring. Believe me, I have hovered the mouse pointer over the unfriend button as many times as you have scoffed at my duck face poses (and while we’re at it, I’m calling out guys on their scrunch face or “sungit looks”. Ikinagwapo niyo yan?). I just did not know how irritating selfies were until I signed up for Instagram. I guess seeing it in a different platform just made me realize that everyone has a saturation point, even when it comes to pictures of pretty people. I promptly deleted the lone selfie on my IG after that.

So please, accept my sincerest apologies for all the times you were treated to an unfiltered photo of my BB-creamed face. I know how you feel and if I can only turn back time to shield you from my self-promoting photos, I would.




This does not mean I will never ever post a selfie again, though. The minute I get rock-hard abs, you can be certain that it’s going on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and my mother’s planner so please consider yourself warned.

Yes Yeoshie, There Is A Santa Claus

We were at the mall and he was asking me to buy him something. I told him I will check if the budget will allow it. He then said it does not matter, he will just ask Santa to give it to him this Christmas.

I lightly chuckled and told him Santa does not exist, that he was a character made popular by people to so that they would have a cute symbolism for consumerism. My son stomped his foot and told me that Santa did exist and that he would get him the toy he wanted for Christmas. I was just about to issue a retort when Aaron reminded me that I was arguing with a preschooler and that he was probably too young for my lessons on reality. I told Aaron if they are old enough to ask or make assumptions, then they are old enough to know.

Turns out my tyke did not just get my eyes, he also got my stubbornness. In no uncertain terms he told me that whatever words I use, he still chooses to believe in Santa. I was fuming on the ride back home. My dislike for Santa comes from my belief in the principle of giving credit where credit is due. It just did not seem fair to me that a fictional figure gets all the gratitude when in fact it was the parents’ hard-earned money that bought the gift. But then I look at my son and his furrowed eyebrows and I see we were seeing Santa Claus from two very different perspectives. Me as the mother whose wallet would be opening up for his gift of choice and he as the kid who wanted to believe in something, anything. I could not believe how petty I was being. I guess I was not as tolerant of other’s people beliefs as I thought I was. Briefly, I had a flashback of my five year old self insisting to my mother that my lesbian aunt was indeed a man. Exasperated as she was, my mother kept explaining that biologically my aunt Bobot was born a woman but had the “heart” of a man. I was too young to comprehend it and at that time, the simplest explanation appealed to me. Mama had all the time in the world to argue with me but she told me “Fine, if that is what you want to believe right now.”

I asked Yeoshie one last time, “Gusto mo talagang maniwala kay Santa?” (“Do you really want to believe in Santa?”) and he nodded. I kissed the top of his head and decided to let the argument go. Maybe when he is a little bit older, I might open the topic for discussion again – that is, if he has not figured out the truth for himself. For now though, I will give him this. After all, this is just a preview of the things to come when he becomes a teenager and begins to form his own set of beliefs. There will be times I would have to step back and let him think for himself. So long as he does not choose to run off with a cult or harbor hatred for those who believe in other things, I should be at peace with his decisions.

Yes Yeoshie there is a Santa Claus. A tooth fairy even. They can be married to each other if you want to. And somewhere in between the lair of the Sandman and the land of Oz lives a wizard who just cast a spell on your rigid mother so that she would be more tolerant and patient with her little prince.

The Purple Bar (My Experience Doing NaNoWriMo)

The instructions were pretty simple: Write 50,000 words in 30 days. It did not matter what type of novel you wanted to produce, young adult, dystopian, literary fiction, just write it and make sure you finish by November 30. This, in a nutshell, is NaNoWriMo.

I signed up, loving the simplicity of all. I have always fancied myself writing a book and NaNoWriMo inspired me to get off my butt, stop fantasizing, and just start writing it. Many a writer pooh-pooh on the idea of NaNoWriMo, saying it does not produce writers, only monkeys with typewriters. Some of them also say that it destroys creativity as the writers who scurry to reach the word count end up sacrificing quality for quantity. They note that creating a literary piece is a process that takes time and should be done so in a loving manner. Finally, there is statistics. Only a very small percentage of books created by NaNoWriMo participants get published.

The last one is a very strong argument not to do NaNoWriMo but when November 1 rolled around, I was one of the hundreds of people worldwide abusing their writing material of choice. For me, it was a generic laptop that I bought for Php 12,000 with the missing number 3 key. I wrote a story that hit close to home since I really did not have time to research. I got in 10,000 words before Week 1 was over. Then came the second week doldrums; aside from running out of ideas on how my main character was going to face her ordeals, I had my share of problems on the home front. Nearly everyone I know got sick. Mama had tummy problems, Yeoshie had a cold, and Aaron was admitted in the hospital for dengue fever. I also had grad school classes to attend (or be absent from, if I am to be completely honest). I tried to write in the hospital but by the third paragraph, I went from Florence Nightingale to Sisa. I just could not do it. So I chucked my laptop and just accepted that I was going to be Aaron’s nurse for the following days.

Thankfully,  I pulled through in weeks 3 and 4 and finished my novel five days before the deadline. I guess it was also good that I was in between jobs while I was doing NaNo otherwise I would have abandoned it on the third day. I loved seeing the progression on my word count and every time I added a few more hundred, I felt even more inspired to plow through my draft. And you know what? I loved being a monkey with a typewriter. I loved banging away at my computer and getting closer and closer to the purple bar. Granted that my piece is nowhere close to being nominated for a Palanca award but it is the product of my own hands, my own mind, and to some extent, my own life experiences. I may probably cringe a lot when I finally sit down to proofread it but I am still proud of my handiwork. It made me realize that a rich vocabulary does not a writer make, that you have to have the commitment to write a lot of words every single day, and that you cannot wait for the “muse” to visit you. Writing is a lot of work and I have a new-found respect for writers, even those who get a bad rap for producing crappy books (I will not name names!)

My “novel” may never leave the confines of my hard disk, but it is my novel and I am proud of it because it re-instilled in me the belief that I am still capable of accomplishing things, not just starting them.

I have written a book. Whether or not it gets published is another thing, but I have written a book. And if I am to follow Marti and the Talmud, all I have to do is plant a tree and that will be immortality times three.

Of Bras and Bandwagons

According to netizens, today is No Bra Day. If I am to believe my newsfeed, the goal of this campaign is to raise people’s awareness on breast cancer. I don’t know about you but it seems to me the only thing this thing will be raising is the number of erections men get while surfing the net.

Every year women like me receive messages that invite us to take part in ridiculous activities that are supposed to “help women battling breast cancer. We were asked to put on FB the color of our bras, the location we put our bags, and the way we like to wear our hair, which triggered the hullaballoo among men when they saw status updates such as “Pink and white”, “On top of the table”, and “everywhere and messy”. For years I have remained silent while my trusting (I don’t want to say gullible) friends joined the bandwagon. Today, though, I implore my female Facebook contacts to keep their bras on.

I speak from the perspective of someone whose grandmother was taken away by breast cancer. Mommy (as I called her) was vivacious, opinionated, and strikingly gorgeous. She was also known for her compassion and sense of humor, but as the cancer metastasized to her bones, she became irritable and despondent. There were days she could not get up from bed as each movement caused her severe pain. I came home from school one afternoon and my aunt told me that Mommy was gone. My grief was mixed with relief for I had seen how fragile she looked in the ICU.

The sad thing is our bout with breast cancer does not end with my grandmother’s death in 2004. Everyday is a battle because as her granddaughter with above average breast size, I am at risk for breast cancer. My mother, who had a run-in with ovarian cancer last year, is also at risk for breast cancer. If I go bra-less and post an update about it, what good will it do me? More to the point, what will it do for women who are fighting this disease?

The way I see it, this No Bra Day serves as fodder for exploitation and does not benefit cancer patients. If you want to go bra-less because your twins feel restricted, go ahead. If you want to post a bra-less photo of yourself because you want to bring sexy back, more power! But do not do these things while using disease awareness as a pretense. You want to help? Encourage women in your family above 40 to get mammograms. Educate your friends about self breast exams. Donate to organizations that aim to find a cure for breast cancer. I am doing all these things, and I will keep on doing them with my undergarments on.


“The infinite is in the finite of every instant.”

“Is that all there is?” I would often ask myself this question after a heavy meal or a long day. Sometimes, this question would even take a philosophical turn as I try to analyze life and figure out why we human beings never seem to be satisfied with what we have.

True, we have our needs and as thinking individuals, we cannot help but be ambitious, strategize, and plan ahead. But are we doing so at the expense of the present? My mother is an advocate of living in the moment. She told me that if there is anything that life has taught her, it’s that it’s pretty simple. She also told me not to look so far ahead that I lose focus on what’s happening right now. Being the overachiever that I am, I initially took her advice as lack of support for my vision but now I am beginning to see her point.

Somewhere between the hastily-gulped morning coffee and rush hour traffic, I realized that our entire lives are made up of bits and pieces of experience that are wonderful in their own right. I guess in my hurry to move on to the next goal or the next thrill, I fail to see the wonderful events that are unfolding right before my very eyes. I’m not saying I have lost the will to dream or create goals for myself, I am human after all and the only time I will cease to be ambitious is the day I cease to exist . I have just decided to stop looking at how events or people fit into my plans or schedule. There’s a sense of magic in realizing that the infinitude we all crave is actually encapsulated in various moments that are seemingly finite. A four-year relationship filled with its ups and downs, a kiss shared under the September drizzle, a soulful gaze into the eyes of a person you’ll never see again – these things are beautiful because they are bound by time. We can choose to be bitter when things end, or we can choose to be grateful.

“Is that all there is?” at times, yes, that is all there is and that should be enough.

Yeoshie Goes To School

“How are you going to introduce yourself in class?” I asked my son for the nth time. This particular topic has been a concern of mine these past few days since my son has been hell-bent on introducing himself as “Yeoshie Baby Ben 10”. As much as I want to be the type of parent who encourages her child to achieve his dream, I draw the line at having him think that he is an alien-fighting superhero.

I need not have worried. My son knew what to say and how to act in class – so much so that I felt, well, unnecessary. Armed with his Ben 10 school supplies courtesy of Rona Morala (Thanks, Boss!), he marched inside the classroom and surveyed the scene with a calm expression on his face. I pulled up a chair in the front row where he sat down and rested his arms at the back of the seat. Someone wailed and Yeoshie turned his attention to the sound and stared at the kid, seemingly irritated.

Aaron then asked if he would be okay and with a nonchalant wave of his hand, my son dismissed us. Just like that. No crying. No whimpering. No begging for Nanay to stick around. Aaron wanted to stay outside the classroom just until Yeoshie was settled but I grabbed his arm and told him there was no need; the little boy was already settled.

He was just like me when I started kindergarten. After my cousin dropped me off, I found myself staring at the kids, wondering why they were asking their parents to stay. It was only today that I realized that parents do not do it for the kids, they do it for themselves. There is something about your kid’s first day that tugs at your heart and reminds you that the little person standing in front of you is capable of big things.

I had to go to work that day so I was not able to fetch him. My cousin told me Yeoshie was so exhausted he was already swearing off school. After a slice of cake though, the little tyke was feeling a little more upbeat.

And that concludes my baby’s first day in school.