Eight year-old mudpie

Mommy bought me my first and only The Beatles’ song hits when I was around eight years old. A candy vendor was selling a bunch of em along a sidewalk near the old Gaisano.

I remember how ecstatic I was of my seemingly puny possession. Comparing to my joys right now, it felt like owning an iphone 7 or a new macbook pro. I remember scanning through its brown, recycled, pages. My fingers sifting through each printed song lyric, figuring out if I was capable enough to play the complicated chord given my being noob in the guitar world. I barely knew B-Flat minors. Barely knew how to use the capo. Barely able to carry dad’s acoustic guitar which he bought from Tel Aviv. I remember being frustrated with my hands being small and my arms, too short.

Daddy would play In My Life without even looking at the song hits. And there I was, barely able to to press the strings with my flimsy eight-year old fingers.

My favorite was Michelle.

Not because of the meaning of the song. Ha ha. I barely understood what romance meant way back. My eight year old mind only cared about the tune and melody. I loved the how the words rolled like honey in Paul McCart’s tongue.

“Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble
Très bien ensemble”

I became fascinated with the silent letters. The French language. The sound. The beat. The Rhythm.

“I love you, I love you, I love you
That’s all I want to say
Until I find a way
I will say the only words I know that
You’ll understand.”

My young mind loved the concept of love as introduced by Lennon and Paul. I didn’t understand Romantic feelings back then. Romance, for me, was the flittery feeling, but I didn’t really understand. But I liked it.

And just like that. The Beatles introduced me to the hippie love. The Mccartney, Lennon, Starr, Harrison, kind of love.

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year 2000

The sad kid that I was was pretty much delighted with the company of music. Dad introduced me to the music of his time. And humming Sting’s Fragile, James Taylor’s Up on the Roof, Billy Joel’s Vienna, became my normal.

Being a sad kid, I realize, was not my family’s fault. I never blamed them for it. They were imperfect, yes, but I lived in a home where a climate of  grace and forgiveness existed…and still exists up to this day.

Sadness was a state I created for myself. Perhaps, I have to admit that I loved the idea of sadness at a very early age. I relished the idea of being in that state. I loved my man-made world. My fantasies, self-tailor-made. That was my hamartia. A hint of my depraved mind.

And I made sure that I was always the victim. Atleast, in my own recollections.

And, No, this story is not a cutesy-story about a-kid-who-was-bullied-and-then-eventually-got her-revenge-when-she-became-a-beautiful-and-successful adult-story. No, this is the 21-year old Kim, who just realized that romanticizing things will get you nowhere near reality. Ofcourse, that is obvious. But realizing that…and deciding to change perspectives – isn’t really as easy as it seems.

Post-college-adulting-life will slap you hard on the face that eureka moments overflow every micro-second without you asking for it and it will still be useless because you cannot change yourself on your own.

The 21 year-old self will be able to “realize,”

but you will understand too, that “realize”

cannot equate with “changed behavior” or… a “changed heart.”

I started this with a story about my little joys when I was still an eight-year old.  My happies when I was eight are way different than my happies now that I’m twenty-one. Life is…precarious like that.

Whenever I try to assess my adult joys right now, I see too many shallow things. It is hard to admit that I’m slowly becoming what I feared to be whilst reading Antoine’s The Little Prince Way back in college – The Adult.  Now, I am more concerned with Matters of Consequence. I am concerned with numbers and likes and validation. My priorities have changed and is currently being changed. My wants and needs are sometimes misplaced and interchanged.

“We are far too easily pleased.” Lewis once wrote in The Weight of Glory.

We settle for mudpies in a slum when an offer of a holiday at the sea is offered.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

As I am writing this, I am already a twenty-one year old adult, sitting here in my office desk, staring at the clock’s tic-toc, waiting for five p.m. I’ve never been too old and too young than this moment.

I will turn twenty-two in fourty-nine days. I’m not getting any younger. I still haven’t figured out how to use chopsticks. I still haven’t mastered the subject-verb agreement. I still hate tenses. My mind is still caffeine dependent. My hair is thinning and it has lost much of its muchness. Gravity is still pulling me down. I still catch myself humming  Tadhana from time to time. I still love highschool musical. I still resort to Hersheys whenever I’m miserable.

I filed my resignation from the company a week ago. I’m not sure where this decision will lead me. What I’m sure of is that I’m being a hedonist right now. And I’m not sure if that is right.

Nahurot na akong kwarta sa kape.

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Sa may Bayug.

kay karong mga panahona, kape nalang ang nagapadagan sa mga tawo.

Kape nalay makapukaw sa tulog na kasing-kasing. Kape nalang ang rason nganong makabati kag buto-buto sa dughan. Kape nalay makahatag ug kalipayng ginagmay.

Kape nalay maka-tuklod na maghatag kag Pake.

Nahurot na akong kwarta sa kape, pero akong listahan, nagkataas:

  1. Muadto kog Central Mindanao University (CMU) karong February 26-27 para magworkshop ug essentials sa Espoken Werd. Kay daghan gaingon na maayo daw ko mu-balak. daw.
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Mao ni akong ginatawag na “how do I even?!!!?”

2. Thesis Proposal Defense intawon nako karong March 11. Wala pakoy nasuwat maskin wan pij.

3. Mag duha nako ka-bulan gapuyo sa 3rd floor building. Magduha napud ko ka-bulan sigeg mata kada alas dos sa kadlawon kay naay mga kabit ug palahubog mag-away.

4. Kulang kog tulog kada adlaw. Nangita kog pamaagi na madungagan ang ka-kulang. Ay, I mean, makulangan ang ka-kulang.

5. Karon nga semana, nahibaw-an nako nga ang mga balyena diay kay malumos pud. Mao rato.

6. Ang akong picture nakasulod sa US- Embassy #ArtInspires contest. Unta makadaog ko pero kabalo ko na dili. Nevertheless, paki like ko sa link :

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Ang opposite sa iconic Vietnam war photo.

7. Daghan kaayog nangimbitar na magjudge kog mga event. Hilasan na dayun kos akong kaugalingon.

8. Ang akong Whipped Cream na gipalit atong December kay naa pa sa balay. Wala pa natandog. Karon pako kadumdum na angay ko tong balikan ug lanlanon.

Mao ni akong ginatawag na life update.

Ug mao rato, nahurot na akong kwarta sa kape.

 

 

 

 

 

Built to Share

We only think of people superficially. We reduce them to simple images, simple bodies. Somebody called on my office phone this morning and asked for a fellow worker, I told the person that the one she was asking for is unavailable.

The lady on the phone then requested that she’d leave a message for my workmate. Her message was this, “Ma’am, secretary diay ni sa Brgy. Del Carmen, paki-ingon kang Ma’am na ang streetlight dapit sa ilaha kay na -taud na” And I thought of this message for awhile. Why would my workmate request such thing? I was thinking that maybe it was for her daughter. I knew she had a teenage daughter schooling at this local higschool, and prolly she had thought of their street. The lights must have been damaged in there. I was just guessing.

And here, I thought of my workmate’s story. We all have back-stories and I’d like to imagine and think of the reason behind every action that we do. Nobody would take time to think about these things anymore.  Guilty of reducing people to mere bodies, these days, we do not take time to understand and investigate anymore. We do not have time to listen to the real stories and not the reel stories. We are too busy thinking about our selves, our family, our jobs, that we tend to forget other people have their own lives too. But life goes on anyway.

I wish unlearning selfishness and self-centeredness were that easy. But it takes time and perseverance to think and do these things. It would require much effort and a whole lot of dying to self. This we cannot do alone.

I thought of the back-stories and how I have always been so eager to listen to backstories. I am always interested. But I constantly ask myself, I would always wonder why. Is this borne out of selfishness too?

Last October 8th was a monumental day for all of us. My dad lead Tay Ciano’s burial. Tears fell as we saw our brothers and sisters paying their last goodbye to their beloved. Death is inevitable. The physical life has been interrupted and is no longer continued. But I believe Christians have the privilege to continue life in glorified bodies. Death is just an interruption for all of us.

 

 

Later that day, we all had to collect all of our feelings of sorrow to shift to another monumental event. Dad officiated the Ray and Chai wedding at 4. We rejoiced and celebrated. Tears of sorrow shifted to tears of joy. As Tay Ciano’s physical life ended, two people began their life together. This was another story to tell about soon.

Every day, I encounter good stories. Stories with moral lessons and stories that are just mere retelling.

I thought of the things that used to matter to me. I thought of the times I was so selfish that I forget that these walking bodies are not mere membranes, but they are people with souls and stories and problems and debts and tuition fees. Life was not meant to be lived in solitary.

We were built to share.

Postcards From Taboan

Ang salin sa kainit sa imong kamot
akong gikuptan samtang gapaabot
sa imong tagad, apan sama sa mga lampara

sa Divisoria, kapundiron imong mga mata.
Unta, mahabwa na ang tanang buot ipadayag
nga nadan-ok pa sa tutonlan.

-Ton Dapusala


Ton’s poetry is beautiful. I met this guy in Taboan’s Spoken Word Poetry competition. He was the guy sitting at my right, Jude Ortega sat at the opposite. They were both fellows from the previous batches of Iligan Writers Workshop.

“Nagamit na nimo ang ‘Ulan ug Bagyo’ na dugay ra nakong gitaguan nga metaphor. Samoka nimo oi.”

Those words were the first few words he said to me after I performed on stage. I laughed as I didn’t know what how to respond. I felt sorry for using the metaphor first. After the chit chat, we exchanged insights about the contestants and how others lacked imagery in their poetry and other whatnots.

In Taboan, I met different types of poets and writers. They varied in preference and style, but they were all unified in one thing : The zeal to elevate Filipino Art. I silently wished I had that same intensity too, the urge to fight for a cause, the desire to be one with the “artists.” But the passion never occurred, only superficially. I sometimes feel morose about having no genuine passion for something. The thing about being causeless is that you float. Too unsure of what exactly I have been doing. I did the craft because I loved doing it. I felt the urge to do it. I didn’t do it for a cause or some holy zeal for the country’s betterment. I did it and I am doing it out of selfish aspirations. I am doing it for my own sanity. 

Now tell me, is it wrong to do so?

In Taboan, I learned to be patient with my phone’s faltering internet. Life in the boondocks desensitizes you from the world of wifi and technology. I was forced to be happy with the scenery. I was forced to look and be mindful. I was forced to look at the varieties of trees, how they were carefully plotted and planted. I was forced to appreciate the coldness and stillness of the whole Bukidnon scene. People were not in a hurry. People patiently waited. People greeted strangers “good morning” and “good evening.” People smiled. People laughed and you can hear silent whisperings from students scattered at the school’s lawn.People ran and chased each other.

I was forced into having real conversations with people, and these conversations turned into weeping sessions and honest talks. 

Atleast, for a little while, I get to think. I get to meet people. I get to be People. 

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From Maramag to Valencia. A little roadtrip in search of a coffeeshop.

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The coffeeshop in the middle of the bukid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It was worth the little get-away.

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The Bukidnon trees were properly placed. Like chess pieces, perfectly ordained. 

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Central Mindanao University made me homesick for a city  I have never been. You see things here. The kind of seeing that really sees. And feeling that really feels. 

 

In Taboan, you don’t really forget. You just get to see things…and people.

photo credits to :

Floraime Pantaleta / Kim Alejandrino

#PostcardsFromTaboan

In Violation of Grice

I only paid 25 pesos for Kopi Luwak’s Cafe Americano! Half the price I pay for coffee when I’m in Sulen or Aruma. I am amazed at how life gives out little joys every now and then, surprising us with its defiance of Gricean maxims that makes life a little more comedic despite the little tragedies. Gricean maxims, if violated, creates humor. This was according to my report last Saturday in Victor Sugbo’s class on Independent study.

He tasked me to discuss Humor, the linguistic elements  and the violation of the Gricean Maxims. A few weeks back, he sent me scholarly articles about humor for me to dissect in relation to my study on Hugot. I chose the journal written by two Iraqi women scholars for my report. They had Shakespeare as the subject for their study, which I found quite inappropriate since I did not see it fitting for their context or for my context for that matter. Sir Sugbo agreed with my remarks after having reported and discussed their study.

What left a mark in me was Grice’s maxims. I heard of this back in undergrad, but I never took it seriously. It was a passing lecture discussed in my linguistics class or philosophy, I cannot remember. It’s funny how many lessons I have probably missed just because I was busy thinking of other things in college. I was sort of “not there” while being there.

Now back to the maxims,

according to Grice, there is this thing called the Cooperative Principle in which one should consider how one can achieve effective communication in social situations. These are the pragmatics of language.

This cooperative principle can be divided into four conversational maxims according to Paul Grice :

  • Maxim of Quality
  • Maxim of Quantity
  • Maxim of Relevance
  • Maxim of Manner

According to the study I have read about Humor, violating these four maxims (or just even one of it), produces the funny. And it’s interesting that we (Filipinos), people of humor, intentionally or unintentionally violate all these maxims. At first, I was quite appalled that people would study and dissect humor. I felt the injustice for “humor-loving people” like me. I have always thought about humor as something that would just occur in our daily lives. For me, there was no need to study it for it will just ruin the whole magic of its jazz.

Still, reading those references made me think about the Gricean maxims I violate every single day for the love of the funny. In a way, I am quite grateful for this nice insight that I could probably utilize into something funny someday.

 

 

I Write to Survive

When we were in Bukidnon, a writer friend of mine had a talk about what writing means to her. “I write to change my mind,” these six words ended her speech. I took note of what she talked about, how writing changed her, how writing continued to mold her. For her, writing was a tool, a means of change, a compass for navigation, a steering wheel.

I asked myself.

Writing has always been a means of survival. I almost always write only when I am sad…and alone. I seem to resort to writing when I could no longer make sense of what is and what isn’t. Writing is survival. Writing is “somehow” an escape, a way out. Writing is like an ignored friend that I will only call upon whenever things go dark.

That is why I cannot blame people when they label me as a “sad” writer. A sad artist. Because I have to admit that I only resort to “art” when sadness consumes me. And that is a very limiting use of art for me, but that’s okay.

When I write things out whenever I am sad, I get to make sense of things. Vague and abstract thoughts are now dressed in words, phrases, and sentences. When I am done with a piece, for example, the vague and the abstract are now dressed in phrases, verses, rhythms, and rhymes. I get to see it.

I get to understand.

And when I understand, the confusion does not necessarily fade, but it gets a little bit clearer. And when things are clearer, there is hope. There is a chance of getting my way through it.

It is in moments of desperation and anxiety that I get to speak and write honestly. And when I see these letters and words appear in paper, I see a mirror. I see myself dressed in words. When I write, I begin to circumnavigate. 

So, I write to understand.

But oftentimes,

I write to survive.