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B,

It was, I don’t know how to describe it, wonderful seeing you again after almost four years since we have parted ways. You have been the inspiration of many a post on this blog, and I do not know if there will be anyone in this lifetime who can prod me to go back to writing stronger than an experience of being with you can. 

I could not help myself from smiling seeing you from afar wearing that awkward smile of seeing someone who’s hurt you so badly but whom you’ve loved twice as badly in the past. My smile at you barely betrayed how I still felt giddy inside. I was happy seeing you after those years. I tried my best to recall my reason for ending it but I could not figure out why. There was no regret though, only an understanding that a decision has been made because it had to be.

I saw you’ve aged a little. So have I. I bet you noticed lines forming on the side of my eyes, too. My eyes feeling a little foggy. We looked both wiser, though, more self-assured, less worried about what the other thought of the other; we both sounded less hesitant, veterans of many failures and attempts at salvaging what can be saved from our selves rendered vulnerable by the quiet and unexpressed rage when we were younger. I laughed when you said I’ve become bigger, bigger than I’ve ever gotten during the many years we were together. You looked very good, I’m brought back to that night in Ortigas when I first met you.

I apologized to you for the terrible gift I got you. I recalled how you always told me before that I needed to work on being thoughtful and creative in giving gifts. I have not learned anything about gift-giving.

I could not be with you on your birthday, so I made the most of being with you on its eve. I wanted to sit closer to you, to hear you whisper because your voice sounded different when it’s said much closer to my ears.

I wanted to cook for you again, take care of you, make you feel happy, watch movies again, argue with you, laugh, just be blithe about life–these are things I cannot forget about you.

The present is a little twisted, at times too complicated. Inhabiting the past gives us solace because only the beautiful stays. There’s joy in my heart knowing that whenever I think of you in relation to the past, I think of nothing but how beautifully you smiled and that love we shared.

I will not forget how good it was to love you and be loved in return by you.

Happy birthday, B.
John

Stations of the cross at BGC

There’s something unsettling about the exercise. People move from one station to the next and do the suggested activities ranging from as simple as reflecting on a Gospel verse, inserting written ‘wails’ in crevices, to as back breaking as carrying a wooden cross (to simulate the carrying of the cross by Jesus as he’s being whipped by Roman guards and sneered at by the spectating public).

Each station is sponsored by a group of stores, an organization, or a commercial web page and all of these sponsors must have suggested to the organizers to tailor fit each according to the line of business of the sponsors.

The shadiest part of this Holy Week extravaganza at BGC is that people take every station very seriously, leaving behind their sense of the ridiculous on the pavement 50 meters away. 

It’s a commercial exercise whose sole purpose is to lure people into thinking that what they’re doing makes them close to God by taking part in His passion right before they hit Starbucks and after their dinner at nearby Cajun prawn bar, and while they take selfies to be posted on Instagram using hashtags that betray their self awareness. That the Holy Week isn’t about Jesus’s death and resurrection but about the celebration of the self.

I’m not close to getting it. BGC wants everything in. And the people willingly do their role in the performance. The business enterprise, without a sense of irony, coopts the betrayal of Jesus by Judas for thirty pieces of silver into a profit maximization bonanza and the people willingly dig in. 

I can feel gastric juice from my gut rush toward my throat.

On friendship

People leave our lives as quickly as they came. And there is nothing wrong about feeling sad seeing them go, regardless of how short the time spent together is. We know deep in our hearts that they’re only with us for as long as the Fates allow, and this time is not much given the very minuscule time lent us to taste life. Friendships that result from this chance meeting amaze me. They remind me of the simple fact that among the great things one experience while alive, friendship is one of the most difficult to exact from any practical reason for being. It’s just there unobtrusively making us feel that someone sees us and sees us with a degree of tenderness deep inside we know we may not even deserve.

 

On writing

I am writing this post on a train to Cubao from my work in Katipunan. In Cubao, I’m hopping on to another train to Mandaluyong where I currently live. I do this every day. I have been wanting to write down my thoughts like I used to do when I was younger. But thoughts go stale. They are bombarded every day by our hesitations, self-destructive thoughts emanating from the many selves contained within the Self. Thoughts are diluted and rendered cliche by the daily assaults of the everyday. And I’ve stopped writing for some time now. Writing required me to examine my thoughts, but this act of examination annihilated all thoughts, further examination made me realize that the experiences I have enrich not this collective experience. That the collective goes on despite my stopping. And raging against the dying light is just like that–raging. And angry.

And so the individual chooses silence. Perhaps in silence he may hear that Self and its stories drowned by the noise of the world and the painful rebuke of the many selves it encases. 

Shebang

In the end, nothing matters but the shirt on our back, the pets we have, and the person whose hand we are holding at the moment. That, I think, is the culmination of all this shebang. 

Why have we become like this?

A friend of mine, a young woman of 26, asked me if she could leave before three today to join a protest rally on Katipunan, which if a critical mass is reached, will head to EDSA this evening. I indifferently said yes and told her to just make up for the lost hours next week. I on the other hand had to stay until 6 at the school to work on the evaluation of the French class students. I have papers to check this weekend, a class to prepare for, and cats to take care of. I also have to catch up on my workout as I haven’t gone to the gym for a week now because of work.

The people I see on the street, those my age, show that similar look of resignation, save for some undergraduates in their PE shirts or long tees who seem poised to change history tonight.

For all the rest, this protest on EDSA against the clandestine burying of the remains of Marcos is an annoyance, a cause of this monster traffic. The reason they’re stuck on buses on their way home to Fairview or Bacoor.

This is what has become of us. Work has made us unresponsive to events and happenings that would otherwise scandalize us had we been not rendered docile and satisfied but unthinking by work. I hate this feeling. This is what it means to be an adult; I hate that I am one.

I told myself a long time ago when I was much, much younger, that I would be part of history unfolding. That I will not stay home and let pass that rare opportunity to make a difference in this country. But look at me now. I’m scurrying to go home, cursing the traffic on EDSA just to catch some sleep.

And the saddest thing is that, passing by EDSA shrine, I saw a small crowd, hardly a critical mass enough to send the message that the people are indignant. There were several groups taking selfies while a member is holding a placard.

Everyone is tired. Everyone has gone tired. What with the unfulfilled promises of the past two People Power? The world goes on turning, with Marcos’s body finally subject to the actions of worms and vermins, after years of keeping it almost lifelike inside a tomb his family built for him.

But even rats and roaches won’t touch him. Who would want to gnaw on a dessicated body preserved in formaldehyde for almost three decades?

Life goes on.

And that is the tragedy of the Filipino, myself included, this general quiet and seeming indifference, this lack of rage at the direction this country is heading.

And my train goes to the direction of home, and I’m dying for sleep.