Soliloquy of a penis

Penis Cartoon 2

This is an act of defiance against John, my supposed master. I have to speak up or to forever keep in me the wrath I have for him. He is in his bed this time, sleeping, tired, and, although I do not want to say this because he will never admit this even to himself, but I am saying this anyway, looking so defeated. From my view, I see a slob of a despicable human I do not want to have anything to do with.

I am taking this opportunity to expose him and to write a plaint against him. Against this man who shamed, devalued, trampled, disgraced, and sullied me with all imaginable baseness of this lifetime.

He’ll never forgive me after this, this is an act of betrayal, and I am well aware of that. But he has declared war against me; I am only retaliating.

I have been winning skirmishes, pretending not to give a damn when he needs me most, remaining limp and flaccid in moments where he has to prove his might, frustrating him until it reaches a point that he curses himself. I am also good at doing ambush attacks and staging guerrilla warfare when he least expects them; it can be anywhere, when he is at work, while he’s on a crowded train, during a meeting, or in occasions he is attempting to fool the world of his moral motives and untainted virtues. He is pathetic during these times, an obvious loser asking heaven to end the torment I am causing.

But while I am winning isolated, small battles he has been victorious in the major fronts of this war. I have been an unwilling participant in his cloak-and-dagger activities against the victims of his exploits. I was surreptitiously mobilized in his empire building when I am supposed to be a rebel destroying him from within. Being the sole fighter and general of the underground resistance I organized, I am losing my stake in this war. I sometimes question my reasons for going on with this fight as my defeat is looming; I can almost feel it, taste it.

John and I used to be best friends. He took care of me . I provided him pleasures all Literature is unable to adequately describe. In fact, even though he said nothing to me, I knew I was his most important friend, his most significant possession. And I knew he was more than proud of having something, an appendage, like me, attached to his body. Who wouldn’t? Come on, this world, as he always declares, is obsessed with the superlative. I am the biggest superlative.

Penis Cartoon

I was with him when he reached nirvana and I never abandoned him when he fell down to his nadir. I remained faithful, except once; there was never a time I disappointed him, except once. I would relentlessly remain stiff and on my toes, for hours, if he’d ask for it. He was praised because of me, hailed because of me, sought because of me. I was he; he was I. We were one.

But things between us started to turn sour when one cold night, in one of the most emotional of nights for him, one of those nights humans refer to as life-changing, when the universe seems to have converged in a singularity, when he expected me to be there, I deserted him, figuratively. I was confronting my own issues that time, confused, empty. And that for him was tantamount to an unforgivable failure.

History does not remember the good things done, only the bad. And because it repeats itself, our mistakes are magnified, exaggerated, hyperbolized until they become unrecognizable. Until nothing is left but hatred.

The rift between us has widened since then; we realized we both have infinite irreconcilables. I feel being (ab)used all the time. He fears being caught unaware by my storming blitzkriegs. He hates me so much that he worships me, mockingly. He insults me by indulging me in his carnal escapades until I forget myself and be fatally overwhelmed by the experiences.

I feel like an automatic device run on double As batteries. I am also capable of feeling, this is something John does not recognize and will never recognize.

For this I hate John to my gut. For this I will inexorably continue with this war until he falls on his knees for my forgiveness.


God and politics

Inserted between the seats of a bus I was riding on my way to Makati was a torn page containing this line, a battlecry of the new secularism and impassioned plea made by Ludwig Feuerbach for the substitution of the image of man, in his social context, for the image of God as the guiding light of Western civilization. Served me a short antigospel to reflect on during the 30-minute ride:

It is a question today, you say, no longer of the existence or non-existence of God, but of the existence or non-existence of man; not whether God is a creature whose nature is the same as ours, but whether we human beings are to be equal among ourselves; not whether and how we can partake of the body of the Lord by eating bread, but whether we have enough bread for our own bodies; not whether we render unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but whether we finally render unto man what is man’s; not whether we are Christians or heathens, theists or atheists, but whether we are or can become men, healthy in soul and body, free, active and full of vitality.

I deny God. But that means for me that I deny the negation of man. In place of the illusory, fantastic, heavenly position of man which in actual life necessarily leads to the degradation of man, I substitute the tangible, actual, and consequently also the political and social position of mankind. The question concerning the existence or non existence of God is for me nothing but the question concerning the existence or non-existence of man.

Language of reality


Graphics by Aldrich Lim

The indirectness of this world is nauseating.

“Thank you for not smoking.” Hell, I do not smoke. It’s pathetic to thank me for not doing anything. A thank you may or may not be acknowledged. Your fake nicety is sickening. Just tell us straight in our faces that smoking is prohibited here.

“We cannot grant you a loan as of this time because your facilities are at max.” Why don’t you just tell me that I cannot afford to pay, that you cannot trust to lend your money to a scoundrel like me, that you think my being a foreigner places me at a disadvantage, that I am a ‘risk’ your company is trying to avoid?

“You’re a survivor.” Nowadays, there are no ‘victims’ only ‘survivors’. You’re not a victim of a crime, you survived it. You are not being victimized by life, you are surviving it. In the end, your sole purpose in life is to be an ultimate survivor, outwitting, outplaying, outsmarting all other survivors who get in your way of being the last man standing.

It’s bad taste to call a one-legged man (a result of leg amputation) ‘cripple’ because differently able is more appropriate. Years from now ‘differently able’ will lose its power to conceal reality that it will need to be replaced by something less obtrusive – say ‘bipedally challenged’ or ‘uniquely locomotive’.

The poor are not to be called simply as ‘poor’ because the word is assaulting. ‘Disadvantaged’, ‘marginalized’, ‘less fortunate’ are more suitable.

Poor people have no issues being called poor because they have a clear grasp of their situation. It is the people in power and the bureaucrats who strictly impose to be nice and politically correct, that is to say.  These ridiculous verbal coinages do nothing but make us ignore reality and mock the people who are objects of these names. As if being poor is a result of fate.

The unemployed are non-existent in today’s world. One can either be employed or self-employed. Businesses think that no self-respecting human being would like to call himself ‘unemployed’, so they devised a clever way to address this segment of society without making these people feel bad about themselves. The unemployed disappeared overnight replaced by hordes of self-employed individuals queuing for benefits.

For truly this is the primary objective of today’s businesses: doing away with reality and replacing it with pseudo-realistic terms to make this world more livable for people who can afford to pay minus the inconvenience of the discomforting view of the poor and the blunt name we call them – ‘mga mahihirap’.

It is refreshing to cross Commonwealth Ave this afternoon and to read a public warning made by MMDA, so far the only real thing I’ve read in the streets of Manila for the longest time: Walang Tawiran, Nakamamatay.

Nothing can be more real than that.


All five in this picture are from Mindanao – the three people on the left, which the sender of the picture referred to as Moros, the playwright Rogelio Braga who emailed me this picture and the blogger.

I do not know if this is the most politically correct term for the Muslims of Mindanao or if it is the name chosen by the politically articulate Muslims who are based in Manila to call themselves.

Unlike Rogelio and the other three in this picture, I am ignorant of the politics in Mindanao. My elementary Sibika at Kultura teacher told us that ‘moro’ is a derogatory term as in ‘Moro-moro’ which means a phony war. I do not know if this still holds true or things have changed since I finished elementary in 1999.

I do not know if the knowledge I have of this part of the Philippines still holds true a decade after.

John and my friends

Picture taken by Alberto Bainto during the 5th Virgin Labfest at the Bulwagang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of the Philippines.


Street Cat

Photo by Maya Newman

Asan ka na, John?

I’m in Cubao na. I’ll just take the LRT to Pureza…but wait closed na raw ang papuntang Recto eh. I’ll take a jeep going there then.

Sige, bilisan mo ha.

Yeah. From Pureza, I’ll have to cross the street then take a San Juan jeep, right?

Oo, then sabihin mo sa driver Agora ka lang. Paglampas mo ng tulay, near 7eleven you text me.

I often find myself in odd places in Manila, places I only see in movies with sexy themes made during the 90s. Sometimes I imagine myself as one of the actors in a film, eking pennies as a janitor or a porter at Manila harbor. Poverty is romantic so long as you do not live in it.

I got off a decaying San Juan-Divisoria jeep fearing for my life and recalling the reason as to why I was in that place. The reason escaped me. What welcomed me were sights you only find in films aimed at making a statement on poverty, crime, poor people having sex, corruption, prostitution, and the hopelessness of urban life. The place is a poor imitation of poverty I am familiar of in the Art. In Agora, poverty is exaggerated, so untrue. I wanted to close my eyes because it was staring straight to my face, forcing itself on me.

I was surrounded by flickering neon lights heralding the names of seedy karaoke bars. Interestingly, the lights are not at all similar to the ones you see in the malls where they have a tinct of gaiety. On this street, the lights are almost sad, dark orange red. Scantily dressed girls, whose profusion of colors they applied on their faces stood in lieu of the cloth that would have covered their bodies, were walking in circle, laughing once in a while.

They all seemed to be eternally waiting for somebody or something. A number of them are in their late 40s with bloated abdomen, wide hips, disheveled hair. Age has already taken toll on some of them, but none is succumbing to the pathos of their fate. The indefatigable human spirit. The wait might have taken them too long but no one is surrendering without giving a good fight. Boredom seems to fascinate them.

He was there waiting for me in front of an old house several blocks away from 7eleven.

Sabi mo malapit lang? I had to take two trains and a jeepney. Sabi mo 7eleven? You should’ve told me that it’s several blocks away.

The interior did not give justice to the promise and grandeur of the colonial American façade of the house. The walls are painted white similar to those in government hospitals; this effect is aggravated by the outrageously bright fluorescent light. I felt like I was being autopsied, my entrails scrutinized and probed to find the probable cause of my death. I could smell the drying paint that was probably applied two days ago. Shoes, used and newly laundered shirts that are indistinguishable from each other, uniforms, hangers, and old magazines were scattered on the floor.

He turned off the light leaving the fluttering streetlight outside to illuminate anything inside the room. Then it started to drizzle.

A neighbor’s cat purred that sounded more like a stray mini-tiger left to roam Agora’s dark alleys. The cat was probably in heat, attracting prospective mate, or challenging other tomcats to a  fight until death for the love of the lone pussy cat known to prowl that street. No one knows.

A conversation with a reader of my blog

I smiled when I saw my favorite table unoccupied. I placed a copy of Inquirer, a book by David Sedaris, a mangled paperback Crime and Punishment I started to reread two days ago, and a hardbound, original edition of Portnoy’s Complaint on that table and ordered a tumbler of cappuccino. I was 10 minutes early.

I sat there oblivious of the Saturday crowd at Starbucks in Shangri-la, unmindful of the noise and the cheerless chatter of people about their busy work week, concerns, and relationships.

Eavesdropping has lost its appeal on me a long time ago. Whatever transpires in conversations gleaned from overhearing them is dubitable, questionable, if not outright lies. So I shut my ears and went on reading features on the paper of the previous day instead.


Except for some occasional standard spiel, more like a refined scream, belted by a female barista at Starbucks for calling customers’ names, the noise inside the coffee shop was tediously repetitious whose monotonic quality was only shattered by loud laughter made by some people who got lost in the hilarity of their talks or the comedy of seeing other people forcing themselves inside a packed cafe on a supposedly fine Saturday evening drinking a dumb-looking transparent tumbler of iced robusta topped with an equally stupid-looking strawberry syrup.

I forgot how it happened but he came in rushing, placed the two books which I recognized as mine on the table and excused himself. He approached the counter to order something then returned with an unblushingly decadent cinnamon roll. I don’t know how he recognized me, probably because he saw his books stacked on top of the wooden round table.

A month ago, we exchanged books without having to see each other. I was doing a part-time job then so I left them with the condominium guard at the lobby. He also left his two books with the guard which I found inside a paper bag of a popular local clothing brand. Mine were carelessly presented with a note written on a tissue paper inserted between the pages apologizing for something I already forgot what. The contrast of our books was glaring. His were well taken care and looked almost brand new. Mine looked like they’ve been through a lot.

I do not usually lend my books because I am obsessed with annotations; whatever comes in my mind while reading (the more wicked, insensible, profane, self-deprecating or selfish they are, the better) I write them on the margins.  My books are my diaries. But it was already too late. I already made a promise to this reader the titles. After all, the probability of our paths crossing again in the future is miniscule, I reasoned. Furthermore, whatever he gathered from my random thoughts would be knotty at best and nonsensical at worst.  So I went on and lent them.

It was a fatal mistake.

We started awkward and talked about things he already knew about me. I asked him questions often asked in the first day of class. I was speaking in a clumsy Tagalog when he reminded me that we are both Ilonggos. He asked a lot of questions, as if he was trying to establish something. But generally our topic circled on writing and the books we read. For an accountant, I was surprised to know he reads canonical texts usually read in a Literature class. I didn’t get his reason for this but I sensed his disdain for whatever popish. I was amused at how he corrected himself and verbalized his contempt on his overuse of the adverbs ‘actually’ and ‘basically’ whenever he begins his sentence, as if the ghost of his college grammar teacher was seated beside him that time, hounding him.

Aren’t you scared?

Of what?

Of exposing so much of yourself in your writings?

Sometimes. There is nothing I have to hide. I am writing for myself.

I looked at my books that stayed with him for a month. I was horrified and almost fell from my seat. They were wrapped in transparent plastic cover. It was the last thing I would do to my books. The last time I remember covering my books was when I was in my elementary; that made sense because we were using government issued books for public schools which means that we have to return them by the end of the year as they will be used by incoming students the following year.

But my books since I entered college until this time are never covered. They all maintain a rugged look caused by being subject to relentless wear and tear aggravated by my sweaty palms, not to mention them being used beyond their intended function: as pillows, sun and rain covers, pot holders, notepads, fans, and my favorite — to shoo dumb people away by feigning I am deeply caught with what I am reading.

I sincerely appreciated his extra effort to cover them. It was thoughtful of him. I sounded robotic when I thanked him every time my eyes landed on the neatly covered books.

And once again, the lingering contrast. His books I kept for a month direly needed attention for they exhibited signs of misuse, warped pages, and a small tear in the blurb of Portnoy’s Complaint. I cannot impose my values on other people and their possessions. I apologized for their near-sorry state but if there was anything I could assure him, I valued his books and enjoyed reading each page. We buy books to read and to let them become a part of us, figuratively and literally.

He is a perceptive man who silently makes commentaries on the events occurring before him. And it was a fatal mistake to lend him my books with all the annotations because it meant exposing myself to a stranger I’ve never met before and whose only image I have of him is through the books he reads.

Again I reasoned, I have nothing to hide. Here’s a reader who knows me more than the people I physically encounter everyday. Nothing is wrong with writing about the life I live if it means being understood and along the way understanding myself by looking at myself being reflected in somebody else’s eyes.

He reads my posts regularly. This for me, is more than enough a reason to continue writing.

Red bites


This is a dull week for writing. I am deprived of anything exciting to write about, or if I have an earth-shaking subject, it is obviously un-post-able here because of its prurient contents that may deprave the mind of my young readers. So I thought of a means to give an account of my activities without giving away the steamy details of my private life.

While staring at the reflection of my unclothed self in a big mirror in the living room I shuddered at the sight of tiny red circles on my neck and chest areas caused by bedbugs after sleeping for several nights in different beds. I already bought a 5-gram tube of over-the-counter ointment from a nearby pharmacy to alleviate the stinging feeling, but it seemed to have only worsened the redness. I also searched the web for possible treatments but most of them brought me back to that inefficacious thick paste.

Then it dawned on me that I also had the same problem when I was still in college. My professor then who was also an active participant in this thing we call bed-hopping advised me to apply hot compress onto the bruises and redness as this will bring back circulation in the area. The high temperature will bring in oxygen in no time enough to remove whatever red marks on the neck and chest areas – places where they are often found since they are the most exposed.