A dog bit her. One day she just died.

“Fev, nagralaway kag nagwaras tana.” (Fev, she salivated uncontrollably and ran amuck) It was my best friend describing in a text message our college batch mate who recently died because of acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) due to rabies. Her very colorful description how that batch mate of ours died seemed to be too poetic a description for a death as prosaic as dying from a bite of a deranged dog.


She was bitten by a stray dog in the neighborhood early January. It took three months for the virus of the Lyssa genus to travel from the bite wound and reach her central nervous system. By mid-March she was already experiencing malaise, headache and fever. According to my best friend this batch mate of ours showed uncontrolled excitement, depression, and in her last days, hydrophobia, mania, lethargy that finally led to coma. They were classmates in a public high school in Antique and eventually in all their Literature classes at UP Visayas, as they took the same major in college.

She was interred for a day in their house and was immediately buried, without being embalmed, for fear of the spread of the virus. My best friend and their high school classmates were discouraged from seeing her body to contain the contagion. Her entire family is placed on quarantine until this time.

She is survived by her seven-month old baby.

She was one of those very quiet people of generic appearance and personality one meets in college, becomes a classmate, spends a few times with, and as is always the case, forgotten easily after graduation.

My only recollection of her was how she ruined the afternoon of our professor when she read entirely from a book her report about the Babaylans of Panay in a History class we were both enrolled during our first year in college. Although I couldn’t remember her talking much, not even about literature, there were times I think I remember about her few moments of unconscious abandonment when she laughed in class at jokes I didn’t find funny or just did not comprehend.

She also had this unforgettably long her that reached down to her waist. Never did I see her long black hair unkempt; it’s always combed, shiny, freshly washed.

Because of poverty and inability to continue college, she applied for a leave of absence in our junior years, and I did not see her since then except for one time when I bumped into her at the office of the university registrar falling in line for her transcript. I was already teaching then. She only showered praises for me, which I did not take seriously. I wanted to ask question about her and her new life outside the university, but I held back and shelved the idea thinking we were never that close for me to ask sensitive personal queries.

Since then, I heard vignettes about her: she having a new boyfriend, being pregnant, breaking up with her boyfriend, finding a new one, and taking odd jobs in the city. But these stories were often shallow, almost always taken out of context. Simplistically unreal stories that I refused to believe about a former classmate whose life is as uniquely complex and interesting as anyone’s. I did not believe in their truth not because they were lies but because they were bare.

But probably I never really cared because they were insignificant stories related to me by my best friend about somebody who was ephemeral and insignificant a character that would never figure in my universe.

As a token, I wrote this post, and to remind me one day, in the event my memory fails, of a girl who was seated in the front row of our classroom in my History class who one drizzly July afternoon, to the consternation of our veteran professor, just read in front of the class while seated on the teacher’s table the whole report assigned to her verbatim from Renato Constantino’s book.

And her hair that reached down to her waist, only that on her last day, that long, black hair, might have been unwashed, disheveled, unkempt because she spent her last day on Earth fearing water.

Connecting the disconnect

We all have an image of what should be in our minds, and it pains us, like having our tongue scalded from drinking our morning coffee too hurriedly, when we find out that this image we have of that something or someone turns out to be a sham, untrue, or stands several notches below our imagined pedestal.

But it is even more painful if that image in somebody else’s mind is our image. And that that somebody who falls short is us. The feeling of inadequacy and nothingness can be unbearably painful, forcing us to find a place in the corner, wondering why the image and us can’t be a singularity.

We may have repeatedly, in vain, tried to change or at least tried to be a good imitation of the image, but in the end we are only fooling ourselves. We will never truly become the image, and only by being a cheap imitation will be the closest we can get.

And so we either remain in the corner, eternally taunting and hating ourselves for being less than the supposed better version of ourselves, or we head for the door and walk away. And if both options are not viable, we still have solitude and silence to run to, at least they are less complicated, more comforting. The loneliness of solitude is not abrasive; the silence of silence is not painful. And with silence and solitude we get to retain a certain level of dignity.

Nonetheless trying to be the image can be the most diplomatic option. If we can’t afford to lose the person, if we want to be worthy of the other person’s love, then probably changing ourselves to become the image isn’t that bad after all. It does not really strip us of our individuality; in fact, it only proves our humanity and our desperate need to be loved, even if it means losing a portion of ourselves. Love is like that, ain’t it?

Will be right back

I won’t be posting anything lengthy until the next few days. I am currently caught, more aptly described ‘held captive’ by the spiritual, sublime idea most of us refer to as love. Forgive me for this short absence. I’ll get back as soon as I can.

On my job as an instructor at the University of the Philippines

A good night sleep is too difficult to come by these days. Its elusiveness is as legendary as that of the Holy Grail. Being one of the countless who search, most often in vain, for that sating sleep, I consider myself lucky if in those innumerable attempts,  I  got six to eight hours of peaceful sleep. I had to make sure my memories of them are vivid, so vivid that I can touch them to give me something to hold on to when I am working on or forcing myself to have a decent three-hour sleep.

For the longest time I have never experienced that exceptionally satisfying sleep as I had last night. This morning I woke up at nearly eight o’clock feeling relaxed, unhurried, and in a more exact term, but not want to sound like pitching for an energy-drink commercial, rejuvenated.

But this pleasing sensation of having risen up after a gratifying rest was short-lived. Becoming fully cognizant of the grave mistake I just committed, excessively enjoying that sleep I’ve been deprived of for several weeks already, I have to keep myself from sticking a rusty knife in my throat and repeatedly puncturing it until my body was completely emptied of that sinful, rejuvenated blood. I have entirely forgotten that I was supposed to give my students enrolled in my Introduction to Journalism class their third long exam at 7 o’clock in the morning!

I know of no normal human being who can wake up, much less answer a case study and pass a demanding essay exam at 7 o’clock in the morning. I wonder why my department set a class heavily inclined on the lecture side, or any class for that matter,  at this time of the day. But this aspect of my argument, justifying my absence due to oversleeping, is irrelevant and immaterial, me being a paid instructor with specific responsibilities, including waking up before a 7-am class; moreover, we’ve already reached the last weeks of the semester so complaining about the 7am schedule is too late at this point.

I imagined my students rejoicing, thanking whichever supernatural being they worship, probably even offering their souls, because their teacher failed to show up on the day of the exam. This has never happened to any of the classes I enrolled in when I was in college, though as a college student I would have given up everything for something as rare a happening as this morning’s incident.

But I have to move on and forgive myself. Because of this, I am rescheduling the 3rd long exam to March 17, 2010, Wednesday in Rm207 at 1:00 in the afternoon.


I was on my way to my 1 o’ clock class this afternoon when I was accosted by one of the senior professors at the Division of Biological Sciences.

Your first name is Ryan, right?

Yes ma’am, John Ryan.

Recabar? We did a survey on the Revitalized GE courses, and you were singled out by some senior students as one of the best teachers of the general education subjects.

(It took me a while to respond, and my response wasn’t that substantive) Ah yeah? Really?

Keep up the good work.

Of course I didn’t want to show her I was overjoyed. I said ‘Thank you’ and excused myself coolly, apologizing I had to hurry up because I was running late. I smiled at her for the last time, not saying anything as if being complimented for my teaching style is a daily occurrence I’ve already gotten tired and sick of, and left.


How to say ‘I love you’ in 109 ways

Allow me this crude indulgence to post these translations here:


Afrikaans – Ek het jou lief

Albanian – Te dua

Arabic – Ana behibak (to male)

Arabic – Ana behibek (to female)

Armenian – Yes kez sirumen

Bambara – M’bi fe

Bangla – Aamee tuma ke bhalo baashi

Belarusian – Ya tabe kahayu

Bisaya – Nahigugma ako kanimo

Bulgarian – Obicham te

Cambodian – Bung Srorlagn Oun (to female)

Oun Srorlagn – Bung (to male)

Cantonese/Chinese – Ngo oiy ney a

Catalan – T’estimo

Cheyenne – Ne mohotatse

Chichewa – Ndimakukonda

Corsican – Ti tengu caru (to male)

Creol – Mi aime jou

Croatian – Volim te

Czech – Miluji te

Danish – Jeg Elsker Dig

Dutch – Ik hou van jou

English – I love you

Esperanto – Mi amas vin

Estonian – Ma armastan sind

Ethiopian – Ewedishalehu : male/female to female

Ewedihalehu: male/female to male.

Faroese – Eg elski teg


Farsi – Doset daram

Filipino – Mahal kita

Finnish – Mina rakastan sinua

French – Je t’aime, Je t’adore

Gaelic – Ta gra agam ort

Georgian – Mikvarhar

German – Ich liebe dich

Greek – S’agapo

Gujarati – Hu tumney prem karu chu

Hawaiian – Aloha wau ia oi

Hebrew – Ani ohev otah (to female)

Hebrew – Ani ohev et otha (to male)

Hindi – Hum Tumhe Pyar Karte hai

Hmong – Kuv hlub koj

Hopi – Nu’ umi unangwa’ta

Hungarian – Szeretlek

Icelandic – Ég elska þig

Indonesian – Saya cinta padamu

Inuit – Negligevapse

Irish – Taim i’ ngra leat

Italian – Ti amo

Japanese – Aishiteru

Kannada – Naa ninna preetisuve

Kapampangan – Kaluguran daka

Kiswahili – Nakupenda

Konkani – Tu magel moga cho

Korean – Sarang Heyo

Latin – Te amo


Latvian – Es tevi miilu

Lebanese – Bahibak

Lithuanian – Tave myliu

Macedonian Te Sakam

Malay – Saya cintakan mu / Aku cinta padamu

Malayalam – Njan Ninne Premikunnu

Maltese – Inhobbok

Mandarin Chinese – Wo ai ni

Marathi – Me tula prem karto

Mohawk – Kanbhik

Moroccan – Ana moajaba bik

Nahuatl – Ni mits neki

Navaho – Ayor anosh’ni

Nepali – Ma Timilai Maya Garchhu

Norwegian – Jeg Elsker Deg

Pandacan – Syota na kita!!

Pangasinan – Inaru Taka

Papiamento – Mi ta stimabo

Persian – Doo-set daaram

Pig Latin – Iay ovlay ouyay

Polish – Kocham Cie

Portuguese – Amo-te

Romanian – Te iubesc

Russian – Ya tebya liubliu

Rwanda – Ndagukunda

Scot Gaelic – Tha gra\dh agam ort

Serbian – Volim te

Setswana – Ke a go rata

Sign Language – ,\,,/ (represents position of fingers when signing ‘I Love You’

Sindhi – Maa tokhe pyar kendo ahyan

Sioux – Techihhila

Slovak – Lu`bim ta

Slovenian – Ljubim te

Spanish – Te quiero / Te amo

Surinam- Mi lobi joe

Swahili – Ninapenda wewe

Swedish – Jag alskar dig

Swiss-German – Ig liebe di

Tajik Man turo Dust Doram

Taiwanese – Wa ga ei li


Tahitian – Ua Here Vau Ia Oe

Tamil – Naan unnai kathalikiraen

Telugu – Nenu ninnu premistunnanu

Thai – Chan rak khun (to male)

Thai – Phom rak khun (to female)

Turkish – Seni Seviyorum

Ukrainian – Ya tebe kahayu

Urdu – Mai aap say pyaar karta hoo

Vietnamese – Anh ye^u em (to female)

Vietnamese – Em ye^u anh (to male)

Welsh – ‘Rwy’n dy garu

Yiddish – Ikh hob dikh

Yoruba – Mo ni fe

Zimbabwe – Ndinokuda

And this is how I say it: Palangga ko ikaw or if I want to sound like a poet, I’d say Gina-higugma ko ikaw.

Just a moment without Manny


There is no denying that Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter in the world. His name permanently etched in the history of boxing and sports in general as the only man who has captured the boxing belts in seven weight divisions. A feat doubted by, of all, the Filipinos themselves. But for most Filipinos, he’s the only hope that a Filipino can be the best in the world, to tower above everyone else, if he puts his sweat, blood, and soul on whatever he does.

When everything has settled, the euphoria quieted, I ask: When will they stop sending me a deluge of images of Manny Pacquiao? When can I have my normal night minus Manny singing La Bamba, Manny eating sinigang and bihon before his fight, Manny being the biggest little man in the world, Manny talking to Manny Villar on the phone, Manny playing poker, Manny kissing Jinkee, Arnel Pineda defending his rendition of the Philippine national anthem during Manny’s fight, Aling Dionisia’s prayer while Manny was exchanging punches with Clottey, Manny endorsing colored water, Manny talking about having less hairfall and avoiding dandruff, Manny using deodorant ‘apter ebri bat’, Manny sponsoring a Mass, Manny riding Air Pacquiao, Manny returning to Los Angeles with his 130-strong contingent, Manny imitating Fernando Poe Jr.’s movie punches, Manny?

When? I hope it’s going to be soon.