Because of the metro-wide tranport strike

We woke up at 9 on this Monday morning and lingered in the bed for another 30 minutes before finally deciding that the day won’t be spent toiling for the repressive capitalist enterprise, that we shall support the jeepney and bus drivers who are on strike today. (Also, because we did not want to stretch our luck too much and find ourselves caught under the burning heat of the sun, in the scurrying of other commuters after a bus that’s filled to the roof.)

I made us coffee and we ate the delicious rice cakes that we bought last night outside the church where we heard the 8pm mass. We listened to the radio talk show on Magic 89.9 hosted by the maaarte Ateneo/La Salle grads which I must admit we terribly missed after not hearing them for a long time. But we missed more than anything slow mornings like today.

And I wrote this blog, sent emails to my students, while we talked about anything that we thought interesting, and simply let the day run its steady course.

Stops and interruptions

I was holding a thick paperback of Borges’s collection of non-fictions on a train going to Boni, reading portions of some short articles when the ride is not too bumpy straining my eyes that have gone more fragile as the days go by, or during every stop. There is something about these short stops and interruptions that affects how I read a piece of literature. Because I very rarely find time to stay in one place for longer than an hour, except during my classes in grad school that stretch for three hours, I consider my time spent on these train coaches my only reading time. I take no heed of the population density inside these trains, have gone oblivious to the human stench, and have learned to keep my ears shut from trivial conversations that interest me no more.

To me, reading is an act of aggression, a war waged against a repressive environment that does its best to keep one from that intimate contact with the written language. I find it very ironic that while I teach reading Literature, I have always been at a lack of time to let the ideas I read simmer, reflect on their implications to my understanding, and in worst cases, read. And so, I have to set aside the limitations posed by my economics, academics, and the personal to somehow still find time to sit on a bench, or stand while one hand is holding a cold metal railing, and the other a book, and read as if books are as illicit as a cap of E. Assuming that the unlawfulness of books gives its reader a sense of power (diabolical or divine, it does not matter).

The stops and the interruptions at first functioned as wide, perilous voids I needed to cross in order to get  to the opposite end that promises understanding and multi-layered meanings, but, as in all other things that began as a debility, getting used to these stops and interruptions allowed me to use them to my advantage. Each of these I spend looking at the horizon, or at close-ups of people who are, like me, packed like sardines inside a nearly dilapidated train coach. These long shots and close-ups are observations, mental accounts of humanity in various contexts that are reflected, nuanced, critiqued, pitied, adored, laughed at, pilloried, worshipped, lambasted, but generally, celebrated in Literature, allowing me to get so close to what it’s like being human.

There is no such thing as a ‘perfect reading experience’, only experiences that give a book, that is, if it is truly great, as many intimations as the souls drinking it.

A note

On our mirror I wrote this four days ago: “I am so happy and lucky for having you in my life, babe.” And this line pretty much captures what I have felt since the time I met you until now and I am sure I’ll continue feeling in the days to come. We have been lovers for eight months now; it was not an easy eight months, it was not perfect, but I am sure it was the most beautiful.

So many things remind me of how beautiful life can go, and waking up next you is one of them. Today, before I ran to the bathroom this morning, I whispered a simple prayer, thanking God for giving us to each other, asking Him to keep it this way, and thanking Him again for giving you that cute snore that breaks to me gently the coming of a beautiful and sunny Monday morning.

Happy 8th month. I love you.

The commonplace and the routine

When one is confronted with the commonplace and the routine, he is also faced with a blandness so trivial it discourages him from writing. Boredom dominates our existence. Only in movies does life exhibit that ‘life-likeness’; in reality life is predictable and trite.

It is not to say, however, that I have altogether stopped writing these days. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true, I am writing like a deranged man meeting impossible deadlines. Grad school eats a big chunk of my time, writing term papers, proposals, and reports. But these are texts I myself find very uninteresting to read.

The irony of my situations sticks as hard as greenish phlegm on the walls of my lungs in rainy seasons. While I tell my students to write whenever they find time to pencil their thoughts into any surface, I cannot find time to sit and meditate like a member of the bourgeois, de-synchronize myself from the neurotic pace of everything, think about existentialist ideas I pretend I have in latency, and have these reflected in a readable medium.

I have none of these luxuries.

Last night, as we are wont to do recently, we lay next to each other in a single bed, exchanging stories, laughing at each other’s jokes, talking about our past and our future, waiting for sleep to visit us. These sweeping moments are my welcome excuse from the commonplace and the routine. These sweeping moments we spend together, in tight embrace, are just a few of those very few things that I look forward to at the end of the day. Although I do not have the luxury of time that will allow me to linger on the intangibles or be saddled by the frivolity of some of my pursuits, I find myself unable to negotiate these few hours before midnight and have it exchanged for something else, because the holding of each other’s hand, hearing each other’s hushed breathing, looking at each other’s eyes, make me forget even for a sweeping moment how commonplace and routine all else are.


Next to a blank, ugly page, what I hate most about this business of blogging is when after having written something that approaches almost that of a masterpiece, just after I clicked the ‘publish’ button, I’ll be slapped with a ‘draft error’ prompt informing me that I just lost everything.