Quote from Alice in Wonderland

When I was thirteen, I bought a hardbound copy of Alice in Wonderland from a secondhand bookstore in General Santos (we called it Diangas then, a shortened form for the city’s old name Dadiangas). The pages of the book eventually became my journal because I was confident nobody would dare open that book found in the most discreet part of the only bookshelf in our house.

Mist hangs in Tandle Woods in Tandle Hill Country Park.


Last Monday, I saw her again after eight long years, right in the middle of a morning train rush to work. My last glimpse of her, she was my seatmate in our fourth year, was during our high school graduation in 2003, crying, like all high school students do when it dawns on them that the road from this point on radically diverges and that they’re bound not to see each other ever again.

I was standing, holding the still-warm metal handrail when I heard a woman say my name, ‘Fev’, a couple of times. The timbre of the voice did not register. Nobody calls me Fev anymore except those people whom I spent with most of my childhood and teenage years. Seeing her after many years brought back memories of the better times  in the province. We were classmates in fifth grade when she, along with a handful of her classmates, were distributed among the 13 other sections in grade five after their class adviser died of cancer in the middle of the school year. They were from section 6. She performed really well in class, did even better in subjects like Filipino and Civics than my section 1 classmates. She silently made her way  and consistently maintained her good grades. She remained my classmate from then until our last year in high school. I learned from former classmates that she studied Fish Technology at Mindanao State University in General Santos City then moved to Laguna after graduation and eventually to Manila. We planned to meet once or twice when we began working but it never materialized.

I looked to her direction, she was seated between two old men. She seemed to have aged well beyond 25. I saw gray hairs peeking through her coarse crown. “Kamusta na ka, Fev?” It took me a while to recognize her. I simply blurted “Janice!” We did not talk as she hurriedly got off at Ortigas station. She was carrying a tote bag that dwarfed her small frame but this did not keep her from ambling confidently and joining the crowd scurrying out of the station, and getting lost in the plethora of strangers.

People indeed pass us by in a matter of seconds to say ‘hi’, or if we’re lucky, minutes, and for some of us who are not very fortunate, without us even realizing it. Our paths, though at some point may fortuitously converge, remind us that whatever we have now is ephemeral, that however we wanted to chat and catch up with a high school classmate we have not seen for almost a decade, we all must proceed with our own journey and just be hopeful that in the next train ride we can ‘stop and talk a while’, says a line in a famous commercial for coffee in the 90s.

Love songs and how they inspire dread, scornful pity, and cloud one’s judgment

To listen to love songs during late night programming when all cheesy and gut wrenching songs with romantic melodies and lyrics are playing is the worst advice one can give to somebody recovering from a recent breakup.

But tonight, just before all the FM radio stations in General Santos City sign off, I am doing something I would proscribe anyone from doing, with or without of late parting with his/her lover. But I cannot help it, I am doing my sister’s Math project, which she requested me to do last week. I procrastinated until this afternoon when she demanded me to do it with added stipulation that I have to be done with it tonight or she’ll have nothing to submit later this morning to her teacher, and that it will cost her her grades for this grading period. Being a brother ridden with biting guilt that I have not helped my sister with any of her assignments since she started schooling, I humbly acquiesce.

Example is this one below:

8. Of the apples inside the barrel that will be sent to Tampakan for Christmas, 1/13 are green, 2/4 are red Fuji variety, and 7/65 are sour yellow, the remaining apples are native ones grown in Kalsangi (a local farm in Polomolok, South Cotabato famous for its golf course and fine weather). What part of the apples in the barrel are native variety from Kalsangi?

Let me know if you know the answer.

I have no choice but to hear the songs coming from an old stereo to my left, since silence is a harsher company.


So here I am being drowned by Barry Manilow’s bromidic sermons about love, gasping in Air Supply’s heinous high notes, and helplessly manslaughtered by Engelbert Humperdinck 70s classic, while wracking my head to provide answers to the fraction word problems I wrote myself.

In general, love songs are meant to be confusing. The poetry, or prose, that makes up the so called lyrics is nothing but a gibberish that is arranged in such a way that it sounds intelligible to somebody whose judgment is clouded by a recent heartache or a newly found love. Every line is sprinkled with randomly chosen meaningless abstraction such as the word love (the most overused), memories, the only one, alone, you, heart, waiting, remember, now and then, tomorrow, sun, song I sing, all my life, day without you, and other ludicrous ideas that exist anywhere but in reality.

They all have silly notions that forever can be through, there can be bluer than blue, about a moonriver (a foolish idea) wider than a mile that can be crossed in style someday, somebody whose only want is to grow old with somebody, leaving on a jetplane to someday come back with her wedding ring, or saying ‘I’m yours’ while spending precious time doing an entirely dopey thing of checking one’s tongue in the mirror.

And it would be too much if I still have to comment on the melody. They all sound the same, with some little variations here and there, and whose only purpose is to make anyone of their unsuspecting victims to be out of touch with what’s real.

See, I almost forgot about my sister’s assignment. I have to continue writing now, while ‘Unchained Melody’ envelops my room with an eerie feeling of dread.




Manny Pacquiao and the Filipinos’ sense of a nation


I’ve watched the fight through a rerun made by Yahoo.  After watching the 2-minute summary of fight that was dubbed as the “Fight of the Year” I was at awe.  Manny Pacquiao won it in an almost surgical fashion, like a professional surgeon doing the incision on a sedate patient’s throat in a calm manner–punches that seemed to be instinctual but at the same time a result of years of experience as a professional pugilist.

Seeing Manny’s performance, who won’t be proud to be a Filipino?

The boxing event that prematurely ended in the eight round was a spectacle that will forever remain etched in the memories of Filipinos glued on their television screens despite the advertisements that ran longer than the main event itself. Nevertheless, Filipinos are a patient nation, so they waited, shouted, cheered as their hero from General Santos City exchanged punches with the Golden Boy.

De La Hoya, suffered irreversible injuries from the battering thrown by the Filipino champion in the third round that foreshadowed the grim conclusion for the Mexican. De La Hoya fell, the Filipinos all over the archipelago rejoiced.

This win will at least unify my country for a matter of three days. After which things will go back to how they usually are: disunity, discontent, people getting impatient with a government that has remained insensitive and acting blind to the plight of the Filipinos.

Manny will occupy half of the primetime news slot for three days or probably a week. The scene will be played and replayed until the viewers get fed up.

Politicians will flock around him, basking in the glory of the Champion boxer, in an attempt to take advantage of the media exposure, after all Philippine elections is not too far away.

Resident of General Santos, as in last year, will mob the gates of Pacquiao’s residence in General Santos City for the money the boxer will give away. Balato, an all Filipino concept of “redistributing” wealth or good fortune, will again be at play. Of course, the prize will add to the boxer’s financial coffer. It won’t be bad to share a little.


The Filipino sense of a nation is grounded on nothing but personalities, such as Manny Pacquiao, but this is better than nothing. At least for days, the sense of euphoria of Manny’s win will postpone political bickering, cause the economy to surge for a few points, rest the administration’s call to change the constitution.

If only a fight of this magnitude is staged everyday just so Filipinos realize that they are one nation. If only we can produce many Manny Pacquiaos who will let their faces be sacked, punched, made atrocious just so the Filipinos will realize that they are worth fighting for.
I can’t wait for the next fight.