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?


The images we have of something are, to a certain point, permanent and unchanging unless we encounter other images that debunk and deny the very existence of the initial images created in our minds.


It’s been almost three days since I arrived in the Philippines. The clichéd expression ‘It’s nice to be back’ did not prove true, for the images I have of Manila as a boy from the province were only confirmed if not strengthened. Most of these images are generally negative: the unforgiving traffic jams, expressionless people who endlessly go to a place no one really knows where, polluted environment, and the city’s alienating character.

I was able to find a place near Espana, two jeepney rides away from my prospective workplace in Ortigas, Pasig. I had an interview this week, a day after I arrived, two scheduled interviews next week, and probably some more in the coming weeks. I am giving myself a month to iron out everything before finally deciding where to work. I know it’s time to think about my long-term plan this time. I simply cannot afford anymore to jump from one job to another for the stakes if I fail would be too much to bear.

Manila does not alleviate any of my worries and fears at all. It is a merciless city where charity and pity are the last things one could expect from other people.

The same images that have been shown over and again are never debunked nor denied; they are only emphasized and highlighted by the grimes, sweat, and dusts my body and clothing collect whenever I travel by bus or jeepney or walk along the busy streets of Cubao.

It’s been three days, but I felt that I’ve been staying here for years.

I think that I’ll have a hard time loving the city.