Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I've been taking stock of my life lately, and as what usually happens when I go through this process, a slight sadness has settled into my routine. Nothing major, only the after-effect of my directionless existentialist musings. I've been looking at the things I find important right now, and I weigh them from different perspectives. Sometimes I feel like I've made mostly right choices; sometimes I feel like I'm in a rut that I need to get out of; mostly, well, mostly I'm just undecided. What am I doing with my life? Where am I going?

To be perfectly honest, this blog has been something of an anchor for me. It's nice to think that someone out there is actually listening to me, when I air these things that usually pervade my mind. I don't know, I just feel... restless. Rudderless. Lost.

When I was younger, I realized that I lived my life in cycles of highs and lows, in an almost too predictable way that, if I were to chart my life, I would definitely see a pattern of repetitive peaks and valleys. I tried to understand my motivations, and I realized that the reason for this repetition is an almost uncanny need for...drama? I can't even find a proper word for it. I guess it's like this: I seem to be unable to be content. For me, contentment breeds restlessness, boredom.

And that's the funny thing, because even now, after I've taken stock of where I am, and how perfect my life is at this very moment, I feel the urge to run away and disappear. Does that make sense? My thoughts are a jumble.

Maybe it's just the season. Another year has gone by. Maybe this is just nostalgic musings masquerading as pain. I don't know. Maybe I would feel better in the morning.

Photo taken here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Little Vanity

When I was much younger, I never cared about how I looked. I chose clothes based on their level of comfort, with hardly a consideration for color combination or fit. I had no control over my hair; my dad was strict in that regard, and mostly he required us to wear our hair like a soldier’s crew cut: no mussing about, no fuss.

I think it was in college when I started treating clothes as something more than fabric to cover my body with. You could say that it was in college when I realized that life is easier when you look a certain part: people are nicer to you, and you become more confident. Maybe the second is a consequence of the first, which doesn’t really matter; bottom line, life is easier.

So I started developing a certain look that reflected who I was as a person, and which made me look more attractive than, well, how I’d look if I didn’t do anything at all. It took a while before I developed the confidence to start experimenting with fashion, and lately, I’ve become much more “progressive” with my sartorial choices.

I’ve also experimented with my hair, although I’ve developed a preference for jagged, uneven and spiky edges. I usually put Clay-Doh (Bench) or Goth Juice (Lush) to keep the style in place; the former, when I want a dry, matte, casual look, and the latter when I want it to look more shiny and businesslike.

I tend to be much more conservative in the office though, since I work in the law industry, which is an industry known for its less than liberal point of view. I don’t mind though, since in that context I usually just experiment with color (not too loud) and fit. My hair is still spiky and jagged, but I’m not budging on that one.

I enjoy dressing up. Some people prefer to wear casual stuff all the time, even when going out to dinner. I find that frustrating, because I prefer that when I’m going out to dinner with friends, we all look like, well, we are going out to dinner. I dislike seeing people who look like slobs when they are in another person’s company. For me, dressing up is a way of showing another person that you respect him or her enough to actually make some effort.

I’m one of those people who consider what I wear an extension of who I am, which, at first, seems superficial, although under closer analysis isn’t really. It is part of me, in the same way that what I write in this blog is a facet of my personality. It does not wholly define who I am fundamentally, but it is one piece in this large puzzle I call my life.

And to my dying breath I will argue that fashion is art, and though ephemeral, when executed masterfully, serves to deliver the same breathtaking magnificence embodied by the best examples of prose and poetry. I am not its most talented proponent definitely, but I don’t think it’s that hard to learn to appreciate its beauty.

Photo taken here.

Guess what?

I was one of three bloggers who won in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards for Top Three Posts of the Year. The award was for this post. :-)

I haven't been blogging that long (a little below five months) so this award was a huge honor. Thank you all for supporting my blog. I'm on top of the world.

Photo taken here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Simple versus Complicated

I’ve always been fond of using the word “character” to describe something I like. That chair has “character”, that shirt has “character”, that building has “character”. I’m not sure where I picked that up, but I enjoy describing things or people that way. I guess it’s because, in my head anyway, when something has “character”, it means that it has a story to tell, as opposed to, for example, a chair that is really just a chair, or a shirt that is really just a shirt, or a building that is really just a building.

Which is one of the reasons why I’ve always found the notion of a “simple” life fascinating. How is it possible? Even a person who has practically nothing in life, and who has never left his house, is still a complex individual, if only because of his reasons for having nothing, or for not wanting anything. No one is ever truly simple; we are made up of rationalizations, impetuses, emotions, thoughts and ideas, so much so that to ascribe the word “simple” to any of us is to insult the very nature of our humanity. Even people who do not think are complex, if only we take the time to understand why they do not think in the first place. 

I remember my grandfather, the son of a married man and his mistress, who grew up in one of the poorer towns of Pampanga. He was a farmer, who managed to raise 8 children properly, all with college degrees, and who all work as professionals. He lived a “simple” life, simple in the sense that he is not greedy, or lustful, or ambitious. He just wanted to give his children a better life than he had. So I’ve always thought of him as a simple man, one not prone to self-aggrandizing stories, or ambitious dreams. He preferred the sidelines, always shining the spotlight on everyone else except himself.

And then he told me this one story, during the Japanese-American-Philippine war, when he joined the Hukbalahap movement, which was then a military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He was a rebel soldier, one of many who wanted to fight against the Japanese empire’s invasion of the Philippines in WWII. He never elaborated on his reasons why he went and joined the Huks, only that he did, because, as he said, he felt it was the right thing to do at the time.

And he recalled the time when he was caught by Japanese soldiers, and he and his comrades were arranged neatly in a row so that they could all be killed efficiently. He was kneeling on the ground, with a rifle pointed at his head. He was waiting for what probably seemed like the inevitable when the soldier shot the gun and, of all things, tripped. My grandfather swore he felt a bullet fly next to his head. He thought it was the most amazing thing.

Then chaos ensued. My grandfather realized that another group of Huks came in before the soldier could try shooting at him again. Some more fighting went on. My grandfather kept his head and ran, seeking cover. He was astonished that he managed to make it out of there alive. He could not believe his luck.

And he told me that that is the reason why he considers his life, and my dad, and uncles, and aunts, and his grandsons and his granddaughters’ lives as gifts. He was supposed to have died, and yet he didn’t.

After that story, I could never look at my grandfather the same way again. How can someone I thought was so simple have a story so wonderful and complex? I learned, once again, how people, even the ones you know, can surprise you.

I realized simplicity is an illusion. To be human, necessarily, is to be complicated.

Featured photo taken here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Philippine Blog Awards

Cool. I'm a finalist in the Philippine Blog Awards (PBA). It's for Special Category: Top Three Posts of the Year. The entry is my second favorite post in this blog called "Sometimes We are Lost". (For those interested, my favorite post is "Dark Sky"). 

Thank you PBA for the honor. It is much appreciated. 

Check out the other finalists here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Love Evolution

Before JT, I've never actually been in a long-term relationship. The nearest I can think of was my first, which lasted a year, but it was so riddled with drama, break-ups and make-ups, that I'm not even sure I can call my partner at the time my "boyfriend". He was more my lover I guess, precisely because the relationship we had was rooted on more, uhm, primal concerns. 

It's different with JT because, well, he's my friend. I mean, technically, he's more than a friend, but what I mean is that our relationship is based on the same values that a true friendship is rooted on: trust, loyalty, empathy. The attraction is there definitely; I find him really handsome, and I'm hoping he reciprocates the admiration, but more than that, I like him; his personality, his laugh, his values. The things that make up his person, I love. I guess what I'm saying is that when I say I like him, I like him both in a physical manner, that is, how he looks, as well as in those other aspects that make me enjoy his company. 

A friend told me that she thinks that love is a "decision"; that is, that you have to wake up everyday deciding to continue to love a certain person. I told her I disagreed. I said love is a feeling, not a decision. To say that it's a decision is to dilute its unique quality, its rarity, because the thought implies that one can just decide to fall in love with anyone, in the same way one decides to buy a shirt or a car. Love requires a mixture of conscious action and serendipity; certain circumstances must arise, certain elements must fall into place. To say otherwise is to make love as mundane as, well, everything else. And love is anything but mundane.

She never agreed with me, although I pointed out that maybe what she meant is that love transforms into some thing not as easily described or defined as what it was in the beginning. It's still love I think, but it manifests itself differently. After three years of being in a relationship, I told her that the relationship I have with JT evolved, from something that seemed totally based on superficial reasons: looks, having fun, sexual compatibility, to something not as easily described. I told her it was much like my love for my family: (seemingly) inevitable, and forever.

Photo taken here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I was with my friend Toph one night, driving along a stretch of highway, when he asked me to drop by the house he bought for his mom in Taguig. He wanted to visit her. I obliged; it wasn't that often that Toph manages to find time in his busy schedule to visit his mom, and I figured I had some to spare.

It was two hours before midnight when we got there, and we practically had to wake the whole household to get in. We made our way into the living room. I sat on the sofa, admiring the cool light fixture attached to the ceiling, four half globes set on a large wooden square, while Toph promptly left and made his way up to his mom's bedroom. I heard several voices; I figured his nieces, who were also living in the same house, were probably awake by now too. I didn't know what was happening, but there was a palpable excitement in the air.

Then everyone came down, and with their loud voices, you'd think they've been patiently waiting for Toph rather than being rudely awakened in the middle of the night. One niece asked for a dress from his uncle for the prom, and he said, with a smirk and a small twinkle in his eye, that he would think about it. His mom was very affectionate, constantly touching her son's cheek with an exclamation about how gwapo (handsome) his son had become.

More than the fuss over him, what amazed me was how soft Toph seemed. How human. It was as if all barriers around him were brought down, and now there was just him. It was as if I was seeing Toph, the true Toph, for the first time.

It was a remarkably touching scene, and reflected an aspect of my friend's life I wasn't familiar with. I love Toph, but he can be a bit arrogant. The arrogance has basis though; he is a self-made man, who managed to wrangle some success for himself despite the extreme poverty he inherited. Though to some he may seem abrasive, to me it is merely the tenacity of an individual unwilling to succumb to the low expectations of his community. He once told me that he knew, even as a child, that he would never allow his circumstances to define him. He believed, no, he knew that he was more than the poverty he was born into.

We didn't stay long, although we did stay long enough for Toph's mom to show me a few photographs. Her lined face seemed to be set in a perpetual smile. I realized it was because her favorite son was home. I smiled politely, and tried to be as sociable as I could. Still, I felt like I was intruding into something terribly personal.

We were quiet on the ride back, although, as it usually is with close friends, it was a warm, comfortable silence that felt natural and apt. Toph broke the silence when he told me that when he was younger, especially during the first few years when he was still trying to make his mark in the world, he was very insecure about two things: his looks, and his poverty. He made some bad decisions because of it, but as he grew up, he realized there were more important things, and that he didn't really have to prove anything to anyone. He said he was finished proving himself to everyone. He was himself, and he knew that that was all that mattered.

Photo taken here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I was reading through some old posts in my Facebook account when I came across a note, which I thought is still an accurate description of what I am feeling right now. I remember that my impetus for writing that note was an anecdote from a friend of mine about this group of friends he met who liked hanging out because, as my friend told me, they thought of each other as insignificant. The term they actually used was basura (garbage) and my friend told me that, for them, the tie of friendship was based on the fact that no one thought much of anyone else; therefore, because they accepted each other's inconsequentiality, no one was more or less important than anyone else. The fact that you are accepted despite your insignificance meant that the people who accepted you are your ‘real’ friends. I assume this is so because they thought no one else would want you.

And I thought this was the saddest thing, to have friends who never believed in you, but who were your friends precisely because they found you trivial. What would that mean for a person’s self-worth I wonder? How can one go through life thinking one is worthless?

Feeling worthless is not an uncommon emotion I think, although it is a tragic one. When you get to a point where you become incapable of believing in yourself and in your capacity to better yourself, then you become a shell of a man (or woman). What is life without the hope for something better? What can one look forward to, aside from death?

So I wrote this note, quoted below, which I realize is a response to the idea that a ‘real’ friendship can be based on disrespect. The idea sounds like an unbelievable notion, but apparently a lot of people have friends like these. And when you truly think about it, and when you consider all the battered wives, or disinherited gay sons and daughters, you realize it’s not really such a surprising thing. Some people get power from making another feel worthless. It’s a sad fact, but a true one nonetheless.

On Friendship

Life has been very mechanical lately. Automatic. Predictable. Far from mindless, but really really boring still.

Notwithstanding that statement, I've been having wonderful discussions with some of my friends recently. Realizations mostly, life directions, epiphanies. About greatness and love and strength of character. It feels interesting, like I'm part of something big. Like the universe has plans for me or something.

The wonderful thing about my relationship with my close friends is that it's based on mutual respect. Not convenience, not affection, not circumstance. We seek out each other's company, that's the thing. I mean, for me anyway, it's very rare that you meet people that you really respect. Whose presence makes you feel bigger, more important. And not in the superficial way that money or fame makes people important; more like this: it's as if by simply talking to them, you take for granted that you can achieve the impossible. Move mountains. Change the world. It's as if idealism is not an abstract concept, but a lifestyle.

I don't know if it's the same with everybody else, but that's how it is with me. That's the common thread with all of my close friendships. Na hindi kami basura sa mata ng isa't isa (That we are not garbage in each other's eyes), but something else, something brighter, larger. At this point indescribable, just a sense of something real, almost tangible. Extraordinary maybe, or maybe unreal.

Photo taken here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blogging as Art

I’ve been a little frustrated with blogging lately. Ideas (at least recently) is difficult to come by, and sometimes putting my thoughts into words just seem so difficult. But I wanted to start writing creatively again, so I guess I need to stop making excuses and just write. I need to fight the predisposition to just lie in bed and not exert any effort, which gets worse the longer I don’t do anything, which makes writing an even more difficult exercise than before. But I also realize that sometimes I just really need to do it, regardless of the quality of the output; otherwise, I might as well pack up and stop blogging.

Which I have no intention of doing really. I love this blog. I’ve just been lazy.

The problem with blogging in general is that it is usually a one-person affair, and if you are incapable of sustaining a certain number and frequency of posts, then the online space just dies a natural death. Not death in the sense that you’d stop writing, that’s really up to you, but more of a lack of readers interested in your work. And to people who say that they don’t care about having readers, they just want to put their thoughts on paper, I say that’s BS: of course you want readers. Maybe not a lot, maybe just your friends, maybe even just one stranger or two, but you still want readers. Otherwise, having a blog is pointless. Why not just write in a journal? A blog is necessarily a public space, which means you aim to share it with the public (even if public meant a select group of friends). It’s similar to that philosophical question regarding trees and forests: If a blog doesn’t have readers, does it have a point?

And because a blog is necessarily a medium that requires readers, then perhaps some standards need to be put in place. Why do anything if you’re only going to be half-assed about it? Might as well give it your all. That applies to blogging, as with anything else.

Which brings me to my real point: that blogging can, and should be, elevated to an art form, in the same way that fiction, or poetry, or non-fiction narratives are considered legitimate art work. Some people have a tendency to look at blogs as hobbies, which isn’t a bad thing, but I feel that bloggers tend to limit themselves by thinking that a blog is only just a means to create something else, rather than the end result itself. I get that, and one of the primary reasons I blog is to practice my writing skills so I can get better. But it doesn’t mean that we should instantly assume that a blog as a medium is less than a poem, or a story, or a book, or a magazine. Some of the best blogs out there connect with me on a fundamental level, whether psychological, or emotional, or spiritual, and who is to say that that connection is less than valid simply because it’s made in a blog? When the aim of your work is to connect with strangers on an essentially human level, where does the hobby stop, and art begins?

It’s interesting how similar the aims of artists and bloggers can be. And those aims are, at their core, based on a love for the act of creation.

So this is my proposal. I suggest that bloggers stop thinking of blogging as less than any of the other more mainstream art forms out there. We are all artists, whether we accept the title or not. We create and we destroy as well as any other. Blogging can be the future of art, and we, the bloggers, will determine its success or failure.

Featured photo taken here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dreams are Still Tricky Bastards

I was watching television in my bed when I saw a distant clump of alien-looking things floating outside my window and moving towards me . I didn't know what they were, but I noticed they were multi-colored, and stuck together like that, kind of shaped like a human brain. The nearer it got, the more anxious I became. I moved across the room to get further away from it. When light suddenly hit the floating unknown thing, I realized they were balloons tied together, with a note at the bottom. It bumped into a glass pane. I opened my window, eased the whole bunch into my room and pulled at the note.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Honesty, or A Conversation between Friends

“So you think I'm in love with Benjamin?”

“I don't think anything. I'm just teasing you.”

“Ok, but what do you think?”

“I don’t want to think anything. It’s your life.”

“But I’m interested to know what you think.”

“Of course not. You’re not really interested in what I think; you just want me to affirm what you believe.”

“So you think I'm that easy to read?”

“Hahaha, oh please. I've known you for years. I could read you easier than a book. Even if I met you right now, you're still transparent as hell.”

“I don't believe you.”

“Fine, here's an example. Take Anthony. You said you're glad you broke up with him but really, you were hurt that he did not pick you.”

“That's not true.”

“And I don't believe you.”

“I broke up with him because Anthony found it difficult to get along with my friends, and I felt I had to pick one over the other.”

“Well, yea, you told me that. But it doesn't really change the fact that, well maybe not 'loved', but you liked Anthony very much. And you want to exude this persona of coolness, as if people never break up with you. And fine, if you want to keep it up, it's a perfectly valid way of living your life; I'm just saying that you don't need to lie to me. Or if you do lie, you're going to have to accept the fact that, even if I don't mention it, I can tell what you're really feeling.
Plus, well, having Anthony not pick you is kind of embarrassing. Hell, having feelings for someone like Anthony is embarrassing. So I sort of get why you need to lie. I'm just saying you really can't expect me not to know the truth.”


“I hate you.”

“Hahaha. Of course not. You love me. You just can't argue with the fact that you know I'm telling the truth.”

Photo taken here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Digging for Gold

I was in line at a counter of a small chicken restaurant near my apartment when a pretty petite girl with a loud voice walked in, chatting on a cellphone, while an older, less pretty friend followed behind. While those of us in line weren't exactly eavesdropping, the small cramped space, and her extraordinarily loud voice (I mean, seriously, how can someone that small have a voice that loud?), made it difficult for any of us not to overhear the general movement of her conversation with the person on her phone. She went straight to the farthest table from the cashier, which made it all the more extraordinary that we could still hear her as if she was right next to us.

She was explaining something when she walked in. From what I gathered, the person on the other line was either her boyfriend or husband.

"Baby," she purred in a really fake American accent, "Are you sick? Because you sound sick."

"Oh you are? Poor baby. Your voice still sounds sexy though."

At that point, we were all looking at each other, trying not to laugh. The cashier smiled a small knowing smile directed my way, and I smiled back. I looked out the window, trying to block her voice from my head.

"I said," she shouted, "YOUR VOICE STILL SOUNDS SEXY." I winced at the sudden noise. I resolved to try harder to block her voice. The two girls in front of me were starting to giggle. I stifled the small chuckle that rose in my throat.

Their conversation continued with the sexiness of her baby's voice as the recurring theme until I found myself alone eating my roast chicken, salsa, and tortilla in the restaurant. Then the topic abruptly shifted.

"So, baby, are you still flying to Hong Kong? The trip is still on right?"

"Right, Hong Kong. Yes baby. I said HONG KONG."

"Great baby, I'll see you there definitely. Get well baby. Stay sexy," she shouted. Then she hung up. She took off her wide framed dark sunglasses, shook her hair and made a funny face at her companion. She looked prettier without her shades, though she did put too much red on her cheeks.

"Wheee," she exclaimed, "I'm going to Hong Kong!" Her friend smiled back.

"I told you about this guy, remember?" she shouted in Filipino, oblivious to the fact that the whole restaurant staff, as well as I, could hear her, or that her friend was a meter away, and could hear her well enough without her shouting. "He's the guy who didn't want to send me money at first when I told him I wanted to go to Hong Kong, so I started ignoring him. When I stopped chatting with him on the net, and receiving his calls, he texted me that he was going to send money for our trip. I ignored the first text, but he was persistent, and after several texts, I sent him my account number."

"He couldn't help it. He sent me the money soon enough. He was just playing hard-to-get." She chuckled softly, if a little maniacally. Her laughter reminded me of a witch's cackle actually. It was kind of disorienting seeing it come from such a pretty face.

Her friend smiled and said something I didn't quite catch. She replied, "No of course not. I already told my husband I'm going with someone else. That should be ok. He wouldn't know." I noted the exchange. The guy on the phone was apparently not her husband.

Then she walked up to the counter, and asked her friend if she wanted anything. They realized that the place served nothing but chicken, and they wanted fruit. They left without ordering anything to move to the supermarket next door. I relished finishing my meal in the calm tranquility that followed in their wake. I also felt sorry for the poor bastards who fail to realize the intelligent craftiness of some remarkable, if morally-dubious, women that remain hidden behind a pretty face.

Photo taken here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I met fellow blogger OutedNarnian last night, which was a lot of fun. We met for dinner at Greenbelt, waited for a couple more friends, and moved to Barcino for wine and conversation.

At some point, I asked my friend Reggie if he wanted to hang out the next day (that's today).

"I can't. I'm still thinking if I want to meet this guy from the gym."

"Ah ok, that makes sense."

"Isn't the rule 'Bros before hos'?" OutedNarnian asked.

"Of course not." I added, with a small chuckle, "Friendship will always be there. Sex won't."

Nothing like wine to make us all one with the universe.

Photo taken here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


The first time I told JT I loved him, he asked me if I knew what I was saying. It was too soon he said, and he was afraid I was too caught up in the moment, not realizing the full extent of what I said, the commitment underlying the simple declaration. He told me that maybe I made a mistake, that maybe I didn't really mean what I said. He gave me an opening to take it back.

I didn't, because there was no need to. I loved him then, and whether he loved me back wasn't the issue. It was the truth and I needed to say it. I thought that he loved me (and he did) but more than that, I needed to take stock of what I felt, and I realized my pride was a small price to pay for something as important as having his love.

And this is what I learned: we sometimes sacrifice the possibility of our happiness for the illusion that our arrogance has more value than what it is really worth. Why do we put too much importance on our pride? Our dignity and self-worth are not necessary sacrifices before the altar of love, but our pride, at least the part that teaches us the lie that no one is truly worthy of us, is.

It is necessary to put up walls sometimes, but it is rarely a good idea when it comes to love.


Love is not sacrifice, and it is a mistake to equate the two. Love is not the annihilation of the self, and to believe that it is necessary to lose one's individuality in order to satisfy the whole is to mistake love for slavery, and to love is never to be a slave. Love is the elevation of the self, where the sum of the parts are greater than the whole, but the parts are already whole in themselves. If you are looking for love idealizing the emotion as the pinnacle of self-sacrifice, then you are not really looking for someone to love; you are a slave looking for a master. You are incapable of love; an incomplete man or woman cannot claim to love someone when they are incapable of loving themselves.


You laugh at the idea of soulmates because the concept was not written in a dusty book that a bunch of old men has declared was true. You emphasize the silliness of the belief in a one true love, because the belief wasn't repeated every week for an hour at a day declared to be sacred. You admonish the difficulty of believing in a kind of love so lacking of proof, thinking how silly it is to believe in something so utterly untrue.
Yet in the same breath you talk of faith, and how faith necessarily means believing in something that has no proof. As if faith was a concept only applicable to a religion thousands of years old. As if love wasn't older than the religion you so easily profess your faith to. 

I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just hoping you appreciate the irony.

Photo taken here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Date

I once dated this guy named Jason, a part-time model who was in a commercial for a popular facial wash a few years ago. It was a semi-blind date; I saw his commercial, so I knew how he looked like, but he had no idea how I appeared at all. For all he knew, I could be troll with a huge wart on my nose, but he agreed on the date, so I figured the person who set us up probably told him a lot of good things about me. We agreed to have dinner in Cafe Breton.

The moment I met him, I immediately thought that he was much better looking on TV. It surprised me just how short he was. A friend once said that commercial models tend to be shorter than ramp models, but I didn't know they could be that short. But he was cute, and I figured the date could still lead into something more interesting and fun.

When he saw me, he immediately launched into a tirade about how the taxi ride going to the restaurant was so horrible. The rant took a while, and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the date. He was pissed at everyone. I tried to act more upbeat, but he wasn't buying it. Our conversations felt awkward and contrived.

In the middle of dinner, a friend texted me that him and his boyfriend were hanging out in a bar in Greenbelt, a 10-minute walk from where we were. He asked me if I wanted to meet up. I figured the date couldn't get any worse, so I thought why the hell not? I asked Jason, and Jason said ok. I told him that if he didn't mind, I'd prefer to walk to the bar because I didn't want to go through the hassle of parking all over again. Jason said he didn't mind, although I did notice the shadow of a scowl on his face. I dismissed it, and thought it was probably just my imagination.

So we met with my friends, and had a few drinks. Jason was still in a dark mood, and at that point, I stopped caring. It was a first date for pete's sake, it's not supposed to be that hard. If he wasn't willing to have fun, there was no point forcing him.

On the walk back, he told me he was pissed at me because, he said, first, I made plans with friends even though I knew we were on a date. I told him that's why I asked for his permission first, and when he said yes, I took that at face value. There was no reason for me to think he was lying. He said, notwithstanding, I should have known it was rude in the first place. I didn't really want to argue, but I thought that him teaching me about manners was the height of irony. But I figured silence was my best friend.

Second, he said that he was angry because I made him walk to the bar. I told him I asked him about that too, and he also said yes, so I took that at face value. I didn't even know him that well; there was no reason for me to think he meant something else. He said I should have known he was already very tired from the horrible taxi ride he endured to get to the restaurant. He said I should have already taken that into consideration, and I should have known he'd be too tired to walk. I remained silent, mostly because I just wanted the date to end, but also because I didn't want to argue with him anymore. I thought of how stupidly difficult he was, and that for someone I've met for the first time, he acted too much like a longtime boyfriend. It was annoying beyond words.

The whole experience made me want to swear off dating models completely. If he was representative of the bunch, I figured I'd be better off dating adults. The date wasn't so much a date as it was babysitting a 12 year old. Looks can only go so far. At some point, we're going to have to have a conversation, and talking with someone who never stops whining is really just torture. Maybe the date would have been much better if he just kept quiet and looked pretty.

Photo taken here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trading Up

Over ice cream in a popular dessert place in Makati, James told me an anecdote that touch on a peculiar aspect of dating which all of us who've been playing the dating game for a while can probably relate to. The story revolved around a friend of his named Patrick, a successful and wealthy executive, who was single and looking for the love of his life. At some point, he dated a guy named Franco. It seemed they got along splendidly; their personalities meshed well together, and they enjoyed each other's company. With the relationship itself, at least with how they interacted with each other, it appeared that they had no problems.

The only obstacle they had, really, was that everyone thought that Franco was not within Patrick's league. He was not a looker, or successful, or blessed with a charming personality that could have made up for all these lack. In short, he was woefully average; there was nothing about him that was extraordinary, except for the fact that he seemed perfectly average in every sense. Patrick's friends had no idea why he was dating the guy, and outside of the fact that he really liked Franco, it seemed that Patrick had no idea either. Because he gave his friends' input on the people he should date a great deal of importance, and also because he believed that what they were saying were true, he decided to dump Franco. It wasn't a bitter break-up, but of course Franco had ended up with a broken heart.

Fast forward a few months later, Patrick learned that Franco was dating a guy named Benjamin. Benjamin was a popular banker who was even better looking, wealthier, and more successful than Patrick. Patrick couldn't understand what happened. The reason why he dumped Franco in the first place was because he felt he needed to trade up, so to speak, and irony of ironies, Patrick ends up alone, while Franco traded up from him. He thought the whole thing bewildering.

Now this anecdote is interesting for me because, when I was still dating, I always fell into this trap, where I was never contented with the one I'm with, and always kept a roving eye on a possible trade up with someone "better" than whom I was already dating at the time. Here's what I learned from those experiences: that is the worst possible way to date someone. It's not a matter of being with someone within your league, at least in the superficial sense; it's about being with a person you love. You either like someone or you don't; you either love someone or you don't. If you put too much stock on the unimportant things, thinking that there is only a particular pool of people you could draw from whom you could date or fall in love with, you limit yourself unneccessarily. I've since learned that falling in love (or "like" if you prefer) is always a tricky thing, and better to accept the experience as a gift, than look for problems that weren't even there in the first place.

Photo taken here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What's in a Name?

I was walking through the mall one day when I heard my name being called by an unfamiliar voice. I turned around and saw this guy walking towards me with a big smile, his hand extended. I shook it and realized, to my embarrassment, that he knew me quite well, and that I couldn't remember him at all.

You know how there are people who are bad at names and good at remembering faces? Or who are bad at faces but good at remembering names? Well, I'm neither. I'm one of those unlucky bastards who are bad at both. Which is hell for someone as socially awkward as I am. I'm already bad at small talk, why would the universe add the fact that I had to fake-know someone into that equation?

This situation is a regular occurrence in my life. I would meet someone whose name and face I didn't know or recognize, but who would talk to me with such obvious familiarity that I knew I was going to hurt his feelings if I suddenly asked how I knew him. So, as confrontation-averse as I am, I would usually stand there hoping the conversation would end soon, and that whomever I was talking to at the moment would never realize I was only fake-knowing him.

This is a mistake. Here's why: there is a small window of opportunity where one person can still ask another person his name, and how they know each other, without being rude. It's definitely in the first five minutes of the conversation. After 20 mins of talking, it's just weird, but still doable. After the initial conversation, the window is gone. The next conversation will not only be weird, but if you ask him his name, he will probably feel humiliated and awkward, and you will be a jackass.

Which is why I now have countless acquaintances who I keep bumping into whose names I still don't know, but who I recognize now because I keep remembering them as the people whose names I can't remember. I actually have several "friends" I fake-know, and who I sincerely hope never ever realize I've been fake knowing all this time. Sometimes I give them fake names in my head. "Oh my god, it's orange-shirt guy. I need to act like I'm looking for something really important in my bag so that it seems like I didn't really ignore him; I was just busy looking for that something important in my bag that may or may not be able cure the world of cancer."

So, going back to the anecdote, there I was, feeling like a fool, hoping the conversation would end soon before he realized I was really just faking my way through his stories. I figured I could still give him a couple of minutes before I excused myself to go.

That was, until my friend came along and joined us. And of course the polite thing to do in that situation is to introduce them, and I would have wanted to do that, except I couldn't because you can't introduce your friend to a (practically) nameless stranger, and not if the stranger assumed he wasn't a stranger in the first place.

So a moment of silence. Awkward, awkward silence. I stood there grinning like an idiot because I knew both of them were expecting me to introduce them to each other. More silence. I decided, fuck it, let's do this.

"Hey, this is my friend Mike," I said. Period. Finito. I knew there was a second half to it, but really, I couldn't just pick a name out of a hat right? I mean I could, but that would be rude. "Patrick, your name is Patrick? Are you sure? You look like a Peter to me," I might have said.

Another heartbeat of silence. Then the guy looked at me, smiled sheepishly, and introduced himself to my friend. I smiled back, and tried to make my face look like I knew his name all that time, but that I only didn't know how to make proper introductions. Which I realized would also make me look like an idiot. There was no winning this thing.

Photo taken here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I had dinner with a few friends recently, who I haven't seen in a while. I have to put that in context: we used to see each other every week, and this time we haven't seen each other in a month or so. I guess I simply missed them. They are my family in the city.

I've always found the notion of family interesting, in the sense that it seems to imply so many things: love, first of all; responsibility; affection. A mother, and a father. Perhaps a son or a daughter. And we hold it like a shield against any other idea; that is, we assume that a family is incapable of not being loving, or responsible, or caring, or that it necessarily requires a mother and a father, along with some of the more superficial trappings we associate with the idea. So we are always surprised or angry when a family isn't like that. You are supposed to be like this, you say, because a family simply is like this. As if families are always created in the same cloth, and in the same pattern. As if families cannot be as different or multi-dimensional as the human beings that comprise them.

But what about makeshift families? The type that you create when the ones you were born into are far away, or are too busy, or simply do not care. The standards aren't the same of course; we cannot assume anything, they aren't real family in the first place. But what is a real family anyway?

For those of us who are naturally inclined to be something else, and pressured by the current social context to be nothing less than similar, we are chained, and we rebel because we have no choice. Some rebel quietly, secretly, afraid of the consequences of their rebellion. Some do it openly and proudly, one big giant finger to the rest of the world. And then there are those who simply live, and hope that they may be left alone in peace at least.

We are different (not in the fundamental things I hope, at least in our capacity to love), because of the choices we make. We assume families have to be something our minds conjured, and what is real have a tendency to fall short of what we imagine. I believe it is the same with everything else. We assume an ideal, always, so, in the same way, we are always surprised or disappointed when the object that symbolizes the ideal proves itself to be something else.

Growing up different from everyone else, I've always thought that I needed to fit myself into the mold everyone expected of me. I was taller than most; therefore I had to play basketball. I was male; therefore, I had to be sexually attracted to girls. I was baptized a Catholic; therefore, I had to believe in a rigid set of rules or else I'll go to hell. The chains chafed, and my initial confusion at the barrage of expectations metamorphosed into resentment, some depression, a sense of having to always prove something to the world, and anger. What the expectations did was to complicate me as a person who might have led a simpler life if the expectations weren't there in the first place.

(I'm only guessing of course; who knows what problems I'd actually encounter if I never had to face those expectations from the start.)

So, going back to the concept of family, I don't know why we put so much pressure on ourselves, and on each other, to fit into this mold that we created in our heads. Which isn't to say that a family shouldn't be loving, or caring, or responsible; but I'm saying that maybe if we open our minds a little bit, we can at least imagine that maybe all a family needs to be considered a real one is to be loving, and caring, and responsible. Nothing else. Why do we put so much importance on the superficial trappings anyway?

Photo taken here.

Friday, October 1, 2010


It was 8 years ago when I found myself staring at a phone number I both did and did not want to call. I was still living with my parents then. I was lying in bed, in a small bedroom half-cloaked in darkness, the only light coming from a small fluorescent bulb hanging above my nightstand. I remember my heart pounding, and the voice in my head saying I shouldn't do this, this could only end in disaster.

I should have listened. But I didn't. I didn't know if what I felt was love; but back then, I thought that it was. It was a craving, an obsession over something I knew I couldn't have. But I hoped that, over my otherwise flawless arguments, I was wrong; that this, whatever it was, could work.

I found myself dialing that number. It was a unique experience; I felt like I didn't own my body. I was both waiting for him to pick up the phone, and watching myself wait expectantly. I could feel my heart pounding still.


"Hi, it's me."

"Yea. What's up?"

"I really don't know how to begin."

"I can't stay long. I'm kind of with...someone right now."

"I'm sorry. I just need to tell you this."

Silence. I held my breath for what seemed like an eternity until he said "ok."

Everything came out in a rush. "I know you're in a relationship right now, but every time you are with me you keep telling me it's not working, and I feel like we have something, you know? And, and I was hoping that, that once you get a clear head, a clear idea of what you really want out of your life, you'd realize that he's not right for you. That I am, that more than anything, I want you to be happy. I can make you happy."

He did not respond. I continued, "I guess what I wanted to say is that, at the end of the day, I hope you realize that I am the better choice, that I am the better man. I hope that you could see that you should pick me. Not him. He doesn't see you the way I do."

"He doesn't love you the way I do," I also wanted to say, but I stopped myself before I embarrassed myself further. I knew his answer even before he said it, even before I finished talking, even before I dialed his number.

"I can't deal with this right now." He was trying to keep his voice light and upbeat. I realized he was putting on a show for whomever he was with at the time. "I'm just busy right now. Let's talk later ok? Ok? Thanks for calling. I appreciate it."

There were no fireworks, no epiphany. Nothing on the other end. The complete absence of any reaction from him humiliated me. How pointless that whole conversation was; how useless.

Then it struck me how silently a heart can break. And how the silence of one heart breaking into a thousand tiny pieces can be so deafening.

I realized what I forgot. He was my first love, but I wasn't his. Perhaps love wasn't even there after all.

I placed my phone on the side of my bed, closed my eyes, and tried to sleep. I hoped that everything would be better in the morning.

Photo taken here.


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