I stood by the bridge, overlooking España Boulevard and UST. I thumbed through the spaces that surround me, overtaken by the swooping sensation that I was so close to the world, yet so distant and so disconnected from it all. Lights blinked from every corner of the place like kaleidoscope colors splashing life to the dead canvas of my troubled mind.
Certain places in the city never catch my attention and make an impact—like the crowded stretch of a boulevard or the blinking signal of traffic lights. I consider them ordinary, the way most people do, and recognize them as merely a part of the overall rhythm of the life force that drives and moves the city.
One . . . two. . . three
The jeepney swerved to the left and to the right before it made a full stop at a gasoline station where its tank was filled with fuel: hot, brazen, and gold. I imagined the smooth texture of the combustible fluid sliding effortlessly down my throat, setting my body in flames. I remembered the film I saw once about a Buddhist monk who burned himself to death in 1963: how fire licked his skin, his robe, his being, and how he felt nothing. I wanted so badly to assume that he died feeling nothing.
My head was up in the clouds today: soaring like a lonely flying creature in the gloom of this inclement weather, allowing itself to be blown away by the gust of these stormy skies.
My only source of stillness was the thought of coming back to the university, to that one place in the world I can always come back to and call home. Continue reading “Homecoming”
Weekends are for crashing into bed and tucking yourself beneath blankets; your favorite teenage playlist banging rock music in every corner of the room as if it is some kind of a personal familiar comfort, melting the world of its temporary intimacy and sense.
Weekends are for reminiscing and travelling back in time. Your unmade bed is a space machine and your imagination are wings transporting you to a decade of wander and wild spirited youth. Continue reading “In Remembrance of Youth”
I know myself too well and I know for certain that when someone asks me to go out of town, I would be quick to run for the nearest exit before I could even say no. Continue reading “Under Northern Skies”
There should be a word for the gap in our souls, for this hollow space in our chest where our hearts used to be.
I reach out for myself, dragging my hand all the way down my trembling lips, my bruised neck, my aching collarbones, and notice the cracks stretching infinitely into that lonely cave they call heartbreak. I let my hand wander further and find my skin a vast ocean of memories. My eyes water, my tears forming pool and tracing an island of scars.
I thought I would never to be able to bring myself to write another entry here.
But here I am once again: scribbling a letter after another until I finally make up a word, a sentence, a paragraph that’s lucid enough to express my apparent ambiguity and my obscure speculations about the world, about everything I know (or thought I knew).
The end of February always brings a certain kind of sadness to me: sharp, weighty and wordless like a falling dagger to the chest, hammering through the flesh and beating my heart to death. Out of all the months in the year, February is the most difficult to say goodbye to, because the farewell only acknowledges the arrival of a new month, my birth month, and that for me is more than terrifying.
It would be an understatement to say that 2016 was a bad year. I fumble around and probe into the sentiments of other people to find the same grave opinion they have towards this monstrous moment in time.
I went to the cemetery today: a one-ride trip to the northern part of the city that is well-known for roasted pork and burial grounds and crematoriums. I have been to this area only once in my life, about two years ago, when we had to take Lola to her final resting place. Even then, I couldn’t understand the idea of burial rites as the final passage of a person’s life. And when they said in unison, “Lola is finally going to rest,” I thought mournfully to myself, “Finally?”
Hello September, it’s you again.
It seems to me that once again I have lost track of time. If someone comes up to me and asks what month it is today, I would probably say December or March without thinking twice, or scream the year 2010 without doubting its validity.
My sinking soul could only hold so much of its consciousness before it finally starts to displace its attention to something more crucial than the fleeting motion of people and events, before it finally starts to lose all reverence to time.
This has been the longest semester I have ever had in my entire stay in the university. When I closed my eyes last January—the blaring sound of beating deadlines ringing in the background, the clicking sound of tapping keyboards banging steadily in my ears at 2am, the hollow feeling of isolation in the midst of the great white sea of papers—I felt like Time stood still and never again ticked like it used to. But now I could hear the rushing sound of Time once more as I approach the final deadline.
Graduating today feels more like a dream, like a fiction. Like even if I put on my best dress, slip into these expensive pair of Charles and Keith, wear my graduation robe, it would all seem unreal (Yes, I deliberately used the word unreal instead of surreal, for the former captures better the phantasmagoric nature of the event) which I deem is a pretty normal feeling for an event as momentous as this one. But far from this dreamlike reality, I imagine myself misplaced—a piece of a jigsaw puzzle which could not fit into the picture. I feel like I am not here anymore, like I have graduated a long time ago and carried on a different life.
There are voices inside my head that refuse to be silenced. On the train or at the streets, or in the silent corners of a classroom at the university. I hear these voices with all the sharpness of a wailing knife. Sometimes they tell good things to me, but most of the time they curse curse curse. I wish they would stop but the stronger I wish they were gone, the louder they scream into the depths of my calloused consciousness.
But even with all these weight I try to live like the most of them: these lost and floating faces in the university. And through my interactions with them I come to realize how little they differ from me, and how much we share the same encounters. I promise myself this year to learn to live with acceptance, and in all of those moments I find myself wanting for some, I tell myself over and over again to learn to accept my circumstances and to learn to be grateful for whoever the Universe sends in our way. The ultimate strategy is to live in the moment, and to let the rest of your worries find their own time.
Where are words when you need them? At 9 in the morning my feet burned to the color of blood as I tread the crowded corridors and climbed the steepy stairway of the university. Beads of sweat drowned my forehead and left my lungs gasping for air. In my backpack are freshly printed term papers, tucked between books, begging to be read. In my eyes were traces of sleeplessness, the dizzying vision of a world without colours.
By the time I reached the room, final exam was already unleashing its poison in the dryness of the morning air. I looked at their faces, blank with expression, pained by the two-sentence question scribbled on the board, and told myself that there is no rush. But rush lies there no matter how much I fight back the current, no matter how much I resist.
Where are words when you need them? For the first time in months I felt the dried desperation of a person who has no words. I felt a desert-like barrenness in the vastness of my inarticulation. I felt arrested by failed attempts to translate my thoughts into written ideas. I felt dry and empty and loss for words, words, words.
The rest of the day was a haze. I remember their lips, stretched to make a sound, but nothing came out but muted silence as the hallways crammed up with faces both strange and familiar. I remember their voices and how they rang in all directions like the metro traffic. But nothing remained of the sound but the bitter aftertaste of a lost word with all its lost meanings.
Come afternoon the bloody gladiator game presented itself in the form of a rushed discussion on the subject of structuralism. Afterwards we were given a three-question exam on the said subject, and the pathetic little fool that I am racked my sorry little brain for all the right answers. I remember feeling sucked into a vortex. I remember hearing the silence up in my head, as if all my nerve cells closed down on business. I kept telling myself to calm the fuck down, to think of rush as an imaginary impetus. I kept telling myself to produce words, more words, for one more time. But all that I managed to do was to put into empty words my frail and under-developed understanding of Saussurean linguistics.
I felt defeated somehow. I spent the an entire night trying to decode the seemingly impenetrable text that were prescribed to us. But in the end it was all hopeless and in vain. I have known my professor since freshman year, and for all the time I get the most favorable marks, this was the first time I ever felt smashed by his questions.
Where are words when you need them? I think about it now — the words I have searched in the nether regions of my head, the words I have found to have no meaning at all, the words I have lost in the process. I feel their deception, their concealment, and how they slip ever so suddenly, like a sinister in the alley, when all I need are words words words to write my ideas and to express what I feel.
On my way home I felt an exhaustion quite unlike the academic kind. Sure, I could keep up with sleepless nights, writer’s block, brain paralysis, bouts of stress. But there’s nothing more profound than the sight of a finale, the muffled sound of an imminent end. The blasting noise of Manila traffic on a rush hour drowned the pounding rhythm of my fears and frustration as I marched the empty steps back home. I felt trapped in the imprisonment of my body, caged in my own limitations as a girl, a woman, a fucking piece of joke in the higher sphere that is philosophy. But most of all there is the maddening amount of hate and resentment brought by the inability to do that which is required of me because words, these dear words, have finally betrayed its user.
I checked my watch. The clock screamed past six o’clock. There’s nothing quite like the rush hour spectacle in the heart of the city. I spent much time inhaling carbon monoxide and watching private vehicles make a turn, speed up, hit brakes, clutch, gas, first gear, second gear, rev their engine. Signs say no U-turn, no left turn, no parking here. Crash on the nearest establishment, crash head on. Get the fuck away from this traffic jam, from this world. I counted every street sign, every street lamp, every street post, the silent countdown of 3, 2, 1, and waited dreamily for that green glowing light to say, “Young girl, it’s time for you to move on.”