Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Sometimes, when I'm alone and bored, I get this overwhelming urge to write. Most of the time, it's all a ruse to make passers-by think that I'm busy and somewhat important. I get a lot of silly notions of becoming an acclaimed writer. I don't mean in the sense of becoming an international best-seller (although raking in that much dough would be nice) but rather in the sense of being known to have my own style, my own unique way, of telling a story.

But I can't, for the life of me, write anything worthwhile. In a quest to cure myself of the curse of remaining a newbie writer for life, I determinedly enrolled myself in a creative writing class (CW 10 to be exact). My professor said I had "good command of the language" and that she "appreciates my effort at trying out new and creative ways of presenting time and plot." I think it was her way of being nice while trying to tell me that I'm a genius at dotting my i's and crossing my t's but at the end of the day, I'm the only one who has any idea what I'm talking about.

To complete the course I had to write something to be workshopped by the whole class. Being workshopped meant making a zillion copies of your work, and preparing yourself to watch it be torn apart by the rest of the would-be writers who enrolled in the course. It would undoubtedly be placed under the guise of "constructive criticism". Our professor kept reminding us not to take whatever words were to be exchanged personally. Uh-huh. Sure. As if complete strangers (okay, maybe not COMPLETE strangers) telling me that my work wasn't worth the paper it was written on isn't personal. However, I was willing to take her advice no matter how misguided.

I came prepared on the day my piece was to be workshopped. I was confident. I was more than just a little bit excited. I had written the best piece of literature since the Bible. I was ready to shine and be hailed as a master.

Nobody booed. Nobody made a snide remark. Nobody did much of anything except stare at their desks and think of new ways of shuffling their shoes. Nobody had any idea what I was trying to talk about. Of course, my professor came to save the day with the brilliant question, "How many characters do you have in here?"

It's kind of sad really when all I've ever wanted is to see something I've written truly move somebody.

And so I find myself here with a half-eaten donut and a half-full glass of iced tea, writing to look busy and maybe just a wee bit important as passers-by steal a glance at my direction perhaps wondering what I'm being so intent on. Ha! If only they knew that I've already put Mona Lisa'a smile into words, that I've captured the essence of our existence on paper, that I have created the supreme masterpiece and that after my hard work all I drew from the rest of the world was blank stares.

This is my true story.

Efa Iram

Naglalakad kami sa init ng araw noong umagang 'yun. Tumatawa. Masaya. Walang anu-ano'y bigla Niyang sinabi "Ang daming nagbabago." Nakangiti pa rin akong nagtanong, "sa alin?" pero di Niya malalaman na sa loob-loob ko, unti-unti akong nanghina at dahan-dahang humihinto ang puso ko. "Sa lahat," sagot Niya. Sa iyo. 'Yun ang gusto Niyang sabihin. SA AKIN. SA AKIN BA? Sumisigaw ang puso ko samantalang boses ko'y napigil. Walang tinig. Walang tunog. Ngumingiti pa rin ako sa kabila nito. Patawa pang sinabing "Change is good." Paano tayo umabot sa ganito? Ikaw pumili nito. Kasalanan Mo 'to. Good luck nalang sa atin.

Walong taon na Kaming magkaklase. Walong taong magkaibigan. Walong taon ko na rin Siyang hinintay. Hindi naman ako mag-isa sa pagtitiis. marami akong karibal, maraming pagseselosan, at marami ring kasabay sa paghingi ng himala. Hindi naman nakakagulat eh. Walang perpekto na tao sa mundo pero kung meron man, Siya na siguro 'yun. Korni pero totoo. Noong una, sabi kong kaya ko Siyang hintayin habambuhay makita ko lang na may nararamdaman Siya para sa akin. Pero tao lang rin ako, napapagod rin, nagkakamali at nawawalan ng pag-asa. Kung kaya't noong nalaman kong may gusto sa akin ang isa sa mga kaibigan Niya, nadapa ako, nagkamali at naghanap ng pagmamahal sa piling ng iba. Doon ko nalaman na mahirap palang magkunwaring mahal mo ang isang tao. Pero doon ko lang rin nalaman na mas mahirap itago ang tunay na laman ng iyong puso. Pangngalan pa rin Niya ang lagi kong muntikang masabi. Ang mga mata Niyang malalim at malungkot ang hinahanap-hanap ko. Ang mga kamay Niya ang nais kong mahawakan. Tawa Niyang babaeng babae ang gustung gusto kong mapakinggan. Ang halimuyak ng mga rosas tuwing nandiyan Siya ang gusto kong langhapin. Araw-araw. Habangbuhay.

Noong hapong 'yun, naglaro kami ng chess ng barkada ko. Hindi ako makapag-isip ng maayos. Paano ako makakapaglaro ng maayos pagkatapos ng mga binitawan Niyang mga salita kaninang umaga? Kalat ang mga piyesa ko, walang depensa, walang papupuntahan. Tinitignan ko ang kabayo kong itim. Kabayong hindi makapagsabi kung duwag ba siya o hindi. At napansin kong may naputol pala na bahagi sa piyesa kong hari. wala na akong nagawa pa sa laro. Pinanood ko nalang na unti-unting nalagay sa sulok ang hari ko at sa wakas, bumagsak ito at kinain ng kalaban.

Iba na ang naglaban sa chess nang dumating ang syota ko na kaibigan Niya. Umiiyak. Hindi makapagsalita ng maayos. Nang huminahon na siya, ang tanging sinabi ay "Dinala Siya sa ospital. Dinala Siya sa ospital." Binalot ako ng kilabot. Gusto kong tumawa. Gusto kong umiyak. Tinitigan ko lamang ang lupa at dahan dahang sinabi "Hinanap kita kanina. Wala ka." ...hinanap kita para hiwalayan ka, mga salitang sa puso'y itinago. Wala ka, andun Siya, dagdag ng nakapiit ko ng mga labi.

Ngayon, kasama ko pa rin Siya. Pangngalan Niya'y aking bukambibig. Ang mga mata Niyang malalim at malungkot ang laging katitig. Ang tawa Niya, ang halimuyak ng mga rosas, ang tanging naiwan sa akin. Naaalala. Araw-araw. Habangbuhay.

Hindi na Siya kailan pa man magiging akin. At sa kaalamang ito, ang kilabot ay patuloy na bumabalot sa akin. Hinding hindi na ako ulit makakaramdam ng init.

Patawad sa Iyo. Hindi ako nakapaghintay.

titles are always inept

I long for a passion to wake my core,
a fire to tear my heart and render it void

Something more than art
but life and death and coldness
in my writing

I long to shiver at my words
and to be astounded
by my thoughts

Grasp the infinite
and twist it to my liking.

I long for the sublime
utterance of silence and
the depth of darkness as
I shut my eyes

Straining for the words to which
my being writhes
and surrenders

Vain as it may be,
I long for immortality
with each piece.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I cry because it hurts more to try to be strong.
A friend asked me what drives me to write. It took me a long time to answer. And the reply I eventually rendered was hazy and generic. Thinking about it now, however, I don't think there is a particular reason that causes my writing.

Sometimes, while sitting in a cafeteria, I grab a pen and jot down words without a single thought as to their meaning. Most of the posts I have in this blog have been caused by an empty piece of paper, a blank screen and a rather tired mind. I don't think much about what I write. I just write. I don't think that's what the really great writers do. I don't think that's what any truly serious writer would do.

But then again, I'm not really a writer. I am a soul overflowing with words unknown to me and to quench the brimming emotions within me, I must write, I must sing, and dance without stopping to think about the reasons for my actions. What drives me to write is what drives me to live: an eternal force of purpose for my being. I don't think I really have to worry about why I do the things I do, about why words come out of me without my knowing their source because I am already answered for. I am in the hands of a God of Wisdom and Truth.


faltering, my heart begins to slow
i see the arch of your back,
the curls of your hair,
the steady receding of each step.
and i wonder all over again
the merit of all that
i fought over with you.

sheer boredom

here i am again, sleepless and bored. i wish i weren't so lazy. i wish i could write something more worthwhile. but then again, we all need a reprieve from the heavier parts of our souls.

i haven't posted in quite a long time. my blog looks rather empty. i wish i could be more faithful in posting. but then again, i've never been to good at keeping things the way they should be.

i still haven't installed the new template i want for my blog. perhaps it's because i don't understand all the code that's supposed to be there. i had to choose a blogger template because my experiment with the template i downloaded didn't work. in the process, i have lost my HTML code for both my site meter and my chatterbox. i now have no idea how to get them back and therefore have to sign up for a new one. i should do it now while i have the time. but i know that after posting this, i will slowly drift off to other things.

i wish i weren't so lazy.

beautiful poetry always makes me cry

i've been reading blogs for the past half-hour and after everything, i'm glad i have been. nothing i can say will justify the following lines. how i wish i too could write something as moving. something so wonderful for the people who have touched my life. i place this here in the hopes that someone stumbling upon my blog might also be moved by the words of Pablo Neruda.

thank you hunter for sharing this in your blog.

"Tonight I Can Write" by Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example: "The night is shattered,and the blue stars shiver in the distance."

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I thought of the saddest lines.
And I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, and sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great, still eyes?

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance, someone is singing.
In the distance.My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me
suffer, and these the last verses that I write for her.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

on teaching

My first encounter in teaching as a volunteer was when I was in Grade 6. We taught kindergarten students the alphabet, helped them to color inside the lines and helped them with their diction. Doing this under the supervision of older more experienced individuals (teachers no less) made the job quite simple. It was only during my civil welfare classes during my second year in college that I appreciated the tasks delegated to the teachers of this nation.
It was very hard for me to accept that although our students could write down the word “dog” when asked of them, they would also spell “aso” as d-o-g. Memorized. That was the first thing to enter our heads. They didn’t really know what they were writing. What they did know was that these certain symbols together meant dog. Although the kids going to us were supposed to be undergoing tutorial programs (supplementary programs to the classes they were currently enrolled in), we ended up starting from scratch.
“A” is a hard letter to teach and so are the other 25. It was grueling to watch my student strive to write an “a” for me and heartbreaking to see that each and every time, she would write it upside down, backwards, reversed, and all ways imaginible except the right one. Something deep inside me just wanted to quit but I kept thinking, “If I don’t help her, who will? I am the only one given the opportunity to touch her life at this exact moment in time.”
Even now, I wonder why students like me just squander the rare privilege given us to study, to learn. Here we are in a premiere university and we don’t even take full advantage of it. We slack off. I slack off. Everything becomes last minute when it comes to academics. The grade becomes more important than the actual things we’ve learned. We study for weeks to perfect an exam, yet we forget overnight the same golden nuggets of information acquired. When brought face to face with children desperate to understand, to learn, to excel, all I could feel was guilt and shame. Somehow, I never thought of my education like that. Yes, I would rant and rave about how the government should increase the budget allocated to the educational sector because the less privileged need to study too but I never realized that I, myself, was wasting what liberties was allowed my person.

Somehow, looking back, I don’t think I was the one doing the teaching in that classroom.