I’m not a huge fan of rock music, but Charles Bradley’s cover of this Black Sabbath song is ill. This kind of music is therapy. Incidentally, I was reading Milan Kundera’s “Testaments Betrayed” while I was listening to this song and this passage perfectly came about:

The word “rock” is vague; therefore, I would rather describe the magic I mean: human voices prevail over instruments, high-pitched voices over low ones; there is no contrast to the dynamics, which keep to a perpetual fortissimo that turns the singing into howling; as in jazz, the rhythm accentuates the second beat of the measure, but in a more stereotyped and noisier manner; the harmony and the melody are simplistic and thus they bring out the tone color, the only inventive element of this music; while the popular songs of the first half of the century had melodies that made poor folk cry, this so-called rock music is exempt from the sin of sentimentality; it is not sentimental, it is ecstatic, it is the prolongation of a single moment of ecstasy; and since ecstasy is a moment wrenched out of time – a brief moment without memory, a moment surrounded by forgetting – this melodic motif has no room to develop, it only repeats, without evolving or concluding.

Beautiful.

And oh, it’s finally September. In three days, I will turn 24. May life be good.

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march 27, 22:49

It sucks that Uber is going to be turned over to Grab next month. Most people might not really care, and would think I’m entitled for caring too much about an app that can chauffeur you from point A to point B while the rest of the country is stuck with dilapidated trains and age-old jeepneys, but so what? 2018 is a bad year for feeling anything anyway.

I have a personal connection with Uber, if that even makes sense. I like taking the Uber on my way home at night and prefer pooling not because I like to talk to people – fuck that, I don’t even talk to the drivers sometimes – but that makes the trip longer, and I’m all for that. It gives me more time to sink deep with my music, and sink deeper with my thoughts.

I’ve associated it with reevaluating my life choices, sometimes with meaningful silence, sometimes with blank spaces with good music in between. In that window I think I’m entitled to feel anything, or say anything, and no one’s going to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do.

I guess long drives just appeal to me in general, and I’m just getting sentimental. Hay. I wish I can drive. I’ve always postponed learning, but now that my younger sister can park the Everest, that leaves me the only one in my family who can’t drive. I wonder who’s going to be my first passenger, where I’m going for my first long drive, what music I would play first. The problem with firsts is that there’s so much pressure hanging over its head, like it has the capacity to fuck up whatever is going to happen thereafter. It doesn’t, does it?

I wish there’s a way for me to look into myself without the need for a chauffeured trip going home, or a person to talk to to not feel alone, but I guess these things you just learn on your own without even noticing. Life is trippy like that.

Maybe I’m too in love with the idea of nostalgia. Hence, the Uber trips. Ironically, despite being enamored with the past, here I am, still trying to jolt memories out of my way. Sometimes I cannot wait but get through the day hoping that when I wake up tomorrow, everything I loved will eventually come back to me.

But in the end, I can only hope.

Tonight, I decided to tell myself that I will never be depressed again. I will never feed on this temporary abyss, and turn it into a novel, or a poem, or an intricate piece of lie to recite in front of a mirror, over and over again.

And tonight will not be like any other night, for this night will not fail to end. I will sweep my sorrows under the rug, and stomp, stomp, stomp, until all I can see are dust and particles lost in the shadows of the pitch-black night.

I will not wait for someone to hold me, until I learn how to hold, and console, my self.

And in my bed I will dream in color, in Vincent Van Gogh hues, and he will remind me, while he holds his bleeding ear, that from his insufferable life he drew that starry, starry night, and that sunflower, and that beautiful portrait of a man.

And I will wake up, not in the middle of my slumber, but in a blissful morning that smells of lilies and poppies and sandalwood. My eyes will burn from too much sunlight and my temples will hurt, but I will welcome the warmth and let it dry my wounds.

Because today, sadness will not kill me. I will kill it.

beaches and trucks

There was a time when we drove to La Union and all we had were the clothes on our back, some cheap change, and my camera. Back then, we were as hungry for adventure as we were for one another. We would occasionally throw away our responsibilities and deadlines to the curb and shut down the world that didn’t seem to give a shit about how we felt. We would go off the grid and nervously laugh about how fucked we would be the moment we return to our real lives, but we go on anyway. We were one another’s ride or die.

There was also a time when we had a huge fight over a bath towel. I used mine as a mat while sun bathing, and when I went back to our room you were furious. I laughed, of course, and that infuriated you more. You explained that bath towels and beach towels are different, but I just stopped listening after I saw you standing there with one hand in your hip, and you were wearing this beautiful yellow one piece bathing suit. I interrupted you, mid-argument, to tell you that I should not have gone out since the sunshine is already right here in front of me. You tried to stay mad, but you ended up laughing. You told me I was stupid while you remove my bath towel in my hand and replaced it with a beach towel, while calmly explaining, again and again, their differences.

That was how I defuse you – make you laugh, drop some corny one-liners until you forget about the things I lack, the things I didn’t do and should’ve done – but I realized what I was doing was no different than covering a manhole with a cardboard box.

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morning drive

It’s strangely a longer drive today going to work, because it’s supposed to be my vacation.

My watch says it’s just five minutes before 5 a.m., and here I am, already coursing through Governor Pascual Highway, alone, without breakfast, and cold.

I wouldn’t normally roll my windows down, but the atmosphere is tempting. Street lights are off, and headlights blur both drivers and passengers of every vehicle I see. I try to breathe in the relatively clean air, a luxury when you are tied to a depressing job that pays well. I wish I have more moments like this, where I don’t need to worry about getting stuck in traffic, or about picking up Rina and dropping her off to work first thing in the morning. She used to nag me for the crawl we need to endure in EDSA, for not filling up my gas tank before we meet, for the unreliable air-conditioning in my car. I look at the passenger seat, and there is no trace of Rina now. At all.

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future

We told ourselves that we will be millionaires when we grow up, that we will buy a gray French bulldog with black stripes and glossy eyes, and get him a maid in case he forgets to poop where he should. We will call him ‘Yunior,’ and we will find him a cat friend with blue eyes. This one we’ll name ‘Alma.’ She will have soft, white fur, and she will hangout in our bookshelves where we will keep your favorite book, Junot Diaz’ “This Is How You Lose Her.”

We will have a beautiful couch, but an even beautiful bed. You told me we should get the best one, because that may cure my “psychological insomnia.” You like to send me links on “How To Sleep In Less Than 15 Minutes” and “What To Avoid Before Sleeping,” and you buy me organic balms to help me sleep. We’re the total opposite. You, no matter where and when, can sleep in less than ten minutes. During sleepovers, I can wrap my legs around yours and you will be snoring still. I will look at your face, and then at the ceiling, and I will eventually wake you up. You will kiss my chin, half-awake, and I will close my eyes. And that little play will go on until I finally fall asleep.

One night you asked me if I prefer buying a condominium or a house. You asked me what our library will look like, and if books will be conjugal once we move in. You asked me if I like to have a big kitchen, even though I don’t cook. I said we can have sex in the kitchen and everywhere around the house and our talks of dreams turned into lust and into love and into more elaborate dreams after.

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The paradox of our time

From The Huffington Post:

Albert Einstein famously remarked in a conversation with Werner Heisenberg, he said, “you know in the West we’ve built a beautiful ship, and in it it has all the comforts.But actually the one thing it doesn’t have is a compass and that’s why it doesn’t know where it’s going.”

This paradox of our times was propounded by the Dalai Lama when he said, “we have wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We have taller buildings but shorter tempers.”

Will Smith said that we spend money we haven’t earned on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.

And it’s phenomenal how the same technology that brings us close to those who are far away takes us far away from the people that are actually close.

30 billion WhatsApp messages are sent per day, but 48% of people say that they feel lonelier in general.

The paradox of our times is that we have more degrees but less sense. More knowledge but less judgment. More experts but less solutions.

It was Martin Luther King who said that the irony of our time is that we have guided missiles but misguided men.

Have you ever found it perplexing that we’ve been all the way to the moon and back but we struggle to start a conversation across the road or across the train?

And it’s amazing that Bill Gates was known as the top earner in 2015 with a wealth of $79.2 billion but one in four CEOs claim to be struggling from depression.

Do we actually thrive off this paradox?

Is it that this paradox actually makes the media interesting, it’s what makes journalism interesting, it’s what makes politics interesting, it’s what makes television interesting.

Is this paradox actually what we feed off and what we live off and what we talk about and discuss in our circles?

Doesn’t it seem that we’ve tried to clean up the air but polluted our souls, we’ve split the atom but not our prejudice, and we’re aiming for higher income but we have lower morals.

So I’m hearing you ask, how do we bring a change?

How do we dissect this paradox that exists in our lives?

And it starts by us, each of us pressing pause, pressing reset and then pressing play again.

Taking a moment to become more conscious, taking a moment to become more aware, taking a moment to really reflect on the consequence, the implications of a misplaced word of an unnecessary argument that we all know we didn’t need to have, or to speak to someone just slightly differently in a different tone, in a different voice, in a different empathy, with a different perspective. Just to really connect with people on a different level.

This, thinking out loud, started from Albert Einstein and I’ll track back to him when he actually said that the problems we have today can’t be solved with the same thinking that we used when we once created them.

So actually we need to research alternative teachings.

We need to deep down dig into these ancient books of wisdom.

We need to go back to understanding if there’s anything written in those creased pages of time that can actually reveal more knowledge and more wisdom of how we can transform our experience of life today.

Otherwise this paradox means that every step forward we take, we’re taking three backwards every time.

 

Watch the video here:

Thank you, LJM.

My first and last encounter with Ma’am Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, or LJM as how she was fondly called by us from the Inquirer, was only last year. I was having my on-the-job training under Ma’am Nancy Carvajal, who worked closely with her before as her secretary. Ma’am Nancy was working on her story of the pork barrel scam, and I was tasked to help her along with another intern and some people from the Research Department. It seemed like an endless task – printing heaps of documents, filing them inside envelopes, labeling each with surnames. Some were shockingly familiar: Revilla, Estrada, Enrile; while some were surnames I’ve never heard of: Ong, Tan, Zapote. The documentation was so tough there were nights when we would leave the office around 1am, also burdening the designated driver, Kuya Gerrs, for he would need to bring us home one by one. There was even an instance wherein we would leave the office by 9pm to attend a work-related function, only to go back after two hours to finish work.

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