So that’s how it feels.

You see the cliff, and the scenery that lies beyond it. You see the water with the bluest hue, and you are kissed, over and over again, by the cold sea breeze. You see birds flying around from a distance, and the sun oozes just a little bit of light to almost make you cry. Beautiful. So beautiful that you are reminded of God and the enormity of the universe. So beautiful that you suddenly feel humbled by the thought of how minuscule you are.

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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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Blast of fresh air

Maybe somewhere in a humble abode, a frail Conrado de Quiros sits by his lonesome, reading today’s paper with the same sharp mind and the same passion for the nation he loves. Maybe during one of his habitual musings, despite his body’s lack of commitment, his mind wanders and sprawls letters in the air, slowly being turned into words and then sentences and then into an astonishing piece of commentary. Maybe the tradition of opinion writing was never lost to him, and being the son of a bitch that he is, only refuses to write so people will know that even the absence of words can cause frustration, regret, and interminable loss.

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To my mom: A Collection of Stories

mom.jpg

It’s hard to start a story about my mother, not because there are no stories to tell, but because there is an abundance of them.

It was my mother who fed me every morning before I go to school. The morning banter often happened whenever there were vegetables in my food, there was too much rice, or too much soup.  I have always excuses not to eat, and my mother would not always let me get away with it. By hook or by crook, by slippers or by hanger, I finished my food crying.

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Mindanao’s beauty and other stories

Having lived my whole life in Metro Manila, I am filled with excitement when I learn that I will be sent to Mindanao for coverage. I am to join a visit to a government program intended to improve the lives of those living in the far-flung areas of the country. In this case, the beneficiaries are indigenous peoples, the lumad.

The visiting group includes government officials led by Education Secretary Armin Luistro. There are ranking military officials, employees of various government agencies, and selected members of the media. After a two-hour ride in a C-130 from Manila, we land at an airport in Caraga (Region XIII). Then we hop onto another aerial experience aboard a Huey, a military chopper with machine guns fitted on both sides. It is the fastest means to get to our target destination in Barangay Kalipay in Gingoog, Misamis Oriental.

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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.

 

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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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Wabi-sabi refers to the beauty of the impermanent, the imperfect, the rustic, and the melancholy. It derives not from a love of invincibility, youth, and flawlessness but respect from what is passing, fragile, slightly broken, and modest. Wabi-sabi believes that things are always more beautiful for bearing the marks of age and individuality.”

This word seeps through me like tea. Appreciate it more with a video.