On regret, and household chores

From downstairs, he can hear the radio blaring tunes he does not recognize. On the fridge sits a calendar, a company logo emblazoned on the lower right-hand corner. On the reverse side is a photograph of the majestic Niagara Falls, cheapened by ubiquity. The calendar is useless. It is there because it would be a waste to throw it away.

There are many things in this apartment that he could do without. That Coke glass he got from McDonalds. An extra mattress he calls the Buddha mat, because it is where he meditates in the morning. The miniature rocking chair sitting on top of the computer table, where he sometimes puts his phone. Several notebooks from college, only partly used, which he keeps around because he thinks he might fill the blank pages with fiction. Ha. Such hypocrisy. In truth, he could not let go of them if he wanted to, he needs to keep them against the possibility of future need. Much like the minor degree in Finance he crammed into his last year of university. Just in case he pursued a career in banking, which seemed likely at that time. How ridiculous that kind of preparation, he realizes. Of all the possible futures that lie ahead, he's prepared for only one. Or two or three, but that does not matter, it is neglible.

Still, there is no regret. How can one regret the foolishness of the past? It would be just as foolish to imagine that one could know the future.  In a world where anything can happen the choices he makes could only be just as arbitrary. There is a relief in this, a freedom which nevertheless rests heavily on his shoulders. It is the unbearable lightness of being.


Nothing worth reporting has happened in the past several days so today I am going to add to the detritus of trivial narrative online, on TV, and our broadsheets.

Wednesday, June 30

Mark and I spend most of the day at Neil's house. We watch the Mythbusters debunk anti-gravity (for now), people playing poker, and then for dessert we watch the spectacle that is the inauguration of the 15th President of the Philippines. He makes a like-able populist speech (which I like too), during which time "Noynoy Aquino" is the number 1 trending topic on Twitter. Worldwide. Which may or may not be significant but we will crow about it nonetheless because we have to take pride in what we can. Also, Neil got a new puppy and he is beyond cute. His name is Tobey and he looks like that cute canine in the picture. That's not him though.

To celebrate the ascension of the Philippines' next biggest hope we have dinner at Max's. Santiago makes big bucks now so he decided to treat us to Max's Chicken-All-You-Can. I'm usually not very good at eat-all-you-can's as my stomach is quite conservative. Tonight however, I force-feed myself because the only thing better than a free meal is three free meals and I'm eating for breakfast and lunch tomorrow as well. By the time I stuff the last of the five servings of chicken down my mouth, I feel so gluttonous but satisfied nevertheless. I just saved myself the cost of three meals. Hah. I'm really impressed with myself, considering that I almost never manage to eat this much and that half the time I was watching the boy sitting at the next table. It was the waitress' fault, she passed by his table and he called her to order but she probably did not hear because she ignored him, and I heard him say "fuck" really softly as she walked away, and the way his voice was endearingly mild was so deliciously ironic. I called the waitress back and told her the other table wanted to order (a move my friends called me on for being flirty. It wasn't - I'm just really helpful that way) and the boy looked at me with something like gratitude in his eyes and it was love.

Thursday, July 1

I work.

Friday, July 2

Today is Pasig Day so I don't have to go to work. I intend to be productive but the only things I accomplish are:
1. Watch episodes 17-22 of Glee
2. Watch Gamer
3. Complete 3 levels of Plants vs Zombies in Adventure Mode
4. Cook dinner

My only consolation is that today, my definition of productivity is hitting the nearby malls and taking advantage of the ongoing sales. So by being unproductive, I managed to save some money.

Saturday, July 3

We decide to clean up the apartment a bit. This involves beating the Buddha mat. It has gained considerable weight since my sister gave it to me two years ago. I get goosebumps imagining how much dust, dead skin cells, etc etc there must be in it. My sister and I take it to the fire exit and take turns beating it with her Taekwondo kickboard. Each stroke produces a spray of fine dust and despite the face towel I am wearing as a mask, my allergic rhinitis is triggered and I spend the rest of the day with tissue stuck up my nose. It's not such a big deal except that as a result, I CAN'T PARTY TONIGHT. :'( I settle for playing poker with Mark. I win, like 5 times out of 10 but we're not playing with real money so it's not that exciting.

Sunday, July 4

I still can't get over winning at poker so I challenge Mark to another game. Santiago suggests we play tong-its instead with chores at stake. This is seriously inspired. We play for who will do the dishes after lunch. Mark loses. The stakes are higher for the next game: bathroom cleaning. We all try to do our best to make Mark lose but luck is not kind to my sister.

And then it's time for lunch and then siesta time and then everyone goes off to wherever and I am home alone. I try sleeping but my dreams are too vivid and unsettling and I wake up drenched in sweat and disoriented. I try staring at the wall but my imagination is too worked up for my body to stay still. I pace for a while, go to the kitchen and get a snack, go upstairs and back down just to hear the stairs creak, and then finally decide to finish the book I am reading.

Three or four or five hours later I finish Ilustrado and I have to hand it to Migs, the novel is quite an accomplishment. I'm not very smart so I didn't really understand how it ended. It's probably because I didn't pay attention to any of the dates but I'm not the most factual person and details like that escape me. Still, I liked the style and if his choice of adjectives is at times surprising, they always make for interesting images. Mainly, I like the novel because it caters to the bourgeois in me. There are so many references for me to recognize and relate to and make me feel like I too am a modern-day Ilustrado. So if you're middle-class and need a dose of self-gratification go and buy the book. It's only P300 or something at Fully Booked.


  1. ang 300 ay 3 days worth of food naaaa! i shall buy that book midJuly when i'm rich again.

  2. Regret is for the faint-hearted. Choices must be dealt with the same passion of a dying man. Each decision must count. And one cannot fully live his life with the unbearable weight of knowing he didn't, at the very least, try.

    Oh, and I find doing chores quite therapeutic. Yeah I know, I'm that domesticated. But then again this stems from having lived 2/3 of my life apart from my family. It is, after all, selective evolution.

    I'll see if I can purchase, if it doesn't materialize, one could always borrow. Right?

  3. I don't know if there's something wrong with me, but I found Ilustrado a little tedious to read, so I haven't finished it yet. I read the first pages and I couldn't understand what Syjuco is trying to accomplish.

  4. Arkin, magaling ka nga magtipid! I don't think I could survive 3 days with just 300 pesos. I'm so matakaw eh.

    Red, I especially enjoy washing dishes. Even when I am tired, the circular motion of my hands as I soap a plate helps me to relax. And yes, I suppose you could always borrow. Maybe Victor can lend you his copy while he is busy being frustrated by Migs' language.

    Victor, you are not alone. The book is anything but compelling. Still, I think with enough patience you can finish reading it and get some measure of satisfaction, if only for the small things like how he calls the tricycle a trike.

  5. off topic: why don't you write a novel? your writing is easy read pero deep.

  6. ang galing naman, naglinis lang ako ng apartment, napaka profound na ng thoughts!