On seeing the world through a child's eyes

I apologize for the picture video above - I wanted to share an amazing video but embedding was disabled. I know I could have just linked to it but you would have had no warning of the unbearably adorable cuteness that was to follow. The video is of a 3 year old boy reciting the poem Litany by Billy Collins. I swear, he is such an amazing performer.

The poem is terribly sensual - there's enough color and sound and motion to overwhelm your senses - and to hear it recited so innocently feels refreshingly different. It shook me from some weird notion linking physical sensation to sexuality and reminded me again of the childish delight in discovering the world.


On being sad/tired/absurd

I like to listen to this song when I'm sad/tired because Gregory Lemarchal's voice is just so heavenly it doesn't matter that I barely understand what he's singing about. Actually, I do know what he's singing about and it's not because I know French, but because one night I realized that I really shouldn't be liking this song so much without knowing what it actually says, I mean, what if it turned out to be a Nazi anthem you never know. So I searched for the lyrics of the song and ran them through a translator and that did not work at all. Not to be deterred, I signed up for classes at Alliance and mastered French in like, six weeks because I really had to know what the song meant. Stat.

I wish.

What I really did was I did a search for "a corps perdu lyrics english translation" and then worked my way through page after page of sucky translations until I found one that made sense. And I discovered that the song is indeed a Nazi anthem. Just kidding. And what I understood is that it's a song about being drunk and making the most out of life. It's all very existential and that probably explains why Lemarchal gets so angsty at times. My favorite lines from this song are:

Les hommes meurent de n'avoir jamais cru
De n'avoir pas vecu ivres et sans fard
Soldats vaincus pour une guerre sans victoire

Which roughly translates to:

Men die because they've never believed
Because they've never lived drunk and openly
Beaten soldiers for a war without victory

That last line reminds me of Camus and his philosophy of the absurd, which amounts to (as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy puts it)

...the resistance of the world to our endeavours. Whilst we crave for sense and harmony, the world has nothing to offer but chaos and a random play of blind forces. All our efforts to impose order and sense upon a world that can ultimately accommodate neither are therefore doomed to fail. The absurd, then, denominates both the most fundamental state of the world and the absurdity of human attempts at overcoming this basic fact.

And if you have any idea of what's going on around you, you will be inclined to agree. The world is absurd - no reason nor rhyme (ok, maybe just a bit) and we are all going to die in the end. If life were a game, it's rigged and totally unfair and just plain full of shit. The minute you press the Start button, you've lost. How fucking frustrating is that? Maybe it's not. No one ever said that you can't have fun while losing.

I know that I'll never ever measure up to Joseph Sayers. Okay, maybe we're the same height, but look at those pecs. And those guns. And that dick (you'll have to use your imagination). It'll take me a bazillion hours at the gym and tons of whey protein before I get that big and hairy and broody.

But I try. This week is detox week for me. This means no cigarettes, no alcohol, and sticking to the one hundred push ups workout plan. I'm so surprised I've made it this far without my ciggies. Not to say that it hasn't been hard. Yesterday was a really shitty day at the office and I swear my heart hurt so bad because of wanting to smoke. Anyway, there's just three more days left and I think the first puff I will have after this will be so sweet. I will be smoking less though because I've seriously been doing better on the push ups thing. Last week I could barely do forty but now I'm up to fifty-three. Yay.

The only drawback is that I've been burning calories like hell and I seriously need to keep eating just to make it through the day. This is challenging me to be more responsible and cook more of my own meals because I've been eating double servings of everything and it's burning a hole in my pockets.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that I'll never be like that guy and it's hopeless to try. Which does not change the fact that I will try, in part because if you shoot for the moon even if miss you'll still land among the stars, but mostly because I choose to try.

There is a road in front of you and even if that road goes nowhere, walk. Walk because you can. Walk because that is what it means to be alive.


On being more truthful

Damn it, I miss you. Or,
to be more truthful - I miss the idea
of you.

You have, after all, existed mostly in my head.
You were words made flesh.
But, Jesus Christ, how real it seemed.

If I long for the dream I have
of you,
Is it any less than if I did long for you?
It can't be all that different. After all,
the dream wouldn't be the same dream without you.

On being more truthful, I will tell you a secret. (I cannot be completely honest, but that is alright, everyone understands that.) Do you remember when once you told me that you missed me? I did not want to say "thank you" so I let it slide. Instead, I set off on a non-sequitur because that was the path of least resistance. Also, that was the only way I could be honest.

Do you remember when once I told you that I wanted a hug? That part was true. I told you that because, because of you there is a tautology I don't ever forget and it helps me to be more careful with my words.

I want what I want
when it isn't what I need. Or,
to be more truthful - I can't need you.

Rand says that love must be selfish
and even if I, sometimes, despise objectivism
I agree with her.

I hope that you too are selfish.
It would be great, it would be grand.
We would weave wonderful dreams.

Dman it, I miss you.
I hope this does not make you happy.
It is not meant to.


On shitting in my own backyard

So the strangest thing happened to me and I'm still sort-of reeling from what happened.

I leave to have lunch in the building cafeteria at 12:30. I'm so hungry that I finish like three cups of rice. And then I promptly fall asleep after the meal. I mean not right after, I have a smoke first and the compulsory chit chat with my co-workers and then I put my arms on the table and rest my head on them and just go right to sleep.

I blame the carbs.

And then I start having weird ass dreams. In one I am back in my old apartment and it's summer again and I am on the floor in an Indian squat. I'm trying to concentrate and keep my eyes focused on something on the wall opposite me but I can't because I'm perspiring like I was in a sauna and the sweat keeps getting into my eyes. Then the scene changes and I am in a jungle, or at least it must be a jungle because it's suffocatingly humid and there are all these wild trees and sinister ferns and stuff around me and I can hear like a thousand tiny insects buzzing all around. I'm following someone ahead of me, someone I don't know but who feels familiar, and then I trip on a vine and I wake up.

I don't know about you but Inception sure changed my life.

I feel like I've been sleeping for a few hours but in fact it has been only ten minutes, or fifteen max. At first I just sit there being lethargic until I realize that I'm sweating and there are red marks on my arms and my forehead. I find this vaguely embarrassing. I take a tissue to wipe off the sweat (because hankies are dirty!) and while I do this, I scan the cafeteria to find out who might have witnessed my being a total bum.

Co-worker is still on the table next to mine, minding her book. Other co-worker is at the cashier paying for her meal. I don't recognize any of the other diners as regulars so I don't really care. And then I see a boy who has caught my fancy before and I die a little inside. The boy is wearing a white dress shirt, charcoal pants, and a brown belt. This strikes me as either tacky or classic but as he stands up from his table to pay at the cashier, I behold the fit of his shirt and the fullness of his ass in his trousers. I decide on the latter.

I must have been contemplating his appearance for far too long because Jungle Boy notices and looks in my direction. I turn to co-worker and start making conversation. He walks over to the water dispenser and loiters for a while. I notice him look at me a few more times before he leaves. After a while, it's 1:30 and we have to go back to the office. I take a quick detour to the restroom and Jungle Boy is there by the sink, fixing his hair. I pop a boner.

Shit, I think to myself as I enter a stall and try to urinate, which is all but impossible. I try visualizing a pungent, hairy armpit being pressed into my face but I get no slack. I surrender and zipper up and exit the stall. Jungle Boy is still standing by the sink. I see him look at me in the mirror.

And then a thought penetrates my still-sleepy brain and I realize that I am being cruised. I smile at Jungle Boy. He smiles back.


On why I shouldn't have been so unlucky last Friday

Last Friday was insanely unlucky for me. Maybe because it was Friday the 13th but I don't really go for that shit and anyway 13 is my favorite number. There is an explanation for that.

When I was a junior in high school, I had two best friends. We were the three musketeers. Let's call them Athos and Porthos because I want to be Aramis. I always thought Aramis was kinda gay. Well, Athos, Porthos, and I, we were almost inseparable, we sat together at lunch and we did extracurriculars together and we went home together. I guess one of the few things that we gave each other space for was when girls entered the scene and even then we weren't really good at staying away. Especially because Athos and Porthos were dating Prue and Piper so we were always building each other up with the girls.

Guess which one is Aramis. It shouldn't be too hard.*

So know that at this point in my life, I was exceedingly confused. Like I was a total horndog for guys but I loved girls, a love that was pure and chaste. In other words, total bullshit but come on, I was 16, I didn't know any better than to fall in puppy love with Phoebe.

I was totally smitten by her. She was lithe and willowy and her voice was like the tinkling of spring water. That previous sentence may be from a poem I wrote for her but never had the guts to give her. I was a total dork about the whole thing. Like I would be extra nice to her and find any excuse to hang out but I always made the excuse that it was just because our friends were dating. I was such a pussy I opted for the friend zone.

And unless you think that I am wandering ever further from any explanation of my favorite number, we're almost there.

One day I thought that I should at least make her aware of what I felt, even if she did not know who it was coming from. Doesn't every high school girl giggle at getting notes from a secret admirer? Except I did not write her actual ntoes. I bought a new sim card and spent every night composing love quotes that I would then send to her. Looking back I find this episode enduringly embarrassing but I am nevertheless proud of those messages. They were at least, original.

Nor speech is close nor fingers numb
If love not seldom has received
An unjust answer, was deceived.
I, decent with the seasons, move
Different or with a different love,
Nor question overmuch the nod,
The stone smile of this country god

That never was more reticent,
Always afraid to say more than it meant.

Eventually, she fell in love with that persona, or as in love as one can feel with a textmate, which, going by the replies she sent, can be quite like real love. Seeing as I am an egotist who cannot keep his mouth shut, I had to tell someone and who better to share the secret with than Athos and Porthos.

For some strange reason they insisted that I save their contacts on my secret sim card. Athos chose to save his number as "3". Porthos saved his as "Z". 3z sounds like trese, thirteen.

I decided then that it would be my lucky number. That is how much I treasure my friends.

That is also how awfully lame this story is, very much like the last Friday, Friday 13th, as well as most other days in my life.

*Image is from this website.
**The verse above, is sadly, not my own. It is an excerpt from A Letter, by W.H. Auden. You can read the poem in its entirety, as well as several others, here.


On the view from the fourth floor balcony

From where I sit on the cafeteria balcony, I can see a part of the metro tracks, suspended between the towering white facade of the Malayan and the stand of trees lining the ADB compound. Every so often, a train comes thundering past: a shock of blue that appears and disappears just as quickly.

Well, it doesn't exactly thunder past - this far, four blocks away, you can't really hear anything. But I can imagine the muted rumbling as the train cars flicker by in the soft rainy day haze.

"There goes the metro," I say to Greg. "And inside of it, how many souls and how many souls in love and how many souls bored?"

Most of my conversation is like this. Repetitive and rhythmic and ultimately rot.

"I'd guess a few hundreds. Half of them think they're in love and half are bored and those may be the same halves."

I chew on the straw of my soft drink while I ponder on this answer. I can't make sense of it.

"You just know everything don't you?"

"No. For instance, I don't know what you're thinking."

"I'm not really thinking right now."

"You know that's not what I mean."

"Ha, I don't know half the fuck of what's going on most of the time."

"Tsk, Drew, I've seen that act a hundred times too many. The Noble Savage should have ended its run several seasons ago."

"Everyone loves an oxymoron. Making fun of actual morons was too easy."

"Well I'm sick of figures of speech. Nothing nowadays is ever straightforward."

"Nothing and no one but you, is what you mean to say."

"It wasn't always that way. I remember when you were too, once." There is a wistfulness in his voice when he says this and the words carry an inevitable finality.

I am silent as I finish my cigarette. Its smoke curls upwards and is lost in the fog.

In the distance another train.


On B-Side and Cable Car: first impressions

Last Friday, I went to The Collective with Neil. My first impression of it was that it was seriously difficult to get to - like, you have to drive all the way down Yakal before turning left into Mayapis before turning left again into Malugay because of the one-way routing. Then you have to pray real hard that parking space is available but chances are, it isn't. I guess I'm good at praying because just as we were approaching the place, a car pulled out in front of us.

The Collective is a bunch of random shops housed in a converted warehouse. From the outside I thought it looked like an old-school market building. Inside there are a couple of restaurants, artsy shops, galleries, a bar, and lots of negative space.

We took a table outside B-Side and just sat there for a while. Actually we were waiting for someone to come and take our order but no one ever did. Well, there was this one girl in a skimpy outfit who kept on coming back to our table and leaving samplers of light brandy. I wanted to be supportive of her reaching her giveaway quota but I don't really like brandy so what I did was, I furtively poured the drinks into the planter beside our table. Later, I spotted a waitress all the way on the other side of the bar. I tried calling out and waving my arm in the air as urgently as I could but to no avail. The music was too loud and the lights too low. Anyway, I had to walk over to where she was to get the menu.

IT WAS FUCKING EXPENSIVE. Like San Mig Light was 60 pesos a bottle. And they didn't have beers by the bucket. I thought this place being "alternative", it would be cheaper but I don't know, being as close as it is to the CBD, maybe they couldn't escape the capitalist crap.

Actually, that's not true, because afterwards we went to Cable Car on Pasay Road to meet up with Panda (who had just come back from studies in China) and their local beers were only 45 pesos. And colder even. And the service was better.

Cable Car (Sports Bar. KTV. Billiards) was a nice surprise. On the first level there is a huge wooden bar which runs almost the whole length of the room. Upstairs is the KTV and the billiards tables, where we found Panda and his friends. There was also a beer pong table with a gaggle of minors around it. 

Neil and I decided to play it cool and hang out at the bar downstairs. There was a little piped in music loud enough to keep up the buzz but quiet enough to allow for good conversation. Panda et al came down and joined us at the bar. Onion rings and chicken fingers were ordered and promptly finished. Can I just say that they were the best onion rings I have ever had. EVER.

Also I discovered that it is incredibly awkward to try to have a group conversation at a bar. But it was all good. In the end, everyone went home slightly inebriated and happy.


On refreshing my perspective

Have you heard this song? It sounds like that other song, but it's not, it's this song:

Phil Wang (the guy in the doughnut shop) is like, one of my favorite people on the Internet because I find him hella cute. And also because he makes really good videos. How awesome is this new video? It's got flashing lights, dancing ladies, and a sweet as beat! So maybe the lyrics don't make a whole lot of sense but who cares I just want to dance to this song. Let's dance to this song!

There's also this other guy, Charley, who I don't really count among my favorite people, but who gets a lot of love from me because he gets to make up useless words.

Like one time when he was younger, he was sitting in a cafe and being moody because he was so poor. Scanning the cafe, maybe looking for pretty girls, his eyes happened upon the oval glass plate on the door, on which Coffee-room was printed, but the words facing the street, he misread the sign as Moor-eeffoc. Even in his later years, reading the word backward on cafe doors would remind him of that moment when he first noticed it, and this would send a shock through his blood

He wrote all this down in an autobiography and some people who read it (like G.K. Chesterton and Tolkien) were so taken by how Mooreeffoc perfectly describes the intensity with which we notice again something that has become trite - notice how any word sounds queer when you say it too many times - that they adopted it and that is why it still exists today.

And that is why Charley is awesome.

Charley writing A Christmas Carol and wondering how he can incorporate a sense of Mooreeffoc into the narrative.

When I had just come to Manila, I struggled with conversational Filipino. It must have been very entertaining for my classmates to hear me speak; my accent was all wrong and my diction left much to be desired. For example, once I was walking with a friend down the college drive. A flashy car drove by and I remarked to him, "ang ganda ng sasakyan o!" He laughed and when I asked him what was so funny, he explained that "we do not usually say sasakyan. You can say kotse." So I took to calling all four-wheeled vehicles kotse.

Fast forward a few years: at lunch yesterday, I was telling my colleagues that I had to deliver some samples to Makati in the afternoon, and that I wished our boss would allow me a car, so that I would not have to commute.

I said, "Sana may kotse mamaya," and they laughed.

"Sosyal! Ang BM ni sir, baka yun yung ipapagamit."

"Haha, di naman. Kahit yung delivery van lang natin, basta may masakyan lang ako."

"Edi sabihin mo, ang L300."

"O bakit, hindi ba kotse din ang L300?"

"Hindi, van yun eh."

"Onga, hindi ba kotse pa rin?"

"Hindi. Sosyal kasi ang kotse."

And I laughed at the absurdity of our argument and how mooreeffoc this was.

Afterwards, I wondered if its Spanish roots made kotse classier than sasakyan. And on some level, it might be, but in a country where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line, does not even matter if your ride was pimped out or beat up. Sosyal ang kotse.


On being by myself sometimes

This is why I follow so many blogs, why I like to surround myself (if only virtually) with all sorts of people:

And what I mean is that I find so many clever things like this video, so many wonderful ideas like this poem, so many beautiful people like this woman.

And this video made me understand that I had forgotten how to be alone.

Like last night I was restless and did not know what to do with myself. In itself this was not strange - the nagging feeling that I should be doing something is a part of my creative process.

No rest for the wicked.

On further introspection, what I was feeling was the unrelenting desire for company. After being out all Saturday with a whole lot of people, and spending most of Sunday with Greg, I was ill at ease being with just myself again. And then I realized that this was the exact same thing I felt on Friday night: home early and no one else in the flat, listening to dubstep mixes all by my lonesome, I wanted to be somewhere else so bad that I sent Jason an uncommon email asking him to drinks, and when it was already 10 PM and he hadn't replied, I decided to go to Malate and then changed my mind about it a couple of times, a hundred times until it was midnight and I fell asleep because I was tired.

There was a time when I never had to feel this way. I was perfectly happy to be home alone and loll on my bed and read a book any day of the week. Even on a Friday night. I didn't care that no one ever invited me to go out on Saturdays (actually I did but I prefer to remember this part of my life another way). I was content and I wrote a lot of poems.

And then things gradually changed; and this transformation was so subtle (or I was just not paying attention) that my profile on planetromeo still declared that I was "more of " a homebody when I partied every weekend. I still imagined that I spent quiet Sunday afternoons reading or writing when in truth I sleep through Sunday with a hangover.

Francis and Maurice enjoy a hot bath.*
None of which is a bad thing, really. My introversion is not something that I particularly want to hold on to. I like to believe that I am versatile well-rounded. In any case, I need to be more sociable and charismatic because I want to be successful in life. And my definition of success involves impressing people, persuading them to follow me, and whatever else it is that leaders do.

But I digress. My point is just that I haven't really given me some alone time recently. Even when I'm alone there are hundreds of voices in my head. Aside from the one that narrates my life to myself, there's people online telling me what they think about things I don't care about, and on top of that there's James Franco telling me not to be scared.

I won't be, James. I won't be scared of being by myself anymore.

* Photo from Graviton Creations.