Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Damp

There’s always this feeling that comes a little before school begins. It’s a subtle transition from the searing heat of the summer sun into a certain dampness in the air as June heralds its trumpets. I would wake up at dawn, just slightly before the sun begins to rise, and I would smell it. I can smell the dampness as if it was something tangible and can be held.

Even after a year has passed, I could still find myself thinking of my high school, or more appropriately, The Place Where I Grew Up. Not just thinking about it, rather, visualizing as if I would step into its familiar doorless, blue-painted classrooms on the first day of classes. I’ve been in UP for a year, stalked its halls in its dingy morning glow and echoing emptiness at night, made friends that will probably be for life…but it was never home. I don’t think it will ever be. (Can I really say that only after a year?)

You know, I was probably the most enthusiastic in our batch to go to college. Some were just a little excited, others were apprehensive, and more, plain scared about the prospect. Of course, I didn’t understand them. Of course, I needed only a year to, a year to get rid of this supercilious surety of mine. It was more than enough.

I was with them yesterday. As usual, there was the funny, crazy, close-knit bunch we were since maybe forever. Some were fatter, one got thinner, all grew older. Somehow, we knew we were no longer the kids who graduated last year. From the conversations and the jokes, though, we were living in the past. It was a nice kind of past, without time machines and that other stuff. Maybe that’s why we like being with each other, never mind the vast imperfections: we recreate the old feeling of being home, in the same classroom; just with a little more cholesterol and facial hair.

One day I would detail the history. I tried once and it was too long, but I can always and I will try again. Obzite. Remember the name.

The dampness is everywhere. Have I told you that it’s not at all depressing? I still see me in my head sitting down in the blue, doorless classroom and putting down my new backpack in the vandalized armchair still smelling of varnish. More importantly though, I still see the old faces, and I don’t need the damp and the classroom for that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Stuff of Nightmares

He spat the words out and then walked little away. "You miss the whole point. The lives of people are like young trees in a forest. They are being choked by climbing vines. The vines are old thoughts and beliefs planted by dead men. I am myself covered by crawling creeping vines that choke me."

He laughed bitterly. "And that's why I want to run and play," he said. "I want to be a leaf blown by the wind over hills. I want to die and be born again, and I am only a tree covered with vines and slowly dying. I am, you see, weary and want to be made clean. I am an amateur venturing timidly into lives," he concluded. "I am weary and want to be made clean. I am covered by creeping crawling things.

an excerpt from Seeds by Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941)

The past few days have been as always, absurdly idyllic. Classes will end after the finals (duh), which will be on Tuesday. After that I'll have, what, three weeks before regular classes resume. Finally. No Math FOREVER (if you will be technical about it, yes, I'll still add and subtract in my lifetime. Happy? But no more crap that goes with the basics, yes?). Take that, Math. I hate you very much, but now I understand you. I think we will have a relationship that'll work if only you would be more like me: abstract.

I miss Betch. And Mishee. And Sushaya. I miss all the times we tried to psychoanalyze King Kupal. I miss all the times our chopsticks dart to each other's plates (or bowls, whichever the case is) as if they belong there. I miss the Walking Impersonation of Pinkness and her undeniable sensibility. I miss Miss I-Try-Hard-To-Sneer-But-End-Up-Looking-Like-A-Frustrated-Wuss (no offense but you do suck at it and provide valuable entertainment,too). And I miss the convee:

"Mataba ba ako?"
"Hindi ah!"
"Tignan mo 'to"
(looks furtively away) "Payat ka noh. I know."

So classes are near again. I won't bother you with reminisces of my first year in college. That's for another rainy day when I'm so bored that I'll try to remember what happened. It's been a whirlwind, is all I can say, without undue strain on my little grey cells.

Speaking. I had a dream the other night. I dunno, but I always have something like it some weeks before school begins. Weird no? It's every year. When I was in elementary and highschool, I dream of being left behind by the school bus because I had to do something, like, find my socks or brush my teeth. I run after the bus. Always. Now this year, where I study in a place where there are no school buses, I dreamed that I'm horribly late for an 8.30 AM class and only remembered that I had one by 9 PM. I was looking for the dorm and running everywhere. Parallel. Looking for something, be late, run. Huh.

On a lighter note (transition sucks but hey), I read this quote somewhere:

"Happy people are the ones with poor memory."

Or something like that.

Friday, May 12, 2006

On Hector Eating a 1066-Page Novel, Aesthetics, and FHM

It’s a murky, melancholic, and miserable day. The bows of our narra trees are bent in surrender to the unforgiving gusts, glistening with the tears of the nimbuses. Puddles reflect the swirly depths of prismatic gasoline oil, miniature canvases of the natural and artificial. The sidecar drivers are sweating rain, and grouchy. Aircon buses have metamorphosed into cryogenic crypts.

Hector ate my Battlefield Earth copy.
Hence, the temporary depression.
The Cream Silk ‘I choose to be beautiful’ campaign caught my undivided attention the other day. As some of you already know, I do my brain work inside buses. It so happened that the commercial was being shown on the small TV set inside the bus.

Anyway, the commercial models snagged my eye. They were utterly sophisticated in their well-cut, in-vogue dresses. Their makeup was heavy but was done very artfully to highlight their Asian features. Yes, Asian. Not morena.

What does that say about the trend of beauty in the Philippines today? I was reading the Metro magazine issue that has Iya Villania, Ornusa Cadness and Raya Mananquil just a week ago. The last two are top models and Iya is a top TV personality. The cover article’s title was ‘The Changing Faces of Beauty’. The women were olive-skinned, dark-haired, and Asian-looking. Sweet. Now were finally catching up with the Japanese and the Koreans. No, not in economic terms (duh), but in the way they find their women beautiful without the preference for Western features. Unlike in the Philippines…but that is supposed to be changing now.

How many Pinays are willing to give their left eyebrow for a matangos nose? Well, maybe their left leg. Not the eyebrow. And how many Pinays spend how many buckets on whitening gunk just to achieve the Kris Aquino-Regine Velasquez i-hate-the-sun-i-drink-blood-only-at-night look? But that’s a complex question. Fallacious. How many Pinays get their hair chemically done and dyed to look like a blond Morticia Adams? Why am I asking this? I dunno. It seems to me that I’ve always asked such questions ever since I was born: snub-nosed, olive-skinned, curly-haired and all.

And now I’ve got a chance, along with the millions of frustrated Filipinas who do not fit in the traditional made-in-the-factory, quality-controlled mould of beauty. Philippine society is finally evolving---at least, in aesthetic terms. We’ve been stuck too long in the legacy of Western colonialism that even we define beauty by their definition. The Spanish and American conquistadores left us more than God and McDonald’s, after all. All aesthetically-frustrated Pinays must accept that fact. We are the continuing victims of centuries of colonialism! It is the fault of our parents and their parents that we are ugly! Let us rise and loot Pond’s! Let us fight for our rights and imprison Drs. Vicki Belo, Manny and Pie Calayan! Let us have Jessica Zafra be FHM’s sexiest woman on Earth!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

On A Sunday

It’s not a good morning. It’s never a good Sunday morning! Not since these guys from some religion came to live backdoors from our house. Before, I liked my Sundays. They were nice and peaceful, with sunlight streaming down in a dappled glow from our narra trees. But now the imagery is ruined. There are these howling fiends singing ‘Allelujah!’ all over the cursed place!

Now, I am not a firm believer of religion. Nevertheless, I have nothing against these howling fiends singing ‘Allelujah!’ as if their lungs will burst; just the fact that they are howling, and in the process, as if their lungs will burst along with my bruised patience. I don’t believe in their version of god, and obviously I am not the only one. I wish they would stuff their asses and quit the microphone, and obviously I am not the only one stuck with these feelings. People do need rest. And it’s fucking SUNDAY! But I am getting ahead of myself.

Get some nice verses from your typical Christian hymn. Are you following? Yeah. Then put those words in nice abominable pop-ish, rock-ish noise, er, trash, er, music. Now. You feel my suffering.

The neighbors have tried to shut them up. Well, to be less exaggerated, to quiet them down. See, they use mikes, and amps, and turn up the volume. Now I don’t get that, since their church is very small, ridding them the necessity of such caucus-making gadgets. But NO! No! They use real drums and real electric guitars, and make real, un-snubbable noise.

On a Sunday.

So the neighbors. My mumi’s kumpadre, Mang Boy, who lives in front of the sect’s church, have had it. For the past month or so, he has unfailingly turned up his own amps every Sunday, at 8:30 AM sharp. He plays Eminem (now this looks like a job for me…), BEP (where is the love…) and Britney Spears (oops…I did it again…) really loud. The whole subdivision can hear him! Now that’s what I call fighting for democracy. Garish, but it’s a statement.

Other neighbors have been more compromising. The owners of the house besides the church just turn tail when it’s Sunday. My Lolo used to walk his Doberman, Ara Mina (who unfortunately died of food poisoning, bless her soul), around the premises. And I shout at my brother for any excuse just to make my own little, glorious noise.

Sometimes, when it’s their sermon session with their resident evangelist, something is mentioned about ‘praying for peace to our neighbors’, but I don’t really hear that. I really don’t.

I am not usually mean. This has been going on for some time. But, see, I didn’t really have a nice sleep last night. I finished reading David Copperfield at about 12:47 AM and slept at 1:08 AM, only to be awakened by a searing heat caused by a typical calamity when it’s summer: brownout. I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know by what ungodly hour I fell to the axe of slumber, but it must be pretty well onto morning. I woke up with a headache, a painful back, and a capacity for meanness beyond human limitations.

I woke up to painful noise.

On a Sunday.

Now where's my stupid little brother?!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


So, there was this 4-day sale at SM and I blew a lot of my saved bucks for, well, very very important stuff.

I bought this denim schoolgirl skirt that, what, only cost P225 pesos and another floral one for P200. I got two ballet flats that cost P130 pesos EACH. I almost went crazy when the guy who was at the Prima Donna storefront told me how much they cost. They're the classic kinds of ballet flats, before fancy bric-a-brac started to adorn them. Anyway. Gold and fuchsia. Cool!

But those weren't exactly what drove me almost mad with, well, joy. I went to Booksale and started my usual haunt (I used to go to Diplomat, but the prices are a bit steeper than Booksale's and besides, I already have a lot of what they're still selling). So, I just scanned the racks of books when, lo and behold, my eyes dropped on a red cover and pulled out the interesting object. Guess what?

The Vampire Lestat, by Anne Rice. And that's not the best thing, really. Normally books by bestselling authors cost about 95-above, but this one (probably mispriced) cost only SIXTY PESOS. Obviously, I am really elated. Books make me happy. Really.

Anyway, I was supposed to leave the shop because I've had my find, but something told me to look some more. I scanned the books some more and found a really thick one. I checked the cover and lo, it was Battlefield Earth by L.Ron Hubbard. Holy kamote, 35 pesos lang! Wah! Wahw! I've been wanting to read it for a long time, but I could not find a copy. A cheap enough copy. And I've finally got one.

My materialistic impulses have once again gotten the best of and for me.