September 10, 2017

48 Hours

I woke up lying on the sofa while the movie Rebel Without a Cause was still playing. An hour earlier I was pumped after watching a Tawainese film I've seen a thousand times. I was asleep for thirty-minutes. Thirty-silent-minutes. I betrayed the movie I had been saving for years to see. I like to believe I give a good film justice when I watch it with all of me--mind, body, and soul. But I let myself fell asleep. The chaos in my brain stops when I could not handle the exhaustion of my life, when I finally give in to my body's call for help to just close my heavy eyes, and wander in my sleep. Every day, I hope for moments like this. So I gave in. For a brief moment of silence. But like most nights, I awoke with the thought of Monday. Nothing interrupts my sleep in the wee hours of the night like work does. Not my loudest alarm clock nor the smell of bacon for breakfast is capable of such. I get up like a rooster naturally crows before the onset of light.


You can see my book shelf every time you enter my room. It always reminds me of the books I haven't touched since I bought them. If they can talk, they are probably hating on me for never allowing them to have a walk outside of their house. Yet bookstores lure me like a maniac. I buy more for the pleasure of it. For a second of anticipation. I roam bookstores like I have money to spare. All the pages I want to take home. They give excitement to my mundane life like a drug. They make me look forward to mornings I can be calm enough to simply drink coffee and read. I come out of bookstores with at least two books or more in a bag. I giggle with the thought of arriving home, removing the plastic covers, smelling the pages, and getting sedated by good stories. But for the longest time, all of them just sat there. Only welcoming new faces. Never given a chance to get a breath of fresh air. Though some are lucky to live outside the dusty glass. Two books sit on my night stand. One book is a compilation of three volumes about Tengo and Aomame. They were released separately during their publication in 2009 and in 2010 in Japan. The English translation was published a year after as one single book. It was brilliant. It easily became a favorite. I finished volume 1 in two days, and volume 2 in three. The end. The second book was my sister's. It's written by this famous poet of the 21st century whose words have always resonated with me. It was her first novel. When the book's title was first announced, I knew I wanted to have it. The day came fast when I finally held it in my hands. I put it down for good half-way through the story. I can't tell when will I want to read the rest of it. A third book lies on my desk. It was an autobiography of one of my most favorite people in the entertainment industry. She was a talented improvisation actor. Known as among the best comediennes of the modern times. The person who gave life to Leslie Knope. I enjoyed her book too much I refused to reach its last page. I lingered it for far too long the last chapter was pleading to be read. The closest I got to reading was three months ago. A book authored by the amazing Afghan doctor and novelist Khaled Hosseini. His first two books were magnificent. I knew his third book would not disappoint. I read the first chapter of his latest book before I let it lay on my night stand only to be put back on the shelf again. I wanted to pick them up badly, but I could not get myself to do it. The first step is always the hardest, they say. But every day I already struggle even with the process of mustering the strength to function. That's the pre-step before the first step.


I had iced coffee for lunch, and three cups for dinner. My body was heavier than usual. I needed it to keep me awake, and to help me get things done. The laundry, at least. It was still not enough so I decided to take a shower, too. It was not enough. Now it's four in the morning on a Sunday, and I'm back looking for new distractions.

July 15, 2017

The Impossibility of the Possible

I want to be productive today. It's been a while since I last held a book in my hand with a determination to finish it in one day. Yet, completing an easy task has become a burden. Watching a film, reading a book, lately, have become unbelievably difficult. Unlike last year, I have a job now that drags me out of bed. But nothing much has changed. I've just become worse. Though now, I am so much better in hiding it.


To this day, I still wonder if what I felt that night was a panic attack. It's been a year.

I used to have an asthma when I was a baby. I started smoking in 2014. My coffee intake has continued to surpass over the years. I thought difficulty in breathing was an inevitable result of the futile life I've been living. But that night was unfamiliar. I actually made an effort to help myself. Cutting back my caffeine consumption. Quitting cigarettes for a day or two. The breathing, however, failed to normalize. On the fifth day, I almost thought I was going to die. There was an unbearable pain in my chest I had not felt before. Like a ton of cement was blocking the air passage to my lungs. It's hard to put into words. I went straight to my room the moment I realized I could not recover from the unusual scenario. I sat on my bed taking deep breaths after deep breaths in the hopes of gaining control. I knew crying would instantly turn the mattress I was sitting on into a death bed. Years of constantly living with the thought of suicide, yet on the verge of feeling like dying, my thought was, 'I don't want to die.' Minutes of grasping for air felt like forever. Despite my refusal, I started to accept death. It was not a bad way to go. I recalled all the times I wished I would leave. Surprisingly, it calmed me. The pain was still there. But the soothing thought put me to sleep. I woke up, 'I'm alive'.


I fool myself into thinking I have plans. Sometimes, I dream of being able to do all the things I have in mind. Visit all the places I read about. Learn these new things I see on TV. But these ideas and my body do not always go hand in hand. One refuses to cooperate with the other. I cannot focus. Distraction seems to follow me around all the time. Sleeping, still and always is, a dream and a nightmare. When I wake up with a tiny bit of hope, I feel like I am on my way to having better days. But it's a sham.


It happened again in April. It felt different from the first one. But it was equally terrifying. Modesty aside, I handled this one better. It hasn't happened again since. But I'm functional enough to make it disappear.


The stronger my grip gets, the more I lose myself in the process. In rapid motion I cannot control, cannot see, cannot feel, I lose a piece of me. Relentlessly. The person I thought I am. The things I used to love. The steady passion I once thought defined me. All slipping away. Slowly losing its meaning. Fingers point to nowhere. Just mentally breaking without recourse, and without reason. An emptiness, a black hole continues to eat my being. I fight the urge not to give in. I ignore it like I do with boys. But it seems to nurture itself on its own. Even with lack of care and attention. With the absence of spirit and enthusiasm, it grows. Killing the person I know. Unfolding this whole other entity I wish to not know.

March 29, 2017

Windmills upon the Hills

Windmills upon the Hills
It's always a good idea to be away from the city to unwind every once in a while — even it's for only a few minutes. And the Wind Farm in Pilillia, Rizal is just the right place.

I grew up in Rizal, not in its deepest, farthest parts. Somewhere a lot closer to the city. For years, it never came to me to actually explore the province I kind of hail from (my grandparents moved to the city to help better support the family, but were originally from Bicol). When I think of possible quick getaways, the first thing that comes to mind is Batangas. I didn't realize that Rizal offers a variety of beautiful spots, too. The family was visiting friends in another part of town near Pilillia. And it was a great opportunity to see one of the famous sites in Rizal: The Wind Farm. It's about a three-hour drive from the Metro. But the travel was worth it. During our drive, I was amazed by how many interesting places the province has in store. We saw a floating restaurant, and the famous Piso Kape. Resorts were also everywhere. It was overwhelming.

We arrived at the farm in the afternoon (after visiting friends in Jala-Jala). It was the perfect time to see the windmills because the sun was still up, and it was not too hot anymore. There were a number of people wanting to see the windmills, as well. Tiny souvenir shops surrounded the parking lot. Some street foods, and dirty ice cream vendors also had their spots.

We didn't have to walk so much to get near the windmills. Just a few big steps from the car, we found ourselves standing side by side with the huge power suppliers. It was incredible. The whole place was such a view.

To admire the mountains, skies, and seas from a point gave me an exhilarating feeling. The wind made me run for my hat a couple of times, though.

But everything felt peaceful for a second. It did.

Made me do a cartwheel. But was obviously failing.

Before we went back on the road, we had fresh buko juice. It was only 20 pesos a piece, and it was satisfyingly good. The vendors were hospitable, and extremely generous. We bought a lot of fruits, and they gave us more for free. No wonder customers flock into their nipa hut.

I never got to see the places I thought I would see that day, because it was already getting late. Still, it was definitely a worthwhile Sunday. Rizal Wind Farm is a must-see. I would love to see more of the hidden gems of this province someday.


February 28, 2017

Wandering in La La Land

Wandering in La La Land
Captivating hearts one song at a time.

La La Land (2016)
A film by Damien Chazelle

Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a struggling Jazz musician, fall in love, and continue to strive to pursue their passion in a city full of dreamers while braving rejections and heart breaks.

As it opened its first sequence, we were immediately served with an ambitious production number. The choreography was marvelous. The camera panned fast, keeping its focus on every dancers. It was incredibly fun; you knew, you would be given more scenes of equal flawlessness. And boy, were we right to expect. Performances shared by the lead actors were too dreamy. The tap dance sequence under the moonlit sky. The scene at the observatory behind various magical backdrops. The quiet moment at Sebastian's house where they sang their beautiful rendition of City of Stars. It kept me to my seat, with bright eyes glued to the screen. The cinematography was grand. Whether it be with silhouettes or with backgrounds of starry nights and sunny skies. The lighting further complemented the beauty of every frame. The palettes gave such nostalgia. Its original soundtrack was perfection. It was already haunting, but Stone and Gosling provided the final touches that made it even more memorable. We knew since Crazy, Stupid, Love that their team up had an irrefutable chemistry with lots of potential. When they danced and sang together, I realized the endless beauty they could offer this cruel world. Talented actors who have both given life to their characters in the most satisfying ways. All these contributed in making every scene a vivid magical tour in Mia and Sebastian's world.

La La Land connected with its viewers with the perfect balance of ambiguity and clarity. It made the audience feel, the way the movie was supposed to make them feel, and more. It delivered what it promised: a delightful musical film about hopes and dreams. Simple, but definitely powerful. The focal point of the film was pursuing your dreams and passion. There was also a right amount of romance in the mix that made it even compelling. It had a more simplistic approach, but it did not lack substance. Yes, the plot did not have a kind of conclusion that would create, arouse discussion over issues with political relevance. La La Land was upfront about what kind of movie it was from the very beginning. Nonetheless, with its mainstream success, as well as the recent Oscar fiasco, the film gained unnecessary negative feedback that were completely irrelevant to the aesthetics of the film. Using its genre as a tool to undermine its strengths was subjective and unfair. For starters, the core message of the movies (people were pitting it against from) was utterly different. Sure, it couldn't be helped. But the refreshing ideas offered by each movie on different aspects of life and subject matters all made impact. They were all glorious in their own unique ways of sharing stories, raising awareness, and creating possibilities. Thus, sometimes, the themes of comparison were only fueled by hatred of the mainstream (guilty of this every now and then).

I believe that people making movies meticulously choose every cell to make their brainchild the picture they have in mind. Of course, the results vary. However, in La La Land every piece just naturally fit together too well—giving the viewers a rare experience of a lifetime. I've been dreaming of La La Land before the world did, but no one cares. The thing is, immense popularity of a subject doesn't always diminish its merit.

February 24, 2017

A Taste of Comfort

A Taste of Comfort
I never blogged about food, but this is an exception because it's this week's homework. So I'm posting it, anyway. Also, why not, when you find a perfect haven such as The Little Bear Diner.

East Capitol Drive or more famously known as Kapitolyo has easily become one of the best food places in Pasig to discover new favorites. It’s no surprise that another food haven, The Little Bear Diner, can also be found here.

The Little Bear Diner offers a variety of scrumptious food at an affordable price. As you enter the diner, a warm, cozy atmosphere welcomes you. The small space does not lack appeal; with its plain, white walls decorated with adorable portraits of caricature. Minimalist chairs with pillows further make you feel at home. Wooden stairs lead you to their second floor, and a wall of teddy bears and other unique pieces will caught your attention. But the framed map of the Little Dipper Constellation or Ursa Minor is the most visible one — it is where the restaurant derived its name from. On their social media account, the Little Bear team said Ursa Minor inspires them to continue to strive and shine, and to do their best no matter how small they are.

As expected, their menu does not disappoint. It is a collection of cuisines inspired from all over the world. But of course, they also have a list of amazing sandwiches to complete the cozy vibe. One of which was their famed Fancy Grilled Cheese. Served with either cassava chips or tomato soup, it definitely wins favor. Its cheesy goodness fills the soul. Another simple, yet memorable dish was the SPAM Kimchi Fried Rice. The crispy spam with musubi sauce, pineapple jam, and pickles was a satisfying combo you can have any time of day. The plate was good for two, but with its pleasing taste, one can surely manage. The Little Bear’s Handcrafted Pastas are also a refreshing sight. With their creative names, you will be intrigued enough to want to taste them all.

The Little Bear Diner is only a small restaurant in a street of several food hubs. But their excellent dishes will take you places, and will make you feel like you never left home.

23 East Capitol Drive, Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig