Friday, August 17, 2012

If It Ain't One Thing...'s another, followed by something else equally annoying and inconvenient.

First, the newly upgraded computer conks out. Quite possible that the video card and/or the RAM chips are fried. My business goes into cardiac arrest.

Then typhoon Gener blows into town bringing that nameless monsoon (I'm calling it Voldemonsoon or simply Voldemort) in tow. The Metro area sinks; large swaths of Quezon City are suddenly left without power or potable water; my room is flooded. During a lull in the deluge, my uncle flatlines in the middle of a dialysis and is dead for eight minutes. The doctors manage to resuscitate him. He dies again, permanently, the following day. My business has been in the ICU for weeks; doctors begin to advise me of the advantages of pulling the plug.      

Tonight, I've just returned from taking my sister to the hospital. It doesn't look like anything serious...not yet.

Life is just... just nuts.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dear Tito Luis

You're not reading this. At least I don't think you are but these words need to be said.[1]

You were a very loving man, very generous man. The people who came to your wake all say the same thing. If there were notable weaknesses in your personality, these were weaknesses that were unknowingly fostered out of love for you, love that you often inspired.

Yes, I wish we'd spent more time together, even if it was just for talk. I'm sure your wonderful daughters are one with me in that wish. Were I at death's door I could hope for no more devotion than what they showed in your final days. There are few people in this world in whose company I would feel safe enough to die.

I wish you'd stayed longer-- no, not as an old man hooked up to a dialysis machine, nothing so undignified. An old man, perhaps, with his faculties intact, enjoying in the company of  his friends, his daughters and grandchildren.  

I didn't dare cross that distance between us that last time I saw you hooked up to the iron lung and the dialysis device. You were hopped up on all sorts of medication and there were doctors and such around you. I guess there were times recognition of me and my dad and Lola Bibing Taba would be evident in your eyes and in how you may have tried to speak then. But the words I wanted to have with you were not for doctors' ears, not for anyone. I still clung to some hope that I would hold your hand or touch your arm, and reassure you that everyone would miss you, in case the life support failed, but that we'd be alright.    

Your life had meaning! at least it did, to us. Unlike this hippie who can't seem to earn enough for his needs and the needs of his then-live-in partner, you and Tita Emma raised worthy children, competent professionals  who anyone would be proud to claim as "daughter," "sister," or "wife." To my knowledge you committed no crimes, and any of your peccadilloes and venal sins, you were likely sorry for. You inspired a lasting love in your wife  (and likely many funny romantic vignettes involving who would carry whom into the bedchamber, the shared toothbrush, and how you liked your fish).

I say all this now to celebrate who you were, to make up for that missed opportunity, and to wish that you could see or read this. Thank you, Tito. Thank you for your generosity, thank you for you. We love you. We will always miss you.           

[1] and thus do we come to the heart of why I, an agnostic atheist and a secularist, can't completely discount the human act of prayer

Monday, August 13, 2012


I suppose that this is my case of confirmation bias, but the universe seems to bend over backward to bring me what I want... at least initially. I found myself seated next to my cousin's friend. Yes, the same young lovely whose smiling disposition I could not easily shake off. Were I still a praying man, I would have attributed all sorts of motives to the insensate concatenation of fortuitous events that led to our sharing a meal. But, again, these turns of events are best taken at face value, and this occasion was a damn wake.

What have I learned?

Again, that whoever wrote Tina Turner's 1984 material was right.

I recognize how slaved I am to the classes and sub-classes of women who populate my head. I have a "type" --several, in fact-- and woe betide you if you fall under any of them.

This isn't to say that I can't develop any kind of affection, trust and devotion for you, but what I'm caring about at this stage isn't you. Just the bits of you that my subconscious fits with great facility into its many shoe-box ideas of the women I should care for. I will be sometimes fatally blind to all those other bits of you, in the same way you're currently blind to all the other bits of me that you simply can't live with. The nearness --the newness-- of you is a delightful diversion from the sameness of my life.

Still, I'm thankful for it. That I know that nothing will come out of it is no barrier to appreciating the gift when it arrives.


Sunday, August 12, 2012


Dear Cebu,

You're weird and you're interesting. You remind me of the women who I fall hard for. More often than not, they're not stunners, at least not at first glance. They'd have their share of obvious imperfections covering up or downplaying qualities that, over time, delightfully surprise me.

I don't profess much love for you--generally. You're a tourist trap. There are way too many people enjoying your nightlife for my taste. There's far too much noise in your nightspots, and far too much heat in the afternoons.  As liberal as I am, I get eerily upset at seeing the seemingly large number of our native girls adorning the arms of white dudes who seem to be as old as their fathers. Granted, my complaints are self-serving. I haven't completely outgrown the desire to be that old dude (sans the whiteness) waking up to the sight of the (legal-aged, preferably vision-impaired) waif  who regularly warms his bed, as love also blossoms in a marriage defined by need and expedience-- her body and his potential heirs for a roof over her head, and strong arms to keep out the cold.  

But there's something about you that I can't place, something that keeps me looking in your direction and admiring how your hair falls over your bare shoulder, the coyness of your smile-- and its promise of the best kinds of sensuality for the man who unlocks your heart. But you're also high maintenance--or at least you seem to be-- and I have a problem with high maintenance women.

For now, you've been a welcome respite from the impotence that has characterized my work these past two months. You've also allowed me and my mother to come to a proper compromise. You've also provided me with potential business, and with another place to run to, should my traditional refuges break from the strain of so much forced  modernity (yes, you have your blight of call centers, but here, no one knows me and I am free to reinvent myself with you should the need ever arise-- but will you let me, though?).

Yes, Cebu, for now, at least, I have my eye on you. 

Occupational Hazard

First, a gripe about my smartphone:

Dear Swype, I hate you. I just lost a composition because your predictive text capabilities and my fat fingers have erased five paragraphs of text. Digression over.

 As I Swype, I'm looking at my cousin's friend, a young lovely with a perpetual smile and seemingly no conception of a life past college (that could be my ageist, elitist aspect talking. I don't know her beyond her smile and her preoccupation with whatever ladies her age concern themselves with today). I find myself wondering what it would be like to sweep her of her feet and shower her with kisses. I find myself imagining what it would be like to enjoy her attentions, her care. I find myself angry that I am subject to these thoughts here, now, when my uncle is at death's door.

The hospital is not a place for thoughts of cupid. Too, any friend speaking to me over the last three years will know of my new-pledged disdain for thoughts of cupid. It's well-known among my friends that I believe cupid owes me for years of unnecessary grief.

It's her innocence that I miss and envy. More than the diminishing possibility of my ever having mutually enjoyable sexual activity with someone my age or younger, someone full of sensual promise; more than experiencing love in that furtive, explosive, singular, new, manner of teenagers and people a little above twenty years of age:  In the face of the grief I feel, and the pity and the outrage, I feel the desire to flirt, to make meaningful social and sexual connections-- much, much to my shame.

I've always felt that it isn't necessarily wrong to feel this way for someone. I've loved women younger than myself-- often leading someone out of innocence is in itself one of the highlights of such a love. The problem is that it's all too easy to be attached to the perks of any new love, especially new love with someone newly come into sensual potency.

For convenience's sake these thoughts and stirrings are shoved aside as they bubble up, whenever humanly possible. In the long term, attaining any of my goals is not helped by the prospects of romantic entanglements, and I would be wise to remind myself and interested parties of this always.  

This is one of the larger occupational hazards for men who want to make something of  the little time they have left on the planet before they become too infirm to do so.