Tuesday, September 28, 2010


It took me a while to write this. I might have blocked it from my mind. Might have needed time to process what I saw. I didn't know what to do or what I could do about it.

Let me tell you about an old man along the East Avenue-Edsa Intersection.

I see him everyday, while on my way to the MRT station. He's there early, laying out his goods on a dilapidated wooden box. I've noticed that he sells random stuff, tweezers, hard candies, cigarettes, and those little hair ties that look like telephone cords. He's usually not the one I notice, since there's this lady vendor who's always surrounded by these cute, chubby cats that sleep by her side. Day after day.

But last Saturday. I saw the old man. Really saw the old man. He had just bought a packet of fried peanuts from a fellow street vendor. He was walking back to his spot, to his box, when his packet of nuts fell from his shaky hands. The salt, the bits of garlic, and the brown nuts scattered on the ground, ground that had been treaded on by the busy bees of the Filipino work force.

The old man bent down, hurriedly picking up every last piece that fell from his brown paper bag of peanuts. He hastened to put every salvageable bit into his mouth.

And wow, look at me, I had no idea what to do. Was I to help him pick up the sullied food and go my way? Was I to give him money? But what if he got insulted, since, technically, he wasn't a beggar, but a vendor? I thought of looking for the place where he bought those peanuts and getting him a new packet, but I was too caught up in thinking "What should I do?" until it came to the point that I chickened out.

I was scared of helping the old man. And now it's haunting me. Because I remember what happened, but I've forgotten what the old man looks like. And I'm scared that if I remember, I wouldn't know what to do again, because helping just one man doesn't change the fact that there are all those other vendors on that sidewalk. And I will see them every morning. I will see them when I go home.

And there is nothing I can do for them.

I will probably keep living this make-believe life, thinking things will turn out for the better. But it won't.

Not when it's just my life getting better.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The 10th Ateneo National Writers Workshop, organized by the Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Office of the President, Ateneo de Naga University (AdNU) will be held on October 24-28, 2010 at the AdNU Campus, Naga City.

Twelve fellows have been awarded fellowships. Six slots were exclusively given to writers from the Bicol Region and writing in the Bikol languages. Covered by the fellowship are the fellows' board and lodging, a modest stipend, and the opportunity to learn from an esteemed panel of Atenean writers and critics. The fellows for this year's workshop are:

For poetry in English: Alyza May Timbol Taguilaso (Quezon City); For poetry in Filipino: Noel T. Fortun (Las Piñas City), Maureen Gaddi dela Cruz (San Pedro, Laguna); For fiction in English: Glenn Diaz (Manila City), Michelle Abigail Tiu Tan (Quezon City); For fiction in Filipino: Arnold Matencio Valledor (Panganiban, Catanduanes); For poetry in Bikol: Gerry Rubio (Virac, Catanduanes), Adrian Remodo (Naga City, Camarines Sur), Eduardo Uy (Gubat, Sorsogon), Richard Madrilejos (Tabaco, Albay), Rodel Añosa (Ticao, Masbate); For fiction in Bikol: Jimple Borlagdan (Tabaco, Albay).

Panelists for this years workshop would include prize-winning writers like Benilda S. Santos, Alvin B. Yapan, Marco AV. Lopez, Michael M. Coroza, Frank Peñones and Carlo Arejola to name a few. This year's workshop is co-directed by Kristian Cordero and Yolando Jamendang, Jr.

Congrats to everyone!

Friday, September 10, 2010


I was relatively happy. I'd just come from a reunion with three of my bestest friends--Maris, Bianca, and Nikka. I needed this break. We all did. We hadn't been able to see each other as much, what with them going to medschool, and me having to go to the office every single day. Day before yesterday, we met at Trinoma, ate a Japanese lunch in Oki Oki till we burst our tummies, then went to Bianca's house to get singing, guitaring, and drumming to Rockband. We were too tired to go home so we decided to just sleepover after having a pizza-dvd marathon.

When we parted ways, I felt trashed--the way I did before we met up. I was walking my usual, on my way to the GMA-Kamuning MRT station. But while walking I noticed the emptiness of my surroundings. The one or two people who passed me by might as well have been ghosts. The streets were quite empty save for a few cars and buses. Dead leaves were rolling over my feet. Empty.

Then I realized the emptiness wasn't coming from this external space, but inside me. It's that same feeling that crops up within me from time to time. I feel like I can paint/write/run...do everything I want, but at the end of all this movement and activity, there's only stagnation.

Empty. Is not the word for my surroundings. My mind was simply describing the state of my soul. And when I tried to reach down deep into this "soul," I couldn't find it either. There was only that void. I wonder if others feel this as well. Or others see this in me that's why they treat me in certain, unpleasant ways, like I'm not worth a second thought (or that's just Self-pity rearing its ugly head in my depressed state).

Why, when all is quiet and peaceful, there is not actually peace but emptiness? The vacuum of space may very well be just a reflection of our lives. We move in orbits within this nothingness of existence. Sometimes our orbits might intersect, but the time is too short to form any real ties. In the end we go our separate ways.

Is this always the case? Will God go His separate way, as well?

I wish I hadn't thought of these things. Events in the past few days may have precipitated this agitated post.

Maybe I was burned out. Maybe I wasn't sure about myself anymore. The ups and downs of my moods have always been hell to deal with. I know I will feel better again. But it comes to a point when what I feel doesn't matter anymore. I just want answers to these (seemingly) unanswerable things.