When Angels Cry, They Cry Jif Peanut Butter

Over the weekend, me and my family braved the crowds at TriNoma so that our little boy (there really is a little boy! I’m not making this up!) could see the circus (not making that up either).

I love circus acts. Not just because they’ve grown substantially more attractive and less freakish over the decades. I love that circus performers today are actually trained professionals now and not just mutants who can do crazy tricks with ping pong balls. For a time, I wanted to join the circus and one of the things on my “things to try before I die” list is to perform a catch on a trapeze. Maybe I can even kill myself in the process and die really, really happy.

But it got a little boring while we were watching a tiny gymnast stick her face between her thighs for the nth time while balancing on two oversized golf tees. After the crowds had dissolved and the music faded out, I remembered very little of what I saw. There isn’t much that differentiates one circus act from the next. In every circus there are jointless bodies, and people with superhuman coordination whether the circus was flown in from Canada or North Korea; the limits of what a body is capable of hardly changes from one culture to the next. A circus freak (juggler, trapeze artist, stilt guy, wheel guy, rope guy) is a circus freak regardless of where he or she is from. If the only actual requirement is a functioning body, maybe we could have all been circus freaks.

But I grew up with this shiteous notion that my body was simply a mode of transport for my head and hands. I loathed PE, never learned any sports in grade school or high school, and basically dreaded anything that entailed moving any farther than the distance from my bedroom to the kitchen. That is until I hit high school and came up with the brilliant idea to take up dance after seeing a few Tanz theater performances and thinking, “hey that looks cool, where do I sign up, nuninoo.”
Yet the idea of investing in my body almost always took a backseat to the other investment, which was my head, even if it meant getting fat, pimply, and cynical. Because of that, it took me a really long time and three companies to figure out that movement isn’t about performance or even self-expression; and even if it’s the last art form I came to familiarize myself with, it’s the one from which I learned that it’s not about how you look, or how eloquently you can convey what you mean in what you just expressed; but the moment of actualization that comes with the process of creation, when a layer of the facade peels away to reveal the self that lurks beneath.

John Banville said it better when he defined art not as self-expression but as a “sudden access of self-awareness.” That’s why it’s too simplistic to say that dancers are simply instrumental in revealing what a choreographer is trying to say, because in the end its the ensemble of different bodies pushed to their limits and coming together in a unified piece that bring out the artistry in a dance.

I finished a whole jar of Jif peanut butter. That stuff on the left: It was yummy!


Nothing Like a Good Ramble to start the day

I haven’t written about the trip to Japan until now because I still feel that a lot of what it was about is still way beyond me. It’s not just the place, Japan is Japan, it will always be Japan and anyone who’s been there can ruminate on what makes it what it is. But what really got to me was the sensation of being completely alone. I was standing on the intersection of several busy streets in Aoyama, waiting ‘til it was okay to cross and realizing how impossible it was for anyone I loved to reach me. I had been loaned a phone, but all that meant was that severing ties with everything my life had come to at that point was as simple as pressing a button.

I still cannot completely articulate how liberating—and at the same time how selfish—that is and how I can’t wait to do that again, and again, and again. (And thanking my mom for doing what she does so that we may live the way we live, not just that i have wanderlust but that I have the luxury of choice to indulge it.) For a few hours, aimlessly wandering around a new city where you can’t understand the language but don’t look foreign enough to attract the attention and sympathy of the locals, you can completely disappear. When you’re surrounded by strangers, because you are the stranger, you realize how huge the world is and how much of it you still haven’t seen.

Now I have no phone, save for this blog my electronic tie to the rest of you has been temporarily cut. But it was the relief and not the anxiety that hit me first. I have no phone for the first time in half a decade. A lot can happen in half a decade and, if it means anything, I’ve changed numbers three times for three different reasons since I first got a phone.

I got a phone for reasons that are different from the reasons for why I kept it. I got that phone from a good friend (in exchange for 2 prepaid cards) because I had a crush that I rarely ever saw, wanted to invite him to my birthday, and didn’t know how else to. I really kept it because in the time since I got it, texting became the easiest way to present a more interesting, more articulate version of myself. When I don’t have the luxury of editing myself in writing, I babble, I spew expletives; over the phone, I could at least be more pleasant even if it meant compromising a certain degree of authenticity (not the say the pleasantness was completely inauthentic).

Now that I don’t have a phone, I’m just a name and a face that vomits words, and disappears and resurfaces without the convenience of a number by which I can be tracked down. And as much as I’ll miss hearing from a lot of you (because honestly some people out there are just completely inane little cuntrags), I know I’m really going to enjoy this. At least while it lasts, and trust me it’s not going to last.

Besides, one less bill to pay is usually a good thing.

It’s Not a Condominium, it’s a 20-storey high Vacuum Cleaner

It seems that the current trend in gentrifying communities is to take people not just off the streets but above them. Take Makati, a classic example of the private sectors ongoing attempts at putting on a nice clean front for this third world backwater. There is NOTHING on the streets. People are connected from high rise to high rise by bridges so the cars have sole domination of the ground. Nobody lives close enough to the ground, except to guard what rises above, which shows how literally we’ve taken this whole idea of living the high life.

Now compare this to the rectum of Metro Manila–which could be a lot of places but let’s stick with Quiapo for the sake of convenience–where everything happens at street level. People are literally crowded into the urban avenues with the cars and the sewers and the smog. Not to romanticize the situation because it’s a hassle to have to move though this kind of cityscape each day.

Not to romanticize the situation, but honestly if it were just people on the ground, the city wouldn’t be so crowded, but it’s not just people, it’s buildings. and at this rate it seems like the people are just sharing the space with the buildings.

There’s something Malthusian about the rate at which private corporations are going to gentrify Makati. Seriously, these are places that charge rents that are more than quadruple what the average minimum wage earner in this country earns. These are areas that remind us of just how much ONE private corporation can afford to compensate for where the government falls short in its capacity to provide something as vital as housing. But looking at these areas, it’s like inverse socialism.

What we’re actually creating here is a microcosm of an ideal city life where, yes people are forced to live in an edgy proximity that fosters cultural growth. However the tastes catered to and the aesthetics being followed brazenly point to the choice private corporations have made to protect their own.

Why oh why god do I still bother?

Clothing Technology students are required to take watered-down business management classes so we don’t die when we’re released into the jungle that is the fashion industry. Like any self-respecting business class, we study cases. The first case study was about corporate social responsibilty, which should be relatively easy because the whole concept operates on universal ethics and adherence to the common good, right? RIGHT?

I will cut to the chase now. One of my classmates, who was a reporter for that case on that day, actually thought that aloe vera was a cactus. And that’s not even the sad part! The sad part is that he brought this up–he actually thought that this ridiculously inane bit of input that came from god only knows what region of his precambrian ass was relevant–because we were talking about environmentalism in the case of Colgate-Palmolive and that,
“Ah Palmolive, gumagamit ako nun. ‘Di ba minsan may mga picture picture sila ng cactus sa sachet. Eh di may ecological chorva naman sila nun ‘di ba?”

Dear god, I have been having an exhausting month. Between the week-long run-around Japan, my brother’s wedding, and the opening of the Simpsons movie next week, this moment of truth alone merits the labor of peeling my ass from the couch, flopping in front of the monitor and spewing a motherload of word vomit more substantial than:

“I have a sister-in-law! I love her long time!”
“Japan is fantastic! Wahooey!”

It’s things like this that teach you that there is so much more to life than regularly going to class in what is considered by some institionally biased assmunches as the most prestigious university in the country, because somehow no matter what training some of us get, some of us still have the intellectual capacity of Heart Evangelista on downers, and can actually get to junior year thinking that drawing a fucking plant on your fucking packaging makes you a fucking environmentalist.

Dry Season

In the country of the ochre afternoon
it is always still and hot, the dry leaves stirring
infrequently sometimes with the rattling pods
of what they call “women’s tongues,” in
the afternoon country the far hills are very quiet
and heat-hazed, but mostly in the middle
of the country of the afternoon I see the brown heat
of the skin of my first love, so still, so perfect,
so unaltered, and I see how she walked
with her sunburnt hands against the still sea almonds,
to a remembered cove, where she stood n a small dock–
that was when I thought we were immortal
and that love would be folded doves and folded ores
and water lapping against eroded stone
in the ochre country of the afternoon.

– Derek Walcott

It was friday night, and my officemates and I were sitting around a table in the McDonald’s on Paseo. We’re all dead tired, yet Jerry from C/S decides it’s a good time to talk about love like we’re on some inane late night radio show.
He asks our audio tech how he got past it. To which the tech replies, you just do. You find someone else, you forget, and voila, you heal. The whole idea of moving on is built around the notion that there is an actual cure for heartbreak, and that this cure occurs in the wake of forgetting. As if memory were an objective repository for misery (as well as other things of course).
Being the only girl at the table then, I had to answer the question as well: “What did I do to get past that last relationship that ended in heartbreak?”

I didn’t. That was my answer and that still is. Whatever pretenses I put on that I’m past anyone who broke my heart in the past, I’m not, and I don’t think I ever will be. It sounds pretty lame, but something chips away from inside you the minute you latch on to someone else. No matter how petty it was, with every part of you that is discovered in the context of a relationship, a part of you is taken away in its absence. In its place is a wound that is as much a part of your self as a mole on your chin or your lack of a vocabulary to describe the gravity of that kind of disappointment.