Friday, March 26, 2010

Tender. Sweet. Sophisticated.

If I were asked to describe this past year, I would without any hesitation answer that the last 365 days were centered on just one word: ORDINARY. Wanting it, struggling for it and falling back into it. For every step I took and all the challenges that crossed (and are still coming) my way marked the importance i.e. the fundamental desire and need to just be and feel ordinary. And by this it is not necessarily implied what is often characterized as normal (because giving a direct definition to this word is still, in my opinion, too hard and absolutely way too personal). What is insinuated looks more into the simplicity, the happiness and the basics that truly matter. “How ordinary” gave meaning to my life!

Most of us live by the famous quote “Carpe Diem: seize the day”: to live life to the fullest, to live this day as if it were our last! Although this statement appears to be so very obvious, it may nevertheless sometimes be put aside and perhaps even taken for granted. Yet we can undoubtedly still judge the relevance of this philosophy and say how very much inspired we are by it; for this motto must be one of the few untouchable truths in this world. We are aware of the fact that any moment could be our last. This conversation could be our last words spoken. This song could be the last we’ll dance to. And that sunset could be the last we’ll ever see. The last… everything. Today, like every day, I remember the impact of “this could be the last…” I remember what it feels to be short of breath. I remember how it is to go through the fear of leaving this life behind. Today, I remember.

… But today, like every day, I also, most importantly, remember to praise GOD for every new “first” He has granted me. My first blink of an eye was a driving force to catching my breath. My first meal made me realize how much I hunger for life. My first shower taught me that even the most essential things can be the highlight of one’s day. I remember my first smile, my first laugh, my first walk, my first dance and that very first sunrise I was able to witness. Today, I am reminded how and why my first… everything took such a significant turn: the one of the ever greatest joys and gratefulness. Many firsts came easily but others required more patience and effort. And there are a lot of them I am still whole-heartedly wishing to experience. As a door closed, another one opened, giving shape to a different – better, deeper, clearer - perspective. “How ordinary” gave meaning to my life!

Recognizing our blessings in the ordinary makes the “small”, the even smaller” and evidently, the “bigger” become so very special and unforgettable. And I came to the conclusion that every existing adjective as every sensational, magnanimous and extraordinary feeling is but a tender, sweet and of course, sophisticated expression of our appreciation for the ordinary. Everything starts from there as we get to perceive it, not with our senses, but with the heart. Today, every single day, I remember.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Every time
you stand so close to the edge,
Do not look into the depth of your sorrows.
Lift your eyes to the vast beauty of the sky.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Peace be with you

The day we will finally live in a peaceful world is when we can dislike each other with respect.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The learning curve

It is always hard to turn the page -- especially if it is a chapter you truly loved.
But do leave with a happy heart as you take pride in the experiences you accumulated, the friendships you made and the new tools you learned along the way. Let this new chapter begin, with absolutely no chagrin. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Behind this perfect smile,
A fragile soul in denial.

Though ridiculously time consuming,
Frustration remains an elusive thing.

Pretending all the time,
Now a real habit of mine.

Who goes through a rough patch,
Tires of standing still soon enough.

Moments with a treasured friend,
Stranger’s heart is on the mend.

I do not hold back my tears any longer,
With you, no need to push any further.

You feel my hands that are cold,
In your warm embrace, I unfold.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On F. Sionil Jose


A Review of Francisco Sionil Jose (1924-), a Filipino novelist, short-story writer, poet, editor.

"Born in Rosales, Pangasinan, a poor rural province on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, he was one of five children of an impoverished landless family. José studied as a medical student at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, and began writing in 1949. He supported his studies by selling stories and journalistic pieces and graduated in English literature. A journalist for much of his life, he worked in increasingly important editorial positions for The Commonweal, the United States Information Service in Manila, The Manila Times Sunday Magazine, Progress, Comment, and The Asia Magazine in Hong Kong (as managing editor). He was also correspondent to The Economist from 1968 to 1969. in these positions and as a member of the Filipino diplomatic corps, he moved with his family to many international posts. José taught at the University of the East Graduate School (1974) and at De La Salle University (1984-5) and received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Philippines in 1992.

José's background of peasant poverty is central to his themes, whether as journalist, editor, or fiction writer. Many of his editorial essays are concerned with land reform and social justice and have become increasingly pro-feminist. His later publications have dealt more with the crisis of poverty and corruption, especially centred in Manila, that afflicts the increasingly urbanized Filipino population.

José's first published novel, The Pretenders, appeared in 1962, and his first collection of short stories, The God Stealer and Other Stories, in 1968. In 1966 José founded Solidarity, a journal devoted to publishing on ideas and cultures from Southeast Asia. In his position as Solidarity editor he has published essays, his own and those of others, that are critical of state corruption and push for further democratic and progressive reforms in the Philippines. But it wasn't until he founded his bookstore and art gallery Solidaridad (in 1967) that he was able to concentrate on his writing career. Since then, he has published prolifically. His publications include two novellas (Two Filipino Women, 1981, and Three Filipino Women, 1992), eight novels, a book of poems (Questions, 1988), and four short-story collections: The God Stealer and Other Stories, Waywaya, Eleven Filipino Short Stories (1980), Platinum, Ten Filipino Stories (1983), and Olvidon and Other Short Stories (1988). He is best known for his five-novel narrative cycle of Filipino characters, conflicts, and history --- the Rosales quintology --- comprising The Pretenders, Tree (1978, first serialized as The Batete Tree in 1956), My Brother, My Executioner (1979), Mass (1982), and Po-on (1984). Other novels include Ermita (1988) and Gagamba (1991).

[...] José's works have been translated into twenty-two languages. His steady literary production, the steadfastness of his commitment to a vision of social justice simultaneously produced with a tragic sense of human corruption, and his elegiac celebrations of the natural world have brought him deserved national and international acclaim. Acknowledging him in The New York Review of Books as 'the foremost Filipino novelist in English', Ian Buruma also underscores the breadth of José's appeal. Paradoxically, even as José has worked and reworked the myths of Filipino national identity, he has become the Philippines first internationally recognized writer."[Source:Shirley Lim, José, Frankie Sionil (1924-) from Routledge Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English All other material © Routledge 1994.]

F. Sionil Jose is my favorite author and a true inspiration to me. As a novelist, his style is genuine: the themes and plots are captivating -- critical and subtle but progressive and smart; his characters are intriguing and complex but full of life -- and you cannot help but wish to understand them, get to know them. His story telling is, in my opinion, sheer perfection. I think there's nothing better for an author than to captivate his/her readers the exact way that he/she desires to captivate them. I not only managed to get, through his books, articles and essays, a closer look into the history, the artistic and cultural background of the Philippines, but once again, I am simply mesmerized by his talent and his dedication. He made a change. Being an aspiring writer myself, Francisco Sionil Jose has moved me in more ways than one. 

I have been reading his work for many years now (short stories, novels, novellas, articles, essays...) and it was an honor -- a half-dream come true -- to enter his store "Solidaridad" for the first when I went back home to the Philippines in 2009. I was supposed to have lunch with him. The best thing about it is that he was excited to meet me as well. The pressure was on. Unfortunately, for personal reasons, I finally couldn't get to it. Nevertheless, I'm preparing for this very awaited lunch very soon, and that's the second half of my dream. Hopefully it will become a reality soon enough.

Francisco Sionil Jose is someone I look up to and who pushes me to strive for more, to pursue my dreams, to keep on believing that nothing in this world is impossible... Because of him, all I want to do is improve my writing.

For every bookworm (or not), filipino or not, F. Sionil Jose's works of art are every bit worth reading . I recommend the Rosales quitology, Gagamba, Three Filipino Women, and my personal favorite: Ermita. Get mesmerized like me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Goose bumps

When a moment becomes yours. When the outside world stops for you. When you can hold a feeling so tightly in your hands, almost believing that an emotion could suddenly be materialized. It is at times like these when it’s undeniable why desires and passion are worth… everything.