Friday, December 24, 2010

First Stanza of an Unfinished Poem

Wrote this "poem" after I first got 70% of my teaching salary. I felt it's not yet done... or is it? I don't know.

In my Wallet

A pen that marks blood and love
to lined yellow surfaces
is crushing my paper bills
like stacked leaves lying below
the school pavement, creeping
for the color of the soil.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Haiku Speech.

Last night, I attended a culmination activity for Sulat Dula 2 -- a playwriting workshop held at Xavier University. I was there to support kapwa Davaowenyos and former Davao Writers Workshop Fellows Hanna (from Ateneo de Davao) and Heny (from UP-Mindanao).

Anyhow, during the activity, one of the panelists Ametta Taguchi (Palanca Awardee for full length play) gave a short yet memorable message to all writers. She said:

"Love to write.
Write to Love.

It was like listening to a short yet meaningful haiku speech. ^_^ (Bow.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Within and Without.

Because sleep did not serve its purpose last night, I sought refuge in our old shelf. I looked at what was left there. My old books in order: Twain, Maugham, Wilde, Baker, Gogol, Sartre, Kafka, Miller, Austen, Dickens, Fitzgerald, Walker .. side by side with Japanese dictionaries, Spanish - English books, Dansk-Engelsk, Engelsk-Dansk, and my old, old Thesaurus.

I did not pick out any one of them. Instead, I stared blankly at a pocketbook of short stories. I freed it out from the dusty shelf. I started reading in random.

Knut Hamsun's "The Call of Life" about a young man wandering on the dark streets of Copenhagen where he met and made out with a woman who had just been widowed. 
"A man marries. His wife is thirty years younger than he. He contracts a lingering illness. One fair day he dies. And the young widow breathes a sigh of relief"
Ivan Bunin's "Sunstroke" about a fleeting romantic encounter of a lieutenant and a married woman on a ship.
"The breeze had died down, the room was stuffy and dry, as in a wind furnace... And he remembered yesterday and this morning precisely as if they had been ten years ago."
Johannes V. Jensen's "Lost Forests" about the relationship between the owner and his slave who sought freedom in the forest. 
"In such wise the slave's spirit was deepened. As his longing brought infinity into time, so his world became infinite, and his thoughts boundless. Every evening the slave  stared thoughtfully into the distant west, and each sunset brought more and more depth into his soul."
Then there's Herman Hesse. Oh yes, how could I forget. After many years, I reread one of my favorite stories: "Within and Without"
"There, in Erwin's beautiful script, he read the words: 'Nothing is without, nothing is within; for what is without is within'."
That  phrase caught me anew. Nothing is without, nothing is within; for what is without is within. I lingered at my favorite line, repeating it over and over. Finally, I acquired new understanding of the phrase which I found in the words of the character named Frederick:
"'Take this with you as my parting gift. When this thing that I am now placing in your hands ceases to be outside you and is within you, come to me again! If it remains outside you, the way it is now, then this parting of yours from me shall also be done forever!'" 
It was Hesse who once said, "There is no reality except the one contained within us". Very true. My life is my reality. What I am searching for is already within me.  I tried to alter that once... failed as I might... and as fleeting as it was...  within and without ---

there's love, I carry on.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Today @ Breakfast.

Poetry for breakfast and I'm full already -- in mind, in heart, and in consciousness. I'm just gonna post some of my favorite  poems. I read them again this morning -- like food, I devoured words. 
I thought that, before I leave Tagum, I should ponder upon my quest in life. I have to feed my soul with thoughts and constantly be reminded what my journey is for.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy & wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

A Thing Of Beauty
by: John Keats

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Love One Another
by: Khalil Gibran 

Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart.
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow

by: e e Cummings

If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
And measles were nice and a lie warn't a lie,
    Life would be delight,-
    But things couldn't go right    
    For in such a sad plight
I wouldn't be I.

If earth was heaven, and now was hence,
And past was present, and false was true,
    There might be some sense    
    But I'd be in suspense
    For on such a pretense
You wouldn't be you.

If fear was plucky, and globes were square,
And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee
    Things would seem fair,-
    Yet they'd all despair,
    For if here was there
We wouldn't be we.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Grounded on truism, my literature professor back at MSU-Iligan, Mr. Anthony Tan, once lectured that there are only three things to fulfill before one ceases to live: first is to write a book; second, to have children, and third is to plant a tree. Of course he was talking about leaving behind something to be remembered for, a legacy – so one could continue “living” even after life. I find this rather odd because the idea contradicts with what my mother preached when I was young: “once you’re dead, you’re nothing” – a mantra which, for me, meant that she sees no mystery in death but its inevitability.

In a film about death, Les Invasions Barbares, it seemed to me that the characters Rémy and his friends arrived on a final idea that no amount of isms could resolve the meaning of life, and that perhaps answers to questions of existence do not even matter. On the other hand, American author, Henry David Thoreau, justified his choice of living in the woods to live deliberately and “suck out all the marrow of life". He did not want to face death and discover that he had not lived.

Even I find it stimulating to mold and slowly polish my own take on the idea of death and meaning of existence. However, I believe that accumulating experiences to fine tune my beliefs requires moments of contemplation only gained when given the luxury of time to exist. A personal philosophy, like all things, is a constant flux – like a craft polished over time. It is this blank slate where we carve our own story during our lifetime. It is this exercise to train ourselves to look at things the way we see them.

For now, at twenty two, I believe in merging of great ideas and molding it to become one’s own, unique philosophy. I believe in the uniqueness of our own experiences that is dependent on the context we are in and the paths we choose to follow. Surely, Rémy and friends, Mr. Tan, Henry David Thoreau, and my mom attained their respective philosophies not necessarily because they subscribe to a great idea of existence, but because they feel life differently.

For me, isms are just general thoughts to constantly stir our consciousness. They exist mainly to be affirmed. I consider myself as merely subscribing to ready-made ideas of Atheism, Agnosticism, and Epicureanism (devotion to sensuous enjoyment) – recognizing, affirming, merging, and tailoring these philosophies to suit my own idea of living. However, I believe those who weren’t able to stumble upon existing ideologies and philosophies – such as people who are in straitened circumstances or deprived of education – are the ones who genuinely craft their meanings of existence. I find mystery in knowing how people crushed by misfortune and grief mold their personal philosophy. I aim to know how old people living in shelters dwell back on their past and come up with their almost final view of existence. I can almost envision the emergence of a field exploring individual conception of life.

In all these wonders about the richness of individual philosophy, I consider the subscription to a belief in God(s) to be the weakest form of personal philosophy. For one, it is a kind of belief instantly passed on from parents to children, further dictated by society and existing traditions. Another misfortune of theism is that it provides the easiest answer to the almost incomprehensible complexity of our existence. I cannot fathom how one can narrowly attribute everything to one stranger in the sky, to an ancient book, or to an oracle. This dependence of a ready-made conception of God can be equated to a lack of attempt to wonder, question, and create a genuine personal philosophy fit for an individual.

This leads me to ponder that perhaps the reasons why majority of people on earth subscribe to religion do so because it is an easy belief to digest and a comfortable idea to take hold. Most of all, it is widely available – seen through a symbolic representation of a church or a logo or a statue and practiced through prayers, songs, dances, and worships. It is this ease and comfort in providing an easy answer to existence that makes most people succumb to a theistic belief.

Most often, one of the attempts of my friends to shake my belief of non-believing is to tell me to look around and see how vastly wonderful things around us are. I agree, indeed beautiful, I’d tell them. Almost predictably from there, I would then be asked: so, do you ever wonder how all these have been made? I wonder of course, I’d answer, but because of the complexity of its beauty, I cannot give a fair easy answer. The thing is that my lifetime is not necessarily built on finding out how everything was made but why I am presented with such grandeur and what I should do to devour this privilege to exist.

My problem with theistic belief is that comfortably wearing one ultimate, tailor-made idea wears off easily overtime. It may be a comfortable dress to wear, so to speak, but ease deteriorates when one later realizes that he actually does not own his clothes. In this world, we started out naked but are normally capable of choosing our own clothes. We choose, mix, fit, and match from among the existing colors, designs, and styles of wardrobes in our closet. We pick our clothes depending on our surrounding conditions. Believers are comfortable in their uniformed attires. Subscribers to an ideology suit their attire based on what exist in their closets. Non-believers make their own clothes.

From this wardrobe philosophy, I’d say: I currently wear different tones of green; meaning I see life manifesting itself in music and nature. Morning walks, for instance – I love to smell the wounds of freshly cut grasses and feel heavy fogs brushing against my skin, while I hear classical music coming from the earmuffs of my mp3. For me, existence is painted in the sky – seen through how it changes colors with every step I take.

This is how I dress myself for now – in different tones of green.

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