Wednesday, December 01, 2010

memory 1

we were out constantly when we were kids. my mom and papa took us all over. it stopped when B was in his teens. maybe earlier. i don't know why.

but when A and i were small, i remember going to paco park a lot. my mom and papa got married there, in the small chapel. st pancratius chapel, i think it's called. she wore a gown of old lace and a yellow belt. and three-inch stack heels with a snub nose. she still has those shoes today.

we went even before ali was born; my mom and i have a photo sitting on one of the benches, A still in her womb. later, when A came, i remember me, papa, and her taking walks all around the park. over the walls, skipping on rizal's marker.

one day, while my mom was hearing mass, my papa drew the church for us. he signed it, "to googoo and A, love papa." and the date. i still have it somewhere. he drew it with a charcoal pencil; the christmas before, they gifted me and ali with a pack of magic markers and sketchpads. tiny japanese branded markers in a plastic case. i knew it didn't cost much, but it was what they could afford then. i was only three or four but could feel their heartache at not being able to give us something more. my own heart twitches even now, seeing myself hold the markers in my small hands. 

i also remember a trip to la union. i was much older, maybe 10 or 11. it was a sigma rho outing and my papa brought us along. now that i think about it, he was probably the only sigma rhoan who brought his family--maybe mom forced him again. we were billeted in an inn--those non-fuss, un-fancy ones with large rooms, basic beds, icky blue paint, and a clean bathroom. i can see my mom sitting in bed, reading. she's in a blouse and in her slip, and i get so mad, flare up so large and rapidly inside when our driver opens the door without knocking. my mom covers herself up quickly. eddie apologizes and says something in ybanag. later, we go down and check out the party. my mom stays behind and ali and i go up. the door is unlocked. i push A behind me, enter first, half-crouching, half-walking in a karate stance. as if i knew karate. nothing is out of place, no predators to karate chop. we lock the door and go to bed. 

outside, the carousing continues. i remember us seeing a woman dressed in black, made up like a model, in the hallway. she's beautiful. we stare. we never saw women like that in our world.

the next morning, we take breakfast by the poolside. my papa and i are taking a walk, and i remember asking him, 'what does putang ina mean?' he doesn't answer me directly, he just says it's something i'm too young to say. we also talk about how the catholic church, in its twisted way, makes the poor feel good about being poor, so they stay poor. it's not dignity at all, it's just annoying, soap opera shit. "blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven," or something like that. around the breakfast table, talk is also of religion. pastor D, one of papa's brods says, "isn't this nice. it's a sunday and we're talking about God. what a great way to start the day."

by the pool, a young woman with the features of a mongoloid is unrobing. she's down to her bra and panties. someone calls out to her and asks what the hell she's doing. she puts her hand on her waist and juts her hip out. "bakit, sexy naman ako a!" then she dives into the pool.

until today, when A and i want to have a good laugh, we say: "bakit, sexy naman ako a!"

Saturday, August 07, 2010

come visit my tumblr blog

i've been posting more regularly on my tumblr, vivalogos.tumblr, and started a new blog with yahoo southeast asia ( i realized tumblr's more user-friendly when it comes to posting photos, and well, yahoo pays me. haha. so come, check me out :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

lost...and well, lost. full stop.

i just realized something.

when he was happy, or claimed to be, he hid it.

there are two things a man cannot hide, goes a saying: a cough, and if he is in love.

he was very good at hiding the latter.

but when things got bad, and sour, he showed it immediately. the silence. the facebook posts. the bitterness of his actions and his words.

"sino yan," he asked M, when M answered one of my phone calls. he himself wouldn't pick up his phone, and M hadn't had a stroke yet then, and being his neighbor, was my nearest link to him. "kung si Gina lang yan, ayokong kausapin."

when in love with me--or so he claimed--he couldn't even hold my hand in public. never kissed me in public. never took my photo. couldn't introduce me properly to his son, his parents, his uncles, his friends. like a dumb fool i always stood back, an insipid smile on my face, telling myself how endearing his cruelty was.

he only posted "in a relationship" on facebook last December, when he finally felt i would really leave him.

today, he took down that status. after two months of silence and yes, bitter messages and actions.

i think i owe it to myself to feel bad. just a little. as a friend recently posted on twitter, 'the only things that should be kept bottled up are wine and vinegar.'

i always felt love--as well as grief (even if only temporary)--should be uncorked. grief and despair from the slaves of the US south were sung into the air and permeated the air, absorbed by the leaves, swallowed by the great trunks of trees, seeped into the soil, only to find life again and consumed by the same people who would give the world the greatness of blues and honkytonk.

and love is only alive and well if it is expressed in a way the beloved understands and appreciates.

i tried to make it flourish, i really did, by asking for the many little and myriad forms with which i could store it in, in my humble understanding. forms in which i could store away in my memory--i wasn't even asking for anything to be stored in my fucking jewelry box--to be pulled out and take a whiff at, when needed.

i guess--well, i know now--that he couldn't give those things because he hid them so well, and for so long, he's forgotten where he put them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


when i was in high school, the nuns taught us how to sit.

well, not really the nuns, but our home economics teacher did. and she could have very well been a nun. slightly overweight, with a low, tiny twitter that she hid behind a fan. she once told us that when having sex--oh, excuse me, making love--with our future husbands, we should always disrobe with THE LIGHTS OFF.

sit perched on the edge of the seat. legs set diagonally, one heel tucked behind the other, hands on one hip. 'like Gloria Diaz,' she says.

that's stayed with me for the past 20 years. i automatically sit like this when i'm working or in a meeting, or in a social event--then i gradually slacken and sprawl as i get more and more comfortable.

it is like this that i sit at a coffee house as i wait for simone and her friends at the mall. my laptop is in front of me, and as i look up, i see sim and her friends rush past. a group of adolescent girls, in straight-cut jeans, graphic tees, harajuku/kipling/gap bags slung over their skinny shoulders. the boys follow, ambling clumsily but trying to look trés cool behind their female counterparts.

they like to say i'm "cool", this young, happy crowd. "simone, your mom's a PRO," they say. that, in 13-year-old-speak, is "awesome".  they even add me on facebook.

my breath catches in my throat as i see them run by. if only they knew how scared i feel sometimes, how tender and worried i feel about their futures.

i am still seated that way, back straight and legs crossed like a 1960s beauty queen, as the last of them disappears from my view, and i feel like i'm going to cry.

very uncool.

Friday, April 09, 2010

simone and her secret to happiness

we are in the car, simone and i. she had just completed the Yes! course of Art of Living Foundation, a four-day course tailored for teens (meditation and yoga, as well as age-appropriate issues self-esteem, peer pressure, etc., are tackled). Simone is not yet a teen--she'll turn 13 in June--but, according to her tita dona (and i totally agree), Sim has been through much in her young life. her emotions, questions about God, and outlook surpass most kids'.

she is visibly exhausted. her hair, matted by sweat from the 36-degree-Celsius heat outside (and from doing 40 full rounds of surya namaskaras), sticks to the contours of her face. the car's aircon is a relief.

"mommy, what makes people hate other people?"

the question floors me, because the answers seem so obvious. because people hurt each other. they lie, cheat, steal. they backbite and connive to take power away from one another; they snatch away what the other loves and values; they are selfish.

what i tell her, though, is different. "we hate when we feel the other is apart from us, outside of us. different from us. not part of what we love, our experience, our life." i try to figure out where this is coming from, and i realize Sim has so much to learn.

"did they teach you about the God consciousness, that everything is One?"

"no, not really..." she says.

"that God's love makes us One. my consciousness is a part of yours, and yours, mine, and mine, Ranie's (the driver's), his, yours. when we feel apart from that One-ness, we hate."

she nods. "yeah, i think i understand."

dozens more thoughts and words run through my head, but they're too quick for me to catch and express out loud.

so instead: "what did you feel during meditation? did you cry?" she told me earlier that one of her classmates had cried.


"no? why?"

"i have no problems."

i find this surprising. i'm beaming inside, but i'm wondering: "you don't consider not knowing your dad a problem?"

"no. i just don't care."

"whoa. that's worse than hating."

"no, i care," she explains. "i'd care if he got hurt. or if something happened to him. but i just...don'"


my daughter may still have many more questions to ask, and things to learn, but i think she's pretty much okay where she is.