Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tonight, everything will change

Two years
is too long
to ward sadness
to a corner.
A sword
of anger
a shield
of resilience
they break
not quickly
yet
they
break.
Tonight I bid
a fare-thee-well
to the red mistress; the saint of fire,
and succumb
to sorrow. Dear sorrow. Sweet sorrow.
You have waited too long.
Come in, patient goddess.
Stay. Teach me a different song, a blue song, a soft song
a song without a cadence
but a flow.
Not a parade, but a dance
the last dance
in an empty hall;
I remember you.
How can I forget you were there
on a Saturday, when the sun shone through
wispy
curtains.
You were there
in a bus stop
watching her eyes grow smaller
and smaller
until
they
stopped looking
altogether.
You were there
on the carpeted floor
a day past Christmas
as everything
lost hue, which I did not know was possible.
I drove you out.
But I remember you.
We move well together.
And you dress
ever
so
impeccably.

How are you today?

That sweet spot.

“You know,

all this time we were together you never asked me if I loved you.”

“I didn’t wanna hear you lie.”

Isang oda para sa minamahal kong si Melanie

Nagkakilala kami sa isang rally.
Bago lang kami sa UP nu’n. Ang totoo nga niyan mga freshie lang kami, katatakas pa lang mula sa mga mapagbantay na mga mata ng mga nanay namin (pareho kaming wala nang tatay), kaya masayang mag-eksperimento. Sa isang raling nananaawgang baguhin ang sistema at palayain ang sambayanan, kaming dalawa lang ‘ata ‘yung nakangiti.Kumakain s’ya ng rasyon ‘nung una ko s’yang makita. May mga pinamimigay kasi ‘yung mga madreng sumama. Mga sandwich at itlog na sila mismo ang nagluto. Nakaupo s’ya sa sidewalk, at tumabi ako sa kanya.

Hindi ko naman talagang gawain ‘yun. ‘Yung tatabi na lang bigla sa isang babaeng maganda na hindi ko naman kilala tapos kakausapin. Siguro nga aalis din ako bigla kung ‘di niya lang ako inalok ng itlog.

“Gusto mo ng itlog? Hindi ko na ‘ata makakain ‘tong sa’kin. Sa’yo na lang.” Sabi n’ya.

“Ha?” sinagot ko, parang tanga.

Tumawa s’ya ng konti tapos sabi n’ya, “Sa’yo na lang ‘tong itlog ko. Naubusan na kasi, e.”

Naging sentro ka ng aking pagkatao.

Ganu’n nagsimula ‘yung pag-uusap namin. Tinanggap ko ‘yung itlog, tapos nag-usap kami tungkol sa rali. Tulad ko, hindi rin naman s’ya madalas maki-martsa sa lansangan. Sa totoo nga, dati iritang-irita raw s’ya ‘dun sa mga mahilig magrali. Ang iingay raw. Parang ambabaho, taops hindi na nag-aaral.

Oo nga, e, sabi ko. Parang magkakamukha na sila. Bakit ka naman sumama ngayon? Tinanong ko.

Nagkibit-balikat lang s’ya tapos kumagat ulit sa sandwich. “Sobra na kasi talaga,” sabi n’ya, “ngayon, parang kapanipaniwala na ‘yung mga aktibista.”

“Napanood mo ba ‘yung trial sa TV? Parang ‘di totoo, ‘no?” dagdag n’ya, medyo puno pa ang bibig.

“Hindi ako nanunuod ng TV. Sumama lang talaga ako kasi may nag-alok sa’kin, taops sumama yung buong block ko. Hindi ko rin naman talaga masyadong naiintindihan, pero tingin ko na rin kailangan nang palitan ‘yung presidente. Sumosobra na s’ya.”

Tapos nun biglang nagtayuan ‘yung mga tao. May bago yatang magsasalita sa entablado.
“Erap Resign! Erap Resign!” sabay-sabay na sinigaw ng mga tao. ‘Yung iba, nakataas ang mga kaliwang kamao. ‘Yung iba kumukuha ng litrato. Meron ding nagpapakuha ng litrato. Pero lahat sila sabay-sabay nang magsigawan.

“Erap Resign! Erap Resign!”

Ang naisip ko nun para kang nakatayo sa harapan ng isang bus tapos biglang fi-null blast ng bwakanang-inang driver ‘yung busina. Ang lakas, parang rock concert.

Parang lindol.

Namalayan ko na lang na nawala na s’ya. Nilamon na nung libo-libong mga nagdidikdikang mga tao taops mag-isa na naman ako.

“Para kang tanga,” sabi ko sa sarili ko. “Hindi ka naman nag-iisa ‘di ba kasama mo nga yung buong block mo?”

Nahanap ko nga rin sila, yung mga kaklase ko, pero s’ya, hindi na.

At du’n, sa gitna ng isang pag-aalsa, sa gitna ng mahigit-kumulang dalawang milyong nagsisigawang mga tao, sa harapan ng kasaysayang bumubuka, naramdaman ko kung pa’no nga ba ang tunay na maging mag-isa. Nakisabay ako sa daloy ng mga tao, pero parang nawawala pa rin.

Hinahanap ka.

Naaalala mo pa ba ‘yun, Melanie? At nagkita ulit tayo, mga isang taon matapos ang pag-aalsa (Ang labo ‘no? sa liit ng UP…). Para akong nasunog sa tingin mo nung nagkasalubong tayo sa may AS. Ibinaba ko agad yung mga mata ko, hindi mo naman siguro ako maaalala. Pero tinapik mo ang aking braso tapos nginitian mo ako. Wala na sigurong mas gaganda pa sa ngiti mo.

“Di ba ikaw ‘yung sumama dun sa rally?” tinanong mo.

“Ako nga.” Sinagot ko.

Inalok mo ang iyong kamay tapos sinabi mo, “Hindi man lang ako nakapagpakilala. Ako si Melanie.”

Ang gandang pangalan. Melanie, Melanie, Melanie.

“Ako naman si Bong.” Pakilala ko naman. Napatawa ka nang konti, at nagtaka ako.

“Hindi ko kasi maintindihan kung pa’no nagiging ‘Bong’ ang isang tao.” Paliwanag mo. “Yung Roberto, nagiging ‘Bong’, yung Carlo nagiging ‘Bong’. May kakilala nga ako dating Tom, pero ‘Bong’ yung tawag sa kanya. Parati tuloy siyang asar-talo sa school.”

(Hanggang sa maghiwalay tayo ay hindi ko nga nasabi sa’yo ang totoo kong pangalan. Pero hindi ito Bong, at ako mismo hindi sigurado kung pa’no ako naging ganun. Ilang beses mo rin akong kinulit pero ayokong sabihin sa’yo. Simula pa lang kasi pinagtawanan mo na ang palayaw ko.)

Kumain tayo sa Rodic’s pagkatapos. Nilibre mo ako. Merong maliit na boses na bumubulong sa utak ko na sinasabing baka may crush ka sa akin. Pero hindi, sabi ko. Imposibleng magkagusto sa akin ang isang katulad mo.

Nag-usap ulit tayo, parang dati. Madami nang nagbago. Sa’yo, hindi sa akin. Ako, nandun pa rin sa buhay na sandaling tumigil nung pag-aalsa. Nag-aaral. Naghahabol ng tres. Nanununod ng sine, padate-date, pagimik-gimik. Pero ikaw? Ikaw ibang tao ka na.

Kinwento mo yung mga napuntahan mo pang mga rali. Sa US embassy, sa senado, sa may Mendiola. Na-water cannon ka na, nabatuta ng pulis, natapakan ka ng mga umaatras na kapwa ralyista. Nahuli ka na nga, e, pinagmalaki mo. Habang nagva-vandal sa may V. Luna. Nung ini-interrogate ka ng barangay at sabi mo binayaran ka lang, tapos hindi mo kilala yung nagbayad. Basta intsik siya, may dimples, tsaka guwapo.

Kamukhang-kamukha ni Rico Yan.

Hindi ko rin naman matandaan ngayon yung mga sumunod na nangyari. Basta isang linggo pagkatapos nu’n nandun na tayo sa apartment ko, magkasama. Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala sa suwerte ko, habang pinapanood na gumapang ang araw sa natutulog mong mukha. Humikab ka tapos tinanong mo kung humilik ka. Sabi ko hindi ko napansin kasi mahimbing din ang tulog ko.

Pero alam mo, Melanie, humilik ka. Humilik ka at napansin ko dahil halos gabi-gabing magkasama tayo wala akong ginawa kundi panoorin kang matulog. Minsan nananaginip ka pa nga. Minsan tungkol sa akin, minsan naman tinatawag mo ang nanay mo. At minsan, minsan parang nagtuturo ka. Hindi ko pa naiintindihan nu’n pero yung tinuturo mo parang parating may “rebolusyon”, “masa”, tsaka “kalayaan.”

Ah, Kalayaan.

Parang Malaya na rin ako habang kasama kita, Melanie. Ang ganda-ganda ng boses mo habang naggigitara ko. Kinakanta mo yung “Strawberry Fields” tsaka “Ang Huling El Bimbo.” Parang wala nang problema sa mundo. Parang wala nang nagugutom, wala nang nagkakasakit, wala nang nahihirapan, wala nang nagpapahirap.

Ah, Kalayaan.

Nang tumagal-tagal napansin kong hindi ka na madalas pumasok. Minsan na lang kitang abutan sa apartment. Buhay aktibista nga naman, sinabi ko sa sarili ko. At iiwanan ko na sana dun, hanggang hinatak mo ako isang araw at dinala sa may Katipunan. May limang tao sa loob ng Starbuck’s, masayang nagtatawanan at umiinom ng tig-80 pesos na kape. Tapos sa labas may isang batang babae, may hawak na plastik at baso na may lamang maitim na instant pansit sa loob. Lumapit tayo at namalimos ang bata. Ang baho niya. “Ayan,” sinabi mo, “ang estado ng ating lipunan.”

“At ano naman ang gusto mong gawin natin? Umiyak tapos gumawa ng mga malulungkot na tula tsaka kanta?” irap ko. Umiling ka, at natawa ulit ng kaunti.

“Tapos na ang panahon ng malulungkot na kanta, Bong,” sinagot mo, “kailangan na nating lumaban.”

Ang tanga-tanga ko, Melanie. Lagi akong nagagalit sa’yo ‘pag ganyan kang magsalita. Nagpapakatibak ka na naman. Ang tanga-tanga ko. Mamamaalam ka na pala. Paakyat dyan, dyan sa mga bundok ng Ilocos. Gusto mo palang ipaliwanag sa akin kung bakit. Gusto mo palang sabihin na mahal mo ako pero may mga bagay na dapat pang gawin, mga labang nangangailangan pa ng sundalo.

Ang laban para sa kalayaan.

Naaalala pa rin kita madalas. Para akong sinusuntok sa sikmura tuwing naririnig ko yung “Strawberry Fields”, tsaka “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (na paborito rin nga pala natin). Napapatigil, natutulala sandali.

‘Wag kang masyadong matapang, Melanie. Kung naubusan kana ng bala, tumakbo ka na. Kung kaya na ng mga kasama mo wag ka nang sumugod, dun ka na lang sa likod. Kung napapagod ka, humingi ka ng leave, taops puntahan mo ako ditto. Padadalhan kita ng Off lotion para hindi ka masyadong lamukini, ang dali mo pa namang magpantal.

Alam mo, sumasama na rin ako sa mga rali ngayon, kasabay nung mga kasama mong naiwan dito. Nabatuta na rin ako tsaka na-water cannon. Pero hindi pa ako nahuhuli. Kaya ka pala umalis, Melanie. Dito sa labang ito walang hipokrito, walang pa-kyut. Hindi tulad nung rali kung san tayo nagkakilala. Dito walang naghihirap, kasi maski walang pera, panatag naman ang loob mo na tama ang ginagawa mo.

Madalas taong magtalo nun, naalala mo? At dahil gago ako at mabait ka, lagi akong nananalo. Pero ngayon, Melanie, panalo ka. Tapos na nga ang panahon para malungkot. Kailangan na nga nating lumaban. Sapagkat ang oda palang ito’y isang pagpupugay.

Mag-iingat ka dyan, nag-iipon pa rin ako ng tapang na sumunod, pero mukhang matagal pa ‘yun. Balikan mo na lang muna ako.

Nagmamahal, maghihintay,

Manuel.

Sikreto

Kinikilig ako sa’yo.

Sitsiritsit

Alibangbang.

‘That’ UCLA girl and the new racism.

So I’m pretty sure you’ve heard all about it.

Alexandra shown here, speaking the ancient Asian tongue of Ching-chong-ling-long.

A white student from UCLA gets on the webcam one regular afternoon and decides to share her annoyance towards the monolithic race-culture that is known as  ‘The Asian’.

What follows is a tragic mix of 1930’s ‘ching-chong’  taunts, a putdown of the survival skills of Asian youth, a half-hearted attempt to sympathy for Japanese tsunami victims, and a condescending ‘welcome-to-America’ instruction on ‘American manners’ (the dog-whistle here being that ‘American’ is synonymous to ‘white’, since Asians and other cultural groups are apparently excluded from these manners, regardless of US citizenship).

Tellingly, miss Wallace shares that her annoyance stems from her upbringing as a ‘polite, nice American girl’.

If we believe this to be true (and we do, since nice, polite American girls do not lie), we can trace her bigoted world view to her parents. By extension her immediate family, by extension her friends (which we can only assume includes Asians, since she took the effort to exclude them from her rant), and by extension the circle of acquaintances she keeps.

One 3-minute video then becomes more than a singular youthful miscalculation, but a glimpse at the entire segment of the American population that she inhabits. It chills me to think that in this segment, miss Wallace’s views are not extraordinary, but the unspoken norm.

And in there seethes a different strain of racism. It is not your father’s racism, mind you, the one that lets loose dogs on protesters and hangs men on trees. Instead, it is the racism that tries to excuse itself with “I’m not racist but”. The one that prides itself of its hateful garbage because it is somehow a protest against the perceived tyranny of political correctness.

While the racism of old was a humoungous, armored beast, the racism of today is a snake that hides in the grass. It is slippery, and it has many holes to hide in. Our struggle against this form of racism may no longer be in streets and barricades, but in every person that we meet. It is no longer a matter of bringing it down, but a matter of denying it safe haven.

An indictment of Alexandra is an indictment of every person who did not challenge her ignorance. It is an indictment of our society and mass media that did not widen her horizons and gave her the impression that her anecdotal experience is enough to demean entire races and cultures. This is not to say that Alexandra committed no fault; it simply means that too many of us are at fault with her.

There is no telling how this will affect Alexandra Wallace, the individual. Unfortunately, in the age of Google, whether she genuinely sees and understands her bigotry or not, her reputation may already be forever tarnished (unless, perhaps, another Alexandra Wallace comes by and accomplishes something great, or commits a bigger blunder). I would assume that the greatest distraction from her finals are no longer Asians in the library, but the death threats she is now subjected to.

She has now issued an apology. But like all apologies bourne from scandal, only she would know if she is apologizing for something she now knows to be wrong, or if she is apologizing for being caught.

Meanwhile, please donate to the relief efforts for the Japanese tsunami by clicking on the poster. Designed by Dan at http://twistedfork.me/

Either way, I wish her well. If we are all children of our societies then Alexandra is our sister. Perhaps the best way forward would be to forgive but never forget, and purge our own bigotries before we, in turn, make fools of ourselves in front of the world.

The Last Airbender: Killing kittens and making babies cry.

:(

Soul-crushingly horrible

I never, ever, in a million years, would have though I would utter the words “I should’ve seen Twilight instead”.

I should’ve seen Twilight instead.

We were lining up for “Eclipse” when I changed my mind. I’ve sworn, sworn not to see the live-action remake of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” after hearing that it cast, for no apparent reason, white actors for implicitly Asian roles. But then again, I am also a forever-scarred veteran of two Twilight films. And that’s two Twilight films too many.

And so, in my eternal folly, I decided to hand M Night Shymalan the benefit of the doubt.

Now I’ve always been a staunch defender of M Night. I appreciated the multiple layers he laid on “The Village” and “Signs”. Unlike everybody else, I didn’t fall asleep to “Unbreakable” and was among those that insisted that “Lady in the water” was being misread as a horror flick and should instead be interpreted as a fantasy film (and I tend to use the term ‘film’ very loosely).

Mower > Sweater guy

Should've done it to the movie instead.

Ok so “The Happening” should’ve done us all a huge favor and got under the mower instead but hey, here’s an Asian director, making his way through whitewashed Hollywood with strange Jiujitsu-style endings so you know what?What’s one stinker among friends?

M Night, we are no longer friends.

I could’ve forgiven the let’s-put-white-actors-in-because-Asians-playing-Asian-roles-are-a-vote-against-diversity idea, (what?) if the said white actors could ACT.

Come on, man, if you’re gonna do this dissing thing, at least leave a little of our dignity and find some GOOD white actors to play us. Or at least have the decency to send them to friggin’ ACTING CLASSES. You want to give the role to the “best actors” instead of the most racially-compatible ones? I can respect that. Hey, maybe it’s a coincidence that the three “best actors” you can find just all happened to be white, hey that’s cool too. But your kids (and I’m not counting Dev Patel, who’s great) got nothin’ going on. Nada. Zilch. Wala. I don’t know where you got them, but all of them put together ain’t no Haley Joel Osment. Which makes me wonder why you insisted on putting them there in the first place. Why, M Night, WHY?

And I’m not about to blame it entirely on them. I’m laying this mostly on you, bro. Your script didn’t give them much to work with. The snotty kid who sat beside me in second grade can come up with a better script than that tripe you threw at us. Wait, you know what? It wasn’t tripe. Tripe is nice. If you threw tripe at me I’ll eat it. I won’t eat your script. It just ain’t worth it. STOP. WRITING. Don’t ever write a movie again. Ever. Please.

* * *

Now this one’s for you, movie fan. If you haven’t seen it, and you do have that extra ten bucks to see a movie, heed my words: DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. Go see something else. Are there any slasher flicks available? Are they re-running Aliens vs. Predator? Watch that.

aliensvspredator

Officially better than Shaymalan's "Airbender". Which is so impossible, but also true.

While you’re at it, DO NOT WAIT FOR IT ON DVD. Or Netflix. Or Piratebay. Or anywhere. The bytes in your hard drive are too valuable. So is your time. If you ever feel the urge, the small itch of curiosity to maybe watch the first five minutes and give it a chance DON’T. Do the laundry. Or the dishes. Spend more time with your kids. This movie can give you friggin’ cancer.

And sure you can dismiss this as “Hey it’s just another Asian dude ragging on Airbender”. But let me tell you this: remember this post as you walk sideways down that sticky aisle, your ego completely deflated and dangling only by the thinnest of threads. Remember this post as you drag your ravaged soul down those dark stairs while the credits play and you’re wondering what went wrong in your life.

Remember this post and understand that I warned you about “The Last Airbender” not because I wish Shaymalan ill, but because I love you. I love you, man. And I’m not angry, just really, really disappointed.