GM (Gwapo Moves)

(Davao Filipino flash fic)

Pwede gud sana kita i-test. Kung i-text kita ng kunyari GM pero ikaw lang pala nakatanggap: ‘Friends, if you were forced to sleep with me, luodan kayo?’ Kung magreply ka may pag-asa ako as iyo.

Pero matalino ka, mahalata mo kaagad.

At kilala mo ko. Alam mo na alam ko matalino ka, alam mong alam ko mahalata mo. Alam mo na pag hindi ka magreply, malaman ko na hindi mo lang giignore yung GM, gidedma mo talaga ako. Hindi lang test ang text sa iyo, tanong na masagot ng oo kung magreply ka, hindi kung hindi. Mapilitan ka maging honest.

Pero ayoko din pilitin ka ng ganyan. Hindi fair sa iyo, kay kung hindian mo ako mapilitan kang maging suplada. Kung plano mo man ako hindian, may karapatan ka na maging mabait sa paghindi. Wala akong karapatan na ijustify yung sama ko ng loob sa pagpaniwala na gisupladahan mo ako, na ang totoo napilitan ka lang maging pranka.

(Ang hindi mo alam, alam ko na kiligin ka sa thoughtful na lalaki. Ishare ko ito sa iyo bilang hypothetical scenario. Magreklamo ako bakit katanga ng ibang lalaki, at mag-agree ka. Ka-thoughtful ko gud pala. Kasensitive pa sa mga between the lines na usapan. Hindi mo na mamalayan ako na dahan-dahan maging standard ng lalaki para sa iyo.)


Hipon non Grata

(Response to the Ramon Bautista ‘Hipon’ Brouhaha back in Davao)

– In behalf of the People of Davao, I would like to apologize to all the shrimps, prawns, and related crustaceans who have been offended by the whole issue. I personally like shrimps. They’re great guinataan (memories of Laksa in Singapore are still particularly fresh in my memories). Hipon pride y’all!

– In behalf of the City of Davao, I would also just like to clarify to all those allergic to shrimps, prawns, and related crustaceans that it is still safe to travel to Davao. Davao is an allergy friendly tourist destination. 

– But in all fairness, okoy in Davao is delicious. Try Jaltan’s. 

– As a Dabawenyo, no I was not offended (I’ve been called worse things, like ‘Karlo David!’) I just like poking fun of at people while they’re suffering. Schadenfreude, y’all!

– We Dabawenyos shouldn’t be too offended. Manila is a sucky-sucky place, the guy’s probably just venting out his envy when he saw how awesome our city is. 

– More on Hipon pride: did you know that some species of sea lice (a kind of crustacean) have a very gruesome way of reproducing? The male captures a female and rapes her, then the eggs hatch inside her body and the little larvae dig out of their mother while she is still alive, leaving her behind to die. Uhm, yeah, Dabawenyos don’t give birth like that RB.

– And no, I don’t think we are hipon in Davao. I’m not hipon, I don’t have a good body.

– And I will certainly not throw away Ate Atenista Philo major crush’s head away, sayang the face and magna cum laude brains.

– If we are hipon, we can’t be nilasing na hipon too much, liquor curfew.

– I don’t mind being hipon though, the exoskeleton’s a useful defense against ’em syringes floating in Talomo. And that spike on the head would be useful for self defense. Mangulayon-Bolton headbutt!

– But again, it’s okay to be hipon lagi. That means as  a city, Davao is hebi-weight (I AM SO SORRY FOR THAT EMBARRASSING PUN I CAN’T RESIST IT)

– I never found Ramon Bautista funny (I don’t buy the whole meta-stupid gag). This is the first time. Only, he was the joke, and that made it rather sad for him because it was not meta-stupid anymore. There goes his career.

– We now know though what his next title will be: ‘Tales from the Hipon Zone.’ Or maybe ‘Bakit muntik ka na-crush sa gig mo?(at iba pang technique kung paano makaka-move on sa wasak na image)

– But we all know he will recover. At the end of the day, Jinri still has the hots for him. 

– And take note Dabawenyos, bitter shrimps don’t taste good.


Ginasadya

(Part of my writings for thesis, so it’s in Davao Filipino.)

Basa sa dibdib ang t-shirt ko ng luha ni Kim. Shet, sana pala hindi ako nag-grey.

Malamig at tahimik ang Quezon Boulevard ng ala una ng umaga. Wala ang mga talipapa, mga sasakyan, at mga tao na nagapainit at nagapaingay sa kanya sa maaga-aga na oras. Minsan dala ng malamig na hangin ang ingay ng kalampag ng mga pantalan sa Sasa, o ang huni ng mga naga-drag-race sa may Diversion Road. Orange ang kapayapaan sa Davao pag madaling araw.

Puchaks, kung hindi lang nag-drama yung si Kim, kasarap na siguro ng pakiramdam ko ngayon.

May naghinto na jeep pa-Toril. Wala masyado siyang sakay, mga tatlo o apat lang, at bakante ang harap. Sa harap ako nag-upo para kita ko ang sarili ko sa salamin.
Kahit na naghubad ako ng t-shirt at naghiga sa kama ni Kim, maayos pa rin ang pagka-gel ng buhok ko, at hindi nabura ng paghalik at pagkain ko sa kanya ang lip gloss ko. Bagay man pala itong highlights na puti sa grey na t-shirt ‘no. Makasira lang talaga itong lakra ng luha ni Kim.

Laro-laro lang gud sana talaga yun uy, pastilan. Wala man talagang kahit anong romantic sa amin.

Night out lang namin sa call center isang weekend (doon pa talaga sa Metro Ave sa may San Pedro na bukot-bukot, hindi na lang sa MTS o sa Gateway ba). Kakilala siya ng isa naming kasama, underclassman daw niya na naga-aral pa rin sa SPC. Hindi sa pagmayabang pero bukot-bukot man din gud yung mga kasama ko, so sa akin lumapit.

Cute din baya siya – kulot-kulot ang brown na buhok with bangs, makinis na mapula-pula na mukha – so gikausap ko lang din. Sumpa, yang sabi nila na ang lalaki dalawa daw ang utak, totoo talaga yan, at noong siya ang kaharap ko yung baba na utak ko ang naga-isip.

Itong taas hindi masyado siya feel.

Ayun, two weeks kami nag-dinner-dinner bago niya ako giaya sa boarding house niya sa Boulevard kanina (puchaks, taga-Boulevard pa talaga, ano intawon sabihin ng mga ninuno ko sa Kidapawan kung malaman nilang kapitbahay ng drug pusher yung asawahin ng tagapagmana ng gomahan nila).

So gibirahan ko lang din, yun man gusto niya – shet, Maroon 5 lang, ‘I stick in my fingertips into every inch of you…’ Pero all throughout, tawa lang talaga ako, walang moment of silence o earnest stare ba. Wala talagang solemn prayer, palakpakan lang ng hips. Kahit habang nung nakapatong na siya sa akin kaingay pa rin naming sa ungol. Walang katahimikang maugatan ang kaseryoso.

Tapos bigla na lang siya magsabi na she wants me to meet her dad na daw. Sus. Sineryoso na talaga niya.

Giilingan ko lang. Hindi. Wala ito uy, wag natin palakihin. Ayun, habang naga-sigarilyo ako nakaupo sa sahig, giiyakan niya ang t-shirt ko. Pagsabi ko na sana kaibigan pa rin kami, gihagis niya lang ang t-shirt sa akin. Sign na siguro yun na dapat na ako mag-alis.

Gipatugtog niya nun ang ‘Light a Roman Candle’ ng Fun. Sa simbahan nagapa-insenso pag may misa para maamoy ng mga parokyano ang Holy Land at makita nila sa usok ang mga ulap ng langit. Ganun din sa mga in love, magpatugtog para may soundtrack ang drama nila. ‘I was born for you,’ ‘Got to believe in magic,’ ‘Forever’s not enough,’ at ‘I love you like a love song baby.’ Pag may LQ, Adele kaagad, ‘Turnin’ Tables,’ tapos ‘Rollin in the Deep,’ tapos pag-hiwalayan na, ‘Never mind I’ll find someone like you,’ kung hindi ‘Somebody that I used to know.’

Ugh, kaluod.

Hay salamat, tuyo na ang lakra ng luha sa dibdib ko.

Hindi man sa hindi ko siya kaya mahalin. Ayaw ko lang talaga magmahal? Katanga man gud. Paniwalaan mo na siya na ang lahat, parang utos ng Diyos na mahalin mo siya. You’re my only one tapos kadami mo mauyab sa buhay mo, wow ha. Sa totoo lang nasa isip lang man talaga yan ng tao.

Nagdaan ang jeep sa Bangkerohan bridge galing Magallanes (kay gabi na man hindi na nagsunod ang jeep sa rota).

Ah, itong puno. Sa may south ng tulay may mag-isang puno sa gitna ng kalsada. Ewan ko bakit mag-isa na lang siya. Pero gusto ko siya, makatuwa siya kasi mag-isa lang siya. Siya na siguro ang paborito kong puno sa Davao.

Shet, symbolism yun a. Ganito lang gud ang pag-ibig. Sadyain mo lang. Kung gisabi ko sa sarili ko na mahal ko itong puno na ito, mahal ko siya. Pero ano ba ang nasa puno na ito na wala sa iba? Na nag-iisa siya sa gitna ng daan? Dahilan na yun? Ang mismong pagsabi ko lang na mahal ko siya ang nagapatotoo sa pag-ibig ko. Ginasadya lang talaga yan.

Nung nasa-Ateneo pa ako, gipabasa sa amin yung ‘Little Prince.’ Kapangit na kwento, gidrama lang ni Saint-Exupery yung pagka-arbitrary ng pag-ibig, makainis. Mas revealing yung ‘fiat’ ni Virgin Mary: sa mismong pagsabi niya, nagkatotoo.

Kababaw ‘no?

Ginasinungalingan lang ni Kim yung sarili niya uy. Tapos ngayon ako pa ang masama kay hindi ko ipatotoo yung kasinungalingan niya..?

Pero totoo din na hindi pa ako na-in love talaga. As in, yan talagang in love na in love talaga. Game-game lang siguro dito (gaya ni Kim), landi-landi diyan, pero yang iyakan ko na pag gabi, o antayin ko sa labas ng bahay sa ilalim ng ulan para hindi makita ang mga luha ko because it hurts so much? kaluod.

Pero bitaw. Subukan ko kaya siguro muna bago ako maging cynical ‘no. Hindi imposible, ginasadya ang pag-ibig. Ang tingin ko ngayon tanga siya, pero hindi ko pa talaga na experience, baka may angle pala sa love na hindi ko alam.

Nagpara ang jeep sa McDo Matina – mingaw na ang MTS kay liquor curfew na man. May magandang babae na nagsakay – nagbaba ako para sa loob siya. Paglarga ulit ng jeep nagnakaw ako ng tingin sa bago kong katabi.

Singkitin. Straight ang buhok na kalinis ng pagkaitim. Kakinis ng balat niya, maputi na may pagka-yellow. Bilog ang mukha pero kaganda ng tangos ng ilong. Kasarap ng pagkapula ng kanyang mga maliit na labi. Naka-sleeveless turtleneck siya na green at denim na short shorts na giternohan ng bag na green at maong na piping. Kabango niya, amoy coco butter…

Sige ito, subukan ko dito.

Ano kaya pangalan niya? Bigyan ko siya ng pangalan. Rachel? Yaks ka-slutty. Brooklyn? Samot! Genevieve? Hindi bagay kay singkit man siya. Portia? Ay parang matanda. Katherine? Yaks parang katulong, ‘Day katereeen, ang termos!’

Ay sus, wag na, ayoko pangalanan. Walang bagay sa kanya kung ako magpangalan…
Pero kung malaman ko kaya na ganito ang pangalan niya o ganito ba, magandahan kaya ako?

Hm. ‘Celine’… shet, kagandang pangalan. Sige yaan.

Nasa may Alexian Brothers na ang jeep nang mag-ring ang cell phone niya.
‘Hello dad… yeah, pauwi na po… wala lagi… si mom…? Sige, sige… love you dad…’

Shet kacute ng boses niya. Kasarap pa talaga niya tumawa. Girly pero sa pag-pronounce niya ng words halatang matalino.

Tapos daddy’s girl pa talaga, shet kacute talaga. Taga-saan ito siya na parang mayaman man..? Sa Solariega!? Shet Lord sana kay sa Puan kami pareho magbaba!
Giabot niya ang pamasahe niya sa driver.

‘Sa poblacion Toril ‘nong.’

At kabigat na ng pakiramdam ko. Wala na, totoo na ito. Grabe, kabilis pala nito…
Hala shet sana traffic sa Matina Crossing, sana traffic – yes, traffic! Pero hindi masyado, konti lang, hanggang palengke lang.

Kausapin ko kaya..? Sus ano man din mapag-usapan namin? Matalino ito, hindi din naman ako bobo, pero ano simulan namin..!

Bwisit itong driver, pag mag-small talk ako baka magsali pa.

Shet asan na yung galing ko sa babae!?

… Sige ha, pag go ng traffic light kausapin ko siya. ‘Toril ka man ‘no?’ ang simula ko.

Naglarga na ang jeep. Shet, katalawan ko. Hindi ko kaya. Hindi talaga. Grabe katakot ko na isipin niyang weirdo ako.

Habang nagaderetso ang jeep papasok ng Bangkal, nag-nakawnakaw na lang ako ng tingin sa kanya sa salamin.

Naga-text siya. Hala sino kaya ka-text niya? Boyfriend!?

Shet ganito ba ang selos? Parang sobra kalain na inggit kay may sabay na pakiramdam na wala kang pulos.

O di kaya kaibigan niya, ginatext niya na may cute siyang katabi!? Nakangiti siya – hala hindi kaya!?

Sus naano na ako, nagadelusyon na. hindi na ito tama.

Hala, ayoko na. Ayoko na talaga. Tama na.

Sige, bawi-bawi. Tigilan ko na ito. Masakit na. Tanga na.

Hindi ito totoo, Danny. Gawa-gawa mo lang itong pagkagusto mo sa kanya. Hindi mo man gani alam totoong pangalan niya! Hindi ito totoo. Hindi totoo ang ginasadya…
Shet, hindi madala.

Sige, isip ka ng distraction… si Kim? Ugh, ayoko isipin. Ayoko mag-isip ng kahit anong madumi sa tabi niya –

Grabe na ito. Hindi na talaga ito tama.

Sige, ibang distraction. Ano yung sabi sa Streetcar Named Desire? ‘The opposite of desire is death.’

Go ang traffic light sa Central Park, kaya kabilis ng takbo nitong uso-uso named desire. Nagtingin ako sa nagatakbong daan. Pag nahulog ako dito, patay ako…

Sa isip ko bigla ko giangat ang sarili ko papasok sa jeep tungo sa kanya sa tabi ko. Nagalaw ko talaga ang katawan ko papasok konti! Sus kahiya kung natuloy ko siyang dutdot.

Hindi ko madala sa ibang uwag, hindi din sa memento mori… Puchaks, seryoso na ito.

Lord, shet sana hindi traffic sa Ulas. Ayoko magtagal ng ganito sa hindi ko makuha. Wag mo talaga ipatraffic sa Ulas lord. Sana walang traffic sa Ulas…

Traffic sa Ulas. Sa inis ko napamura ako ng malakas.

‘Shet, traffic. Madaling araw na gani…’

‘Lagi uy…’

Puchaks sumagot siya! Grabe kalakas ng naghalong kaba at excitement, parang magsabog na ang leeg ko.

Small talk kaagad gago! Nagauwian pa lang galing gimik mga tao, mag-out of town siguro, nagadali ka pala? Kahit ano!… pero saan ito papunta? Wala, wala itong papuntahan, papunta lang ito sa Puan na babaan ko, masaktan lang ako…
Ugh, nawala na ang traffic. Kasakit, pero ngayon na patapos na kasakit din. Bwisit. Bwisit.

Kalapit ko na magbaba.

Hindi ako in love sa kanya. Hindi ako in love sa kanya. Hindi ako in love sa kanya.
Nagabasa siya ng text message. Nakapatong ang pisngi niya sa kanyang kanang kamao. Nagtawa siya ng maliit.

Shet kacute niya. Kasarap na maglukso para masagasaan na lang ako ng truck galing crossing Mintal.

Sige, worst case scenario sa pag-ibig… Mag pina-Dante. Maging kontento sa kung anong makuha mo…

Naghinga ako ng malalim. Masarap at malamig na hangin, ugong ng jeep, siya sa tabi ko…
Nakalma ako, at bigla, tama ang lahat.

Masarap man din pala kung ganito lang. Masakit pero masarap din masyado.

Ganito pala ma-in love. Makabuang, pero maka-addict din.

Sus, kabuang ko, alipin ng sandali. Ito kayang katabi ko ginaisip lang ba naman kaya ako..?

Puan na. Bumaba ako, resigned na. Gilayo ko na lang ang tingin ko sa kanya.
Nagbayad ako sa driver, pero bago maglarga ang jeep hindi ko napigilan magnakaw ng tingin sa kanya ng huling beses.

Nakatingin din siya sa akin, nakangiti, at naglarga na ang jeep. Nakatayo ako sa may Nograles Park, nakanganga.

Papuntang Toril, nagaliit-nagaliit ang pag-asa sa kadiliman.

Hala shet ano man yun!? Ano man yun!?

 


My Plants

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Some of my plants back in Davao.

I have owned some of them since Grade 4 (the big pot in particular is the oldest). Really, I garden not for how the plants look like but for the sentimental value of each plant or its lineage.

Thanks to my brother for the picture.


Der Holle Rache Kocht in Meinem Herzen

Up there is one of my favourite arias, ‘Der Holle Rache Kocht in Meinem Herzen’ (Hell’s wrath boils in my heart), from the Mozart opera The Magic Flute.

It’s probably one of the most famous arias in all of opera, and definitely the most famous piece from this particular opera. Wikipedia’s article puts it best: ‘highly memorable, fast paced and menacingly grandiose.’ It’s notoriously challenging to perform, particularly with those extremely high ‘triplets’ that make the soprano sound almost like an instrument. It seems Mozart wrote it for his sister in law’s vocal skill.

‘Der Holle Rache’ demonstrates best that one annoying thing about arias: you can never find the version you like entirely. The piece is at once emotionally charged (it’s about a mother burning in rage urging her daughter to kill somebody) and technically challenging, so performers often have to compromise either acting or skill. That performance by Dessay up there lacked nothing in acting but was too screechy.

This version of Sumi Jo on the other hand is beautifully sung but lacks emotion.

This version by Hungarian soprano Erika Miklosa is the most balanced I’ve seen so far. Just fast enough, with the right emotive modulations. I also love how futuristic the set is – come to think of it, The Magic Flute, which is riddled with metaphors, is a very strange opera, and futuristic renditions of it would not be out of place at all.

This aria is special for me. I often listen to it, or play it aloud, when I enjoy triumphs and achieve important accomplishments (when I got into workshops for example, or when I found out I got accepted into Silliman’s GTF program).

I’ve loved it since I heard someone I admired whistle it when I was thirteen. The grandeur, the delicacy, and the sweeping elegance of it all stirred the tagabukid social climber in me. The wrath in its lyrics is not articulated with the chaotic noise (read: screams) we often associate it with but with controlled (European) floridness, a  stylistic detail that reminds us that the deepest vengeance is extravagant but never unrestrained: everything should be deliberate.

That association with controlled but glorious vengeance is why I’ve come to play this song in moments of success – I grew up being vindictive, and my greatest successes were often in vengeance: successes are signs, ultimately I thought, that the world that had so refused to acknowledge me was wrong. I’ve since mellowed a lot of course, and triumphs, while fleeting joys in this inconstant world, nevertheless should be enjoyed on their own.

I still play the song though, and that lends  every triumph a deeper layer of meaning – it is not only a triumph in its own right, but that I am enjoying it thus is triumph in itself against that past of welthassen (you will pardon the coinage, I don’t do it too often). It reminds me that I am now free to appreciate things without hating others.

Of course I am thinking aloud now.

But that does give you a hint: if I post the song here, something good has just happened to me.


Finally, a fulfilled Constitutionalist

Earlier today Silliman University’s Graduate Students’ Organization approved a revised version of its constitution. From a typically structured organization, with officers elected at large, the GSO made its leadership indirectly elected. There was even a change of titles for the top officers: ‘President,’ ‘Vice President,’ and ‘Secretary’ were changed to ‘Convenor,’ ‘Deputy Convenor,’ and ‘Chancellor.’

Okay, I’m bragging. I drafted most of the revisions to the constitution.

The terminology in the revisions, with heavy influence from archaic British legal parlance, clearly reflects my idiosyncrasies leaking. And I clearly lobbied for the use of ‘Convenor’ and ‘Chancellor’: ‘Convenor’ to hark back to the time a convention had to be called to draft the constitution and act in the leadership vacuum caused by the original structure’s inadequacy; and ‘Chancellor’ to go back to the medieval ‘chancery,’ and also to equate the office holder not with some office coffee maker, which would be undignified, or with a minister, which would be inaccurate, but with a role best exemplified by the Chancellor of Switzerland, although the Chancellor of the GSO is an officer and has voting power.

But I cannot, and dare not, take full credit: Ry Sedrick Bolodo, the appointed Constitutional Convenor, was the key person behind the effort to revise the constitution (he’s been the key person behind the GSO in the leadership vacuum, really) and this is really his success; and Convention Chancellor Kristel Punu has been invaluable with the documentation and printing. Treasurer Alma Bana-bana has also been working hard, even aggravating a medical condition from overwork (she is now recovering from an operation). And of course the representatives from the different Silliman departments with graduate programs – IEMS Rep Jean Utzurrum and Math Rep Rhea Muarip most distinguishably – had been very proactive in breathing in new air to the GSO.

I feel ecstatic. Being a wannabe constitutionalist (I’m the only parliament nerd I know), I feel like a childhood dream has been fulfilled: this is the first time a constitution I helped draft (we literally had to write a huge bulk of the new version) has been ratified (I was also part of the Constitutional Commission for the student body back in my Ateneo de Davao days, but the Student Government at the time botched up the ratification time table so to this day, three commissions later, they still have no ratified constitution).

What makes it even more delightful is that the new structure for the graduate students’ council is practically the Westminster model, an indirectly elected government: the GSO’s Council is practically a parliament. I have long been an advocate of the Westminster model.

The next step is to begin negotiating the acceptance of graduate students to Silliman student organizations, like the school paper, the yearbook, and others. I’ve been tasked with leading these negotiations.

But somehow, I’m still quite ambivalent about being involved in Silliman. This old school is infested with elitists who monopolize student involvement opportunities, who reduce organizations to cliques that make them difficult to enter if you’re not friends with the people already in them, and who languish in mediocrity because they’re self-ascribed elite status makes them feel above the need for improvement already (sadly, Silliman excellence has become calling anything Sillimanian excellent). The elitists here are so comfortable with their position that any change, while not directly challenging their hegemony, will be viewed with automatic hostility. If needed change were to be brought into the system here, powerful interests will be challenged, and enemies will consequently be made.

And I’m tired of making enemies. I am too old for polemics now. The pleasure of bursting over-deflated egos, shaking up false senses of security, feeling the heat of productive tension, all of that is no longer as pleasurable for me now. I am no longer young, naive, and opinionated.

That Silliman needs to improve in so much would have excited me in younger days. It would have made me more involved with the university, and it would have consequently made me love it more. But I am older now, and disillusionment has solidified to apathy (hopefully fermenting to healthy Buddhist detachment).

Maybe I’ve done enough with that approved revised constitution already – far more than the cliquish elitists who come and go like the elect rats in the narrow gutter, I might have more chance of being remembered with my small tangible contribution. The further negotiations are just attempts at added accomplishments, no loss if negotiations fail.

But cynicism-turned-wise-pessimism aside, I need to celebrate. Tomorrow I’m eating hash browns and cake!