Showing posts from August, 2018

On finding the right 'pen pal'

Dear B-----,
I have always wanted to do this, to write letters to someone. In my youth, I had worked very briefly with Elisabeth on a fiction book project that is ideally a result of two people who move a plot by "instinctively" writing to each other. But after a few letters, with work and other matters in the way, it never transpired. What I had with Lis was special to me; it was inspired by a fantasy book I read a long time ago. The authors admitted in the introduction of the book that while they discussed the plot at certain points, the letters they exchanged with each other were mostly instinctive, if not random. What amazed me was how two people from different places could have the same and one mind on a plot in a time when communication platforms were limited. The story was okay. I already forgot the title. But the mode the story was presented, which was through letters between two fictional characters represented by the writers themselves, was truly unique and memorabl…

Stories and Gratitude

Surrounded by stories. That’s what I am. I wake up to blinking cursors on words of client stories waiting to be edited. I take breaks reading about the voyages of Doctor Dolittle (or whoever it is I fancy at the time). I listen to my mother perpetually telling true-to-life stories that, if documented, can without a doubt rival those New York best-sellers. Then I hear my sister tickled and flushed over her Korean soap operas. I talk to my fiancé and giggle like a teenage schoolgirl over his stories or jokes of the day. Then right before I roll back to sleep, I cry myself silly over Coca Cola advertisements on Youtube or videos on dogs, babies and old people.

It’s a beautiful thing, this being surrounded by stories and breathing well to appreciate their existence as my personal life source. I know when this life source starts to drain when I stop living on the present story and worry too much on the next one, when I take long pauses on reading, when my overwrought psyche is …

Love, Unexpectedly - First Date

Afternoon light broke through my room's unadorned jalousie windows. There was no need to turn on the bulb; it was bright enough as it was. I was rolling on my small bed, my mind in a riot of past, present, and future thoughts. I had been doing that a lot for a month now.

At 21, in 2005, just four months fresh from college graduation, I banged my head over what job I wanted to do. I just wanted to do something, anything, and earn from it. But deep inside, I knew it was a half-hearted decision. It already seemed like a privilege to acquire a job that was related to what I have studied for three years.

I sat up. My feet landed on a book. On the floor, books were scattered, like fancy clothes spread out for a look-over and selection. I smiled. I arranged and rearranged them in a pile and carried them to the wide wooden floor-to-ceiling shelf at the foot of my bed. My practical father, a resourceful maker of all things necessary for the house--from hangers made of wood and wire to ceilin…

Love, Unexpectedly - First Meeting

I looked up at the steep staircase, small and dimly lighted. Behind me was the rush Sunday activity of vendors eager to call on the churchgoers leaving theBasilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu just across from where I was standing.
I climbed up the stairs and walked the familiar hallway. Obscure lighting from the high ceiling failed to flood every corner of the corridor. The indistinct paint was coming off the old walls. The floor was unswept, with unbundled trash and a couple of cockroaches just off the corner at the top of the stairs. I immediately turned my eyes to the direction I was going, lest I would feel a bile of disgust coming out of my throat.
I entered the office of the review center I enrolled in. It was a bright contrast to the hallway. Almost everything was white—the sofa, table, chairs, and walls—like a comfortable clinic for adults. The air conditioning was working well, a balm to my heat-cloaked skin. I found a corner as I listened to my classmates talking with the tea…

The Filipino Cinderella

Cinderella is not really a personal favorite fairytale, what with Cinderella being physically and emotionally persecuted, bad sisters basking in the joy of making other people miserable, and the prince, er, not exactly an admirable character. I understand they are part of the fairytale formula, but that does not mean I have to like it. Still, the way her story has survived and adapted in different media is proof of how memorable Cinderella truly is.

Cinderella is a folktale that shows triumph of good over evil. It tells the story of a woman who was forced into unfortunate circumstances but nature cooperates with her wishes for a better life. There are so many variants of the story, such that even the Philippines is included in the Wikipedia list and Aarne-Thompson-Uther Folktale Type 510A and Related Stories of Persecuted Heroines list of these variants. Regardless of how many variants there are, the name Cinderella has become the archetypal name.

Her story is said to have been publishe…

Espeleta - Estrella Alfon’s Tips On How To Care For Your Neighbors

How long is the street you are living in? Do you know your neighbors, greet them beyond a passing wave of the hand and a simple hello, or do you prefer to know them behind the blinds, looking on people throwing their trash or passing by your front lawn, which can awkwardly put you at the risk of being called the weirdo next door?

In Cebu, and in the rest of the Philippines, many streets are thriving, living macroorganisms. This is best illustrated by Filipino writer Estrella Alfon in her short story, Espeleta, who describes with nostalgia the Espelita Street in Cebu City:

You could walk its whole length to where it ends by stopping humbly at the very gate of the San Nicolas churchyard; you could walk that whole unwinding length, as I say, and experience no shortness of breath, no dampness of perspiration (3).

How would you describe your street? There are many short streets in Cebu City, each with a name after a political leader or a person with significance in history. One of them is Bal…