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I'm vulnerable. I'm vulnerable (but) I am not a robot.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

old friends

She's gone.

It seems almost surreal. As I'm writing this, my mind's still not completely convinced. I wrote about a dear friend a few weeks ago. I had the chance to visit her last Saturday and she seemed fine. We laughed a little and although she couldn't really say much, I could see in her eyes that she was glad to be surrounded by her old friends.

The sounds of the city sifting through trees settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends.

I called up a friend of ours this morning to get updates about her condition. It seems she had gotten worse over the week. Given that this was just minutes after I woke up, I was unable to process all that I was hearing. They moved her to the ICU. She lost consciousness. She was slipping away.

Old friends. Memory brushes the same years. Silently sharing the same fear.

Minutes later, I learned she was gone. Just 22, she had her whole life ahead of her until suddenly, it wasn't. She was a loving daughter, a gifted educator, and a really good friend. Above all, I cherish my memories of her. Eating deep fried bananas at Lacson. Going on mini-trips to Quiapo. Conversations about anything and everything. She had such a unique sense of humor and a very active imagination. I miss her.

I couldn't help but remember our last conversation. Shortly after I found out she wasn't well, I called her and we tried to catch up. I promised her I'd see her by Christmas and she offered to give us a tour of her city when she gets better. It's sad that we'll never get to do that now.

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was a time of innocence. A time of confidences...

When you're young, it feels like you have all the time in the world. We sometimes forget how fragile life truly is. I take comfort in the fact that she is in a better place- away from crooked hospital beds and the circus of wires, beeps and tubes. She has been released of her pain. I just feel really bad. She was so young.

Long ago it must be. I have a photograph. Preserve your memories. They're all that's left you.

Marie Antoinette Yco
1986 - 2008

To Antoinette, we will never forget you. Rest well, old friend. You will forever be missed.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

everything in time

I was at work watching this ridiculously boring DVD when I learned about the history of Hawaii. I got to thinking about wars and how they were everywhere at some point. I doubt if there was ever a country that did not revolt against their captors and this state was no exception. I thought about all the blood that their people shed for this ultimately doomed cause and wondered if, even despite them losing in the end, it was all worth it in the end.

Centuries later, all the wars that were fought seem rather pointless. Forgive me if I'm young. I don't really know a lot about history to formulate such an opinion. All I have is what I see everyday. A Starbucks on every street corner. iPods blasting American music. Even if we were not completely colonized, everything's been globalized. If I could go back in time, I'd tell Bonifacio and the rest of the KKK to relax and take it easy. Years from now, your children's children will fight to get into the United States.

All wars seem rather pointless. I thought about all the fights I got into when I was in school. Those petty arguments did not really make me a better person. Sitting here now, I couldn't help but feel rather silly for having gone through all that drama. In the end, I would still be where I am today regardless of all the little wars in my past. Again, pointless.

Maybe I'm just saying this because of my current state. I still have war paint on my face and I can still see her blood on my hands. A song plays and for once, I am still.

Lying in your bed, I am a refugee you try to love. But the love that he killed keeps coming back and haunting me. Am I wasting all of your time and all my cute days on regrets? Is it healthy that we met? Everything always in time will show. Then we will know it will show. Everything always in time will come.

I didn't want to start a war. I had hoped that we could resolve things quietly. Wiping emotions away from my face, I fumbled on my cellphone's keypad. A message to break my silence: I'm sorry. I really tried. I guess it's pointless now. Years from now, she might even forgive me. Will I ever forgive myself for putting her through this again?

As her ghost started to slip away, I noticed a very familiar one lurking in the background. I know you, I said. Let go, it whispered. It's been over a year. Let go. And so I did. Or at least I tried to.

So today, I set down my torch. It was feeble and it made my hands hurt. In its place, I lit a candle. Somewhere, someone's mourning too. It'll be morning soon.

photo: Uwe Hermann

Thursday, November 20, 2008

sixty pictures on my sixth month

I realized today that I've been working at GCMA for six months now. It's funny how time seems to fly when you're having a lot of fun. It must be said that things are still interesting and it's probably because I've made a lot of good friends here. I figured, as a nice little tribute I would post some pictures (here) that have been rotting in my phone's memory card. If you look past my camwhoric smiles, there's a story here. Or maybe I just said that to sound deep.

Submitted for the approval of the midnight society, I call this album: sixty pictures on my sixth month at GCMA.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

me

The clock tells me it's 3:33 AM. God knows when I'll finish writing this post because honestly, I don't really know what I want to write about. I just feel like there's something inside me that's itching to be heard. It's a feeling that's not different from getting a pimple inside your nose. You don't really know what to do with it but since you can feel it (it hurts!!!), something has to be done.

I was talking to someone very dear to me last night when I got a dose of some strange realizations. She told me that work brought out my "bad side" and that at times, she no longer knew who I was. Who was I, I asked myself. It's strange to have have to ask that question at age twenty-two.

I couldn't really understand her but I know for a fact that she knows me more than anybody else. I have a suspicion she knows me more than I know myself and so being the spineless dick that I am, I started to consider if her statement had some truth to it. Given that man has one brain, one heart, and one voice, it's clear that man should also have one identity. One face to show the whole world. But if what she said was true, perhaps I was born with two of each.

At home, I'm a regular person. I surf the web in a sando and shorts. I watch hideously pirated DVDs and shows like The Buzz with my mom and sisters. I sulk at the corner and can go without talking for hours. I go to church on Sundays, sleep when I can and basically just do regular stuff.

At work, I guess I could say I'm a bit less sane. I don't really care about what people say about me as long as I have fun. Sing me a song and I'll dance for you. Hum out a tune and I'll belt out the chorus. Shove a module in my face and I'll be in your class teaching it in two seconds. It's all in a days work. Sometimes, I sit at home and wonder why I'm so tired. Perhaps it's from being a little too caffeinated or for being a little too crazy.

So who am I really? Which part of me is more true? More importantly, could the two sides ever reconcile?

Imagine yourself on your fiftieth birthday and everyone's there- all your friends from grade school to college plus all the friends you've accumulated from all the jobs you've had. I shudder at this thought. It's not that I'm afraid they'll see me when I'm wrinkly and old. It's the thought that the me that one group envisions could be different from the me that another group sees. No, this can never happen and as long as I have a voice, it shall never be.

So about the two sides reconciling, I started to think more about what my friend said. Perhaps she's just not used to the me at work. Maybe it's because she and I became friends before that part of me came to be. Or was it there all along, dormant like a volcano?

After reading what I've written so far, I realized I shouldn't really be worried about this too much. I have said the word me twenty-seven times and you'd think I would've gotten the point by now. This is me I'm talking about and no one should have to dictate who that person should be. Maybe work-me and home-me may seem antithetic to some people but to me, they are one and the same. No one should have to tell you who you are. Your identity is something that you should know. And if you don't, perhaps it's time to take a good look at the mirror and see for yourself.

As I washed the day's dirt and oil from my face and got ready for bed, I saw work-me dissolve into the water and down the drain. As the soap suds cleared away to show home-me, I realized that between the two there stands no difference and magically, I had finally reconciled the two.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

andy, you're a star

There was a time when I thought about going into blogging for profit. I heard about it from this seminar I attended for school and while I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to earn extra money, deep down I knew that I couldn't do it. I mean no offense to those who do it for a living. I know it's a decent source of additional income but I just felt like I would be betraying my blog's identity and that I didn't want money to be involved in my self-expression. While it would seem ideal to get paid to do something that I love, I just felt that it would be just like selling (what for years I've referred to as) my baby.

I was on Wikipedia the other night, jumping from one link to another when my phone started to vibrate. It was way past midnight and I didn't expect anybody to be awake and so I got curious and checked my phone. I got a message from a dear friend who was also a frequent blogger. I've been visiting her page for years now, from the time she was still on Blogger to her transition to Multiply. She started a new blog, she said and for her third move she chose a more secure and private domain. In her About page, she talked about her reasons for moving. Her primary reason is that there are too many people in Multiply and she needed to have a safe place for her more private thoughts. She sent us her private password for the protected posts as proof of her personal blog's exclusivity. (Say that quickly five times)

Another friend of mine blogged about something similar. I agreed with her when we were talking about it over break. She said that while most bloggers start writing for themselves, sooner or later they end up writing what they think they want people to read. Instead of expressing ideas, your blog has become a way to sell your thoughts (or at least your more interesting ones). It becomes a marketplace of sorts- strange for what was once meant to be a transparent online fortress.

This got me to thinking: has blogging transitioned from self-expression to self-promotion? I asked myself, have I started writing what I think people would want to read? Do I still mean what I say each time I publish a new post?

I remember when I was still young in blogger years, I didn't really feel comfortable with people close to me reading my blog. Slowly though, I learned to let them in and acknowledged that the Internet is indeed, public domain. I must admit, there are times when I edit what I write because I'm afraid that some people might not like it. It's a form of self-censorship, not unlike editing your diary in fear that someone might find it and read it. If I have made my posts tamer or angled it in a certain way to make it more appealing, how different would that be from writing posts for profit? Money is not the only currency, I learned. Have I been blog-whoring for attention?

Looking at my really old posts, I noticed that a lot has changed in my writing style. I used to talk about everything: music, books, movies, love, hate, crises, drama, life, death. Looking at my posts now, it seems so watered down. I came to the conclusion that while "blog-whoring for attention" may be taking it one step too far, I was dangerously approaching that level of corruption and if I don't stop soon, I may end up sounding less like myself and more like some washed-up advice columnist.

So while the Internet has made celebrities of several bloggers, I can honestly say that I have no aspirations for blog super-stardom. Maybe it helps to have a small reminder every now and then. At the end of the day, this page has become a part of me and the small number of people who frequent it, despite our distances, my brothers in this part of the Internet that we call home.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Odiogo - Voice Your Content


And I thought translating my blog to Filipino was funny. I recently discovered a free service that'll read your blog out for you. You even have the option to publish podcasts directly to your iPod. It's called Odiogo.

It's pretty simple. All you have to do is sign up and install the widget on your blog. This adds a mini-player on each post. The MP3s are streamed from the Odiogo website so there's no bandwidth lost. If the mini-player bothers you, you can always take it out. Just keep the link so that you'll always have your podcasts ready for you.

The output is quite interesting. You get a voice that's a cross between a cyborg and local radio's Dr. Love. I've become notorious for publishing emo posts and I didn't realize how dramatic they were until Odiogo's robotic voice read them to me. It sounded like some strange radio advice show.

This is the page that Odiogo created for me. It had my last 24 posts voiced. iTunes tells me that's close to two hours of my blog podcasted. Talk about vanity.

Try it for yourself. It's worth the two seconds it takes to sign up.

Friday, November 7, 2008

someday we'll know

I got to work at a little past two today but I didn't log in till about 2.30. I felt slow. I dragged my feet all the way to the office. I felt like there was a huge black cloud above my head and it followed me everywhere. It made my sandwich taste bland. It made the mangoes in my fruit shake seem disappointingly pale. It even made the mild rain seem like a storm.

Now normally, I would ask myself why I felt this way but not today. Today, I knew exactly what was wrong. In fact, it's been bothering me since last night.

Last night a friend of mine texted me. One of our dear friends was really sick. I was floored. I couldn't believe it. I haven't seen her since graduation and that was a year and a half ago. We were together for four years. I asked myself how I could've lost touch with someone who was a part of my life for the longest time.

And then, the all too familiar feelings of guilt swept over me. In my memories of her, she was always so full of life. She had a way of laughing over the simplest things and I guess part of me envied her for her child-like innocence. (It's a cheesy way to put it but I can't really claim to be anything but jaded.) I started to feel guilty that I was living my life basically under the radar. When was the last time I made a difference? I asked.

Sometimes I envy the celebrities who have devoted their time doing charity. People like Angelina Jolie and Bono who have so much money that they can afford to feed the kids in Africa or do something about AIDS. When I was a teacher, I felt like I made a difference in the lives of my students. When I was an agent, I had a good feeling whenever I processed accounts efficiently. I felt like I was making a difference. Lately though, I had the impression that I wasn't making a difference anymore.

I can just see myself years from now reading this post wondering how I could turn someone's illness and make it about me.

(Bringing the focus back to her) Last night, I prayed for my friend. I usually just say a quick prayer and then it's lights out but last night was different. I've learned to be realistic when I pray. God's not some fairy godfather who grants wishes (I should know or else I would've had a six-pack by now) so I asked for her speedy and safe recovery. I didn't really know how sick she was but from what I heard, it was pretty bad. I prayed that she would get to live her life and in the process, I sincerely hoped I could find purpose in mine.

When I woke up this morning, I felt like I had to talk to my friend- if only to hear her voice telling me that she's okay. She was relatively fine when I called her. She told me what she's been up to since college and what happened when they brought her to the hospital. We had a pretty long conversation and shared a few laughs. It felt just like old times. I promised I'd go see her before Christmas and when we both ran out of things to say, I told her I was late for work and that I was always there for her if she wanted to talk.

But as soon as I ended the call, I felt bad again. I still couldn't shake the hopelessness that I felt. Like I said, it followed me all day. When was the last time I made a difference in someone's life?

I felt relieved I didn't have class this week because that meant I wouldn't have to pretend to be okay but then a friend from work asked me to teach a sound to her class. It was the first time I taught in close to two weeks. It started roughly because of how I felt but after some time, I was back to my regular self. I felt needed. I saw some purpose in my actions. In the trainees eyes, I saw the difference I was making. It may not be as monumental as feeding the poor or finding cures for diseases but it was a difference nonetheless. And suddenly, things didn't seem so bad.

There will be time for bigger things but right now, this much is good enough.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

clarity

Why is it we find clarity in our most idle moments? Time and time again, I've prayed for clarity during stressful moments in my life. Amidst the breeze that comes from hurrying the hell up, I find that my mind's completely blank. But on days like today- in moments when I have become completely idle, everything's so clear that one can't help but introspect.

I got home and I guess the long walk left me quite tired. I had a glass of water and in a half-assed effort of relaxing, I sat down at the foot of our staircase. I was sitting there, glass in hand and I realized I was completely bathed in moonlight. From head to toe, white light embraced my tired skin. I was playing this song called Leaving Town Alive by that girl in One Tree Hill. I closed my eyes and listened to the chorus. Life is for the living, the forgiven and for leaving town alive, she sung. Maybe so. Couldn't help but accept that she's got a point. At times, I forget how temporary my life is. I guess at some point, I do want it all- family, pets, car, mortgage, bills. Grown-up stuff. But when does this part of my life end and when does the next part begin? It's strange to be in transition. Even stranger is realizing you're in a state of transition.

It boils down to that moment when you have to say goodbye to being young and stupid and accepting your fate as an adult, answered a voice in my head.

I stared at the moon (or at least where the moon should've been) and I realized it wasn't the moon bathing me in light. The neighbor left their lights on and the strange angle made it seem like romantic moonlight. Being young is a lot like that, I guess. You get so wrapped up in the idea of a perfect life and how everything revolves around you until you slowly realize you're just a cog in a well-oiled machine. You study to get good grades. You graduate and get a job. You find someone who makes you feel like yourself and if you're lucky, maybe you won't ruin each other's lives in the end. That's life for most people but a part of me refuses to believe that it's all so simple and drawn out. I refuse to believe that my life's been planned out even before my first step.

Now and then you wonder why life is for the living, the forgiven and the leaving town alive.

It took some time for me to make peace with the fluorescent light that somehow made me look like an idiot in my own kitchen. It's probably going to take some more time for me to make peace with how life seems to me at the moment. I can't help it. I just wish that life was simple and that I could just press a button and I'd be okay with stuff but it's not that easy. If I am to get to where I need to be, a lot of changes need to be made. Like anything grand, a lot of effort comes into planning and introspecting.

Life is for the living, the forgiven, and for leaving town alive.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

la famila lim


My sister found this really old picture of the four of us. I was staring at it last night and I couldn't help but smile. It's got all four of us and we all look so deliriously happy. It's a scene straight out of a cheesy Christmas special.

Yes, I am wearing a yellow jumper.

We bought a new printer/scanner/copier hybrid thing and I decided to scan the darn thing. Our monitor's kinda funny and everything's red so I did what I could using Photoshop's Auto Adjustments and hoped for the best. Click here to see it sans editing.