in passing

We don’t talk about death in the family. Death is like a piece of dirt that we prefer to hide under the carpet rather than sweep away into its proper place.

I’ve wondered about this a lot of times. Why do we pretend it didn’t happen? Why do we keep quiet and go about our daily tasks thinking that if we ignore or deny its existence then death will just go away, and it won’t be real anymore?

Four days ago a neighbor threw away two one-day-old kittens outside our gate. One of them died on the spot, the other one fought for life, crying relentlessly, demanding to be heard, felt, loved.

I named him Miro, it would have been a miracle if he survived given his condition, but we tried anyway. We bought him pet’s milk and a nurser bottle and did our best to care for a little life that was carelessly thrown away by irresponsible people.

Sadly, miracles don’t grow on trees these days, not that it ever did, but I was hoping this once it would appear from out of nowhere to fight death, and let life win.

Life won. Miro passed away yesterday morning. He fought for life for a few days before death took him away ever so swiftly, silently, without mercy.

Today Miro’s little life was heard, felt, loved. And forever remembered.

dusk falls on oble

Many sunsets ago, I used to sit here waiting for the moon to come out while the naked stone man with his arms outstretched looked up to the sky as if in surrender. Perhaps he too was waiting for shooting stars, or for some sort of wisdom to rain like manna from heaven so that all important questions will finally be answered. 

If any such torrent ever happened back then, I was probably absent, because up to now I still have questions, but unlike before, when I was still blinded by the idealism of youth, I no longer care if these will ever be answered.  Maybe this only means I’m finally growing up, or I’m finally letting go.

I was big on meanings then, and I was so fixated on closure that I chased ghosts because I needed logic before I can accept things and let them be. Lately I’ve realized that it’s interesting to lead life not knowing what’s going to happen next, or why events happened in the past. It’s better just being in the moment, and taking it all in, like a masterpiece that just wants to be appreciated and not a subject that needs to be dissected in order to be understood.

Tonight I remember the 17 year old me whose tears fell on the concrete pavements of this university. I have probably not fully recovered from that first heartbreak and I think Theodore said it best, : “Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.”

Maybe things were bigger then because I thought my mind was too small to understand everything. But the secret was never in understanding, rather in accepting, with arms outstretched, gazing at the heavens. I guess that stone guy knew this all along.

And if ever there’s one thing I learned from that girl who used to wait for sunsets, it’s this: “this too, shall pass”.


in transit



on an autumn day
I get lost between the fallen leaves
longing for the morning
before I retrace my steps
down that path 
where you showed me secrets
of flowers that never fade
of three suns that never set
the beating hearts
that never stop
nor bleed, nor break
but I hope I will find you
still waiting
because I 
may have lost myself in you
and you knew it all along
yes you knew
but you
just held me
then led me
and I found myself in you

hello words

hello, it’s you again,
knocking on my door like an old friend,
I see you’re still stringing words
trying to beat me in that fleeting rhyme game

hi there, it’s me once more
playing hide and seek with the rain
I hold your hand as if we never parted
rewriting lines I’ve long since forgotten

adieu, it’s time to leave
before the rains flood the door of my memory,
the words may rhyme and find new meanings
as your hands trace my lines ’til the morning

but for now,
the sky is dark,
and the night is long,
so let’s go back to dreaming


With a pack on my back and a bag to lug around,
I walk in between the drops of Vancouver rain
Escaping a city that’s passing me by
Like a seasoned wanderer that leaves without care

Will tomorrow find me with quarters and loonies?
Or another couch to surf and fall asleep on?
Will the answers lead me to yet more questions?
Or will I finally leave this life without a home?

I trace the lines on my face and wonder
If my dreams lie across the bridge made of gold
There’s no way to know unless I start walking,
So perhaps I should dream no more.

With a pack on my back and a bag to lug around,
I fly towards the skies of San Francisco

bus 19

in the buses here, the gazes never meet
like time-bound travellers rushing from one destination to the next,
there is no time to say “hi, how do you do?” or “what a lovely morning, it looks like it won’t rain”
just a quick “thank you, driver” before we get off and leave again

as people are trapped in their own devices, with music that matches the soundtrack of their lives
the ride goes on from suburb to slums to downtown to park,
and shuttles us from house to work to leisure then back to places we call home for now,

I find myself back here again,
in the middle of everything and nothing all at once
Everything goes in circle
Even bus 19


ang hindi lumingon

Sabi nila, marami daw ang nakakalimot lumingon sa kanilang pinanggalingan. Hindi ko minsan naisip na mangyayari to sa kin.

Parang kahapon lang ng ako’y nasa Sibuyan kasama si Lola, umiigib ng tubig sa poso, nagtatampisaw sa ilog at dagat, nagtatabi tabi po sa mga kulipaw at nagbibilang ng mga huni ng kuliglig pagdating ng gabi dahil walang ingay ng mga de kuryenteng gamit sa paligid.

Naalala ko pa na pinapapasok namin ni Lolo ang mga manok sa ilalim ng aming bahay kubo tuwing hapon at ginigising kami ng mga tilaok nito pagdating ng umaga. Pag tanghali naman ay sinusubukan naming sungkitin ang mga lomboy, mangga, at tambis sa aming puno para meron kaming imimiryenda.

Ang simple ng buhay noon, walang kailangan pag aralan kundi ang paglipas ng panahon at pag iwas sa mga bagyong sasalanta sa aming taniman. Kung suswertihin ay may malalaking isda o lambay na ilalako sa aming bakod at papalitan ang mga ito ni Lola ng isang salop na bigas o ng ilang niyog at saging.

Maliit din ang mundo noon, lahat ng tao sa paligid ay pamangkin ng kapatid ng apo ng tatay ng pinsan ni kuwan. Lahat ng tao ay kamag anak, mabait at mapagkakatiwalaan.

Hindi ko alam kung kelan ko unang napansin na nagbago ang ikot ng mundo, kung kelan naging kumplekado ang lahat, kung kelan biglang lahat ng bagay ay natutumbasan ng pera, kung kailan nawala ang pagtitiwala ng mga tao sa isa’t isa.

Siguro nagsimula  ito ng tumigil sa paghuni ang mga kuliglig na natabunan ng tunog ng mga radyo at telebisyon sa kanto. Malamang kasabay nito ang pagkawala ng mga kulipaw at mga puno sa paligid ng dati naming kubo. Isa isa na ring nawala ang mga pinsan ng tatay ng apo ng kapatid ng pamangkin ni kuwan. Baka nagpa syudad na sila o nangibang bansa at iniwan ang sariling bayan.

Noong isang araw ay napanaginipan ko si Lola, nakangiti sya ng sabihin kong sasakay ako ng eroplano at tatawid ng langit para dalhan sya ng malalaking tsokolate at mansanas. “Ay sarawayon ka gid”, ang sabi nya, “ano imong ginahambal, wara na gani ko’y ngipon, anhun pa naku ang mansanas, wa na kadulot! Ayaw na pagkadto”, sabay tawa at kurot sa aking tuhod.

Hindi ko alam kung bakit ako aalis pero kailangan. Minsan kapag bumukas ang pinto, dapat itong puntahan para malaman kung ano ang nasa kabilang dulo. Maaring masaktan, magkamali, madapa, masugatan, pero hindi ito ang pinaka nakakatakot na pwedeng mangyari sa buhay. Mas nakakatakot mabuhay ng parating nagtatanong ng kung ano kaya sana.

Sabi nila, marami daw ang nakakalimot lumingon sa kanilang pinanggalingan. Sa tingin ko, hindi ito mangyayari sa kin

23 minuto makalipas ang ika-4 ng umaga, ika-2 ng Hulyo, 2013

my friend

I wrote this piece back in the first semester of 1999 while sitting in at a class of Abstract Algebra, this was in response to the poem in Kahlil Gibran’s “The Madman”, which I was reading while the professor was discussing ring homomorphisms – talk about multitasking!

I finished writing it in less than an hour, faster than I could prove isomorphic functions. If I had pursued creative writing, I’m sure I would have been pondering on the origins of natural numbers while the professor rambles on about metaphors.

I guess it just shows that we are more than the things we study, more than degrees and titles we add to our names, more than labels and boxes we try hard to fit ourselves into.

We are infinite possibilities waiting to happen, and we can do more as long as we put our heart and mind into it.

my friend, I dream too much of the past,
too much that I’ve lost myself in it,
unable to wake and live once more.

the “I” in me my friend
would like to leave the house of silence,
for it has been there for too long,
I would not like to be chained forever

when you called me and I did not answer,
my mind was flying over the hills and high mountains,
I was finding myself
I was hoping you’d find me

my friend, you do not understand my wandering thoughts,
but I’d like you to understand,
I cannot fly alone

when I look at the sunset,
you impatiently wait for the break of dawn,
yet even then we bask under the radiance of the same moon,
how I would like you to see my sunset,
as I would love to welcome your dawn

when you swim for the shore, my friend,
I let the waves crush me to the rocks,
for death is the only way I know I could be free.
I wish I knew how to swim
I wish you could teach me

you say I love truth and beauty and righteousness,
yet you do not see how I burn,
how I wish you would see,
but you do not want to,
so I let you believe

my friend, I am not good and wise, no I am not perfect
I would like to shout and be mad for once,
but my walls are too high,
no one will hear me

my friend, you tell me I am not your friend,
help me to understand,
can we not walk together?
I’ll let you lead the way,
let me take your hand