Friday, January 29

"I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life."

One of my favorite lines in "The Catcher in the Rye".  JD Salinger died on Wednesday, January 27.  He was 91. 

Holden was my first literary love. Thirteen years ago, I was this lanky, intrepid teenager - short of becoming a man  who was hoping to make his mark in the world and without a clue as to what to do.   I fell in love with the lanky teenager who loved his little sister to bits and pieces and smoked shitloads of cigarettes and philosophized blue streak while trying to find yet another cigarette to put in his mouth.

Thank you for giving me Holden, Mr. JD Salinger.   You will forever be remembered. 

Thursday, January 28

Unang Araw by Nazareno





Ito ang unang araw na wala ka na...


Katulad kahapon, nagising na naman akong nakatulala. Pinagmamasdan ang bawat sulok ng kuwarto, lumilipad ang diwa. Maya-maya, biglang sasagi sa isipan ko na kailangan kong bumangon. Kailangan kong maligo, magsipilyo, maglagay ng deodorant, magbihis at pumasok sa trabaho. Kailangan kong umusad at sikaping tapusin ang buong maghapon. Kahit madalas, nakatitig lang sa monitor, puro facebook ang pinagkaka-abalahan at wala akong project na natatapos sa opisina. Hindi ko alam kung bakit ayaw gumalaw ng mga kamay ko para lumikha ng may katuturan, samantalang dati nama’y pakiramdam ko napaka-walang kwenta ng araw ko kapag wala akong natatapos sa maghapon. Kinagabihan naman, imbes na sa apartment ang tuloy ko, dumadaan muna ako sa kapit-bahay ko para makikain at makipag-kwentuhan. Buti na lang yung kapitbahay ko mahilig magluto. Akong taya sa kwento. Minsan inaabot kami ng hatinggabi, kwetuhang walang hanggan, pikunan at tawanan. Kapag may naghikab, ayun ang senyales namin na ayawan na.

 

Ngunit sa pagdating ng panibagong umaga, hindi na blangko ang lahat.


Bubuksan ko uli ang naiwang kuwarto. Kung anong katahimikan ang iniwan ko dito kaninang umaga’y iyon din ang sumalubong sa akin. Parang isang bisitang nahihiya sa pagtanggal ng sapatos, dahan-dahan akong pumasok at marahang isinarang muli ang pinto. Tahimik na nagsipilyo, naghilamos at pagkadaka’y inilapat na muli ang katawan upang hanaping muli ang antok. Mahigit tatlong buwan nang ganito ang araw-araw ko, ang pakiramdam ko. Blangko.

Kahapon, pinilit kong makipagkita sa kanya. Alam kong magdadahilan siya uli upang umiwas pero kailangan ko siyang makausap. Kahit limang minuto lang. At kahit na alam kong huli na ang lahat. May kailangan akong malaman. Hindi katulad ng mga naunang pag-uusap namin, pinilit kong maging kalmado. Siguro nga wala na akong pakialam na magtanong ng mga bagay-bagay sa buhay niya ngayon dahil hindi na naman kami. Nais ko lang bigyan ng hustisya ang sampung taong relasyon namin bilang mag-nobyo at respeto ang dapat sanang plano na naming pagpapakasal. Kahit sino, naghahangad ng malinaw na dahilan upang talikuran ang mga ito. Maraming dahilan ang nabanggit niya sa akin kaya siya nagdesisyong makipaghiwalay dalawang buwan na ang nakakaraan. Karamihan doon ay pagkakamali ko. Sa kabila ng mga ito, nakiusap akong ayusin muli ang aking sarili, ituwid ang mga pagkakamali. Naniniwala akong walang huli sa taong totoong naghahangad ng isang magandang relasyon. Ngunit sa bawat subok ko na makipag-usap sa kanya, lalo lang niyang inilalayo ang sarili sa akin. Dumating ang pagkakataon na nakapagbitaw ako ng hindi magandang salita, dahil sa sobrang pagkabigo. Pakiramdam ko, bigla na lang niyang iniwan sa ere ang lahat-lahat sa amin.

Kahapon, sinabi niya na binubuksan niya na muli ang sarili sa panibagong relasyon.

Pakiramdam ko, bumagsak na ang buong mundo sa likuran ko. Pakiramdam ko, tinutusok unti-unti ang puso ko. Sinabi niyang hindi ang lalaking iyon ang dahilan ng pagbitaw niya. Ngunit biglang nanumbalik sa alaala ko ang mga pagkakataon, ang pagdating ng lalaking iyon sa buhay niya. Naaalala ko ang minsang pagtawag ng lalaking iyon sa kanya habang magkasama kami at kung paano niya ipagkailang kaibigan niya lang ako. Kaibigan niya lang ako. Siya na ngayon ang taong kaya niyang paglaanan ng mahabang oras, ng panahon.

Marahil, may bahagi ang lalaking ito upang tuluyan niya ng iwan ang naghihingalong relasyon namin. Marahil, ayaw niya ng balikan at isalba ito. Ano pa nga ba ang bago? May natitira pa ba siyang lakas upang hawakan muli ito? Marahil kailangan niyang bigyan ng pagkakataon ang sarili sa panibagong relasyon, bagong kasama.

Alam kong kahit anong gawin ko, buo na ang desisyon niya. Masakit man, kailangan kong tanggapin. Kung ang mga pagkakamali ko man, ang pagkapagal niya, o ang lalaking iyon ang dahilan, ang katotohanan, ayaw na niya, at binibitawan na niya ang lahat-lahat sa aming dalawa. At kahit maglupasay pa ako sa harap niya, wala na akong magagawa. Sinasabi man ng puso at isipan ko na gawin ko ang lahat ng dapat gawin ng pagkakataong iyon upang huwag sumuko, mas pinili ko ang magparaya. Ganoon naman ang tunay na nagmamahal, hindi nagdadamot, hindi mapag-imbot.

Ito na ang huli naming pagkikita. Tinahak kong muli ang daan papauwi. Katulad ng dati, Bubuksan ko uli ang naiwang kuwarto. Kung anong katahimikan ang iniwan ko dito kaninang umaga’y iyon din ang sumalubong sa akin. Parang isang bisitang nahihiya sa pagtanggal ng sapatos, dahan-dahan akong pumasok at marahang isinarang muli ang pinto. Tahimik na nagsipilyo, naghilamos at pagkadaka’y inilapat na muli ang katawan.

Ngunit sa pagdating ng panibagong umaga, hindi na blangko ang lahat.

Naunawaan ko na hindi sa tagal ng panahon nasusukat ang lalim ng pinagsamahan.
Hindi porke nasa tabi mo ang isang tao ikaw ang nasa isip niya.
Na mas may puntos ang pagkakamali kesa sa mga nagawang tama.
Kahit anong gawin mo para magtugma kayo sa gitna, marami pa rin makikitang pagkakaiba kung nasa isip at puso na niya na magkaiba kayo.
May makikilala kang mas tugma ang ugali at interes gaya ng sayo.
Natatakpan ng paulit-ulit na pagkakamali ang pag-asa.
Lumalamat sa puso ang sakit.
Kaya mong magpatawad pero di ka nakakalimot.
Parating dumarating ang pagkakataong ikukumpara mo ang kasalukayang sitwasyon sa nakaraan.
Masasaktan at masasaktan ka.
Kaya mong bumalik uli sa relasyon para abangan lang ang pagkakamali.
Kahit ang pinaka-perpektong relasyon ay hindi perpekto.
May bagong tao na darating at muling darating sa buhay mo.
Kung parang damit na naluluma ang relasyon, napapalitan ito.
Darating ang pagkakataon na sasaktan ka ng taong pinakamamahal mo.
Nakakapagod magmahal.

Sa kabila nito, handa ka ulit ihandog ang sarili sa pagmamahal. Katulad ng una, magtitiwala ka na ito ang bubuo sa pagkatao mo. Katulad ng una, hindi mo alintana ang mga darating na pagsubok, dahil hindi mo iyon nakikita. Naniniwala kang mas magiging maganda na ang takbo ng pag-ibig para sa iyo. Katulad ng una.

Para sa nauna at patuloy na nagmamahal, masakit mang bitawan ang binuo ninyong pangarap, kaya niyang magparaya. Katulad mo, isang araw, muling titibok ang kanyang puso. Ngunit kailanman, sa kabila ng lahat, ang bawat butil ng tuwa, haplos at halik na ihahandog niya sa darating na kasalukuyan ay hindi mapapantayan ng ipinagkaloob niya sa iyo.

Ito ang unang araw na wala ka na.

Tuesday, January 26

Cheesiness




I haven't written in a long time and I know this post really puts my cheesy levels up one more knotch, but I just need to post this. This is for the bastard that makes my heart flutter.

nuff of the cheesiness. I need to write some serious shit here.

Monday, January 18

the grind. earthquake in Haiti. helping. thought for the day

Suprisingly, I woke up real early (6 pm on the dot).  Did the usual yoga, push ups, sit-ups, coffee and cigarettes.  Will be going to work in a bit.  I am part of the capitalist machine now - a (really) small cog in the megastructure but an important one (so I would like to believe).  Am I thrilled to be part of the whole thing? Not really.  It's a job. I'm good at what I do.  It pays the bills. I guess after six months, I need to establish a sense of "normality" in my public life.  No more sleeping in the street (though I'm really gonna miss it).  No more wearing 3 day old boxers. What I am really going to miss tho is running everyday, which used to be the highlight of my unemployed days.   I'm still gonna make it a point to run.  

On a sad note before I go and try my best to be the employee of the month, I would like to appeal to any person who would be reading this blog.   Haiti has been on my mind for the past few days now.  I am usually cynical about the world, but when it comes to natural disasters that affect the lives of millions and millions of people, my heart sorta melts and flutters or whatever.   I'm not saying you guys give money to the relief operations (it's yer call not mine).  But if you do have money to spare - please try doing it.  If yer religious or spiritual, please pray for the victims and the thousands upon thousands of families without homes.  If yer a yuppie liberal, then friggen donate something or you can tell yer rich folk friends to try helping out a little.  If yer dirt poor but have an internet connection like me, blog about it.  The more people who will know about the situation, the more they will get that much needed aid. 

A wiseass once told me that what really matters in the end is not one's convictions, but one's action to rise when the call to rise comes challenging his ass. 

Friday, January 15

8 am

Turkish Coffee, a non-existent cigarette (I badly need one now), 200 push ups and some yoga music. My first day at work and suddenly I am missing China.

Tuesday, January 12

January 9, 2010 - some thoughts

The POTUS, Edward and Bella

Many people think that Obama is the next best thing ever since sliced bread. Perhaps he is.  I mean, if I get to hear my mother say "African-American" instead of saying negro when pertaining to people of color who happened to have African origins or basically to anybody who had dark skin, then Obama must be the next best thing since sliced bread. This happened when I came back to the Philippines January of last year. I arrived in Manila the day Obama got sworn in as the 44th POTUS and the first ever person of color to be elected to the highest seat of office in any Western nation. The whole nation was tuned in to their television sets and their radios. I wasn't expecting this kind of reception towards Obama's victory. When I arrived home, my whole family was watching TV. Scratch that, the whole neighborhood was watching TV, switching between two channels to see which one had the better view. This was big, I surmised. It was like another man walked on the surface of the moon or something. Then I realized that this was definitely big when I heard my mother use the word “African-American” in a sentence. When I asked her about the sudden paradigm shift on vocabulary, she said:






"Anak hindi politically correct ang magsabi ng negro patungkol sa mga Amerikanong itim." (Son, it's not PC to say negro when pertaining to African Americans).






I almost keeled over when my mother answered that with a straight face, sash and crown and all. All she needed was to walk on stage and wave to her adoring fans.  You see, Filipinos, like any other race in this world are naturally racist. A sad fact about Filipino society is that we tend to lean more on the fairer and whiter side of the color spectrum.  As much as I hate to admit this, we have a color preference. Put it simply it all boils down to this - If your skin is white, you're beautiful, you're hot.  If your skin is dark, you're not. If you are kayumanggi (the natural color of many Filipinos), then you are common and your skin tone has to at least border on the fairer side.  If you're sorta dark or just dark but used to be white (that's the operative word there) then you have an amazing tan.  Filipinos take skin tone very seriously. So seriously that it has spawned a multi-million dollar enterprise  here in the Philippines that's being pushed aggressively by the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and advertising industries. Turn on the TV and you can't even see a naturally colored Filipino model in most of the ads.  The majority of the actors working in the film industry have fair to white to really really freaky white skin.  TV ads, movies, billboards along major roads, you name it - they are all fair, white or sorta tanned. It's like the Filipino has a big sign on his/her forehead that says, I AM WHITE. Or I need to be white.






It would be really easy to blame all of this to four hundred years of brainwashing from our foreign colonizers. The fucking Western Imperialists.  It may well be true that most of our color insecurities stem from the fact that we were colonized by two Western powers and one Asian power in our history; but it would also be way too easy if we put everything into that categorization. I think it is an important factor but its not the only one.  I don't know all the answers and I don't know all the reasons but what I do know is this - our nation is obsessed with achieving that "perfect, white glow," like that vampire guy Edward Cullen and his chick Bella. Almost everybody wants to be Edward and Bella these days. I'd prefer Jacob but he's way too young and bulky for my taste. The truth is that no matter how many soaps or creams we use, we can never be white. We can never be that vampire guy who doesn't seem to need a shower or that stalker girl perving over that unwashed vampire guy. Yet we still search for that coveted whiteness like an El Dorado.
At the risk of sounding too preachy, I would like to believe that I am writing this piece with an inspired tone of voice. Perhaps there is some sort of force out there that is telling me to be a better man and go help change the fucking world with my words and shit. Perhaps I am just intellectually masturbating. I don't know, but I think I need to write this out.






My Quiapo 
 
Two days ago, I was in Quiapo, Manila for the feast of the Black Nazarene. It was my first time to attend the yearly festivities that gathers a crowd of millions to revere and celebrate a life-sized statue of a dark skinned Jesus Christ, carrying a cross in a semi-kneeling position and clad in crimson robes. It is one of the most celebrated Catholic feasts in Manila and perhaps in the whole Philippines. The story behind the Black Nazarene, its beginnings and the miracles associated with it, is quite mythic. The statue was made by an unknown Mexican artist using a dark brown colored wood and it was brought to Manila in 1606 from Mexico on board a Spanish galleon. The ship caught fire during the voyage, which damaged the image and caused its dark color to turn black. Because of this, the image came to be known as the Black Nazarene. Through the centuries, the image of the Black Jesus Christ of Manila has become embedded in hearts of the Filipino people, perhaps partly due to its color, but moreso on the stories of miracles and of conversions and of lost men and women returning to the Catholic faith.  A little over 400 years old, the Black Nazarene has been an iconic symbol of Quiapo, it's third home. “It was initially enshrined in the first Recollect church in Bagumbayan (now part of Rizal Park). On September 10, 1606, the church was inaugurated and placed under the patronage of St. John the Baptist. In 1608, the Nazarene image was transferred to the second bigger Recollect church of San Nicolas de Tolentino built inside the fortress of Intramuros, the part of old Manila where the Spanish colonizers used to live and govern the whole country. But Fate would have it that the Black Nazarene would be moved to it's third and final home, Quiapo, a district outside Intramuros where most of the non-Spanish – the Indios, the Chinese, the Muslim, gather and exist together in not so perfect but somewhat pristine ecology of race, belief, color, economy, status and condition. If you think about it, not much has changed really. I think in some ways it has something to do with the Quiapo Church (which is less popularly called as the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, it's patron saint). More importantly, it has something to do with the Black Nazarene which has managed to survive countless troublesome times in Quiapo's and the nation's history.





I have to confess that I love Quiapo and it's surrounding districts – Sta. Cruz, Escolta, Chinatown, Divisoria, Avenida and Recto. There is something about the place that has me connected to it. It used to be the Manhattan of Manila, where all the glamorous and the famous gather and congregate. I knew the stories from my mother but I never came to know about Quiapo and her sisters in their glory days. What I know about Quiapo is that it is the working class and the mercantile section of old Manila, where all people gather to trade – legally or otherwise. Quiapo is a jungle and it's a beautiful jungle abundant with its own flora and fauna. She is vibrant with all her colors and sounds. She is magical with all her places of worship, her shamans and fortune tellers. She is a cornucopia of sights, sounds, smells, old buildings and faces. One is mesmerized by Quiapo, by it's uniqueness and by it's rough, rugged and unrefined urban landscape.








I fall in love with Quiapo every time I encounter her in my journeys. I once brought a Serbian friend to buy souvenirs in Quiapo and she fell in love with the place.  She could not compare it with the urban landscape of Makati with her majestic towers and sculpted lawns and carefully planned roads.  I tell her that Makati is another country, another realm of thought and dimension.  Makati is the dream, and Quiapo and is part of the bigger reality that is the Philippines. The Filipino dreams in the Technicolor and the Surround Sound of the sculpted modernity of Makati but wakes up in the Urbania of Quiapo's arms. Love it or hate it, it is what it is and I choose the former. Among many other things, she is about self preservation and survival. To many, Quiapo is known for its prostitutes, beggars, criminals, smugglers, quack doctors and drug dealers. To me, she is poetry. Quiapo alone celebrates the human condition. She is my Urbania, my Quiapo.






Following the Dark Skinned Jesus of Manila

Perhaps its because of these stark realities why the Black Nazarene has ended up choosing Quiapo as his permanent home. Quiapo is one suffering lady as the Black Nazarene is one suffering deity. The men and women of Quiapo, and to an extent, most Filipino Catholics, were able to see themselves in the image of the Black Nazarene. They were able to relate to a Jesus that was non-Caucasian and was working class, not to some white deity that was unfamiliar to their sense of reality and contingency. God may have created humanity in his own image, but the Filipinos have fashioned the Jesus of Quiapo Church in theirs. The Black Nazarene is their very own Son of Man of the working class – the Jesus of Manila. This was my realization as I joined the city's celebration of this Jesus of Manila last January 9 as he was paraded throughout old Manila for 2 million people to see up close.






I was never fond of religious images, especially statues. I was brought up Catholic, but I never liked the idea of kissing statues or touching them or even venerating them. Its not really because of the interpretation of the Bible or anything (I really wouldn't care); its just a personal thing. Perhaps its because of their faces; the look on their faces that exhibit so much angst, pain and suffering. I mean, why would you look at what already is obvious?






Out of curiosity, I decided to join some of my closest friends for the annual procession of the Black Nazarene through out the Quiapo district on January 9. And like with religious images, I was also never fond of joining religious processions. One of my friends has been going to the annual procession for 4 straight years. My nephew, whom I was also meeting that day, has been doing this since he was 9 years old. Compared to them, I was basically a tourist. I told myself that if I was going to be a voyeur about the whole thing, I wanted to have an open mind about it. So I did. There were times when I just took snapshots of people and observing their faces. There were even times when I went along with the flow, going where the procession is going or shouting “Viva!” and singing the first few lines of the Black Nazarene's anthem: “Nuestro Padre de Nazareno...” I even attended mass in Quiapo Church. I probably heard mass four or five times. The last one, we were fortunate enough to be inside Quiapo Church. It was around lunch time, and we were able to find an opening and were able to squeeze ourselves inside the Minor Basilica. I was being a voyeur to the truest sense of the word. I was observing every movement, every song they were singing and every prayer they were chanting. I was trying to capture every face that was within my range of vision. I was even surprised to see that my companions were praying fervently. Looking around, I felt out of place when I realized that I was the only one not praying. Trying not to let it bother me, I listened instead to the bishop's homily. He was talking about the Nazarene, of course, how this Jesus was a suffering king. Indeed he was. Suffering was operative word. Throughout the day, I've seen so many grotesque images of Jesus, crucified, carrying a cross, beaten and the like. You have got to hand it to the Catholic Church for successfully utilizing these images as forms and means of social control. For hundreds of years, Catholics saw and understood these images as a clear message that their God was to be feared because he was an angry and punishing God. And for Filipinos, he wasn't just angry and punishing, he was also foreign – a destroyer of other beliefs and practices. The Black Nazarene is perhaps the only exception as the Filipinos were able to form a special bond with the dark-skinned Jesus.






I saw that bond in Quiapo that Saturday of January 9th. People, men, women, young and old came to the minor Basilica with the hope of touching his hands or his face or a tassel from his vestments or even the rope that pushes his carriage forward. I keep wondering why would people, as many as 2 million, would eagerly wait for hours and even the whole day even just to get a glimpse of their Nuestro Padre de Nazareno. It was for this reason why I came to Quiapo in the first place. I wanted to know why. The only way I could get an answer to this question was for me to follow the Black Nazarene's procession throughout the forgotten streets of Quiapo, Manila.






So follow I did. I went with my friends and followed that elusive Black Nazarene throughout the Quiapo district of Manila. The 5 kilometer procession from Luneta Park to Quiapo Church would have only taken a couple of hours or even less instead of a whole day if not for the millions that gathered for the festivities. This long, arduous and oftentimes dangerous procession is what makes the January 9 a special day to millions of ManileƱos and Filipino Catholics who gather in Manila's Quiapo district.






I have to admit that I was excited. It was my first time to participate in such an event. Although popular religiosity (or any forms of religiosity for that matter) had long since stopped having an appeal on me, I was still looking forward to everything that was going to happen. It was probably the tourist in me (I did see a lot of tourists that day). I shouted “Viva! Viva!” when the crowd was shouting “Viva! Viva!”. I walked forward when the crowd walked forward. I allowed my body to let go itself and just go with the flow of the crowd. It was one humongous moshpit. I've never experienced Mardi Gras, and I kept wondering that this what must Mardi Gras feels like – being engulfed by the crowd and getting lost in a sea of faces. It was a natural high, like drug of some sort. I didn't care that I was walking the dirty streets barefooted with a bleeding toe. I didn't give a rat's ass if I was coughing like a dying Bohemian with TB. And I sure didn't give a fuck that I smelled like a rat and needed one serious shower. All I cared about was being there. I was there and I was in some sort of trance. We were all in some sort of trance. It's no wonder why people come here every year – not just to get their prayers and petitions answered but to experience this, this joyful feeling of being gone from the world.
Back in the church I saw their faces – they were all clearly looking for answers. Answers for their prayers, as to why they were suffering and as to why they had to endure their own sufferings. If I had superpowers and I could access every person's mind in that church, I was sure as fuck that I would be hearing the same things. Help me. Save me. Cure me. Take this away from me. Don't take her away from me. Let him live. Let me live. Give me another chance. Help me get this job. Why him and not me? Why me? A part of me has always believed that selfishness is a virtue. We pray to higher power for our selfish reasons – some good, some not so good. I did pray in the church. I prayed for my own selfish reasons. I prayed like any person would pray. I prayed for all the people I loved. I prayed for my non-existent career. I prayed for peace (yes I did). I prayed for AIDS, for cancer, for hunger and death. I prayed because I was selfish. And that humbling act of selfishness through prayer made me feel proud of myself.






I lost my cellphone in the process, and so did one of my companions. Somewhere in the middle of crowd in Plaza Lacson while we were in that trance shouting “Viva! Viva!”, some unsuspecting guy in the crowd in Plaza Lacson needed more money and took our cellphones (inexpensive ones, just barely a hundred dollars' worth). This took me and my friend back to reality. We were no longer shouting “Viva! Viva!”. We were thinking about the names and the number in our cellphones. It was a good thing that I filed most of mine in some file online. In the end, in all my reflection and pseudo-intellectual ramblings, I was still a voyeur, just passing through. Fucking tourist. In a way, I was glad that I was one.






In search of a Jesus Figure 
 
Interpreters in all spectrum of the Judaeo-Christian Tradition, in one way or another speaks of a personal Jesus that lives and breathes and becomes significant in a person's own history once that person accepts Jesus as his/her personal Lord and Savior. Interpretations vary, but the message of having that personal relationship with God is the common underlying thread.






I think this is what drives people to go to Quiapo every Friday and every January 9 to encounter the dark skinned Jesus of Nazarene. The Black Nazarene is personal to many Filipinos. It may be a 400 year old piece of burnt dark wood but it is personally significant to many Filipino Catholics. Aside from the personal prayers of each person (including mine) who came to Quiapo, Filipinos are asking for something else, or rather someone else. I think there hasn't been any demigod figure in my nation's history after 1892; and the people are hungry for some sort of messiah or savior. The Black Nazarene is not an Obama who speaks of an audacious way of hoping for a better future. Nor is he a Gandhi who helped a nation realize that freedom is possible without carrying arms. He symbolizes an idea of suffering, of being contingent and limited through one's personal cross and trying to rise above and celebrate the humanity and irony of these contingencies. The image of the Black Nazarene isn't an image of a Jesus fallen, it is an image of a Jesus with his head up trying to rise with his cross. He still suffers painfully mind you, but he is focused, he is not without hope, he is resilient and strong. In my opinion, this is the something or that someone that Filipinos are looking for – some sort of demigod figure or Jesus figure that doesn't have to be like him, but needs to have the basic qualities of a Jesus figure – he suffers, he saves and he suffers more.






One obvious reason why Filipinos have this fervent devotion to the Black Nazarene is because by far, he is the only one who has been consistent from the very beginning. He suffers like his people suffers. He may be clad in royal crimson robes, but he always carries his cross like his people always carry their sufferings. Unlike the nation's past leaders (no exception), he doesn't change policies out of whim. He's not a landlord. He's poor. He is not comfortable. He doesn't complain. He is, like his people, suffering from a daily basis. Albeit wood, but he is consistent. The Filipino people look for consistency in their leaders – their word becomes their bond and if they break their word, they break the bond that ties them to their people. For non-Filipinos and for many non-Catholics, the Black Nazarene may be just a piece of 400-year old wood, but the 2 million people who went to Quiapo last Saturday, he is much, much more. He is the suffering working class. He is the disenfranchised farmer and worker. He is the single mother. He is the industrious father. He is the OFW. He is the jeepney driver. He is the gay beautician. He is the AIDS patient and the cancer patient. He is the unemployed graduate. He is the cigarette lady across the street. He is the young boy or girl in the streets of Manila who dreams of becoming important one day and changing the world. He is an idea. He is a good idea.






My Jesus of Urbania

It may sound that I do not believe in Jesus Christ. In fact I do. As fucked up as I am, I believe that Jesus moves in my own personal history. Apart from MacGyver, he was my first crush. It's ironic to think that he also used to scare the shit out of me when I was a kid (that's another story). He was my debate partner when I was in college. He was my teacher. He taught me important lessons in life, lessons that I hold dear to this day. He taught me compassion. He taught me love. He taught me hope. He taught me poetry. He taught me about my body. He taught me how my actions ripple in the pond of my own microcosm. He taught me that I was a priest, a prophet and a king. He taught me not to give a fuck to what other people would say. He taught me the benefits of consistency. He taught me that I am his reflection, a flawed reflection not striving for perfection but striving to be better, to rise with my contingencies and celebrate them and perhaps one day share them. And most importantly, he taught me that I alone could save myself and no one else. 

He is my Jesus. And he is real. 

 

Friday, January 8

On eating my neighbor's food, being a masseur and being almost employed... among other things

I am employed.

Yay.  Well, almost.  I still need to pass that medical exam where they check for drugs and stuff. I can't tell you everything because i wouldn't wanta jinx it and telling you guys everything about my life would be creepyesque. I haveta be honest with you, I really need a job and there's no fakin it.  I've been wearin the same clothes the whole time.  By that, I mean, wifebeaters, boardshorts and flipflops. See, I don't have to dress up and stuff so I just wear the same clothes. At first, it was like  'maaaaaaaaaan isn't this kewl? I'm wearing the same clothes day in day out." Come to think of it, it's pretty kewl that I don't have to dress up and shit.  I just slip in to those wifebeaters and then them boardshorts and them flip flops and I'm good to go.  It's not bad and it's not that I only have ONE  wifebeater!? {I have 4 wifebeaters so I  interchange them} I do change underwear from time to time  and of course take showers and brush my teeth everyday.  So I'm still clean {just so you know, hygiene isn't the issue here}.  It's just wifebeaters and boardshorts and flipflops are my comfy clothes and I really really reaaaaaaally love wearing them.

There is a danger though.  I've noticed that people "know" me already.  Not like I'm famous no.  It's just the cigarette lady already recognizes me and nods at my direction every time I pass by and even when I am not buying cigarettes.  It's the same case with the lugaw/congee dude and fat barbecue dude and the vegetable lady  and the donut girl and the coconut man plus the bread girl.  I don't even greet them and somehow they seem to know me all of a sudden.  I mean I don't go out of my way to greet them or anything so I guess they just recognize me because I am familiar to them.  Or is it that my day to day outfit became familiar to them?

It's a sign... I need a job.  A job that would enable me to actually have a change of clothes everyday.  As much as I like wearing wifebeaters and boardshorts and flipflops, I still need to wear other clothes.  I HAVE other clothes.  I think I need to them (starting with the cigarette lady), that I do have other clothes. 

So yeah, i need a job.   It's not just the clothes man.  It's also other things.  Like I've been living off of my upstairs neighbor's kitchen supplies.  She likes cooking and I like eating.  Well, me and Oscar {my other neighbor} like free food.  She likes to share, we like to eat.   I know, I know its like sponging off of her resources and shit, but I am the indigent here.  Well, it's not like I'm the only one benefiting from this.  She gets something outta this because I give her a body massage from time to time in exchange for an occasional lunch and dinner. 

Erm yeah. I have a confession to make. See here, I'm real good with my hands.  Like my hands have the magic touch yo.  Men, women, boys and girls, fathers and mothers {ohh the mothers} have been pleasured and relaxed by the magic of my touch.   Mind outta the gutter please.  I'm good at giving back rubs and a mean massage.  I even think that this is my inner calling.  It started out as a simple backrub lesson by my former housemate {who's a real masseuse}, then I got really interested when I gave her one.  She liked it.  It was draining but it was very fulfilling because I actually felt that she enjoyed it.  That's how I started giving massages to my friends, my friends' parents, my friends' parents' friends, well you get the picture. 

It would be good if I could make a career out of this, but I can't.  It's wishful thinking but I don't think I can make good money out of this unless I go 5-dollah-suckey-suckey-long-time-me-best-mouth-in-five-villages...  And besides, my other half wouldn't agree.  

I really need a job.  And as much as I love wearing worn out wifebeaters, camouflage board shorts and flip flops all day, I can't exactly go on existing wearing the same thing over and over and over again.  It would be too weird for me, like I came out of an X Files episode where there is this time loop that subsists all through eternity and I am forever destined to wear them wifebeaters and boardshorts and flipflops and I am the only dude who knows that I exist in a universe where  I need to at least have an excuse to wear something else.   Papa God please, let me get this job.  It doesn't pay much but it's a day job and I honestly and truthfully want a day job, Papa God.  Pleaaaaase, lemme get this job {*makes the sign of the cross backwards, then spits over left shoulder, then spits over right shoulder, then looks up the ceiling then says YER THE MAN!}