Matalino Daw Ako.

 

Agosto na naman. Para sa mga guro at estudyante sa buong bansa, dalawa lang ang ibig sabihin nito–una, oras na naman para hukayin sa baul ang tinaguriang OOTD ng mga kanuno-nunoan natin; at ikalawa, ay oras na naman para magkautal-utal tayo sa wikang atin na man sana, pero di mabigkas-bigkas nang maayos. At dahil dito, naisipan kong maglathala ng isang sulatin sa ating sariling wika. Sa totoo lang, matagal ko na ‘tong sinulat, pero ngayon ko lang naisipang ilathala dahil sa panghihikayat ng isang..uhm.. tawagin na lang nating anghel.

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Matalino daw ako sabi ng mga tao.

Paulit-ulit ko na lang naririnig ang mga papuri ng mga tao dahil raw malaman ang utak ko. Napakahusay ko raw sa iba’t ibang klaseng bagay at napakatalas raw ng isip ko na para bang isang intelehensyang elitista. Di nila alam na nag-aastang henyo lang ako dahil sa likod ng mga kaalaman at talentong taglay ko raw, nabobobohan talaga ako sa sarili ko.

dunceOo, bobo ako.

Bobo ako dahil kahit alam ko kung gaano kalayo ang antas ng tama sa mali, malimit na mali pa rin ginagawa ko.

Bobo ako dahil kahit sobrang alam ko na ang dapat gawin sa mga bagay-bagay, napapatulala pa rin ako na para bang tanga.

Bobo ako dahil may mga bagay na alam kong kailanma’y di mangyayari, pero umaasa pa rin ako.

Bobo ako kasi puro teorya lang naman talaga ang laman ng utak ko; hilaw sa tunay na karanasan.

Kapag madilim na’t tulog na ang kasama ko sa bahay, madalas kong tinititigan ang aking sablay. Habang gumagala ng mga mata ko ang naka-burdang baybayin sa tela, di ko lubos maisip na baka nagkamali lang ang institusyon na igawad sa akin ‘to. Kaakibat ng pagdapat ng kapirasong telang ‘to sa balikat ko ay ang pasanang itaguyod ang malayang pag-iisip; bagay na di ko nagawa sapagkat nakakulong lang utak ko sa mga bagay na di naman talaga mahalaga o nakakatulong sa iba.

Pero matalino raw ako sabi ng mga tao.

Matalino raw ako dahil nakakapag-ingles ako ng dire-diresto at di nauutal. Pero nasusukat ba talaga ang katalinuhan ng tao sa linggwaheng gamit nya? Sanay lang talaga akong mag-ingles dahil sinanay ako ng English Teacher kong nanay. Nadala lang din siguro sila sa mga “highfalutin” words ko; mga malalalim na salitang wala namang talagang saysay.

Matalino raw ako dahil mahusay akong magsalita sa madla. Di nila napagtanto na kahit sinong may bibig, pwede namang magsalita; at kung lubos isipin ay mas karapat-dapat pang marinig kaysa sa mga sinasabi ko. Sadyang makapal lang talaga mukha ko kaya nagagawa ko ‘yun.

Matalino raw ako dahil mabilis raw akong makapag-isip ng mga sulusyon at bagay-bagay. Oo, dahil mabilis lang naman talaga mag-isip ang mga taong mababaw lang ang saklaw ng kaalaman; mas madaling makakuha ng isda sa mababaw na dagat kasi di na kailangang sisirin pa.

Matalino raw ako dahil nakapagtapos ako sa primerang klaseng unibersidad. Di nila alam na ang pangunahang pagsusulit para makapasok ay parang lotto lang. Sinuwerte lang ako.

Matalino raw ako dahil nakapagtapos ako ng dalawang majors sa loob ng apat na taon. Di nila alam na sa institusyon na yun, pangkaraniwan lang ang ganung klaseng pangyayari. Di espesyal ang ganun.

Matalino daw ako sabi ng mga tao. Dahil lang siguro nagmamarunong ako.

Ika nga ni Marlon Peroramas, “mas bobo pa sa bobo ang bobong nagmamarunong.”

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The Writer’s Void

To say that I have a writer’s block is an understatement of epic proportions. No. This is no ordinary writer’s block. A month-long involuntary abstinence from writing is no easy pickings, walk in the park, skidoodle, damn, I can’t even find the right words for it. It’s a feeling that I myself in all the vocabulary I could muster up could not even begin to define. It feels like I’m being lobotomized by Dr. Frankenstein while a group of drunk aliens decided to put a black hole in my brain. It’s not as much a loss for words as it is a loss of coherent ideas and thought-provoking thoughts. And lately my thoughts have been nothing more than, well, nothing! It feels like there’s a mass of cobwebs where my brain used to be. Hollow. Empty.

I remember the day when I first wrote my name on a piece of paper back in prep school. It was weird. I was staring down at that piece of paper with my now-written name on it dumbfounded and astonished. It felt like you can put anything into writing; thoughts, ideas, emotions; even your identity could be written down in letters. That was my first encounter of the written word and from there on end, writing became my passion. I wrote about almost anything I could think of at every chance I could get. It became second nature and to be without writing is just about as unnatural as not breathing. I look at writing the way I look at a bottle of cold hard beer after being dumped. It’s intoxicating. A total bliss. Ultimate joy. A venue to air out my grievances, share my joys or just be downright insane.

“..while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.”

– V delivering a speech to London,
V for Vendetta, 2006

Words are powerful. Much more so when they are written.  They can change perspectives, spread the truth, and even hurt. If Rizal and Jaena had not written their own compositions, then the country would certainly be in a whole different scenario today.  Even God in all His Majesty know the value of the word.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 KJV)

I really don’t know how to end this post. I guess I’m still suffering the aftermath of the writer’s void. In time I hope I can snap out of this. Until then, I’ll try to write.

ATMs, Talking Statues and Mona Lisa Smiles: The Art of Boredom

I’ve never been much of an artist. The only thing I did that was remotely close to being artistic was that one time where I had an amoebic stomach attack and puked an impression of Mona Lisa all over my Grandparents’ kitchen floor. My Grandma almost had a heart attack. Not because she was deeply moved by the stunning resemblance of my work with that of da Vinci’s, (which was flawless by the way) but by the fact that she would have to clean it up afterward. The putrid stench filled the kitchen; to them it was vomit, to me it was the sweet smell of artistry. I was rushed to the hospital afterward. Enough said.

"The Mona Lisa"

No, it didn't really look like this. Mine was much better!

I am currently enrolled in a Humanities 1 class and the teacher asked us to look at “Diwata”, a statue of a less-than-modestly-dressed female, carrying a net full of fishes doing raspberries (which is impossible since a fish has no tongue by the way). This statue symbolizes the College of Fisheries in the University of the Philippines Visayas, a school deep in the mountainous regions of Miagao (yes, our school is in the mountains, got a problem with that?!). Our teacher asked us to express what we felt when we see the statue in the form of a painting, drawing, dancing, fire-eating etc. Like I said, I’m no artist, so lest I want to puke all over the floor again, I decided to just write about it:

Disclaimer: None of the characters in this story is real. Any resemblance to any character, living or dead, is purely coincidental. And no, statues can’t really talk either.

Messenger of the Sea

The brisk air fill the night as I make my way to the only bank in town. Being in a university situated up in the hills of Southern Iloilo, it’s the only sensible thing to do.

In the morning when the hustle and bustle of daily life comes into play, crowds of people would line up extending to ad infinitum just to do bank transactions. The harsh Visayan sun only adds to the scorching heat one would feel being compressed with all those people like a can of spicy sardines. The pungent smell of sweat mixed with cheap perfume does little to improve your current situation either. The only salvation you have is the fact that the line is moving; yet ever so slowly, like a funeral parade. Of course, with just enough twist of fate coupled with sheer bad luck, the red sign that says “OFFLINE” would flash before your very eyes just as the person before you was done withdrawing – a situation where ironically, I was always in.

So to avoid the madness, I decided to do my transactions only at night, when my only companion is the deafening silence of the night, broken only by the occasional creaking of the crickets.

Holding the ATM card in my right hand, I slowly made my way up to the top of the hill where the bank was. Cool, night air seemed to pass by me leaving a trail of cold sensations in its wake, sending chills up my spine like it’s something supernatural. Like God Himself was breathing down my neck. I look up and I see the stars in the vast regions of space spread out beautifully in a stunning array that not even angels can fathom.

Orion’s Belt was especially bright that evening. The middle one was glowing red like it was engulfed in flames. I read it before; in ancient Celtic beliefs, they said that the red glow of the middle star in Orion’s Belt marks the beginning of the Azurian Solstice. During this time, the line between the human world and the spirit world is blurred. And it is the time when the spirits and the ancient ones communicate with the mortals. Was any of that true? I can only imagine.

Thoughts kept flooding through my mind as I moved towards my destination. I then realized that I already arrived at Villadolid Hall. The entire building looks creepy at night. Like when you stare at one of the empty windows, you could almost swear you saw somebody staring back at you. It was frightening. So to absolve myself of the horrors that was in my mind, I looked away. All the way to the opposite direction. All the way to where the statue of a maiden hulling in a net filled with bounties of the sea were.

I gazed through her eyes. Something was off. Like she was staring back at me. Like she was alive or something. But she couldn’t be, right? After all she was just a statue. A statue that one of the former chancellors decreed to be made to symbolize a College. A statue that was left unfinished due to budget cuts and possible fund corruptions.

So why am I so afraid? Why does my heart feel like it’s about to leap out of my chest? But before I can bat another eyelid the statue spoke out…

Why do you look so frightened human? I hope it’s not because of my rather unmodest choice of clothing.”  I gulped.

“You can talk?” was all the words I could muster up.

“I have already spoken to you have I not?” she sheepishly replied. “Tell me, are you lost?” she added.

“Wait, you can talk?!” I asked again, more out of shock than curiosity.

“You’re kind of slow for a human aren’t you?” she spoke back.

“How!?” I was still at a loss for words. “How is it that you speak English!?”

“Well, I am a spirit and I can read your mind. You were thinking in English so I spoke to you in the language you were most comfortable using. Kung nagpanumdom ka sng Hiligaynon, teh, ma-Ilonggo man ko tane eh! Baw ah!” she exclaimed.

“Hmm.. good point.” I said.

“You still did not answer my question. Are you lost?”

“What? Why? Of course not!” I exclaimed.

“Foolish human, you are so lost, you have not even realized it yourself.” She gave out a big sigh and then continued “All of humanity is lost. They have turned their backs on their mother and laid waste whatever bounty she has bestowed upon them. Each and every single day, I see nothing but destruction. The vast oceans that were once home to creatures great and small are now reduced to nothing more than graveyards. The seas that were once bountiful were abused and polluted and all those that were living in her embrace were hunted down and killed. And for what? Nothing more than human greed.” She bowed her head. “Do you know why I tell you all these things human? It is because I too am lost.”

I’m not entirely sure if spirits can cry or are allowed to cry but I was pretty sure I saw tears streaming down her face.

“Do you not notice that I am facing in the wrong direction? The sea is right behind me, but why do I face away from it? I look away because it is too much of a burden for me. I cannot stand seeing the oceans in this condition. It is just too painful. So away I face. For I know that the seas and the earth itself face impending doom. As long as there are humans, there will always be greed. And where there is greed, surely death and destruction are the only rewards that lie in wait for us all.” Tears kept flowing from her eyes.

“Don’t count us out yet.” I said.

I really had no idea where the words came from, but it all felt natural, like it was I was supposed to do.

“Yes every day there is death, it is an undeniable fact. Yet where there is death, new life springs forth. Every day, new life is born. And where there is life there is hope, I mean that ought to count for something right?” I remarked.

“Look, I may not know all these spiritual mumbo-jumbo you’re talking about, but I refuse to believe that there isn’t any good in anybody. I still believe that there is hope for the world and more importantly, there is hope for humanity.”

She turned to me, bewildered as if she didn’t understand a thing I said.

“Even more dangerous than greed is apathy. As long as people do not care for anything then it is the same as letting greed pass.” She said.

“But we still have to try!” I exclaimed.  She paused. She paused for a long time; as if she was pondering about everything that I said.

“All right human, I will give you the task of informing all of humanity the impending doom they are facing if they do not change their ways.”

Before I could answer, I woke up. I’m in my room. It’s 6am and I am supposed to take a bath for my morning classes. But when I was about to reach for my cell phone to check for any messages, I felt my ATM by my side, and right by it, a sea shell.

(P.S. that Celtic legend is no legend at all.  I made it up. Thought I’d just clear the air in case you might think of making this a reference for some academic journal or something. I don’t want to go to jail, OK?)

Like I said, statues can't really talk and fishes don't have tongues.

Bar Room Tango

There she was again, the same time as usual. As usual, she wore her long, black, flowing hair neatly behind her head – not exactly a ponytail, but whatever it’s called, she made it look outstanding. She’s beautiful. No doubt about it. The kind of beauty that would subtly resonate throughout the entire room without stirring the crowd. Her silent beauty gave her a mysterious flair. The kind of beauty that can make you think, “What’s with this girl? Why can’t I look away?” She thumbs through her hair as she looks around the place. As usual, her dark, soulful eyes almost made her seem helpless as she tries to find a place where she can settle. Like an innocent child looking for her mother. Beneath her eyes, streaks of black liner smeared almost to her cheek. She’s been crying – as usual. She’s been frequenting this place for a week now. Always the same time. Always with that sad look in her eyes. Always with tears. Always for the same reason.

Though the flashing lights are emitting a confusing blend of hues, I could see her pain. And though the speakers are pumping loud, ear-splitting music, I could hear her heart slowly breaking with every beat. For most people, this place is a haven. A place where you can go and have some fun, drink a couple of shots, dance the night away and maybe bring someone home just for the night. But what it actually is, is a cesspool of lonely souls drowning their misery in whatever indulgence there is available – alcohol to wash away their worries; music to drown out the thoughts in their minds; lights to distract them from their troubles; sex to feed their loneliness. I guess the flashing lights burned their eyes so bad that they’re too blind to see that when they wake up in the morning, all the problems they tried so hard to forget about are still there- multiplied exponentially by the things they did along the way, trying to forget their troubles in the first place. It’s insane. But I guess the suffering loneliness can cause is enough to drive anyone to insanity. This place then is just a big asylum with fancy lights and music and everyone here’s a nut job. Except her. She’s not like the rest. She’s beautiful. How can someone so beautiful be so mad?

I looked at her again. She saw me. She smiled a familiar smile as we locked on each other. In a place where the temperature is as cold as the heart of the people who are in it, her smile was a warm ray of sunshine. She drew her hood over her head as she walked towards me, hiding her beautiful face. I got jitters as she approached me. My insides were boiling as she drew closer and closer. My mind went blank. For a moment, I was caught between infinity and absolute nothingness. Thoughts kept rushing through my head like a torrent like water from a broken dam.” What is this feeling? Could this be what I think it is? Is this love? Whatever it is I know it would be unfulfilled, after all I’m just a” – but before I could finish, there she was, right in front of me. As always, she was breathtaking.

She sighed heavily, placed her elbow on the table and gently placed her delicate cheeks on her palm. She stared blankly into space for a moment. With tears running down her face, she once again told the story. I knew it all too well by now. Two weeks ago, she caught her boyfriend in bed with her sister. The night before, the three of them were here at the same place at this very table. She and her boyfriend were celebrating their third anniversary and her sister tagged along. She never thought things could go way out of hand later on. Who would? Her sister was only fifteen. Sweet and innocent. Who would have thought she was capable of something so dastardly? As the night went on, she got a call from her boss. Unfortunately, there was an emergency at work and she had to do some extra paper work to get things going at the office. The company would lose a substantial amount if it’s not done on time. She was up for a promotion and passing this up would also mean passing up the chances to someone else. Her boyfriend approved of her leaving early. She thought he was being sweet and understanding. She kissed him tenderly for being the best boyfriend in the whole damn world. She thought he really understood for letting her leave without a fuss. She was dead wrong.

Excited to go back, she finished her work as quickly as possible. She finished earlier than expected. She hurried to her boyfriend’s apartment, expecting welcoming arms to be spread for her on her arrival. What she got was a painful slap from reality. As she approached her boyfriend’s room, she could hear sounds; two people almost like howling in ecstasy. She knew very well what it meant, but she couldn’t believe it. How can she accept that the man she loved for three years would stab her in the back like this? Silently, she approached the room. The door was slightly open. She leaned closer and took a peak. She struggled not to fall apart with what she saw. Her boyfriend was in bed with another woman. But who? And did he at least have the decency to bring her sister home. Her mother would be furious if she found out she’s been out all night drinking. But as she looked on, the jagged teeth or reality began gnawing the back of her spine. It was her sister. Her boyfriend was having sex with her fifteen year old sister! In an almost frantic daze she dashed out of the building.

Her tears are streaming down her face now. All I could do is watch helplessly as she spaces out again, almost like in a trance. From this angle, she was astonishing, even as silent tears were flowing down her cheeks. “slut” she blurted out. Then, her fingers began fidgeting. Twitching. She moved her fingers across the table and over to the broad side of my body. The sensation was amazing. Her fingers were tender yet electrifying as she caressed every inch of my body. Her soft delicate hand frolicking in my body, playing their way up to my neck. Then, without hesitation, she grabbed me, pulled me in closer and gave me a passionate kiss. Her lips were soft and warm. Soft and delicate like a pillow. Her tongue was playful, tickling their way on the rim of my mouth and exploring their way in. It was exhilarating. She broke off, took a deep breath and smiled. Her sad, soulful eyes betray the grin that is now on her face. it pains me to see her like this. But I enjoyed every moment of that kiss. And without a word she grabbed me again by the neck. Pulled me in and kissed me again. It feels so good, it almost hurts. She’s sucking me dry. But it’s just too damn good.

Suddenly, her phone rang. It was her boyfriend, calling to say how sorry he is. He went about saying how stupid he’s been and how he and her sister were only drunk when that happened. Of course she didn’t believe it even for just a second. But I know she’ll give him another chance. That’s why she’s been here for the past week. To muster the courage to accept that what was done was done. She got up, wiped her tears and left the room. The taste of her strawberry lipstick lingered as I watch her leave. Goodbye my love.

The waiter then walked up to the table, grabbed me by the neck and put me on a tray. He carried me to the back room and put me in the case where the rest of the empty beer bottles are.