Those lonely roofs

Taken inside the Mandalay Castle in Burma

The song of the bum & the cry of the yuppie

Once upon a time, I used to write for the Metakritiko section of the Philippine Online Chronicles. I wasn't very diligent at it and I haven't always been proud of every end product (often, there's the compulsion to edit & edit & edit long after it has been published), but there's one particular feature which I will always have a soft spot for, "Dylan and Dylan: the Poem as Compass and the Song as Road Map," if only because it was about how a song (Bob Dylan's) and a poem (Dylan Thomas') got me through two different points as I grappled my way through the 20s (why are you so complicated, 20s?). The involvement of the two Dylans was pure coincidence, too. That it was quite personal made me really hesitant to publish it at first. Anyway, just thought it'd be a good time to blog about the link after that Haruki Murakami quote in my earlier post. That Murakami's character describes Bob Dylan's voice as being "like a kid standing at the window watching the rain" brought me back to the first time I heard the man. That day at the beach, Dylan's voice was like gunshot and his song ("Like a Rolling Stone") pierced through my life (not an original idea, Greil Marcus says as much, but does it more eloquently & sociologically). To be dramatic about that first encounter with Bob Dylan, I was forever changed.

Hey Universe, I know you're listening, throw a new song and poem my way soon? <3, Me

Songs and Rainy Days

“Say, isn’t that Bob Dylan you have on?”
“Right,” I said. Positively 4th Street.
“I can tell Bob Dylan in an instant,” she said.
“Because his harmonica’s worse than Stevie Wonder?”
She laughed again. Nice to know I can still make someone laugh.
“No, I really like his voice,” she said. “It’s like a kid standing at the window watching the rain.”

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami



All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.                                                                                                    
J.M. Barrie



Celebrate aloneness, celebrate your pure space, and great song will arise in your heart.


The kind of film that can break a heart

The Trailer
The Banter
An excerpt from the book:
            ‘Let’s just cuddle, shall we?’
            ‘Of course. If you want,’ he said gallantly, though in truth he had never really seen the point of cuddling. Cuddling was for great aunts and teddy bears. Cuddling gave him cramp. Best now to admit defeat and get home as soon as possible, but she was settling her head on his shoulder territorially, and they lay like this, rigid and self-conscious for some time before she said;
            ‘Can’t believe I used the word ‘cuddle’. Bloody ‘ell – cuddle. Sorry about that.’
            He smiled. ‘S’alright. Least it wasn’t snuggle.’
            ‘Snuggle’s pretty bad’
            ‘Or smooch.’
            ‘Smooch is awful.  Let’s promise never, ever to smooch,’ she said, regretting the remark at once. What, together? There seemed little chance of that. They lapsed into silence again. They had been talking, and kissing, for the last eight hours, and both had that deep, whole body fatigue that arrives at dawn. Blackbirds were singing in the overgrown back garden.
            ‘I love that sound’ he mumbled into her hair. ‘Blackbirds at dawn.’
            ‘I hate it. Makes me think I’ve done something I’ll regret.’
            ‘That’s why I love it,’ he said, aiming once again for a dark, charismatic effect. A moment, then he added ‘Why, have you?’
            ‘Done something you regret?’
            ‘What, this you mean?’ She squeezed his hand. ‘Oh, I expect so. Don’t know yet, do I? Ask me in the morning. Why, have you?’
            He pressed his mouth against the top of her head. ‘Course not,’ he said and thought this must never, ever happen again.

The Music
And look: Emma Morley's mixtape (she makes 2 for Dexter, one in 1989 and another in 2000), which already sound like the kind of songs I'd be playing if I want to feel the glory of getting my heart smashed into bits (let's check-- 11 of these are already on regular shuffle rotation in Sunshine the ipod):

Unfinished Sympathy - Massive Attack
There is a Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
Fight The Power - Public Enemy
All I Want - Joni Mitchell
Sweet Jane - Cowboy Junkies
This is Love - PJ Harvey
Fade into You - Mazzy Star
On Saturday Afternoons in 1963 - Rickie Lee Jones
In My Life - The Beatles
Days - The Kinks
Walk on By - Dionne Warwick
Baby - Os Mutantes
These Days - Nico
Company - Rickie Lee Jones
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks
Aria from the Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - The Beatles
Pitseleh - Elliot Smith
Lover, You Should Have Come Over - Jeff Buckley
All to You - Ellen Mcilwaine
Dedicated to the One I Love - The Shirelles
Corrina, Corrina - Bob Dylan
Each and Everyone - Everything But The Girl
Nothing in this World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout My Girl - The Kinks
Vitamin C - Can
Good Fortune - PJ Harvey
My Sweet Lord - Nina Simone
St. Swithin's Day - Billy Bragg
I Know It's Over - The Smiths
Dress - PJ Harvey
Northern Sky - Nick Drake
I Say A Little Prayer - Aretha Franklin
It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career - Belle and Sebastian
Protection - Massive Attack
Uncertain Smile - The The
Who Knows Where The Time Goes - Fairport Convention
Missing - Everything But The Girl
Pearly Dew-drops - The Cocteau Twins
Cruel - Prefab Sprout
Heroes - David Bowie
Magic in the Air - Badly Drawn Boy
Needle in a Haystack - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
The Bottle - Gil Scott-Heron
Gloria - Patti Smith
Shipbuilding - Robert Wyatt
Love and Affection - Joan Armatrading
I Heard It Through The Grapevine - The Slits
All Day and All Of The Night - The Kinks
The Boy With The Arab Strap - Belle & Sebastian
Once Around The Block - Badly Drawn Boy
That Summer Feeling - Jonathan Richman
I'm A Believer - Robert Wyatt
Long Hot Summer - The Style Council
Can't Find My Way Home - Ellen McIlwaine

For more One Day insights, check out David Nicholls' page here: http://www.davidnichollswriter.com/one_day/4

A soundtrack, lines here and there, an amazing trailer, are things we go by when we decide whether a movie is worth our time or not. Based on the book excerpts available on David Nicholls' website and on the director's taste (Lone Scherfig, the same genius who directed An Education), I already know One Day is a must-see. It's even promising to be Up There with Reality Bites, Almost Famous, Sense & Sensibility, Elizabethtown, An Education, Toy Story 3 (I kid you not) in that it's somewhat perspective-altering or perspective-considering. 

I'll stop the sappiness now and, together with Turtle, just promise to survive seeing this film. :)


Wanderlust Buddies

This weekend turned out to be one of those times when you realize just what amazing friends you keep- people who love to travel, who will not think thrice about incurring debts (I say thrice because we do think twice about it) just to cross over the Atlantic, who dream of seeing all the continents (at least two want to end up in Latin America), and whose notion of envy is piqued by someone taking Singapore Airlines because we're all just really so used to flying budget.

What's even more amazing is that it was actually an "overlapping circles" night, i.e. people brought other friends over- Turtle & I invited Ikka, Lira took Jenette, at least four of them met Gwen & Froi for the first time -- & everyone ended up having a blast- laughing much and often.

Last night, the talk was about
...places in the Philippines we have yet to go to, either together or individually (El Nido in Palawan tops the list, followed by Vigan and, er, Baguio)
...future travels- long and short ones (Sagada, Batad, Bontoc, Davao, London, Italy, Japan, the Himalayas)
...past dalliances (Laos, Nepal, Colombia) and ice creams, nay, gelattos that make you think you're in Italy, along with airplanes and luxury flights and baggage allowances. There were fish lumpias, tuna sisigs, bottles of beer, fake mojitos, siomais, noodles.

Stories about lamang lupas were also swapped (Lamang Lupa, definition: creatures of the dark, traces of which just ought to be buried beneath the ground *Turtle, if you're reading, pahiram muna*), along with drunk texting anecdotes and jaw-dropping tales about other people publicly ranting about their, um, lamang lupas on Facebook, photos included (apparently, that happens. So careful how you treat your respective sinisinta at iniirog right now). Oh yes, grave grammatically-erroneous statuses were also the subject of much giggling (Jenette: "'I'm depress' LIKE!").

Looking around, it was just really gratitude-inducing to be surrounded by these adventurous, smart, and funny human beings (Kitty & Nica also pretty much said the same things today on FB). It's like the Universe telling you, "Hey, hey the company you keep is not bad at all!" 

To that I say, "Cè zù tin ba deh." (That's a thank you in Burmese.)


The Gospel of Chanel

There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time. 
Coco Chanel


U Bein Bridge at Sunset

Taken while crossing the Taungthaman Lake in Amarapura, Mandalay in Myanmar

It's time to miss other cities. Saying goodbye to the Japan posts, for now. :)

What fiction prepared & set you up for

...a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie.  (...)  
Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.   
(...) The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. (...) You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied. 

***This article by Charles Wanke was one of the most widely-read and hugely commented Thought Catalog piece. It has been the subject of many debates and an apt response was written by Rosemary Urquico.

I think, though, that more than anything Wanke's piece was really a love letter to the girl who reads.


To sit, stare, and do nothing

I want to be where your heart is home.
I love this line from the She & Him song "Home." I like that it refers to the kind of shelter that embraces the infinite; one that could expand to accommodate another person's growth, while being sturdy enough to wait, welcome, & warm. Now, I find that the dream is not just to have a place to come home to at the end of the day, but be the definition of home to someone you care about.

To me, the appeal of this She & Him line lies in the desire to be "home" to someone. Not a new concept really, but to someone who likes to move around, to a person who's always been terrified of being constricted to one place, the idea that one day I'd be willing to expand wide enough to pause & just welcome someone feels some kind of hopeful.

Photo: Satsuke's house about to be engulfed by the sea from the Ghibli animation Ponyo


Manholes as Public Art

Manholes with a motif, like this one, were one of the most fascinating things I encountered in Japan. The unique sewage covers I saw in places like Osaka (where I first took notice of the pimped manholes), Fukui, Kyoto and Nagoya used to make me wonder whether it was only coincidental or out of a mere purely kawaii-intent that they were designed in peculiar ways.

Today, through Brainpickings' feature on "7 Essential Books on Street Art" I learned that it was indeed a government effort in the 80s to make these manholes aesthetically pleasing. Taking it further up a notch, most of these manholes were consequently designed to represent a city's identity, like this particular manhole which has the Osaka Castle facade embossed on it. Fascinating eh?

I'd like to get my hand on a copy of Drainspotting, the first book to document this city-sanctioned urban art. Here's the book cover and a feature on a Fukui manhole, showing the Fukui river, a popular spot for viewing Cherry Blossoms during Spring (I kinda feel proud, since Fukui rarely gets mentioned in anything).


Hey folks from MMDA, don't you think this would be really good reading on awesome urban art? Time to get inspired!

To view more photos, visit the Drainspotting Flickr page.


Beneath the bushes, the sun is peeping.

Photo taken at a park in my former Fukui village


“Waiting for the perfect love?” 

“No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortcake. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortcake out to me. And I say I don’t want it anymore and throw it out the window. That’s what I’m looking for.” 

“I’m not sure that has anything to do with love,” I said with some amazement. 

“It does,” she said. “You just don’t know it. There are time in a girl’s life when things like that are incredibly important.” 

“Things like throwing strawberry shortcake out the window?” 

“Exactly. And when I do it, I want the man to apologize to me. “Now I see, Midori. What a fool I have been! I should have known that you would lose your desire for strawberry shortcake. I have all the intelligence and sensitivity of a piece of donkey shit. To make it up to you, I’ll go out and buy you something else. What would you like? Chocolate Mousse? Cheesecake?” 

“So then what?” 

“So then I’d give him all the love he deserves for what he’s done.” 

“Sounds crazy to me.” 

“Well, to me, that’s what love is…" 

From Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami



"Because," she said, "when you're scared but you still do it anyway, that's brave."
From Coraline, Neil Gaiman

That evening walk in a Japanese forest

***Photo taken from Karishma's blog
The silence permeated through the whole forest, broken only by the shrill sound of cicadas insisting on making their presence heard. It was not a short walk; the distance was enough to make us think that we were lost somewhere in the neck of woods -- and that we're about to encounter either a meditative hermit or a mad hunter.

Our wariness slowly gave in to pleasure. The temple is hidden amidst a grove of pine trees and one has to walk on a carpet of moss to get to it. I remember the fresh smell of pine, the soft & moist shrug under our feet, that green expanse which led us to the old, wooden, unlit and creaking sanctuary. Finally, we had to turn back because our clothes were too flimsy for the rainy weather; the forest cold was starting to pierce through our skins. It was a night where you could smell that Summer was about to give way to Fall.

We took pictures that night but the photos only managed to capture shadows. Sometimes, the senses remember better.

***This photo reminded me of a walk in the woods I once took with Bailey, my Canadian co-teacher at Will Be and Meena, her British ALT friend, in Fukui. It was late evening and we drove around a remote area in Fukui to check out a temple in the woods. That night felt a lot like this photo.


This, too, shall pass.

It's amazing how much perspective can really change the way we go about our daily tasks. Yesterday, while in the midst of feeling so exhausted and wallowing in a little self-pity because I had let the sun go down and shine on me at work (what kind of a person does that? Other kinds. Not me! Certainly not me! *Cue in the tears.*), I bumped into my gorgeous Zizi Irene, who was about to time in for her 9am schedule.

I told her how miserable I felt; how tempted I was to just.walk.away.from.everything. Then she gave me a line - "This too shall pass." Biblical, I thought. Then she explained, "With all the bad things happening in my life now, a friend asked how I could still manage to be happy, I told her my secret, knowing that this too shall pass. Whatever is making you miserable now will no longer exist in a few months. Even that which is making you extra joyous - so cherish life, you know. So, you know what, whenever I see this person I don't like so much, in my head I utter, 'You too shall pass.' That's why I'm able to smile at her." (I love her very sunshiny snark. Haha! :D Zizi, you were the highlight of my day. Thanks mucho.)

So I told her I'll be applying it to my present situation - but I wasn't really buying it, other than probably chanting those same lines in my head as I look at my culprits in the eye. Useful? Probably.

About 6 hours later, while sleeping (I was on the night shift so this was in the middle of the afternoon) I got a call from a client, briefing me about the edits she wanted for this one article we just couldn't finish. Barely 2 hours of sleep and needing to report to work in less than 4 hours, it wasn't exactly the call I'd have wanted to get up for, even though on normal days I love this client.

I woke up 2 hours later, feeling the sore lack of sleep in each muscle. While preparing to shower, I remembered how last week my battlecry was "Walang hindi kaya." I was being Supergirl -- and I was so bent on extending that Supergirl-hood to this week, until I got sick over the weekend and had to stay in bed the whole time and cancel on my friends. Basically, my body just gave out, I had no weekend, and I couldn't even file a sick leave -- so started the self-pity.  As I was about to step out of the restroom, realizing the contrast between the two battlecries - from "Walang hindi kaya" to "This, too, shall pass," I started to burst out laughing and crying (crazy).

How does one go from wanting to do it all excellently to just wishing everything will be over and done with? You just have to laugh at that. And then that's when I started to feel okay; I found the funny. Thank You, Universe for these bouts of absurd insights. Thanks also for smart, loony, gorgeous and equally absurd friends.

Today, I ended up actually enjoying my floor support/ co-supervisory duty, finishing my reports quickly and going home 2 hours earlier. Woot! Small victories, for today at least. I hope I still have the funny tomorrow.

Life still ain't Hollywood though: I still need sleep and I still need to finish my article today. But, these, too, shall pass.


Longing for my university self

If I could only indulge in the more important things 5 days a week instead of just 2, I could live to be a hundred and die with minimal complaints.  

Day 1 and already I wish I were doing something else. 
I wonder how I'll survive 10 more days of this.
Supposing I lived in a perfect world, I would be spending my days reading books just because, writing and earning from it, cooking things I'd watch on TV, and traveling at will (okay, maybe this last one is too indulgent for a bum). I think this is the real reason why I'm so bent on getting that MA degree -- much as I'd love to stay in the Philippines, I don't think I'll ever be happy in a corporate environment. And in the Philippines, the only way I see myself living the life I want (that is, travel) is to go corporate. I'm only happy when I'm in training. Other than that, faced with the more "operations" side of things - being in charge of numbers, being responsible for the issues of a team on the floor, these things just kill me.