bicol express, manhattan stop

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The saddest line of the night, apologies to Neruda, is this: I don’t miss home anymore.

I think about home sometimes, usually during the ungodly hour of the night when souls are at their most fragile. And when I think of home, I think of the past, of memories lived and now cherished, of regrets nurtured but now tempered. I have learned to nod terms with my old self, apologies to Didion, and I am now at peace with my decision.

I don’t miss home anymore, but I still call it as it is — home, and always will be.


bicol express, manhattan stop
Marie Bismonte

no geographical coordinate can pinpoint
a word that embodies a concept:

home is not a location, remembered in distant lands.
nor is it a journey from the road to Mayon,

where all beginnings take root invoked in sepia,
nor an arrival of an express train to the Upper East Side

in Manhattan, people ask me what i am.
all answers lead nowhere

in my head, i am neither a citizen or a national
but a transient between memories, moving through

post-it-notes and found postcards
to forgetting what cannot be remembered.

home is not a word.
it is a language of the sense:

an approximation of ingredients
to create the right mnemonic

in the pan, bicol express simmers—
the steam of bagoong and gata rising

to a smell abhorred by neighbors
who call it too ethnic, but to me it is

decoding the landmarks of my past,
the sili burning tracks

on my esophagus, a combination of words
that defies expression—

my tongue incapable of speech
as it recalls the taste tugging at my throat:

the loss of what cannot be recovered in
each meal, the comfort that makes my eyes water.


The poem above was published in the the anthology Crowns and Oranges: Works by Young Philippine Poets (2009), edited by Cirilo F. Bautista and Ken Ishikawa.

The featured image is Cycles by Dawani de Leon

“And then we cowards”

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We parted with a hug, a text message, a smiley face. I told you I will miss you, and you said same. No promises, nothing else — we remain slaves to silence, and that’s okay.


“And then we cowards”
Cesare Pavese (translated by Geoffrey Brock)

And then we cowards
who loved the whispering
evening, the houses,
the paths by the river,
the dirty red lights
of those places, the sweet
soundless sorrow—
we reached our hands out
toward the living chain
in silence, but our heart
startled us with blood,
and no more sweetness then,
no more losing ourselves
on the path by the river—
no longer slaves, we knew
we were alone and alive.

The featured image is Julie Mehretu’s Dispersion.

Sunday Currently #3

Let’s do away with the usual kuda and go straight at it. I am currently

reading tweets, recaps, and articles about The Good Place, an American television show that I binge-watched this weekend; my favourite piece, so far, is Shawn Adler’s “A Moral Defense of Chidi’s Swoleness: An Ethical Examination of Abs in ‘The Good Place'”;

writing this post and another document that summarizes my notes on non-TGP articles I’ve read recently (e.g. Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” and Gary Bettinson’s “Wong Kar Wai and the Poetics of Hong Kong Cinema”);

listening to the ticking of the clock and the humming of the furnace; I’m already in Sleep Mode so no more music;

thinking about how my weekend went — even though I didn’t leave the house and celebrated Halloween like a typical twenty-something living in This Side of the World, I still think my weekend was well spent;

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Sunday Currently #2

The sun is out today. It is cold, still, but that’s what autumn is — a season of contrasts. The rays are bright enough to slice through the chill. My, I love idyllic Sundays.

I might go out for a walk later. I might also head to the gym, or maybe I’ll just stay at home and concoct a meal plan for the rest of the week. Ah, we’ll see.

And just to beef up this post, here’s another update. I am currently

reading Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov — I wanted to read something short this time;

writing this post and nothing else; I don’t think I can pull off the OPM and migration piece, but I might — emphasis on might — write something on K-Pop non-hits;

listening to “Mary’s Boy Child” on YouTube; no other holiday can match the festivities (and consumerism, choz) brought about by the Christmas season;

thinking about Christmas just now; I saw on Twitter last week that ABS-CBN’s upcoming station ID should be a big pasabog now that they have Regine Velasquez; sheght I’m so excited;

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Book Tag #2: Of Friday plans and reader confessions

I have no plans tonight. R invited me to “his thing” but I already made up my mind: I hate social interactions on Friday nights. Sorry, R. Happy birthday.

Weather Network predicts a high of 13’ today (Celsius, not Freedom). I will be visiting another open yard site for work; I hope I don’t freeze. The last few days have been unusually warm for October, but I don’t want to jinx it. Oh god let’s not jinx it.

Maybe I should go to the gym tonight. Yes, that could be the plan. Go to the gym after work, go home, and eat cake. There should still be some beer in the fridge. Perfect.

I did another book tag I found on The Reading Hobbit. Fun, fun.


Have you ever damaged a book?

Yes, totally. And I don’t really care so long as the pages remain intact and the words remain legible. I’ve long abandoned this banal sentimentality towards physical books; nobody is any less of a reader just because their books look “used.”

Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

Essie lent me (or gave me, haha) her copy of Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao about 10 years ago. I’ve read it so many times and now the back cover is almost torn off. Sorry, Essie, for never giving it back.

How long does it take you to read a book?

It depends on how busy I am and how “heavy” the book is, literally and figuratively.

Continue reading “Book Tag #2: Of Friday plans and reader confessions”

For the Love of Short Stories

Here’s a cringe-worthy disclosure: I wrote a short story collection way back in high school. It was part of my senior year thesis, a requirement for graduation. Our school had its own publishing arm that prints anthologies and literary titles. To my knowledge, mine was the only one they never released.

The admin at that time held a strictly conservative view on art. They questioned many aspects of my collection. Why write in colloquial Filipino? Why center the theme on something so bleak like poverty and political unrest? My biggest influences then were the prose of Jun Cruz Reyes and Lualhati Bautista, and the poetry of Emman Lacaba.

The school decided that my language was too vulgar and the theme was too mature for my age. They had a point. But I was a typical teenager with a penchant for romanticizing identity and selfhood. Ultimately I felt defeated and, ah, misunderstood.

Continue reading “For the Love of Short Stories”

Sunday Currently #1

Today’s a Monday, I know, but this is my blog, so let’s follow my rules. (And I’m sure the creator of this tag wouldn’t mind? Or at least I hope they don’t).

Anyhoo, I am currently

reading America Is Not The Heart by Elaine Castillo, and it’s hitting way too close to home;

writing this post and a thinkpiece (charot) on OPM and migration. The second one doesn’t seem to be taking shape though — I just don’t have the discipline to do research, prfft;

listening to Eraserheads’ “Sino Sa Atin” off the under-appreciated “diket-diket” album Natin99;

thinking that I really do like Natin99. Legit, beh. Enjoying this album comes with age, I think; I just never cared for it when I was younger. But now? Dude. “Kahit Ano” is the barkada anthem. “Tama Ka,” “Maselang Bahaghari,” “Pop Machine,” “May Sumasayaw” — damn solid bangers, I’m telling ya;

Continue reading “Sunday Currently #1”