Monthly Archives: November 2014

I still get the blues

Yesterday I sat in front of my computer for a long time, doing nothing. I was supposed to be writing to meet a couple of deadlines but I couldn’t. I just stared at the monitor and the empty space seemed to mock me further. Finally giving up, I turned the computer off and decided to read until I feel the urge to get back to work again. This diversion usually worked but yesterday I couldn’t even focus on the words of the book. The letters seemed to swim before my eyes–paragraphs, sentences, and words break apart on the page, stirred by an unseen hand.

Lying in bed, I tried to sleep. I wanted to wake up early so I can make up for the time I lost. But sleep eluded me. I dimmed the lights, lit a stick of incense, and enclosed myself in a pallet of pillows. This technique has never failed me but yesterday was a day for firsts, apparently. I ushered the new day looking at the wall clock on the wall opposite my bed.

November 30 is not just the death anniversary of my father. It’s also the time when I was forced to leave the house for the first time in 2 months to do the morbid task of picking out a coffin for him and make arrangements with the funeral service provider. During the wake, I was forced to be present and had no choice but to face the flow of friends and relatives who inquired/ marveled/ speculated on my state. I felt like a tree struggling to remain standing in front of a deluge.


My father’s death, in effect, ended my hiding from the world. It forced me to look at myself even if I loathed what I saw. The forced gaze hurt me but on hindsight, I needed that push. Even in death, my father still tried to help me even without my knowledge and permission. It just makes me miss him more now. But my grief is not just about losing him. His death marked the start of my long and hard journey to… to what? Recovery? Probably. Or whatever condition I had been in before yesterday. I think I’m also grieving for the monkey that used to be on my back. Sometimes I want to turn over the wheel to the first creature who will take it. Sometimes.

But who am I kidding, really?

I’m fine. Generally. But sometimes, I still get the blues.

But I’ll be fine again. You’ll see.

Friday Photo 68

Yet another photo from the ‘black & white photo challenge’. This is Hiro, one of our Japanese Spitzes. I didn’t raise him, but we’re on friendly terms now.



Last week I went to see “Horns” because of 3 things. First, it was directed by Alexandre Aja, whose remake of “The Hills Have Eyes” frightened me. Second, it’s based on a book by Joe Hill, son of horror master Stephen King. And finally, the lead actor is Daniel Radcliffe AKA Harry Potter.


I first read Joe Hill’s “Heart-Shaped Box” a while back and I’m currently reading “NOS4A2”. So far what I like about his work is that he is quite adept at mixing and matching genres in the way he tells his stories. I’m not sure if he does this consciously or not. I’m more inclined to think that he is probably influenced by a wide range of genres and writing style and this permeates his work. I also think this is the case with many young(ish) writers. The so-called genres that someone my age grew up reading do not exist anymore. Everything has been touched by other things that it is more difficult to place writers and their work in distinct ‘boxes’.

Now, I haven’t read “Horns” the book but I learned the film was adapted faithfully from the book. And I could see that. Many aspects of the film evoke various genres; such as the murder-mystery (the search for the murderer of the lead’s girl), supernatural (spirits and ghosts), and horror (the horns and its powers). The flashback scenes felt like an homage to “Stand By Me”, which was adapted from Stephen King–Joe Hill’s father.

I’m not troubled by these elements because they never distracted me from the main story line. What I liked most about this film is the wicked humor, which some felt was rather silly. Some, meaning a handful of people my age who saw the film as well. The best part for me was when Ig made the throng of reporters who’d been harassing him fight for an exclusive interview. I’ve heard that working in broadcast news was akin to swimming with sharks. That scene embodied that notion very well.

Acting was fairly consistent across the young cast. Daniel Radcliffe in his hirsute glory has managed to obliterate all memories of the boy wizard in this outing. Not to mention his great accent work here. Juno Temple has the misfortune of looking a lot like Ellen Page so whenever I see her I think of Ellen. Max Minghella conveys seeming straightness of his character and at the same time, exudes an icky feeling that something is off with him.

At its core, “Horns” is a love story told in a wickedly funny manner, framed by supernatural elements, strewn with sex, drugs, and good music and youthful explorations of friendship, loyalty, and filial bonds.

A small reunion

I met these two people 13 years ago, when we were recruited by an NGO to implement a 3-year project on reproductive health in the under-served areas of the country. We were a small team, but we had about 15 NGO partners around the Philippines. Unfortunately, none of us stayed until the project ended. They both left after the first year of implementation while I resigned after the second year. Last week, the three of us got chatting over at Facebook and we decided to get together to catch up.


We went to Robinsons Magnolia and had coffee and cake at The Clubhouse. Actually, I had pie and tea but you get what I mean. I arrived hours early because I was going to this mall for the first time and I wanted to explore it before we got together. So I wandered around the mall and its shops for more than 2 hours, having lunch at a restaurant which I hadn’t gone to in years, before meeting these two colleagues-turned-friends.

We did a quick game of catch-up, wherein we updated each other on what we have been doing in the recent past and what’s keeping us busy now. They were surprised when I told them that I had recently co-founded an NGO that will work with MSM and TG who have been recently diagnosed with HIV. In the course of our conversation something struck me. We all came from an NGO that did great work at the community level. However, all these successes have been negated when its Board of Trustees “cannibalized” the same NGO for their collective gains and individual interests.

I realized that now that I serve as the Board Chair of our new NGO, I have before me a clear template of the things I shouldn’t do as part of the Board of Trustees of an NGO. I mean, I lived through that terrible working condition of having the Board micro-manage the projects, impede instead of facilitate processes, and even get bullied by a Board member who seemed to have a personal axe to grind with me.

I have said it in a joking manner but seriously, I will have to do my best to resist all temptations so I won’t turn out to be like any of the Board of Trustees of this NGO.

The hours quickly passed in our little gab-fest. And we parted ways knowing this get-together will not be the last.

Friday Photo 67

Still another ‘outtake’ from that photo challenge. This is Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok back in 2012. I wonder how it is now.