When It Ends, I Begin.

Author: zereporthej /

I remember my life in its moments.

Through a staccato-ed montage of my favorite days.

My memories are made up of little snippets of the most beautiful things I see when I look at the wind and listen to the sky. For the past six months, during my long hiatus from this journal, they were all I had. I lived in those moments.

This journey began when my dreams for happiness were born in this journal, exploited only to be an instrument to save a dying heart, a burning soul. The words I wrote were the wind that set sail to the ship towards that happy shade of blue. Why ever did I begin this journey at all is a question I have now deemed irrelevant. My ship has dropped its anchor on the happiest shade of blue there can be, a magnum opus of all human experiences.

It is true. When we reach our destination, we realize how the journey matters more because we know what it meant. It was meant to lead us somewhere. As I stand on this new ground, I face a different puzzle. I struggle trying to discover whether I have drifted away from what I used to be or just from where I used to be. And so while I am where I am now, I keep looking back, not towards where I came from, but to the expedition that brought me here.

Look as far back with me in my staccato moments.

Berthold Auerbach said that music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. Mine was a soul covered with the dust of this world. To have hosted Rivermaya’s concert in Rock-rockan sa UP Manila provided me the venue to cleanse my soul with the reverberations of guitar strings, the beats of the drums and the harmony of song. It fulfilled two of my greatest passions in life - music and hosting. The dancing spotlights and energy on stage exploded with every strum made, with every lyric sung, with every cheer screamed out. That night, I celebrated the oneness I was about to have with peace.

Salamin was only a vision once, a dream I had put off. Yet the journey I was on inspired me to revive my passion for the visual and performing arts. We shot the film for only three days followed by another two days of post production. It is a story that played with the philosophies behind family, friendship, love, betrayal and identity under the watchful eye of the society. Garnering ten out of eleven awards, it earned me some of my greater accolades in the past three years. Now, while the achievements sit somewhere on display like trophies, what I see looking back is the friendship that created this tour de force. The production staff was more than just a machine working to piece together a film. Sweat and tears and mental energy were put into this movie and wherever these elements of the labor of love met, we created a family.

(Watch Salamin’s trailer here.)

PRIME’s search for Mr. and Ms. BLP was a fundraising event organized by the four biggest universities in the Philippines; UST, ADMU, DLSU and UP. As a representative of the University of the Philippines, I did not battle against my contenders, I battled with my own demons. It was a competition to defeat my insecurities. It is both a joy and a pity to know how others believe in me more than I do. But being named Mr. BLP 2012 was something beyond me. I did not give my effort to win the title for myself but for the patients in PGH Ward 5 who suffered a multifold more than most of us. Many would say how events like this are but an exploitative agent that trivializes the worth of both sexes. However, dare I say, this ship sailed in its own way for a noble purpose. And with that purpose, I began to glide through my journey with a stronger oar.

(Read Career Avenue’s article on Prime: The Better Life Project here.)

It is true. When we reach our destination, we realize how the journey matters more because we know what it meant. It was meant to lead us somewhere. As I stand on this new ground, I face a different puzzle. I struggle trying to discover whether I have drifted away from who I used to be or just from where I used to be.

Right here, right now, in this happy shade of blue, marks the end of my journey and the beginning of another. I have gone far enough from where I used to be. I have looked back enough, It is time to look forward to discovering who I have become. I am not only the summation of those discontinuous moments. I am their product.

I sail again, in search for who I yearn to be. In another journey that will be born out of a multitude of those staccato moments.

And so, with these written words, let me begin. I am ready.

Runaway Rendezvous

Author: zereporthej /

Under the comfort of a ragged blanket she touched herself.

For three long months she slept alone on a bed made for two, oftentimes with tears in her eyes. Each night, her thoughts courted with the agony driven by the hasty transition from past to present, like an unforeseen typhoon.

Today she decided she has had enough. “I deserve to be happy,” she tried to convince herself. With all the courage she can muster, she wore her best clothes and put on the smile that was reserved for someone else. She was uncertain. But she was determined.

The rendezvous was thirty minutes away. She looked out the cab’s window and fondled with the bracelet she never wore. It was a gift, back when no such rendezvous as this one would have had to be made. Her loneliness hampered against her judgment that ultimately failed in rationality. But she would look at the driver every now and then, battling with hesitation in what she was about to do. But the ice in her heart sears with the desire to be melted away like frozen butter on a burning pan. She wondered if a sense of renewed tactility would be the heat that might light a fire in her heart again. She wanted to find out.

In the corner of two streets that formed a cross, she waited for the guy she only met thirty days ago. She fidgeted with her pony tail and walked in little circles. He arrived with the failure of concealing the nervous look on his face, the same look the mirror gave her earlier today. He walked swiftly towards her, but kept his head down and his eyes on his feet. She stood in the middle of one of the circles she drew with her steps. She stood there, motionless, emotionless.

He led her to walk and she followed. Her steps were carried by the fortitude of tucking away the past into an eternal sleep. They walked together but they were not side by side. One was always ahead and the other, behind. She didn’t mind. She gazed at the people in the street, the lady selling cigarette by the stick, the traffic enforcer who was enjoying the lady’s cigarette, the students who laughed profusely at a sick joke. She wondered where she was in this sea of people.

And then there it stood, a building that used to be green.

He led her to walk and she followed. 307 were the numbers mounted on the door. The room was cramp and looked as if it had been used one too many times before. The restroom was no different from a toilet in one of those malls. The queen-sized bed supported a mattress that was covered with plastic which peeked from under the un-tucked bedsheet.

He sat on the bed and she followed. He spoke of things she did not take interest in. When he was finally done, he turned off the lights and pecked on her lips. She closed her eyes and fiddled with the thought of finally detaching herself from what is already history. She started playing the game.

She thought that if she could displace the longing she still had flowing endlessly like a river in her heart, she could finally sway the loneliness that said hello each passing day. She thought that she could make her puppet move with no strings attached. But the four corners of that room, along with its dusty cracks and holes, were a testament to the indubitable fact that not even the strongest intensity of lust could overpower the love she still felt for the one that got away. With every kiss she gave, she waited for the taste of his lips. Every caress that ran down her body only led her to search for the warmth of his. She played with the beads on her bracelet upon realizing what she had just done.

She went home and sat on her bed, contemplating on the afternoon’s events. She wanted to find out. And now that she had, she wished to have never been consumed by desperate curiosity.

She lay down on her bed with eyes wide open as tears of self-disgust cascaded through her cheeks.

She pulled her ragged blanket up over her head and hid from the world.

Candies, Spice, Not Everything is Nice.

Author: zereporthej /

He knocked and hoped no one would answer.

He reeked of cheap perfume and waited outside her house on a rainy evening. He stared at the gate and wondered who has been here in his place, opening the gate for her, watching the flowers beside it grow. On his right hand, he held a bag that contained three jars of candy and a smaller bag of spice, as she had asked him to bring her some upon his arrival. His left formed a fist - his fingernails dug deep into his palm. He thought it would slow down his heartbeat. But his pulse only pounded even more as her mother opened the door and called out her name. He crossed the threshold where he was welcomed by her dogs that no longer knew who he was or what he was doing here. He has been away far too long.

While the television set was right where it used to be, and the blue dining table still stood against the blank, beige wall, this was a visit made under a different circumstance. While the furniture remained the same, everything else was not without change. There, in an unaltered state of being, was an eerie atmosphere that did not welcome his presence.

His knees trembled at the sound of her footsteps against the wooden staircase. He heard them too many times before. But tonight, as her dogs barked at the feet of a visiting stranger, her footsteps danced to a different beat. The thugs and thumps were slow and eternal. It was the beat he never wanted to hear.

She emerged from the footsteps and looked at him in a way he could not decipher. He dared not look back. He wore a woolen shirt to keep the cold outside. However warm it kept his outsides, his heart froze like ice age in summer. He perspired relentless, cold sweat.

He held up his right hand to break the distance between them. He handed over the candies and spice like it was a business transaction, except nothing was exchanged.

No distance was broken.

As he finally glanced when he was about to say goodbye, he saw her as he remembers her by his side. She wore her boy shorts the way she always did and pulled her tank top so that he could see the belly that he missed.

He crumbled at the distance they kept.

The deal was made, goods delivered. He imagined the look on her face as she blows and sips to ease the spice on her tongue. He hoped she liked the candy he brought.

She walked back upstairs, repeating the steps she made with the same beat.

He said goodbye to her mother and walked away. Out the door. Out the gate. Into the rain that mingled with his thoughts. He walked on.

He held no candy in his hands.

Rock Steady

Author: zereporthej /

We live in a world where nobody stays in one place.

The gravity of better education took me away from Tabaco, a town made of sili and abaca and bolo's. It has been three years since I left my hometown yet the pavements I now walk on still seem unfamiliar to me, I drown in the crunch of the Metro's footsteps. The aroma of hot chocolate and dried fish in the morning, the mist against my windowsill, the sound of swaying branches, the banter of the nearby river against the dike, my mother's voice as she calls me by a younger name, these are the things I long for each time I say good night.

In the time that I have been here, I've been singing a happy song that only I knew about. Everybody sang along, nevertheless. But nobody really listened. The music lingered in the background like the echoing tremors of an unheard hymn. Fade.

I visited the places I walked on a thousand times but the withered roads bid their greetings to a stranger. The four-inch footprints of that little boy has become a hard stomp on the floor. Could I have changed beyond recognition?

Remember, through the eyes of that little boy, the rocks and stones gallop as he runs about in the backyard. He picks up a branch that fell from the mango tree and traces a maze on the soil that the wind blew away. He positions himself in, like a chess piece ready to take over a kingdom. With prudence, he puts one foot in front of the other on tiptoe, careful not to step outside. Three years ago, he solved the maze. I am back. How do I get back inside?

I will leave for Manila again tomorrow with the uncertainty that this place will remember me as I keep it in my heart.

Many times have I witnessed pictures of far places come to life. Ones that I used to just adore in elementary textbooks. I've trodden on the streets of people whose language I did not understand. Yet the streets I walked on as a child, young and free, they do not know who I am.

Farewell for now, Tabaco. The rocks that create the gravel of places under my feet are a monument to my journeys. You are one of them. But you are the rock that I can tell apart from the others. Yours are the scratches and texture etched in my memory, in my being. I will be going away but I will take you wherever I go.

You are my rock that remains steady.

I am the hand that forms a fist around you.

Some Spice in the Cold

Author: zereporthej /

Two hours brought me back to my childhood, back when hide and seek and langit lupa were the talk of the town. The giant siliatop the waiting shed by the curving road in Camalig is still as red as when I was three feet smaller. I can still taste the ice candy Daryl and Cindy used to buy for me. It dripped of maroon water.

My uncle’s home is filled with love and modesty born by hanging paintings and white statues he made himself. By the porch, the wooden table is surrounded by older men, a glass of rum and melting ice on one hand and long, red cigarettes on the other. Their wives are confined in the little dining room, preparing spicy food, engaging in the urgency of chat. The children run around in the garden where the statues’ backs serve as a hiding place. In all their faces, blood-rushed, alcoholic cheeks are plumped with laughter, happiness in sharing gossip make their eyes flutter and powdery sweat are ignored by mirth. We were young once. We enjoyed this time of the year as the little kids do now.

The sky has told its tale and changed with our metamorphosis. We see the slow blinks and stutter of the stars. We give her light from our skyscrapers and electric flashes of luminous bulbs. She will give us light where the giant sili testified as a witness for many deaths.

We unfurl from the cocoon of innocent youth. We form another circle, one with edges and the discontinuity that age brings to happiness. We play a different game and clasp a different kind of candy between our fingers. We laugh with deeper humor. We cry about something more than a scrape on the knee. We change. We discover. We see not only night and day, we see the dawn and dusk.

You and I may have changed and buried our younger selves under the soil of memory only nostalgic reminiscence could dig up but the conjunction between you and I will never ever die. The we in you and me - that will never change. The stars will tell this story to the moon, and the sky to the sun, the sunshine to the world. We change in the vicinity of change-less in-betweens.

We are family.

You are my spice in the stinging cold.


Author: zereporthej /

I’ve been (trying) sleeping with a cloud above (and under and beside and at the bottom of) my bed.

These are the days I force myself to sleep just as the roosters cackle their good mornings. The nights before are spent awake in a palpable mirage of red, yellow and blue on a telly’s screen. Nothing really is to be seen. I skip and stop and flip through channels that only underline the thoughts of a bedridden insomniac. My body settles with disconnected strings of lethargic cries for help. I think of you.

Somewhere behind those cotton candy clouds and rays of spotted sunshine, I swim with the breeze and hope I resurface with the sight of your feet in the sand. Rewind. These are the days I force myself to sleep. I willingly (weakly) refuse to a speeding army of bullets through my sternum lest they leave their shells in there forever. But you held your loaded pistol and aimed. Do not ask me to say my last words because I’ve seen it scraped and battered in movie scenes. Let me dance to the rhythm of the wind and waving branches. I told you, I have a love affair with the world. The universe roots for my existence. Yet to be is not to be without you. But again, like incompatible jigsaw pieces, you are not to be with me. Oh Shakespeare, for the love of letters and sonnets of defeat why must you let me drown in an apathetic air?

I shift to my side, I find my position. I feel the blood rushing through the veins in my eyes. They tell me to hush now and rest my sight. But I don’t close my eyes because there’s too much color in darkness. Out the corroding white window, I peer at the darker sky, the moon is bruised and the stars are hiding behind those clouds. Theirs is a refuge I want to call mine. I reveled on the thought that you were the only thing I had. Or were you everything I had?

Feathered pillows travel across my body where yours used to be. Let me take a deep breath for I can still smell the musky fragrance on your skin. I rub my feet against each other like two rocks to start a fire. They barely create friction.

I feared this moment would come, when you’d finally rest your finger on that trigger and pull. But I love despite fear. So then, shoot me.

I turn the telly off and the colors are reduced to black. I lie still and awake. I cannot see the ceiling. The clouds above my bed are painting pictures of white and blue. “Hello Mr. Cumulus, tell me what is to come. Tell me what it is you are preparing me for. I wake and sleep with the sight of you. Tell me now. Tell me tomorrow. Tell me everyday.”

I sleep as the sun awakes and splatters colors into the sky. I sleep.

I still hear that gunshot inside my head. It deafens my heart.


Author: zereporthej /

The spotlight has lost its heat. Even when the flash of incandescent rays slices into the night, it still feels cold and I can sense my bones going rigid. As I sleep, I shrug away the creeping hand of seclusion while I am still able. I roll myself like a contortionist or a tongue-knotted stem of cherry to utilize whatever body heat is left in me. I wake up dreamless and get out of bed. I go on living life’s deceptive tricks that turn us into robots in an endless routine of playing roles. But in between these little scenes, I still find myself in dear-old-I-love-life moments. And somehow, that keeps me going.

They say part of keeping good memories is having the courage to miss those moments. And forever, there will be a little bit of longing hidden away in my pocket and it rests just beside those gloomy clouds before the thunderstorm. But I had to be a phoenix and rise from the ashes which you reduced me into. While these new wings are stronger, I see no place to perch on since you’ve been gone. You may call me your foundling phoenix.

Everyday I walk along and across roads and halls and pavements. People glance once in a while but all I see is an unfamiliar hospitality, like such gesture is a national mandate for Filipinos or schoolmates or people of the same citizenship. I put my earphones on and play my least favorite song and try to watch the world as it turns. It turns slowly. It opens up slowly. And while my playlist shuffles my music, I see different notes and melodies in these people’s eyes. Many stories are told by their clothing and companion. As if drifting into a massive black hole, I fall oblivious to time, hypnotized in a continuum of passersby who has written stories in the book across that dimming sky. In the existence of these profiled strangers, I forget my own. But my music is still playing and my phoenix-wings are still burning its scarlet plumage, hungry, in heat for another flight across time and space and endless skies. No one is there to see, or even notice.

I see everything in wide angles and beyond silver screen frames. Would you care to take a look at me? Listen to the songs I hate, and hate them too. Hold my hand when I have no pen to pour out the weight I have inside. Touch me when I feel too calm and lifeless. The stories I have seen has diminished me into a hard block of ice, and all i could do is see. Melt me.

I am your wallflower.

I want to feel infinite too.