Mornings at Masferre Restaurant were the best part of my trip to Sagada. Mornings spent sipping deliciously brewed coffee while gazing at the lifting fog on the hill behind the restaurant – a view most enjoyed by the window.
In the morning, I love the feel of sunlight on my closed eyes as water flows down my head.
Sunlight warm on my closed eyes, cool water down my back.
The sound of water cascading down my body.
Of water hitting the tile floors and splashing my toes…
In the morning I love the sight of my skin,
rectangular orange patterns visible in the semi-darkness of the washroom.
Faint orange sunlight coming in through the wooden splats of the small rectangular window just above.
Semi-blinding orange light peeking through green leaves, glimmering against the grayness of the sky.
Water coming down. Cool and welcoming. Not cold but cool.
Nothing like a bath in the right time of the morning.
What a way to go about starting the day.
Not smoking black coffee.
Not scrambled eggs and fried rice.
Not bread and butter or the day’s newspapers on the table –
but a cool semi-shower from the tabo in my hand that I hold right above my head in the semi-darkness of a washroom where warm orange sunlight shines in through the wooden splats of a rectangular window set high on the east wall.
Written August 16, 2005
This post first appeared here.
It is possible to be stressed anywhere, I thought, even as I sat quietly staring into the nothingness dotted by small lights out in the distance. I have always wished I could go to the beach any time I wanted, to listen to the waves gently crash on the beach and watch them, waves upon waves, in leisurely succession rush towards the shore..
Five days we were stuck within the confines of our house as torrents of rain lashed onto our tin roofs and heavy winds whipped branches about, blowing fallen dry leaves against our faces, past our doorsteps and into the house.
This morning, I was exultant to open my eyes to better weather conditions, knowing full well that for a change I am going somewhere else aside from the four or so corners of this house – I am going to work. And work I did. Earlier this evening, I went out to sit on a tree trunk by the shore and drowned myself in the sounds of waves and motors of boats going out to sea to fish. I lifted up my face, closed my eyes when a gentle breeze blew. When I opened my eyes, I saw nothing but the grayness of the starless sky …and yet…
The pain in my right temple throbbed persistently and yet…
I have always thought I would try giving up so much, just so I can live where the sea rushes in to meet dry land, thinking it would make me happy. And now in the stillness of the night and the tremors deep within my heart, I have my little piece of happiness.
Written August 8, 2005
I always forego writing anything, for lack of time. I am so busy. I am exhausted most of the time. I am always running after time and I barely have a moment to catch my breath. Today, I will take a moment â€“ just once in the freneticity of my days, to write down, after six months, pieces of my thoughts.
Two days ago, I came up the overpass to cross to where my village is, and looked up to see a glorious sunset. Much like my sunsets of old, my sunsets in El Nido – though less spectacular, glorious nonetheless. It was not as red, nor as pink, nor as deeply hued. I could not see the purples, violets, or fuchsias. It was a patch of colors in a sea of galvanized iron sheets.
I can hear the sound of waves coming one after the other; rushing to the shore, even as I lay in bed with my ear against the pillow. It is in my head. This sound of waves. This sound of the sea that Iâ€™ve always loved, even as a child.
Once or twice a week, I go out on a paddle boat to nearby coves. I now have this golden brown color, a far cry from the pale skin I had when I got here almost eight months ago (and I sometimes pretend Iâ€™m a surfer girl, though there is no surf whatsoever wherever near.)
My calloused hands are a small price for what I come out for. The brown skin or the muscles I am building are not the rewards; rather it is the rare moments I catch whenever I am out in the open. The simple overwhelming feelings of the small memories I gather and keep in the recesses of my mind. Those that are mine and mine alone. It is the stillness of the turquoise waters and the gentle swishing of my hands in it. The whispering kwssh sound of the paddle as it goes out of the water and water rushing against the outrigger. It is not getting to wherever we are going in the absence of any feeling of [rush]. It is feeling so right to just be still, to just be. It is resting my paddle and lying down to watch the clouds, with the boat unmoving, more tranquil than floating on my back in water.
It is watching big great waves rushing towards us, being in the midst of turmoil yet feeling unthreatened, safe with the knowledge that we are going to get home. It is the rushing of wind against my face, looking out into dark grey waters and dark grey clouds blowing away. When youâ€™re out there in the middle of billowing waves, feeling like youâ€™re alone and everything is so unsafe, yet feeling comforted.
No camera can capture the shimmering of the waters under the sun in the distance. It is only in my mind I can record how I sat in the sand under a flaming orange tree and felt so free and so happy to be witness to things as such.
The sound of hundreds of small fish swimming in the water, crackling, tingling.
Staring into the water to gaze upon clumps upon clumps of corals brown against the white sand, and the green waters with gleaming white stripes of the sunshine on the surface of the water.
The butterflies flying with the wind, across kilometers of water.
It is swaying in a hammock under the shade of a tree and a purple sarong billowing in the wind.
It is falling asleep with the wind in my face, the sun in my closed eyes, curled in the sand.
Written January 23, 2006
Originally posted here.
I climbed higher up the hill, pausing each time to look back and take in the sight of the sea from way up. The sky was overcast but the zephyr kept my heart light. I spotted a hammock tied between two thin tall trees, swaying gently with the wind. I was delighted, but shortly disappointed to see that it was wet after I came running towards it. I then walked slowly towards the narra bench, dry and gleaming. I sat on it, untied my hair and let the wind blew it across my face. My hand in my hair, my elbow on the bench, one foot tucked underneath me and one dangling loosely to the ground, I stared at the boats dotting the sea in the distance. The sun was trying to peek through the thick gray clouds. I stretched my full length on the bench and stared at the rays of sunlight coming through the leaves overhead. It was a bit too bright. I flipped onto my stomach, rested my chin on my arm, and looked through the strands of hair over my eyes towards the trees, hoping to see wild monkeys playing somewhere in the woods. I saw none. I heard a bird shrilly call out but it was cleverly hidden in the trees. I flipped onto my back again. I was rolling on the smooth bench over and over again, I have no doubt I must have swept it clean.
I am lonely.
Just then, as I was looking through my splayed fingers, into the bright rays coming in through the leaves, the wind gently blowing my hair falling to almost touch the ground, my neck cool against the shiny, smooth narra wood, it suddenly came to me. That gnawing realization, the thought that suddenly comes into your mind from out of nowhere, like sudden inspiration, coming to you as if it is some important clue to a very essential puzzle that has been haunting you for life.
It is easier to find men to love you than to find a man to love.
Written September 11, 2005
I woke up this morning with this thought, I am giving you up. Not for any reason but that. I woke up this morning feeling and thinking I am giving you up. Not because last night you said you do not want me anymore not once, but three times with complete conviction. Not because you said you have always wanted to break up with me, that you had wanted to for an entire year, that you wanted to let me leave on that airplane knowing full well that there isn’t any you I am coming back to and it hurt like hell, but because this morning I woke up thinking and feeling I am giving you up. Not I should give you up, but I am.
This afternoon right about one in the afternoon, the wind picked up, and blew and howled. I stood firmly on the ground as the wind whipped stray fine hairs into my eyes and I watched gray heavy clouds drift swiftly past above the densely green hills. A thousand tiny knives borne out of the loneliness of my heart, surged and pricked me in a thousand sundry ways as deliberate diffident tears escaped from the pools I collected from the corners of my eyes. The leaves rustled, twigs flew, branches were broken and torn, tumbled down the bleakness of the grass bowed low. The wind commiserating with the turbulence in the depths of my heart roared silently. I know this sadness. I have felt it over and over again countless times. It is as familiar as my smile, the smell of my skin, and the feel of my hand against my cheek. In the grayness of early afternoon, something was sticking out tenaciously against the willful wind, vivid still – one lone crape myrtle flower, that gave me hope, gave me joy.. Just as in the past, there was you, now there is only this purple flower, now there is only me. No one else but me. Steadfast. Resolute. And as I always have been, will always be, stubborn though weak.
The rain fell in torrents tonight, unfalteringly wicked. It fell on the tin roof, spit-spattering like Morse code, and made me wonder if somehow it was trying to send a message across that I because of ignorance just couldn’t get. Somehow I will know, sometime. I am slowly, painfully learning, though crawling through bit by bit.
So this is how coming home really means, my coming home to me. There is no one to come home to anymore but me. In this island far from home, far from the people I loved most, cherished the most, treasured the most and the things I deemed most important, I found me. Beautiful and ugly in more ways than two or three or even ten, but decidedly real.
Written August 9, 2005
He’s taking too long and she couldn’t wait anymore, so she slung on her backpack, tied a sweater to her neck and got out the door, into the cool of the night. Walking nonchalantly in the semi-darkness, with only a faint light coming from the only two lamp posts that illuminated the long street, she kept her eyes on the street corner. The neighborhood dogs never bark at her, she thinks it is because they think of her as kin. She saw him walking in a surprisingly leisurely pace, a second after the light from the sari-sari store right in front of the town’s only waiting shed hit his dark face. She continued walking, waiting if he will recognize her face in the darkness. He does, and she laughs.
“You couldn’t wait anymore?” he asks.
“Well, yeah,” she says with that hearty little girl laugh she has.
And they walk together back.
“What path did you take on the way here? Here? Here? Or there?” motioning to him with her chin.
He answers her with a “Here” right after the two of them turned the corner. Here was a long dark, flooded when rainy, path right by a humble but pretty resort named after the Palawan pheasant, and it is the path they almost always take to go the beach to swim or to go to the hill. There was the path that winded through nipa huts and grazing land that they are forced to take when the tide is high or the other path between the never-been used but already falling apart from neglect and disrepair Japanese-owned 15-million resort and the only DTI-accredited resort in the town proper and the only one listed in the Lonely Planet travel guide too.
He lets her walk in front of him, lighting her way with his flashlight. She has none of her own. The sea breeze and the sighing surf greeted her face as she emerged from the path with a jump on the sand. She ties her sweater closer to her body as they continue to tread the beach. They come to a big boat tied on the shore blocking their way.
“Wuuh, the water’s cold!” she say, laughing ever so softly as she waded in ankle-deep water to get to the other side. He ran to the other end of the boat and squeezed himself through.
“I can’t wade in the water. I have a wound,” he says apologetically after they both come around.
“Is the water deep over by the bridge?” she asks knowing that they are almost about to reach the bridge.
“It is about waist-deep if you wade in the water. I crossed the bridge on my way,” he answers. Most of the time the water is ankle-deep, and there are stone steps one can use to cross it. She finds it disgusting sometimes to wade in the water, as it is the canal water coming from the hills, rushing towards the sea. The bridge is two coconut trunks laid onto two concrete slabs two meters apart, with no handles.
They come to the bridge and she sees that wading is out of the question, but climbing up the bridge is also difficult since her knee is weak. He senses her dilemma and climbs first. Standing over her, he holds the lamp flashlight in one hand and holds out the other to her. She looks up at his big hand, almost black in the darkness, and places her hand in it. His hand is warm and soft, and hers is small, delicate and smooth. For three seconds, they both feel this union of hands, soft but firm, and it seemed to them both that the whole world was but those two hands. It has been a long time, she thinks, choking a little sob at the back of her throat. He lets her hand go and walks in front of her, holding the lamp at his back to light her path. She gingerly treads her way on the planks. At the end of the bridge, she sees that it is too high for her to jump on her own in her weak knees. He is already on the sandy ground, looking up. She pauses. He holds out his hand again, and she takes it before jumping, landing firmly on her two feet on the sandy ground a meter below. Two seconds of soft warmth. Only in two instances will one ever feel this kind of tingling sensation brought about by a million tiny nerve endings stimulated, neurons jumping one after the other, faster than the speed of light. The meeting of two tentative lips, and the meeting of two trembling hands.
He lets her hand go, if hesitatingly, it was hard to tell. Maybe he let it drop, or maybe he just lost touch, but her hand fell to her sides. She walks on, smiling slightly in the darkness, and skips cheerily on the soft gray sand. He walks behind. The path is still long, and winding. They share a long silent walk.
At the bottom of the hill, he opens the gate for her. She walks in and walks past the bar door that leads into the workshop and heads straight to the wooden staircase and climbs up. The wide expanse of verandah greets her, a sungka is set atop the wooden table in the middle of the verandah. A bamboo seat is leaning on the wall right next to the door. Amidst the rustling of the coconut palm fronds, a gentle breeze caresses her face warmly.
He comes out of the door from the kitchen carrying a tray with two cups of steaming jasmine tea, sets it in the middle of the chair where at the right far end she is now sitting and leaning comfortably, staring into the sea, and he takes his place on the far left side. She takes a cup and utters her soft, childish thanks which he immensely loves and often imitates. She sips from her cup just as he brings up his to his lips. They both stare into the darkness of the sea.
“Where did we go wrong?” she asks.
“It was wrong from the very start,” he says ever so softly.
“Well, I thought it was rather cute…” she says with hurt in her voice, staring into the darkness where the sea is.
“Don’t you think?” she asks, almost in afterthought. As if she had suddenly decided that it mattered that he shared her thought.
Cute. She used the word cute. He looks at her profile in the darkness as he ponders on the word that she had used to refer to the night they first went out. It was far from cute, he inaudibly mumbles, just to himself, only to himself.
Written September 12, 2005
On the far end of the beach, lay a pile of big and small rocks. On a ? stone slab, beautiful in gray with streaks of black and white, she lit a cigarette using a match stick and only half-burned the tip. I never could get it right, she thought shaking her head. She laid on the slab, resting her head on a black and yellow life vest, her left hand holding a cigarette stick and the other resting lightly on her abdomen. She closed her eyes and breathed in and out deeply. The stones were on the shaded part of the beach, shielded by a forested cliff rising towards the sky, shielded from the bright burning setting sun. Every now and then, a bird would fly out of the dense forest, and a shrill cry from an unidentified animal would echo through. He came out of the pile of rocks, a few interesting bits and pieces of stones in hand. He saw her lying with her eyes closed, looking so peaceful, a slight smile on her lips, her long flowing black skirt splayed out on her legs and on the stone. He came to where she lay, and sat down next to her, gazing at her for a few minutes. Self-conscious, she opened her eyes and saw him watching her with a slow gentle fire burning in his eyes. She motioned for him to lie down beside her, and he does. Pushing his arms under her head, right where the nape of her neck rests, he re-positioned her small head on his big strong arms, and snuggled close to her. She rested her cheek on the side of his chest, her forehead inches away from his lips and let out a satisfied sigh. He kissed her ever so gently, first on the forehead, then the tip of her nose, and then the eyelids of her closed eyes. Breathing in a contented kind of purr, she raised up her face to his lips, she raised her lips to meet his. Slow kisses. Slow, gentle kisses. Moaning ever so gently, barely louder than a whisper, she opened her mouth and run her tongue lightly on his lower lip. He opened his and met her tongue, tasted each other, savored the taste and lingered. Burning kisses. Hot, burning kisses. He rolls her on top of him, her weight light on his chest, slightly heavier than the pillow he hugs when he sleeps in his own bed without her, not as soft but not as warm either. The feel of her skin on his compares to nothing. The smell of her skin and her hair compares to no one. And their love for each other compares to none.
She stopped, put a finger to his lips, and bit her own, her big brown twinkling eyes stared right into his. She smiled that smile he loves so much. She rolled over back to her side of the stone, twined her fingers with his and stared up at the sky again. Suddenly, she got up, gathered her skirt about her and ran towards the water, laughing. Her feet touching the water, she stopped, and gingerly put one foot into it, then followed by the other. She walked ever so slowly, careful not to slip, her fingers creeping up her legs as she hoisted her skirt higher and higher as the water got deeper Unable to take it anymore, she brought it up to her chest, looked back at him and laughed. “My mother used to walk around the house wearing her skirt like this,” she said laughing and almost shouting at him still sitting over by the stones and his eyes never leaving her. Finally, she took off her skirt, wriggling her head out of the top of it. She stood there half-way into the water, red swimsuit, holding a long black skirt in her hand and staring into the water. It was crystal clear, she could see the stones, her toes, and tiny multi-colored fish darting about. She leapt into the water and attempted to swim, but she could not see in the water clearly without her goggles and so she stood up. The skirt in her hand got in the way of swimming too so she decided to put it back on again, slipping it on top of her head and pulling it right down to her hips. The skirt fell into the water, and stayed there, swaying gently with the waves. She stared down into the water, mesmerized by the vividness of the small red flowers sewed into the cloth of her long black flowing skirt that used to be her mother’s. The swaying of the cloth against her lips felt like his tongue licking the length of her legs, the way he always does when they are making love. It thrilled her and she stayed like that, staring into the water and her red flowers on black. She suddenly remembered him and looked up, then laughed her little guilty girly laugh he loved so much. “Can you see your reflection on the water?” he asked. “No!” she shouts back guiltily laughing still. “My skirt is making love to me. Would you like to feel it too?” grinning mischievously. “You could try on my skirt if you like,” she added with a sly wink. Sitting still on the stone slab, he makes love to her body with his eyes.
The sky had begun to darken, the boatman said they had better get back. They climbed back into the boat, and they heard the sound of motor just as soon as the rain began to fall on the roof and on the water. It was foggy and dark. In the distance, the town could not be seen. The rain water mingled with the salt water spray and stung her face. In her wet swimsuit and her wet skirt, she felt cold. He instinctively slung his arm round her shoulder, enveloping her in his warmth. She snuggled close to him, ever grateful, ever welcoming. He glanced down at her to smile, and she beamed back – a little girl bundled in the arms of a man she had long began to love with all her little girl heart.
August 31st, 2005 at 6:31 pm
Nung una mong sinabing sa wakas ay natanggap ka na at sa katapusan na ng buwan ang alis mo, alam kong dapat matuwa ako para sa’yo. Kaya natuwa naman ako kahit alam kong hindi lang ang buhay mo ang magbabago, kundi pati na rin buhay ko. Alam ko na agad dun pa lang sa sinabi mo.
Hayskul tayo nung nasalubong ko sa corridor ang kaibigan ko – na kaibigan mo rin dahil magkasama kayo. Brown na brown ang suot mong contact lens kaya naalala ko. Akala ko nga matanda ka samin kaya nagulat ako nung sumunod na taon nang makita kong magkaklase tayo. Ang taray mo pa nga eh. Pero gusto kita talagang maging kaibigan kaya dinedma ko ang katarayan mo. Binigyan kita ng sulat na may kasamang bookmark para gamitin mo sa sandamakmak na makakapal na romance novels na forever binabasa mo. Natuwa ka sa sulat ko, at pati na rin yata sa bookmark, kaya napilitan kang maging kaibigan ko.
Mula noon, lagi ako sa bahay mo. Lagi rin kita kausap sa telepono. Gusto kasi kita kasi gusto mo ko kahit baliw ako. Gusto mo rin lahat ng kadramahan at kagaguhang kaakibat ng pagiging tao ko. Gusto kita kasi lahat na lang yata tinatawanan mo.
Nung umalis ka, naningkit ang mga mata ko sa kaiiyak. Natuliro ang boyfriend ko kasi hindi ako nagsalita pero nagngangangawa ako ng isang buong linggo. Di ko masabing sobrang sama ng loob ko kasi hindi kita nakita ni nakausap bago ka sumakay ng eroplano at iniwan ako. Hindi ko rin naibigay ang sulat na utang ko sa’yo.
Inabangan ko ang pagbalik mo, na itinumbas ko sa pagbabalik ng buhay ko, at ng parte ng kaluluwa kong sa pakiwari ko ay dinala mo. Ano ba naman ang isang taon…
Isang buong taong wala ka para tawagan sa kalagitnaan ng mga gabing wala akong makausap, wala ka para puntahan kapag magulo ang aking utak. Sana kung andito ka, baka gumradweyt ako. O kung ‘di man, andun ka para sa akin nung dinisown ako ng tatay ko. Sana sa’yo ko tumira, ikaw ang nagpakain sa akin, ikaw ang nagbayad ng mga pamasahe ko o kung ‘di man magkasama tayong naglakad paroo’t-parito. Sana natulungan mo ko nung away kami nang away ng boyfriend ko – tutal kasalanan mo naman kung bakit naging kami. Nung dinala ko kasi siya sa bahay mo para tingnan siya at itanong kung ano ang gagawin ko, sinabi mong sagutin ko ng oo dahil gwapo. At higit sa lahat, sana sa kama mo ako natulog nung mga gabing ayokong matulog sa akin. Sa kama mo kasi walang nangyayari. Sana ikaw pa rin kasama kong magyosi, maglasing o uminom ng kape. At hindi kung sinu-sinong lalaki.
Kung iniwan mong magulo ang buhay ko at dinatnan itong mas magulo, kasalanan mo. Kasi iniwan mo ako at nawindang ako sa kakahanap ng kapalit mo.
Kung alam mo lang kung gano kita hinanap. Kung ilang sulat ang ginawa ko at ilan pa ang naiwan sa utak ko dahil lang hindi ko alam kung pano sila makakarating sayo. Kung ilang beses kong inangat ang telepono para i-dial ang mga numerong ni hindi ko alam kung ano.
Pero isang taon na ang nagdaan. Inipon ko ang lahat ng kwento ko, pati na ang mga luha ko para sa pagbabalik mo. Pero hanggang ngayon, hindi ko pa rin nakikita ni anino mo. Hindi ko pa rin alam kung saan ko ipapadala ang mga sulat ko. Hindi ko pa rin alam kung anong mga numero ang ida-dial ko.
First seen online here.
This letter was written with the intention to let your fears subside and let your mind be pacified. I must admit that right now I have no idea as to what you are feeling, simply because I choose not to think about it. My mind is full of other things, things that I think deserve my attention the most. I am sorry if you are as affected as you are, but I cannot do anything about it except write you this letter in the hope that you may understand.
I am alone. I have not found somebody else. Nor do I have any intentions of doing so. I am content living my life on my own, living by myself and thinking of no one but myself and nothing but things that concern myself. No, I am not being self-centered. I just donâ€™t have the capacity to think of other things anymore. My mind is as troubled as my heart and my thoughts as jumbled as my life. And I hope that answers your persistent question as to whether I am missing you or not.
Unlike you, I do not and will not send text messages asking how you are, where you are and what you are doing. Itâ€™s not only that I am preoccupied with myself but also because I simply do not want to know. I do not want to think of you. I do not like thinking of you either. So, most of the time, it seems to me as if you donâ€™t exist or that there used to be someone like you, named as you are, in my life. However, you may find some consolation in knowing that I speak of you often and mention you in my many conversations with other people, most especially those who chose to stay even when I was at my worst.
You could have not foreseen that an incident that kept being repeated in the course of many months, the last months of our struggle to keep the relationship, would lead to something like this. Neither did I. Although many other things and people were instrumental in making this possible, your role and your actions were pivotal. It was the turning point. If at times during your musings you happen to think of whose fault it is that we separated, I hope that you remember the night when I came to you and you turned me away crying like the crazy girl that I am. And further, I hope that the words you uttered to me that fateful night will keep on ringing in your ear, serving as a constant reminder that it was your words causing you this pain.
I can stand on my own two feet. Now I really do believe I can. For after all, I had my two feet even before you came along. In fact, I didnâ€™t need an extra pair. I can find my own way to the movies, to the mall, to the restaurant, to my tambayan, and most especially to my house. Now that I think about it, the extra pair of feet that came with the relationship only meant I had to go to more places and mingle with more and more people with still more feet, even to those I had no business with. I realize now that my life is complicated enough as it is and I do not need to concern myself with the intricacies of another personâ€™s life. My own is heavy enough for me to carry. I shouldnâ€™t be putting up annexes.
It may gladden your heart to know that I am doing well. I hope it does anyway. I am coping. My life is less stressful, merely because it is simpler. I need only to think about myself and things somehow turn out fine. I know I will get through this difficult segment of my life and it gives me such pride to think that after this is all over, I will have no one to thank for but myself. Or that if I have a list of people I would have to thank for, it is shorter, simply because it does not include you. If I think this way, can you blame me? You left me when I needed you most.
I do not think of the happy times we had or the good things we shared. The good things do not make up for the horrible, to the point of being pathetic, times I had to go through for you and because of you. Now I find comfort in knowing that it is all behind me now, I will not go through it again and more importantly, I do not have to take it from you. When I think of you, what comes to my mind is that, â€œThank God it is over.â€ I do not think of the good things, because it drags with it memories of the bad. I simply do not think at all anymore. And it suits me just fine.
I have by chance come upon this book by a certain Joshua Harris entitled, â€œI Kissed Dating Goodbyeâ€ and it is as if there was something other than pure chance that brought this book into my hands. It has changed my way of thinking and I believe, did a lot for my thought-remodeling. I would like to share with you the things that has been pricking my brain. But I guess at some other time.
This article was first seen online here.