Archive for ‘The Arts’

20 August 2012

GoodRead: Jeffrey McDaniel’s Poetry and On Being Away from Who/What I Love

by misslampa

At about 15 minutes before midnight, the moment I got off my weekly Skype conference call with my sister who’s in Singapore and my parents and brother who are in Manila, this poem came to mind.



We had been discussing for the nth time where we’d be during the holidays, who would be flying where, and from whose pocket the travel expenses would be drawn. In the end, we decided to celebrate Christmas in Manila, which means my sister won’t be with us come December 25. That’s terrible news for silly old me who’s been away all year, and who will be away again for most of 2013. All I wanted was a simple noche buena (Christmas eve dinner) for five.

I know McDaniel’s piece isn’t familial at all, and I also have yet to find a lover whose breathing I would stay on the line for. But right now, many of the faces and places I hold closest to my heart are just too far away for comfort. There’s my bestest friend in the whole wide world who’s tying the knot in October and parents in their 60s who’ll be celebrating their birthdays soon, among others. There are a couple of people I’m itching to see, and it is my hope that they’re also itching to see me.

But the thing is, the more I try to make up for the distance with all the sweetness and smileys and even silences I can cram into the correspondences I keep, the more I realize that slowly whispering 32 I-love-you’s just isn’t enough to bridge the miles between us. And even if I dare break the quota and say I love you for the 33rd time, that sadly won’t amount to much too.

For nothing about using up all the I-love-you’s in the world can make me miss them any less.





A shout-out goes to my friend Exxon Yu, who first made me aware of this short but moving poem. The snapshot of the poem above is also from him.

19 May 2012

The Lure of Writing

by misslampa

We all scramble for ways to hold on to that which we’d want to remember. These days, it’s not unusual to see people taking photo after photo of themselves or whatever it is they’d like to freeze in time. I totally get this incessant desire to capture moments and milestones and mishaps, really. But taking pictures and sharing them via Instagram, er-, um, they don’t quite cut it for me.


Not the former, but the latter.


So instead, I open a blank Microsoft Word document and wait for that small but steadily blinking cursor to compel me to write.


Fine, you got me. It’s been really more like this, heehee. Ü
I guess I’m not that old-school, after all.


It’s a bit strange, I know. I am 28 years old and should be part of this generation that clicks away at everything with their digital SLRs and phone cameras. When it would only take a second or two to take a shot of any event that’s worth immortalizing, why slave for hours over a blog entry that no one would bother reading?


Hmm. Tough question.


I think it’s because if I’m really honest with myself, I’d know that the choice between pictures and words is not mine to make. People who fancy themselves as creative writers probably feel the same way – that we must continue to nurture this love affair with words because our souls die a little each time we shrug off this nagging urge to write.


Call it borderline psychotic, but as with all art, the lure of writing is something I can’t refuse. Now unless you’ve surrendered to some form of artistic expression yourself, this idea will be very difficult to understand.


And so,  amid looming course deadlines and my lack of sleep, I take the time to make sure my spirit survives the night. I write and revise blog posts such as this one ’til I’ve indulged my muse enough. I hold debates in my head over which angle to take, whether to keep or change a phrase, and how much of my draft will see the light of day. In many ways, I make it more tedious and time-consuming for me to hold on to every someone, something and someplace I’d rather not forget.


And In all honesty, this set-up suits me just fine. I couldn’t be happier that things like cameras and Instagram don’t quite cut it for me. :-)

24 July 2011

Reflections after Watching “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa”

by misslampa

As there are so many things un-Filipino about me, I sometimes wonder…was I born in the wrong country? I never played jolens and siato (or is it chato?) while I was growing up, and even now I don’t know the rules of pusoy dos and tong-its. I’ll be lost if I shop in Divisoria, I won’t eat with bare hands unless I have to, and for the life of me, I can never get what’s so fascinating about basketball or afternoon soaps.

I cringe at the thought of eating the poor sisiw in balut, can’t remember the last time I ate one. I don’t remember how it feels to have that soft, pointed beak tickle my tongue as my teeth sink into that gooey flesh the color of which is a mix between pale pink and faint brown with very light streaks of gray. Just imagining it makes me squirm.

Apart from my morena skin and black eyes, I think what’s already most Filipino about me is my unwavering conviction that the taste of happiness is best captured in a cup of taho or pink scramble. Oh, and that there should be a tabo in every bathroom or washroom or water closet – or comfort room, as we call it here in the Philippines. I just shifted from food to poop right there, didn’t I? Sorry.

One thing I know, though, is that I love my country to bits. Down to every bit, I tell you. And that’s something I declare loudly and proudly.

But rarely in my native tongue, sadly.

So sometimes I find myself questioning if I’m really that proud after all. If I am as proud as I say I am, shouldn’t communicating that sentiment in my native tongue be part of the equation? Or at least I could say it in Filipino as much as I do in English, right? How phony I can be at times.

I honestly don’t know when English started becoming the more natural, less tiring choice. Don’t get me wrong, though. I can speak conversational Filipino without the twang (I think), and if I try hard enough, I’m sure I can write a decent piece or two. But for years now, I’ve been using English to teach and hope and think and write and dream. My mastery of the Filipino language is… well, there’s really no mastery to talk about. So I’ve been capturing pieces of myself using borrowed words because before “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” (Alvin Yapan at Alem Ang, 2011) came along, I thought English was it for me.

But while I was watching this gem of a film yesterday evening at the CCP, as I was taking in line after line of some of the most beautifully-written poetry in Filipino, I understood that I am really every bit the Pinoy I claim myself to be because I don’t remember any English text ever having gripped me as much as some of the lines from the poem Paglisan by Joi Barrios, which is about a woman who’s left to deal with herself after her lover walks out on her.


Nais kong mabatid

Ang lahat ng iyong

Tinangay at iniwan.

Nais kong malaman,

Kung buong-buo pa rin ako

sa iyong paglisan.


(Thanks to the scud for sharing the lines with me.ü)


The poem became the lyrics of a tender yet sad and unsettling song used in the movie, and I swear I was literally hugging myself while I was right smack in the middle of CCP’s Main Theatre. No poem, not even Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” has ever made me feel so much pain and loss and love and longing. I don’t think anything written in English ever will.

It was at that moment that I discovered I can teach and think and even dream in English all I want, but if you want my very core to fully and earnestly understand, you have to speak to me in Filipino.

Apparently – and thankfully, can I just say – I’m Filipino like that.


Catch the 4pm screening of “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” today, 24 July 2011. Click on the link to see the full trailer. And since you’re trooping to CCP anyway, you might as well watch the other Cinemalaya films this year.