Category Archives: Musings

A life less ordinary

It’s the first day of the 6th month of the year 2020. Manila goes into a more relaxed general quarantine after being on lockdown for 77 days. It’s been one heck of an emotional roller coaster ride; my emotions running the gamut from shock to despair, back to anger and disgust to happiness and contentment, peppered with pockets of numbness.

As always, there’s a Ying to the Yang. I was finally given time to go in instead of out, to have that silence I was craving for myself. I shifted my focus on the right things and appreciate what I have even more. I have pushed back and stood up for myself again and again. A teacher appeared when I needed it. I renewed my meditation practice (25 day sitting streak). I have read 11 books (more, I think). I picked up a brush anew after 3 or 4 years of not being able to do so. I’m finally loving my white hair (and rocking it!). And I am owning the thought that I am no longer a diamond in the rough. Here’s to a life less ordinary.

<The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think.>

—A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives by Lisa Congdon

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The Adventuress

I was nursing a massive headache yesterday. It must be from the humidity and heat. It’s sticky weather here in Manila.

I’m a little more lucid today. And upbeat. I got my copy of Jessica Zafra’s Zine, The Adventuress: A story of love and money. Been devouring it the whole afternoon. There are only 500 copies available. Head to Jessica Rules the Universe and order a copy.

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Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation

Did you know that an intact (un-spayed) female kitten can get pregnant up to three times per year? Each pregnancy could produce a litter of two to eight kitties. This means that just one female cat can produce between six and 24 kittens in a single year. Most of these kittens will be dumped or killed. Those who survive in the streets will reproduce when they hit puberty (at 5 or 6 months old)  and the cycle begins anew. 

The solution to this problem is for responsible pet owners to spay or neuter their cats. And to curb population growth in your area, do a TNR project: Trap, Neuter, Return. With your donation, you can help the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation do just that. Please click on the link below and help. 

https://www.youcaring.com/philippinepetbirthcontrolcenterfoundation-802773

Please check out their FB page for more details about their program.

Every bit counts! Let’s do this!  🙂 

Thank you! 

#kaponangsolution #spayandneuter

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Horror Vacui

How would you feel about inhabiting the empty spaces in your life? 

I am far from being religious, but the Jesuits have a soft spot in my heart. And this, this speaks to me. 

I struggled with Horror Vacui in 2016 and I have been wanting to face this issue head-on this year. There’s just too much running around, too much fire and air, too much static, to many to-do lists. I need my quiet time, to inhabit my empty spaces again to find my voice, to just be
http://pinsoflight.net/2017/04/16/horror-vacui/

Happy Easter, friends. 

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Quicksand


It seems easy enough to escape Quicksand. You just need to keep your cool, stay in the present, make room for yourself, float, and stand when you are able to do it on your own. You can’t expect people to pull you out of it because they can’t and they shouldn’t. It’s something that you have to do and figure out on your own.

I have never seen quicksand and, being a hermit that I am, I don’t know if I ever will. But it’s good to know; there is a life lesson here. I feel like I have been roosting in some form of bog of my own for a long time now. I have been living in a void that I have kneaded and fed, helped expand, and have allowed to swallow me whole. And, much like what they said about trying to escape quicksand, the more I struggle, the more viscous and constricting it gets.

I’ve been getting it all wrong, I think. I haven’t been making time to do things that spark delight in me. I have been too focused on struggling to survive, to make a living, that I have let my eyes wander off away from the prize. I have been settling for things when I should have settled within myself and listened to Steph. Is this really how I want to be for the rest of my existence? I need to find time again to do things that give me true joy; things that would give me room to expand and help me rise again. And, yes, I shouldn’t be afraid to lose my shoes or any other thing along the way. They are just objects, nothing of consequence. Life should not be about survival, but more about being alive.

I have lost my way and getting stuck in this quagmire was probably the best thing that could have happen to me. If you walk around without looking or without purpose or without being present, you are never going to get anywhere and, perhaps, you’ll never even know that you have been going around in circles, in a daze. Running on empty and on autopilot can only sustain you for some time. I should be grateful be in this sticky situation instead of wandering around aimlessly.

It will take some time to get out of this murky sinkhole, I know. Patience is crucial. It is quite daunting, to be honest, to try to get away from this. But maybe it would not be as overwhelming if I think less of it as a “escaping” and more of break, an opportunity to rest and just be. I’ve alway asked the world to stop from spinning so I could get off. Well, here it is. The goal is to trust enough so that I could float and stand on my feet again. I hope I don’t have to break my back like that cartoon guy did, but I am willing to roll on the ground and crawl if I have to. Then maybe if I let go–maybe, just maybe–I won’t just find solid ground to walk on, but be it would be strong enough for me to run on, lift off, and fly again.

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Lord of (the F)lies

“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy.” (Lord of the Flies)

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Another year older

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I spent my birthday in Escolta surrounded by worn out spaces from a bygone era that whisper their stories through the chipped walls, fading paint, and the layers of dust that embrace forgotten belongings. The nicks and cracks alone can make even the most prosaic of men to wax nostalgic, but there is no room there for sentimentality. A decrepit shop window surprises you with an intriguing art installation, while the former site of a department store is now the home to a bustling community of artisans and creative entrepreneurs. The elegant architecture remains—albeit weathered and worn—but it is now charged with youthful, colorful, contemporary energy that makes you look forward to the future, that makes you excited to see what’s next for this place.

It was not a bad way to spend my birthday. It gently reminded me that everything old can be made new again, that change is constant but old things need not be discarded. It made me remember my favorite line from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: ‘Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit. ‘Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.’ Not a bad day at all.

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On losing my voice

From September 2006. Almost didn’t recognize myself.

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Child of Saturn

Something clicked into place inside me. I awoke with a start, jumped out of bed as the sun rose, and started cleaning my room. I threw open all the windows, scrubbed the floorboards, dusted my bookshelves, and changed the sheets. I rearranged the furniture with Herculean determination; I would have torn down walls and transplanted my room to a sunnier spot had I not realized that I was only renting a room and did not own the place. General cleaning was in order.

This could be the effect of the Full Moon or it could be that I just got tired of being tired. I spent the whole day yesterday in bed, nursing a colossal hangover. I didn’t really drink that much; with two bottles of beer and a sip of cheap red wine, I willed myself into drunkenness. I was desperate for a reprieve from that barren child who had been spending endless hours splayed on the floor, defeated, reeking with suffocating saturnine malaise and dripping with melancholy.

I was only able to slip away from her tight grip for a couple of hours. When I opened my eyes she was roosting on my chest, scratching the lint on my shirt with muddied claws, staring at the black moth that somehow got into my room. I wonder if she would let it escape. Too exhausted to move, I allowed myself to be swallowed by darkness. An hour later and I was up. She had moved to a corner, her scraggly head resting on a pile of dirty clothes. The moth was gone.

I rummaged through the fridge for nourishment. I opened a bag of fresh greens. My body was screaming for meat, but I couldn’t be bothered to cook. I finished half a gallon of water hoping that would flush down the toxins and cobwebs from my system. There was still no running water (it was the third day; the manager of the building said it would be back by tomorrow) and the electricity was low. I could turn on the fan but not the lights, the telly but not the computer. Frustrated, I return to my room. Mélancolie, as I now start calling her, coaxed me to return to bed. With nothing to do, I gave in. Sleep took over instantly.

It was dark outside when I woke up. The lights were still not working; I turn on the TV. Not even the Sports News could rouse an emotion from me. Spain lost to Northern Ireland? I turn my head the other way and face the wretched creature that has been siphoning my energy. I study her face with indifference—her slithery hair shining in half light, weathered skin that was both greasy and parched, pudgy and taut, her eyes drowning in darkened sockets. She was not malevolent in any way, I realized. She was just devoid of everything; a useless lump of mass occupying space for no reason at all.

I began talking to her, asking her questions. She remained in her wraith-like state, more interested in flicking specks of dirt from her nails than speaking to me. I poked, I prodded. WHY ARE YOU HERE?!? Her apathy enraged me. I started pulling her at her yellow-stained sleeves. I pushed her off the bed. I grabbed her neck and threw her against the night table. WHY? WHY? WHY? Not a screech, a whimper, a moan. WILL YOU EVER LET ME GO? My head started to throb. I wanted to kill.

I stepped back and started to weep. The scream that was thrashing inside my lungs for days was no longer silent. Primordial anger, hate, sorrow, pride, guilt, and wrath pulsated within my shell, erupting from my chest, tearing down the stone cold moor around my heart. I am sorry. I was wrong.

I sat in front of her; I am shivering. She doesn’t ask for comfort or care; I offer her none. I reached for the nearest trinket on the table, a half-eaten chocolate bar, and left it beside her. I bid her goodnight.

Something clicked into place within me this morning. She is gone. Saturn’s child will be back someday. In the meantime I am alone again. I am free to open the windows and air out my soul.

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Distorted Cat Portraits

I woke up with a start yesterday morning. It was 3AM and I was having an anxiety attack. I couldn’t go back to bed so I fed the cats, cleaned the litter box, and wrote and drew in my journal. I fell asleep from exhaustion at around 7.

It happened again this morning, this time at 4AM. I did the same thing, but could not go back to sleep. So I tinkered with my phone, played with PicsArt and came up with this:

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The Cat from Manila

This reminded me of El Greco’s “Caballero con la mano en el pecho” (or something like that!).

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El Gato y El Caballero

Twister doesn’t mind wearing a doily collar! Hah! How macho is he! 😝

So I guess I’ll be doing more of these portraits. I should do a 30-day distorted cat portrait project! That would definitely stop me from being a lapse blogger. Haha.

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Ghost

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Upside down. Peel.

“The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.” 

–Neil Gaiman, American Gods

I had to unpack some of the garments from my Peel installation yesterday and I was hit by a sudden wave of nostalgia. After residing at the Little Theater Lobby for about a month, they smelled musty and old, enveloped in the aroma of worn wood and of art; they smelled strongly of the CCP.

The scent of my work took me back to the Cultural Center of my youth, a place simmering with beaming hope and wild expectations. For a time during the early 90s, I used to hang out in its hallowed halls. I joined a summer art workshop and bonded with my classmates and the organizers. We even formed a group—The XXI Strokes—and had a show called “First” (and last!!! Hah!) at a reputable gallery Manila after.

That was a passionate juncture in my life—for the first time I let myself believe that I could create art. Funny how I don’t remember the names of my fellow artists or the things that we did, but I recall snippets of our stint there: I see my hands cutting a design on a rubber mat for the first time, I am observing the underside of work tables as I try to take a nap on the floor, I catch beams of light as we go ghost hunting after dark, and I am sitting in awe, communing with the works of Luz and Ocampo. I don’t remember much, but I am certain that that mildewed and stale odor accompanied me like an old friend everywhere. It was not imposing or bothersome, mind you. But it was comforting, comfortable, and ever present.

My old friend greeted me at the door the first time we had our meeting at the CCP. In my excitement over the upcoming show, I failed to acknowledge his presence. I knew that he was there with me during the days of our setup, up to the days when I would introduce Peel to my friends. He was the steady hand that guided me through my artist talk and he sat quietly with me as I said goodbye to the empty space.

I was taken aback when the scent emerged as I unpacked my pieces. It was the CCP of my youth, yes, but the wiff of sawdust has altered it. I clung to the fabric and drew in the new mix. I have come full circle, that’s what it said. My previous hopes and expectations were now realized dreams and memories. That old friend served its purpose and is gone. This new one promises a fresh chapter imprinted with untrodden visions.

With all souls’ day fast approaching, I’m taking the time to honor my old friend. I was apprehensive about the future, of what comes next, but this little haunting reminded me that all was well. It made me look back and see how the dots I’ve planted even back then have all connected and are pointing me to the future. So, thank you, dear friend. Thank you.

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Sleeve. Peel.

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