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Cold

The sky is wonderfully overcast. I think I am the only one who rejoices in the grays, in the coldness of the wind against one’s face. Heat is unfriendly and invasive, as opposed to the chill of January mornings.

“Let me still you,” it seems to speak. The cold makes home more welcome. The bed that I do not want to return to seems to envelop more fully.

It is cold, the skies are gray, and I feel safe where I am. Life is good. 🙂

After the Long Hiatus

It has been a while since I’ve written anything on this blog. It’s funny that what is perhaps the most commonly appearing post on my blogs is apologies for long hiatuses. I tend to overestimate my extroversion in this way. Or perhaps it’s my attention span.

In any case, here are my updates:

1. I’ve started a business with some people. It’s a hobby shop along the Katipunan area.

2. I’ve been with the same woman for three years, and it has been a glorious experience co-existing with her.

3. I know what I want to do with my life, and have been doing it for quite a while now.

Manyak

This is roughly the Filipino word for pervert.

I have been on question-and-answer networks for quite a while, spending years on Formspring before switching to Ask.fm. It doesn’t surprise me that the websites have been associated with cyberbullying, given the anonymity it provides to certain participants. In the Philippines, the story’s quite different. On my feed alone, there are a few instances each day of sexual harassment, of men flagrantly harassing women on their own timelines, under the protection of anonymity. I usually end up commenting, and sending a message to these women, trying to diffuse the situation with humor. Tonight, however, I read something that offended me to the very core of my being.

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Translated: “Does it hurt anyone to perv out on them? Even if there’s no physical contact involved.”

First of all, such questions, advances, and comments are never warranted. No woman ever asks to be harassed, and no woman ever asks to be disrespected. Even if there was no physical contact involved, boundaries have been overstepped. A woman is not something to be used for pleasure, nor is it acceptable in any form to revel in the discomfort harassment causes her. 

What infuriated me about this statement even more is that the person who posted it firmly believes that he has done nothing wrong by perving out on this girl’s ask. It demonstrates the kind of small-minded misogyny that has held us back for thousands of years, and what’s worse is that this girl experiences it on a daily basis. Directed, not just at her, but her friends as well.

It was made worse having read these next on her feed:

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“Why was ***** covered yesterday? It wasn’t drool-worthy. :(((((((”

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“Just wear pants, *****. Let ***** wear shorts instead. Loljk. :)))”

After having responded to the perverts via her ask wall, I spoke to her, and apparently it’s a whole group of men who have taken to harassing her. It angers me to think that they are owed the sexual pleasure afforded by a woman dressing a certain way. That they deserve to disrespect and objectify this woman because of the way she dresses.

Then there’s the idea that women should cover up in order to avoid being disrespected and objectified. So, it’s the woman’s fault now? Why can’t we teach men to look at women with respect instead? Why can’t we teach men to respect a woman no matter what she is wearing?

This particular anonymous pervert even responded after I had commented, as follows:

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“Hi to the angry person. 🙂 I don’t need to be a pervert to ask this: what do you think about when you masturbate? Based on your anger and challenges, you must not have a shred of lust in your body. I envy you!”

Hi back, asshole. There’s a difference between sexual attraction and disrespect. I am not some animal who resorts to disrespecting a woman just because he is sexually attracted to her. I am not without lust; I have been sexually active since high school. I’ve watched porn, and I’ve masturbated like every other teenager. But I’ve never disrespected a woman in my life. Because I am disciplined enough to know my limits, and respect the limits of others.

2013

2013 was a strange year.

Everyone says every year that the last one was a roller coaster. Ups and downs and the like. Generally speaking, I haven’t reallly ever felt that. Life is generally more of a down for me than it is for others, but c’est la vie. 

I had never really felt the roller coaster until this year. This year, I was part of the executive committee of this organization. Purpose is always good for the soul, and even more so when aimed at helping others. I think I’ve accomplished more this year than I ever have. I have laid down the foundations for many long-term projects. A musical, a novel series, a number of short stories, and certain events (slam poetry in particular). Here’s to hoping I have the time and energy to finish a majority of them.

I’ve also started running as a habit. After 6 weeks of training,  my average speed is now at 10.97 km/hr. If there’s one thing I fell in love with this year, it was running. 

This was also the year I lost my great grandmother, then, 40 days later, my sister. My mamang was old, and we had expected it for quite a while. My sister was 24, and it was incredibly sudden. It wasn’t until I had lost Ate Cat that I discovered true grief. Sometimes, I still forget she is gone. It was funny. The morning she had died, I dreamed we were texting, and she told me she was coming home. I couldn’t believe it when my father called, crying over the phone, telling me she was gone.

2013 was a strange year. It was when I gave myself purpose again. It was when I felt the burning grief of having someone ripped from you so suddenly. And I am thankful it happened, and very glad that it’s also over. 

Lose Yourself

It has been over half a year since I was selected to be part of the Executive Board of the UP Career Assistance Program for Engineering Students, or as it is more affectionately known, CAPES. A lot of things have changed in me since, and it has been a blessing after the last year. Last year was the worst existential rut in my life, and to be thrown into this world of leadership and responsibility has given me purpose.

My stay at the College of Engineering has not been easy, with my resistance to it. It resulted in a number of bad decisions on my part, and some rather intense consequences. A refusal to accept the status quo in wanting another rather desperately does certain things to a person.

I don’t think I had a miraculous “Why not both?” moment. It was a gradual acceptance, that I could live both lives as one whole rather than reject this part of my life. I can’t say it was a decision. It just seemed to happen naturally.

And now I am part of something amazing. It is over halfway in my term, and I can say that Gandhi quote is true. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. And my, oh my, am I lost.

Excuses

The past defines all of us in a certain way. For me, it defines me only one way. In what I am not.

Lately, all I’ve been hearing from you is negativity. All I’ve been hearing from you is the reasons you can’t be happy, the reasons you can’t move forward, and the reasons it is impossible for you to get out of this problem. All I hear are your excuses and defeatism.

You can tell me a million things, but I will still believe the only one conclusion I have formed in myself. You are what’s wrong with your world. You are the only thing holding you back. You have made yourself the only reason there is no progression in your situation.

Don’t tell me I am not in your position. Don’t tell me I am too young to understand. I have lived alongside you all of my life. I understand better than anyone, and sometimes, even better than you. There is no longer anything real holding you back other than your excuses.

Porkchop

 

 

There is a certain way you get used to pets. You develop an equilibrium with them so perfect that you don’t even notice that they have become, in essence, a part of you. We learn in biology that there are creatures who become so in tune with each other that they form something called a symbiotic relationship. We have two gerbils, three cats, and from five dogs, we now have four.

Earlier today we lost our Porkchop. He is about nine years old, and has been sick for quite a while. We took him to the vet a few times, and it was no surprise to us anymore that he died. It doesn’t hurt any less though.

 I will miss your soft fur, and your expressive green eyes. I will miss your pink nose. I will miss you barking at anybody who knocks on our door. I will miss your fur getting everywhere. I will miss you lazily dropping yourself on the bed when you’re tired. I will miss you licking my face to wake me up when I oversleep. I will miss you checking up on everybody in the house if they’re not all in the same place. I will miss that reassuring paw you lay on me when I am sad, as if to pat me on the shoulder and tell me that everything’s going to be okay.

I am going to miss you so much. There is no replacing the unconditional love that an animal gives. You were more than just our pet. You were our friend, and part of our family. Part of our symbiosis. How does a dog love?  Imagine something that knows nothing greater in life than to love and be loved by you. Imagine something that thinks you are the greatest person in the world just for giving them a little bit of your attention.

Now, I will not hear you bark or see you wag your tail when I arrive. I will not wake up with you snuggled against me, no matter how hot it is. I can only recall and reminisce, and cherish the joy of having been you friend, having been around you. You never left our side, and now the memory of you will never leave us.

We love you, Porkchop, and we will always.

 

 

Porkchop

Hell Week

Hell week is upon us all yet again, and I think none more so than engineering students.

Lately, I have been heavily immersed in my studies, so much so that it has been affecting both my disposition and my relationships. To be an engineering student is to know the feeling of being spent. It is a different kind of exhaustion that you get fro studying engineering; there are just some problems that you will never get, or hurdles you may never jump over. There are tests you won’t pass, and skills you won’t acquire.

I have been an engineering student for four years now, and I still haven’t gotten used to it. Everything before has come to me easily, and just by my own natural talent, I have done well. Everything used to come so simply to me, and I thought it would be like that forever. I don’t think I could be more wrong.

And for some reason, I am thankful. I don’t want to accept my inadequacy. I don’t want to accept the fact that I am not excellent, that I haven’t been for a very long time. I don’t want to accept I am bad at this. I don’t want to accept it, and give up all hope of ever growing in my field.

It is true that we work harder for worse grades. It is true that we will use maybe 10-20% of what we learned in our careers. It is true that, time and time again, there will be machines and programs that can do the job we have been taught to do. But none of this really matters enough to make any of us give up.

What I think is the greatest thing that engineering has taught me is that I cannot, under circumstances, give up. Even if we absolutely cannot finish that exam, we pound away at calculator buttons, struggling to make sense out of everything. And it is this pioneering ideal that causes us to break through our own supposed limits.

I am not excellent. But I am an engineering student, and I will not give up.

 

Silence

My CW teacher recommended to us the other day that we try not to speak for three days. As someone who is more talkative and communicative than the average person, this was appealing to me. I love words, and nothing brings me more joy than spinning them beautifully. To live without them for a certain time – what would that be like?

She told us that she goes on a week-long silent retreat for a whole week every year. She believes that it makes you a better person, or at least, a better listener. I haven’t really had problems with listening, not in a long time. It makes me ponder what voluntary silence will do to me.

I imagine it will be like scuba diving, but without the sensory overload. Would I still hear the sound of the world? Would I still find the stillness without the sensory overload? I would like to find out.

A Certain Way

There is a certain way that people hold themselves. I think we don’t really know the limits of what we can do until we are faced with our own preconceived notions of them. Nobody truly knows the lengths one will go through, in order to survive. Survive. It’s a funny word I have grown to hate.

I am a proud person. I have put value on my honor, and my dignity, despite everything that has happened in my life. I have done things in my life that I am not proud of, but I have done it for my family and the people I love. I have done things to make their lives easier. I have done things in order for us to exist peacefully.

I came to this point again. Another time when I’ve had to suck in my pride, set aside my sense of dignity, and beg.

There is a certain way that I’ve accustomed myself to such things. I let the present beat at me while I hope, beyond the haze, that there is a calmer future ahead of me. It is strange. I dream of silence, and stillness, and calmness. I am too old to be this tired.

If there is one thing I am proud of, if I cannot be proud of myself, is my friends. In my time of crisis, they did not hesitate. I cannot feel more love for the friends I have than I do now.