Exactly 15 years ago, my mother showed me a family picture. I was barely a year old, cradled in my mother’s arms, holding a toy while my two other siblings wore their best clothes. It was a tradition to take yearly photos in a green backdrop with cheap marbled flooring somewhere in Titay. This photo was to be sent to my father up into the mountains. That time, he was still an active member of the New People’s Army.
This image among many other pictures was folded and fitted into my father’s tattered wallet. This one in particular had a note written by my mother which only when I was 16 realized the impact of the words.
“We must embrace the tragic necessity of ending this era of misery and deprivation. And we are certain that through the struggle and in our struggle, we shall acquit ourselves with honor and distinction. Dugang kadasig and happy valentines. Let’s paint the country “red” because we love you.”
So in recognition to International Women’s Day, may we never forget to constantly struggle – struggle against any form of hegemony not only in work, school, in our homes but most especially within ourselves. As a woman, may we have the wisdom to respect and love ourselves first. Reject the (often violent) societal norms of how we treat our bodies, how we should be treated and how we treat other women. May we always remember that education is the main key towards gender development.
Women should forefront political and social disputes that allow us to demand access to abortion, amplify the voices of sex workers, and seek justice to the disappearances of women human rights defenders. We live in an era in where we are still actively witnessing an increasing backlash against women’s rights.
In behalf of billions of women all over the world, cast light on the taboo of feminism and make International Women’s Day a celebration that is expressive in multiple identities and movements for women empowerment and equality.
Happy International Women’s Day!!
Some days, staring out of the window isn’t enough. Seeing photos of us doesn’t make me feel happier and the cups of cold coffee that you used to love just me feel worse. On those days, I manage to dig into my closet and put on that sweater you left behind and i try to imagine your arms around me even though the warmth gives me chills.
And today is one of those days where I cant help but feel more alone than ever because no matter how many cups of coffee, or memories or sweaters, they could never be enough and add up to you.
I first saw you sitting atop an old Corolla. Your feet were crisscrossed as your faded shorts covered little of your spidery long legs; it showed skin that I wanted to graze my fingers on.
You drove me to places unknown. I remembered listening to you talk; your full lips that told me of old love stories and new adventures. The calmness of your voice ravaged my spirit as it said my name. I could not think straight, still a bit dazed on the idea that I was seating adjacent to you.
The wind smelled of your hair and my skin was dressed with the scent of your old perfume. You had no idea how beautiful it was just to be with you. You were the personification of something glorious, like finally understanding divinity. You were the daisy I kept picking in the field of roses. You were my version of solitude and euphoria. You were a walking poem yet no words could amount to your perfection.
I ran my hands on your hair; the numbness of a touch and the infinite stories of your eyes. Kissing you was like running out of breath, each sucking the sweetness of the lips while waiting for your tongue to lick every tooth. I felt your love and remembered telling myself that I did not deserve such tenderness.
My memory is faded with the idea of you and me on that fateful night.. when all I wanted was to touch you, kiss you and dance with you under the stars and streetlights.
I must have loved you in my past life because I was so sure you and I were old souls that fate has intended to meet again. I cannot remember hands that perfectly fit into mine; fingers that were warm enough to soothe my cold heart. For a moment, I was happy, contented. I wanted to lie there forever and feel you breathing.
You are my little pockets of happiness that I can look back and feel completely peaceful. Like the proverbial icebergs, I can only tell you a faction on what I felt because there is no words enough, no kiss more passionate that could scrape the surface of my affection towards you.
Initially a collection of poems; Inspired by an old love, random people, several scribbles, draft bits and watching people on coffee shops.
I do love you. When I asked time for myself, I didn’t meant I loved you less. I just really needed time.
You can miss or love me less - its up to you. Love will always be a choice because overnight, feelings can fade. Everyday, we are given that freedom to choose. You can wake up anytime and decide to not love me, not think of me.
But i’ll love you. Not in a clingy, needy, got-to-have-you-now kind of way. But i’ll love you.
Entry #1 from 3:17am self
I’m off to a bad start.
The thing with attachment is that it is very difficult to undo. When Cloud left, I couldn’t seem to handle doing things alone again… even commuting was a major adjustment because I got so used to the convenience and company. I have always loved a good conversation which is why secluding myself back into my cave was very challenging. I realized I don’t fare well with sudden changes i.e. breakups and transferring schools.
So I started filling in the void.
I went shopping… a lot! The bad side was I barely go out so everything gets piled, dumped and stuck in closets. When I do go out, his clothes were the only things that were comfortable enough to wear (and hides well my bulging belly)!
I went to coffee shops all the time. I wanted to build a routine. On some days, I drank an average of 6-8 cups at two different stores! Not only was it expensive, the excessive coffee made it difficult for me to manage my asthma. I couldn’t sleep. My chest hurts. I couldn’t breathe.
I ate unhealthily. It was either I consumed too much french fries or I did not eat at all. I devoured less food and more coffee.
Any form of exercise was foreign to me. All I did the entire day was sit and walk a bit. I got depressed. I was easily annoyed. Even my hair started falling out. I didn’t want to talk to anybody, not even Cloud.
Few days back as I was yet again shopping, I realized my card was almost maxed out. I was literally close to being broke. The idea of depending on someone again for financial issues scared me. I went home even more depressed; like wanting to rip something off of your skin just to appease the feeling of crawling into someone else.
Earlier today, I stumbled upon the word “tabula rasa” meaning a blank slate. I remembered an old philosophy teacher that taught me about theoretical concepts of John Locke and his restatement that our mind is a clean canvass that greatly depends on our experiences as this imprints knowledge on every individual.
It felt like the Universe was telling me to get back on the right track.
So list down things that I needed to accomplish this month and found out there was a lot. I paused, neglected and procrastinated with too many responsibilities.
My laundry is a month old. There are cobwebs in the corners of my room. My dog is months delayed in his anti-rabies shot and I even stopped dog walking him. I haven’t gotten my driver’s license yet. I miss the last three appointments from the derma; my allergies and skin asthma are temporarily subdued by ginger and honey. My teeth need whitening from coffee stains. My braces were supposed to be taken off weeks ago. I’m starting to actually miss queuing in the dentist office. I actually miss hating to queue in the dentist office.
Everything feels like I’m 15 again.
I need to regroup. I need to finalize my plans.
Entry #1 from my 5amself
I spent my Valentines with a boy in floral sweater. We ate junior double down and watched a Filipino horror movie. Like the majority of kids our age, we ended the night drinking beers with friends and went home drunk but sane enough to drive.
Most of my days spent outside the cave i call home - talking to people and watching others always bring me to new epiphanies.
Yesterday was February 14; a day for celebrating love. Call me hipster or major buzz kill but i hate anything popular and conventional hence my utter dislike towards Valentine’s Day. It isn’t so much that i do not appreciate affection from a significant other (mine was miles away) but because of the entire hypocrisy of it all.
Like any typical day, I was sitting in my favorite chair in a coffee shop i frequent. Usually it was empty - me in a corner alone for hours - but this time, it was riddled with lovers holding hands, kissing and wearing anything that resembled the hue of red. Red sweater, maroon miniskirts, raspberry heels and scarlet couple shirts that tells people they own each other. Jesus. My first few hours in Blugre were the longest I mentally murdered that many people who were remotely happy.
Guys holding out flowers, girls gushing and groups of women in black protesting Valentines. No offense but everything was just unimaginative bordering on almost boring. The idea of commercializing love sickens me and that those who did not receive anything were deemed rather unimportant and un-special. How about men who cannot afford bouquets and dinners at expensive restaurants? Does it mean they love less than those who splurge? Do we need a day with fake romance in the air to teach us how to express love?
Valentine’s Day has all what it takes to kill romance.. no individuality, no spontaneity, no intimacy, and above all high materialistic expectations.
Valentine’s Day is arbitrary but everyone acting out of hype led me to realize how consumerist driven everything has been. On a day we are supposed to love, love & love, we have been led to believe that it is better to spend, spend, spend. We have been programmed to express love “as seen on tv”…by dining in restaurants and buying all sorts of gifts. The ones who really benefit from this day are the companies that promote Valentine’s day.
Valentine’s Day was originally a religious affair, which has now been commercialized so people are guilted into purchasing gifts so that we can have bragging rights as to who received the better Valentine.
We are manipulated into thinking that the definition of romance should be on how much money you will spend on Valentine’s Day. This shallow interpretation was what I saw whether I was at the coffeehouse, at the mall or into the bars. Men spending their money and girls were expected to dress at their best. Everything looked a bit too sophisticatedly prostitutional to me.
I come from a good place and I would like to think I am not bitter. In fact, I am sad. Sad that people are deeply deluded into the idea that as long as you spend just enough on flowers, dates, chocolates and gifts on Valentine’s Day, this can equally represent your love for the entire year.
One day. One frigging day that it is globally acceptable to take the day off to go on a date. One day to queue in line at department stores to buy gifts and cards. One day to overlook the price of costly flowers. A single day out of the 365 days in a year.
I still believe on traditional love.. of serenading someone on windows and opening car doors for people. And it shouldn’t be just one day. A person’s love should not be measured by gifts and money spent. It is measured by effort, devotion and affection. Gift or no gift.
It’s February 15, Saturday. I’m at the coffee house but unlike yesterday, there are no lovers, no rose petals and no cheesy proposals on live band stages. The paper hearts glued on glass doors and windows are still there but all that’s left are empty chairs.
At most times, I worry about my sanity. days before ending my 2013, i felt so alone and lost that i promised myself to relocate to a new city, even if it meant me living cramped with three other girls in some dormitory and spending the last centavo of my salary on take outs. Its the second month of 2014 and i find myself being comfortable with routine and the familiar. My life is surrounded with stale bread and overpriced beers at coffee shops.
I still have a couple of months to spare before actually getting my passport.. by then decisions will not just revolve around on finding the most cost appropriate city to live in but it would actually mean abandoning my country.
I feel like a lot has been changing and i’m standing still still dazed and confused.
My mind is on disarray.
On the morning of November 6th, I couldn’t bring myself to sleep. Earlier, I had gone into two bus rides (which was 4 hours of my freaking time) just to think.
There is no right or left turn for me. There was only a straight line - the clear path to cold places and Ramen noodles. My life is decided with conformity and security that it scared me.
My mother was right, a single truth is never enough to overcome a hundred lies. Because if you truly want to move on, you have to address every single ghost, even if it feels real.
We all have someone who is hidden somewhere in our hearts and when we think of them, we always feel a little pain inside. I kept too many letters into small boxes. In a way I had fallen in love with my misery that the idea of letting go and moving on was a foreign concept and entertaining it was out of the question. I felt disconnected to everything.
I hate that I’m constantly looking for ways not to be happy because being actually happy scares me. My mind is a terrifying place to live in. I got too consumed with ghosts of my past that I forgot that it was only me who was haunting myself.
Its 5am. Currently, i have Ben by Michael Jackson on repeat while drinking my 8th coffee. It’s raining outside; the drops are like lullaby, only this time, it did not soothe me to sleep but awoke me to an uneasy stir questioning my existentialist crisis.
I shall blog for two reasons; one, my carefully ironed shirt and jeggings will be tucked back into my bottom drawer because the slight drizzle of depressing raindrops have ruined my initial plan of yes, going on an “antidepressant” jogging and second, because the sound of loneliness makes me happier.
This is to acknowledge a friend whom at some point of my teenage life, I was so convinced I was going to spend forever with.
Nikki Rodriguez Ramirez
I remember sometime when we were 16; you had a fight with your mother. You were crying. I did not know what to do given that I was from a family who was stoic and completely devoid of sentiments. Any physical contact scared me as I never experienced being hugged, consoled or encouraged. That was the first time I felt like a loser as I simply stood there, unable to say the words I wanted to say to you.
I realized then how I said the words I love you to a number of people but never having to really mean it. You were the first person whom taught me that caring was far far different from loving someone.
I am a lousy friend; I know because I must have left your messages countlessly and intentionally unanswered. I still cannot fathom why and how you put up with me; yet even after 7 years, you still do. Your name is my definition of a friend.
You, whom on several occasions relentlessly call me when at a passing and out from sheer boredom, I texted and told you I haven’t eaten the entire day.
You, who has been the recipient of random tales of infidelities, high schoolish girl fights and lesbian secret couples.
You, who dreams of walking down the aisle and getting a church wedding.
You, who still wants to be a wife even when I advised and numerously discouraged you not to. You are a great mother, provider and someday, a wife.. i think far better than i ever will be.
You, who has been my moral compass.
You, who portrayed as a better half every after fresh break-ups and a sister when I needed someone to fight my battles for me.
You, whom in ponytails and shorts washed my clothes back in college and asked only for a banana-que as a payment.
You, who never fail to check up on me even though you know i’m miserable at providing stability with long distance friendship.
You, whom I can always drunk dial and wake up to a reassuring message.
You, who hate the people i despise and love the people close to my heart.
You, who understood and tolerated my lack of social skills :D
You, because you never ever EVEER told anyone about how I once threw a ketchup bottle at someone. HAHAHAHAHA
I miss you. I miss doing crazy things with you. I miss waking up to your post-it notes apologizing FOR MY mistakes. I miss you stretching out my shorts and shirts. I miss pausing movies to write down our favorite lines. I miss walking the streets at 5am in the morning with you. I miss the displeased look on your face when I once again buy the same flavor of chocolate ice cream.
You are what I miss in Iligan.
I will always remember that night by the Tibanga bridge where we ate sundaes and I faked a story just so you’d liked me.