Sunday, November 25, 2012

In and Out

I had fun with Paolo in the usual tourist traps in the city. I have not seen him in over a decade, but in his brief visit, I realized why we were together then. And why it had to end.

We filled each other in on our respective lives. He spoke of his relationships, subsequent separations, and life with his current partner. I told him about hubby.

He was hurt that I met hubby so quickly after we parted ways. I reminded him who left the other emotionally battered and bruised for another. He just smiled. 

We waited until the last minute, but then he had to go. We embraced each other, finding it difficult to let go. He wiped his cheek with his sleeve and slipped away into the restricted area of the airport.

The days passed too quickly, three days that summed up our own history. It may have been under different circumstances, but just like that, Paolo walked out on me again.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Of Closets and Working on Weekends

I can only hope... It's a working weekend for me. I need a drink... Lunch break's over. Back to work!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I don't know why I listen to him. He says the most hurtful things. He knows my insecurities and uses them against me. He chips away at my confidence, and laughs in triumph at the wreck that I am.

I tried to leave him countless times. But just when I thought I was finally free, he'd be there looking over my shoulder, whispering, laughing, mocking me. And back in his grip I'd again feel small.

I want to believe that I am good enough. That I am not as insignificant as I feel. And be confident of what I can do, what I can be. Now I understand that the only way is to be free.

Of that inner critic within me.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ang Sabi Ng Iba

Ang sabi ng iba, habang tumatagal, nauubos ang tamis. Tumatabang. At kapag ika'y nagsawa, dapat na itong iluwa at itapon. Sumubo ng bago. At kapag nagpumilit kumapit sa iyong sapatos, ikaskas mo sa semento. Hanggang ito'y kusang magsawa at humulagpos.

Ang sabi ng iba, kumukupas ang kilig sa isang pagsasama. Wala ng sorpresa kung  lubos na kayong magkakilala. Di na kailangang hulaan pa ang nais niyang sabihin. Alam mo na rin kung ano ang dapat halikan, dilaan, susuhin.

Hindi ko alam kung tama nga sila.

Dahil sa tuwing ako'y kinukulit ng aking asawa. Sinisimangutan sa mga ganting pang-aalaska. Pinapatulog ng ilan niyang mga kuwento. Pinagagalitan sa aking bisyong paninigarilyo.

Kinikilig pa rin ako.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Narito ako sa pagitan ng sarap at pagsisisi. Sadya kasing masarap ang bawal, kaya't di naawat ang sarili. Ngayo'y huli na ang lahat, at ito'y aking pagsisisihan. Ngunit di muna ngayon.

Isang pangakong ngayo'y muling tinatalikuran. Makailang beses ko na ba itong naihingi nang kapatawaran. Umaasang di malalaman ng asawang walang kamuwang-muwang.

Kaya heto ako, may lihim na itinatago. May pag-aalinlangan kung humalik sa asawang niloloko. Asawang malakas ata ang pang-amoy at nakahalata sa aking isinisikreto.

"Kailan ka na naman nagsimulang manigarilyo?"

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I have to deliver a presentation on Monday, and I'm stressing out. It comes with the job, but I still fret over it each time. Public speaking and other skills in my line of work are just not in my nature. So I question why I am in this role and industry in the first place.

I have always leaned more on the creative over the technical. Art, music, creative writing, and foreign languages were the subjects I enjoyed the most. I wanted to take up fine arts and filled up applications with universities that had the best programs.

"Walang pera diyan anak," my Dad said and forbade me from turning in my applications unless they were for business or technical courses.

Maybe he was right, I don't know. But here I am, stuck with something that I hate. Unable to shift industries after years of specialization. Unwilling to let go of the salary that comes with the experience level. Unhappy yet waited too long to do anything about it.

After another long day at work, I met up with hubby for dinner and dessert. I still couldn't stop thinking as we ate. I knew my own choices led me to this point, but I wondered if I'd be more happy now if my Dad supported me back then.

But then again, would I still have met the person seated across the table and trying his best to cheer me up?

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Hubby uploaded the photos from our recent trip into his computer. I was excited to view the pics and squeezed half a butt cheek into his seat. We brought a tripod this time and had more shots of ourselves together.

His techie nature immediately kicked in, and he started deleting photos that did not pass his standards. "What are you doing?" I asked in panic and grabbed both of his hands to prevent him from eliminating more.

He said he was omitting the ones where we looked ugly, were not smiling, failed to look straight at the camera, or shots that were blurry. I took the SD card, popped it into my own computer, and saved everything.

I picked a song, called hubby over and started the slide show.

One by one, the photos appeared on the screen. A close up shot with whiteheads and nose hair. One with red faces that time we argued. Some where our eyes strayed to passing hunks. And those where at least one of us fell out of focus.

We laughed the whole time we were watching the photos. I dragged the pics into the latest of a series of folders simply named "Us", a collection that to me was perfect in being flawed. And I'm not talking just about the photos.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Familiar Face

The club was brimming with patrons. It was a surprising turnout for technically a Monday morning. There were groups of friends drinking and dancing. Couples enjoying their time together.

And a lot of single men.

As the night was early, some were still busy preening themselves. A number craned their necks and surveyed the crowd expectantly. And a few cruised the dance floor, already on the prowl.

A man with a bottle of beer sat in front of the crowded bar. He stared sadly at his reflection behind the bartender before shaking his head and breaking into a bitter smile.

There were so many lonely souls seeking attention, but he just sat there, deep in thought, at times cupping his face with his hands. He left after a while, unmindful of the smiles and eager stares as he passed by.

I silently wished the guy well from afar. I didn't know him from Adam, but I had worn that familiar face of sadness and regret myself, a few times too many.

Big Hair And False Eyelashes

I scanned the crowd that was gathered outside before hubby and I approached the door. I did the same once we got in and felt relieved that I didn't recognize anyone.

"Why are you so nervous?" hubby teasingly asked.

I rolled my eyes in exasperation. Back in China, he wouldn't even dare come near a gay club. Just because we were not in his home turf, he's suddenly decided to be out and proud.

Yeah, we're of the uptight closeted kind. I know that times have changed. People probably don't care anymore. That perhaps everyone we know already had their suspicions, and we were the only ones in denial.

Maybe it's because we're from a different (older) generation, I don't know.

I picked up a couple of drinks from the bar and politely acknowledged the friendly smiles as I squeezed my way through. The crowd was intoxicated with alcohol, music, and performances from the resident go-go boys and drag queens.

And in the middle of all the sweat and glitter, big hair and false eyelashes, hubby and I embraced our true selves and each other.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Laundry, Breakfast and Coffee

I woke up early and checked up on hubby. I felt relieved that he didn't have any fever and was sleeping soundly. I took a quick shower and like the dutiful wife that I was, headed out to drop off our laundry and buy hubby breakfast and coffee.

With soiled clothes in my arms, I walked along Boracay's beach road, searching for the laundry shop that we passed by the day we arrived. I stopped in my tracks when I chanced upon the same guy at the same place and time as yesterday and the day before.

He was only wearing a pair of white shorts, which emphasized his golden skin. His chest and abs were defined and like in the past days, he was alone. Both of us were not wearing shades this time, and I saw him match my stare as we passed each other.

I couldn't help but look back after a few steps. He turned around almost at the same time and smiled. But like the dutiful wife that I was, I tucked my hair behind my left ear and continued walking to drop off our laundry and buy hubby breakfast and coffee.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Under The Weather

Hubby fell ill in the middle of our trip. We couldn't go to the beach and enjoy the sun. We had to stop gorging on fresh seafood. No more alcohol and club music after dark. Not even just chilling by the roadside watching half-naked hunks pass by.

I was of course furious.

We were stuck in the hotel sleeping our precious holiday time away. Our bodies remained as pale as our butt cheeks. I couldn't possibly enjoy lobster, while hubby subsisted on broth. And the only hunks on view were those on TV.

And yet these were not the reasons why I was seething.

All these years, Hubby was the one who would nurse me back to health. This one time that I could return the favor, I didn't freaking know what to do.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Catch of The Day

The heavy rain kept most of Boracay's tourists indoors. The ones who did brave the downpour flocked to the restaurants. Hubby and I sat by the window gorging on seafood, as our eyes feasted on shirtless orientals passing by.

Three Taiwanese guys arrived at the door with fresh catch from the nearby market. I recognized the telltale signs. Well-maintained physiques, tight Abercrombie tanks and tailored stubble. From outside the restaurant, they also began discreetly checking us out.

I tried to identify the third wheel from the couple. It would have been easier to take him out, but it seemed they were all just friends. I smiled as they came in, and two of them blinked a few times too many. Hubby just rolled his eyes at me and smirked.

They settled into the table across ours, and kept stealing glances at our direction. I smiled and asked what they brought in from the market. One of them said they were out in the water and caught the fish themselves. I said we'd love to catch some as well.

But we paid for the bill, waved at the three guys, and let today's catch go.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Breaking Cloud

Hubby was in a dour mood. We didn't have any sleep because of the early flight and have been arguing the past days for the haphazard travel arrangements and rushed preparations.

He was extremely disappointed when we landed in Manila. The sky was overcast, and it started drizzling as we walked out on the Tarmac. I told him not to worry as our destination was another hour's flight away.

I tried to lighten his mood as we settled inside a smaller plane. He is typically easygoing, but I started to worry when he was fixated on the downpour outside and complained of the onset of a migraine.

It was a bumpy takeoff, and the loud whirring of the twin propellers would get under anyone's skin. Hubby's face darkened, and I desperately tried everything to uplift his spirits.

The plane struggled against the rain and couldn't seem to get enough lift due to the heavy winds. The seatbelt sign remained lighted, as we hit turbulence after turbulence.

After an eternity, we finally broke through cloud and everything was bright and beautiful. I was still midway through my nth punch line, when hubby looked away from the window and broke into a smile.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I was meeting an old friend for lunch. I was a bit early, so I quickly dropped by Hollister. I didn't have much time, but I managed to buy a pair of electric blue (think Stabilo) shorts and ogle at the handsome staff cum models.

Once we met up, I asked my friend what she thought of my purchase. She flatly said the color was not age-appropriate. Her usual candidness adds to why I love her to pieces. And she merely confirmed what I already knew.

That I look my age.

After she left, I went back to return the item. I stood in the middle of the store, surrounded by young and gorgeous Hollister men that I would never measure up to, and held up the bright-colored garment one last time.

As I was lost in thought, a Chinese hunk showed me a shirt and asked where he could find his size. I absent-mindedly pointed to the other end of the hall where I saw a stack of the same items earlier.

A few minutes later, a beefy guy asked me where he could pay for his stash. I looked around me, but none of the Hollister staff were in sight. I gave him directions to the counter where I paid for mine that morning.

I was still beaming when I got home that afternoon and told hubby about my day. And in case you were wondering, I ended up keeping the electric blue shorts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I quickly locked up and rushed to the waiting elevator before it closed. The doors slid shut behind me, and everything went silent. Save for my audible panting, which turned into a drawn out coughing fit once I noticed my gorgeous neighbor in the cabin.

Particles of dust danced under the glare of halogen lights, as Pachelbel's Canon in D played in the background. I stared at our reflection on the polished metal. Both in suits, we looked perfect on top of layers of fondant. I smiled, and he started to blush.

I let out a few more stray coughs before we reached the ground floor. The doors opened, and I braced myself for the loud applause, rain of soft petals, and gentle pelting of grain. He lunged ahead with quick, long strides. I reached for his hand. 

And grasped at nothing. Outside the lobby's glass doors, I saw Romeo gasping for fresh air.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Summer's End

The temperature here in China suddenly dropped, as summer finally gave way to hubby's and my favorite season. The days are more pleasant for long walks, and the nights are perfect for snuggling.

But being my usual restless self, I started complaining to hubby that summer has passed and we look as pasty as ever. At the same time, I also worried about the coming winter, wondering if there would be heavy snow.

Hubby had to stop me, as I rummaged through our stuff in panic, searching for our swim wear to catch the summer's tail-end and heaters in preparation for the chilly months ahead.

He patiently explained that what is perfect now would just pass me by, if I dwell on both things past or have yet to come. He helped me with my singlet and shorts and led me out for that pleasant autumn walk.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I stood inside the train, responding intently to work-related e-mails with my Blackberry, when a pair of sweatpants came into view. I put the phone down and slowly looked up.

A plain white t-shirt that struggled to contain his massive pecs and biceps. A beautiful face, with tailored stubble that framed his luscious lips. That peaked side crop that everyone seems to be sporting these days.

He was such a vision that my eyes had to retrace their steps, before settling on those sweatpants that left little to the imagination. I had to remind myself that it was rush hour and my officemates could be in the same car.

I buttoned my coat, which was a size too small but framed my torso nicely, and pretended to use my BB to be able to continue staring. It took every ounce of restraint to keep myself from snapping away with the phone's cam.

I'd like to think that it was the handsome suit, rather than the heavy drooling, which got him to take notice. He would steal glances, but I continued to ignore him, which further stoked his interest.

The doors slid open to the sound of loud beeping. The guy looked up at the blinking light on the train network map and realized it was his stop. He quickly rushed outside before the doors shut tightly behind him.

I edged closer to the doors, as he turned around to face me. I placed my hand on the panel that separated us. The train started to move, but I still held his gaze, until all I could see on the glass was my own reflection.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The company paid for me to attend a three-day seminar. The major industry players were present, and quite a number of the delegates were Chinese guys who were either born or bred overseas.

Bananas, as American or British-born Chinese are called here in China - yellow on the outside, yet white inside. I can single them out by how they look, even before they speak, and I personally find them attractive.

I focused on the topics presented, injected humor in the discussions, and pretended not to notice the cute guys and their accents. And by the time they served lunch, I knew who among them was checking me out.

We broke up early for the day, but I lingered in the function room. The guy I was eyeing across the room (and vice versa) also stayed behind. He approached me after a few minutes and introduced himself.

We exchanged business cards and were surprised with the identical logos. I quickly came up with a lame excuse for leaving, and reminded myself of a painful yet valuable lesson I once learned.

Don't ever shit in your own backyard.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I used to dream of a number of things. Thousand dollar shoes. An 84-inch LED TV. A year in Eastern Europe. A villa by the beach. Things I thought I could have one day, if I worked hard enough.

It's been years, but my oxfords are still nowhere near a four figure price tag. Our TV more closely resembles an iPad. I've given up fantasies of doing porn in Prague. And a villa when I can barely afford my mortgage?

I'm still working (too) hard. But the only things I dream of these days are the weekends.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Check In

I love how the large chains now register their guests in the comfort of their rooms. Apart from the obvious convenience after a long and rough flight, it allows me to briefly lose myself in my fantasies.

They always choose the gorgeous ones for front desk duties. His English had a hint of an accent, and he confirmed he wasn't local. He's been in the country for a few years and was probably lonely.

As he gave me a tour of the suite, he seemed a bit nervous and kept running his tongue past his lower lip. By the time we walked by the king-sized bed, we couldn't contain ourselves and tore off each other's clothes.

I pushed him onto the bed and climbed on top of him. I was rough, but he didn't mind. After all, he was there to please the customer. In between gasps, I kept on repeating, "I... Am... Checking... Innnnn!"

I reined in my runaway imagination, signed the forms and thanked him. I took up his offer of a tour of the rooftop bar. The building was one of the tallest in the city and the view was spectacular. I saw a nearby building where hubby and I stayed for a year, and I suddenly missed my better half.

I told the hotel rep that I could manage on my own and handed him a crisp bill. There was a brief flash of disappointment in his eyes, and I knew it wasn't the size of the tip. As he walked away, I speed-dialled the first number on my phone and checked in with my husband.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I sat and waited. And then waited some more. They let the passengers into the plane late, then told us that we could only take off in an hour. They wouldn't let me go outside, and I was slowly losing my mind in the confined space.

I hate travelling for work and being alone to manage my fears. The captain's announcements raised false hopes each time. One hour. And yet another. Now it's 30 more minutes. I started to fidget and blamed my job for this trip and the bind I was in.

This is my nth flight in the past weeks, and I texted hubby that I wanted to quit. He repeated what he typically says. Everything will turn out well. That I've managed through worse. And in two days I'll be back home. He provides clarity beyond my emotions, and I tried to believe him.

And he was right. The plane started to roll down the runway, and my business trip officially started. I managed to doze off as I counted down the days and hours to when I'd be back home.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Missed Call

She couldn't sleep. Every now and then, she would get up from bed, part the curtains, and peer outside. It was dark, yet she knew something was out there, silently waiting. She was suddenly gripped by fear, and she started to tremble.

She checked on her children, peacefully sleeping, unaware of the imminent danger. She hugged them both, drawing comfort and strength. Even before she heard the rattling downstairs, she knew that the dark figure was already inside. She stifled a whimper.

She dialled my number, but I was unable to answer. Feeling defeated, she placed the phone on the dresser and braced for the inevitable. Her phone buzzed as I called her back. I knew that something was wrong, and I started to panic when she didn't answer.

I left voice and text messages, each one more desperate than the other. I started to blame myself for missing her call. The frustration turned to anger, this time directed at her for not picking up. But I realized she had graver worries than the flooding of her inbox.

To everyone in Manila and other affected areas, be safe.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I've been away from home for a while. Another OFW statistic with a typical story. I never bothered to learn the local language and decipher their script, thinking I wouldn't be away long. And yet over a decade has passed and I 'm still here.

One gets used to being away. I have become more reserved, not having friends and family around. I learned to manage the occasional bouts of loneliness. I grew accustomed to the local lifestyle and took things that work better here for granted.

But I am still drawn back home. And after reading a transcript of the President's SONA, full of optimism and hope, perhaps returning home will soon be an option. I turned to hubby and asked, "Weren't you thinking of learning Tagalog?"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Ilang taon din ang agwat naming mag-asawa. Kaya naman nang una kaming magsama, noong panahong ako ay immature at makasarili pa, nariyan lang siyang nagtitiyaga. Umuunawa. Nagpapaubaya.

Malaking bagay ang kaniyang pagtitiis sa itinagal ng aming pagsasama.

Ngunit lahat siguro ng tao ay sadyang nagbabago. Sa paglipas ng panahon, unti-unting umiksi ang kaniyang pasensiya. Mas naging madalas ang kaniyang pagiging mainisin. Mayayayamutin. Pagkabugnutin.

Bagay na nakikita ko rin sa mga nasa gulang niya. Ngunit nagka-edad man siya at nagbago, ay ganoon rin naman ako. At sa marahang paghulagpos ng kaniyang kapit, ako naman ang umakap ng mas mahigpit.

Sa patuloy na pagdaloy ng mga taon, at dumating ang panahong ako naman ang maging mainisin. Mayayamutin. Likas na bugnutin. Nawa'y nariyan pa rin siya na muling magtitiyaga. Umuunawa. Magpapaubaya.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I stood under the shade of a tree and waited for a friend to arrive. A half empty plastic water bottle lay in the dirt. Crushed and tossed away by someone, it gathered dust as it waited to be picked up again.

On clear days like today, it would turn cloudy as the water evaporates, only to be held back by the bottle itself. Most days it would just sit patiently. Tightly capped, it clung to its contents, refusing to let go.

My friend arrived and squatted beside me in the dirt as I was unscrewing the cap. "Don't touch that!" she exclaimed. I just smiled and winked at her as I finished and tossed the cap away.

She was again hiding behind those shades, thinking I would not notice the crying or the sleepless nights. I picked her up, dusted her off, and steered her away from the dirt.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ice / Eyes

I used to wonder how my mom and dad could sit at the dining table without speaking. Not that they were giving each other the cold treatment. They were just... quiet.

I thought that perhaps, after years of being together, people just ran out of things to say. That maybe boredom silently creeps into all relationships. Until you find yourselves at opposite ends, with more than just the dining table keeping you apart.

And yet here we are, hubby and I. Seated at the back of the bus. Plugged into the same music with shared earphones, speaking volumes in our silence.

random photo from google

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dim Sum

Hubby woke up to one of his "sungit" days today. He wanted to stay home and simmer, but I managed to convince him to have brunch outside to clear his foul mood.

I wanted to take him to his favorite dim sum place, then browse around the sports shop beside it. He has a crush on one of the sales staff, though he firmly insists that the guy is straight.

As we were leaving, hubby took a swipe at what I was wearing. He read in a Chinese forum that PLUs here typically wore A&F, Hollister, and Fred Perry and said that my shirt was a dead giveaway.

We boarded the train, and a group of young men in A&F tees kept on trying to catch my attention. Hubby mouthed "I told you so," as we changed cars when they started taking photos with us in the background.

As hubby and I walked the rest of the way to the restaurant, a number of passing male strangers smiled at me. Belaboring his point, hubby mumbled one brand after the other, referring to their shirts.

After the meal, hubby was back to his usual self. He was embarrassed to go into the sports shop, but I took a quick peek as we passed its front door. His crush was wearing Nike and looked ruggedly masculine.

Upon seeing us pass by, the guy rushed to the door, stood outside, and smiled at us from afar. I took a jab at hubby and told him to add Nike to his list.


For hubby, when my own words fail me...

Monday, July 2, 2012


I've been dying to get away from everything that I hate about China. If only I could settle somewhere else, but there's too many complications at this time. And after a brief trip overseas, I was dreading to face the same things I left behind.

Traffic from the airport was terrible. The driver swerved and took the airport service through a narrow street that was lined with Ginkgo trees from one end to the other. I asked the driver to stop the car.

I opened the window and waited a few seconds before a slight breeze finally came. One by one, the trees exploded into a million jade butterflies, fluttering wildly but never leaving the shelter of the branches.

They're not ready, I told myself. It may be too early, but soon enough, emerald would turn into gold. The cool wind would sweep them away, and they would finally take flight.

The wind came, a bit stronger this time, and again the leaves shook and struggled to be free. Soon, i whispered, before closing the window and heading for home.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Empty House

We passed an old house that I rented a lifetime ago, and my lady friend asked why I suddenly turned quiet. As it quickly faded behind us, I tried to piece together the story behind the aging structure and spoke slowly.

When he left, the first thing I did was to keep myself busy. I packed his clothes, our photos, and the shared memories. The boxes piled up, and I ended up with more than the number of months we were together.

I shipped the furniture we bought as a couple to my family and said I was refurbishing. Alone in an empty house, I stripped the walls bare and painted them white, the same color as the fence that I decided to put up.

One piece at a time, I gradually filled the vacant space. I purchased a single-sized bed and mattress, hardwood furniture that would stay with me a lifetime, and a plush sofa that embraced me when I felt lonely.

It took a while, but the stale scent of his cigarette smoke finally went away. Splashes of color eventually brightened the walls. And scattered all around were framed photos of myself laughing with friends and family.

I came home one day and found him seated at the sofa, a lighted cigarette in his hand. I just sat quietly beside him and placed my head on his shoulder. He left again after a few months, and that time it was for good.

My friend asked why I was not surprised and did not kick up a storm when I found him in my living room. I explained that while I threw our stuff out, renovated the house, and built a fence around it,

I never changed the locks.

photo from

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


As what seems to be the norm these days, I arrived home very late. I apologized to my husband, knowing that he has been waiting hours for us to have dinner together. I slumped into a chair as he re-heated our meal.

I was dead tired. Hubby tried to cheer me up and talked animatedly about his day. I didn't have much of an appetite and ate sparingly. It was warm, and I stripped off my shirt, now several sizes too large for my shrinking frame.

My partner teased me for the noticeable sagging but was taken aback by the bruises on my skin. I went to the mirror and looked at myself. Black and blue in certain places, I looked deathly sick.

Hubby asked me what was wrong, and I told him I had no clue. But deep inside we both knew that life was taking its toll on me. He started to tear up and hugged me.

"Don't you dare leave me," he whispered.

I clung tightly to the only lifeline that I had in this world and thought to myself,

How could I?

photo from

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Left Behind

I stared at the tiny screen in front of me. The woman seated beside me was eager to close both time and distance to our common destination and watched the numbers closely as they tumbled.

From time to time, she would look out the window and murmur expressions of awe in Chinese under her breath. My eyes remained fixed on the screen, as I wondered how hubby was doing back home.

There was turbulence and the numbers started to plummet. Altitude. Ground speed. Time to landing.

I continued to stare at the map on the screen. A small plane hovered over its destination, but a thick red line kept it tethered to what seemingly had been left behind.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I love my job. That's what I say to myself everyday. Repeating the mantra over and over again. Hoping that it will help add spring into my step, as I drag myself to work each morning.

I love my new shoes. Double monk straps. Paid with last month's salary, that's what I tell myself this morning. Wishing that it will keep me from turning around and running back home.

As I swipe my pass before the door, I place a hand on my forehead and fake a cough. But it's too late to call in sick. And of what, the clinic won't write medical certificates for.

I settle myself behind a mound of paperwork. The phone rings non-stop. And there is a sea of unread messages in my computer, fed by a stream of new ones.

I fish my necktie out of my bag and deftly loop a Windsor. I place the noose around my neck and hang myself.

photo from

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Modern Family

On lazy days like today, hubby sleeps in longer than usual. Bathed, dressed and ready to go, I'd go back to bed with my iPad and watch a TV show or two while waiting for my partner to wake up.

I usually get bored with TV shows and lose interest as they drag on. I only recently heard of Modern Family here in China and was hooked with its short yet amusing episodes. Maybe it was because I could relate to each of the characters.

I lay on my side, propped the gadget against the wall, and watched the lives of Jay and Gloria, Claire and Phil, and of course Cam and Mitchell play out. On certain scenes, my eyes would shift slightly and I'd see my face and my sleeping husband's profile reflected on the glass screen.

Hubby woke up midway through the second episode, and I shut off the screen to attend to him. As we engaged in our usual morning banter, I could almost hear a curious sound. An unmistakable whirring as the camera pans out.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ninety Nine

Ninety nine reasons to be thankful for. These, I can easily think of. A loving partner. Friends and family. Or even a simple clear and sunny day.

The list goes on, which should be enough for one to feel lucky. Happy. But somehow, I am stuck in this place that I don't really know how to describe.

All I know is that this is not where I want to be.

Ninety nine reasons. An almost perfect life. Yet all it takes is but one thing. Before everything around you starts crumbling.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012


We have not seen each other for years. As he walked into the mall where I was waiting, I saw a completely different person but still recognized a shadow of the young man that was once a part of my life.

Gone were the ill-fitting tees, oversized jeans and that hip hop swagger. He was wearing a flattering shirt and a pair of denims that complemented his newly toned physique. We both smiled and shook hands.

Jay worked these odd jobs when we met and became friends. He had big small dreams then. Big in the sense that he longed to open his own business, had no capital, and thought it was a pipe dream. Small, in my (perhaps arrogant) view of its simple business model and startup costs.

I put up the meager capital and taught him how to use the computer for his small business. With my help, he worked hard and was able to quickly multiply his earnings. He tried to immediately return the funds, but I told him to use the money to expand his baby.

Then I learned I was accepted for a job overseas. He was devastated. He said that he didn't know how he'd get by without me. I comforted him and said that he and his business were already doing well. He slept over that night and our emotions got the better of us.

We kissed. Tentatively. Then passionately. We stripped each other of both our clothes and our friendship and crossed a line. It was hard for him. I knew he was in pain, but he went along with it anyway.

All I felt was the gratitude and his desperate attempt to hold on to our friendship, which I chose to ignore until I was finished. I lit a cigarette, looked at the oversized tee and pair of jeans on the floor and immediately hated myself. He still held my hand, refusing to let go.

But I did. I never told him my address and number in China. And I didn't try to connect with him again after I left. Not until now.

He pulled me into one of the popular restaurants in the mall, and we caught up on each other's lives. He now exuded confidence. I learned that he also pursued his other dreams, including acting, and was even doing bit parts in TV in his free time.

The night wound down, and we didn't speak of what happened that night. The bill came, I instinctively reached for it, but he quickly snatched it away. Then just before we left, a more serious look came over his face.

He told me he has never forgotten what I have done for him. That he tried to find me all these years, and never stopped sending letters to my old flat. And that he was glad he decided to keep his mobile number in the vain hope that I would someday reach out to him.

All I could say was sorry. His smile failed to overshadow the pained look in his eyes.

I looked at Jay and again noted how much he has changed. Gone were the ill-fitting tees, the oversized jeans and that hip hop swagger. But he is still that man who was once, and now will always be, a part of my life.

photo from

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strung Out

I've been so strung out at work these past weeks. And by the time I got home late at night, I was too exhausted to talk, more often than not irritable, and at times unknowingly took my frustrations out on my partner.

I hated what I was turning into and wanted to quit. It hasn't been a year since my last sabbatical, and I didn't know how to explain the situation to my husband. The added stress of potentially disappointing him caused me to spiral down further.

Hubby knew I was depressed and decided to take me shopping. But not even the new off-white suede loafers that I bought for the summer could lift my mood. He also brought me to our favorite restaurant, but I just picked on my food.

I followed him, too quietly, as we wandered around the places I usually enjoy. Tired of walking, we went into a neighborhood massage shop. We plonked down in our seats, as hubby ordered beer and boys. They didn't have the latter.

The ice cold Tsing Tao was refreshing, and hubby kept on topping my glass up. The alcohol loosened me up, and I started to talk. As the masseuse worked on the knots in my body, my partner helped me unravel those in my life.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

One of Those Days

I left my desk and couldn't get out of the building quickly enough. I pushed the revolving doors with all my strength and walked determinedly away from the building.

I quickened my stride, a desperate attempt at escaping the shadow of the towering structure beneath my feet. I counted my steps until I reached where our floor would be. I looked back. A hundred and forty four paces from my office window to the pavement.

I ignored the traffic lights, at times halting almost too late for a passing bus. I stopped walking when I reached a nearby park and sat on a bench. I watched someone's dog circle around the post it was tethered to, the shortening leash straining its collar.

It grew dark and the heavy rain started to pour. I only stood up after I was drenched and cold. A pair of black wingtips splashed dirty water with each step. I tripped on myself and fell into a puddle.

I started to drown.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012


We lay half naked under the splayed branches of a tree by the shore. The pale was now deeply bronzed, but we couldn't resist catching the sunshine reflected by the white sand onto our supine bodies.

As hubby slept, I took photos of our feet against the blue backdrop, our tanned toes breaking the serenity of the horizon. I would tell him later what I thought it meant, the two of us stepping into infinity.

The rustling of leaves was overpowered by the sound of a speeding boat, a parasail in tow. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. The sound of the engine stopped, and the blot of bright orange against the blue expanse floated gently onto the waiting water.

I picked up my watch, half buried in the sand, its ticking more pronounced. I quickly shoved it aside and blocked the nagging thought of counting down the days when we'll come crashing down back to reality.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hunky Cebuanos

The first thing that I noticed about Cebu was its handsome guys. There were just so many of them around! In the resort, inside the mall, on the street, in church.

Most of us have a particular preference, and the men that I find attractive belong to a narrow profile. But here, I've been swooning over such a wide variety - moreno, chinito, and mestizo men of all ages and sizes (er, I mean body types).

And I find the women very attractive as well. Now that's a real stretch from the usual type that I fall for. 

Seated for dinner, I found the waiter who came to take our order somewhat too pale for my taste. But I still found him gorgeous. Then the reason why I found so many Cebuanos so attractive finally came to me.

As the handsome waiter took our order, I wanted to see if I could get away pretending I was local.

I smiled.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Affair

When we checked ourselves in on our flight, I was disappointed that neither of us was assigned an aisle seat. I get claustrophobic inside airplanes and wanted to change our seats, but hubby was happy to sit by the window.

I was hoping that the seat beside mine would remain vacant for a more comfortable ride, but I was not too hopeful given the number of passengers waiting at the gate. I definitely didn't mind when this tanned chinito buckled up beside me.

He looked japanese, the 30 something fit golfing kind. He had his kids in tow and they were all crammed across the aisle. We were all flying via HK so he probably treated the kids to Disneyland. Both Wifey and wedding ring were not in sight.

I already saw him at the gate before boarding. He was looking at me. But that was probably because I was staring at him. Hubby says it's an annoying habit of mine. Not because he feels threatened but more on my being too obvious about it, me drooling and all.

As expected, hubby immediately threw a jab my way, "Your crush is here." I feigned embarrassment and pretended to protest, but the sparkle in my eyes gave me away. He started to laugh, hmph! Then the delicious daddy spoke in his dialect, which confirmed my theory that Cebu has a high concentration of handsome hunks.

He fussed over my future step children until they fell asleep. I in turn fed hubby spoonfuls of Benadryl. Joke. He was already snoring. As daddy settled in, his knee would always cross this imaginary demarcation line between our seats and touch mine. He wasn't even that tall.

He pretended to sleep and kept up with the knee thing. I badly wanted to run my hand up his tanned thigh. Now and then, both of us would check up on our dozing families. Then we'd take turns stealing glances at the other, but never allowing ourselves to look into each other's eyes.

That would have been too much. What was the point anyways, as he looked at his kids and I at my husband.

As the plane started to descend, my hubby and daddy's kids woke up. Daddy placed a bag on his lap to add more discretion. Each one of us chatted up our respective companions, our knees not ready to let the other go.

The plane landed and all the passengers busied themselves with their carry-ons before deplaning. While waiting for our bags at the luggage belt, we built up the courage to finally look at each other, our faces full of tempered sadness and regret.

"Met you on a springtime day. You were minding your life and I was minding mine too," England Dan and John Ford Coley started playing softly over the PA system. We left the airport at the same time but went our separate ways, each one of us tending to our own baggage.


Sunday, April 8, 2012


First day of our vacay is not off to a good start. The bags under my eyes were bigger than our luggage, and we packed heavy.

So I had my sunglasses on the whole time and hubby was not too happy about it. Well it was a cloudy day, and we had thick jackets on inside the Chinese airport.

So I tried to channel a bit of Ghost Protocol with a touch of Matrix into my facial expressions to make the best of the situation.

With the Lenten season, he said that I should be more concerned of things within. Something clicked and I said that he was right. Gosh! I forgot to cut my toenails, took my right shoe off, and said I'd start snipping away right there and then.

As I saw the exasperation start to cross his face, I punched his right arm and said I was kidding. I showed him the bookmarked pages on my phone's browser. All the Churches we would visit and Easter mass schedules for each one of them.

As hubby sstarted to calm down, they broadcasted our boarding arrangements. Before we lined up with rest of the passengers, we said a short prayer for a safe flight and to give thanks and praise for this day.

Pitching In

I was too excited for our trip and couldn't sleep much. I got up early and slipped out of the house unnoticed. Our flight was in a few hours, but I desperately needed to go to the nearest mall.

I got an earful from hubby yesterday. He didn't quite understand why I had to do some last minute shopping. But he was so busy with doing all the packing himself that I had to at least pitch in with something.

So I decided to make sure that all of our photos at the beach would be pretty. And with the perfect pair sunglasses and shorts, I could take on that responsibility all by myself.


Bored at the airport.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Beaches and Bitches

I was browsing for flight and hotel packages and asked hubby where he wanted to go this time. Everything was already expensive because he failed to deliver on his earlier promise to search the Chinese sites. And now I'm scrambling with the bookings.

I asked if Thailand was ok. We both like the beach and I wanted to shop for home stuff, but he complained that we always go to the same place. We've never been to Bali, but the package prices were already too high. I didn't even bother looking at the Maldives.

I started to panic and blamed him for the same situation that we get ourselves into year after year. I told him I didn't want to stay in China for our break. As usual, he just laughed it off and said there is always somewhere we can go to so long as we were willing to pay.

I clicked on an advert that brought me to Cebu Pacific's website. Boracay, Cebu, Palawan, Bohol came up on the screen. I told hubby that fares were already higher than usual but remained reasonable. He sensed the hesitation in my voice and asked why.

I said that given it is my home country, I would have to take care of him the whole time. I'd feel the pressure of making sure we went to the most interesting sites, ate in the best restaurants, had the best deals when we shopped, and that he always had a good time.

There was a brief pause before he said, "Now you know what I put up with every single day."

photo from

Damdaming Di Maisatinig

Sadya kong isinulat ito sa wikang di niya maintindihan, dahil alam kong pag nabasa niya ito, siya ay maiinis lamang... 

Isa-isa kong sinidihan ang mga kandila, habang ako'y tahimik na nag-alay ng aking pasasalamat. Unti unting kumalat ang liwanag na lalong pinatingkad ng pagsibol ng kaniyang ngiti.

Nagsimula akong umawit sa tiyempo ng magkasabay naming palakpak. At naluha ang mga kandila sa nasaksihang paglagabgab ng init sa pagitan naming dalawa.

Saglit niyang ipinikit ang kaniyang mga mata, may ibinulong sa sarili, bago ang malalim na buntong-hininga. At sabay na tinangay ng kaniyang banayad na pag-ihip ang liwanag at lihim niyang dasal.

Maingat niyang hinati ang cake na umaaso. At tulad ng kaniyang nakagawian, iniabot niya ang kabuuan nito sa aking plato, habang para sa kaniyang sarili ay nagtira lamang ng kapiraso.

Sinindihan ko ang kandilang nadagdag sa taong ito, bago ibinulong ang aking hiling dito. Ako naman ang nagtabi ng kaunti, at inabangan ang hininging pagkakataong makapagbigay ng higit pa sa inilaang pansarili.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Grown Up Worries

I was never into any cause. And when the issue of gay marriage and civil partnerships came to fore, I was, well, indifferent. As long as hubby and I were happy, I didn't care much for marching down the aisle or having a signing ceremony at City Hall.

But then I fell ill. Bound in bed and tired of the futile efforts of nursing myself back to health. At the same time that I had a falling out with my siblings, sadly due to greed. I started to worry about our savings, property, the meager material possessions in the life we built together.

I was uncertain if I could name hubby as the new beneficiary for my insurance policy and tried to decipher the fine print in the form. He is technically not a spouse or a relative, but he's all the family I have left. I tore the form up in frustration.

I stared at the digital photo frame on the bedside table. One by one, our pictures appeared on the screen. I smiled as our life together flashed before me, one snapshot after another. Then the next batch came on. They were photos of my husband smiling alone.

photo from

Saturday, March 24, 2012


We poured Chinese takeout into mismatched dinnerware, the lone glazed ceramic dish that we have left and those horrible looking Melaware bowls that hubby replaced the broken ones with. I like form, he likes function. Plastic may be ugly, but it is light and easy to clean.

He's practical, while I care for pretty things. And so we have an Ikea dining set with our made-to-order red sandalwood cabinets. That tacky Chinese calendar with our framed oil pieces on the wall. Finding the house dimly lit one day, he replaced the chandelier's bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.

I carefully placed the ceramic dish in front of him, as he did the plastic one on mine. In between mouthfuls, we blissfully chatted about everything and nothing over an odd pairing of mismatched bowls.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hello There

"Hello there," this guy said as he smiled. I couldn't place him, but I nodded to acknowledge his greeting. I finished my business, zipped up, washed my hands and went back to the office.

After lunch, I brought along my kit to freshen up. As I was brushing my teeth in front of the sink, he came bursting through the door. I brush thoroughly and which typically takes an eternity. But when I left, he was still in front of the urinals. Waiting.

I drink a lot of warm water in the office to keep myself warm. And each time I needed to relieve myself, the same guy always came in a few seconds behind me. Every. Single. Time.

I needed to speak to one of the team heads in the department just a few steps across ours. After our brief discussion, she introduced me to a member of her team. "Hello there," the guy said as he smiled.

A tingly feeling washed over me, and I started shaking involuntarily.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sleeping Beauty

I'd been staying in bed for weeks. I didn't want to get up, I was scared to even move. The wound was still fresh, and I feared I'd start bleeding again and feel the pain.

I stared at the ceiling for days, watching the shadow cast by the light fixture change length and direction, in sync with the shift in colors splashed across the bare walls, with the passing of time.

Within days, I could predict the sequence of a day's kaleidoscope patterns. Their colors failing to dispel the pervading grayness. I felt trapped. In this room. In this body that just wouldnt't heal.

Even with the lines, corners and shadows, the world seemed to have lost its depth. Its days drawn in linear dimension. Now a daily morning routine, I reached for the small spot of sunshine beside my pillow. The light held my hand, and I felt the warmth that waited patiently for me outside.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

One Big Happy

I knew that it stood on shaky ground. That its foundations have wasted away from the inside. And without our Mom and Dad, my siblings and I didn't really know how to keep everything together. Yet I had faith that it would continue to weather the seasons.

So I was surprised when everything came crashing down this morning. As much as I tried, it was hopeless to save it from collapsing. And after the dust settled, I was horrified to see everything splayed out on the ground, like a cardboard box unfolded.

My brother and sister stood in the middle of all the rubble. One was holding a hammer. The other one a chisel.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012


A buddy from way back reached out to me in Facebook and announced his possible move to China. We were both ecstatic, hoping that his company's plans would push through. We have been friends for as long as I can remember and were inseparable all the way until high school.

We grew up together and shared typical experiences boys went through. Group dates. Lame lines with girls in bars. Girlie bars. Notorious massage parlors. Picking up street walkers along Quezon Avenue in our Dads' cars. Sharing the car or a motel room for our escapades to save cash.

I gradually distanced myself when I started to get confused with my sexuality. I was terrified he'd find out and I'd lose his friendship. Then I left the country.

We spoke of our past experiences and caught up on each other's lives. Marriage hasn't changed him. He's still the funny, adventurous and extremely horny teenager that I knew. Then what he said made me change my mind about hoping that his company's plans push through.

For I knew he wasn't talking about these when he said we'll be searching for the best pussies in town.

photos from
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