Comrades first, lovers second

There was a moment in Peter Chan’s Comrades: Almost A Love Story when I wondered if the filmmaker had inadvertently fell into the cliché of portraying people from the countryside as simple folks. It was the scene where the transcendent Maggie Cheung and Leon Lai rode a bicycle through the busy Hongkong streets as if they were still in the paddy fields of mainland China. Maggie’s character, Quiao Li, which until then was cunning and street smart, seems to have momentarily surrendered to the fantasy of Leon’s character, Xiao Jun Li (the fantasy being the naïve and the kind-hearted can survive the big city unscathed). But this, I suppose, is not so much as a reduction of the characters’ depth and intellect but a glimpse of a life that the two had left. After all, Quiao Li would eventually weather the various twists and turns that peppered the decade with so much humanity and grace.
Comrades is may be a simple story of two misfits struggling to find their place in the big city but the c…

Kapag adik nga ba, salot agad?

A recovering addict imprisoned for drug offenses was just released from jail but before he could even piece together a new life he was gunned down in cold blood by a pair of assassins, an online news organization reported last night. As if this was not enough, after the assassins fled the scene another one came along and released a few bullets more on his seemingly lifeless body. Just to be sure of course.

Double kill. Double dead. Double pay.
It’s almost --- no, IT IS a tragi-comic story. The incident perfectly encapsulates what seems to be the core belief in this government’s bloody war on drugs. Ang bawat adik, salot. Ganun lang ka-simple. And if this is, indeed, the raison d'etre of this very expensive, ineffective and deadly war then it truly is insidious and senseless. To begin with, addiction is a complex problem for it mixes the personal with the political. To reduce everything --- the mental struggle of the person and the pain and suffering of the family --- and simply …

fuck the new year essay. it's time for some bloodletting.


January 2, 2019 2.06am
For a second there, I thought 2018 would never end. There was some good shit last year and really bad ones too. I realized earlier that the previous year was like this huge wave that breaks just as it reaches its full height. The DENR gig, which I got after my disastrous attempt at newspaper reporting, felt like eons ago. Then work after work and a few gigs here and there and now it’s January 2 and I should be attending to my deadlines instead of writing this one.
But I still can’t write. Last night was one of the lowest of the year and not surprisingly it involved alcohol. Never mess with prescription drugs, I tell myself time and time again. I think my lows have been unbelievably low ever since I started anti-depressants. Crazy times actually. I kept losing my head to be honest. Maybe it’s time for a switch? Or maybe I just should take the medication as prescribed? Stop improvising damn it!
Right now, right now, I just want to fucking cry. Bawl my eyes out. …

Taken as directed

I don’t exactly remember the first time I had a panic attack. The last several years sort of bleed into each other and most of the time I am grappling with something “monumental” to be conscious of where I was or what year it was. Most probably it was during one of those MRT rides. I remember the train stalling between Quezon Ave. and Trinoma. The train wasn’t even that full but I could see several people crowding at the exit. That made me worry. No, it made me panic. Suddenly, I was scrabbling to grab a hold of myself. I felt suffocated. I put the volume up on my mp3, took out the book I was reading, and nearly started enunciating the words aloud. 

There was also that time when I was left alone in the house. I drank a lot of alcohol the night before and when I woke up at around lunchtime I thought I was going crazy. First I thought I just needed to eat. I went to McDonalds and ordered a meal. The burger tasted like dirt in my mouth. I started dialing psychologists but the secretaries …
I learned of Max’s passing on my way to work. I was sitting at the back of the FX. We had just arrived at Welcome Rotonda when I received the text message from my vet. Guilt, debilitating sadness, and anger swirled inside me. I cried. Max was one of the three dogs that comprise of my support group. He, along with Chichi and Marcel, witnessed how I nearly suffered a mental breakdown a few years ago. It was only nine in the morning and I had a full day ahead of me.
I went to work to distract myself. I knew that if I skipped work the pain would be unbearable. That night, on my way home, I kept thinking: Was I able to love him enough?
It was raining that night but I needed to bury him. I wanted to bury him no matter how. I felt that I needed to punish myself for what happened. I needed to punish myself for not attending to his needs, he, who wanted nothing else but to be with me.
I used a small sheet of corrugated steel to dig through the tough dirt. I just wanted to keep on digging. …

It's Saturday and I've been working since Sunday

The thing about my fairly new job is that I end my day completely tired and I wake up even more tired. Last week, I filled in for the DoJ reporter and as I was walking --- searching actually --- to my beat I felt so tired and lonely. My bag was heavy. My bones ache. I was running on empty. I arrived at the media office and started reading a politician’s petition. I couldn’t believe it. There I was at nine in the morning trying to understand legal jargon. I soon discovered that the Department of Justice, The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, all housed in one block, are all part of my watch and are actually three separate offices. By the next day, I was at the Court of Appeals searching for a juicy case. I felt like I was Brenda Starr. Technically it’s been a month since I accepted this job and I never thought I’d feel insecure and so bobo again. I can write a 24-page script in a few hours but I can’t seem to write an article in one. Every time I am faced with a deadline I clam u…

About last night

I look at myself in the mirror. I had shaved off my beard and now I could see my pasty brown cheeks glistening from where black hair used to be. My eyes are a bit swollen. I had fallen asleep drunk on cheap rum and a pill of clonazepam. I don’t look like myself, I thought. I liked my beard. It gives me a Middle Eastern vibe which I think sets me apart from the crowd. But he likes me clean-shaven. He likes men to look a bit more feminine and I always aim to please. In some ways, I am like his wife. Last night we talked about my unpaid taxes and I agreed I should settle my BIR payments. After all, if I want to be with this man I should at least avoid getting pursued by the law and getting myself jailed. Then we briefly talked about cream pies. That made him laugh. I like making him laugh. I like teasing him although sometimes I go overboard and he ends up getting upset. I know I should play by the rules. By his rules. “You’re okay,” he told me. I thank him. “But you’ve got some issues.…