Reflections of A 13-Year-Old Victim

I wear my slightly yellowish old polo shirt and my brown pants with small patches and zipper giving out as I also gaze at my reflection in our tall musty mirror standing just outside my small room. Buttoning my shirt, I recall the hands doing it for me last night, showering me kisses all over my face, my body inching to come closer at him, gasping for more. The exact commencement of our secret meetings every Saturday night, its details and my initial reactions, at his concrete clean white bungalow just two blocks away from our quaint two-storey wooden moth-covered house, I cannot remember. What I am certain is we’ve been doing it for years. And as the years draw on, the act continues to excite me the way a can of coke can turn my mood upside down. His kisses suddenly become the soda I can no longer resist, and his sweat dripping all over my body provide a sensation that leave me thirsty every time. Am I getting crazy? When I was still in 3rd grade, I know I wrote my heart out to a girl I fancied in a poorly written, drawing-covered yellow paper I stole from my mom’s “Sari-sari store”, but I cannot call to mind why I suddenly stopped adoring girls around my age or even lasses two to three years ahead of me.

Am I a gay? Or have I “gayed”?

Nina, a pale and slim classmate of mine, who always shoots her right hand during class recitation to show she’s more advanced, has expressed her fondness of me, and attempted to place her voluptuous yet dry lips on mine while we were cleaning the classroom. To decent lads like me I presume, she’s a good offer. Instead, I felt a bolt of knots in my stomach, the little creatures I had inside twisting as though chasing each other. I anticipated then loads of green would come out of my mouth, so I kindly excused myself and hurried to the restroom four rooms away from our class to unload them. She took it as an insult and later on spread the rumors that I am gay. The bullying started after that. Well, I act manly if that makes a difference. I do not tie my shiny hair with a female’s hair knot and I do not wear my mother’s Sunday heels when she’s not around.

Am I gay or have I “gayed”?

Does my contact with Kuya Lito morphed me into the person I was not? I do not put on make up and wave my body, crack jokes in front of the class to put on a show.

Am I gay or have I “gayed”?

And then I realized everything about me revolves around him.

If I see my black leather shoes, I would imagine him removing then while going down further below that take me to a Nirvana I cannot deny.

If I see my polo shirt crumpled, I would remember him pushing me down his bed, shoving his mouth in my mouth and his hands gripping my arms hard that I could only close my eyes and give in.

If I see my pants, I would recall him lowering the zipper, sometimes leaving it open without removing the button to entice me or frequently removing it right away as if a beast is ready to devour the prey. It would take me to a place removed of scenes of my parents throwing silverwares at each other and spitting sour sentiments with words I presume to mean I am a mistake.

If I see my bag, I remember him putting all sorts of fruits he gathered a day before from his farm in Digos. And that would fill my stomach and emotional well enough for seven days before we meet again; enough to displace my parents’ absence on Sundays and Mondays, to diminish the impact of my parents’ insistent altercations and squabbles from Tuesdays to Wednesdays and enough to erase the feeling of guilt of being born into this world every Thursday and Friday when both would berate me for no apparent reason.

Am I gay or have I gayed?

I do not sashay in front of this mirror every night as portrayed in —–‘s Sirena music video. I do not look for guy textmates and pretend I am a woman! I am not gay! I am not! A cloud of invisible mist dissipates into thin air. Fisting my knuckles and throwing them at the side of my head while I continue to ask, am I gay? Did I find the solace I needed with a man and end up being what people call “salot sa lipunan”?

The throws move faster…

I look at my eyes and start piercing into my soul at that moment with these incessant questions of guilt.

The throws move faster and faster…

Guilt? Am I guilty? Why should I be blamed? Faster. Is the feeling of being wanted a form of addiction or is it the act itself that makes it addiction, or is it both? I throw rapid and stronger punches this time as tears streamed down the floor. Is numbing myself from care and love for my parents to give them the happiness they want still my own fault?

I am gay? Have I been gayed? No! I am not gay! I am not gay. I am not gay… I am gay? I am gay. I am gay!

I stop, still staring at my sweat and blood-stained polo shirt. Then I realized I am just looking at a victim.

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2016 Reflections

Thank you Crystal Cha for this.

Questions to sum up my 2016:

1.What is your most favorite single day or event?

This is hard, but I think celebrating the first day of the year at the Statue of Liberity with my friends. I never thought a year back that I would be blessed to begin the year atop the world-famous gigantic masterpiece with a few dollars left in my pocket. Hahaha!

Ah, nope. Let me refresh that. The best event that happened was taking the leap of faith to tour around Chicago on my own, without knowing anyone from there. The benefits were staring at Renoir’s colourful paintings at the Chicago museum, spending three hours (finally!) in the museum, asking strangers to take my picture when my selfie stick failed me, walking around the city without a map and managing to get back at international hostel at 9 PM on my own anyway, drinking hot chocolate at Hershey’s (ahem!) minus the friends who badgered me, going wherever I wanted at the pace I felt necessary, spending my two nights at Chicago’s Willis Tower and John Hancock Center for separate nights as I gaze back at the city lights, then taking the time to finish off my free breakfast (loads of butter and breads and cereals and lattes), deciding to take the line to O’hare instead of spending 40s for Uber, and finally meeting an amazing, intelligent, god-fearing Australian by the name of Pam.

  1. What is the best thing I built/created/started?

I got two or three? probably four! Yep four! The first is my website www.theorator.org which is a reflection of what I envision myself to be doing for the world. It’s far from beautiful, but I managed to create it on my own. It’ll probably sit there for a few months next year before I kick off things once again. The second is my speech board game which I already finished but I need to refine. Decision has to be made whether to commercialize it or to give it to schools, or to include it in my book. The third is the half-way finished public speaking book I have been writing for five months or so. Before depression hit me this year, I was all pumped up to expedite the process of finishing the book. Last is the ebook I released entitled Reflections of Damaged Characters where I included my black writings.

  1. What is the most impactful decision I made for the future?

I guess it’s deciding to build on my character and committing to one thing. People who know me remember my angry voice, my commanding aura, blah blah. And I don’t want to be remembered that way anymore.

The change started two years ago, but it reached its peak this year when I acknowledged I can never be the jack-of-all-trades or the Renaissance woman I proclaim myself to be, and be equally the best in the sciences and the humanities. Gone are high school and college years where getting A’s in those subjects while running clubs and manning an entire college, being exempted from Chemistry exams and praised for a scientific explanation of God in religion and philo subjects, receiving A’s in all my papers for literary criticism subjects, being tagged as a legend for always breaking terror professors’ records, earning 99+ in the science subject of a national test fooled me into believing I can be in the lab,  pretending I’m great in English inside the classroom, in the fields researching or balancing equations, conducting trainings and workshops, teaching students in far-flung areas about God and humanity while running my public speaking empire!

(yep! Crazy!)

But, I repeat. That’s never going to happen. I have blamed my education for my confused identity. I struggle seeing students I trained pursuing medicine and their parents and the mother of three doctors who were my seniors commenting, “You could have been a doctor or a lawyer.” Blah blah blah.

But to be honest… they are wrong.

I am pretty sure I can never be a doctor. I am a worry wart and a panic penny. Ya’ll know panic should never be in a doctor’s vocabulary.

I can never be a lawyer either because I’ve come to know myself fully. I can think of flaws in arguments but I have a chaotic mind. I don’t trust myself. Unless my idea is perfect, I won’t speak of it. I am not spontaneous. Believe me, I fear impromptu speaking. A lawyer should be quick while I take things slow. A lawyer should be confident, while I am still struggling with low self-esteem.


Side comment: I’m happy I entrusted God my decisions and not some national test telling me I should take up medicine or be in any scientific field.

  1. What are the lifelong goals I achieved?

To answer this, let me give you a back story.

When I was 15 years old, I asked God to bring people to my life who will see the real me, and prayed harder that a time will come when I no longer need to unleash “the beast” at whatever circumstances. (That was mom’s greatest fear when I left for the states)

I managed but I struggled. I eventually failed to hold it in anymore, started raising my eyebrows, rolling my eyes that I had to storm out of the room to lessen the gravity. I remembered crying in the bus with Gin. We talked about my past, how I believe the real me is different than what my new found friends are seeing. And the wise Gin remarked, “Ate, what we’re seeing is the real you. Here, you don’t have to pretend.”

Light bulb on!

This is me. What people love about me is me. And my long wish/goal to let people appreciate my character instead of my achievements has been achieved. It took four years to finally get here, but I’m here now.

No turning back.

  1. What are the hardest lessons learned?
  • Life is hard. PERIOD. And it is full of shit, full of cheaters, full of fakes and full of naggers. People make us cry, but we make people cry too. People cheat on us, but we unknowingly cheat on other people as well. Why fret?  We’re all the same anyway.But the hardest part (breathe in, breathe out)…people (especially the ones you care about) change and leave, not because they don’t care but because circumstances and distance force them to be. They mean the world to you and the next second they are no longer there. You hold on to them for a moment, but you realize you’ve got to move on because there are a lot of shits you have to man up to. But one thing is certain, God never changes, and family never leaves. So set your priorities straight.
  • Set your priorities straight or the world will decide which priorities you need to take. And you wouldn’t want the messed up world to decide for you.
  • The world is messed up. We’re all struggling, so stop being a cry baby and playing the victim. We’re all messed up, but the beautiful part is we’re all in this together.
  • We’re all in this together. I repeat. WE are all in this together, so never assume you ALONE make the world go round.Never make assumptions. Never make assumption that some guy likes you unless he says so. Never assume the grumpy soul dislikes you unless he tells you straight. Never assume your friends don’t care unless they confess. Again, life is not some kind of movie where you are the main actress.
  • You are not the main actress, so the better side to that is you can live the life you want however you want it, and da-da-da-da, no one cares! Want to have some black nails? Puhlease! Want to leave the public sector for a private company because your intuition tells you? Go. In the end, your life might not be a movie everyone wants to see, but an adventure someone might want to live.
  • Life is an adventure, and a crazy ride.
  • Life is a crazy ride. One time you’re in renowned places, the next day you wake up to the rushing sounds of trucks passing by your ancestral house. While you’re in the former, you miss home. But when you’re home, you think you’re crazy for not spending your time exploring the foreign city. Regrets!
  • It’s okay to regret for a while, but you realize you’re just 25 and you need to stand back up and face the world, and be you.
  • Be you. Once you become the real you, you make the world a little less difficult.
  • Life is difficult. It is screaming HARD. But that’s what makes life beautiful anyway, so accept and ignore the cheaters, the haters, the naggers, the fakes- they are all a part of your interesting world.
  1. What are your new hobbies and passions?

I learned new skills this year as required by my new job in a speech and search technology company. I learn how to run scripts, commands, write simple regexes which I wouldn’t have experienced working in the academe.

  1. What is your most humbling experience for the year?

The most humbling experience has to be waiting on God to direct me to the job I need to take. I’ve waited for five months to get to the new job I love. Again, I’m fortunate that I followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting. I prayed hard before choosing. This new job comes with buckets of tears and fears and dams of faith. My savior never left me. He told me to just be held. Obeying God brought me to the kind of job I really wanted.

  1. What is one thing I am most grateful for the year?

I am grateful for choosing to live the life I wanted instead of allowing society to dictate it for me. I became self-reliant and independent this year.



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A World-Class in a Small Box

On March 13, 2016, Bindlestiff Studio’s Love Edition: Always & 4Ever covered seven hilarious yet profound love stories: “57 Varieties”, a story of two couple finding out another’s attachment to pornography; “Kill Me Please”, a romantic depiction of a weird and hilarious masochist-sadist love story; “Time Before Time”,  a deep reflection of a son’s willingness to change history for his mother; “The Sunshower Bride”, another extremely amusing Wolf-and-Human love story with cultural symbolisms; “Puppy Love”, an extraordinary plot about two lesbians contemplating the effects of adopting a puppy to their home life; “Life of Sin”, a more serious story of revenge, betrayal with a lot of twists in between; and “Woo Her Like a Badass”, a comedic portrayal of modern courtship.

Being a person who dislikes the predictable and the familiar, I adored all the acts that defamiliarized common love themes such as a son’s love for a mother (Time Before Time) and unimaginable stupid love in damaging relationships (Kill Me Please); and cultural underpinnings to that of traditional marriages (The Sunshower Bride), homosexual relationships (Puppy Love) and peer pressure (Woo Her Like a Badass), then packaged and presented them in a whole new “delectable” way to the audience. I have never been this hooked and awed, gasping for more. Their plots and script are comparable to that of the great Jean-Baptiste Moliere-succinct, appropriate, ludicrous; the actors’ natural and effortless raising of eyebrows to embody bewilderment, smirking to disgust, biting of lips to lust, shaking of hips to merriment, pounding the heart or shaking of the head to regret, etc. to that of renowned Les Miserables’ cast; and their approach to stage to that of minimalists – sets illuminate than dominate. In a sentence, theirs is a world-class production. And to me world-class in itself does not exemplify international acclaim but one that has a sublime unforgettable impact on the audience. Look at Renoir and Monet – at first glance, their works do not astound much… impact much. But stare a little more closely and one sees works that bring the ordinary up a notch, creating a sublime experience. Having deep appreciation for the sublime pieces, I noticed that staled stories once defamiliarized either swiftly slap or silently seep through the senses of a slumbered soul. That happened to me while I sat at the last row of the theater closed to the audio booth. And up until now, I cannot put to sleep the thrill and awe I felt whilst there. Again, I appreciate the Filipino playwrights who made a world-class production in a small box in San Francisco.











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Variety in the Familiar

Group to solo, Tahitian atmosphere to Korean vibe, Modern Contemporary to Hip hop, dance to musical performances: the Spring Dance Show 2016 held on May 13, 2016 at Skyline College Theater seemed to have showcased all.  It was produced by Dance 400 classes under Amber Steele as part of their grade for the semester. The production started with a Spring Musical titled “Fancy Dress” by the Spring Musical Orchestra, followed by varying group and solo routines. “Brother” and “Strange Fruit” were the only one-man shows and most were composed of at least four members. A total of 17 performances, which ran for an hour and a half, entertained the 15 spectators. The theater, stage and artistic directors spat orders from the audio booth; the host, acting as though part of a play, filled the awkward silences between quick changes; while outside the theater, four volunteers yawning, chatting and checking their phones, sat in front of a long table where programs lay free for grabs.

Entering, I surveyed the theater expecting more than the number that showed up. I counted 15. That’s when I called myself back and reminded myself, I wasn’t there to critique but experience. After finding my seat, I heard noises coming from the backstage. There were loud whispers, whimpers, seat grabbings, and things clicking. What do you expect? I started rolling my eyes again. When the show began, at least it wasn’t disappointing. I applauded the host who had Marry Poppins’ intonation and the gait of one of Princess Aurora’s fairy godmothers. She looked spontaneous even though I knew she had it all scripted. If only one word could describe the show that would be variety. Varied performances, varied dancing skills, varied interpretations of dance moves (how straight the arms should be, how bent the knees had to be, etc), and varied reactions from me: awed, thrilled, pained, touched, acutely distressed, disgusted.  When I caught myself critiquing, “Should they have at least prepare for this? When you are on stage, you should take it as a final performance not a rehearsal…”, I forced myself to stop and reflect on this experience. There are shoulds, but aren’t the flow, mistakes and the unexpected the ones that make up a memorable entertaining show? Experience has always taught me that control crashes the currents of creativity. But more than a controlling mind, negative eyes null the nirvana of experiences. At that moment, I knew I perceived from my negative eyes. Plus, I realized they were neophytes who desired to experience dancing in front of an audience and not experts who have been rocking the stage since they were ten. Again, the show provided variety and for a person who abhors the familiar, that is all that matters.



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Reflections in a Dilapidated Boarding House

While many wouldn’t want to be where I am in, I admit the spot on the second floor of a dilapidated house with windows reflecting the narrow Burgos Street in Brgy. Obrero attracts my co-settlers. In front of me, across the street, is an old Spanish-styled house with weeds of all sorts sprouting all around. It has five ancient windows filled with dusts and mites, bringing someone to the 1800s, except that it has one air conditioning unit clad with cobwebs; as if my own seating isn’t a time machine in itself. I cannot exactly see the happenings on the street, I can only hear and assume. Dogs are barking, radio turned on in the landlady’s room, broadcasting updates of the new president’s State of the Nation Address. At several intervals during the day, Obrero jeepneys rush, crowding the air with the piercing noises of howling drivers and loud engines; yet so often the street stays silent with only the birds serenading and cocks expressing their might even at midday.

Enjoy the silence now, I murmur to myself as I continue to type and type. I wonder what life is going to be two to three weeks from now. Wait. Am I moving ahead again? What’s the point of checking up the future, imagining what it holds? For the past three days, I devoured all pages detailing the predictions for an Aries/Taurus Rising. What I am, I am not yet sure. Then I start asking again, does it even matter? Two months ago, I sat in a different modern blue-tinted room with paintings spread on the walls, and a brownish carpet smoothing the soles of my feet, closed in from the world with no one to gaze at but the huge finger painting of the Alcatraz, with only the fluorescent lighting the room, day in day out. The same emotions linger in me in two different scenes. Blessed with amenities and a monthly stipend back in the modern room, I still ruminated and twisted and turned the future cinematography of my life: frequently gory, seldom glory. “In the Philippines, things will get better”, I assured myself.

Now situated in an old room with sun lighting the whole expansive space for most of the day and the bare wood easing the heat steaming out of my feet, I continue to ponder what the future holds. When’s start to fill the list… when I get the CHED position, I would be better; when I build my business, I would feel great and unstoppable; when I put a PhD at the end of my name, only then I would experience profound pride beyond my placid life; when… when… But what if the when doesn’t happen? Then the would’s would never be? What if the when’s do happen yet another list of when’s opens up with more demands, more great expectations? Would the would’s be more than what’s enough? I cannot stop the thoughts bursting in all the crevices of my searching mind. Guilt creeps back and the realization swiftly slaps my rather unconscious soul.

I stand up, start pointing my index finger to an unseen spectator, as if berating someone who has soared high only to return to the landing ground. Then I realize, I might be pushing events to happen in my life too much instead of allowing situations to pull themselves up. Stop. Stop. I grab the seat, comforting myself and start typing: Then it dawns on me. The place doesn’t matter, even the situation. It’s how I perceive every situation, every pursuit. Even the desire to be in the future place is strong, I understand I am where I need to be, the neurotic overthinking included, and I am what I need to be. No more scolding for overthinking. No more stopping from ruminating. Just letting things be as much as just letting this writing flows as it flows, for the joy of lines combination and not for anything else, not restrained and too scripted or over-the-top verbose and flashy; just letting it and life be.

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