Saturday, March 31, 2012


One exam to go - just this massive compre (short for 'comprehensive'), or eight modules compressed into a 200-item test, on Tuesday - and it's summertime (and the livin' is easy... wait, what?).

I must say I'm pretty impressed with the progress I've made for my 2nd official Oscarthon (Oscars marathon, which I formally began last year) - forty-one films already since the last week of December! But success, as cynics would say, comes with its own consequences. And you've guessed it right - this is another lamentation on the sad state of the universe, and I bid thee a warm welcome.

But the universe as any sane man knows does not revolve around the physical, superficial me. It revolves around my body clock.

Because, see my friend, my body clock is a mess. One hot helluva mess. As a matter of fact, it's only awaiting another eruption from Mt. Kilauea before it, too, goes off. What happened? This is where our story begins.

In July-August of last year (that wide a time frame, yes, since the exact date is lost to me), a group of eager and overly enthusiastic freshmen from the UP College of Medicine agreed upon their topic for the requisite research project of the year. They were to conduct a pilot study on the effects of LPG on the pulmonary function of taxi drivers in Metro Manila. LPG is liquefied petroleum gas, and if you don't recognize it by name, you as the regular taxi rider might know it from the smell.

Now I mentioned 'pilot study' because here in the Philippines, no such study still existed at the time. Oh yes. What weaklings we are - were.

But it wasn't the subject matter that was tough - it was the methodology, at least the first half of it. Fieldwork's a bitch, any researcher knows that. And ours was the biggest nastiest bitch in the whole wide bitchdom. To be concise with the hysterics, we were interviewing taxi drivers and conducting spirometry testing on them between 3-8AM. Why? Because that's the only time when we could actually have a decent study population in a single place, as that's the standard shifting time for drivers. Screw you, capitalist taxi companies.

Yeah, so that's that and the weather's really, really, really weird. 

Oh, and you should totally watch Repertory Philippines' Jekyll and Hyde. Because personally, before it, there's only In the Heights (Atlantis), Next to Normal (Atlantis), and Little Women (Repertory). Happy end of March!

That's us at some taxi company in Mandaluyong City. Spot me (?).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Quartet for Forgiveness

The following was recently published in Humani Corporis, the commemorative 60th anniversary literary folio of Medics, the official student publication of the UP College of Medicine.


When we were three,
we would bring out our shovels
and dig through the damp earth
in grandmother's garden.

We told ourselves we'd find
treasure, like gold, maybe,
or plastic toys from another planet.

What we were digging for actually,
we'd later realize when we were no longer
hairless, brainless kids,
was buried time.


You used to tell me stories
to put me to sleep, and/ or
to let go of me, to let me escape,
to get me lost in the wilderness.

You used to say I was a penguin;
I was an oak, the Prince of Wales -
wherever Wales is - that I was something
instead of the nothing that I am,
the nobody in a nowhere
that I turned out to be.

Or did you intentionally drop me
off the wrong stop? Or did I hitch
the wrong bus, because buses
look the same, or walk
down a yellow-brick road
because there's no such thing?


Heart, like hand or head,
is spelled with a consonant:
an 'h' like in heathen, or harpsichord,
or what begins the 'how'
in a 'how are you?' that's meant to say
'have you been to better places than I?'
But the consonance is lost in the bloodbath,
the beating, the burst of tangled energy
from a half-living human
like me.


I was wrong. I was deceived.
I thought pain was an excuse
that all men used - to kill,
to slice bread, to partake
of stolen wine, to screw.
My shovel is broken.
Grandmother is long dead.
The garden is overgrown with weeds,
the roses have long wilted.
There is only the house
with its fallen roof, cracked walls,
creaking doors, and the corner
where I buried time.
And there is my body, rotting,
grasping for that last breath of memory,
seeking to remember a face
I used to know.