Monday, April 30, 2007

southern sunsets.

Sunset over Iloilo harbour. This was taken atop an old porch overlooking the Iloilo part of the Guimaras Strait, the lens aptly capturing that final brilliant dazzle of light just before the sun retreats back to its nightly abode, the grayish clouds of early evening in close pursuit. What more can I say? One picture is enough to tell a thousand words.

Monday, April 23, 2007

urban going rural.

Hopping on a Bus, I Reveled in a Fiesta One Weekend in April

So you have the same old story: city-dwellers yearning
for a taste of the country, shedding concrete skins,
casually yielding to that caprice called adventure.
And so it happened that one Saturday morning,
randomly hopped up a bus, and heeded a whim
called the impulse of youth: the longing of the flesh
for the world around it. Or at least a piece of it.
We took off to an incredible pace, past dirt-lined
roads that shook us to and fro. But the wonder on
our faces would tell you otherwise, anticipation
up close, betraying any trace of the awfully familiar.
How soon do you discover that home contains so much
obscurity? The native finds joy in unraveling secrets,
and we are seeking it: that undisputed, yet undiscovered,
happiness. What we really needed was a sense of
direction: keen, brusque, the gift to distinguish turrets
reaching out into the sky, or of the conspicuous azure
at a corner of the highway. This was neither the
Spanish era nor the turn of the last century;
no rainbow-colored flaglets levitating in the wind,
or bands parading down streets, no veil-clad ladies
waltzing to the tune of a kundiman.
There is only a slice of history, the age-old legend of
how everything began, the honored patron saint,
hidden beneath layers of lively conversations,
the crisp clanging of utensils breaking white noise.
And we are simple witnesses to the geniality of life
unfolding in the doorway: greetings and goodbyes,
enter and exit, the oft-repeated joke, some
unscrupulous candidate adding handshake for ballot.
Around us, walls tingle with the strain of laughter,
an ephemeral gaiety, easily given in to the monotony
of tomorrow. Why does nature allow such revelry,
only to fall back into place? And why does the rustic
sunset glisten, only to plunge back into night?
The road home speaks of unhurried contemplation,
the slowing down to omen, the prelude to profaned
warnings. So we must write of discovery, this awakening
to culture, inevitably leading back to that unseen history
of the urbanite, his union with tradition, his oneness

with himself.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

360 degrees.

When I finally caught the blog bug (or should I just say “blug”?) exactly a year ago, I knew it was going to be the start of a new, albeit different twist in the sphere of the printed word. Online, anything goes – the risk and the freedom existing side by side. You are free to write anything in as much as people are free to view and comment on what you have written, and heaven forbid – even steal your ideas. But soon I discovered that the intention, and perhaps more so the passion, overpowered the fear, and in a while had me putting up this blog, trying to keep in mind the fact that you get as much responsibility as freedom for your posts. This writer envisioned the mind as a dynamic machine on wheels, loaded with tons of ideas waiting to be refined, processed and eventually shipped out. “My Mind Has Wheels” was born.

And so you have a newbie, fresh from his first post, smug and overly satisfied for having officially marked his presence in the big blog world. As I mentioned in that historic first post, the lure of having at least a piece of personal space comes at a time when say, “you’re inside the shower staring at the bathroom walls and suddenly a barrage of ideas comes knocking at your mind’s door.” What better topic to talk about than this newfound joy? Enlisting the aid of a funny Archie episode, I dwelt on that most elusive thing called happiness ("The Real Breakthrough to be Happy") and even attempted to enumerate some of the finer things in life that would’ve been cause for nirvana, only to find out that the list unbelievably goes back to what one already has. The bottom line: happiness = contentment.

I moved on to my love of books ("I, Bibliophile"), and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Right smack into Holy Week, I juggled Sidney Sheldon, Jane Austen and The Bible into an amazing bibliophilic escapade. There was a trivial issue on the use of the word “passion” ("A Passion for Lent") and I had my fair share of amusement – not to mention insight – from it. Vacation mode kicked in and I found myself unveiling grand plans ("Summer Bummers and Carpe Diem") that I vowed to accomplish during the two-month long respite from academic toil. But if only to set the record straight, you know the real story behind those fancy goals and New Year resolutions. Unusual dedication is needed if you’re bent on making it past the halfway mark.

Memory lane urged me to write of the tutoring experience I had with public school children during my summer as a university freshman ("Bringing Out the Tutor in Me"). I was fortunate to have had received a few positive comments, two of which came from no less than respected columnists Manolo Quezon III and Susan “Toots” Ople (My heartfelt thanks.) Sometimes, simple things like these are enough to fuel a writer to reach the top. My blog being a relatively obscure, hard-to-find one, I was surprised people were still able to dig it up (Again, online, anything goes.) I followed it up with a post on luck ("Luck is a Four-Lobed Clover Leaf") – a good post is definitely good luck!

Add to this the rare fortune of getting published in the Youngblood section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Sometime in May, I decided to try my hand for a column in one of, if not the country’s biggest daily, an account of two-left-foot me ("Dancing") and my tribulations on the dance floor. I must say that not since winning the Palanca and seeing another article appear on the pages of Tulay Magazine have I felt such highs from writing. At first, the weeks merely came and went and almost left me to conclude that my entry must have proven too lame and too trite for the country’s top editors, and must have already ended up rotting in someone else’s email trash. Just imagine my sheer delight when I was proven wrong after a month’s short wait.

I was writing from home, a place I am away from several straight months at a time. I only deemed it fitting to write of Iloilo City ("An Inkling of Iloilo") and how it has changed through the years – from small, quaint town to big, bustling city yet retaining its old world, historic charm. And just like any keen-eyed, adventure-loving resident, I always try to make it a point of discovering the magic at every turn of this tiny stretch of space called home. Now, no matter what, I think I’ll always be one proud Ilonggo. But who knows, the wanderlust in me may perhaps opt to travel far and wide, bringing back to mind the time we sojourned to the mystic Mt. Banahaw ("Banahaw and Rizal's Legacy") as a field trip for our Rizal course. It was a day spent not only on meaningful communion with nature, but also with open-minded talks on the significance of faith and religion.

Having written in prose for the greater part of my writing days, I tried going back to my roots as a writer with the rediscovery of poems ("From Poetry and Back") since poetry, after all, has always fascinated me with its distinctive style and approach to readers. But while my younger days insisted on a total rhyme scheme, I wanted a fresh take on writing poems – not so much on form as the emotion and the mood. I wrote on a variety of topics ranging from R-18 ratings to sunsets ("Contemplating Sunset"), and largely on the weather (I wonder why?) with the three-part “Weather Talk” series.

Speaking of the weather, 2006 left a huge impact with the onset of super-typhoon “Milenyo” ("Storms of our Lives") which was probably one of the worst natural phenomena I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. Three straight days of making do with the basics and of fearful, faithful, contemplation on the unpredictable really brings you back to reality only a super-typhoon can. Hovering over you scythe-armed and menacing, struggling with fear can be a fearsome job in itself ("The Sum of All Fears"), but sometimes all it really takes is a bit of self-psychology to do the trick. I was greatly flattered at the request of Mr. Darryl Gudmundson to write a review for their new show "Sleeper Cell: American Terrorism", unfortunately being outside the United States, I wasn’t granted access to the show online, let alone get to see it on TV (My sincerest apologies.)

Halfway through my blog-year, I turned 19 ("19") and mulled over the matter with some ambivalence. As I write this moment, many of my classmates have already graduated from the teen age, having hit the big 2-0, and I myself am also poised to do so a few more months away. More than worrying about one's age or the unmistakable fact that time is indeed fleeting, it made me feel even more grateful for the gift of life, for the chance to live every day the best way I could. The season to be jolly arrived, and it was Simbang Gabi time once more ("Rediscovering Mornings"), the Yuletide spirit keeping us rooted in the hope of sailing smoothly though the waters of 2006 did come across as a little too turbulent ("The Most Wonderful Time of Year")

New Year ushered in the usual plethora of resolutions and promises, and I got something else – new hair! ("New Year, New Hair") Okay, so I didn't exactly go about sporting a patchy Mohawk top; but the change was there, and I welcomed it rather heartily. A couple of months to go before my Year Level 3 stint concludes, and I was somehow prompted to reflect on my status quo as a medical student ("The Future Beckons"), four years remaining in the countdown till graduation. February beckoned me to come home with the 95th founding anniversary of my Alma Mater, but alas I had to be contented with taking part in the merriment 300 miles away ("Nostalgia from Afar") When school finally ended, we emerged more enlightened persons with a talk on death and dying ("Thanatopsis") - something we didn't really expect but which underscored the importance of a holistic healing touch to our patients in the future.

One year, 360 degrees. In the same way that birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated, this mini-review of the year that was is a solid testament to the unique world of writing, that it can truly be a blast of a journey with a bit of imagination and experience, anytime, anywhere. When I wrote my article on books, my last line was a confident declaration that “if it be a lifetime of reading, let the reading go on.” In much the same way, I guess, “if it be a lifetime of writing, let the writing go on.”

My mind has wheels. May they keep on turning.