Prologue

When I was young, I wanted to be a lawyer. I found much delight in expressing my thoughts for all to hear. Somehow, I know that I had it in me the ability to flipside life for people to realize and embrace certain truths. But my journey to law school was derailed because I found some fulfillment in being an observer of life. A keen one at that. I discovered that the world wasn’t only a courtroom for healthy debates, but a classroom where I can be a teacher and a student as well. Everyday, lessons can be learned and relearned over and over again and stories can be told in different ways and have different endings. Living was a mandatory assignment. So while discovering the fun and the fuss, the mystery as well as the misery of growing up, I did not resist everything that was happening around me. I breathed everything in. Many times I find myself choking. Yet I never lost my zest for reasoning out, questioning and probing. A series of arguments ensued – mostly between my mind and a sheet of paper. I went through a whole gamut of experiences that could be deemed poetic justice, but the cross examination mainly happened with me, myself and Minnie. With society as my judge, and my friends and family as jury, I would treat my pen or the keys in my laptop as my wobbly gavel. I would pound thought after thought, as each emotional crime would reach a verdict expressed in words that were raw but downright real. Lost in the stenography of prose, poetry, letters and song, I would find myself guilty of a much bigger calling.

I was born to write.

It has always been my dream to have my own decent column where I can scribble away and move people with my stories. But to have a space in the daily may prove to be difficult since I am no celebrity nor am I a hardcore literati. So for the past years, I have contented myself invading the broadsheet with commissioned press ads while ideating commercials for television. But those were never really my thoughts. It was work. Sure, I got to write for glossies occasionally but I never owned the slant. So this time around, I dare call the shots. I proclaim this site as my ode to myself. A place to share the stuff that drives me serious and silly. Sad to say, but this is not meant to be an online diary. This is more of a blog where I intend to hopefully pull the right cord in each reader’s soul. I wish to inspire people by telling them how my measly life has somehow evolved. Hopefully, week after week, I can command my mind to be still and tell the world that my existence has its meaning by living out an experience I may not outright comprehend, but perhaps, other people can patiently decipher & understand my issues much better and in the process, feel good in some sense.


minnie1

The title of my site is not a spin-off of the Albom classic even if I enjoyed that book immensely. It was just that I was born a Tuesday. And for some reason, Tuesdays has always been my favorite day of the week when something good happens. So I told myself that come every Tuesday, I will write and allow myself to be naked. I will open myself up to the critical world harboring the least of expectations, only with the intent to breathe my words to the waiting universe. If you choose to embrace it, then I will be grateful knowing that you have taken a part of me with you. Through my articles and stories, you will know me, love me, hate me, laugh with me, cry with me or maybe simply not agree with me … but I take comfort in knowing that every Tuesday, I come to life to do what I really love.


In Her Hands

In life, there are blessings that we expect and there are blessings that happen out of nowhere.  For me, it is the latter that is more overwhelming, the kind that moves you from within when you least expect it.

When I visited an old schoolmate of mine a week ago, I never knew how much blessed I would feel.  For over a month, news about the metastasis of her breast cancer was passed on from one friend to another.  I thought it was an ordinary update that would pass me by but since her condition has worsened as the days went by, a call-out of support and prayer power from friends and classmates was made.

News like this crush me.  I don’t like it when I hear of anyone’s suffering.  All the more I can’t bear it when someone’s dying.  It is heart-wrenching, believe me.  I have seen my beloved Tita Eve leave before my very eyes.  The dawn when my second mother let out her last breath, her heart beat its last, her eyes closed forever, death freezes you and numbs you and the pain simulates an inner scream that sucks the life out of you for a very long, long, long time.

And to hear of someone in her deathbed makes me cringe big time.  Sure, some of us have sorta started on our bucket list and have uttered hypothetical “pabilins” in jest; but when one’s mortality clock is about to off its mean alarm, it makes me think….

What do you really do when your time will soon be up?
When you know that the inevitable looms, how much
will you cram to make memories, how eager are you to
rush and do closures, and how keen are you to make a
mark in this world? Have you wondered, what will be
your final performance just before the curtains fall?

For some time now, I easily get bothered with news of ailments, confinements and most of all, interments.  Still fresh from attending an ex-officemate’s wake last month, there was something about this story of my grade school acquaintance that I couldn’t quite shake off.  Maybe it’s because her breast cancer started on stage 2 which is quite similar to an adsister’s plight in 2007.  Or maybe there was a part of me that could relate since they found 3 lumps in my chest last year.  Or just maybe me and this girl belong to a generation when they say that life has begun, when in reality, life can near its end at any given time. Even if I couldn’t pin down the reason, I knew I needed to do what I had to do.

Eileen Asuque was a batchmate of mine during my primary years at the College of the Holy Spirit in Mendiola.  And I thought my connection to her would just be like that.  Admittedly, memories that belong 30 years ago can be a quite a struggle to remember.  Last night, as I found myself leafing through dusty and crusty Dove yearbooks, I wanted to score some kind of reminiscence that can trigger a meaningful flashback. I learned Eileen was never a classmate of mine ever.  I don’t think we ever belonged to the same club. We simply belonged to the same batch.  Perhaps, Eileen may have recollections of me making a fool of myself way back from my awkward Travolta dancing, to my catatonic acting in school Christmas plays, to my garrulous extemporaneous speaking gigs to my eager beaver student council forays.  On the other hand, the only factoid I have of her is that some of my classmates became her classmates, and that was that.

Fast forward to today, as I get swallowed by corporate slavery, I would encounter her name in a Facebook thread and would be told that this old schoolmate was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent mastectomy.  Her cancer upped two stages and escalated to cancer of the bones.  All this in a period  of less than three years.

Last week, it was a delight to know that CHS classmates were planning a get-together .  But before I could even immerse in the joy of possible reminiscing, a flash update from a classmate detailed that time may not be on our side.  When a window presented itself, I knew that I wanted to see her at the soonest possible time.  But what kept bugging me is this assumed awkwardness between the two of us.  I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t recognize me.  I just might even just end up stressing Eileen trying to remember who the hell I was.  But I had a simple mission in mind. To visit a sick person, to pray and to wish her well.  Whatever threat of uneasiness should be irrelevant since what should matter is to do what is right.  Seeing an old schoolmate who is on her last stretch should naturally be a deed of the spirit.

That Friday, I sought Eileen out.  I called earlier and learned she was sleeping so I just said to the one who answered that I’d just drop by and say a prayer. I prepared a letter for Eileen to read in case she wakes up and sniffs the presence of a stranger.  When I knocked on her door, her nanny Elsie welcomed and accompanied me to her bedroom door.  As if life was rendered in slow motion, the door creaked open, then a man appeared (Eileen’s brother Eric) smiled at me; and as the door swinged farther, Eileen Asuque, that CHS batchmate of mine that I have no memory of, looked at me intently.   I immediately approached her and handed over a rose and a letter that I scribbled earlier.  I guess my articulation skills left me as I scoured for words on how best to make her know me without subjecting her to undue melancholic pressure.  “I am Carmina,” was what initially escaped my mouth, an introduction I seldom use for some time now but I guess it’s the only way that I could best be remembered by classmates of yesteryears aside from the hard-to-pronounce Spanish surname.  Eileen looked pale and had an oxygen tube attached to her nose for breathing. Her skin looked flawless though she had little a band-aid on the side of her forehead.  Her hands were a wee bit swollen but you could tell that she did lose weight. But when I scanned her, she looked good to me, not the frail sad type of hospital drama series.  In fact, Eileen was cute in her pigtails as she sat upright in her bed.  I was even joking that I looked more stressed than her.  Her voice was soft but you easily make out what she would say.  She thought I was another “Carmina.”  I then remembered that there were two or three of us who had the same first name back then.

It was amazing how she welcomed me that afternoon and how we shortly went back the nostalgia lane of the 80s.  It was a surprise to know that Eileen also went to the same high school I went to.  She too was a kulasa. I just felt so shamed that despite knowing that I still couldn’t remember her.  Perhaps, my juvenile delinquencies and idiosyncrasies have muffled by memory bank.   It took a while for her to recall who I am but it was fairly okay.  I surmised that her eureka moment was when she mentioned terms that I simply made out as “president.”  Funny but at the specific moment of my visit, I knew I was somehow reliving my duties to my batch.

Sans the whiteboard that she normally uses to communicate her thoughts so as to avoid breathlessness, Eileen and I (along with her brother Eric) managed to talk for over an hour.  I never expected for her to stay awake that long and for her to talk that long.  Must be divine grace since she never exhibited any signs of being tired or being bored with me.  Of course, I was wary on whether we were babbling too much and whether she wanted to rest so I would ask her from time to time if she wanted to pause.  I didn’t probe too much about what led to her condition. I was more into knowing how she was coping now.  She takes Dolcet, a painkiller thrice a day, and her appetite has significantly decreased.  Two spoonfuls of food is enough for her, plus a serving of Ensure at times.  But she couldn’t eat too much lest she burp and have a difficult time breathing.

In examining Eileen’s aura, I could say she has accepted her fate.  As Eric bluntly mapped life out, death is the ending of everyone’s journey. He even retorted that bringing Eileen home from the hospital must be considered fortunate since she have the luxury of time to prepare for a real “homecoming.” I must say that man is very realistic.  He was forthright in saying that he wasn’t reaching for the moon with regard to his ate’s condition.  He even related to me they weren’t even praying that Eileen would reach Christmas.  Eric said their prayer was simple – “ God, hirit pa… isang araw.” I began to well up upon hearing this.  Indeed, every day given to Eileen is a blessing.  Every minute is sixty seconds of grace.  I even seconded that every breath is truly something to be grateful for. I couldn’t help but be moved by how these siblings looked after each other.   I felt their love.  Eileen even said “I am like this because of him,” while she mustered enough energy to lift a finger and point to the man as her life’s anchor.  It is very evident how Eric breathes strength and hope in his sister.

From time to time, Eric would leave me and Eileen and come back for another round of babble that simulated the glee you get from tuning in to Friday Magic Madness.  He provided the humor and balance in my visit.  He filled in the blanks of my queries to Eileen.  With all the recollection we exchanged, we must have shared the same sphere of exhilarating adolescence; having attended the same Valle clubhouse parties, bopped to exclusive mobile mixes and even graced the drag races in Greenhills.  I knew our repartee entertained Eileen in a way.  For me, almost always, an 80s talk can prove to be engaging and therapeutic.

When I continued to chat with Eileen, I would do a rundown of the names of our batchmates who were praying for her wellness.  Devoid of words, I can sense her sincere appreciation.  Her piercing gaze expressed so much gratitude for people who were rooting for her.  Then, I felt an inner bounce when Eileen said “I want to fight.”  I wanted to shake her like crazy and be giddy with her and throw confetti.  She continued by saying that she still has a mission.  To date, Eileen is busy with her manuscript that is tied up with her devotion to the Divine Mercy.  The title slips my mind right now but I distinctly recall her saying that she acknowledges the fact that she needs to go through intense suffering for her to write her book.  I salute writers who scribble for a noble purpose.  Being a writer myself, I admire this woman who till the last days on earth will prefer to string words for other people, rather than write things to eulogize herself.  Quite inspiring.

I told Eileen that I didn’t have much to offer except for my sincere friendship and prayers.  Truth be told, I may be a poor hag but I’m proud to be rich in good intentions. Upon saying this I took out prayer sheets I borrowed from Mama Siony.    Then it was time for us to be in the holy presence of God.  I told Eileen that I asked my mother for prayers that I can utter for her. My mother gave me specific prayers for sick people. I then held her hand and invoked the heavens.  We prayed for her healing but most importantly, we prayed for God’s will.  And I knew she was prepared for the inevitable so I whispered to Eileen, “I know you are ready that is why we will pray this.” I then continued to pray with her a “prayer for the dying.”  Then I just ended with an impromptu prayer for her.  It was like I was thrown back to my extemporaneous speaking competitions in grade school when I would babble like crazy to create a story to entertain a crowd, but this time, my verbosity was for the sake of spirituality.  Eileen was my lone audience, my most important spectator.  Her immense faith was my winning piece.  And I knew speaking from the heart is what Eileen truly deserves.  I hope I have uttered enough to knock the heavens to listen to us.

Before I bade Eileen goodbye, I jokingly said that much as I wanted to take her picture for posterity, I would prefer to snap a picture of our hands held together.  I wanted it that way because I knew our joined hands was a sign of amity and for the very first time, I knew that she was no longer just any forgettable batchmate of mine, she is now a friend.

In hindsight, I came to offer comfort to a woman who was battling the dreaded big “C” but in the end, I was the one who felt so much healed with this encounter.

We ask so much from life.  We yearn for so much blessings.  But you know that there is the kind of blessing that you don’t wait to be bestowed on you.  You look for it.  You immerse in it.  You embrace it.

I am blessed with a renewed friendship with a fellow Holy Mamaw kid who romped around the ghastly corridors of CHS. I am blessed for knowing that perhaps that same little kid who may have smiled obliviously at me during my age of innocence is now holding my hand and reminding me that in life, you have the power in you to fight to the very end.

What I thought would be a dreary afternoon of staring at the face of death actually turned out to be one of those rare moments I would truly see a genuine glimpse of life.

Thank you Mary Eileen Joy Asuque for that.

Rainbow Connection

It is depressing to write about depression.

Really.

Day in, day out, people proclaim to be depressed. Some feel outright miserable because things didn’t go their way. It could be a case of a bad hair day or someone didn’t call you last night kinda thing. The glum feeling could also be brought about when you don’t get your act together and you feel oh so frustrated about it. But far beyond suffering from a myocardial infraction when your lover betrays you or when there’s some hair-puling drama in the domestic front, depression is such an underestimated killer. For it puts you in a place where happiness exits through the backdoor and worse, you have no way of knowing when you would once more hear that knock of felicity. Aside from appetite and sleep being compromised, when someone is down in the dumps, jokes are rendered ho-hum, the world is portrayed as a darn hypnotic static and all that you see is black and white.

Depression is a when you feel that a dark cloud is hovering over you and whatever you do, you simply couldn’t get rid of the gloom.

Depression is like my second skin. I have had my share of mean episodes of being sucked into the dreaded emotional blackhole. Such claim is backed by legit reasons and not just made-up ones. Adult realities not juvenile delusions. My life is filled with stories that can make your tearducts dry as the Sahara and give me that much needed Winnie the Pooh hug of all time. Aaaww. In retrospect, I never willed for my depression to come. It just came. Or maybe it was forthcoming and I was just too darn sold to the fact that the pessimism of my youth was sad enough to begin with. I knew that what I was feeling wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill blues … it was something deeper. Even if there would be days when I’d find myself exercising my socializing muscle with friends and lovers, in a depressed condition, there will be more days, weeks, or even months in fact, when I’d find satisfaction being catatonic and pensive about what I’ve been going through. Looking back, depression has eaten me for years.

I have a best friend whom I bother when misery creeps in my system. In a series of midnight calls or during rounds of cheap beer in the neighborhood grill, I would relentlessly argue with him that my emotional state had nothing to do with a comatose biological clock or a romantic void, or some lame career frustration. With his big flappy ears at work, he would process my desolation. But it seemed each time I spoke of my sob stories, somehow my disclosed despair would be lost in translation. Yet in some context, I knew my best guyfriend got me since he shared with me one movie quote that would echo my being – “Everyone wants to be found”. Eegad, he just summarized the story of my life in one cheesy line.

When one treks deep into the forest of depression, the idea of a life compass is far-fetched. You just walk on, without knowing where you’re headed, till you bump into a tree and become unconscious in the process. And it’s not a sleep that you can willfully wake up from. Depression lets you lie in a pillow when you feel hopeless, helpless and dreamless.

I remember being diagnosed as “manic depressive”. People think of this tag as a fanciful term in everyday conversation but believe me when I say that depression is one hell of a serious condition. Just like a plague that attacks you when you’re not looking, it is an outbreak that can cause damage in the long term if left unattended. The saga of my woefulness is captured in another webblog (which I will only share for those who are extremely open-minded) but I am grateful that I have semi-parked that for now. Rather than shooing away the sunshine for the moment, I would prefer to tell you of my attempts in dealing with this dejected state.

During the height of my great depression of yesteryears, I would seek solace in a friend’s house in the same municipality where I live in. It had been a usual tease when people ask me about my place of residence, “sa loob o sa labas?” {inside or out}. It is common knowledge that my city is known for roaming lunatics. You bet, there’s no place like home. But getting back to my story, when sadness pays me a visit, I find myself in the sane apartment of Patty and Noel, one couple whom I would consider as my ultimate lifecoaches. Whenever I would pop up in their abode, they would merrily put on their shrink hats for me and listen to my rants and raves. My lifecoaches suggested that I try out a different kind of therapy. An act of rehabilitation to put the slightest hue in my monochromatic perception of the world. Thus, my therapy began.

Aside from taking with me the golden nuggets of wisdom that fateful weekend, I was given the basic equipment to calm me as I embark in a journey to lucidness — a bubble play set, a box of crayons and a coloring book. I attempted to indulge in some minutes of blowing bubbles at home which irritated my dogs, and then I was set to take on the next big challenge of tinting some papers. I was summoned to color for the sake of coloring. No big purpose. No immense rewards. Nevertheless, that night I’ve persuaded myself to color my cares away.

The initial thrill was that I felt like a little girl exploring my limits. Afterwhich, the next feeling I get was that I was like a soldier sent off to some goddamn war, for some clueless mission. With a world-changing task at hand, I needed to have sophisticated gear to pull this off. Not content with my crayon gifts, I saw myself rummaging through my drawers for an old crayola set I’ve kept for years. When I got my hands on a 64-set of crayons, I must say it was an exhilarating experience. This was the closest thing to holding the rainbow. It probably simulated the same euphoria an art director would have upon acquiring the most advanced version of Photoshop. My delight had its share of pauses since I found myself arranging the crayons according to shade. The OC in me kicked in. Shrug I did.

It’s been a long while since I’ve managed to while away coloring a coloring book. It’s been more than two decades since I was that appreciative of those waxy sticks that put a smile on my face and a twinkle of wonder in my eyes. So Minnie went through the motion of being lost in emotion. I started my task by coloring the flowers red, the bushes green and the water blue. Yada, yada. My, my, talk about logical. There was even a page that you had to color by numbers. There was a point that I felt pathetic. I felt stupid. I just couldn’t get it right. Choosing a particular crayon was a major decision. Every stroke I let out had to be precise. The picture ought to be perfect. Admittedly, when I was a child, I’ve never been a master of the color wheel. I mean whenever I shaded a figure, I would tend to skip the designated lines before me. Even if with much carefulness, my hands would have a mind of its own. I would never reach that level of fulfillment. My work would always exhibit some kind of flaw somewhere, somehow.


Then came my a-ha moment. I don’t know what got into me but I started to operate just the opposite. Belonging to a society plagued with the dreaded “what-if’s” in life, I began to perform the unexpected. I colored away obsessively. I put on my Picasso beret and held each crayon like I was conducting Pachelbel’s Canon & Gigue in D. In no time, the pages were filled as my world took form. With crayon crumbs caught in my fingernails, it was time to take a bow. I have finally done justice to my bookpapered canvas. Lo and behold, the grass was pink, the trees were orange and the water was far from the conventional blue. What a lovely sight. Bravo. Yet I instinctively knew that if there was a grown-up breathing down my neck, he would have muttered invectives at me, saying “My god where the hell did you get such idea? Get real Minnie”. But I knew that in that moment, all the peripheral voices were meant to be muted. It was my voice that mattered. So color I did as my ipod blasted some Bananarama ditty to make the scene chirpier than usual for the mad artist at work. Noo-nee-noo-nee-noo.

The next day saw me propping open my coloring book in between breaks in my workplace. I’m not quite sure if my officemates found me a little loopy with my coloring antics. I really didn’t give a damn since all I cared about was regaining my sanity by coloring away and I knew that I was cuddling the power to make all these unmindful adults around me turn green with envy. Who wouldn’t be? I had in my hands sheets that boasted of a purple snake with a tophat and a polka-dotted dinosaur. It felt good. I felt good. It was like I’ve invoked the spirit of Michaelangelo and have created a masterpiece that would be a source of bedlam at Sotheby’s.

Too bad that that the days that followed saw me setting aside my coloring books and crayons for official work. Yes, I was back in the real world, with real issues and real deadlines. Once again I got lost in adult complexities. But the thrill of my coloring therapy lingered on for days to come. That was good enough.

Coloring books as a therapy can be downright gratifying. I wouldn’t mind issuing that same prescription to you. You should try it one time. It just feels different to do something so simple as an adult. If you think that coloring a page as a child seems like a major struggle, as an adult, it can be a thousand times a challenge. To even rationalize the act itself can be the first roadblock. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Now more than ever, I realized how good if felt to get lost in coloring books. To appreciate the glide of colors and how it brings to life the skeletal illustrations before me. How picking that crayon stick from the box felt like pulling out a light saber. I was out to slay my personal dragons and mental demons. The incident was magical. No one can dare dictate how I’ll see things and interpret the world. It was my lone call. Best of all, there was absolutely no room for failure. It was a pure act of simply doing something for myself. It makes me think….

How many of us are caught up coloring our
world with tints of misery and end up with
a blank life canvas?  When was the last time
you took a moment to pursue your rainbow?

My trip back to my coloring childhood taught me to consider three Ms — Mindset. Meantime. Myself.

In battling depression, all it takes is a matter of mindset. Yeah, yeah … easier said than done. But the fact is, the more you dwell in the cruelty of the world, the more you wade in misery. And when you keep burdening yourself with worst-case scenarios, the more you can not fully live in the present. Which is why living in the meantime has its purpose. My place under the sun has been explicitly described in one of my readings:

When you are not happy where you are, and you are not quite sure if you want to leave or how to leave, you are in the meantime. It’s a state of limbo. You are hanging on, ready to let go, afraid to fall, not wanting to hurt yourself, afraid you will hurt someone else.”

– Iyanla Vanzant

The meantime can be torturesome, no doubt. Just like the gray cloud above my head. It must be there for some reason. Reasons that will reveal itself in the right time.

At the end of a doggone day, no one can get you out of your depression but yourself alone. I do feel blessed that I have lifecoaches I can bug when push comes to shove, a best guyfriend who checks on me in the mornings and bails out at night, and a giflfriend cum prayer partner who I sneak out to have occasional pancake lunchouts with. But friends can only serve as cheerleaders to a certain extent since the bottomline is, you are obliged to deliver the much awaited pep dance. My friends are, what I may politely consider, as my meantime anti-depressants. With life being a bitter pill to swallow, no Lexapro, Xanor, Zoloft, or Rivotril can work magic if you cannot open your eyes wide enough to see the glimmer of hope in spite of whatever happens to you today. Depression may eat you alive this very moment that you are reading this. But you know what? The sun will rise tomorrow, whether you like it or not. You and only you have the ability and the audacity to hug life for what it’s worth. We have to take it upon ourselves to believe that tomorrow always offer us another chance to reboot our lives. It ain’t easy. But it is – possible.

Sure, everyone gets depressed. We embrace misery in varied styles. Some even resort to comparing their frustration meter to another human being to derive some consolation knowing that you’re far better off than the loser next to you. Some are more equipped to deal with the dreaded blues, while the rest of us, struggle with all our might to get out of our comfy beds and take on the day and hoping to bask in some ray of sunshine.

Cliché as it may sound, the reality is, some days will be better than the rest. Most of the time, you just see smog over the horizon; but on some days, you just might get lucky and manage to see that elusive rainbow in the sky. I am grateful that the higher power out there tirelessly paints our lives with color. Though it is a pity that we are too blind to see it, and too depressed to even care about it.
To be sane is to live in your own world. And what does it take to live? To live your life in color. Tall order? Of course not. One or two shades would do. During that short-lived week of coloring my way out of depression, I basked in a good feeling, even it was only for the moment. That time I have created a world far different from what everyone else expected. Where one person’s sense of incongruity is another’s person’s version of reality. It is only in my world where grass blades are tiffany blue and the clouds are bubblegum pink and a kaleidoscope of possibilities are just within reach. Now I know that when you are in the realms of depression, you have to find that precise moment when you can allow yourself to get lost … for you to be truly found.

The Haunting

Last night I saw a ghost.

It froze me.
It made me hold my breath.
It sent me running.

I had no recourse but to close my eyes and wish to the high heavens that such occurrence never happened.

They say that when ghosts make their presence felt, they are out to settle some unfinished business. Some move on to the next level of living, not by choice, but by circumstance. And when they saunter in the realms of the afterlife, they would only be overwhelmed by the waiting, glaring light once they have settled their earthly issues.

But if there is one thing I believe is the fact that some ghosts are unaware of their snuffed mortality. They continue to roam the earth, pacing around favorite places, going through the motion of what has been familiar, without the slightest clue that they are actually “dead”.

Spooky stories have it that some ghosts take on various manifestations. Some are blurry, some bloodied, some float on the floor, and some appear headless.

But the ghost that appeared before me last night was the worst kind of all.

He was a ghost that had no heart.

This year, my Halloween came in December. Yesternight’s appalling apparition was far from stereotypical. There was no pounding Psycho thriller score or Twilight Zone stinger in the background. In fact, the 80s music that I grew up with, reverberated in the air. From across the room, amid unfinished beer bottles on cluttered tables, I saw the ghost of my ugly past. I was mortified to say the very least.

I actually thought that by now, I’d be numb with such ghost encounters. Boy, I’ve had my fair share with the passing of time. Some episodes have scared the wits out of me but the good thing, no matter how terrorized I was for a particular moment, I have come out the least bit shaken afterwards. With much enlightenment from my readings of Perez, Regis and Lichauco, I have taken much fascination on the best way to communicate with lost souls and confused spirits. I have somehow learned to deal with ghosts that still walk the earth.71 In some respect, I have mastered how to exorcise the celebrated beings from my so-called afterlove dimension. Most of whom, I’ve obviously gotten over with, while some have just been deemed insignificant snippets, all this made possible as I deliberately command myself to be afflicted with some kind of romantic Alzheimer’s disease. At times I can’t help but contemplate whether issues of long ago have been truly settled and have been enshrined in my amorous mausoleum. This leads me to ask…

If love affairs have clearly reached a flatline,
why on earth does the haunting still continue? 

No matter how freaked out we are, everyone loves to hear a good ol’ ghost story. So here goes my tales from the mush crypt…

The very first time I was faced with an emotional supernatural, the paranormal experience left me astounded. While enjoying a mouthwatering pianini in a cozy resto in Greenbelt, the first ever ghost in my life came floating by. His name is Seth. It’s been years since I heard a thud from him and quite honestly Seth has vanished completely in my life … or so I thought. The dreamy sequence saw the ever giddy Minnie approaching him saying my usual high-pitched hello. But this ghost outright downplayed my presence. I never expected such reaction from Seth, the ghost who registered so many firsts in my love meter, and the being who pioneered my juvenile cardiac arrests. It was baffling in a way why he treated me like I was just some girl he met in some high school soiree when in fact, Seth and I had manage to forge a six-year erratic relationship. I simply charged such ghastly sighting as an affirmation that some people, even the ones whom I fondly shared my growing up years with, will simply evolve to be a mere transient in my life. Months ago, I saw this lanky ghoul in the same building where I work now. Catching Seth in my peripheral vision, I intuitively knew it was him but I proceeded to carry on knowing he wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t exhibit any signs of fear. That’s the thing with ghosts, they figure out in your life, playing with your mind, only if you allow them to. So I took a stand, walked on as if I saw nothing. Ignoring a ghost has its rewards. The more you don’t pay attention to them, the more they wont bug you.

After my creepy episode with Ghost #1, allow me to relate to you my saga with another phantom of my (soap) opera. His name is Teddy. He was a dark creature that spelled mush and misery to me for years. Seductive, deceptive, manipulative — that would best describe this malevolent spirit of my advertising life. Years ago, I remember that I deliberately allowed myself to meet Teddy over afternoon coffee, thinking that ghosts can’t scare you in broad daylight. Besides, it’s been years since our sordid love story had its Freddy Kruger finale so I somehow was confident that such meet-up wouldn’t inspire the mind of Stephen King. So Teddy and I indulged in rounds and rounds of espresso sips in my favorite restaurant along Reposo. This rebellious ghost was so into himself that I just sat there watching and listening, drumming my pretty painted nails on the table, eagerly waiting for this B-horror movie to reach its end. Hours passed and I survived the omen without a single strand of hair standing up in my then waif body. Sheesh, Teddy never changed. He was one particular ghost who was so used to projecting his alarming stance in my life that the horror seemed oh so predictable. His scare tactics have become somewhat stale. Sometimes when you come face to face with a ghost, you just have to stare at the presence and command him to simply bring it on. When you find yourself in an all-familiar ghost encounter, you can pretend to be scared and roll your eyes to the sky, and you can expect that the ghost can take his cue to dissipate. The fact is, fear is a state of mind. For this instance — a state of heart. You just have to condition yourself to work around it and not be overwhelmed by it. That moment we were together, Teddy saw in my eyes the absence of fear and all I had was pity for the guy. For Teddy was one lost soul with one lost cause. Tsk, tsk, tsk. The most recent recollection I have of this free-spirited ghost was that he said he saw me one time in Greenbelt but refused to come near me. Perhaps he was more spooked of me than I was of him. Bwahahaha. To date, I have been spared from his menacing presence for some time now since he has found his Succubus and have settled elsewhere. The sightings are now just confined to my chatbox. Come to think of it, Teddy was more of an elemental than a ghost. I consider him my all-time boogeyman. He was the monster beneath my bed. But thank god, the nightmares have ceased and every waking day I feel very much detached from the immense hurting that has once plagued me.

After my phantom story, one significant unnerving encounter followed. In comes the man named Sam. He was the ultimate ghost who stood by me through and through. Sam was the kind of presence that would float in and out of my life, popping out when I was immersed in unfeigned theatrics in the hospital, funeral parlor, cemetery and other places of melancholy. He may have occasionally stalked me but funny, Sam was never out to spook me. It’s just the way he was built. He would simply choose to watch me go through the drama of my life episodes and when the timing is right, make his presence felt in the room. He was a gentle ghost that I thought would never scare the hell out of me. When Sam showed up in my office lobby two years ago to say that he is finally moving to the light and out of my life, I felt a different kind of fright. Sometimes when you are so used to all the ruckus a ghost makes, you reach a certain comfort level. And when all the fuss comes to a halt, you wonder whether the end of the love séance is for real. After a misty-eyed closure one afternoon in 2007, I had no choice but to say goodbye and wish my real-life Casper all the peace and happiness he deserves in the world. The void he has left in my life was indeed scary. To this day, when I think of what has happened, I still feel a draft enveloping me. Nothing can compare to the the chill and shrill of the story of the one who got away. For quite awhile now, my mobile phone has been dead silent from echoing his ringtone, that popular ditty from Psychedelic Furs. “Inside you, the time moves and he don’t fade … the ghost in you, he don’t fade …”

And just when I thought the journey to maturity meant benefiting from some kind of amnesia, there was one ultimate ghost story that had to be retold, without me wanting it.

Somewhere in between my recalled spook stories, the most vicious ghost made his mark in my life. After more than a decade, I can say that his disturbance is vivid still. This was one ghost who had committed a crime of violence that up to this day I cannot shake off my head. If there are people who you burn bridges with, there are people who you burn effigies for. And in his presence, I would have no second thought of initiating my blair bitch project. For purposes of storytelling, I will refer to this banshee of my life as a being called Oliver.

Last night took me by surprise. I never saw it coming. No one knew my ghost was coming. When my friends knew of the horror from way back, he was one person that was unspoken of in my circle. Perhaps out of respect, my friends never dare mention his name in my presence. With the scene unraveling yesternight, you bet tension was the understatement of the year. My friends were restless in their seats wondering whether a meltdown was in order. It’s been a long while since my friends have seen us together. For years now, I have refused to be in the same room with Oliver or attend a reunion whenever he was around. I felt that the gruesomeness will never be worth the camaraderie. Oliver will never be worth it. And in typical ghost fashion, his apparition would happen at the most unexpected time and terrify me when I was dead sure the M. Night Shyamalan episode was so over. Last night, the ghost approached me. I turned to alcohol instantaneously in the attempt to ease my nerves but I ended up reaching out for my friend’s frothy glass. He spoke with the classic Vincent Price tone, to which I attempted, out of politeness, to lift my cheeks to simulate what you may somehow consider to be a civil smile of some sort. But such act required too much energy on my part. I knew there was no fooling myself. I could never ever get myself to communicate with a spirit that has outright wronged me. So after I heard him exchange pleasantries and extend holiday greetings in the air, I found my feet suddenly on the move. Much as I would like to take in the mortifying scenario, people all have their tolerance levels. The sixty seconds of putting up with the terror was more than enough. I decided to walk away and found my sanity by the poolside. I stuttered on the phone as I rang up my best guyfriend. I didn’t know how to place myself. When you come face to face with a demon of your past, you lose control of your senses. You’re trapped in some close encounter of the oddest kind. You find yourself barenaked to terror. After some minutes of self-preservation, I went back and sat at a table across to where the harrowing ghoul was. I survived. I did. I went on with my night. I drew strength from the fact that even if the haunting was still occurring, the hurting will never happen again. Never.

It makes me think …

How many of us choose to downplay our emotional
sixth sense and opt to safely and sanely stay
behind our social sheets lest we be spooked?
How many of us are actually walking dead in
this world without us even knowing it? 

For sure, we all have our fair share of horror stories. But for me, the daunting saga of romantic criminals will forever be gory, whatever angle I look at it, no matter how much time has elapsed. Even if told over and over again, the goosebumps will turn up, the mind will be boggled, only because the spirit will never forget.

We all have our ghosts, whether you like it or not. Some of us acknowledge them. Some find its best to ignore their presence. Some will just pass us by without us knowing it. Most of us will refuse to believe that they exist.

Last night I saw a ghost. You bet he saw me too.
For a moment I was frozen and breathless.
It’s a pity that my ultimate ghost will never come to see the light.


Oh yes, I see dead people.
But it is them who are dead
… and not me.

Ever After

If only life was a fairy tale, we all would be assured of happy endings. But the reality is, no one has the slightest idea what the future holds for us. If only we knew, then we would all be merrily prancing in our starched ballgowns, happily trekking that yellow brick road to felicity.

When you speak of fairy tales, you can’t help but speak of princesses. Every girl dreams of following the footsteps of Disney’s female protaganists. I am no exception to that rule. In fact, at the top of my list is Cinderella. I remember that when I was in Grade 3, I took pride in owning a notebook that had this gorgeous character printed on the cover. No matter how dilapidated my notebook became, I held it with so much love and hope in my heart. Cinderella’s tale led me to believe that no matter how cruel the world seems to be, happiness will find you in the end. Consider that as naiveté as its finest. Young as I was, I took to heart the line from one of the songs of this favorite animated film – “a dream is a wish your heart makes”. Dream I did. Disappointed I’ve become. Through the years, I have come to realize that the world does not burst in song at the advent of adversity, that animals don’t sing but give you rabies, that godmothers can seasonally grant your wishes but often go into hiding, that the pumpkin carriage is a hazy hologram, that my glass slipper is bound to get lost in some freaking gutter, and my Mr. Right is taking so long to find me since he is caught in some mad traffic jam somewhere. Far from being cynical, I knew when reality would stare me at the face and tell me that image I see in the mirror can be fairest of them all, I am not that dense to know that my astigmatism can actually fool me.

If there was any similarity I shared with well-loved Cinderella it was that my world turned upside down when my father passed on. One vivid scene comes to mind. At the burial of my father in 2002, when his casket was being placed inside his resting place and his tomb was being sealed off, I was crying my heart out to my eldest brother Chito. I remember asking him, in goldfish eyes with matching cracking voice and all, “ … now that Papa is gone, who would walk me down the aisle when I do get married?” Such was the foolish thought I surmised in one of the saddest day that dawned in my life.

I am quite thankful that I am already at an age that the pestering question of marriage has somehow loomed. Some questions still surface every now and then, most especially during reunions and unexpected reconnections. Yet as an evolved being, I have developed natural earplugs to deafen myself from the presumed humiliating interrogation.

I can’t quite comprehend why some people, men and women for that matter, instantaneously resort to flag two subject matters when reconnecting with a lady friend who has gone invisible over time . That would be her weight and her status. Pathetic. In my opinion, marriage does not define a woman and the circumference of her waistline is irrelevant to her worth. How a woman goes through her life by far makes for a more interesting topic of conversation. Sadly, there are still people out there who are still shamelessly conventional and inconsiderably shrug at the sight of a flabby woman who doesn’t own a wedding ring. Once again, pathetic.

To tell you honestly, I never really had this kind of tone or this kind of thinking. I must admit that I am one sappy fool behind all these motherhood statements on singlehood. But three years ago, I found myself at a crossroad of dreaming, believing and realizing. The day came when I had to come to terms with myself and decipher what dreams are made of.

While I was busy losing sleep and sanity at my fourth advertising agency, I was faced with an experience of discovering how a selfless act of love breathes true happiness. My officemate Vanessa was caught in the frenzy of preparation as she was to wed her dear fiancé James. She took notice of my creative powerpointing for one of my pharmaceutical requirements at that time and wondered if I could exercise the same videography skills to make her special day more special. Being a mush creature, I instantly obliged to do her wedding video. That traditional heart-tugging audio-visual presentation usually shown during the wedding reception that had the license for maximum mush exposure. That was that magical moment, aside from the exchange of vows in the church, that will tell the world how love came to me.

I love weddings, who doesn’t? I love the works that go into making that day happen. And chronicling one’s love story on video was something I would take on, without blinking an eye. So Vanessa emailed me their sweet pics. She showed me her work-in-progress invite. She babbled about other romantic details. But most importantly, she shared with me her love story with her “bear”. For me that was the most vital piece of information to fuel the movie in my mind.

The only glitch was, Vanessa had a song in mind that was not at all that appropriate for her supposed sappy slideshow. Next thing that followed, Minnie’s emotional reflex was at work. I reached out for my iPod and let Vanessa listen to a song. As she kept quiet and meditated on the music, she intensely held my earphones in the same manner that she would made me feel that she was also clutching my spirit with the tightest grip. Vanessa fell in love with what she heard.

You see, I’ve had this song for so many years. It was a ditty that wasn’t in the pop charts but when I heard it for the first time I felt like I struck gold. It was like finding a diamond ring in some busy street and it had my name engraved in it. Lo and behold, Minnie found her wedding song. I knew that it would be the perfect soundtrack for the greatest performance of my life. The song is entitled “For Only You” by Trisha Yearwood. Set against the piano, the lyrics were downright poignant.


I’ll give my love to only you
To no one else

It’s for only you

You are the world to me

And you will always be

The one who’s oh so beautiful
My love will always stay with you

I will be yours for all of time

And thank the Lord that you are mine

For with each breath I take

I know my love is safe

In the arms of one so wonderful

As long as I can dream

I’ll dream for two

For my love is for only you


I may not have riches in this world but this song was one treasure that was tightly locked in my secret vault.

I don’t know why women and visualization are like peas in a pod. If some women like inventing names (and even second names) for their would-be offsprings, a good percentage of women love to mentally reenact their wedding day. You see, girls from the pigtail phase to the push-up bra stage to the cellulite-in-my-thigh period, would envision the one thousand and one ways of saying goodbye to bachelorette days, how they want to be wed with the mind-boggling frills and all. Girls and/or women would imagine how all their nuptial elements would magically come together on that day they trust the hand of fate. Again, I am part of that romantic statistic. I dream of a wedding. I too have foolishly pondered on that precious entourage list. I’ve had bored moments sketching my dream wedding dress. I’ve drafted my song list and wedding singers. Most importantly, I’ve long played in my head how my everdearest Papa will give me away to the man who will love me just as selflessly. Don’t get me wrong, I did not obsess about these. And still don’t. It just crosses my mind when people converse about wedding bells. But as I went through relationships with the passage of time, I would always have a goal in mind that whatever love I was to invest was not for play but for something that was long-term in nature. I dreamed that my man for the moment will hopefully, and God-willing, be that man of a lifetime.

So back to the office story I was telling you about. When my friend Vanessa flashed a smile as she handed me back my iPod, I uttered to her that I was leasing the song to her. And like a little girl being handed a big fluffy cotton candy, Vanessa hugged me and thanked me. Minutes after that scene, I simply went back to becoming a robot in the office. It took a long while before it sank into me that I am giving away “my” song. I am departing from something that I have long hoped for. I am letting go of a dream.

I never told Vanessa how I felt after I gave her my song. Up to this day, she never knew that I gave her a piece, correction … a big chunk of my dream. In my heart, I have somehow admitted I may never get married. I may never get to use that song. Given that, why not allow another woman, with the same fervent dreams of true romance, be privileged to have that ultimate score on her special day? What calmed my heart was the thought that here is a woman who has found the love of her life and wants forever to be the ribbon that would bind them. The least that Minnie could do is to be the sax player to complement such overwhelming interlude. Vanessa was the woman who will live my dream.

One quote comes to mind …
“I think I need to believe that it works. Love, couplehood, partnerships.
The idea that when people come together they stay together.
I have to take that to bed, even if I have to go to bed alone.”

– Ally McBeal

If there is anything I learned since my last break-up is that solitude will not drive you crazy. It’s when you live a life that is hypocritical or deluded that will kill you. It is when we fool ourselves into falling in love with the concept of love that will rob us of the respect that is due us. It is when we chase after dreams that have to be realized on certain terms, at the expense of other people that prove to be gruesome and unforgivable. I know, deep within me, that I will never settle down just to settle.

Funny but I still do rally behind the hopeless romantics out there. Everyone has the right to dream. Though not everyone is privileged enough to fulfill their dream, in their own terms. Like a prayer, a dream happens when it is time. It will see its fruition when people are ready to embrace it with no questions asked. It then leads me to ask ..

Have you ever let go of a dream?  Are there
dreams in your heart that are nestled in deep
slumber because you were too afraid to take
that leap of faith? 

I was genuine when I leased my song to my friend. I knew she needed it more than I held it. Painful as it may seem, letting go of “my song” simply meant letting go of my dream. I am saying goodbye to my ever after as another woman is about to embrace her forever. That is so beautiful …and yet so bittersweet.

I can’t help the tears that roll down my cheeks as I struggle to find the happy ending to this piece. The thought that my wedding day may never come and that I will never hear the soundtrack of my heart pains me. That no matter how much love I have inside of me, I may never have that privilege of saying those two piercing words of committal to the man I will deeply love till my last breath. Still, everyday I go through my life with that small amber of romance in me. I am very grateful that I have a loving family and great friends who fan the coal from time to time. For now that will do.

Perhaps marriage is not for everyone. But loving is. Whether with the blessings of the highest priest in the land or some swinging Elvis in Vegas, people can commit to love. You don’t need a paper or a lavish ceremony to show the world that you are capable of being faithful to enriching the life of another human being. You just do it. I know I am. I hope I am.

I choose to live everyday like a fairy tale. But pray tell, I do not wait in vain. Sure, love may find me or Cupid may decide to take me out of his rolodex for good. It doesn’t really matter. For if there is one truth that feeds me is that somewhere out there people will fall in love, just like Vanessa and James. And if love works for them, then, that’s good enough for me.

My Mythology

 

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In our lifetime, we have always looked up to people to imitate, emulate and adulate.audrey-hepburn-17095-17652-hd-wallpapers-700x357

In more than three decades of keen winters and summers, a lot of female figures have come into view and have won me hands down. Whether consciously or subconsciously, I would find myself in the spotlight, caught in a cinematic plot, trekking the parallel universe of thos
e great women who have walked this earth, those who have graced the boob tube or glamorized by the silver screen, and those who have been immortalized in bestsellers of all time.

These are the women who exhibited grace under pressure, innocence through time, guts against adversity, sensuality over monotony, sensibility amid pain and love above anything else. In their own little way, they have managed to go beyond the societal stereotype to further reinforce a woman’s worth. How and why they have figured out in my life, I can’t really explain. The process of my affinity would be of a random nature, I guess. I would gravitate towards these women without me really knowing it. Allow me to share the sacred stories of my so-called goddesses, divas, and heroines… the women who rightfully belong to my mythology.

In the course of my wonder years, I would follow the story of this animated character named Candy-Candy. After watching her 30-minute saga on TV, I could draw her with my eyes closed. When my classmates can finely doodle Hello Kitty, I would opt to pencil this orphan femme anime from memory. I guess I learned from closely watching a classmate Arlene Sanchez who was truly gifted in the arts. She would illustrate anything beautifully and everyone was in awe. But when she drew this cartoon girl, I knew I could come up with own rendition. Sure, mine lacked proportion and detail. My crayon colors were not blended. But I guess it’s the imperfection that drew my classmates to yank me for sketching favors. That brought a lot of confidence in me to the point that my teachers convinced me to take part in an interschool on-the-spot painting competition where I eventually bagged the first place. That was one time I felt I had a miniscule Amorsolo gene somewhere tucked in my system.

Come the weekends of my innocent youth, I would emerge to be an action fanatic who followed the adventures of the Charlie’s Angels. The first edition of course: Kate Jackson, Farrah-Fawcett Majors and Jaclyn Smith. In between sips of hot ramen soup and bites of chocolate pretzel twist, I would rave about how these girls saved the day with much grace. Aside from the angels, I would goofily copy the dizzy twirls of Wonder Woman with matching aluminum foil wristbands, if not, I would settle to invoke the universe with my Isis persona. Fine, I had no athletic bone in me. I wasn’t outright gung-ho on prancing and dishing out stunts to save mankind. The most action I saw was when throughout my grade school stay, I would be elected class president year after year and would practice my leadership moves in the realm of my classroom.

Growing up, my mind was further stimulated with the highly philosophical group created by Charles Schulz. I must say Lucy Van Pelt had quite an influence on me. Not that I like sinking my nose in other’s people’s business, but I just had an opinion on anything, to the dismay of my mother of course. But when I’m not yakking, I got honed in the science of listening. I can say I recognized the value of deciphering other people’s woes on health, career and my specialty, love. During high school, aside from sorting out the relationship issues of my friends, I became a certified peer counselor for kulasas and lasalistas. Very much into this day, I still am into counseling my friends from time to time, sans the 5-cent booth, but now, over some Starbucks sips. Funny, when you’re young, you’re seen as crabby, but when you get old, you’re termed as bitchy. When I dish out advice, you bet I can be feisty and hit you to the core. But I have somehow mellowed down through the years, but still exhibiting a hint of crabbiness when people push the wrong buttons.

During the period of aqua net do’s and padded shoulder fashion, I fell in love with Madonna Louise Ciccone. I remember fondly donning her Virgin Tour fashion in parties and her video choreography I took to heart. Whenever I would visit my good friend Dolly’s cathouse in Bicutan, we would copy the dance diva’s moves, doobie-driven and booze-infused, we would get into the groove and surrender to beat of the Material Girl. To the dot, we threw our imaginary tambourines up in the air and caused a commotion. I remember being proudly garbed in goth when attending new wave parties. I’d say I was a decent dancer, a good enough singer but I convinced myself that I can be a performer. Yeah right. With the right packaging, I knew I could work an audience. Such were my juvenile delusions. Well, I got to join the high school chorale but quit midway before the annual recital. I guess I was more than that. I was a league of my own. Haha. This I proved not by singing but with my oratorical abilities. In senior high, I delivered “The Raven” with much drama that sent shrills down to my batchmates’ spines but I lost the honors to my bestfriend, all because I didn’t recite my piece with an accent. Phoeey. But I knew I had something special in me. And that was good enough for me. So onto college, I pursued my vision quest.

It was kinda disheartening that my assumed vocal prowess didn’t land me a spot in the college chorale, so aside from joining the college debate club in my freshman year, I opted to do a 180° turn and ventured into dirty student politics until I graduated. Somehow in between, I managed to have a musical career of some sort. I became frontwoman for a rock band called PRISM. In my baptism performance, I had a Madonna hangover where I sported a cut black lace glove, black tank and skirt while throwing away my mao cap, wildly working the stage as I kicked on with my borrowed leather boots. As I dished out eurorock covers, there was one artist by the name of Marissa Buñag who was constantly singing in my head. She was a local rocker who brought the house down with her husky voice with her infamous RAGE band. Invoke I did, I succumbed to the call of rock with her serving as my absolute inamorata. My alto 2 voice was so down the octave that I ended up singing The Dawn songs and a Propapanda ditty was a constant request. We would play in club parties, school concerts, and small gigs. Sheesh, we even fronted for Regine in a Coke concert. My bravest move as a solo artist was when I joined a competition singing Buñag’s anthem “Believe Me” against other contestants who were crooning the top40 hits of that time. And yes, no Hollywood came calling and that night, it was a bust for me. Still, I rocked on with another college band RETRO and I sang my blues away. Years after graduation, I got to join a summer voice workshop, sang at the Metropolitan Theater and afterwhich, I decided that it was time to unplug my mike for good.

When I stepped into the wonderful world of advertising, my stress levels went haywire, same with my poundage. In between job orders, I frustratingly flipped through the fashion glossies and adored the svelte figure of Cindy Crawford, considering her curves as my impossible dream. Sadly, my cosmo visualization was disturbed with my succumbing to the fastfood nation. After work, I’d troop to the gym but such act proved futile. I found comfort in alcohol and the company of tipsy friends. Then in comes Bridget Jones flagging her weight gain in her love loss diary, in the same vein as I was having my rollercoaster lovelife with the Thin Man while battling the the physical manifestations of a being a cow who was writing her thoughts out. Heartbreaks happened, career moves ensued and I started to be on a downhill. I ended up being an Ally McBeal who would be addicted to coffee and work. I also started to be as anorexic as this television damsel. I would continue to argue my way out when it came to issues of work and relationships but still ever hopeful to find Mr. Right at one point in my life.

And at the turn of the millenium, I evolved to be a Carrie Bradshaw and had her own tales of Stress in the City. I was a writer by day, shopaholic by midafternoon and a fashionista by night.


After pensively tinkering with my laptop, I’d sashay in Greenbelt and be clad in fabulous clothes since my dress size was a to-die-for 2. I would even be a shoe addict come weekends. After acccummulating more than 60 pairs of foot treasures, I had my own sordid stories of an Aidan ex and a Mr. Big obsession. I’d have my caffeine rush and nicotine fix with my galpals and talked about mush and lust till the wee hours of the morning. Carrie became my alter ego. Actually, I never followed the SATC series till its last two seasons. It was only then I discovered that I somehow mirrored the life of this curly-locked, chain-smokin’ columnist. With Makati as my Manhattan, I had all these hypothetical questions on relationships and wondered why I never seem to make sense out of the matters that belong to the love department. So I obsessed writing my sappy narratives away, going through disaster dates, witnessing reruns after reruns of foolish exes surfacing every now and then, and later on convincing myself how fabulous singlehood is if I simply choose to uncomplicate it.

Mid of this decade, I had my ugly bout with depression, Minnie walked to the dark side. I emerged to be Emily the Strange, the comic book favorite of people who are morose and evil. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t sinister and never will be. With my episodes of family death and emotional catastrophe, I would be jaded as to play safe and exhibit a poker face on life. I breathed morbidity every chance I got. Perhaps I was too burned to care, too tired to love. I was a posterchild for depression. Life was literally sucked out on me and I only existed because of Xanax and Lexapro. Admittedly, I am still in my dark ages. I haven’t really seen the light. But every book has its ending, and that I am excited about.

And just over a year ago, I took on the role of Julianne Potter. For romantic comedy flick afficionados, Jules was the bastion of mush ruthlessness. She was an ultimate fool for love who later turned out to be selfless in the tail-end of her story. Very few people are privvy to the saga of my best friend’s wedding but I once again, saw how cinematic my world can be. It was a brief episode of my life that shook me to the core and made me realize that I had the ability to love in the truest sense of the word, if I choose to. Knowing that at the end of the day, you gotta do what’s right. After all the theatrics, George was right in saying that “by god, there will be dancing.” And to this day, I still struggle swaying to the goddamn beat.

At present, I am back to being Amelie Poulain. A lover of the simplest things in life. A girl who is mesmerized by puffy clouds and glorious skies. A woman with a keen imagination that feeds her. A character who has a genuine interest in knowing and helping people, and loves taking photographs.

I vividly remember how I used to be like that. When life was not at all complicated, stress was not in my vocabulary and love was oh so generously given and gratefully taken. A time when I knew no hurt in the world and every person I met was a good soul and had no hidden agenda. It was a time I knew hearts where easily drawn with crayons and are not easily crushed by the dreaded boogeyman. I am quite grateful that as I write this piece I am back to being that simple girl, taking simple snapshots, with simple wishes of happiness in her life.

Indeed, I do thank these heroines that have caught my fancy, conquered my mind and fueled my sanity. In my non-fictional existence, these were the women I mirrored, drew strength from, learned from and related to, when push came to shove and I needed to dig deep into my persona. They are like pieces of a puzzle that form me. Though I’d like to convince myself that I am still evolving.

All of us, femme or not, whether we like or not, have had a shadow of a woman lurking behind us, someone who encourages us to fly to unimagined territories only to bring us back when we happen to get lost in the forest. Which leads me to ask …

Is there a female figure, reel or real, that
has sustained you to go through a particular
life episode? Other than the woman who rocked
your cradle, is there a woman who somehow
rocked your world? 

Of course, there are female figures in my life, in a real sense, who may not be as popular as the ones I have cited, yet they remain to be my lifetime idols. My mother, aunt, sister, godmothers and grandmothers. Definitely, I will be forever indebted to them for personally enriching my life.

But when life seemed to give you that surreal whack in the head, and box you in a scene that seems to be larger than life, then you need to be creative enough to pull all kinds of tricks from your magic hat. And a woman can never ran out of things to make the world go round.

They say that behind the success of every man is a woman. Amen to that. But for me, behind every strength of a woman is another woman. Imagined or not.