Can't

Maybe I should stay away from the campus, from people holding hands, or clutching books, or from writers in general, from spaces where people make beso (a shorthand to check if you're an outsider), from farewell parties dedicated to the illustrious, the overachievers, maybe I like John Mayer's Room For Squares because he felt hurt and unpolished and underappreciated (sadly everything goes downhill from that album), maybe I should stay away from people going out of the country, from people going somewhere, from published people, from people who know how to fake things, from conspicuous consumers, from sons of governors, from early retirees, maybe I shouldn't talk to people who evidently just smoked weed while I'm with my seven year-old son, maybe I should stay away from people who aren't fat, who are athletic since they were born, from eloquent people, from people who know every single word in the dictionary, from artsy people, maybe I should forget all about my thesis, or about the books I've read, because it's true, ignorance is bliss, maybe I should stop reading my feelings, I should stop pleasing people all the time, maybe I shouldn't be given time to introspect, to navel-gaze, maybe I should just quit overthinking and start writing, start making mistakes, embrace all the grammatical errors, the shortsightedness, the bad choices.

Maybe I should volunteer for people living with HIV, for planting mangroves, for feeding the hungry, maybe I shouldn't stop myself from talking to people, to carinderia owners, to taxi drivers even if I feel queasy or nauseous, or in a hurry, to security guards, to gym trainers, maybe I should be myself more, you know, maybe I should wear black more often, and donate all my clothes (I've given most to people I know) that aren't black, or attend a gym class instead of doing things by myself, maybe I should climb a mountain, leave my current job, maybe I should drink more often, control my temper, cook morcon and roast beef once and for all, maybe I should tell my sisters how much I miss them, or tell my Dad how I hate him for his lies, maybe I should talk to my Mom more often, even if I remind myself every single day to talk to her, to thank her for everything, maybe I should network more often, but wait, that's a space where people make beso, maybe I should meet a friend from high school, maybe I should talk to a friend who wouldn't judge me, or some random person at the bus, someone in McDonalds who would share a McMuffin with me, maybe I should think about myself more, even if deep in my heart I know I think about myself more and more each day, maybe I should give up my goals, my to-do list, maybe I've become too ambitious, and whatever's driving me is just fear, instead of something positive, like, I don't know, giving back to people, maybe I should just write about my sinking hometown, or low-lying areas in general, maybe I should just get a course on a foreign language, maybe I should quit social media (a resounding yes), maybe I should stop being me and be me, although I don't really know which is which, who's who?

Cuts and slices

Two guys went straight to the back seat of the bus. Both of them were carrying brown paper bags. The conversation was brotherly, although they weren't close, maybe distant friends, transactional, etc. I could only hear their voices: one voice, let's call him P, is a bit breezy; the other, M, is restrained, a man who doesn't really do a lot of small talk. P dominates the talk. (Later on I looked at them before going down the bus: P is young and good-looking; M, in olive green sando, looks like a born-again with a past as hoodlum.) In the conversation M sounds like he's fidgeting. Then I heard the familiar crumpling sound of paper bags. P reassures him: everything's going to be just fine, haven't you done this before? (Apparently, and this surfaced towards the end of the bus trip, they have wads of cash with them.) P talks about going to Batangas as ordered by his aunt to pick up a bag, warning him never to open it. For the entire time P was talking about it, M doesn't say anything. Later they were debating on a lot of things: the cash, apparently, and only temporarily, belongs to M, a courier of sorts. M is obviously nervous, a virgin in the world of shuttling huge amounts of cash from Point A to Point B. P hogged him with questions: Where would you go next? What bus will you take? Where will you keep it? M isn't ticking all the boxes: he said he'll keep it in the office. (P: Are you fucking stupid?!) Maybe in the condo? (P: What about the guards?! What will they think of you carrying that in the middle of the night?!) Maybe he'll take the cab? (P: Take a fucking Grab straight to Venice Piazza, where M apparently works, in a company that has a good flexi-time policy, a company that wouldn't mind if he arrives an hour late, with said brown paper bags in tow.) Then they talked about fatherhood: M has a son, Joaquin, 15 years old, studies in an all-boys school (he later said Don Bosco), who isn't responding to his texts or calls. P asks: Why Don Bosco? And it got him curious about M and M's elder sister's education. (Mapua and La Salle, respectively.) So maybe their wives were friends? P shared about his two young daughters and how the lola is spoiling them with money. M shared about his son's complicated games (P: Like Minecraft?) and they both reminisced about Super Mario and the games from long ago.

Dismal DVDs

From 9 October: At a bus ride from Calamba a film starring Ryan Philippe and Jason Statham was aired. There was no doubt that it's a pirated DVD - not just because there was no flash drive in sight, but also because the quality was dismal. There was a gripping fight scene, but it was then cut into other scene, and for three minutes I was trying to stitch things together, thinking if the film is actually made that way, with jumpy sequences. I actually love music videos with rapid cuts: I find the juxtapositions poetic. Later at the credits the issue was much more evident, but I like the jumble, and the challenge it presented to a mind already addled by errands, work-related tasks, an upcoming exam, a scholarship deadline to beat, and last-minute flight to Cebu.

Either or

Immanuel Kant: “Everything has either a price or a dignity. Whatever has a price can be replaced by something else as its equivalent; on the other hand, whatever is above all price, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity.”

Matrimony

You said you'd say yes
ten years ago, twelve
if I asked it sooner

but there was no
question; we simply
had no time or money. Later

that day I learned that
you only said it to make me feel
good? behind us

is an Israeli couple, holding
hands: she
said yes. Hugs were had

around the beach.
Hugs we had
years ago.