A summer, long ago










  1. I stumbled upon pictures from the summer of 2009, thanks to my former Flickr Pro account, which I logged in as I was searching for a picture of a friend years back. I knew I was going to cringe at some pictures: there's an old friend I had to cut my ties with, G, for many reasons. Some three years later after these pictures were taken we did drugs together, then some months after she was kicked out of college, found a job in Manila, and then we parted ways. 
  2. Skimming through the pictures at work I had this sensation that somebody was looking at the screen--maybe I was guilty, or shameful at these pictures taken long ago. G and I had these silly pictures together, and some candid ones, but thankfully most of it wasn't stored at my Flickr account. What struck me was this picture of her butterscotch bars on a disposable tray: she first baked this for me when I fell ill during our first year in college. Staring at the picture reminds me of its taste: a bit sweet and chewy, with the texture of nuts and dough. Then a scene unfolds, my first apartment was getting clearer...
  3. The last three pictures are taken at UPLB, with the ceiba (kapok) tree in full bloom, its white fluff falling across the swath of green. The rest are shot at U.N. Ave in Manila, during a visit to Instituto Cervantes with G. 
  4. These pictures have been shot back when I still wanted to travel and take pictures. This was me before life changed. This was me before shifting courses: I was taking up Agricultural Economics, a four-year course I was barely passionate with; dealing with numbers I couldn't figure out, playing with numbers for a living. 
  5. To be fair, I sort of liked and understood economics and its graphs: it's clear-headed, rational, relevant. That year was when the U.S. stock market collapsed, and for a couple of days it was my fascination.
  6. I remembered reading an e-book of Kafka on the Shore (or was it The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles?) during those days in my second apartment, when I used to live alone. If life were a work of fiction, that year's recurring theme is alienation, displacement. Just like one of those characters in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, sitting at the bottom of an empty well. Being seventeen, I remembered now, was very difficult. There was a lot of soul-searching, of finding my place in the world; there was a lot of talking to people at the balcony, or just smoking, waiting for calls.
  7. At Instituto Cervantes G and I met for this book sale they were having. I could barely remember the book I bought. Being a Spanish institution, they were giving away a rose with every purchase; the rose I planned to give her as a remembrance of some sort, but forgot to. This I realized at home: the rose was left in my backpack, part of its long stem zipped inside as its head bobbed, its neck craned for air.