Soundbite

The bus didn't have the radio on today so you can hear people sniffing. A sneeze here and there, some muffled by a handkerchief. Light breathing. The muted sound of travel in a contained vehicle: tricycles with mufflers and their piercing sounds, like chainsaw; the whoosh of vehicles passing by--only the volume was turned down so low. Someone alternately shifts the weight off her feet while standing in the aisle, which meant a gentle brush of soles on the floor. Traffic jams meant chairs slowly creaking, or a phone call to someone. Or the ping of a text message that imitates a single key from a lyre. There's the distant crackle of creased plastic bags, of crackers from handbags kept especially for motion sickness, or hunger, or whatever effect three-hour bus travels have to them. There were deft fingers zipping zippers and straps snapped shut, or straps dangling overhead, swaying and tapping unsuspecting hands and heads. Joints crack as fists rest from typing on smartphones. Later, there's the shuffle of printed files from an envelope, then feet. More shuffling of paper from the busboy's receipts, bills.

Amateur

Browsing through the old books I've left in Bulacan I came across Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs, a book I bought in 2012, during that exasperating year when I graduated, became a father, and got married, among other things.

In the chapter To The Legoland Station, Chabon wrote about how the Lego of 1960s ("Abstract, minimal, 'pure' in form and design") was different from today's Lego, now with "fat, abstruse, wordless manuals" that puts realism at its core. He resented the change.

Where Lego-building had once been open-ended and exploratory, it now had far more in common with puzzle-solving, a process of moving incrementally toward an ideal, pre-established, and above all, a provided solution.

Not that something is wrong with puzzle-solving, but Chabon points out its authoritarian nature, which I agree with: after you were able to follow the instructions, you just, well, stare at it. "The resulting object was so undeniably handsome, and our investment of time in building it so immense, that the thought of playing with it, let alone ever disassembling it, was anathema."

Although the entire ultra-realist enterprise that the Lego has become didn't stop kids - especially my four year-old - to make their own interpretation. "The power of Lego is revealed only after the models have been broken up or tossed, half finished, into the drawer."

The essay stayed with me long after I've dropped the plan of reading it. Back in 2012 I used to have it in my messenger bag on my way to my first job. I could remember a scene where I was in the front seat of a car with the book cradled on my lap.

Fast forward to 2016 and I'm glad to have this book as my companion. I have to admit that my four year-old is becoming a little more unmanageable, sometimes even unreasonable, but still charming and inspiring.

Diptych

Work is fine. It’s better than nothing. I try to think long-term, but there are days where you just want to stand up, leave the desk, go out for a walk and never come back again. It’s this day, and Friday last week, and the days before the holidays. Vast swathes of 2016. Each day is a decision a person with a certain level of maturity should make. Each day is a yes to emails, a yes to cramped spaces, to calls that could drag for hours. Each day should be greeted with a resounding yes. There are certain moments in life where living means staying where you are.

The best night I had was in a beach in Zambales: a company summer outing. On one of those two nights I was woozy and wanted to have some time to myself so I left the room with no explanations and walked towards the beach. It was almost pitch-black: you can only see the outlines of shrubs as you walk towards them. When I reached the beach it was all black save for the stars. It felt wonderful seeing stars without the noise or light pollution. I’ve seen almost the same sky at night in Cagbalete with my wife. Just breathtaking.

Theo

2007. Just graduated from high school. Watched Children of Men in one of those in-flight TVs with on-demand video. Whenever asked about my favorite movie, I tend to say this without hesitation.

2016. Read feature from Tribeca and the BBC about the ever-pressing relevance of Children of Men.