Bo's on a Sunday

View of the Interior of Luzon Island, Philippine Islands. From World Digital Library
I'm the person who just couldn't stand staying in one spot for a day. It irritates me. My feet would want to go somewhere different. Coffee shops on a Sunday are wonderful. At Bo's Coffee, there's a woman in her late seventies sitting at my favorite spot - the one to my left - who looks quite like my wife's grandmother, with shades on, looking broodingly towards Glorietta 4. She's the person you'd want to talk and know what she's thinking about. She looked like she could crush a lit cigarette in one palm, although later she would look the contrary, when she put down her sunglasses to talk to someone over the phone. She looked downcast. Another old man at the far end of the cafe, with visibly silver beard and salt and pepper hair with an Adidas cap, tinkers with his smartphone. There's an older couple across me, about late-fifties, reading Manila Bulletin. A younger couple, probably about to be wed, meets an events organizer who's in charge of the catering. (The talk about alcoholic matcha made me think that maybe the caterers operate a mobile bar?) It turned out the grandparents across where I'm sitting is one of the younger couple's parents. Everything is so slow, so laid-back: no one's rushing to the bus stop. No one's late or in a hurry. Sugarfree plays on - mostly acoustic. Then: Barbie's Cradle, which brings me back to sixth grade and those summer days when we would rent a pool in Pandi, and the entire afternoon all I would do is swim. My sister and her friends would stay glued to the TV for Tabing Ilog. I wouldn't worry about anything.


1. Slice off the tangled root end and the thick, woody dark green top of each leek at the approximate same length. Wash the leeks vigorously under slow-running cold water, using your hands and fingers to scrape away insistent dirt and sand. Arrange them on a cutting board, and in one confident move, stab the tip of a sharp chef’s knife into the leek 1/2 inch from the root end, and run it the rest of the length to the green top, in essence cleaving the leek starting from the white pale root, making two legs and a crotch, where only one thick column was to start. Back at the sink, wash again and again, keeping the leeks intact, but removing every single last grain of sand.
from Leeks Vinaigrette and Sieved Eggs Recipe, by Gabrielle Hamilton


On a Sunday noon someone is reading Grace Paley's Enormous Changes at the Last Minute in a coffee shop. He was wearing a gray shirt and shirts, with earphones plugged in from an Android phone. He ordered tea. At some point he decided to plop down the book face-down, and stared into the space - maybe listening to an audiobook?

Lipoa Rd.

There was a thin slat of night sky from where I'm lying on, and an airplane flew in the dark with its beeping lights, and it reminded me of my six year-old self, looking from a jalousy in Honolulu towards the night sky, where the same beeping lights flew. Back then it was very hot, and we had to subsist in a single electric fan, in a cramped room. That was also the time when I sleepwalked. I could remember other things: Juicy Fruit bubble gum packets from one of Dad's housemates (who also lives in the next room); mornings when we had Spam and fried rice for breakfast; an indoor golf and a framed 3D painting of the sea - which my Dad and his officemates insist that there are fishes in the water - in their office; the saltwater at Waikiki Beach that for a six year old miraculously tasted of salt; the cage of bicycles for rent; the delight when I first saw the laundry room with its front door bubbles and roving machines; the pool in the middle of the apartments, the car wash with its two huge brushes, the synchronized sprinklers; the Power Rangers robot we bought at Swap Meet with its torso that bleeps when activated; the ramps at Toys R' Us that I was very fond of; the train at Sears Tower, right across where we lived, at Lipoa Road; those day trips upstairs from our third floor apartment - the view that lets you smell the sea and taste the saltwater and feel the heat of those summer days. It felt very alien back then to be in a different place, but it was also wonderful. from October 25, 2017

Inventive step

At a conference I was stuck with a man named Eric from a known organization for patents. I feigned interest in patents until he mentioned that what separates inventions from modifications is the 'inventive step'. He also mentioned that Gatorade is from the University of Florida, and that a university in Cebu has just patented their mango starch. Interesting guy, although he sounds a bit bored when I push him to explain things further, as I'm sure he gets these questions all the time.


If you look for a meaning, you'll miss everything that happens. - Andrei Tarkovsky

Over rum and coke

I had a friend who had a book about poetry she shared by the steps if Raymundo. Although I am not sure if I chanced upon the poem or if she earmarked a page for the uninitiated, I read the poem, and I couldn't forget the images of oranges sliced while likened to the sun, as if it were a lesson on fractions. The title was Slicing Oranges for Jeremiah: the words were delicate, and yet the emotions brim as if they were on the verge of rupture, each line throbbing with tension. Over rum and coke the title came to me, and tried to reread the poem from eight years ago, albeit now my reading was markedly different: the son became my son, the knives slicing the oranges was ours back in the kitchen, and the poem became tears. From April 22, 2017

Your favorite word

Melancholy Inside Families, by Pablo Neruda

Very impressionistic: it's all desolate and decrepit. "Deserted" was mentioned four times, all describing a dining room: 1) "deserted as a fish-bone", "deserted room", "deserted dining room" was written twice. "Expanses" and "dragging along" mentioned twice. Fantastic image: "one ray of moonlight tied down". More bleakness: "smashed" and "broken" crockery, "torn" clothing, "sunken factories". "Mud and death", "corpses". "Pushed-over elephants" and "torn clothing from which sea water is dripping" remind me of Dali's The Persistence of Memory (the beached whale and the limp clock, respectively). A bottle was kept in the first line, but was set to sail ("a single bottle moving over the seas") in the second stanza, a bearer of messages: the ear and the portrait? "Mud and death" are bound so closely: it seemed like a graveyard that swallows everything that walks over it, from corpses, to wheat, to metals, to elephants. Water is pervasive: the entire poem felt like it's taking place from a world under water ("a house set on the foundations of the rain"). It gives you a sensation that something grim has taken place, a world that was hopeful before the war ("fallen things, medallions, kindnesses, parachutes, kisses"). From January 2, 2018


Hung I-Chen, Guo Yi-Hui, Cheng Yu-Ti. Polluted Water Popsicles.

At The Guardian was a woman asking for help. She is distressed by the suicide of her husband, her first lover, her teenage years. "Read as a migration narrative, however, [the film] Casablanca reminds us that the identification papers we carry were created not to give us freedom but rather to curtail it." That's exactly the way I feel about passports. Although Aaron Swartz was in the fringes of this lengthy New Yorker piece, reading a Wiki about him made me realize that some people have a lot of courage to do things for the benefit of everyone. (Although, if I were a hacker, I would probably ransack millions of academic papers as well. This goes back to my college years, when almost all legitimate sources had paywall, and it would leave you no choice but to go to Diliman - or, in my case - I asked a friend from Massachusetts to share her JStor password.) A friend consulted me about writing! His predicament: whether to stick to a single tense all throughout his writing, or just go with the flow. (My advise: go with the flow. He's writing a very casual review anyway.) Drinking at lunch (or three martinis, as per the article) reminds me of Bugsy’s Makati. Before going to sleep yesterday, I wrote: "Wonderful how dreams could be vessels of the most horrible actions you wouldn’t dare do in real life." It could be described as an out-of-body experience where one body dreams on and the other does the undesirable.


Fantastic dream: for what seemed like an entire day in a dream, I couldn't find my PAL tickets going back to NYC. There was a labyrinthine layout with bureaus and cubicles of people that just makes me feel frantic. Did I book a one-way ticket? Why couldn't I find it in my emails? Where is the records section?


Apollo playing the cithara, with Artemis and hind. From the New York Public Library.
Diptyque's Philosykos EDP made me appreciate perfumes and look at it as an art form. I love how a smell can actually paint a landscape of lush greens of the tropics while evoking a certain air of romance - it's something you would wear to kill time, or bask in every second of a slow afternoon. It's made for sunglasses and humid temperatures. It's all green at the first spritz, very close to freshly cut grass, but after ten minutes it gives way to milky coconut and the glorious scent of figs. Each waft is spellbinding. When I smell this on my wife's shoulders I couldn't help but feel weak, as if shot with a tranquilizer. She wore this once with a particular black blouse with prints of gold palms, the fabric gossamer-thin and flowy and comfortable, and it paired well with the black bottle and the dampness of the smell. It's a smell I could never get enough of. 

It might give us--what?--some flowers soon

from New York Times Public Library Digital Collections

Issey Miyake's L'eau D'Issey Pour Homme is freshly squeezed citrus: if anyone wondered about how clothes would smell like if soaked in a tub full of lemonade. A word of caution: the first spritz smells bitter, similar to the taste of citrus seeds chewed by accident, but after an hour it would mellow down into a nice summer scent. It reminds me of weddings in summer where people wear crisp white shirts, khaki pants and inoffensive dresses in pastel hues. Clinks of tube ice in tall glasses. Grass and pots of herbs and flowers. Beads of sweat slowly going down your spine. Sometimes I couldn't help but feel that the smell gets too powerful that it makes me feel uncomfortable, not far from what a dad would feel towards a little kid in formal receptions: you wanted the kid to hush and stay still, but a soft voice in your head keeps telling you exercise restraint. Or maybe it's just my aversion towards perfumes that occupy an entire room.

Lighting up

There's something marvelous when you dip crusty bread (or even stale ones) in tomato-based soups like chili con carne or minestrone. Like magic, the flavors just blend together. I'm no fan of soup, nor was I a fan of bread, but putting them together is just... bliss, all the taste buds lighting up to flood your brain in sensory overload.


I dreamt that a cat bit my right index finger, and felt the dread that I needed to get vaccinated for rabies. My wife is experiencing a new kind of pain in her seams - that's how I would put it; she likened it to the manufacturing of a Barbie doll that leaves behind a mark on her shoulders and waist, a really thin mark that's probably due to the molds not fitting snugly, in the same way waffles from waffle makers have these crusty scraps and edges. Parenthood means sulking every summer by swimming pools, wearing clothes splashed with pool water. I find comfort when my child hums while taking his time in doing something. Written from the back of a receipt from my usual bus rides to Ortigas, in red ink, I quote: I pine for a dead poet on my birthday. He died last year. His name is John Ashbery. He was a voice I'd love to have in my head. Instead I have the whirr of rowing machines, the wind blowing my face. At the buss I asked myself what birthdays are all about - it's a day to celebrate life.