The Sunbaked King

Breaking the Silence

I’ve read every blog entry, I’ve gone through every Tweet, I’ve seen every Facebook status. My chest tightens at every reference to me; my heart goes into overdrive at the words with which you express your sentiments. You know how good you are with words. You can use them like a spread of soothing balm… or brandish them like deadly weapons. Weapons that could jab and sting and hurt. Your eloquence, once the source of appreciative awe, is now the source of melancholy. Over the past few weeks, what was once subtle releases of emotions have transformed into bolder declarations. The cross-references are quite hard to miss, and I am more feelingero than I am dense.

But I chose to remain silent.

My silence may have been misinterpreted as something that constitutes cessation. The operative word there is “misinterpreted.” The operative syllable there is “mis-“. You have declared, time and again, that the people worth keeping, those who are for keeps, are those who stay. You have stated, time and again, that it is time for you to move on, to become a stronger person, to be the one who’s won back this time around. I agree. But only when you are certain that those who left, really left. Only when you are sure that the person you’re saying goodbye to has severed his ties with you. Let me assure you, this is not the case. I chose to remain silent, but it did not mean that I had burned down months of friendship.

The reason for the silence is simple: I had to recover from the weight of the admission. The admission in itself wasn’t bad; nothing about the entire thing was. Like you said, it was getting difficult for you not to say anything, and it was unfair for the both of us to have the issue hanging over our heads like a ticking time bomb. Sooner or later, the whole thing would come out– neatly or explosively, depending on the situation, and you dealt with it neatly. But like with every thing in this world, there is a trade-off. Once the admission was made, the landscape has changed. We cannot move forward as though nothing occurred, na parang wala lang. That would be awkward and weird and highly restrictive. Only time could remove the innate awkwardness of the situation. That, AND a healthy dose of conversation, which we’ve never had the opportunity to have.

I apologize for not addressing this sooner, because my silence appears to have led you to a dark place. It was never my intention to depress you. It was never my intention to push you away. But I needed the time. I sincerely hope you understand.

I do not need to re-extend my friendship, because it was never lost in the first place. But for the sake of re-establishing the intelligent and mindbending conversations, the laughter over the likes of Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens, the long long trips to faraway places, and, generally, just the good times, let me now shake your hand and ask:

“Friends?”

Starbucks is just five minutes away, and last I’ve seen, they’re still selling Kettle chips. It’s good to share these things with someone.

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Filed under: Ra, Untamed, Utter Sadness

The Breakup Before the Wedding (I)

I sat at the edge of the bed, staring at the closet in front of me. I saw a glimmer of white hanging among the long sleeves and the ties, the pants and the polo shirts, and that glimmer seemed more pointless than ever. Nothing made sense– no matter how much hard work was placed in choosing the perfect fabric, no matter how many hours were put into creating the intricate design, no matter how many times I had to return to get that right fit… it didn’t matter. This barong tagalog was only as good as the outfit that got paired with it, the one that you were supposed to wear tomorrow.

But I broke up with you, the night before the wedding.

My mind forced my eyes to veer away. The more I looked at it, the heavier it seemed to get. But it was all an illusion. Tears had began to well up in my eyes, doubling, tripling my vision. I did not want to break down, not yet, because this wasn’t final. This. Wasn’t. Final. After all, weren’t I the one who told you that this was not how I imagined my relationship with you to be? Weren’t I the one who told you that this was too much, that I couldn’t take your nonchalance anymore? Weren’t I the one who told you that I wasn’t getting the attention I deserved, when all I asked of you was just one day? I did all those things, so I could take it all back. I could take it all back.

But how could I, when it wasn’t my fault?

I felt something in my hand. In my state, I had forgotten all about the cellphone that I held, clenched tightly within my fist. I threw it aside, for the thing was a snake. If I looked at the last message I sent, it was bound to be poison. If I could listen to the last phone call I made, it was bound to have fangs. Now that the righteous anger has passed, now that reason has ceased to control my emotions, I realized… there wouldn’t be another text message, there wouldn’t be another call. Not from you to me. Not from me to you. I had cut you off from my life.

I had cut you off from my life the day before I wished to bind you.

That did it. The dam broke. I placed my face within my palms and cried openly into them. I staggered; my body shook with the weight of the burden you have placed upon me, of the decision I am now forced to face. But I have to be strong. Even without you, I would go to the wedding. The world does not revolve around me. Tomorrow’s going to be a joyous day, and this is something I would have to hide beneath a smiling face.

Tomorrow is my sister’s wedding, and I would be there for her. With or without you.

Filed under: Fiction, Yes?, Utter Sadness

I Am Not Who You Think I Am

I am human.

I am flawed.

You cannot impose an identity on me, because the boy that you think you know, you really don’t know very well. What you have in your mind is an Ideal. That Ideal is not me; I am Imperfection.

Cease to pin traits that I do not have. I am neither as intelligent, nor as responsible, nor as happy, nor as nurturing, nor as good-natured as the person you have envisioned me to be. First impressions, while characteristically positive, do not last and shouldn’t. Facades, while innately appealing, must be ignored.

This is for you who voted me vice-president back in second grade. This is for you who elected me group leader in the fourth. This is for you who persuaded me to join trivia contests. This is for you who coached me in math. This is for you who paid me for calculus tutorials. This is for you who fed me when I was hungry. This is for you who lent me money when I had none. This is for you who gave me gifts to show you care. This is for you who trusted. This is for you who loved.

Do not consider this a pity party. I am not fishing for compliments, I am not looking for sympathy. I am simply stating the truth. And the truth is this: I am not who you think I am. It is unwise to think otherwise.

Expectations can only lead to sadness.

Filed under: Ra, Them, Untamed, Utter Sadness

A Return to Form

Hiatus over. I’m back. One note about the exam before we bury it in our memories until results day: never go back to your textbooks after a test to check if you got the answers right. You will always end up disappointed, because you will always find that you answered more questions incorrectly than correctly.

DUM DEE DAH.

Writing is true therapy. In the one month that I’ve gone AWOL on all virtual outlets (save for Twitter, but that barely counts as a conducive medium to write prose or poetry), writing is the one thing that I missed the most. There’s something liberating in the pit-pat of keys as my fingers move across the keyboard, something fascinating about watching the words form on the screen. While writing itself may not relieve me of this utter sadness, while blogging may not be the perfect solution to end a vicious cycle of doubt and regret, it does its freaking best to help. As thought flows from the mind to the spine to the arms to the fingers to the keyboard to the screen, a little bit more of my self is extracted, released, piece by piece. The process empties me. The process sets me free.

In two days’ time, my blog, The Sunbaked King, will celebrate its anniversary. Created out of a desire to impress, nurtured out of a need to write. In these bleak and dreary times, this is one outlet I’m glad to have regained.

This is a timely return to the blogging form. I’m happy to be back.

Filed under: Helios, Mindlifting, Ra, Utter Sadness

A Death by the Diversion Road

My father called me up last Friday and told me, in a sober tone, to check my email. Those who know my father (from this blog or from my stories) would know that Papa has a tendency to shy away from sobriety. It usually takes something very serious (or when he’s scolding me, whichever) to take away the gaiety naturally present in his voice.

I checked the email and found that a serious matter was indeed at hand.

Wing,

Torney met his painful death las night when he was ran over by a speeding car at the Diversion road. Good it was an instant death; he did not suffer much as he died almost instantly.

The four of us took our car going to Nick’s house where we were invited for dinner. When our car exited from the gate, Ryan freed Torney from his chain as we usually do everytime we leave the house. Unknowingly, Kenneth left the gate open and as soon as Torney was freed, he bolted out from the gate. He ignored Mama’s efforts to lure him back to the house. We decided to leave him outside, thinking that he would just enter the gate after we left. But when we were already at the Diversion Road, we saw Torney running ahead of us and circling our car. We stopped along the shoulder and Ryan tried to catch him. As if to taut us, he kept on running ahead of the car. Then, to our horror, he ran to the highway as soon as the green light was on. Amidst our shouts, a private car hit Torney with the wheels running over Torney. As soon as he was hit, Torney put up a brave fight for his life by running to the side of the road. He slumped lifeless.

Kenneth cried loudly as he was blamed for failing to close the gate as soon as he stepped out. Ning, Ryan and I cried too as Torney has become a part of our family. But there was no need for tears. Torney, as all of us would, has gone back to his Creator. Goodbye, Torney. Thank you for the joy and happiness you brought to our home.

Papa

We’ve had four dogs since we transferred to Davao. Torney was the fourth. All of them have, as my father puts it, “gone back to their Creator.” Of all these four losses, I only witnessed one. It was heartbreaking. I don’t know how I could endure a loss that I saw with my very eyes. I’m quite sensitive with these things, and as you may have noticed, my family’s built of the same stuff, as well.

I’ve only seen Torney once, and that was when I went home last December. I’m never going to see him again.

How can pets be the cause of such acute sadness?

torneyTORNEY
? - April 16, 2009
This picture was taken on Christmas Day, 2008. 

Filed under: Domesticated, Utter Sadness

Stuck in This Moment

I’ve never been the type of person who takes the Holy Week seriously. I watch the people around me go around their spiritual routines– going to silent retreats, visiting churches, taking a break from all things indulgent, fasting, abstaining, what have you– but I ignore the “spirit” entirely. After taking off and leaving my hometown for college, no one’s been able to dictate what I should or should not do, and one of the things I decided not to do was celebrate the Holy Week. Honestly, it makes me uncomfortable to engage in these almost-masochistic activities just to gain a certain sense of spiritual enlightenment. What is the real purpose of the sacrifice? What is the real purpose of the pain?

But that negative remark isn’t the point of this entry. In fact, just the opposite. The Holy Week may be the best opportunity for me to reset my life at a fundamentally deeper level. Yes, I’ve been attempting to deal with changes here and there, but all of them feel like shedding skin– superficial and temporary. I need to transform within; power down, restart, reboot. And perhaps that sacrifice, the one I always thought was unnecessary, was in fact necessary, after all. I don’t want to be stuck in this moment once again:

Sulking done. At least the attempt at creativity took my mind off other things. Like how I’m getting lazy in going to the gym. Like how I’ve abandoned my studying for the exams. Like how I slept through the entire day and woke up sometime early evening to eat junk. At least being bummed over this one thing saved me from being bummed over a million others.

Better this than that something else. At least.

When will I ever get a break?

That was one year ago, April 13th. The title of that entry was “Bummed.” I have no plans of getting to that place once again. I’m having the time of my life right now, and for everything to crash down to that point where I’m happy to be bummed about one thing rather a million others is just not right. I may be at the precipice, but I’m also standing near the cliff. One push will be enough to send me hurtling down this vicious drop of sadness.

Is this enough of a reason to celebrate the Holy Week? I don’t think so, and I think I’m missing the point somewhere, but it’s a perfectly sound reason to cleanse myself anew. It’s a good place to start as any.

Filed under: Utter Sadness

100 Words

heaven + ground + storm + archuleta + happening + rejection + pasok + flapjacks + forgotten + incredible + california + hermit + games + good + journey + taipan + cows + single + knight + kaban + sunday + boob + four + wall + aisle + august + tomb + chris + iphone + entry + history + sassy + wall-e + birthday + way + breakfast + clone + sumosam + study + darkness + competition + poem + jacques + death + coffee + eavesdropping + contented + corollary + catch + atenista + eagle + embers + other + recovery + melancholia + retreat + one + sidebar + thunder + q + hush + coat + waltz + letters + exam + know + family + musical + incomprehensible + leche + minutes + comeback + comeback + universe + blast + joke + brothers + yearend + series + 2008 + 2009 + goodbye + forgotten + sing + united + nations + avenue + honeymoon + american + hopeless + rest + idol + night + honors + honesty + hot + half-empty + hee + hope + 100 =

100 posts in 100 words.

I’ve gone a long way, and there’s no sign of stopping.

I will never tire of writing.

Filed under: ...And Others, Being Blue, Bibliomania, Cinema, Domesticated, Eros, Fiction, Yes?, Gadgetry, Gastronomy, Geekery, Helios, Mindlifting, Ra, Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, The Couch Potato, Them, TV, Untamed, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness, Vanity, Yearend

0990 United Nations Avenue (III)

Supposedly emailed last February 27, 2009. Never got to it because of these guys’ thoughtfulness. One surprise after the other, and when it was over, it was time for me to go.

Today is my last working day in Philamlife.

I started working for the Actuarial Department on June 5, 2006. I had my picture taken with Joanne, got introduced to the world of BorgChat, and discovered the joys of Mr. Choi’s cuisine. On Friday that same week, I wore a long-sleeved barong, while everyone else was in jeans or short-sleeved polo shirts. Joanne urged me to take off the barong and just wear the white undershirt, instead. I did not succumb to the urging. The day after, I was on my way with my new colleagues to Batangas, where Paul drove us, Adam and I exchanged a few words about work (“Maganda magsimula sa Studies”), and MK complained that she can’t enjoy the scenery when her bladder was “ABOUT TO BURST.” Midway through, the guys from Charline’s car texted, informing us that there was something wrong with our vehicle (trunk open? door open? flat tire?). We fixed it and went on our merry way. That night, I got drunk on that wonderful chocolatey Bailey’s drink and gin tonic, and tumbled my way to sleep. Not before getting to answer the question: “What do I think about Joanne?” To which I replied: “Siya ang tipo ng friend na babatukan ka pag may ginawa kang kalokohan.

Not a bad way to start a lifetime career. Not a bad way to gain lifetime friends.

And I was right about my response, Joanne was indeed the sort of friend who’ll reprimand/mock/tease/scold you when you’ve done something amoral/nasty/disgusting/wrong. Quite the disciplinarian, isn’t she? But she’s also the type of friend who’ll buy you breakfast in the morning; the type who will write cute little notes on Post-its when she feels like you deserve it; the type who’ll take you home from work in her super-savvy car; and the type of friend who’ll accompany you in making coffee even when she herself has already had a go (edited to add: and the type of friend who’ll make a Gossip Girl intro for you because she knows you’ll love it). I’m never shy when I’m with her because she accepts me for who I am. Jebs or no jebs, cleavage or no cleavage, whatever the iota of difference from hairstyle to hairstyle may be, she will forever be a seatmate in my heart. She’ll occupy the space next to the aorta, inside the right ventricle….

….because space has to be given to my other seatmate, the one that came before her, the one and only Adam. I don’t know how else to put it, but this not-weird-but-gifted geek-in-the-pink saved me. During the times that I struggled in Studies, back in the days when all I could write was a single bullet point in a single day, he guided me. During those times that I was depressed because I doubted myself that I could never live up to his, or Paul’s, or Jose’s shining precedents, he reassured me. And even when he was no longer by my side and I was alone (and that was a sad, sad day), he still reached out two floors down to assist me. Never have I known a person with such desire to help others. And he does it… because he can.

Together, we were a formidable team. Something definitely clicked when the Younglings came together. We used to joke around about the department having Eons or Ages (the Age of Silence, the Age of Romance, the Exodus, etc.). I definitely think that that was a Golden Age, a wonderful time when there were rainbows and puppies and red bikes and cute little pony princesses. And that Age continues to resonate until the present, because the bond we formed is definitely strong. Nothing can tear us apart.

Friends, thanks for making my last day special.

In the words of Adam, it’s not goodbye, it’s just goodbye for now.

Bansy/Boks/Chava Nation card-carrying member,
Kerwin

Filed under: Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness

0990 United Nations Avenue (II)

Emailed last February 27, 2009.

Today is my last day in this Company.

The first time I stepped into this building, I was met with both suspicious and sympathetic looks from people from the 3rd floor. I called some random Company office number that morning, having no idea whatsoever about the more minute details of the Management Associateship Program. Imagine my surprise (and horror) to be told that the Mappers [that’s how we were called] were already in the Training Pavilion, getting briefed about the program. Needless to say, I took a quick bath, hailed a cab, and rushed into the office. And when I arrived at the 3rd floor, I got the S&S looks I mentioned earlier.

It was April 2005, 2 months before the program even started. There were a bunch of new faces in the Training Pavilion, all right, but they were Student Trainees, not Mappers. I had stumbled into the Student Training Program. I called the head of recruitment, told her about my predicament, and was told to do the medical since I was already there. I did as I was told. Hours later (I had a hard time peeing– I drank Coke and orange juice to get it flowing), I went back up to the 3rd floor, met my mentor, and signed the contract. My deal with the devil was formalized that sunny morning of April 2005. I was now officially a Mapper.

A few weeks later, I met the most amazing, most empowered, most brilliant women I’ve met in my entire life.

They are unique friends for two important reasons: 1) I would never have thought of being so close with them, given how much scared I was of “powerful” women back in the days when I studied in school; and 2) They’re wonderful people. Pure and simple. I never felt unease whenever I was with them, making me wonder what it was that I was so scared of back in the day. Sure, they talked about brassieres and cup sizes and camel toes and waxing and getting wasted on a weekday and Pap smears at the back of vans and networking and wrote alternately on laptops and yellow pad papers, but they also gave out Willy Wonka Nerds when they liked you. And I think they liked me. For which I am glad.

Times have moved on, the world has moved on, and we are now on different courses in our lives. As we travel each separate path, we look back and see, that in a distance not so far away, our paths converged once upon a time. I look back at that point with happiness mixed with a tinge of sadness. Those were simpler times. Those were simpler joys. Those were simpler circumstances.

This isn’t a goodbye, just a goodbye for now.

Kerwin

Filed under: Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness

0990 United Nations Avenue (I)

It was raining that day. I stepped out of the train and onto the platform with no umbrella in tow. I had little time to digest that I was actually here, in UN Avenue, in this little corner of Metro Manila called Manila. The other passengers rushed past me, confident in their step. It was their turf after all. I, on the other hand, watched these people pass by with a little bit of envy and panic. I had no way of crossing, not without an umbrella, and the place… the place looked new. I have never been here before. A stranger in an even stranger land, I stood at one corner of the station steps and waited.

A few tense minutes later, one of my colleagues tapped me by the shoulder. My relief was unmistakable. She had an umbrella.

That was the beginning of almost four years of travelling to and fro that magical avenue. The routes and vehicles have changed over the years. From jeep-MRT-LRT, I decided to go jeep-jeep when I was running out of cash. When I had a bump in position and a consequent bump in salary, I went for FX-LRT, and finally, I contented myself with taxi rides. But whatever the route, it was the same destination: a big, imposing building on UN Avenue, right beside NBI, and right in front of the casino. That has remained quite untouched for over 60 years now. Even before I thought of being there, the building had held millions of memories.

And since Friday, the 27th of February, 0990 United Nations Avenue held one more.

Despite the stressful commuting during the morning, the lack of travel options that would take me from Guadalupe to United Nations in a single ride, the sights and smells of Manila streets, and any other little thing that I could nitpick in order to convince myself that I did the right thing by leaving, I found a home and a cozy little corner in that imposing building on 0990 United Nations Avenue.

I will miss the way Manila Pavilion’s bright colored lights filled up its facade during the evenings; I will miss the trips down to Manila Doctors’ Hospital’s convenience store; I will miss the take-outs at McDonald’s, the lunches at Delifrance, the dinners at the now-defunct Chiggy’s. I will even miss Mokenzo, that mini-mart beside Max’s that one day in 2005 displayed a sign that it would be closed for inventory for 2 weeks but until now, never opened again. I will miss the chicken balls vendor. I will miss the coffee vending machine that I never really used. I will miss the sprawling lawn. I will miss the banks. I will miss the spacious lobby. I will miss the world’s slowest elevators. I will miss the theater and its wonderful acoustics. I will miss that place. I will miss that home.

Leaving home is never the easiest thing to do.

Filed under: Rat Race, Utter Sadness