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Does this follow any aesthetics in photography? Or does it have one, in the first place? Ha.

I like this photo nevertheless.

Bah.

Taken: June 17, 2008

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I have been scanning some previous photos I have taken, and I was surprised to find this one. I’m not really good in photography. But I guess this was good, right?

Come on. You’ve got to agree with me.

Taken: June 17, 2008

Recently, I’ve had several realizations about my not becoming a full blown social animal in the university I’m in. While I look around the campus and see groups of students huddle close with each other, laughing as if they know each other pretty well, I reflected on my situation and found out I was never too bold to approach anyone who do not belong to my class, so that perhaps I could only count my friends with my fingers.

The idea that everyone seems to know everyone inside the campus is very exhilirating and at the same time poses for me a kind of envy for them. Those times that I sit alone in one of the benches in school, I tried thinking how others might have been seeing me as a person, and sometimes I feel scared of what others might think about me. Ha. Sometimes I thought I looked too arrogant, sometimes too pitiful, sometimes too dumb, sometimes too lost, sometimes too strange, sometimes too nonexistent. Ha. Ha. Now I’ve pulled them off.

I don’t know how some have managed to make a lot of friends. Personally, it’s an impressive attitude. Because I think one should risk his or her own privacy in order to make himself or herself known to others. And when I think about it, I feel scared. Opening up yourself to someone doesn’t seem too easy.

One more thing, I kind of battle with this attitude of mine which is to not know how to start a good conversation. Slowly, I’ve grown accustomed to talking only to myself that I realized I am starting to lose my skill in talking with others. Not serious stuff of course. Light conversations that may spark likes and dislikes. Anything that might lead to an interesting matter, and usually it’s not always about politics or economy. I don’t know but I guess I’m losing my tongue for everyone. The most awkward thing I could think of is when I am left with a not-so-close friend and I couldn’t just think of anythng to say. The silence in between is very excruciating.

So why am I talking about all these? I don’t know. I just want to let these things out because I feel it sucks me to death. Ha. Ha. That was an exaggerration, I apologize for that. But understand this feeling. Mind you, you wouldn’t want to be in my shoes.

Everyday during breakfast, mother and I face each other on our small, blue table where we eat our hearty meal: bread and coffee, and it is perhaps the aroma of coffee that sparks a memory within her – that of my talking while sleeping every night.

I can’t tell you what I said during those nights when my subconscious plays with me; really, it’s embarassing. 

Okay. So perhaps what triggered this behaviour is my constant lack of sleep. Because of so many paperworks that need to be done – a research proposal, a short story with a minimum of 10 pages, 5 or 6 poems, and the endless thematic analysis of short stories in class – I could hardly catch long hours of sleep. Plus, I just joined a soccer team, and unfortunately on my first day, I sucked.

When mother told me that embarassing news about myself talking to sleep, I immediately thought that perhaps I was talking to myself about soccer and how I definitely did suck. 

(Well I just realized too that I need to find out if  I have this sports-driven spirit within me. Anyway, I haven’t enrolled myself for a P.E. class after my college sophomore year because I’ve already completed my four P.E. classes. So I guess I missed flexing my bones and muscles, and finally decided to try soccer. I’ve never played this sport before so you can just imagine how stupid-looking I had been in the middle of the field. They made me a keeper, I don’t even know what that means, but well, I stood there anyway.)

What alarms me though is that mother may hear me say something horrible in my sleep. Or something sexy. Or not. Ha. And then I’ll get busted and reap twice or thrice the embarassment I deserve. Ha.

bino

THE UMBRELLA COUNTRY

by Bino A. Realuyo

Ballantine Books, New York, 1999

In the dawn of one of the Philippine’s most historic events, Bino Realuyo captures a life in one of the streets of Manila, one young boy named Gringo. In his eyes, the world beyond the borders of his neighborhood is unknown. He is a character unscathed by the political turmoil of Martial Law. His concerns are more immediate, more particular, and his life depends so much not of what is happening in the Philippines during his time, but of his neighborhood, his family, and then himself.

The Umbrella Country is a story of a young boy, Gringo, whose life has introduced him into listening to his neighborhood’s gossips; feasting on his father’s habitual yearning for the Stateside taste; coping with his brother, Pipo’s fame by being the three-time winner of Miss Unibers, an event organized by Pipo and his friend Sergio Putita, and at the same time, sharing with him the mystery of self-discovery and that struggle for identity; witnessing the neighborhood-gay-beautician Boy Manicure being scorned by the neighborhood because of his sexual orientation; fancying a robust man named SWAT; wondering over Boy Spit, a young boy who pushes his cart on the streets collecting calendars and delivering newspapers; and listening over his Ninang Rola’s stories about his parents’ first date. He comes of his age while confronting these issues. Gringo is a silent young boy who merely watches what happens around him, and whatever his realizations are, he keeps to himself.

It is difficult to say that the boy is humorous. What is clear though is the progression of the story’s tone. What starts out as a light, nonchalant narrator of story becomes more serious, more dramatic in the end, yet the characteristic of restraint in the young boy’s voice is ever present and clearly evident. With the boy’s voice guiding the readers on how the story unfolds, readers should expect an unreliable narrator speaking. The voice sounds natural, yet there seems to be a force evident in the story which places a distance between the real events and the memory of the speaker so that readers are forced to ask, “Which of these things are real, or which are not?” There is of course a slight disparity about this question, but in coming to terms with the validity of the incidents as accounted by the young speaker, readers can think at the back of their minds that something has been obscured, that there has already been shades of differences in terms of the voices of the characters present in the story. The point simply is that, as Realuyo says it, “I don’t think memory flows smoothly.” Every chapter recollected by the young speaker has undergone a kind of selectivity. That alone is already unreliable.

But readers should never be indebted to this kind of scrutiny if pleasure is put into risk. In order to appreciate the emotional coloring of the novel, readers should first of all experience this dream-work woven by the writer and be submerged by it. Fortunately, readers will not find it difficult to enter into the story. Each chapter has the approximate emotional content though the writer uses a variation of storytelling techniques: a simple narrative or a series of dialogues. While narratives hasten the pace of the incidents, dialogues anchor more on the details and dramatize events. That is why even if the narrator can be unreliable (in my opinion), his story is as real, sometimes breath-taking, and as vividly worth remembering that, if caught by the writer’s enchantment, readers can forego the speaker’s unreliability and instead sympathize with him.

Because what matters here is Gringo’s experience, how he learns not to say anything, how certain things are better kept than said, and therefore leaves him more philosophical, and at the same time gaping over the disaster that befell his parents one night; when he discovered his father beating his mother; or when his father beat Pipo for being homosexual; or when, one night, he saw Pipo coming out from Boy Manicure’s place, bleeding and crying; or when he realizes that everyone around him could only be just like their house’s new plastic gutters. “Plastic. Women always used that word to describe men. Ang plastic-plastic mo, so fake.” These things can interest not just a Filipino reader. This is a novel that reflects social issues and societal dictates, and there is no stopping Realuyo’s vast array of imagination for as long as he anchors with his child-character, Gringo.

It is a mistake to summarize the novel with one theme or with one meaning, for it reveals so much more. It consists with layers of meaning that reverberate through the story and the child experiences the whole effect of it in the end. So too are the readers. With so many issues confronting the child and the story set in the time when the figurative role of Martial Law is repression, readers are ushered into this realm of thought and feeling, of a classic coming-of-age story where all of us can sympathize towards Gringo’s attempts of groping and finding his true self and at the same time, not telling anyone about this attempt to find oneself.

asks the lost boy.

A while ago, I just had an unforgettable experience inside the comfort room. And it’ll be the number one in my list, I tell you.

I and three of my friends had our dinner in a chicken house just a few hours ago. While heading home, I suddenly wanted to poo. So I hastened my steps, fumbled in my coin purse to get the key of our main door and went quickly inside the comfort room.

Note: It’s a comfort to know that you’re just one step away from the toilet.

So I quickly threw off my pants and there you go!

1. When you want to poo so badly because you feel your tummy’s been very terrible and find out in the end that it’s just full of air. I think I just farted ten times inside and nothing came out but air.

2. Constipations. Something hard’s really there inside you that needs to get out. No matter how I try hard to push it, it won’t budge. It’s just too big that I wish I could just cut it with a pair of scissors.

3. Loose bowel. It slides easily but leaves you hollow and in pain. An excruciating experience, especially when it strikes at around 2 or 3 in the morning.

4. A very little amount of water drops when taking a pee. It’s painful.