To Open Sea

Dearest ______,

It’s been (literally) years since I last wrote you. I guess when the swell of life tugs you in- even at its most regularised chaos- it’s still just that, chaotic. Beautiful, ugly, quiet, loud, fast, slow: life has been an onslaught of various waves.  Rest assured, it’s been mostly great, my friend. But amidst all that whirl, I might have forgotten how it is to sit down and just write to you.  I hope you’re still there, buoyed to whatever we have between me here and you there. Wherever that is.dsc_0151

But I’m still here.  And now, I’m writing.

Before I get into the minutiae of the past couple of years though (or not, let’s see how this goes), I guess the most pertinent thing would be that we’ve just turned a new year today.


A lot has been going on around the world these past few years, and it might just be easiest to assume that the coming tide is something that resembles what it’s like going out unto open sea.

I know people who work and stay on boats for long stretches of time. And I hear it gets really lonely sometimes. Even then, despite already knowing the destination, it’s hard enough to get one’s mind to stay on course. Obviously the future in general- 2017– might be harder to navigate.

But we always get there, don’t we?dsc_0127

I myself have launched my own “expedition unto open seas”. Unchartered personal territories (a voyage in as much inwards as out) that might very well test the inner Captain Ahab in me.

But let’s talk about that another time. dsc_0122

For now, I hope we all find what we’re looking for out there. Or in here.


I remain your faithful friend always,



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the how (part 2)

Photo by Halfray (post- processed by Author)

Dearest ______,

Previously, on the how (part 1).

The moment you decide on throwing a wedding party (however small that may be), things are bound to get a little more complicated than, say, winging it in Vegas with an Elvis impersonator and a dinner- for- two. Here are some helpful points though, which afforded us a relatively complication- free intimate wedding party in Singapore:-

Continue reading “the how (part 2)”

the how (part 1)

Dearest ______,

Previously, on the why.

In Architecture and Design, we’ve long realised that a building or a room is merely an end product; an output. And one that evolves from a three or four year- long grind of design presentations, meetings, arguments, compromise, science, law, and what not.

Both of us being exposed to this kind of work, Jawo and I instinctively applied an almost systematic approach to our own wedding- planning (the wedding being another form of major output in our lives after all; its completion, only 10 months after the project proposal).


In the same manner one tries to leave office work inside the office, we’d decided earlier on that we would keep work on our upcoming nuptials at bay. Simply put, we didn’t want one wedding day (even if it is ours) to take over our daily lives for the next 10 months.

Continue reading “the how (part 1)”

the why

Dearest ______,

I met Jawo when we were both 18 years old and studying Architecture in Manila:

He, the ill- advised Alpha Male that he was; I, the misguided feminist.

Owing to our opposing (and mostly unreasonable) views on many things at that point, we were quite a match made in hell. There were many a ruined parties / drinking sessions we wrecked by some form of full- blown argument at the end of the night. This was to the frustration of our helpless friends, including my very polite part- Japanese roommate Miko.


Our weird frenemy-ship was also to our own confusion, because while we were very annoyed by each other’s individual conceits, we found that we also liked being around each other for odd frequencies of time. Mind you and our understandably suspicious ex- partners, we never went out on “dates”.

We’d only go out to watch punk/ ska/ metal/ swing gigs together (“Hey, do you wanna catch the Brass Munkeys at 70’s Bistro tonight? Oh, and I’m also outside your apartment.”);

Or buy bootleg merchandise from the pirates of Recto (“Cynthia and the Swing Set or Squirrel Nut Zippers?”);

Or literally just sit down by some pavement somewhere to talk about god-knows-what (“Let’s see if we can finish this fat- ass cigar by morning.”);

Or drink at bars;

Or go to band practice, etc.

We found out soon enough though, that more important than all the misdirected cockiness we had as extremely foolish kids, we also had very similar old- school, almost rigid belief systems in the more essential things in life (i.e. principles on family, real friendship, faith, etc).

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A little after my 28th birthday last year, Jawo and I decidedly decided to get married. This comes 11 years after our first meeting, 11 years comprising of:

– 4 years of being classmates in College

– 3 girlfriends (plus a slew of plain janes)

– 3 boyfriends (plus a few adolescent heart breaks)

– 5 years of being together together

– 8 years of being the Ringo Starr to his John Lennon

– 97% Ups and 3% Downs

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As to the Why of it all, comedienne Mindy Kaling sums it up quite sufficiently:

“In Shakespearean comedies, the wedding is the end, and there isn’t much indication of what happily ever after will look like day to day. In real life, shouldn’t a wedding be an awesome party you throw with your great pal, in the presence of a bunch of your other friends? A great day, for sure, but not the beginning and certainly not the end of your friendship with a person you can’t wait to talk about gardening with for the next forty years. Maybe the point is that any marriage is work, but you may as well pick work that you like.”



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the “internets”

Dearest ______,

I count myself lucky to have Iived through one of the biggest (if not the biggest) events in human history. More than just watching the 1900’s get shelved to usher in the 2000’s, I’m talking about how everything else had been shelved by the juggernaut that has been, or is, the Internet.




Continue reading “the “internets””

an extraordinary life

Dearest ______,

Fact: I live a pretty ordinary life that’s luckily grazed the existence of some truly extraordinary people. When I say extraordinary, I don’t necessarily mean those that have shaken the world in colossal, historical ways. Extraordinary, in that they’ve probably made some kind of impact in mine- however big or small. And I’m always grateful for each circumstance this simple truth is established because as Chuck Palanuik once succinctly wrote,

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”

I delight in the knowledge that my world is full of the good kind of people. While there is doubtlessly an excess of those who inflict misery into the world, when I realize that I actually have more moments in the company of those who don’t, I become sublimely grateful. It’s like the universe were inspiring me to make good of the little piece of the planet I will ever get to see in this ordinary lifetime: no matter how small your circle is, that bit of space better be the best its diameter is ever going to get.


Only last Thursday, we had supper with photographer/ artist/ musician Wawi Navarroza at one of the neighborhood hawker centers to satiate her craving for some local food. She was in town to curate and show some of her works at Strip 2013 which is at the Silverlens Gallery this month.
Over food slathered in a bit of sambal chili and 6 liters of locally- made Tiger beers, the conversations stretched on until one in the morning: on living oversees (she had once lived around Spain and New York), music, art of course, and basically our lives today. If you know her, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that she has one of the loveliest souls.

On Friday, I then got an introduction to Zola Macarambon’s poetry by way of her collaborative work with artist husband Ivan on a Youtube video. You have to read the transcribed text to let them really sink in.


All week long I’ve had the funniest conversations with my family on Viber. It’s pretty hilarious when your parents try to get all “techie” and use smart phones. My 60+ year-old father on chatting online:
“Cannot type with this phone. Very slow. Can we call instead?” So cute.
Going back to one of our conversations with Wawi, there’s really nothing quite like being with your family (albeit online). Even from afar, they provide you with much- needed comfort in the familiar and, really, their kind of unparalleled care.


Over the weekend, I had band practices with my two awesome bands- in between more hilarious conversations and a literally sweet brush with Bea and Vhop’s thoughtfulness straight out of their European escapade.

If only for last week, I’d say life has been pretty extraordinary so far.



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coming clean

Dearest ______,

Here’s a secret guilty pleasure:

I like cleaning my bathroom.  I actually do.

I find that there’s something quite methodological about how I do it too.  Almost precise, that it’s kind of become a little ritual for me.  Say,

I tend to do it before taking a bath, so I get to enjoy a long one right after the tiles are all clean and nice- smelling;

I do it in the middle of the night, so I can take my time forgetting the essence of time itself (which I am too much aware of during the day anyway);

I realize that the toilet cleaner solution may occasionally get into my head because I space out with the rhythmic “wax- in, wax- out” movements of my brush;

Without gloves (and mostly in my sorry under garments)-  I scrub from the shower head and all the way down to the grouting of the corner- most tiles.    I have a few exposed pipes in my bath, and I scrub even behind those, also all around my toilet bowl’s rear compartments.  I remember my mother telling me that cleaning should always be a top- down process, so dirt that falls off gets cleaned as you go along.

When I am done (after an hour, on average), I quietly examine my work and feel a little smile on the corner of my mouth.

“Ah, clean.”

For this coming new year, I intend to keep it this way.  All easy- breezy and clean, where complications are easily solved by this personal sense of Zen…  and probably some minimal amount of scrubbing.

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