On Reading, Review, and Book Clubs


I’ve been introduced to reading at a young age, but not because of another person’s influence, but because of curiosity, or say, inclination. Plus, there wasn’t any shortage on reading materials. My mom used to read a lot of newspapers and magazines (Women’s Today magazine’s Tales from the Unknown, anyone?) back then, my Dad not much (except the Bible, I think?). They bought us four sets of encyclopedia, and my sister and I hungrily used them. To look at pictures, initially, but when I learned to read, well of course, to read, too. Those Maggi recipes? Del Monte Kitchenomics pamphlets? Soap boxes, shampoo bottles, candy wrappers, chips labels, everything – I read everything. The defining moment, I think, was when my sister brought home books from our school library. They gave away very old books in favor of the new ones to be displayed at the modest shelves in our school library. Those books were mostly from the 30s-50s, where the pages broke when folded, and powdered when rubbed. Very old, but those were the first books I ever read in their entirety – about the Aztecs and American Indians. There were also a couple of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books which I was very fond of. My father’s sister brought my sister a complete Mother Goose nursery rhymes collection which we truly loved (Goosey-goosey gander…), but unfortunately lost it, rather, got it stolen. My Speech teacher borrowed and never returned it. Then my cousin had a collection of Grimm’s fairytale, that one I borrowed and never returned. Also, my mother brought us one of those story books with cassette tapes narration and I extremely adored that set. Unfortunately I cannot remember what happened to it, but let me just say there was no money wasted – the tape was too used, the books too worn out. Moreover, my father’s sister brought home from abroad a lot of books and stowed them all in our cabinet upstairs. They were for grown-ups, because hello, Cardinal Sins by Andrew Greeley, The Haj by Leon Uris and The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton, and a lot of other books I don’t remember anymore but read. The first Cosmo Mag I read has Claudia Schiffer on the cover, wearing a skintight white dress with plunging neckline. My library card was always completely stamped during my elementary and HS years, which gave me no  problem with the library clearance (we were required to check out books all-year round and promptly return them and complete the boxes in the library card or else you don’t get the librarian’s sought-after signature at the end of every school year!) I remember Time Magazines feature on East Timor when I was in 5th grade. And it just continued on. To this day. I read everything from philosophy, crime (a lot, always), horror, thriller, theories, history, contemporary, young adult, fantasy, poetry etc, etc… but not self-help books because no thank you. If I want help I turn to fiction. I know, weird, but fiction gives it to you dead on without the pretentious air of someone who knows how to do what, you know what I mean? Or better yet, ask from people who’s been there and done that. Anyway…


I must have read hundreds of books but never reviewed them. Okay so maybe a couple of lousy ones, but not the real blow-by-blow review. I could never do it. It would always be subjective (all reviews are, anyway – no matter how you try to be objective) and would give the reader no useful explanation whatsoever. It would be totally a waste of time. If somebody asks, did you like this and that, I’ll say yes, and when asked why, I’ll say because this and that. Likewise when asked about something I don’t like. It’s just the way it is. I don’t even interpret the beauty of the prose, the measure of this and that, the climax, the use of language… I read and enjoy. That’s basically it. Do I learn something? Of course. I don’t like breaking apart a book to review it. Somehow with a book it’s different. I enjoy reading other people’s reviews, however. I just don’t like doing it, too lazy or unimaginative perhaps. I read to experience, to live, to learn, to break out, to escape… It’s a part of me. But no reviews.


Oh yeah. I have joined one, The Filipino Group in Goodreads, and I must say, they are really nice, and very well-read people who continually explore all sort of genre in literature. Most of them I believe are friends in real life, and what great friends they might be! I joined in 2012, joined a couple of buddy reads, participated in a few discussions, attended a ReaderCon with them, met a few (KD, Angus, Tina, Ranee…) and… now I haven’t been back in a long time. It’s not them, it’s me. I don’t know why. It’s a productive and friendly club, certainly welcoming, but maybe book clubs are just not right for me. Or maybe it’s a mature reader thing and I don’t have that sort of maturity to dive into book clubs yet. Or maybe its selfishness and the desire to not want to share my reading experience, or maybe I’m a sheltered reader, or… there are a lot of reasons, but can’t pinpoint exactly what. But many thanks to Goodreads -TFG for the warm welcome. 🙂 If you guys are looking for a wonderful and diverse book club, just go and be a member of The Filipino Group.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, (after three long paragraphs) is that reading has no requirements. If you love it, great! And if you don’t, then I’m judging you. Kidding. Not. Sorry, really, I’m kidding.


Book bites:

Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book.” – Stéphane Mallarmé


I Dreamed A Dream

“…I dreamed a dream in time gone by…”

Dear Readers, if you have been following my blog for a while, you might have read some of my blog posts about my crazy dreams. Well! I just had one last night (or maybe early morning, I’m not certain) and in it are my super model crush, a friend of his, and yours truly.

This is the second time MT has invaded (hm?) my dreams. Let’s say the first one was intense in all sense of the word, (with Naomi Campbell and Tyrese in there!) but this second one is like… a rom-com. It’s so weird but I woke up feeling like I was in cloud nine.

Okay, the dream…

The dream was coloured. But the colours are sort of treated in “lomo” and so there are all sorts of hues of blues, and greens, and yellows… and there we were, the three of us, standing at the edge of a place that looks like a wharf, the breeze gently caressing us while looking over boats coming and going, with people going about their own businesses. I can see MT’s glorious curls dancing with the wind, his profile so gorgeous it took my breath away. At that moment he looked so carefree and happy – almost childlike in its innocence. (I vividly remember that part.)

MT’s friend, who we will call FL, is a friend of mine – he introduced me to MT. It was a trip somewhere, and he tagged along MT. We were just standing there, enjoying a quiet time when FL suddenly invited me over to New York to visit them. He added that I should stay with them. In the dream, my mind was already racing through my schedule and then suddenly I announced that I will be able to go on the last week of July or first week of August, because I have an impending trip to the UK for two weeks. Glad that I said yes, they both smiled encouragingly at me. Need I say that the urgency to say yes was because of the attraction I apparently have for MT?

And then I could not remember the other parts of the dream other than a lot of adventure to places that never looked like New York. Try Australia. And then it was a daze – a happy, warm, wonderful kind. There was this scene wherein we were both at a vast field in a sunny day and cool breeze and we were like two kids above a huge woven ball made of rattan and we roll it by running above it and we were just so happy. I fell of mine (imagine the kind of fall in Disney movies, the cute kind) we both laughed and he sort of jumped off the ball and I did too – we flipped backwards and landed on our feet. And like a Disney movie, we were face to face just smiling and holding hands.

“…But there are dreams that cannot be…”

I don’t remember much after that other than a magical montage of our happy faces. It’s so weird. When I woke up, I was smiling – saw my face on the mirror opposite me.

It was wonderful. There was no sad feeling when I realised it was a dream – just that for a couple of minutes, while I was asleep (half-dead state), I was in heaven. That dream just made my day. I could still feel him, still see his wonderful smiling face and those damn eyes that makes you forget your name…

(Okay, this sounds totally psychotic and maybe it is, but the point is it was a dream. And all dreams are stories. And stories have to be told. I want to write this for me, for my sake, not for anybody else. If somebody finds this okay, good – if somebody finds this totally tasteless and nonsense, I don’t give a flying fuck.)

PO Box

So, earlier today, I saw a post on Tumblr by somebody I follow, about a PO Box he recently opened and then he encouraged us to write him letters, and promised that he will read and answer each of them!

It thrilled me. When I was younger, I used to write letters to my usual correspondents – my friends and Kuya Bob (I’ll write a separate post about him). Oh, the feeling of waiting for Mr. Mailman to arrive carrying the responses to my letters! It was such a rush to receive a letter. It feels so personal, so special.

I have been wanting to write and send letters to friends, to people, anyone! So, this week, I’ll visit some nearby post offices and ask if they rent out PO boxes. I sure hope they do, because I’d like to write people from all over the world and gain new friends from it. 🙂

Once I get a PO Box, (crossing fingers) I’ll post it here and perhaps you can write me. 🙂

Let’s get back to writing letters!

I am a tax payer and proud of it!

Yesterday while browsing through my Twitter feed, I came upon a tweet from somebody I follow, Professional Heckler, a tweet about pay slips and taxes.

Professional Heckler: Pay slips are a reminder that I’m an honest taxpayer of the Republic. HONEST. And I’m proud of that.”

It was of course, an instant retweet! I started working in 2008 and the next thing that I felt proud of after getting the job is the fact that I am now a taxpayer, an honest taxpayer who pays her dues to the government. It is a very rewarding feeling, don’t you think? 🙂

My eldest sister read that tweet and replied:

“I salute people like you, I will always be grateful, taxpayers supported my education. Our 3 sisters too! & million others!”

Isn’t that a nice feeling? As a taxpayer you are reassured that your taxes actually reach beneficiaries. And these beneficiaries are actually grateful. No matter how big or small your tax cut is, there are actual people who benefit from it. Of course, other people use the taxpayers money for their own gain, may God have mercy on their soul – but still, I am hopeful that the time will come that the hard earned money we give the government make its way to more people, in more ways, big or small.


My sisters, all four of them, are State University babies. 🙂 Three of them are still students, I assure you taxpayer that they make good use of your money because they study so hard, they excel, and actually contribute to the betterment of mankind. If they don’t continue to be good citizens, you’ll be rest-assured I’ll whack them. Hard.)

How sweet it is!

Do you ever wonder whether people would like you more or less if they could see inside you? I always wonder about that. If people can see me the way I see myself, if they could live in my memories would anyone, anyone love me? -John Green

I came across that quote while browsing through one of my blogs, and the thought never left my mind until I got home.

We all have our own notions of ourselves and we all have secrets. We all have our light and dark. We all have memories we’d like to keep to ourselves and memories we can’t get enough of reminiscing.

Needless to say, the quote quite boggled me. So, why should I be the only one in pain? Haha, kidding aside – I shared the quote to four friends of mine, and two of them responded to it. My boyfriend of six years, Justin, and my friend, Jessica.

They both chose to answer it as if I asked. They know I had both wanted them to dwell on it (for themselves) and to answer the question (for me). Not that I am fishing or anything, I just wanted to know what they thought. Here are their answers:

Justin: I’d love you. Being together this long gives me a right to say so. I know how you think and I know how you see yourself. I know you better than anyone else. So believe me mahal (love) when I say I’d love you still if I could see you the way you see yourself.

Jessica: If you were asking me… I’d say YES. You’re someone worthy of pure love 🙂 and knowing you inside and out is a very big bonus. I would live to see it!

I read their responses around 4AM – I woke up because it was very cold, and their thoughts instantly warmed me up inside. Needless to say, I went back to bed, smiling.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that there are people in our lives willing to stand by us, accept us and love us despite everything? 🙂

Ending Conversations

Abruptly ending conversations always make me feel uneasy – like a big void is opening inside of me and everything is just falling in that void.

Somehow, the abruptness of the act doesn’t feel right. I am chasing the last words spoken, and then expecting what’s coming next, only I know nothing is going to come next.

And that nothing ever will come next – because somehow, that abrupt end to the conversation becomes the period, the ending, not all has been said.

Because the call ended. No call back. Got disconnected from the internet. Electricity was cut-off. Battery empty. You don’t deserve a response. Cut, cut, everything is cut.

No proper ending.

The last words will never be acknowledged ever again.

Nor will it be open for conversation.

The should be response will never be known to me.

Hi-ho 2013!

Hello there, dear friends!

It’s been a while, huh? 🙂 How was your holidays? Me? I spent 12 days of vacation at home. Yes, and those were 12 glorious days of watching reruns, gastronomic feast, sleeping, sitting, and acting crazy with my family.

I had meant those 12 days to be spent away from the internet as much as possible. I did not use my mobile phone much, didn’t go out of the house, didn’t meet friends. That was a break I needed – to just stay away from the hustle and bustle and prepare for the onslaught of busy days.

It was a great 12 days. I finished seven books, seven seasons of The Golden Girls (for the nth time!), I ate so much with zero exercise, and just went through the days without a sense of time. Glorious, I tell you. The weather was mainly chilly, there’s wine, food, a new LED TV, company, and more food. Oh, except for catching a flu on Christmas Day that lasted for about four days, I am totally fine. I passed it on to my sister Anna and my Dad. My bad…

Sorry for this crappy post; it seems my brain has not rewired yet – my mind is still empty; but my heart is longing for another long vacation. 🙂

I hope you all had a wonderful and fun-filled Holidays! 🙂

Destination (Un)known

Where is your point of alienation?

Where is your point of alienation? Photo: http://www.ficker.com/photos/europeanspaceagency

The city eats me up alive.

Here in the Philippines, our cities are as busy as any other metropolitan area in the world. You can see the streets bustling with activity any time of the day. Traffic jam starts early; and it barely rests. People from all walks of life clang and bang against each other to make a living, to interact, to do business.

Last night, I chose the bus as a form of transportation to head to my destination. At 11 in the evening, the streets of the metro were convoluted with every land vehicle imaginable. As I stared out the window, I was reminded of how I am just one of the millions of residents in this city; just another alien. No city can claim that all their “tenants” are locals. Like the metropolitan Manila, almost half (or perhaps more) are immigrants from nearby provinces. They migrated to look for work, better wages, better lives… but not everyone is successful in this game.

Lights pass by, vehicles chase the road for their destinations. As the bus trudges from city to city, the scenario more or less differs. The richer cities have all these high rise condominium units, huge shopping malls and pretty lights illuminating everything. The older cities have ugly, soot-covered buildings. The bus made a few stops, unloaded, and loaded again. I looked at their faces, then stared outside again. The darkness seems to fight the light. It asserts itself upon us. I started to wonder. How many of these people have actual destinations to go? Were they headed to a beginning or to an end? Were they chasing their dreams or running away from something?

Hundreds of faces passed me by. Happy, lonely, bored faces, just wanting the ride to be over.

And at that moment, all I wanted was to slip through the cracks on the walls or on the road just to hide from everything else. The scene was desolate; not hopeful. I was surrounded by life, yet I have never felt more alone.

The irony is that, most of us crave the city. Whatever it reminds us of, you cannot deny that its charms range from the mundane to the sublime. We want to see action and the everyday hustle because it reminds us that life goes on, one form or another.

Indeed, life goes on, one form or another. And the city chronicles all its harsh beauty, cruelty and fierce hope better than anything else.

Have you…?

Well, have you?

Well, have you?

They are times when I dream of the same dream over and over again and while dreaming it’s as if I am conscious, that I am aware I have had that dream before, several times I have altered the ending. Isn’t it wonderful? There are times when I am able to continue an interrupted dream. My dreams range from the mundane to the sublime. They have varied genres – sometimes it’s horror, crime, existential, happy, sad, heartbreaking, downright weird, sexual (probably one of the very frustrating, if not THE MOST frustrating, hahaha) and my dreams often involve weird people – people I do not personally know (but in the dream it appears I do), I dream a lot about a particular friend that it starts to bother me. I have had dreams with celebrities, politicians, even monsters in them. I hate dreams with snakes snapping at my heels malevolently. More so, I hate dreams about death of somebody close to me.

When I wake up after a good dream, it leaves me feeling so empty. It’s as if right at that moment that dream was my reality only to be taken away by waking up. Especially after a really good, happy dream – you know the feeling you could just live in that dream forever? Yeah.
The possibilities of dreams are infinite. It varies, sometimes you get a dream within a dream, sometimes the scenes shift rapidly, moving on with a speed of light to a new one. Sometimes it’s bizarre and wind-up as a kaleidoscope.

The ones I remember, I treasure.

For sure, there are psychological or even a scientific explanations for all these dreams, but right now, all I want is to wonder. I don’t want interpretations of how I am possibly oversexed, crazy, loony, and what nots those shrinks call ’em.

Perhaps dreams were made so they could provoke us, viewed in the privacy of our half-dead state.

Everything is a rush and I am lost.

“Travelling somewhere
could be anywhere
there’s a coldness in the air
yeah but i don’t care
we drift deeper into the song
life goes on
we drift deeper into the sound
feeling strong… so bring it on…”

As I listen to this wonderful Armin Van Buuren song, I realise these things: 1) Yes there is a coldness in the air, 2) Frankly I don’t care, and 3) December is the time when everything is a rush! Keep up or get called a loser.

I am a loser.

Frankly, I am lost in the chaos. Let’s see… juggling the heavy workload with weekend parties, important social gatherings (reunions of all sorts here), Christmas shopping, extra curricular activities (clubs, organizations), relationships and other spur of the moment demands that queue up.

At work, cut-off dates are earlier than usual. The clients and colleagues are demanding this and that, knowing full well that a lot of offices will be closed during the holidays. You get all sorts of things in the publishing world, really. Responsibilities are doubled, whether you like it or not.

At home, honestly, at this point I couldn’t say how things are faring in there now. The last time I was home, we were all relaxed due to a local holiday. Things were good. But now? All my sisters are busy at school, Mom and Dad with work, most probably. I am sure we don’t have Christmas decorations yet, and the house is in need of another round of general cleaning. It feels good to stretch and get my hands dirty sometime, but cleaning our house just isn’t an ideal task right now. I feel like by now I should have graduated from all that stuff! But as the second big sister, I should set the example. *groans* Meaning I should take a trip home, empty a day or two for this gruesome task.

Social gatherings. Well, December is so full of that! I am all for reunions and gatherings and walking down memory lanes, but I lack the energy, the resources and lately the desire to be present at all of them. Frankly, I am checking my list, checking it twice – to find out where I want to go and why.

Spending and other money-related things. I am guilty of this. I have already shopped too much for myself this year. Ka-ching, ka-ching. So now, with not enough funds to support my bourgeoisie life, cutting back is in order. Of course, tighter purse strings mean less of everything. Frankly, I am thrilled to cut back on things, what with all the bills and stuff to be paid… Damn it.

Health concerns. This and that. A trip to the doctor is needed but I keep pushing it back. Hmm. My deadline is before December ends. And by God I’ll get it over with.

Other concerns. This is the part where I am concerned with other people’s concerns, struggles, etc., and I try to find solutions for their concerns, because it makes me feel better, helping them get a little of what they need/want. It feels great. But sometimes, it takes up a lot of me, but I just couldn’t shake them all off. Right?

You could only take so much, hm? And with all of these piled-up…

Ah, with everything instant and fast-paced, it is very easy to get lost! But the key is to just STOP. If we feel we are no longer productive, perhaps we should temporarily stop to loosen our muscles, to relax, to ease the tension, to just stay still and look for that centre of calm present in all of us. It is not easy, with all the distractions present, but quiet moments are important. Then maybe we can find that balance again.

Not everything should be rushed. Maybe if we just stopped to breathe a while, we’ll find our way back to well, that path we are following. Yeah, I really should say this to myself. In a way I did – by a matter of this blog.