Nostalgia Intensity


We know that nostalgia is that sentimental longing for the past, most especially for a time, event or a place with happy associations.

Nostalgia Intensity, because more often than not, these nostalgic intervals crash over us with frightening intensity, it demands to be felt. It is true that memories are there to keep us warm, to remind us that there are happy things and people in life that make this journey worth taking, but these memories also evoke a certain shade of sadness within us. Admit it, once or twice you found yourself reliving a part of the past with tenderness and melancholy, knowing that it will never happen again, not with the same person, in the same place, or in the same event. The intensity of the knowledge that all is lost gives us pain, a heartache of sorts. It is like coming home to nothing but ghosts.

And the intensity of the nostalgia can only be found inside our hearts, reflected in our eyes and little smiles.

Faces, places, wastes.


“The worst part of losing a friend, is knowing that it’s not the end. There’s always one more time you meet, in a crowded shop or a darkened street. You quickly catch each other’s eyes, you drop your head and on walk on by, and you know in that moment or two, you might have lost someone who really loves. You might have lost someone who really loves you. Have you ever lost someone who really, really loves you?”

She remembered that line from one of her favourite songs, The Face, when she saw three men she used to be fond of.

She was at a friend’s party, a paper cup in hand, when she saw them arrive. These men were all very close, two of them are brothers and the other one their closest cousin. They all differ in age, A is the eldest, already 30. B is 24 and C is 22. A is still single, it is much of a choice as it is much of him being a mama’s boy. They used to be really close because he looked after her, she being 5 years his junior. He used to do things for her, he regularly called, but all it ever was, was a platonic relationship. She wasn’t naive – she knew he liked her, but she didn’t bother to press on or even try to see where it was going. Besides, it wasn’t A she liked – it was B. He was just the right type of bad boy she liked – intense but exceedingly gentle with her, honest, open and direct. Up until now she was not sure if he had liked her back. There were signs, oh yes, but signs were all there were. The moment of imminent seduction was between them but nobody made a move. And then there was C. Handsome, silent, and dedicated C. He confessed to her when they were very young, and owing it to she being older than him a few years, she declined. They went on a couple of dates still, however, because C was persistent in his own eccentric ways. He never tried to take advantage of her, never tried anything funny with her. He always looked after her – figuratively and literally. Whenever they were together, she always caught him looking at her when he thought she wasn’t aware of him doing it. He was silent, brooding, and was often jealous with his brother for being so openly communicative with her. And that most probably, she thought now while sipping her beer, was the reason she was so fond of B.

She hasn’t seen any one of them in years. A was the first to approach, always sure of himself and his good looks. He greeted her fondly, they exchanged pleasantries, and sat down. B was always the effortlessly cool guy. He eased in on their table with a small smile, asking how she was, commenting on a few things. C was as silent and brooding as ever. He was like the calm before a storm. She was most curious about him. She shot him a tentative, half-shy look which he returned pointedly – then she broke the gaze. There was no familiarity, no fondness, and definitely no emotion in his eyes when he looked at her. It was just recognition. He didn’t speak to her for the rest of the evening.

A and B then were her constant companions for the night. They talked a lot about trivial things, about B‘s wife and kid, about A‘s fiancée, and about her fiancé. They talked about the old times, A teasing her about B secretly. A never mentioned C. They all know that C is not interested any more, and he never will be, for he found somebody he was crazy for. They all knew he was the only one who feels that way; and that his girlfriend was just quite happy to put him on leash. She felt bad for him; she knew he was capable of the deepest devotion, and she was sure as hell he didn’t deserve that treatment from the girl.

B was talkative all night, he sat beside her all the time, he kept trying to make physical, verbal and non-verbal contact with her. His gaze was as intense as she remembered it, and his attention brought her instant pleasure. If there was anything she loved, it was the outright attention and appreciation of a man for her. She is vain but strong, lost but determined. That night she felt she wanted everything. She wanted them all at her feet, looking up at her like a goddess they worship.

Finally, she felt suffocated from all her silly thoughts and conflicting emotions. She excused herself and went to the garden to get some fresh air.

From where she was standing, she looked back at the table where the three stooges were. B was looking at her, C gave her a fleeting look, and A, well, A was being silly. She wondered how different all of them would be had she committed to either one of them. She wondered how different she would be, depending on who she chose. She thought how cruel she would have been to have chosen one and paraded her affection unashamedly. She thought perhaps it was just nostalgia. She thought it was probably nostalgia and beer. She thought it might be the “what ifs”. She thought it was the full moon, the cold breeze, the bright lights. She was a romantic like that, and helpless.

Her fiancé joined her a couple of minutes after.
She looked at him, and she wondered what emotions flickered through her eyes and her face as she looked at him. She loved him deeply, that she was sure of. But changes, no matter how small, affects everything eventually. All her choices, her thoughts, and her feelings vary, they change everyday. Sometimes she is unsure of everything and often times dead set on the belief that everything is all right. Could she really not want anything now, except this moment between them? To other people who might see them gazing at each other’s eyes, they would perhaps think they were speaking to each other with their souls, and they would never have thought of all the stupid thoughts she was thinking of. She searched his face for the reason why she wanted to marry him, and she found familiarity, a tingle of cruelty on his strong face, the subtle sensuality in his mouth, the depth of his eyes, and his vulgar nose. She wondered at that moment why she loves him, why he loves her.

Whether he understood what was going through her mind or not, it didn’t show on his face. He smiled at her.

Her heart skipped but she did not smile back.

She heard footsteps on the graveled path. She looked away from him and looked at the intruders. They were A, B and C. They were about to leave the party. A gave him an arrogant, knowing smile. B just stared at her. And C, he gave her a flicker of a glance and looked away.

She wondered if anyone of them would have loved her so much, if anyone of them would have been tender with her. She wondered if she should have tried and make it work with them, one at a time. What a slut I would have been, she wondered.

She realised she did not have to do all this thinking anymore. Her heart wasn’t theirs. It wouldn’t have worked. She was vain, arrogant, and insecure, but she knew to whom she belongs. She knew the someone who accepts her for who she is, no matter how much of a cliche is that.

She looked back at her fiancé, and for the first time that night, she smiled.

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.

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.

Online, offline. Where are you?


Relationships have surged since the introduction of the internet – email pals, chat buddies, long distance lovers, and other types of relationships that people normally have in real (by this I mean personal, face-to-face) life. You’ve Got Mail probably helped hype up these relationships.

I was 14 when my sister introduced me to the wonders of the internet and this thing called chat. I remember we were always in Yahoo! chat rooms then, and I would endlessly talk to people I don’t personally know until the wee hours of the morning. My mom and I fought a lot about that, haha, as not only do I spend a lot of time on it, I also spend a lot of money going online, (hey, I live in a rural area and all we have is a dial-up connection, so I used to splurge on a lot of internet prepaid cards!). It’s exciting for me to talk to people from different places, ages and backgrounds – it’s more flavourful, don’t you agree?

It’s OK to have internet pals, it’s great to have internet pals! You get to learn about a lot of things – the culture and language from where they came from, about their personal lives (at a certain depth) and other interesting things you wouldn’t normally know or understand until you’ve been in that place. It is also fun – you get to see things at various perspectives at once – say for example, the topic is about wines – you get all kinds of feedbacks and reviews on brands and they even tell you what goes great with what! I mean, it is an interactive platform – you get to meet people online, form a certain bond, and the relationship starts from there. Friendships that span distance and time, relationships that end to engagements and marriages. I have met wonderful people via the internet, and do I regret meeting and knowing them? Nah, I keep in touch with a couple, lost touch with some. Some of my internet pals got married and are now proud parents, some of ’em have found love online, others offline. I know a lot of people who kept strong ties with people they met online – and that they have even introduced their families to each other! Isn’t it absolutely wonderful?

Now, email and chat aren’t the only medium we have to socially connect to virtually anybody, any time, anywhere! It has expanded into a lot of different platforms that offer various services! Now you can even form a relationship with famous people and feel closer to them (haha!) via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, WordPress, Blogger, etc. There are a lot of ways to connect to people all over the world and it’s because of this wondrous thing called the internet.

I, for one, wouldn’t mind having an online email pal, or a constant reader over here in my blog. I think it’s wonderful to have friendships – whether online or offline. Friends will be friends – and they’ll outlast anything. Yeah, this internet thing, too. 🙂

Counterpart


Yesterday, Nica and I went to the mall to buy hand wraps for our Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) class. We spent the late afternoon wandering around after we bought ’em, and ended up inside Book Sale (no surprises there). We went through the shelves, sat on the floor, moved the books and looked for ones we’d like to purchase. Well, we made quite a riot inside – we were noisy, but hopefully, people didn’t mind. In between all the book hunting, laughter and crazy antics, Nica came up with an idea that we should at least post a blog entry once a week – perhaps every Monday. And I chimed in, and said that we could do this “counterpart” thing – that whatever she blogs about, I’ll write a fiction counterpart for it. For example, if she wrote something about the rain, I’ll write a fictional story where rain is involved – the setting, the culprit, the clincher, etc., you get the picture. 

I think it’s quite nice. Dunno if it will materialise but… 

NICA! 😀

 

Ever Your Valiant Legions, Imbued With Unending Grace!


My post title is a verse from the University of Santo Tomas’ university hymn. The complete verse, is here:

God of all nations
Merciful Lord of our restless being
Sweep with Your golden lilies
This fountain of purest light

Trace with the sails of the galleons
The dream beyond our seeing
Touch with the flame of Your kindness
The gloom of our darkest night

Keep us in beauty
And truth and virtues, impassioned embrace
Ever Your valiant legions
Imbued with unending grace

UST is my Alma Mater. Founded by the Dominican priest Fr. Miguel de Benavides, the third Archbishop of Manila. He bequeathed 1,500 pesos and his personal library to start a “Seminary-college” for would be priests. The original campus was located in Intramuros, The Walled City of Manila. We were declared a university by Pope Innocent XI in 1645. We survived the British Invasion of 1762. In 1785, King Charles recognised the efforts of the faculty who fought against the British and formally granted the status of a royal university. In 1865 Queen Isabella II gave the University of Santo Tomas the power to direct and supervise all the schools in the Philippines and the Rector of the University became the ex-officio head of the secondary and higher education in the Philippines. In 1902, Pope Leo XIII made the University a “Pontifical University” and by 1947, Pope Pius XIII bestowed upon the title “The Catholic University of the Philippines”. In 1927, due to continuing increase in enrolment, the University transferred to its present location in Sampaloc, Manila, with 21.5 hectares of land.

In the history of the University, academic life was interrupted only twice: In 1898 to 1899 due to the second phase of the Philippine Revolution and the American-Spanish war, and in 1942-1945, when the Japanese Occupation Forces coverted UST into an internment camp.

Whew. A look back to the past. A long prologue, actually. See, our country has been/is being ravaged by strong monsoon and left the Metro Manila and other surrounding provinces flooded. My beloved university, being at the heart of it all, was not spared from the disaster.

Let us all take a look at these stunning photos by fellow Thomasian Paul Quiambao, whose stunning photographs show the richness and the beauty of our Alma Mater.

Image

The Main Building

In my four years as a University student, I have walked on these grounds tirelessly, most times with friends, where we laugh aloud, we share stories while walking, all the while holding books and food. Sometimes I walk alone, pensively, aimlessly striding slowly, looking at my fellow students. Sometimes I just sit down somewhere and eat my to-go rice box, with a stray cat sharing a seat with me. I always felt safe inside the university grounds. I’ve seen changes, developments.

Image

Tower

On the top of the Main Building, there in the Tower, is a small cafeteria. My friends and I have had the pleasure to try their bibingka or rice cake – and it was delicious! It was, I remember, a fairly cloudy and windy afternoon. Such a pleasant time that was. Oh and, it was after we visited the Faculty of Medicine building – where we’ve seen cadavers, human body parts… for our Experimental Psychology project. Oh but it was fun. I never thought about it anyway while gobbing up my bibingka!

Image

The Fountain of Knowledge

This is the Fountain of Knowledge. I pass by here when I exit through the Espana gate. This has a twin – The Fountain of Wisdom – on the other side.

Image

Below, the promenade. Seen here, ominously standing atop, the “Tria Haec” (Fides, Spes, Caritas) symbolises the spiritual and intellectual aspirations of the University.

The promenade! Ah, we’ve spent a lot of afternoons sitting on benches, talking about trivial and serious things, and looking for campus crushes – in the hopes that we catch a glimpse of them in a very wonderful afternoon. Oh yes we’ve seen them quite a lot. And they have stopped by to say hi a few times, even. 🙂

Image

UST’s Neo-centennial celebrations! 🙂

The goosebumps! 🙂 This is how we usually celebrate big things in UST – fireworks display. I was not able to attend the NeoCentennial celebrations, but I was able to attend the Quadricentennial celebration last January 28, 2011. It was fantastic! The whole Thomasian community was in the mood to celebrate our University’s history, the greatness, the camaraderie, and the great pride we hold deep inside us. You won’t believe the number of students and alumni alike who attended the celebration. We ended the event with an amazing pyromusical display, while singing our school hymn written above this post. It made me cry – everybody singing the song, our eyes toward the Main Building, to that great cross – that was definitely an event in history we will never forget. Oh and yes, the traffic was unbelievable! 🙂

Image

Tria Haec and the Moon

EVERYTHING is gorgeous, right? 🙂

Image

A La Real y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomas Aquino Universidad Catolica de Filipinas: Lumina Pandit

How we shine!

UST is not new to disasters – be it man made (wars) or natural (flooding and typhoons). We’ve always experienced flooding in the past. I don’t know when it started but in my four years of stay there, perhaps the worst I have experienced is that thigh-high flood.

The recent typhoon Gener and the strong monsoon that hit us in the past two weeks resulted in a very tragic flood inside and outside the university grounds. Almost all of Manila is submerged, and these photos show just how badly UST was hit.

Image

Pontificia et Regalis Sancti Thomae Aquinatis Universitas Manilana: Seen here, the Main Building, and the UST field submerged in water.

Image

Buildings, tree tops, and water. UST grounds.

Image

The Main Building: Standing strong. Staying solid. The pathway leading to it is the Lover’s Lane.

Image

Seen here, the Arch of the Centuries – the only original piece of structure left from the old UST Campus in The Walled City. This is where the symbolic “Walks” happen – first during your Freshman year and the last, after your Baccalaureate Mass.

Image

Main Building and the Chapel entrance

Fade to Black. UST surrounded by mist.

Sailing happily!

Ah. my beloved UST. You have survived invasions and wars. You have been standing tall for 401 years. You have seen four centuries pass. You have witnessed the fluctuating growth and decline of the country. You have let out in the competent, compassionate and committed individuals who tirelessly work to give glory to God, the country, the family, and to you. You will always be a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, spirituality, strength, hope, faith, and love. You are the Royal and Ponitifical Catholic University of the Philippines. You will always be our beloved Alma Mater. We are your children; and we will do everything in our power to restore you. Forever, imbued with unending grace!

God Save The Philippines


Outside, the clouds are dark. The hang ominously around, bringing torrential rains. There are the occasional thunderclaps and lightning streaks in the sky. The atmosphere is tense, silent. The sound of the rain is nerve-wracking.

It has been raining non-stop for 10 days now. We’ve had two tropical storm in the past week – their local names are Gener and Helen. The death toll for Gener is currently at 50+. Oh and this non-stop raining since last week is caused my a monsoon. Just that, a monsoon.

The water dams are spilling; all in in critical level. Surrounding areas are flooded – the measurement varies between 3 feet to up to 6 feet. Perhaps more. Some families are staying up in the roof of their houses – with elderly, kids, men, women. Pets, perhaps. Raging flood waters, strong currents. Flash floods have been reported. Buildings flooded, parking areas and malls under murky waters. Metro Manila has been in RED ALERT status since last night. Water continues to rise.

Evacuations have started since yesterday. Emergency boats and vehicles have been sent out. Emergency numbers have been shared. People have been informed of the risks, the things being done, and the things to be done – to ensure everyone’s safety. Rescuers have been working non-stop to rescue the people who direly need saving. People are risking their lives to save others, people volunteer to repack goods, journalists and newspeople stick their necks out to air news we need to know.

EMERGENCY.

Just now, the sound of the rain and the distant voices of the television anchor is all I could hear. My family is safe; but water has entered our home. I fear for them. Just last year, they experienced a very hard and traumatic event – the first floor of our home submerged. Flood water everywhere. They stayed at the second floor of our home, along with two other families they let in. Our veranda became the make shift kitchen, dining, wash area. They didn’t take a bath for days. Clean water was scarce. Livelihood destroyed. When I went home when the flood subsided (I was stuck in Manila), they all looked so haggard, so tired. My dad lost weight and he looked nervous and weary. My heart clenched and constricted inside of me. I cried for my family. I scrubbed the muddy floor and cried.

Lord, please, keep our country safe. Please do not let anymore lives be spent.

God save us. Let’s all keep faith. Please join us in praying for the safety of our loved ones, and our beloved country.

The need to build secret hiding places


Lately, I have been everyone’s confidante.

I have heard stories of heartbreaks, painful encounters and darkness. These people, so close to my heart, breaking down in front of me, recalling their tales. They didn’t need advice – they simply need somebody to listen to them.

Listening.

Listening goes beyond hearing, just as saying is different from sharing. When you listen to someone, you absorb the words, the implications, the emotions tied to them, and you accept the other person’s vulnerability without prejudice. To listen is to be a friend. To listen is to understand.

Sometimes we are deafened by all the noise outside and inside us – the struggles, the anger, the confusion, the annoyance – that we fail to listen to what is not being said. And these things that are not being said? They reveal themselves in the silence. If you just listen closely… that heartbeat says something. And then you don’t just listen, you see, you feel, you taste, you smell.

I honestly don’t know where this is going.

Or perhaps this is just a plea for someone to listen, even if I haven’t said anything revealing at all.

Even if I haven’t said anything at all.

Midnight Love


I was yours and you were mine.

That’s a song, in case you are wondering, and that sentence is the lyrics. That’s it. It’s being repeated all throughout and somehow, it never gets old. I get different kinds of feelings from it.

And then I remember this Portuguese word, saudade. 

Saudade (European Portuguese: [sɐwˈðaðɨ], Brazilian Portuguese: [sawˈdadi] or [sawˈdadʒi],Galician: [sawˈðaðe]; plural saudades) is a unique Galician-Portuguese word that has no immediate translation in English. Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. It’s related to the feelings of longing, yearning.

Saudade has been described as a “…vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist … a turning towards the past or towards the future.” A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing. It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something that does not exist or is unattainable.

Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. In Portuguese, ‘tenho saudades tuas’, translates as ‘I have saudades of you’ meaning ‘I miss you’, but carries a much stronger tone. In fact, one can have ‘saudades’ of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future.

In Brazil, the day of saudade is officially celebrated on January 30.

More on Wiki.

So that word is best associated with the song Midnight Love. That longing, the remains, the nostalgia, that deep yearning.

I’d like to post something Brazil related. Oh indulge me. It is related to this right here.

Remember saudade: “…It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something that does not exist or is unattainable.”

So if you tell me this: Why do you love that celebrity so much? They’re never gonna love you back.

I’ll answer you with this: Why do you breathe if you know you’re eventually going to die.

ACTUALLY, I shouldn’t have included him in this post but because I remembered Saudade. OK. Whatever let us end this. Or I will totally be in fan girl mode. BUT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. OK. Your argument is invalid!

(By the way, the song is Midnight Love by Tennishero)