Chapter 10 : Finding God and the Techno-Ballad of a Heartbreak


San Felipe

The 70s and 80s

Sometimes, I am wondering why I was born the way I did.  Barely an hour after I stirred the world with my pretty looks and my big, barking voice that did not stop crying, a naked woman from the mountains of Bantay Carmen stood in my grandfather’s gate looking for a child she has lost days before.  She was a wild woman.  A woman with thick pubic hair.  A woman who smelled of the stalking grass that she slept under for days of wandering in and out of her sanity.  She was breathless and small.  My drunken grandfather flashed his torch on the woman’s face and then down to her pubis area that bawled unprotected for days on end.

“Who are you?” my grandfather’s full-size intonation tweaked the hooting sounds of the Zambales district.

The woman croaked, “My son!  The one crying is MY SON!  Give me back my son!”

Her feet had blotched with fresh wounds, grass and brown things that could’ve been faeces or mud, no one back then was quite sure.  Sources told me years later that she was stepping on carabao dung like counting sheep.  She was not a popular woman.

She was simply the naked woman who told my grandfather that I was her lost baby back in 70s.

In the late 80s, when I was in high school, I saw myself spending a lot of time writing in San Felipe. The sky was the limit.  I was a fourteen year old reader who wanted to become a writer.   I would pack my portable typewriter, Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits, my Nancy Drews and my scrappy copy of Cunts and the Real McCoy and write my obsession with armpits and feet, insects and my early emotional bedlam.

Incidentally, the 80s being 95% pornography-induced and filled with whodunits and life simply being this 5% fragment rolling down its tropical grimaces where women had vaginas and men had murderous countenance but can’t admit that they are, in fact, longing for the switch button of their flashlights off for the simple reason that they’ve been staring madly at vaginas for quite a long time still wondering why it is there.  No, it is not about growing up among straight, alpha males in the family. I think it is about growing up with straight alpha males in the family whose adoration chapels consisted of Cunts and the Real McCoys and gaping, marbled vaginas.  Pussies with teeth.  Pussies who made them sing.

This may probably be my overture to gayhood.  This may also be the reason why straight porn turns me on more than gay porn does.  This is probably the reason why I am still looking for God at this time when I shouldn’t because, God, like everything else, is moderately findable.  If only I tried harder.  If only my imagination have provided lucidity instead of enjoying every moment of its entertainment value – or ironically, its value of entertainment – furthermore, its illogical humdrum that sets the tone, not define it.  If only I realized that sooner.

Perhaps I blame it on the books that I read when I was younger.  I have read fictional romance books and the classics all my life.  I was a big Jude Deveraux fan even before I began reading Dickinson and Kundera from cover to cover.  All of which are semi-pornographic, if not poetic, whichever comes first.  Well, I guess I pretty much articulated (in my previous articles) that amorous literary materials have mostly eaten away the remaining judgment I had growing up.  I may have reclaimed it after living in the Middle East years later after four Syrian men lined up to fuck me senseless.  But thank God indeed.  Had it not been for that permissible rape I never would’ve rescued my irony-deprived sense of self.  And never would’ve realized that inimitable sex does not just unshackle the mind but also apprehend the body’s potential.

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Or perhaps I blame it on my scholastic God.  From the nuns, the seminaristas who played sticky basketball behind the school in their tight shorts to my Religion notebooks where even Jesus’ armpits may very well be ornamented and his feet pencilled in at every Bible verse being read that day.  From where my eyes squinting from the hard sun can illustrate every breathing shape rebuilt by the orbs in my retina during The Living Rosary to possibilities – to more of make-believe occurrences – to falling in love with words – to San Felipe, where I was born,

where finding God began.

Noodles and Nipples 

May 30, 2012

Jessica Sanchez.  She wailed fanatically like a madwoman in the kitchen singing Try A Little Tenderness.

It is crazy that I feel this way tonight.  I feel crazy – so loveless that my visual mind’s eye of God is my nipples that are both pink and irate.  I pinched one a bit and felt a sexual sensation, a negligible one mind you, precipitate kindly in my head. Here comes a drizzle.  Should I open the door?  Will Jessica Sanchez open the door?  Should I feel sad?  Should I pinch my nipples again?  Here comes the multi-layered clarity.  Here comes marijuana.  Here comes the bride.  Here comes NO LOVE.

No love.

That sounds like a shotgun in my head.  And here’s to say as well that it is like being dead.

Dead but cooking instant noodles and still thinking about the previous night when I was standing in front of a coffin where a relative, a 27 year old distant cousin lied lifeless and the only thing in my head was, “That face!” because he is a handsome corpse.

And he was a handsome man.  I touched the side grill of the white coffin and prayed for the repose of his soul and for my very own tranquillity.  I simply must stop the gritting of my teeth and tell myself to calm down because I have turned myself into a creative mess, standing by the coffin like that.  White as can be.  White like my relative’s coffin.  White and blank.  White like teeth.

As my left hand touched the white box, I merged fully towards the reek of fresh formalin and his blank head, still probably wondering why he was there if it wonders at all.  Why, at 27, he is dead instead of alive.  Why, at 27, he is being looked down on by someone like me, so alive and yet, so dead.

The sight of my relative’s body is evocative to a certain point that snot sparkled melodically between my nose and upper lip.  I barely knew him but his face was so familiar.  Almost like mine.  Was I tearing up?  Was I angry?  Oh his silent face.  Those fastened eyes and thin, even more fastened coloured lips.  And his face in particular.  His handsome face which is presently dead and looking eternally young.

I blinked as I swallowed the melted noodles inside my mouth, felt it stinging my tongue, I cogitated towards my dead relative’s facial bones.  Remembering that of him and of myself the previous night.  It was perfectly aquiline – I wished I had his cream-coloured face – and it almost looked like an outline of an irrelevant tattoo.  It was hot!  My saliva was never in its hottest, an absolution from a tiny hunger, a mixture of teenage hurt and a flavour of not so long ago when I was in college, broke and all, when all I could afford to eat was Lucky Me Pansit Canton.  If I may define the taste of penniless dreamers, whose hectic heads reconcile daily towards finding their own thoughtless gods in music and writing, I would classify instant noodles as the taste of still-born art.  Why wouldn’t it be? It is fast and easy, it is delicious and it is lethal to the kidney.  So much like art itself.

I took my oblong plate filled with spicy instant noodles.  I brought my food in bed.  I was soaking with sweat and the electric fan did not help.  I turned on the air-conditioning and even that did not help as well.  I took another big bite and felt the salt raging war on my burnt taste buds.  I felt my groin lightening up and my warm body liking the taste in my mouth, the smell of artificial grub – the feel of it, the perfume of fakeness – the taste of my own sweat falling from my forehead down to my lips – I didn’t even want to wipe them off – liking how my pink and irate nipples reacted against the scratch of my semi-wet polyester shirt . . . until I removed my shirt, lied in bed, placed my oblong plate on my belly sensing the tepid plate would appease my abdomen.  I sensed that the world will be quiet at last.

I was moist.  I was hot.  My mouth was hot.  My room was hot.  I closed my eyes and held it that way for a minute, seeing behind closed lids the display of my deadened self in full white.  I held my breath.  I held it like I was dead.  I held it until death was near.  It was clear moment where hyperboles did not matter anymore.  Or Jessica Sanchez.  Or the techno-ballad of my heartbreak still ruled my dreams after almost two years of being single.  I kissed myself behind closed lids.  I moaned.  I felt hands on my crotch.  I felt hands on my nipples, bruising it until it bled.  I felt like bursting into flames.  I moaned.  I can feel the veins on my neck sprouting.  I moaned.  I can feel my skin hissing.  I moaned.   I saw a queue of hairy men lining up again.  Then I licked my lips, grabbed a fistful of noodles from my stomach, raised it and dropped it straight to my face.  Then God bellowed, “You.  Yes, you!”

I broke off and opened my mouth for that first big breath.  I am alive.

So much like art itself.

 

Heartbreak

Nine months before

There was a time last year when I had to deactivate my Facebook account to refrain from seeing messages from my friends after P and I broke up.  Also, I found it wiser not to see any status update from P because I know that it would rip my personage and for many years I have nursed myself through depression and it was never easy.  I mean, knowing me.  I was offline for more than a month and with that at hand, I found myself signing up in a retreat house in Tagaytay to get rehabilitated from being heartbroken and clamouring to be reunited with myself.  I wanted to have something to believe in.  All over again.  And God had to help me get through this because I couldn’t help myself already.  Not this time.

Before Tagaytay, all I wanted to do was escape.  I couldn’t do anything more than to wake up in the morning, plug in a DVD to watch feel-good movies hoping to be inspired even before breakfast.  I have stopped looking at myself in the mirror until one morning, my sister told me ,“Please shave kuya!  It will bring out your eyes.”  She was, of course, being nice.  She really meant that my eyes were bottomless and that my facial hair made a jungle of its own.  I would say yes and after everyone has gone, would look at myself in the mirror.

I would smile.  I would show off my perfectly white even teeth.  I would say nothing (which is unusual of me because I normally talk to myself and feel perfectly natural) and observe my robust cheeks.  Not enough sun on my skin. Wolfy beard.  Anarchic moustache.  Emaciated texture on the forehead. Skin peeling off by the nose and chin. Mauve-coloured lips from aridity and cigarettes.  And yes, bottomless eyes that barely survived sleeping at 4 in the morning doing nothing and thinking heliotrope thoughts from Sean Cody boys to Dubai to what will Tori Amos’ next album be like.  If I got bored in bed, I would come out of the house, sneak two Marlboros from my ciggie case and smoke by the porch with the resonance of dogs barking and my inestimable mental dialogues.  I would wait for sunrise, my mind circling as usual, and close my eyes.

How much do you know of heartbreak?  How much do you know what I am going through?  You must be able to answer these two simple questions for me one day.  One day.  What day is it?  Did I forget to change my underwear again?  How would know how I smell like?  It is a fusion of dog hair and ashtray.  I haven’t even talked about my breath.  And I didn’t care.  Not a fleeting fuck.  Why would I?  I like sinking into my own muddle.  And do not even think it is all about you.  Come to think of it, it is all about ME.  I would’ve cared more had this been because of you and how you abandoned me in a time when I wanted you to be there for me.  Well, I was presumptuous but then again, who wouldn’t?  I allowed myself to love you with no sarcasm.  It was I love you without pride.  It was I love you I will kill for you.  It was I love you I am your friend through it all.  It was I love you that my money is yours too.  It was I love if you aren’t here I just can’t breathe like that Jordin Sparks song.  It was I love you I will worship your stupid God just as much as you do.  More than anything else, it was I love you I am head over heels in love with you.  And now here I am, smelling like dog’s saliva and sleeping all day not wanting to do anything but see myself moving and beautiful in each DVD I watch.  I have stopped looking at mirrors but continuously emulate myself on characters I watch on film.

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Noise.  I want noise.  I have nothing to be noisy about.  I have refrained from talking.  But I want clatter – sounds – loud thump thump music – to croon to and chatter, I want chatter.  Monotonous, dim-witted chatter.  Gossip.  And then silence again.  I have always believed that the most comforting retort to anger and confusion is pure, untainted silence.  But before that, I want noise.  I want big obstructing noise to cheat on.  I want to jump up and down to any music; head bang, sweat, smell my sweat and then gasp for air.  This will feel like praying I know.  This will make God respond as to why.  Why indeed?  What is the why in this mess that you started and I am suffering grudgingly from?  Where the hell is God when you need him?

And so I cry.

Today, Nine months after

 

One of the best things about working on television is having to recognize times when things have started to slow down a bit.  Everything is a seeping abundance of stress and last-minute-changes one must be strong enough to bite the bullet of risk.  Throughout the process and if gifted, one can easily manage to outwit its claws and if weak, simply die of repugnance towards a business that squeezes your creative juices, use it for a minute air-time and truthfully (it’s true what they say about showbiz in general) make you only as good as your last successful work.  Also, working for television will make you forget a chunk-size of your daily problems because it will NEVER give you enough time to think about them anyway.  The hours are crazy, the people are multi-coloured and ideas are sliced into quarters that one must not fail to even remotely consider calling in sick when there is a live show or an important interview must commence immediately.

Television changes lives.  It is a dictator in itself and satirically, a great companion when nothing else makes sense.  It changed mine.  It made me forget.  Most of all, it made me come back to writing and took writing seriously for the ninth time in my cat life.  There are days and nights when I think it is the real God but coming from someone who can’t even decide why he was born the way he did can be demeaning.  Also, the idea, in fact, is another chapter.

All the same, I am happy I had my down time today.  It is about time.

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WRITER’S NOTE:

When I was dumped by my ex in 2010, I slackly used The Philippine Diaries as a channel to get myself moving again.  It was not easy.  I was juggling loads of stuff from getting a new job, thinking deeply, getting myself adjusted to my new surroundings, reinventing myself from being removed from my comfort zone and of course, getting by, which, in many ways, had become so hard to do because, plain and simple, I have lost everything.   It came to a point when I realized that I was left with nothing but me and my writing.  So, I turned to my laptop, began writing and gave birth to the first eight chapters of The Philippine Diaries.  In January of 2011, I stopped and saw beyond the bare bones of my stories.  It was full of heartbreak and self-persecution.  At one time, my editor from Illustrado, where I was once a contributing writer, told me, “You are a mad!”  Well, I didn’t mind being called mad (I have been named a lot worse than that) but staying mad is something that I need to get myself out of.  First of which, I needed to walk away from all that pain.  I guess six long months is enough to get passed heartbreak.  Today, I say goodbye to the self-indulgence that became so self-throttling I almost eradicated the first eight chapters to oblivion.  After the New Year, I couldn’t help but gag every time I come across anything written for The Philippine Diaries.  It almost felt like I dug a hole to dump myself in to.  From then on, I stopped reading (even for extended proofread) chapters one to eight.   I decided to move on, anyhow, and not push the forevergone button for the first eight chapters, calling this chapter and the succeeding ones as the overture of The Philippine Diaries’ Book Two.

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