I look around and see that there is a lot to be done—laundry in a basket, books sprawled all over the floor, clothes hanging haphazardly from fixtures, my bag puking papers all over my shoes, slippers and sandals, my bed a mess—and I have just woken up from my sleep, that which I did not truly enjoy. I had a dream—and it was of a home, which felt so familiar and artificially sweet. But it was odd and not at all refreshing. It was awkward and still and dull. It cannot be called a dream, but that’s what people call mental images in succession, so it’ll have to be called that. And this dream was a dream that ended up all mine.
To write is to be in service to the moment, a moment that seeks to captivate and allure as well as to express the complex nature of emotion. I have written for as long as I can remember because I have found the necessity—no, rather, the conscious desire and comfort to see my thoughts and feelings materialize on paper and hence become my reality through which all can awaken and develop a sense of meaning and value.
I write because I feel the urge to enter into the practice of rediscovering the simplicities and complexities around me through the aid of both imagery and words, each story and each poem pulsating with life, striving to describe, to impart insight, to prove, to share—for life, I believe, is in itself the lifeblood of all things written and to be written.
My father believed that life could flourish even when surrounded by cold concrete sidewalks, black asphalt roads and rows upon rows of silent houses sitting on stiff, detached cobbled stone shoulders. Such was Manduriao, Iloilo, my first home. The noiseless streets never drove me away. It only meant that there was more space for laughter and interesting chatter. It meant more space for my dreams, dreams that were expanding and multiplying. It meant more time seeing what else I could when everything seemed so familiar.
After two years, my family moved to La Paz and there I encountered what true greenery was like. Friends shot up all around us like wild grass but they were true and sincere people. I made many friends, enjoyed many annual festivals, and basked in the warm and pleasurably enduring sun. I was a healthy young girl who loved the spacious local park and frequented houses that were never without the wonderful aroma of boiling sinigang and arroz caldo. The night sky was always clear and bright with an assembly of stars to watch every night.
It was indeed my little paradise.
Before I nodded off to sleep at night
Mama would tell me a fairy tale —
The princess meets her dear prince…
“And then what next, Ma?’
A finger to her lips, she’d smile
“I’ll let you read the book tomorrow.”
When the sun came up
She’d point to the upstairs attic.
There, I sat on a dusty wooden floor —
The prince dances with his princess
to the sound of ten drums, violins,
trumpets, and lyres…
Downstairs, Ma and Pa danced
to the beat of angry voices, cries,
slamming doors, breaking china.
The royal couple now happily wed
Had a bonny daughter in the end…
Clambering down the stairs, I went
“They loved their princess, Ma!”
Pa slapped me very hard
“You and your fairy tales!”
Perhaps I had read the story wrong.
Many nights after,
I would tell myself another fairy tale
of a princess with a broken heart
crying silently in front of the mirror.
My story book went back in the attic, now
Covered in cobwebs, dust,
dried tears, and ghostly laughter—
Ma, you knew it would end that way,