Raindrops

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The rain does not want to stop falling.

It’s relentless. From the breaks of dawn to the hazy sunsets, it comes in the forms of both light drizzle and angry torrents. The streets are perpetually wet, and I perpetually cold; my feet muddy and slipping on the pavement much more than I’d like to admit. In the neighborhood, we all have weary eyes looking up at the sky and our lips form the same dejected comments. We put on our raincoats, carry our umbrellas, slide our screens shut in the face of bugs seeking shelter, don warm clothing and pile up the blankets over our shivering bodies. We wait to wake to a bright morning, instead of a persistent haze of grey.

All that is left to do, it seems, is to cope.

•••

This fact has held true throught my existence of a whole 18 years. It’s not a very long time compared to, well, the rest of the world, but it just so happens that my birthday is dabsmack on the start of the rainy season in the Philippines – the perfect weather for mulling over your years. It just so happens that this year, I was not in the mood to celebrate, and it just so happens that turning eighteen is considered important, and I feel like I’m obligated to make some realizations.

It just so happens that rain is the perfect metaphor.

It’s a cheesy one, but it applies.

One of my long-running mistakes is assuming that happiness should be the default. It’s the standard. If you’re not happy, what are you doing with your life? You must have done something wrong; you’re doing something wrong. You’re hindering yourself. Take charge of your life; speak it into action to the universe; don’t you know the Law of Attraction? Think positively. Be better. The problem lies within you, not the world you keep blaming.

I think I’ve forgotten we’re still human. I’ve forgotten there are things outside our control. I’ve forgotten that I cannot keep the sun from rising and setting, nor hiding away, tucked in the dark clouds of a thunderstorm.

There is nothing I can do about the rain, except grabbing an umbrella and wrapping yourself in raincoats and sloshing around puddles of mud in boots; making hot chocolate and falling asleep as the raindrops thud harder against the roofs.

All that’s left to do, it seems, is cope.

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#MentalHealthBlogathon2018: Voices for Change

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Before I start this post, here are some of the mental health services I discovered through the event:

• University of Santo Tomas Psycho-Trauma Clinic (free for all)

• Bahay Aruga

• Mental Health PH Database for services available nationwide

•••

On the Internet, especially on social media, mental health is becoming more commonly discussed. News of celebrity deaths through suicide are on our timelines and feed, it seems, month after month. Suicide hotlines and threads regarding depression and other mental health disorders are shared throughout every social media platform.

I don’t believe that discussion is enough to address the stigma and the issues around mental health. But I believe that discussion elevates awareness, and the more we realize how alarming it is that many Filipinos go undiagnosed, without help, unaware of their own illness or unaware that help is possible, the closer we get to a more sustainable solution for each and every one of them.

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And for that reason, I participated in Mental Health Philippine’ first Blogathon on April 28, 2018. I have had this blog for three years, posting prose, poetry, and the rare personal blog post of an event. This year, I was committed to extending my reach as a writer, and I think having meaningful content to share with my audience, no matter how small, is part of it.

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How I Fell For Poetry #NaPoWriMo

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April is National Poetry Month! I did sign up for NaPoWriMo to get myself to write poetry everyday for the whole month of April but… well, I’m not very good at consistency. Besides, I feel as if treating poetry as an obligation in the name of its celebration contradicts to why I grew to love poetry in the first place. Which, a few years back, spoiler alert: I didn’t.

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Night excursions 

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Walking at night is a developed habit of mine over the last couple of weeks. 

I like it because there is less noise and less people, but also because of how things transform. There’s something about the houses, which I normally would never spare a glance for more than a few seconds, and how eerie and tall they suddenly seem in the dark. They seem to breathe quietly, as fast asleep as their inhabitants. 

You get to know the neighborhood more. The burger joint near our place claims to be closed by midnight but remains open until one in the morning; another serves hot meals until God knows when with a large flatscreen TV on, and a person or two is usually stood in front of it, watching. A group of boys huddle about at ten in the evening near my apartment and play music. The old man who lives in front of us takes calls for about an hour outside. It’s always two brothers or a group of girls drinking at the next block, and while I’ve grumbled about the shops that close too early for my taste, I’ve discovered three that stayed open past nine PM, and one of them has a bench in front where people drink. There’s a rowdy group of friends that like to hang out and brings out a couch to the street. 

It’s quiet and calm. There are rare noises I hear: glass breaking, men muttering the combination of numbers for a karaoke song, jazz music being played by a man on the roof; the engine of a motorcycle rumbling as it passes by. The pavements glow orange beneath my feet and when I look above, I’m always lucky to get a scattering of stars. I remember the sky being full of them and my neck aching staring up, but even when few remain, it’s still as enthralling.

I’ve always loved walking – and it sounds ridiculous, but it makes me think and the faster the pace the faster the threads of thoughts in my head untangle and make themselves distinguishable and clear. I don’t know how many times I’ve intentionally come home late to read and walk. I’ve done how many kilometers when traffic was bad at night. It’s always the same wonder at my surroundings that strike me; the same wonder at my perpetual motion; the same wonder of having a destination no matter how aimless the journey may be.

LIFE UPDATE [S1, EP3]: Diving into the murky waters of self-publishing 

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Welcome to an overdue blogpost! Daily posting is the number one cause of creativity’s death.

Yeah, I know it’s a New Year’s resolution, but damn if I don’t feel burned out already. I think it’s better to follow the rule of three to four posts a week, so behold a new schedule: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays! 

Part of the reason why daily posting is hard for me this week is because I’ve been trying to produce content for a self-published book and this blog at the same time. Some of my posts on here are actually early drafts of content that will be there. 

Above is the cover of my self-published book to be sold at the 2018 Komiket, from February 25 – 26 in Quezon City. I’ll be selling with Joaquin, whose web serial will be sold in print! 

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but I published two versions of The City twice – because it’s one of the poems that’s going to be in Paper Trails and I keep making changes to it. I edited it further, and will use a part of it as the blurb on the back cover. As a preview – and if any of you are living in the Philippines, please consider going to Komiket! – here’s the final version:

Look out the city; look up the skies. See
a thousand lights above; a thousand lights
spread around – pulsing, in the mystery
of space; pulsing, in the darkest of nights.
See: a man; a cloth over a shoulder,
hunched like Atlas, in carrying the world;
a girl, feet clad in cotton and leather,
walking, plaid skirt wrinkled with hair unfurled;
a shadow, fingers like a ghost haunting
the strings of his guitar; a woman, out
in an ungodly hour, feet dragging
across the pavement, without fear nor doubt
among the people underneath the glow
of neon lights; all on a walk to home,
(all in search of home). Look, see and know:
of how odd it is to feel forsaken
when surrounded by a myriad of lives;
to know of dark alleys; hours; streets, awakened
to the cognizance of stories that thrive

untold, unfolding; inevitable
that we never know of our role in it all.

I’ve read it over so many times it sounds off to me, but it does sound way better than the earlier versions I published here. Another reason why daily posting is not good: hot off the press posts are usually in dire need of editing before being posted.

Paper Trails, though a suite of poems and prose, is centered around a police operation that happened on January 14, 2017, in Metro Manila. One is killed. Three have seen. 

I also explore themes of death and loss to get rid of the teenage angst inside me.

I actually did self-publishing once last year – and actually, just a month ago! It was our book fair and I produced Rhapsody, a book filled once again with my poems. It had all the rookie mistakes: along with Joaquin, we both didn’t know how to bookbind, we were confused over the setting of pages, my cover looked like a wedding invitation, there were no blurbs or excerpts at the back, no acknowledgment, and finally my stupidest mistake: I didn’t put my name on the book at all. Cool, right? One day I’ll have a post called How Not To Self-Publish. 

Also, I’ve updated my blog: there are now Poetry (under Writing) and Review categories since I’ve figured I’ll be making them a lot this year, and of course to make it easier for my readers.

Have a .gif of me in the sunlight, which is notable because it’s becoming harder to get up and function normally. But I’m picking myself up now, before it gets any worse, and acting like this comic of Beth Evans: 

Let’s hope I stick to schedule this time! And that I continue on producing content for this blog and for my book without burning out. 

Weekly-round up of cool slash useful information:

That’s it for this week! Ciao.