Calypso

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If there should be something that you must remember,
it is this: you are one of the many lovers
sinking their toes into the smooth sand of this isle.
I don’t say this in order to dull the fire
that we have stoked to flames, caressing the heavens –
but to confess and to stand witness to these piles of ashes.
soon you will leave, like the rest of your brethren,
to fulfill one of the Olympians’ worst curses:
inevitable love, the promise of loneliness;
my island a mere rest stop to your epic quests;
when you venture to the seas, gone the 0
(of us, of me) will be. you are a kind guest,

so please: keep your distance. let your sweet, sweet words fester,
on your tongue with your wistful desires- forever.

Photo credit: Tim Lane (British, b. Cheltenham, England, based Bristol, South West, England) – Sophia  Drawings: Graphite, Pencils, Paint on Paper

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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.

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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.

Of Fears

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I have a fear of heights and the dark. Well, I used to have a fear of heights and the dark. I’ve read something – a book, an internet post, a message – that said I did not fear heights or the dark exactly, but the unknown that lies within them. It is not the dark that I am frightened of, but the countless shadows that seem to form, taking on personas of various monsters and demons with the purpose of harm. It is not heights that I am frightened of, but the answer to the question, what happens after I fall? and if you think that the answer isn’t “unknown” to the latter exactly – and yes, I know, I get it: my skull could crack and my bones could break and I could lie dying in a pool of my own blood, but there’s the uncertainty lying within the number of possibilities that could happen. There’s the uncertainty lying within the thought of how it’d feel to fall and hit the ground. There’s the uncertainty lying within the thought of death.

Do all of our fears lead to the same thing: the fear of the unknown? What’s your fear? Spiders, ghosts, banshees, blood, the death of loved ones – some of these we cannot even begin to explain the origin of dread that makes us shudder. Some are just mere possibilities. The idea that it could happen frightens us, despite circumstances that say there’s a higher probability it wouldn’t.

Then again, we never know, don’t we? It’s what has haunted mankind for centuries. We are born into this world unknowing, and we leave it the same still. We throw ourselves into exploring and finding what we can, but instead of arriving at answers, we reap new questions. The majority of us focus on making survival as comfortable as it can get, with our questions left to gather dust at a corner in our heads, manifesting as the universal fear; as the reason why we hold on to God and fate, and find solace in the promise of forever and heaven; in wearing lucky charms and blowing dandelions to the wind. You never know. You never know. you dread this at the same time it gives you hope.

#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

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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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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.