I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness-- Jeremiah 3:3

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Teaching is invigorating.It never fails to bring back the color of youth to my dry skin cells. True, the nightly sores in the back and legs, even in the aging eyes are still there, not counting the usual sore throats after a month or two of going back to my first love--teaching, that is.

It's not teachers' day today. And yet the returns I get from the look of education-hungry young students are incomparable to what any patronizing student could shower any teacher. Unlike what scores of friends would say, teaching does not age. Not me, that is. On the contrary, it adds years to my "past the midlife" boring existence. It is akin to taking a scarlet afternoon walk by a shore line stepping on but not minding the rough sands and broken shells along the way. On the contrary, playing with them with my toes could be fun.

I was full of energy the first day of class. After going around good-paying companies, here I am back in the arms of teaching.

I embraced the almost 50 something kids each class in an almost dilapidated school room in a "Prison Break-like" four-story school building. You are free to imagine the cells that Michael Scoffield and T-Bag were in. The noise and the number of roguish rascals of the prison cells and my class rooms are strikingly identical. Definitely, these didn't fail to send my entire physical self to bed feeling mangled up that first night. But nah, the joy of embracing the whole teaching career again after a good while is brimming from inside me going out spewing fireworks in all directions. I was practically smiling to everyone. And as expected, students who were used to the dour, stern teachers who either decide to put on Mr. Cooger's scary tactics or Arnold Schwarzenegger's old tricks to nail them immobile on their seats were surprised to see a smiling apparition in front of them. Hah, and I didn't understand why they were likewise smiling the whole time I was there. We were like mirrors of each other.

So they say, teachers are never well-compensated in this third-world country. As for me, I am already teeming with so much returns. I am practically simmering, wanting for more of this.


Asa man diay
Ang tubig-ulan?
Dili ba
Hagbay rang
Milalin ang

Namidpid ka
Pa man sa tampi
Sa imong nahubsang

Nakalimot ka
Ba nga didto
Sa kinatumyan,
Sa usa lang
Ka hangyo,
Ang mga linusok
Nga tubig

Sa daklit
Nimong pagtangla,
Ang tubig
Lapos sa
Kinabag-ang panganod
Padulong nimo
Sa pagbanlas
Sa nangligid nga tubig
Sa imong mga mata
Sa imong aping?

Monday, June 28, 2010


I have a stubborn affinity with the past. In times when I intend to rest my body for a pleasant lull, I just laze around or better yet recline in our dilapidated sofa and smother myself with pleasant thoughts in the past--people reachable only in the mind, events that can only be replayed in the head--gems I reserve in the back of my subconscious that would come in handy when the ride becomes rough.

At one point, I'd like to consider myself self-absorbed when I go back to those stuff of yesterday that boost my frail self. But in moments when you need the solace of the past and get some form of energy from it, you do all you can to reinvent yourself. While others do their parlor and mall routines, I do my thing I call "me time." And in moments like my birthday, I'd like to go back to one of these to add pizazz and fireworks in my usual quiet celebration. One of which that I pulled out from that subconscious shelf yesterday was an email I got in the recent past from Mr. Urias Almagro, one of the poets I so respect these days. Such surprising letter from him about my poem, "Sa Imong Barutong Papel" just fed me with the same high in the same intensity I got the second I read the email.

Hi Gina,

Gipadad-an ko ikaw ning email aron pagdayeg sa imong balak,
Sa Imong Barutong Papel.
Alang kanako, kining balaka maoy labing maanindot nga balak sa atong
pinulongang Binisaya hangtod karon. It is the best Visayan poem
I have read so far.It is just wonderful.The tone, the imagery -it
is very very well done. Congratulations. Kon papili-on ako og napulo
ka labing maanindot nga balak nga Binisaya, ang imong balak
maoy akong pili-ong numero uno.

Buot ko usab ikaw nga pasalamatan sa imong balak,
Sa Gakang-a Mong Pultahan, nga agig tubag sa akong balak, Unya.
Wa ko damha nga ang akong balak makatandog sa laing magbabalak
hangtod nga mosulat siya og laing balak mahitungod niini.
Giisip ko kining usa ka dakung komplimento. Nindot usab kaayo
ang maong balak. Daghan kaayong salamat.

Ako ikaw'ng sultihan nga usa ka sa labing sumosubang nga
magbabalak sa atong pinulongan karon. Akong panghinaoton
nga magmalampusan ka sa kanunay sa imong pagpamamalak.



Although this might be a matter of opinion, the timing was just right. The moment I got this was when I needed some good reason in believing what I do. And these are moments I'd like to savor delightful surprises like today for instance, when poetry becomes one of my only solace.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Once in a while I get to bump into students in the past years. Some find me in the net and blogs. They get to say thank you at the most unexpected time in my life. Times when teaching has taken the back seat. Times when I thought I got nothing worth coming back to, notes of gratitude and mushy gestures come flowing in. And you know most of them are sincere because they take pains in finding their literature teacher to say what they have been wanting to say, now that most of them are teachers as well.

It does feel good. An affirmation or two that you have given plain justice to what purpose you are to serve in any corner you are dumped into does wonders. I don't necessarily hope for them. But it brought the mush down home.Thirteen years in the service could have been enough to say not anymore. In those thirteen years, I buried my face to semestral class records, test papers, and lectures; took all the chalk dusts and let out zillions of litanies from Old English literature to nostalgic Afro-Asian modern literary creations which until now ring afresh in my head (and continue to still give me the itch to do a lecture or two which I could not to my toddler, at least not just yet). I even took the beatings the usual young teacher gets and more--all those students who would do stunts to send their English teacher to Timbuktu and yes, how could I miss all those unthinkable stunts that work mates perform to get me shaken up. It took a while though to get used to the not so pretty things in a classroom existence. Indeed it took years before the zing became a stubborn itch. Ah, what a "high" it is to teach.

But if there is one woman that deserves what I get right now, it's not me. Definitely not me. It's my Sunday School teacher who happens to find bliss in teaching elementary public school children. There is no one that I have known thus far who is as meticulous and as creative as she was and is in her classes. Her classroom is always a wonder. Her students remember her fondly. Parents look for her to take care of their kids even if their kids are already past her grade level.

Needless to say, because of teacher Myrna Villalon, I look at the teaching profession as a noble woman's job. I am dazed by what magic tricks a teacher can do with her chalk and pen as her magic wands.There is no ifs and buts. When one chooses to be a teacher, he plunges his heart and soul into it. Sleepless nights are to be the routine. And in a topsy-turvy schedule a teacher has to juggle, it amazes me how Mrs. Villalon is able to keep her family well-taken care of. All her kids are straight A students in top universities and are all in one faith. Ah, such is a feat I sure hope I could duplicate. Aside from the charm in her smiles and the warmth of a mother that people find in her, she does have the gravitas and grit only a godly woman has. I don't know what special strategy she uses in her class and with people everyday, but it works for her in tremendous ways I can't explain. All I know is that her steadfastness in the church ministry is unparalleled.

You don't find her charms in her words though. She is as blunt as a thunder when she rebukes. There had been days that I get to have the bitterest reprimands from her. Her words were not too easy to the chest. But taking them in like they come from a parent were worth it.

She remains my teacher regardless of time and distance. At times when the frail girl in me does not see much reason to see more years in teaching, I think of her and the other professors who spend their lives to see boys and girls become men and women of integrity.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


My only luxury at the moment is coming home to my toddler with my equally tired pumpkin. It is not much but it works wonders to my tired bones and aging head. Gone are those days when the soul looks for shelter in the noise and clutters of city entertainment junctures to find relief after a young mind is barraged with the harsh demands to keep up with the pace.

I did try to put up with the pace. But I was glad I was able to rebel from all those molds. They are still there. In fact people measure your worth if you fit right in. It still makes me sad for often stuff at work gets to use the same measure. But I am finding home in the little books my daughter asks me to read with her and in the arms of my husband who may not say much--All these and my father's grace are more than enough to get by.


Government offices are cluttered not only with papers and backlogs, but also with all kinds of office mates that are a lump of different cultures, desires, motives, anxieties who are saddled with unthinkable hang-ups in life. It is a tough world. When one has nothing but a frail ego and a questionable support group to come home to after the routinary 8-5, chances are he would get the deadly working world virus and the lethal infection goes on and on from the newly infected to the next unsuspecting newcomer whose only aim is to survive the decent way possible.

This could prove why it's healthy to refrain from attaching oneself to the walls and edifices that we often submit our future in. It is, as I observed after more than a dozen years of working, neuron-healthy to choose to move on after one has served a good number of years and not call his office his second home. While hopping from one company to another company could likewise be unreasonable, one has to know when to let go and when to stick his butt on an institution.

Of course, if I were to choose, I would rid myself of the hassle of moving from one edifice to another for that, too, at certain points, is quite stressful.

But there are relationships that are quite damaging in the end, like it or not--connections that should stop at one crucial point and need not continue. One you need to give up to keep the little self intact. To keep another room open for a healthier bond that need not sap the energy one's soul has to sustain.

As I move on to another world, I am getting myself harnessed as early as now, especially now, when I'm beginning to see people with quirky stares in the middle of hurried hushed conversations. People who may not return the sincerity of my smiles.


(Kang Nyor Mel, Ury, ug uban pa)

Inig kayab sa mga gangis
Magisi ang mga tabil.
Ang teatrong
Ang mga bulok
Nga midayan-midayan
Sa entabladong biniyaan.
Unya mutabon ang gadag-om
Nga telon.

Muabot man ugaling
Ang mga bag-ong tingog
Aron mupasundayag
Sa tungtunganan
Sa mga banggiitan,
Sa gihapon
Ang luna
Sa mukaylab
Nga mga gangis

Bisan kanus-a
Dili gyud

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Tell me, Johnny,
Where does your solitude reside?
Is it nestled in the breeze
That frequents in the corners
Where your strings
Whipped the air
For the undead?
Or does it lie in
The hollows and in-betweens
Of the unsung pieces
That lay breathing
Underneath your casket
Somewhere in the wild?

Where can I flee
To catch its limbs?
Will it send me
The hush that froze
The day when they snuffed out
Your tune?
Can it snatch me from
This tumult that gapes
And grows mutely
In the random dins
Here below?

Just where is home, Johnny?
Where is solitude?
Did you banish it
Into the world
That stood there
And watch you go
Into the night?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


While I was clearing the cabinets and closets,I found the dusty doll my CNU literature class gave me on my last days in the university, the day I decided which battle was worth the while. Had I known I would not see them graduate, I would have left the birthday gift, the only one that I accepted from students, in those walls. But it was meant to be taken home. At the time, I didn't understand why I had to. I'm not comfortable getting presents from students. Seeing Shekinah oogles with delight seeing it might be one of the many reasons why.

But all right, I admit, no matter how I hide this little part of me, it is bound to show. I am mushy, sentimental poor grown-up girl who never got a real doll when I was small. It was always a makeshift doll or a downtown plastic creation bought at Colon streets where they abound. But so what, on that day, finally, right on my 36th birthday, I got a real expensive doll, way too pretty for my rough aging hands.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


While it is true we sometimes put on variety of masks every day, it is likewise quite true that we need to put down these masks one by one at the end of the day, when you're all by yourself together with your pillow, muted by the heaviness of the returns you get from putting on those masks on a daily basis.

I manage, yes I definitely can, in a week or so to be resilient in the midst of difficult times such as these. I just need my pillow, my husband,and my prayers, then I'll be all brand new the next day. But tonight, if the enemy knows what to hit, I would definitely be knocked out for a good while. The day is father's day, yes. But along with rejoicing that I have a man beside me who is more than a good father to my toddler, there is also a quiet pang inside, one that bites, and by the damage it makes, some good sense in me might be consumed gradually. I have been through this before. But these days, it has been raining thorns.

Let all the pourings come, be they in different dark colors, I can face them. But when a mother sees her toddler awfully sick, having a hard time breathing, that's another battlefield she's gotta learn to face.

Right now, I am a front liner in this raging war. And I cannot in any way try to put on another mask to show I am strong, that everything is all right. In fact, I am tired trying to be strong. A mother can only ask it is her finding a hard time where in the world all the air went or what's keeping her air stream tightly shut.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Giunsa mo man
Paghangyo ang
Gipakunsad ba
Nimo si
Nyor Gabriel
Arun tagdon
Ang nabuni mong

Kapila na kaha
Maghitak ang
Salog sa imong
Mga pangaliyupo
Dihang ikaw
Unya muhapa
Aron samokon
Ang langit
Sa imong mga

Giam-aman mo sab
Kaha ang
Nangluod nga
Nianang kapunawpunawan
Aron matultolan
Sa iyang hayag
Ang dalan padulong
Sa nagkang-a
Mong pultahan
Sama sa pagtukas
Sa nasawpan
kong taguangkan?


Truth be told: I would have jumped up and down if I were a guy and was given the societal go signal to flirt with the women specie. That's what I thought. At least before today.

The waiting takes so many aching sleepless nights. And in those hapless nights, you entertain a lot of options that would go ways you do not initially plan. Worst, sometimes you plunge in the momentary certainties to grasp what solid wall you could see instead of waiting on what seem to be a fuzzy possibility. Getting the yes of a prospect girlfriend is a mountain climb. What more if it were God's yes.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Years may not be quite enough to teach us to let go of things that do not lie in our hands. We still reach out grasping for things that do not dangle in our fingers anymore. For instance, I worry about how in heaven can we get the next can of milk for our toddler in the next few weeks when promise of work is nil. I could go to a pawnshop and kiss good luck to my jewelry or cellular phone or go to a friend and borrow some cash. But even then these would still amount to another money problem a few months from now.

For many a hundred times, quiet miracles have come from nowhere to answer God's children's pleas of many kinds. The Scriptures has been explicit about it. What the psalmist said echoed what David testified, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his children begging bread." And yet here I am still ramming my head off to our empty atm and wallets worrying, staying up late at night clambered by this monster called worry. We lay there wondering where to get the next day's food.
But as Harold Sala quipped, "Let God do the night shift," so why would we?

Friday, June 11, 2010


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Tough call. But I guess, this does not only apply to the Christians under the temptation of getting enslaved by sin once again. It's about freedom as well from what once engulfed us relentlessly some three centuries back. As mushy as it could get, this still gives me the goosebumps. Freedom does.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


It's tremendous what anxiety can do to the waiting psyche. It becomes the most solid stress the brain can't afford to entertain.

That said, I had to brave the odds of uncertainty and had to go to the office of the institution I desired and prayed with fervor so to speak for months now. I went there to hear it from the executive about my chances in the company since I am ranked number one, knowing that even the highest rank could still be jobless if no institution needs the service of an incoming instructor.

I'm glad I did it. Although, there wasn't much of a promise that day, I got the information that I desperately need. It all boils down to the waiting and the will of the great man upstairs.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


This pleasure of putting life and lines down on paper is a bizarre thing to do. It gives the itch and the growing pains all at the same time.

Sometimes, you can't say to your head or to your pen that today I will write a better poem. Sometimes the touch is not there at the moment. Not even if you bang your head or dance to Bryan Adams' mushy beats. The waiting aches at times. And it gives you some room to grow even more or sometimes, it gives you some blank days or even blank years until it comes again in torrents.

But in this attempt called art, the truth should come off as a breeze, as though one has never heard of it but one that people could hold on to when plain words are short of the oomph.

But the hullabaloo is not about the oomph itself, but it is about dishing out the pathos in truths without the schmaltz.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Rain. Yes, it is still about the rain, not just the thunder. Being ranked number one would not amount to anything much unless bread is found on the table.

Ah, the honor, got me so overwhelmed. God has been so super sweet and kind to someone like me. But I still think of the rain. I am happy of the thunder. But the rain has yet to wet this earth, this cracking earth. The wilting days should be over.

Monday, June 7, 2010


It's June all right. But rain is a broken promise. Just like a commencement of a brave new world has no backbone so to speak. So where's the new world of a promising job? My most solid answer, I HAVE NO INKLING YET.

It's June all right. And all I could see is a splinter of a few unsure loose jobs, tutorials here and there. The bleaker the future looks now, the more nostalgic I get of the things I used to take for granted. Well, if anything, I will need enough gall to go back to zero and trust the hand that put me up there before.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Inig kilomkilom

Samtang gahudyaka ang mga gangis

Ubos sa bugasong langit

Pahiton ko ang akong wait

Sa pagpaabot

Sa gipasalig mong


Friday, June 4, 2010


Kanang imong mga pahiyom

Tulunggon sa akong

Matag Gabii

Nga gaduda kung

Mubalik pa

Ang kadlawon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Ahh, how does one snatch these smiles again when not long time ago these have been her rampart when the rustles of the once sane world have gone away for good? It must have been true what they say, good times never last long. They stay for a while but they go leaving you wanting for more.