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rambling reflections Uncategorized

You are a rat

Which is to say, you’re no one, dregs of society, scum of the earth, bottom feeder, immaterial, dispensable. What they want to say is: you deserve nothing, you are both noticed and unnoticed, and you are not really sure which is better between the two, when to be seen is to be hated, for people to wish you to die, and often it’s not even a wish, because they’ve killed your kind countless times, you’ve seen it—beating other rats with a stick until their eyes pop out, skulls cracked open until their brains spill over. Or a bath of boiling water, until their fur peels off their body. 

You are a rat, which is to say: your pain is nothing, your happiness is nothing. You are nothing. You are a rat and to be a rat is to be disgusting, dirt that squirms—beady eyes waiting for leftovers— offensive cretin. Creatures of the dark, ugly vermin. You are a rat, and what does it matter what you feel? 

You are a rat and you will spend your days hiding, running, escaping, every waking day trying to live in this big city that can’t wait to get rid of you, a city that they built from things they took from others too. But they just wait! Haven’t little people like you outlived lords before, like the dinosaurs, creatures who died of their own hubris too?    

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metaphysics personal life philosophy reflections

What If Everything Will Have Always Been Us

The other day, I was thinking about Ate Belle and remembered that it has been almost four years since she died. I was deciding on when I was going to fold clothes when the memory of her in our house, calmly sifting through the freshly laundered shirts and sheets, came back to my head.

I really should’ve paid attention to how she did it. Then again, folding clothes is one of the chores which I absolutely don’t enjoy. Some of my friends, like Mela and Jessica, find it therapeutic; I find it dull and repetitive. I’d rather cook or do the groceries than be stuck folding clothes for what feels like an eternity.

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personal life philosophy pop culture rambling reflections vegan

Suffering is a Cookie: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Suffering, I thought–as I bit on the half-eaten mango that I had stored in the refrigerator yesterday, is inevitable. There was nothing new to this concept: Buddhism’s First Noble Truth discusses the dissatisfaction that arises from changing states–hence, suffering is but a discomfort from a present situation which isn’t exactly what you expect.

But what I was wondering about was whether suffering was diminished the earlier one accepted it.

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film gay personal life pop culture reflections vegan

Solidarity or Shit: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Last night, I watched Netflix’s “The Platform” (El Hoyo), a dystopian science-fiction film which explores class warfare and how a threat could force people to cooperate.

I’ve been mulling about how the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the entrenched inequalities in our society. Already we’re seeing how the less privileged are made to choose between dying from hunger or dying from the disease, while the rich continue to believe that these people are merely being stubborn–lacking the discipline that is demanded by this enhanced community quarantine imposed by the Philippine government, when in fact, it is the very privilege these rich people have that allow them to easily follow the rules.

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personal life rambling reflections travel

Love in the Time of the Novel Coronavirus

All travel is fiction, you told yourself, as you walked around Ximending that cold morning. You’ve been too obsessed with getting the details right that you forgot that the experience is more important, the feelings you will take away from this whole trip.

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books personal life philosophy pop culture reflections

Is There Really A Self? (& 10 PM Explorations of Being)

“Connecting Time”, an exhibition by Daniel Arsham. Taken at the MOCO Museum in Amsterdam, October 2019

A few years back, right after I graduated from college, I had to be confined because of depression.

In the facility, our days were regimented. We (the other patients and I) woke up at 6 in the morning, stretched for a bit, ate breakfast, did a morning activity that lasted for an hour or so, had lunch, then took a break. We had another activity in the afternoon, and then a quick snack, then a break before dinner. At 9 pm, they would turn off the lights.

During that period of confinement, I got to meet another patient, who was reading a book on Buddhism, which I ended up reading because I was bored with the routines. I remember being engrossed with the part about anattā, which is the Buddhist concept of non-self.

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personal life reflections travel

Displacement Theory

A puzzled dog inside Oma, a restaurant in Brussels where I ate one of the best vegan buffets I’ve had in my life

Lately I’ve been feeling a sense of displacement. It usually strikes me every time I come back from a long trip, as if I’m straddling between two worlds, one that is familiar and one where I am invisible, where I only exist as a random face, a stranger.

I know that home is a wonderful place to be in. I honestly don’t have the right to be dissatisfied. I enjoy a lot of things here that many people don’t. I don’t mean to say that with a smug sense of satisfaction, but to acknowledge that I’m lucky. (Maybe to say one is lucky repeatedly can be some way of humble-bragging as well, but…shrugs.)

Categories
personal life reflections travel

The Weight of a Life in Wonder

At certain moments of your life, the question comes, during a pause:

Selfie with “Untitled (Donkey)” by Jeff Koons, at the Moco Museum (October 2019)

What am I doing here?

What the hell am I doing here?

Categories
personal life reflections

Of Grit and Grace

Much has been said about persistence and perseverance: how, if you are only forceful and determined enough, you could achieve whatever it is that you set your mind to.

A wall of photos and business cards (Vietnam, 2014)
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film personal life reflections Uncategorized

For the Privileged, a Performance of the Poor

“They’re rich, but still nice.”

“They’re nice because they’re rich.”

Jon Bong Hoo, “Parasite
A still from Jon Bong Hoo’s “Parasite”

During my freshman year in high school, my older brother and I had to be sent off to a public high school in Quezon City after my parents incurred a huge debt because of a failed business. The financial loss meant that they could no longer afford to send us to the private school near our home in Las Piñas. My aunt convinced my mom that the high school near her place had better standards than the usual public schools, and so my mom decided that we would live with our aunt and our cousins so we could study there.

As a kid, I felt that it was all a game. I imagined how that year was going to be fun, and how I’d have interesting stories to share to my friends back home once I came back to my old school.

My new classmates saw me and my brother as a curiosity. I remember how they would ask me questions about my old school–why I had to uproot myself from that life in exchange for this strange one. I vaguely remember dodging some of those questions, but what I could recall was how I found it amusing that they would speak to me in English, as if they expected me to be beyond speaking in the vernacular.