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personal life rambling travel

Playing It Cool

Autumn is coming. It’s not here yet, but I can already feel the weather getting colder. The weather here has been generally chilly, but I think it’s because I’m used to the tropical heat in Manila (not to say that I liked Manila weather, but I’ve grown accustomed to the oppressive and humid climate to know how to work around it, such as: never to wear anything colored, unless I wanted sweat spots all over my shirt.

That reminds me of this one time in Singapore on my way to a meeting when I messed up with Google Maps’s directions, and I was left dripping in my own sweat—but I’ll save that for another story.)

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personal life rambling reflections travel vegan

Live Long Enough to Cringe

“A good place to retire,” my fiancé said that afternoon as he pointed at a “For Lease” sign on one of the charming whitewashed houses here in Perast, a small village facing the Bay of Kotor, in Montenegro.

Although we were decades away from quitting our jobs, I imagined living in this town: half-naked under the sun, lazily reading by the lake, the crystal waters stretching for miles that made you believe it was the sea.

Perast, a charming town inhabited by around 200 people, by the Bay of Kotor

It was appealing, I thought, the idea of a never-ending vacation—but I also told myself that was probably because I still found all of this new and wonderful after being cooped up for months inside my studio in Makati.

“Yes,” I said, “But what will we eat?”

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gay personal life rambling reflections travel

Giving Up to Live

Christmas Day, 2020

“And if it is love, it is a curiously inefficient force, urge and halt, both at the same time. I want, but nothing I can propose would satisfy this wanting. I can’t say what it is I want, not anything much…Simply I want. Earnestly, most hurriedly, wretchedly want.”

– “At Swim, Two Boys”, Jamie O’Neill

I’m typing this at a food court in Dubai Airport Terminal 3 while waiting for my flight to Clark. There’s a three-hour layover and I’m eating the vegan falafel sandwich my boyfriend lovingly prepared before I left the UK, which he handed to me just as he was sending me off in Heathrow.

It’s midnight, I’ve almost finished the sandwich, and I’m still hungry, but I’m not sure if the eggplant tofu dish being served at the Panda Express behind me is even vegan. So this will have to do (not that I’m settling in any sense—it is delicious falafel.)

After one and a half months staying in London, I’m now trying to figure out what I feel about going back to Manila.

I love the Philippines, no doubt about it, and I’ve often said that I couldn’t imagine myself living elsewhere. But relationships have a way of making people reconsider things, such as—what exactly should we give up for the people we love?

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metaphysics personal life pop culture rambling reflections travel world events

The End of the F***ing Year

A sunless day in London, December 2020.

I’ve been thinking about the end of this year and I imagine curtains closing—the velvet drapes sweeping to meet in the middle as it hides away the stage. But instead of the end of a play, it is the turn of the magician’s trick—the second act following the pledge, when the magician makes a promise. As the lights dim and the audience holds its breath, the magician prepares the next act, this third and final act, the reveal that upturns the spectators’ assumptions.

What the trick is, I don’t know. We started 2020 hoping that we will have a better year, the bookend to a decade that was in many ways crazy and exciting and sad: the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok (which was—perhaps—the death knell for bloggers-as-opinion leaders, to be replaced by social media influencers); the explosion of the #MeToo movement and “Black Lives Matter”,  putting front and center social inequalities, except unlike before when we only had mainstream media to spotlight these issues, now everyone who had a mobile phone could easily pitch in the conversation; the age of disinformation ushered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which also leads us to ask: are we actually free, or are we just biological switchboards that can easily be manipulated by pushing a few buttons here and there? 

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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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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.)

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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?