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The Observer Effect


​The other day, I was watching a video on Facebook about a group of filmmakers who were caught in a predicament: should they rescue the emperor penguins which were trapped in a ravine, or should they let nature run its course and uphold the documentarist’s code of non-intervention?   

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Wherein, I Try to Capture a Feeling: A Week in Shanghai

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Terminal 2, Pudong Airport, Shanghai (2018)

There is a gap we do not talk about, the in-betweens. We always talk about point A’s to point B’s, one goalpost to another, the beginning and the end.

It’s the middle spaces that get lost in what we talk about: the gray, fuzzy areas that are undetermined and blurry.

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How We Begin

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A hotel room in Singapore, 2013

This is how we begin:

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I Did A Thing

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A still from “Delia & Sammy”, a feature length finalist in CineFilipino 2018

Okay, indulge me please.

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Bookends

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I am writing this as I’m taking a break from packing all my belongings in a large suitcase, seeing all the things I’ve accumulated over the past few years. I am moving out of my unit this end of April–the end of my two-year lease in this studio and a four-year stay in this building.

It’s strange and a bit surreal to see all my possessions unravel, the way my whole life is summarized by the objects and trinkets I’ve accumulated.

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Begin at the End

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Indonesia, 2012

Time.

Recently, a friend and former colleague passed away in his sleep, much to the surprise of all of us he left. He was young—in his early 40s. You could say there still was more to life at that age.

But life goes on. We amble forward.The inevitability of death shouldn’t be that surprising, when one thinks about it. At times it comes quietly; sometimes, violently.

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A Softer World

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“”Little Children on a Bicycle”, by Ernest Zacharevic (taken during my first visit to Penang, Malaysia in 2013)

I’m lucky.

Before I begin to even delve into the many things that I feel lucky to have (which is not the intention of this post), I understand that it sounds as if I’m smug about the privilege that I have.

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Counting Down the Days

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A blur

Where did the year go? (And how many people across the world are saying the same thing?)

Truth be told, there were times when I’d remember a memory (the Coldplay concert in Taiwan, for example) and realize that it happened just not too long ago.

A few days, a few weeks, a few months back.

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Higit sa Salita

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Yogyakarta, 2012

Dear Ate Belle,  

Kamusta?  

Alam ko na wala namang point na magsulat ng sulat sa mga patay. Pero iniisip ko, siguro, kapag pwede na ang mag-time travel, madadala ko itong sulat na ito sa’yo. O baka, merong makakabasa ng sulat na ito sa future, at magta-time travel siya para ipabasa sa’yo.

Mahigit isang taon na nung nawala ka. Minsan, nakakalimutan ko na wala ka na. Kapag nagluluto ako, o nagtitiklop ng mga linabhan, o naggo-grocery, iniisip ko kung paano mo ginagawa ito dati para sa amin. 

Siguro napakareductive na isipin na ito ang mga bagay na nagpapaalala sa akin nung buhay ka pa. Sa makakabasa, siguro iisipin nila na napakababaw ng perception ko tungkol sa’yo, na ang naiisip ko lang ay yung mga panahon na naninilbihan ka. Na nagsisilbi ka.

Pero para sa akin, dun mo higit na ipinakita ang pagmamahal mo. Doon ko pinakanaramdaman ang pagmamahal mo sa amin. Sa serbisyo. Na inalay mo ang buhay mo para sa amin. Marahil, sa tahimik mong paraan, ipinakita mo na mahal mo kami. 

Kasi hindi ba, ganun talaga ang pag-ibig? Na wala iyon sa salita, kung hindi sa gawa. Sa araw-araw na pagpaparaya, na pagpapatuloy, na pagpupursige. Marahil, ang malaking aral na naituro mo sa amin ay mas matimbang ang pag-ibig na ipinamalas sa gawa, mahigit pa sa salitang binitawan dala ng bugso ng damdamin.

Naiisip ko, para saan? Para saan ang lahat? Karapat-dapat ba kami sa pag-ibig na binigay mo? Minsan iniisip ko na hindi kami siguro ang karapat-dapat nakatanggap ng pagmamahal mo. Siguro may ibang tao na mas deserving nuon. 

Ngunit, siguro, hindi mo naman inisip na may kapalit, na sa bawa’t inalay mo, may nakaabang na kabayaran. Kahit na nanilbihan ka bilang kasambahay, alam ko na hindi mapapalitan ng kahit anong halaga ang buhay na ibinigay mo para sa amin. 

Gusto kong matuto kung paano magmahal katulad mo: na kahit nakakatakot, ay patuloy na nagbibigay. 

Ate Belle, iniisip ko na yakap kita ngayon. May isang hibla sa kawalang-hanggan na magkayakap tayo, at hindi iyon natatapos. Sa isang hibla ng kawalang-hanggan, hawak mo ang kamay ko. 

Mahal na mahal kita. Nami-miss kita, Ate Belle. 

Paalam muli,
​Evan

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Let’s Talk About Depression

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Siumou Chow’s “Solitude”, taken during a 2014 trip in Penang, Malaysia
Recently, comedian Joey de Leon got a lot of flak because of his insensitive remarks about depression.
Yung depression, gawa-gawa lang yan,” he flippantly said, and asked people to not support anyone who claims to suffer from it.
He has apologized since. A lot of rebuttals have also been made online. The incident became a necessary springboard to give this issue wider attention.
With all the noise (albeit welcome), I felt that adding more to the buzz would be futile. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt that I needed to talk about my experience. I needed to own up to what I felt, and make people who feel the same way know they’re not alone.