Let The Slow Clapping Commence

Photo courtesy of tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of tumblr.com

Greenbelt apparently is a haven for expats. And where there are expats, you will also find the — how should I say it delicately, uhmm, you know the girls in skimpy dresses or short shorts with matching f**k-me heels? But just to clarify, not all of them are prostitutes, the other half actually are girlfriends/wives of the expats.

Sunday night, my friend, Ryan and I decided to brave the rain for some much needed alcohol fix. We were supposed to meet at 10 at Distillery but apparently, they’re closed on Sundays. So then we headed to Greenbelt, which not surprisingly, was still abuzz. The rain has stopped then but the air was thick with humidity. My shirt was drenched in sweat and my hair stuck to my nape. I was in my usual shirt and sneakers combo. For someone on a nightout, I looked like I just finished an intense workout.

After a quick dinner at Cucina Andare (pretty much their version of banchetto) we went to look for a bar and settled for Spicy Fingers at Greenbelt 1. The place is nice if you’re into red decor and somewhat pricey drinks. Uhmm, yes, don’t go there wearing red. You’ll blend with the couches and you could easily be mistaken for a server and/or crew.

Quite naturally, Ryan and I surveyed the surroundings and realized that we were in a place crowded with expats and their significant others, Filipina dates/girlfriends/wives. Now this is the part where I have to duck because you’ll be throwing rocks and tomatoes at me but I would just have to put it out there. I’m one of those people who make fun of Filipinas with foreign partners, especially those with cringe-inducing older partners. My friends and I refer to said expats as “pangkabuhayan showcase.” I guess the nearest translation of that is a source of livelihood.

Of course, not all of these interracial relationships are fiscally motivated. I do have friends who have expat partners without the economic factor being the forefront of their love stories. For this post, I won’t be using the current nationwide statistics of these unions because I’m too lazy to research the numbers. Instead, I’ll use the crowd at Spicy Fingers.

So most of the couples there were American and European men, mostly middle aged with Pinay partners aged early 20s to mid-30s. Roughly. There were also a group of Indian couples with Filipino friends. Or maybe they were Turkish. We could hardly tell. There were only 3 tables expat-free, Mine and Ryan’s, a yuppy couple’s and a group of 4 girls. To be honest, we don’t really know the reputation of Spicy Fingers. For all we know, they’re really a famous hotspot for interracial nightouts. But anyway, Ryan and I couldn’t help talking about these couples. We both admitted we were being judgemental in thinking these women are all after money and/or getting out of the country. And at the height of meanness, every time we see a Pinay-expat couple with age/looks disparity, we would do the slow clap. Too much age disparity deserves a slow clap with standing ovation. That mean.

You see, Ryan and I truly are not just ignorant, prejudice pricks because soon after, we launched into a socio-economic discourse of these relationships. Yes, we poke fun at these Pinays but how many among us see them as women who gave up the traditional romantic notions and instead decided to be pragmatic and made sacrifices just to provide for their family, help send their siblings to school, help a sickly relative get proper medical treatment, help parents build a house with a roof that could withstand typhoons and so on and so forth. Isn’t that noble than, say, marrying your childhood sweetheart and still asking money from your parents because you’re short on rent? Of course, I’m not saying that my example is a representative of most Filipino couples. What I’m trying to point out is that my Filipino couple example isn’t a butt of jokes, but those interracial relationships are.

I can’t help feeling sad looking at these girls who were mostly my age. Can you imagine being young and sleeping next to someone older than your father? How about relocating to your husband’s place where the sun does not show up for months? Most of all, how would you feel knowing that your family and friends talk behind your back about how you married your husband so you could get a green card and/or send your brother to college. Also, as is always being pointed out, these women actually help the economy, mainly due to remittance.

But I really shouldn’t feel bad for these women. What do I really know about what they think when they lie at night? Why do I even think that they are sad and wish for a different life? For all I know, as they lie next to their husbands at night, the last thoughts they have before drifting to sleep is how grateful they are for the life they live.

I don’t want to preach about how we should probably lay off on the jokes and the slow clapping. It’s not my place to do so. Besides, I know I’m still gonna make the jokes and do the slow clap. But I hope we try to see them in a different light, too. How about respect for their choice? How about appreciation for their wisdom and courage? But geez, I wish they would lay off on the skimpy dresses and the stripper heels.

 

*For Tasos. When I fell for you, the thought of you building my parents a big house in the province didn’t even cross my mind. I did daydream though of us and blue-eyed kids in a classic Greek house. Lol.

A Vicious Cycle

The cycle is hard to break. The shame in that admission consumes you.
The memories weigh heavy on your soul. What did you do to deserve this?
The tears don’t come no more. Instead, a dark shadow haunts your gaze.
You are young but weary, your bones creaking to the weight of your solitude.
The darkness will soon have to give way for the sunrise. But how can you appreciate the burst of colors if you keep your gaze down.
Time has long deserted you. The days are all the same.
They come and they go and you are stuck in a place where the past, the present and the future is a haunting ballad on a loop.
Time is a box of matte black and white photographs that remind you of a happier time and a dull ache that never goes away.
Someday, somehow, you have got to stop giving him the power to hurt you.

 

 

 

Buses and Trains by Bachelor Girl

So I walked under a bus
I got hit by a train
Keep falling in love
Which is kinda the same
I’ve sunk out at sea
Crashed my car, gone insane
And it felt so good
I want to do it again

Hey Mom
Why didn’t you warn me
Coz about boys is something i should have known
They`re like chocolate cake
Like cigarettes
I know they’re bad for me
But I just can’t leave ’em alone

Now Hiring: A Boyfriend

Job Opportunity: The Boyfriend
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Photo courtesy of quickmeme.com

Photo courtesy of quickmeme.com

Responsibilities:

* Weekly recreational activities including, but not limited to: eating out, visiting museums, going to the beach, attending Sunday mass, watching movies and stage plays

* Occasional compliments to sustain The Girlfriend’s self-esteem and overall well being

* Occasional attendance in The Girlfriend’s family events

* Occasional posting of “couple” photos on Facebook, Twitter and other social media to validate relationship

* Occasional gift-giving, need not be expensive, creativity highly required

* Regular bed-related relationship-enhancing activities, including but not limited to, sex

* Regular mediated (text, call, chat, email, etc) communication with The Girlfriend, at least once but not exceeding 5 in a day

Photo courtesy of quickmeme.com

Photo courtesy of quickmeme.com

Qualifications:

* Candidate must be 25 to 38 years old

* Candidate should be college level; a holder of Bachelor’s/College Degree, MA, Ph.D and MBA preferred but not required

* Experience preferred but not required

* Applicants must be willing to work in Metro Manila

* Applicants must be willing to travel

* Knowledge of foreign language/s preferred but not required

* Ability to play one or more musical instruments preferred (except bass guitar)

* Candidate should be full-time employee/employer (applications of bums will automatically be rejected)

One (1) full time position available.
Previous applicants need not apply.
The Girlfriend offers an attractive benefits package with long-term prospects.

Send applications through its8am@gmail.com.
Walk-in applicants will not be entertained.

A Non-lover’s Love Letter

You’ve always been quiet. Sometimes I wonder what’s going on in that head of yours but most of the time I’m just content with the reassurance of your hands holding mine. You always tease me that maybe I talk too much to compensate for your silence. I would pretend to take offense so you’d kiss me as a way of apology.

I love waking up on Sunday mornings with the scent of your skin and the comfort of your arms around me. I’d gaze outside the window and wonder how many people out there are as lucky as I am to be with the man I love.

Infinity is when the wind plays with my hair as we cruise on deserted roads on your bike as the stars keep score on us. And as I close my eyes, I throw a wish that I could hold you like that forever.

We never had arguments but we had bitter fights that would leave me cold and desolate. Your defeaning silence used to tear me apart. We would go on days hurting each other, caring for our pride before we would succumb to a reconciliation.

When I stare at your eyes, I’m reminded of why I love you. And it’s not because you make fluffy pancakes or that you fix my computer because I keep doing the same stupid thing on it, or that you do not go out on Fridays because I always have to work Friday nights, or that you don’t get mad even if I don’t watch those movies you like so much; it’s because I like myself better when I’m with you. At times, you could make me the happiest person on earth. Other times, you could hurt me like no one else could. But always, I feel like I’m a better version of me when I’m with you. I don’t tell you this because sometimes I feel the shame in admitting that.

I have vague recollections of why we broke up. Did we grow apart? Did you get tired of my immaturity? Did I have enough of your silence? But I remember that day we finally said goodbye. You hugged me and wished me a good life. And I had to hold back my tears and pretended to be brave and wished you happiness.

I didn’t hear from you for so long. I did move on and tried to see other people. And so many things have happened since then. You became a distant memory of a first love that haunts me on lazy Sunday afternoons.

And now you’re back and we’re talking again and it’s like the old times. I talk to you about work and writing again and how Sheldon cracks me up. And you’re still quiet but you smile while you listen to my stories. And I couldn’t tell you how much I missed your smile. When you said you would want us to have dinner at our favorite place because you haven’t been there for a while, I had to remind you I still couldn’t go out on Fridays. I thought my heart would explode when you said it was okay because you still don’t go out on Fridays. I could only manage a weak smile but I wanted to hug you so hard that time and tell you how much I have missed you.

I am so happy that you’re back that it scares me to think of you leaving again. And so I’m writing you this because I want to tell you that I’ve watched those movies you downloaded for me (I still don’t like them though), and that I’ve tried so many recipes to make the pancakes the way you make them and that I miss you holding my hand while we wait for the train.

And so before I go to sleep. I pray that in the morning, I’d wake up next to you, bathed in the scent of your skin, finding bliss in your arms around me.

Photo courtesy of weheartit.com

Photo courtesy of weheartit.com

Something Beautiful by Robbie Williams

Photo courtesy of harlowheslop.com

Photo courtesy of harlowheslop.com

In celebration of Women’s month, most of my posts are about women. I initially wanted to make a playlist for women, a mix tape of sorts. But I couldn’t figure out how to put the play list here so instead from time to time I’ll post my choice of songs I hope you ladies would take the time to listen to. Of course, these aren’t truly exclusive to girls. So first up is Robbie Williams’s Something Beautiful. There’s no need for me to elaborate on the prose of this song but I want to emphasize the hopeful message it brings. Sometimes with all the ugliness around us, we forget about the beautiful things, and this reminds us to hold on to hope.

The silence was pitiful that day.
A love is getting too cynical
Passion’s just physical these days
You analyze everyone you meet
But get no sign, love ain’t kind
every night you admit defeat
and cry yourself blind

If you can’t wake up in the morning
Cause your bed lies vacant at night
If you’re lost, hurt, tired or lonely
Can’t control it, try as you might
May you find that love that won’t leave you
May you find it by the end of the day
You won’t be lost, hurt, tired and lonely
Something beautiful will come your way

Of Crowds and Fridays

Photo courtesy of hmdigiart.com

Photo courtesy of hmdigiart.com

Weekdays are hectic. The days go by in a blur of sweaty commute, hurried lunches, deadlines, office gossip, punctuated by his text messages reminding you that in another part of the city, he’s also caught in a routine and can’t wait for the weekend. Friday is a reward for the sacrifices of the week. But you’d have to contend with traffic jam and people flooding the malls due to weekend payday sale. And early summer heat reminds you that your feet are numb and you badly need a massage.

Then you see him waiting for you in the midst of a sea of faces, and you swear you can almost hear that The Cure song playing in the background. And the way he lights up when he sees you in the crowd is precious. You love this man and as he hugs you, you’re reminded of the promise Friday brings: that it’s gonna ignite the fire of a lover to burn through the darkness of your daily routine and the passion to satisfy the hunger to touch another soul.

The weariness of the whole week fades. The world is right again because it’s Friday, you’re in love.

Purple and Red

Photo courtesy of anitamurphyart.com

Photo courtesy of anitamurphyart.com

You hide in the shadows, and the darkness is your protection. You have built defenses for the unknown. On rare instances that the light reaches you, I catch a glimpse of your beauty. Do you see it, too? But you are afraid to look at your reflection. I have asked you this a thousand times but you quickly avert your gaze.

I saw you again today and I see your bruises. Dark colors smudge your skin screaming the pain in your spirit. I feel the shame for the injustice of your pain. Why do you let it so? Why don’t you fight back? Again, you cast your eyes to the floor and embrace your silence. The bruises are a quiet testament of your acceptance.

Your smile never reaches your eyes. What is the truth behind it? What is the color of your solace? Do you mourn the sunrise and eagerly wait for dusk? I want to climb your wall but I’m afraid to fall.

I saw you again today. You were holding his hands as you were walking down the stairs. Does he hold the key to the mystery? Does he make you happy? You gave me a nod and a little smile. You remind me of a little girl on the train waving at strangers.

I didn’t see you for a while since then. I thought you had moved. Maybe you went away with him. Or maybe you locked yourself in your room grieving the silence of the phone. Did he forget your birthday or was it anniversary? You wanted to paint your bedroom red but you are waiting for his approval. So now it’s still the lifeless gray that matches your gloom.

I see you again in the hallway and you’re covered in bruises. Do you even see them? Are you aware of your pain? Am I the only one who can see them? I finally had the guts to tell you what I should have the first time I saw the marks. He is not your savior. You are beautiful. Stop hurting yourself. You stared at me a long time and I saw a twinkle in your eyes. Did I just imagine it? You smiled and walked away.

I headed to my room and when I walked in, I pulled the blinds up, unhooked the phone and started painting the walls. Red is for passion and courage. Once done, I looked at the mirror and saw that the bruises are gone.

Re-learning and Remembering Love

This is an excerpt from the book 11 Minutes by Paulo Coelho and for me, the best part of the book, not just for Maria’s (protagonist) rhetoric on love and sex but because of the semicolons. I hope you also appreciate the beauty of Maria’s thoughts.

I would like to do for him what he did for me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I realise that I didn’t go into that cafe by chance; really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other. Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn emotionally. These meetings are waiting for us, but more often than not, we avoid them happening. If we are desperate, though, if we have nothing to lose, or if we are full of enthusiasm for life, then the unknown reveals itself, and our universe changes direction.

Everyone knows how to love, because we are all born with that gift. Some people have a natural talent for it, but the majority of us have to re-learn, to remember how to love, and everyone, without exception, needs to burn on the bonfire of past emotions, to relive certain joys and griefs, certain ups and downs, until they can see the connecting thread that exists behind each new encounter; because there is a connecting thread. And then, our bodies learn to speak the language of the soul, known as sex, and that is what I can give to the man who gave me back my soul, even though he has no idea how important he is to my life. That is what he asked me for and that is what he will have; I want him to be very happy.

Witching Hours

Once there was a witch who lived in the outskirts of town. The townspeople were wary of her although she has not bothered anybody. She was an orphan who has learned to slay her own dragons.

One day as she was roaming the forest, she came upon a man who has fallen off his horse. He was badly hurt. Unbeknownst to her, he was a prince from a nearby kingdom. She brought him home and nursed him back to health. While the prince was staying at her home, he fell in love with the witch. He confessed to her and asked her to marry him. She said yes for she has fallen for him, too. The prince bade her goodbye with a promise to return for their wedding.

When the prince got back to the castle, everyone was overjoyed, especially the king. He asked everyone to work on the prince’s wedding. The prince told him that he is going to marry the witch, and the king said it was preposterous. They were royalty and should not marry commoners, especially, outcasts. The prince tried to reason out but the king insisted since the princess is from a kingdom much bigger than theirs; hence, a very auspicious union.

The prince, weak as he was, was convinced it was the right thing to do to marry the princess. The wedding was festive and well-attended. When the witch found out about it, she wept hard and cursed her fate. She grieved the loss of his love and tried to forget about the man who betrayed him.

Meanwhile, the prince couldn’t live with the guilt of breaking his promise to his beloved. And no matter how beautiful and kind his princess is, he could never learn to love her. On warm nights when the stars glow bright and the trees whisper the secrets of the past, he could her the laughter of the witch and he swore he could smell the scent of her hair. The prince had a recurring nightmare of riding his horse on the forest and running after a woman in a billowing red skirt. But before he could catch her, he gets thrown off the horse.

His sleepless nights started to take a toll on his health and he got ill. Upon hearing about this, the witch went to the castle and volunteered to care for him. Realizing that she was the woman his son fell in love with, the king rejected her offer and sent her away. The prince died shortly thereafter.

The witch mourned the prince’s death and after a considerable amount of time, moved on and lived a full life. She slayed her own dragons and did not wait for princes or knights on a white horse. There were nights though when the moon is bright and the stars flood the skies and if you listen closely to the rustling of the leaves, you can hear the prince asking forgiveness from the witch and telling her that she was his true princess.

Photo courtesy of bailiandi.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of bailiandi.blogspot.com