Tuesday, May 31, 2005


It's 1:05AM. I have been spinning and turning in my bed for hours. I need to go to sleep, but I can't. I'm staring at the vast emptiness of my room, and nothing. I am tired. I am aimlessly lost within my own mind. What's going on? Is this supposed to be part of the grieving process? I can tell my brother is having trouble going to sleep as well, his television set is still on. I am listening to Aimee Mann's new CD, The Forgotten Arm, and Ryan Adam's new release, Cold Roses, but I can't even focus on the music. I can't decided whether I like it or not. I can watch television, but there is nothing to watch. There is a lot going on in my head, but there is nothing specific or concrete to really focus on. It's like to trying to pick up sand with your hands, you're able to feel it, but you're not able to grab and hold on to it.

Life isn't fair; but I learned that a long time ago. It's quite pointless to try expect fairness and justice in a world that doesn't function in such a way. I know that's a depressing and pessimistic realization to most people, but I find comfort in it. The sooner we can accept that life isn't fair, the faster we will be able to move forward in our lives. I find too many people drowning in their search to find justice and fairness, it's not a pretty sight.

Grieving for my father has exposed my emptiness and loneliness, and that is really difficult to deal with. I always found comfort that there was someone halfway across the world that loved me, and genuinely cared for me. It was an unspoken agreement that I made with him. I never held any hard feelings for him. I knew he loved me, I felt it. And I was pretty sure he understood my love for him. Every night I went to bed, I felt that love from him. I am not feeling that right now. And I am struggling to reconcile this emptiness and loneliness, and that's painful. Well nobody said it was going to be easy...

So what does this all mean? It's 1:26AM. I have to go to sleep, and I still can't. I'm waiting for that nightly battle with my eyelids. Aimee Mann's voice is clutching on to my throat, and I am coughing up circles. I am counting integers in my head, but the mathematics aren't working anymore. I'll just close my eyes, and dream of sheep. Sheep prancing around the green valleys, clicking their heels, plucking their banjos, and dancing to bluegrass music. I think this is how insanity begins...

Friday, May 27, 2005



One of the finer discoveries that I had while I was in the Philippines was having shots of Absinthe. Absinthe is a drink that contains a high-level of alcohol, typically 68%. The most important ingredient of Absinthe is the herb wormwood; Wormwood is a long-lived plant, with greyish-green leaves and the flowers have a greenish-yellow tint, and and has a similar molecular geometry with THC, the active chemical in cannabis. Which makes this drink illegal in most states and countries.

Absinthe was the drink of choice among artist and writers in the mid to late 19th century. It inspired poets and appeared in works by Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. It was drank by the scandalous playwright Oscar Wilde, the eccentric Toulouse-Lautrec, the poets Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allen Poe, and the famous 20th century author Ernest Hemingway, just to mention a few. It was a drink that brought out inspiration, and destruction to these artists.

Usually Absinthe is prepared by pouring cold water over a cube of sugar resting on a slotted spoon. The cold water dissolves the sugar while diluting the green Absinthe. The sugar helps to mask the bitterness of the absinthium and other oils. As the cold water mixed with the absinthe, it clouds to an opalescent white with a tint of green or yellow, this effect is called the, "louche". The louche occurs when the essential oils are not able to disperse in the water, therefore creating a clouding effect. The mix ratio is according to preference, usually 5 parts water to 1 part absinthe.

Well let's just say when I took the absinthe in Moravia, that we did not dilute the Absinthe. I took the Absinthe straight up with nothing but carmelized sugar on top. I had three shots the first weekend, and I had two the following week. It was quite an experience.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


One of the first things I did after my father's funeral was to go through all the family pictures we had in the house. This is one of my favorites...

And yes that cute bundle of joy is me on my father's lap.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Home at last! It feels surreal to be back in my room. I am definitely glad to be back home, in my bed, I don't think my mind and body could've survived another week in the Philippines. I'll definitely miss my family and all the new friends I've met over there. I know there is always a piece of my heart that will permeate there.

I am still a little jet-lagged, so I hit the gym early this morning (5AM) and weighed myself. I was expecting to have gained 5-10lbs, after not working out, and eating all the crap that I was eating there. To my surprise, I gained 1 pound. I was definitely surprised and satisfied, so I continued to run a few miles and do some weights, my body doesn't feel the same yet, but it will come around.

My older brother, Wowie, lives an interesting life. I've always wondered what it must feel like to live inside his head. Despite his special needs, he has always been the centerpoint of our family's conversations. He definitely makes our family dynamics very different than any other family. I'd like to give a sample of some of the Wowiesms that occurred while I was there...

- Convinced that his path to U.S. was by simply converting to the Mormon religion, Wowie asks my mom for a backpack, a white dress shirt, tie, and name tags so he can become one, after all "all they really do is walk around".
- During the mass for my father's funeral, we were all standing in the front row, suddenly I noticed that Wowie has disappeared. I turned around to find him socializing with the politicians. He was trying to schmooze his way to a job, after all he was now the "Man" of the family.
- When my father was alive, he convinced some traffic cops that Wowie used to be a former General in the Philippine Army, so whenever they saw him they always saluted him, and Wowie always saluted back.
- My father loved to buy Wowie some pretty weird T-shirts. One of the T-shirts that my father bought said "There are only 3 things you need in life - Car, Cellphone, and Chics." At the beginning of the trip he was 0 for 3. Since my father died, we gave him my father's car, so he finally had 1 of the 3. My mother gave him a cellphone. And I promised to get him a chic, but he was too shy in the bars. 2 out of 3 ain't bad, right? I told him that with the first two, a car and cellphone, getting a chic should be easy.
- So I taught him how to hit on a girl. I told Wowie to basically take out his cellphone and car keys, and wriggle it in front of girls and they're sure bound to fall in love with his charm.

Friday, May 20, 2005


It happened again last night. It hasn't happened in a while, but it happened last night. It was tunnel vision. The music became quickly silent, the flashing lights suddenly slowed to a crawl. It's supposed to be that part of the movie where the beautiful debutante enters the club, and the spotlight would hit her, and some sappy romantic song would be cued, but there was none of that. Instead there was just an empty spot on the dance floor. Everyone else fluttered around me like moths to a flame. I was frozen there in the middle of the dance floor, drowning in naivete and emptiness. And that's when it happened...

I suddenly realized that within a few days I will be turning 29. I hadn't really thought about the significance of that age, but 29 is 29. It's not like turning 21, and it's not like turning 40, but it's right there somewhere in the middle. I looked around me, and I felt like there is more to my purpose in this world, than standing around in a club half-way across the world being grinded on by some random girl that I will never meet again. I then began to think about that Talking Heads song, Once In A Lifetime.

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself.
Well...How did I get here?

And I keep asking myself, How did I get here? And you're telling me that this is all supposed to make sense in the end. How do people make sense of their lives and purpose? Am I supposed to even ask that question? How the hell did I get here???

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


After weeks and days of emotional and physical distress it was time to let off some steam. So from Thursday night to Saturday night we invaded all of Bacolod's nightlife, which is like 3 bars. I made the best out of the situation. Thursday night was a little slow, but I just wanted to get out, so I didn't really care. Friday night definitely blew up. We started the night at my cousin's, Charles, bar, and after a few shots of delicious Absinthe, I pretty much danced the night away on the dance floor. I think my high energy partying style took some people by surprise, but I hate just sitting around picking my nose when I'm drunk, I want to do stuff, and if the music is perfect, I'll be the first on the dance floor and the last to leave. Met some nice girls at North at the end of the night, before going back to my hotel.

Saturday went a notch a higher than Friday night, we spent most of the time at MO2 dancing and drinking. I'm still not used to the small town atmosphere here, where everybody knows each other. I'm not familiar with everyone's history it has been to advantage and disadvantage.

I've never had a Filipina girlfriend, they never seem to be attracted to me, and I never seem be attracted to them, it was a good agreement between us. But after this trip, I'm a changed man. Filipinas are freaking hot. They've won me over. Hot damn!!

Monday, May 16, 2005


Having to bury your parents can be very difficult and emotionally powerful, but I do hope everyone in their lives gets a chance to properly eulogize and honor their parents. I've realized that death is inevitable, even for our parents. I know my mother and father seemed invincible when I was a kid, they were superman and superwoman. They were the omnipotent presence in my life, and to see them grow old and getting closer to death, it is something that we all do not like to think or admit to, but it is something that inevitable. I was asked to give a eulogy on behalf of my family, here is what I said:

How do you measure the life of one man? My father celebrated 69 birthdays, woke up to 23,125 mornings, lived 555,580 hours, watched 4 vibrant sons, a beautiful daughter, a bouncing grandson, and a devoted wife. There are hundreds of friends and relatives here today to offer their last respects to the life of one man. But I'd like to think there is more to life than numbers. We are all here today because we all shared a love with this man, my father; and that this love will resonate with us for the rest of our lives.

You see now I understand, I am proud and humbled to he his son. And as I am learning to become a man, I am also learning how to love, and have passion in my life, and at this moment I can truly say that "I Love You." Although I may never understand what it must've been like to live inside his head. After meeting all the lives that he has touched throughout the eyars, I feel so much closer to him than I had ever had before, and I feel like he is here with me now. It's not all good, and it's not all bad, and I am thankful for all the love and memories that we shared with him. We all have to continue to make the most of what we have in the time we have. I am fortunate enough to have learned how to live and have inspiration in my life, and it's all because of my father.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


For most of my life I really never understood my father's love affair with our house in Victorias City in the Phillippines. It's an old 90-year old Spanish Colonial house in the middle of the city's noisiest hub fro tricycles and jeepneys. It is a haven of smog, pollution, dirt, dust, wind, and a centralized part of the city's gateway. This is the house the I grew up in, and have heard countless claims that it is haunted. The glory years of this house has obviously passed, and yet my father continued to lived there. He never seemed comfortable anywhere else in this world, that was his little kingdom of heaven. He could've chosen to live anywhere in this world, but he was very adamant in staying in this forgotten city in the region. Even though most of his friends had deserted the city, he wasn't willing to do so.

Victorias City used to be a prosperous hub of the sugar cane industry in the Philippines, but with the decline of sugar prices, it is nothing more than a purgatory for people who have lost hope. By 8pm, the city shuts down, there are no bars, clubs, or anything else to do but go home. The streets are empty except for the stray dogs and the street kids. It is very eerie.

After my father's death, I'm slowly starting to understand why my father held on so tight to this place. This house was the same house that he grew up in, and when he married my mom, my grandmother gave this house to him. He was so grateful with that gesture that he has refused to leave it. It was a way for him to honor his family. Demolishing it, selling it would've been disrespectful. I want to honor that same conviction that he has. We're not going to sell this place. We might remodel it a little bit, but this house will be a part of our family as long as my brothers and sisters are alive.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I've kept myself relatively healthy over the past couple of weeks despite the emotional and physical toll that has been piling up on me; but today when I woke up, I just felt like shit. Despite my strict rules of not drinking the water, I finally relented and drank some water. I thought since it was filtered water that I would be OK, but that wasn't the case. I was chasing the bathroom all day yesterday. So I took a couple of pills (don't know what) and headed to the spa, where I got the best full body massage in my life for P200 (about $4). I think I'm going to go back there every day. My body feels rejuvenated and my mind is clear, a perfect opportunity to go out and abuse it later on tonight.

I'm diving into the Bacolod nightlife with my cousin tonight, and after a few quick glances last week, I know it can get dangerous really quick. Everyone here seems to be packing a knife, so I have to be real careful about where I end up. Age limits for bars and drinking doesn't seem to exist here, so 14, 15, 16, 17 year old girls are rubbing elbows with you in the bars and clubs. I now understand why we have drinking age limits in the states.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I buried my father on Saturday, it was the most surreal experience I've ever had. There were politicians, relatives, friends, and strangers all there. There were people from my father's farms that were there to pay there respects, and the governor was there. It's rare to have such a diverse economic group represented in a funeral, especially with the division between the wealthy and the poor so obvious here in this third world country. When I delivered my eulogy, I lost it on stage, there were a couple moments where I got choked up, I had a stream of tears run down my face. It was tough, but I also felt a ton of weight was taken off of me when I was able to do that. When my dad was finally placed in the same cemetary space as his parents, I was the last one to touch his grave. I was there to make sure he was sealed properly. I took it pretty hard, harder than I expected.

It's tough enough to deal with the emotional impact that death can deal to a family, but there is the political aspect of it. Death can heal the wounds between families or continue its rupture from one another. Death also begets issues with money, inheritance, and responsibilities. These are all issues that are being brought up front. I haven't really had a chance to vent much of my grief yet, most of the time I've spent with my family and just being with each in various forms. I am learning what it takes to be a father-figure in a real fast manner. I could see my younger brother, sister, and nephew start to look up to me for stability, strength, and direction.

Later this week I am planning to stay with my aunt's house in Bacolod City, as close to civilization as you can get in this place. Victorias City, where we're from, there isn't much of a nightlife, pretty much after 8pm, everything closes down, too many stabbings have kept the people indoors. But I'm in dire need to release some emotions, I feel like I have cabin fever in Victorias City.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


My older brother Wowie (Owie as Nathan calls him), I am hella proud to be his baby brother.

Chillin' at the mall with my nephew.

It's nice to know that baldness runs in the family. Hanging out with my cousins...

Having dinner with my aunt and cousins.

I went out for the first time Bacolod last night, and my cousin is still passed out in the funeral parlor. We toasted to my father and we definitely shared some stories. We drank all night and hitchhiked back. And trust me hitchhiking in a third world country on a Wednesday night can be fucking dangerous. I was surprised we weren't run over. I never really grew up with my cousins because I lived in the states, but its amazing how similar we all are. And I am definitely feeling the warmth and support that they are giving me right now. I don't think its to anyone's surprise that I am much more closer to my cousins on my mother's side than in my father's side. Even though I may have take most of my physical attributes from my father's side, I think I definitely take my passion and vitality from my mother's side.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


It’s all there
somewhere between the middle and the end,
from the pulse of light that passes through beneath the door,
to all the things that we took for granted,
life inches forward at the speed of light.

but, it’s all there in the end
from our first communion to our final embrace,
every single time we open the morning blinds.
it's like catching rain on our tongue.

The circus of life,
the swaying trees,
the first morning dew,
the sunflowers
like the flutter of a butterflies’ wings,
or a pollinating bee.
life like the shifting tides
life like the piercing rains
life like the crashing waves
life like an empty shoe
or a dancing pen,
hope rages like a rocket within us.

It’s all there
somewhere amidst the darkest of nights,
from the weight of regret to the shaking fists of anger,
to all the words that we failed to say,
life inches forward with shifting pistons.

but, it’s all there in the end
from our first scraped knee to our last supper,
every single time we laugh at the stories we shared.
it's like catching rain on our tongue.

The circus of life
the gushing flow of streams,
the weeping midnight stars,
the snapdragons
like sand marching through your fingers,
or melting icebergs.
life like shrieking babies,
life like whistling blue birds,
life like wriggling earthworms
life like an empty shoe
or a dancing pen,
hope rages like an furnace within us.

It’s all there
beneath the depths of the deepest seas
to the heights of the highest mountains,
it consumes our sins, anger, hatred, and regret
life inches forward like electrical currents.

but, it’s all there in the end
from our first Christmas to our last birthday cake,
every single time we tie our shoes on.
it's like catching rain on our tongue.

We’re all clearly at the edge
of a vast canyon of a man’s life,
trying to make sense
of our own sadness and desolation
but hope will spring out
with a chorus of inspiration.

It’s in the thunder of a diesel engine.
It’s in the lightning that races in our veins.
It’s in our reflection in front of the mirror.
It’s in the lullabies of roosters.
It’s in the spark of a match.
It’s in the pop of a wine bottle.
It’s in the heat of steaming white rice.

It will always be there,
behind this one man,
beneath a pair of brilliant eyes,
behind each story,
beneath a beautiful face,
behind each laughter,
inspiration rages…

hope is a flower
hope is flowers
blooming all the time.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Hope is flowers
Hope is a flower blooming in the morning

I've spent most of my time here hanging out with my nephew, Nathan. His vitality is definitely keeping our spirits up. I can't imagine how our mental and emotional situation would be without his youthful zeal and enthusiasm. Spending a lot of time with him, also has emphasized that I'm probably closer to having a family than I would like to admit. Kinda scary.

I have slowly settled in this crazy little place. My cousins have definitely helped distract me. Even though I didn't really grow up with them, and we barely know each other, there is something about family that just allows us to bond with out any recourse. They've provided me with plenty of distractions.

I am still emotionally spent. I had to watch the funeral workers inject my father with more embalming fluid, and to retouch his makeup, that affected me in a strange way. The workers do this every day to countless dead bodies, so I don't blame them, but it was very surreal when they were carrying a conversation about their usual banal lives as they were treating my father's body. I felt like grabbing them and throwing them up against the wall, but I was too tired and too drained to really do anything about it.

The funeral is this Saturday, my father will be buried next to my grandparents. We've already arranged an escort by police for the transfer of his body from Bacolod to our hometown in Victorias where he will be buried. I'm very close to finishing my eulogy and poem. Once I finish it, I will post it.

- The average daily salary here is 100 Pesos for an 8 hour day, that's less than $2. It's sad.
- I love Filipino beer. I forgot how tasty Pilsens and Red Horse is in the Philippines.
- Food is in very small portions.
- I can't believe they even have a McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut here.
- Filipinos sometimes have the darnest names, I've met people named Tin-Tin, Bong-Bong, La-La, Boy Boy, Bing, Teng, and Ling-Ling. What's up with Filipinos repeating their names? I think it's just to make sure we don't forget...

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Sleep. I finally had about six hours of sleep. I just passed out on the corner of my bed even as my nephew, Nathan, kept jumping on me. I woke up early in the morning to spell my brother in making sure there was someone always up to be with the well-wishers and visitors. Nathan and I were alone for a few hours and we really had a great chance to bond. I think Nathan has been one of the biggest saviour for our family's sanity. His playfulness, vitality, and energy is very welcome amidst the tense and emotional environment that we are currently mired in.

Early in the morning, one of my dad's drinking buddies stopped by, I hardly remember him, but he sat down and told me of stories about my dad. You can tell a from a person by the stories their drinking buddies tell about them. Which kinda scares me, because my future children will be hearing the same fucked up stories from my friends. And it always When he was young he used to do the darnest thing....

I'm feeling a little better. I took a shower today, which did a lot of help, and I am tempted to try out the blind masseuse at the mall. I'm just a little scared that I might be getting more than what I'm bargaining for, after all I'm in a third world country, where happy endings are mandatory.

I felt a little bit of tension from my dad's side of the family, but I don't really care about it. I'm more concerned about my immediately family than what everyone else outside of it really thinks. I don't owe anyone an explaining or an excuse.

I saw two groups of mormon missionaries today, damn! I can't escape them can't I?


19 Hours, two stale airplane meals, 5 poems, 123 songs, and thousands of miles of sleepless unconsciousness later, and I land. I just landed in the City of Smiles, Bacolod City. It is hot. It is wet. It is depressing. This city used to be inspiring, but now it's just like hell. This was the city that I was born, and it bears no resemblance to the city I once knew. It is no bustling busy city, enthralled with capitalism, but lacking in capital.

I haven't had a wink of sleep in three days, so what's new? I feel so lost and detached right now. I saw my father's body in his coffin, and I went numb for a few minutes. I had to take a few steps back. I had to escape. So I am here at an internet cafe in the mall, surrounded by grade school kids playing video games on the net. The world continues to turn, but I remain standing still, and this makes perfect sense. I don't know where this is heading, but I am determined to write a eulogy that befits this great man. I have fear in my heart, the kind of fear that throbs and pulses like an exploding volcano. There is helplessness within me, I walk around like a zombie in a town where I don't know anyone. Where everyone looks at me like a ghost. This is supposed to make sense to me. I am feeling a whirlwind of emotions, from fear, anger, pain, helplessness, and disillusionment. But it's OK, I don't want it to go away, this is how its supposed to feel. Makes you feel a little alive doesn't it???