Archive for June, 2009


Word Salad

The day was a rose

Its summer musk too

Wet and wild

Like aerosols and sand spray.

Tip as a mask

With chin in a man too

Calling, falling

Simpletons and crazy loons.

* * * * *

To end the blue radish is the upside of luxury and sparking a good lizard can only make tears fall in hindsight. Puddles do not ask for why not? It is cheese, breath, and wind. It is cheese. (JS/AS-BL)


The Day It Rained On The Beach

The following short story was first published in 1992 in B.A. Review, the news magazine of the Business Administration Division of the Ateneo de Davao University. I was about 18 when I wrote it.

The Day It Rained On The Beach

It was three in the afternoon and I was alone in my room. The air was humid, making me feel uneasy, and my thoughts were filled with the memories of a girl I once had before. There was nothing important to do – no homework, no exams – and the boredom was driving me crazy. I figured I had to do something, so I took my motorbike and decided to go to the beach.

Along the way, I could imagine the low waves that break into white foam and the beautiful horizon where the sea meets the sky. I always loved the beach and I had known it as a place of comfort and solitude. I often went there whenever I had sorrows to bear or tensions to release.

As I was nearing the sea, I had the same joyous feeling I always had every time I went there. I was longing to feel the cool water once more. But that day it was different. When I looked at the ocean I saw huge waves. The wind was blowing strongly, the sky was clouded over, and after a clap of thunder, it started to rain.

I was already alone that moment, just lying on the sand and being drenched. I was starting to shiver from the cold when I remembered again the girl from my past.

I tried to write the letters of her name on the sand, but the sea easily effaced them with just one breaker. I moved back where the water couldn’t reach and wrote her name once more, but now it was the rain that did the job. But I didn’t stop. I wrote her name again and again until there was a time when I could somehow see the letters even though they were completely washed away, and then her memories flashed more vividly through my mind.

I really didn’t know why we broke up. She always told me how much she loves me and she did prove it at all cost. But I wasn’t able to do my part. I always knew I loved the girl – I just didn’t know how much. I couldn’t assure her of my full commitment for I myself couldn’t even understand my own feelings.

When I told her those things, I thought that she was going to get upset and that she would burst into rage, but instead she just stared at me silently. She even tried to smile and said that it was all right, but I knew from her eyes just how much she was hurting inside. She began to weep and so I tried to hold her, but she pushed me back and without saying a word, she left. I thought about running after her but then I hesitated because I didn’t realize what I had just done, and my mind was so disturbed since then.

My thoughts were suddenly disrupted when I saw a big wave coming. Still sitting down, I tried to ignore it for it barely reached my waist. But then a second one very much bigger than the first rolled over and completely covered me and washed me back to the sea.

I was being carried farther and farther away from the shore and I started to panic because I was able to swallow some seawater. I knew I was going to drown but just as I was abandoning all hopes of surviving, the picture of the girl suddenly flashed again in my mind. I always believed that living for oneself alone isn’t worth living for at all, but that moment I realized that living for someone else would be a much better reason to live for.

I paddled with my arms and legs. I felt a painful cramp on my left calf but I ignored it and kept on swimming, thinking what would happen to the one who loves me if I died. I kept struggling through the waves and realized just how much I loved her – I actually loved her more than myself.

I was so filled with emotions as I was swimming for my life that I felt like dreaming and I was unaware that I had already reached the shore.

Lying face-down on the beach, I lifted my head and slowly opened my eyes. I summoned all that was left of my strength and cried out her name and shouted out how much I love her on top of my lungs. I coughed and panted heavily. I cried out her name again, but with a lesser force than the first time.

In spite of the heavy rain, I could feel warm tears flowing down my face. I uttered her name for the third time, but my voice was already very weak that it turned into a murmur.

I closed my eyes and gently rested my head on the sand. Then, still breathing deeply through my mouth, I smiled the most contented smile.


Due Influence Part Two: Big Daddy

In my Fathers Day article Due Influence, I wrote:

Whether we love them or hate them, we cannot deny their influence on the choices we make and even on what we become. Especially if we hate them. We may think that it is our own choice to not follow their footsteps and to avoid repeating their mistakes, but it is exactly because of what we see of our fathers that we made this “choice”.

Since I’ve been reading and commenting on some atheists blogs lately, I could not help but relate our fathers to our God. What I find interesting is that among the articles I’ve read, the atheist writer was attacking the fundamentalists’ idea of God, which is very similar to a little boy’s idea of his daddy – big and strong and brave and wise and good and always there for him with just one call.

Then the boy grows up into his teenage years and discovers that Daddy is not really always strong, Daddy is not really always wise, and sometimes Daddy even lies or at least refuses to answer your questions, after which Daddy leaves you. So the boy learns to hate his father.

And when a man hates his father, he will try to become the exact opposite in terms of attitude and principle. If his father is a strict disciplinarian, the son will tend to become lax and free wheeling when he moves out. Now please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is a major reason why atheists attack the belief in God with zeal. I mean, it’s one thing to not believe in God, but when one comes close to actively preaching atheism, there must be a reason.

I am sure the atheists are fed up with religious rules, rituals and dogma, and the threat of eternal fire in hell. They experienced religion as a tyrant enslaving them, forcing them to abandon reason and free will. More importantly, they saw how the Philippines, the only Christian nation in Asia, became the Sick Man of Asia because its people keep on relying on a Sky Daddy instead of taking responsibility for the betterment of their lives (paraphrased from Thoughts To Provoke Your Thoughts). They have a good point actually, and this must be their reason for hating Christianity. Like a child hates his rod-wielding, absentee father.

For this I think some churches are at fault for instilling this Big Daddy concept of God (do not question what we say, do not try to reason; God will provide, now give us your money). In short, they gave God a bad name.

But I don’t believe that the same God who gave us intellect would demand that we abandon it. We have to tread the path in search of Truth. So as we grow intellectually and spiritually, we might come to see God more like a Partner, perhaps a senior partner, with whom we enjoy a nourishing personal relationship.

And as the boy becomes a father himself, he finally begins to understand his own father.

And sometimes he might even get to see his father as a real human being, complete with weaknesses and bad choices, instead of an invincible super hero. (from Due Influence)

If you liked this article, you might also like What Return Can I Make.


Due Influence

Whether we love them or hate them, we cannot deny their influence on the choices we make and even on what we become. Especially if we hate them. We may think it is our own choice to not follow their footsteps and to avoid repeating their mistakes, but it is exactly because of what we see in our fathers that we made this “choice.”

I’ve read a long time ago that our parents are our first true love, and we often unconsciously seek in a mate the qualities of our own mothers or fathers. This is true even with some girls who hate their womanizing fathers but still end up falling for womanizing boyfriends. Moreover, we tend to be forgiving of those not-so-nice qualities of our partners if our mothers or fathers also have them.

We may not all be lucky to have wonderful fathers and undoubtedly there are a few who even wish they never had one, but it can never be said too often that they played a key role in bringing us into this world. So unless a man also hates his very own existence, he can never totally hate his father. And sometimes he might even get to see his father as a real human being, complete with weaknesses and bad choices, instead of an invincible super hero.

I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones.  Although there are certain things I hate about my father, there is no question on how much I love him and how grateful I am for his influence in my life.

I can’t express it better than the following lines from Leader Of The Band:

I thank you for the music

And your stories of the road

I thank you for the freedom

When it came my time to go

I thank you for the kindness

And the times when you got tough

And Papa, I don’t think I said

“I love you” near enough.

Happy Father’s Day!


Green Briar

In the movie A Love Song For Bobby Long, John Travolta sings a very nice version of Barbara Allen:

“Mother, go make my bed/ Make it long and narrow/ My true love died for me yesterday/ I shall die for him tomorrow”/ She was buried in a church house yard/ And he was buried there beside her/ And from his grave grew roses red/ From hers grew green briar/ They grew and they grew so very high/ Till they could grow no higher/ And at the top grew a true lovers’ knot/ And the rose grew ’round the briar.

Actually that last line (And the rose grew ’round the briar) was from an older version of the song, but I like it better so I used it here to replace that of John Travolta’s version, which is simply “Twined with green briar”.

Nevertheless, just imagine, two kinds of lovely plants beside each other, and they grow, at first by the inch and then by the foot, side by side, until finally they wrap around each other in a “true lovers’ knot”, representing the true hearts of those just beneath them and from which they grew.

innerminds inner minds


Nicholas and Victoria

Close your eyes and begin to relax. Take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Concentrate on your breathing. With each breath you become more relaxed. Imagine a brilliant white light above you, focusing on this light as it flows through your body. Allow yourself to drift off as you fall deeper and deeper into a more relaxed state of mind. Now as I count back from ten to one, you will feel more peaceful, and calm. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. You will enter a safe place where nothing can harm you. Five. Four. Three. Two. If at any time you need to come back, all you need to do is open your eyes. One.

Though I have yet to see a real hypnosis being performed in front of me (even better if performed on me), when I first heard those words from a Dreamtheater music album several years ago, I became curious.

I read some time in the early- to mid-nineties that hypnosis, contrary to popular notion, is not actually meant to control the person being hypnotized but rather to free his/her mind.

Now I am tempted to validate this with Wikipedia (the good thing about Wikipedia is that it warns you if an article lacks citation or appears to be original research or even if it’s neutrality is questioned), but it seems too much trouble to do that now and besides, I don’t want to interrupt my string of thought, this stream of consciousness.

Before personal computers became ubiquitous, I was used to writing with pen and paper. Can you imagine. And of course I had to use a real thesaurus and dictionary for editing. I had read before that when one is in the middle of writing and got to a word whose spelling or usage he/she is unsure of, that word should be left unchecked lest the string of thought gets lost, and just edit it later. But I was the obsessive-compulsive type, and so I had to try to hold on to that string while I riffle through Webster’s pages – made of pulp paper, not pixels. Thankfully, with the online language tools available today, writing and editing have become easier.

Back to hypnosis, I still will not read about it at Wikipedia, at least not now, because there is a rather big difference between finding the best synonym and reading long articles on a topic. And the latter would surely break my string of thought.

Oh, it just actually got broken…Ah, let’s get back to the Dreamtheater hypnosis song. So the hypnotherapist is counting from ten to one and says to Nicholas, “you will enter a safe place where nothing can harm you”. Then Nicholas sings:

Safe in the light that surrounds me
Free of the fear and the pain
My subconscious mind
Starts spinning through time
To rejoin the past once again

Nothing seems real
I’m starting to feel
Lost in the haze of a dream

And as I draw near
The scene becomes clear
Like watching my life on a screen

Hello Victoria so glad to see you
My friend.

Now I’m not going to explain the relationship between Nicholas and Victoria because it’s quite complicated. Suffice it to say that Nicholas needed to find peace with the past, and it had a lot to do with this Victoria.

So while he is in the state of hypnosis a lot of things happen through Nicholas’ mind, searching beyond the years and facing buried fears to find the truth. And then Nicholas sings:

Safe in the light that surrounds me
Free of the fear and the pain
My questioning mind
Has helped me to find
The meaning in my life again
Victoria’s real
I finally feel
At peace with the girl in my dreams
And now that I’m here
Its perfectly clear
I found out what all of this means

Ah, the priceless answers. The sacred truth. Nicholas must be ecstatic at this point.

Finally, the hypnotherapist says:

You are once again surrounded by a brilliant white light. Allow the light to lead you away from your past and into this lifetime. As the light dissipates you will slowly fade back into consciousness, remembering all you have learned. When I tell you to open your eyes you will return to the present, feeling peaceful and refresh.
Open your eyes, Nicholas.


Hollow Years

Once the stone you’re crawling under

Is lifted off your shoulders

Once the cloud that’s raining over your head disappears

The noise that you’ll hear is the crashing down of hollow years

Those lines were from the Dreamtheater song Hollow Years. I am sure there are many different interpretations (I learned in high school that to be able to transcend time and culture is a mark of a great poem or song), but I imagine that the “crashing down of hollow years” would sound something like several walls banging onto one another, collapsing and compressing like an accordion into the empty air spaces between. Bang bang bang bang bang. It must a great relief to get rid of all those years.

But what is a hollow year? For me it is simply an unfruitful year, when we were not able to solve any of our problems, or worse, when we were not able to take advantage of such a nice, relatively problem-free year to better our lives. In short, when we were stuck.

Now the song says that you’ll hear the crashing down of hollow years once the stone you’re crawling under is lifted off your shoulders and once the cloud that’s raining over your head disappears. Hmmm…maybe it’s because of that stone or that cloud that we got stuck in the first place.

It is tempting to interpret “stone” and “cloud” as our problems holding us down, but I think they are actually our own heavy hearts and foggy minds, rendering us incapable of overcoming the challenges and improving our lives.

But once that stone is lifted and that cloud disappears, the hollow years crash, freeing up empty spaces and making way for fruitful years.  And although time lost can never be regained, our memories have a very convenient way of  burying the bad days by covering them up with the glorious moments. Our very own glorious moments. innerminds inner minds

Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues

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