When I was 20, I wrote a poem titled “Vanity”:

Take the chisel, he tells you. This is how to get it done. Carved in stone, man-made grooves last an eternity; Rosetta, you think — the British Museum. But how crude the thing is, so hard in your hands and you’ve just had a manicure. Metallic blue lacquer makes you smile: grit under your nails does not. At least have a go with the pots? the man appeals. Has he gotten smaller? You’re not sure — this is softer. You look at the hunk of clay sitting on the wheel. It has to be formed… Of course. Terracotta warriors, you think. So long ago, the Qin Dynasty. But against the flecks of your blue, blue nails this is dull. How about this (his voice is soft and he is most certainly smaller now, but you don’t notice at all) and he offers up a paper with a simple pen. It looks pretty, so you take it. Just like in old leather-bound books, you realise. But the ink is soon on your perfect glossy nails and you couldn’t drop the pen faster.

Now the voice is gone — the man is gone. The italics are gone. Placing your fingers on a clean white keyboard with a blank screen before you, you know you had something to say. But you can’t remember.

I wrote Vanity for a poetry class I took in college and it is one of only two poems I’ve ever had successfully published. Getting published is certainly not the be all and end all of writing, but I really have been a sorry excuse for a writer since then. Continue reading “Blanks”



Yesterday I woke up at 5am with an irritated throat and a slight pounding in my head. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I knew that the feeling would develop into a full head cold if I didn’t choose to sleep in and get lots of rest and water in me throughout the rest of the day. But I had work and other responsibilities to attend to so I got up and just tried to take it easy as I went about things. Still, by 4pm I was not in a good place: my head was pounding and one of my nostrils was fully clogged while the other was an unstoppable leaky faucet (eew).

I will not glorify pushing on in spite of sickness. I don’t see that as an admirable thing to do, although I’ve chosen to do so myself many times over the years (for school, mostly) and it is arguably the “right” thing to do in many a circumstance (depending just how sick you are). It’s a punishment to the body, really. But how much of a choice is there when we choose to bind ourselves to obligations that give us little time to care for ourselves.

That’s all it really boils down to, really: choice. I chose to get on with my day yesterday because I decided that the obligations I had bound myself to were more important than my health at that point in time. That also kinda sorta binds me from feeling angry at my obligations because I and I alone chose them over my health. Still, I can’t help but feel frustrated because this was me in the weeks leading up to this sickness:  Continue reading “Sick”

18: What Matters 

Tam and I caught La La Land at the cinemas last night and without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t seen it, let me just say that we found ourselves holding each other extra tight by the end of the film. Holding each other quite fiercely, really — and so happy to have chosen this because for us, nothing else in the world matters more. 

There is us; we have this love. Everything else is just everything else. 

10 & 11

I don’t feel like writing today. I’m tired. But here I am with my laptop on my lap and I’m going to let the words go –

I’m tired, and I am so easily tired. I’m not even talking emotionally tired here – just physically. I often wonder how others are able to fit so much in one day (and so energetically). I prefer idle time. Lots of it. There’s a quarterly (?) magazine published in the UK called The Idler dedicated entirely to that sort of lifestyle. I’ve read an issue and it was lovely. Not something you’ll ever come across in Manila, that’s for sure. Don’t we take some kind of twisted pride in being a busy busy city (and we happen to speak English so well too — might as well be American! *eyes rolling*).

Things I want to spend hours with (but haven’t been able to because, well, life):

  • The Boxer Codex (to read, obvs)
  • That Alexander Hamilton bio I picked up (currently a paper weight – that thing is massive)
  • My cacti and other plants
  • My fountain pens, inks, and paper

Instead I’m in a car for two or three hours a day, sitting in traffic. Instead I have to run around like a headless chicken doing brainless things that leave me this damn tired. They say you settle into routines and that’s good. They also say change is good. And I agree to both — but I need time to find and settle into a routine. Time is also what I need to appreciate change. So where does time go. Chasing it around is exhausting. And really: why am I chasing it at all.

Man, I need to relax.

5 & 6: Money Sucks

Oops, missed a day! It turns out that breaking my door handle was really not the best idea… even if that freed me from what might have been six hours stuck out there on my own. I had to pay around 8k to have the door fixed. 8k that I luckily can sorta kinda spare, but it was painful punishment for a moment of stupidity nonetheless.

So I had a pretty bad day and I stressed a lot about money and having to make it or even just think about it. You see, I’m not a business-minded person by nature. A lot of people are — they just have all sorts of ideas about how to make business fun and profitable. I just flail and fail in that area. It scares me, but I also just really don’t like money very much (what it does to us, how it controls society) so I make little effort to fix it. (Yes, I know I am in a privileged position to even be able to say that.)

Today I came home to my parents’ house and enjoyed the lunch I didn’t have to pay for and the snacks that I also didn’t have to pay for and it makes me want to be lazy all my life. But even if I didn’t have to shell out money for lunch and snacks today, there’s a different price to pay for the sort of dependence I preserve by living here… my independence. Nothing is ever really free.

I haven’t started to earn just yet, but I’ve a job that kicks off later this month. It’s taken me 26 years to start working, partially because I changed course a couple of years back when I failed out of law school, but also because the idea of work (for profit) makes me uneasy. Even when I wanted to be a lawyer I attached it to the idea that I would be making a difference for my country. The job I start in a couple of weeks is one through which I hope to make a change too, in a different way. Earning is incidental — but also necessary, unfortunately, to continue in doing almost anything. That makes me sad.

I can already hear my dad saying: “Mariana, are you a socialist??!” To which I’d give a shrug and a little smile. I guess I am. If only humanity could handle it.

From each according to ability, to each according to needs.