It’s like they’ve seen a ghost when you arrive home, papa froze for a sec. The dinner table is cleared of flipped plates on top of plates, no kaldero for rice or bowls of sud-an. Uncle claps as he walks up from the basement room. Early today! Are you sick? You laugh, but don’t look at their eyes- it’s a bad habit – especially if they know you smoke pot. It could be worse, yes, but you still feel guilty about it that you keep your head down in the living room. Walking up to the room and dropping the backpack never felt like home (lately) until today.
What brings you here? Jorge asks, eyes on the paper and etching out black-ink sketches, shapley, on a faint ghost of a floor plan. I don’t know, I just had it in me, you said, maybe it’s all the jeepneys I see everyday. I’m not sure what Mobil1 means, or Pennzoil too- but those were the words I drew on the newsprint, first thing when I get home. You’re clicking through the folders and waiting for them to load, the previews on the icons. I was about 7 when I saw a rendering of a building we had designed. It was in monochrome ink, black and white. Like the pictures you’re drawing now- you said to yourself in the head.
The principal architect comes in the room and the both of you shut up.
Smokes six-packs and spitting gum to cheat quick kisses because he has to walk her just outside the gate, after the first date by the sea, revealing secrets of circumcision and why she said yesses and why he stayed, after apparent losses. They hung along the rocks like how the past few ones were as rocky, but he found that having her around felt right and she was somehow a lighthouse to the stormy waves of his everydays.
And he loved her more than any torrid kiss can afford.
Years later, if I lost you, I’d write you off as sublime; not beautiful:
She was an idea too real to accept in skin and flesh,
Too real, you held and had her,
and she knew-
That she had the power to break you.
Halfway through Nick Joaquin’s city memoir-slash-novella Manila, My Manila and after scouring the work of Resil Mojares on his attempts at outlining and draft-sketching the face of Cebu in his numerous journals and the book Cebu: More than Just and Island, I feel that there really is a duality in both cities. I may not be the first to point this out.
The history of Manila owes itself as the power of politics of place, the Philippines’ gate to the world, the becomings of a nation as the city dances with the shifts of global powers- and the tales of Raja Soliman and Lakan Dula.
Cebu, on the other hand, accepts its share of the limelight in the story as the first point of convergence of the east and the west in world history. The Battle of Mactan was monumental and the parlays of Magellan, Humabon and Lapu-Lapu, but beyond that, are mere mentions as a secondary city.
History has never been generous to Cebu City as it sinks into a backwater port for almost three centuries (16th-17th, and early 18th) since there is so little documented information on the politics, governance and moreover, daily life of Cebuanos. While the building and rebuilding of Spanish Manila was well underway, the battles fought between the Sangley rebels and the hindsight monumentality La Naval de Manila, Cebu City was, well, mum about it- or maybe there were was nothing worth writing about at the time.
And fucking write, but say,
You have no idea what to write,
So you read books,
(or at least pretend to)
and remember to mark the pages
where you sliced that piece of text
from the author’s take of the definition.
It’s as easy as a piece of cake.
Steffie just had a dinner party with her grade school friends,
one looked familiar, so you clicked on her profile page
to find hey, she used to live two blocks away.
Friend request sent. Back to the game.
The whole masquerade of lifting passages out of context
Has become a routinary and brainless activity
for the sake of compliance.
‘I’m just trying my best to
expand the body of knowledge
in my field of study’,
‘What is the relationship between
cigarette smoking and academic writing?’,
and proceeds to quote
Freud and Nietzsche-
and Vonnegut, and all other
and of course, thinkers.
Let’s not forget Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway, the bear among men,
downs whisky like Jesus turned wine into water-
hairy arms and lean, powerful writing,
deer hunting and in tumblr, he might say
fuck you and quit bitchin-
So you go back to write your thesis statement as you mentally skin a deer.
If yall pussies can’t handle fucking nicotine
You don’t fucking deserve to puff smoke
So let go of your pansy wansy pussy
A few decades later,
cringes at this entry in his journal
while dying of lung cancer.