For the first time, I have felt that I’m not a reading machine at all; I am human. I may just have a bionic penchant for reading. I am not as callous as the blisters on my feet. I can be in a lot of pain. I can draw my attention to other things more than to books. I am vulnerable to human’s little foibles, specifically love. Aha! Yes, love! (laughs) Furthermore,I can scarcely run away from the reality that I have created to live in and that has taken possession of me for a long time- my tendency to be off my rocker. And so, I was abandoned to these delusional states of mind in that I was negligent in my bookish duty, failed to read as many as 100 books as though I had been given a pledge to do so . But now I am standing up with a determined chin , full of hopes, burning desire to turn over a new leaf, and optimistic about my life, and proud to say that I survived year 2016, and it made a big difference to me.
First, I broke the pachyderm wall that I had built for many years, apart from the social animals. I came out of my shell where I holed up in and kept everything to myself as though I was such a misanthrope that books were just my friends. Also,I am not that a consummate nerd any longer like a hermit who could not stand the dredge of society. Likewise, I don’t look like a backward person falling behind the current trends . In fact,I couldn’t be a butt of tease any longer that I smell like an old codger.(laughs) I love myself now more than before. Gee whiz! I am turning to narcissism; I tend to be foppish nowadays.
Secondly, I always try to take everything easy out. I am no longer a person who can be called “negastar” as if it was the end of the world when I could not hammer out a complicated situation. I am now trying to be positive under any circumstances like what I used to be when I was still fully inculcated in the pragmatic principles of social sciences. I miss the old “me” , the independent, levelheaded “me”.
Most importantly,I learned to keep my feet on the ground. After all, I turn out to be one of the miserable nitwits in the universe. I realized that aside from family, the first thing that I have to consider establishing in my 30’s is cherishing the people I can still consider my (real ) friends. Happiness is not just all about intellectual Olympics. Thomas Merton is right. No man is an island.
As of now, I am trying to fit myself in any circles of people , from different walks of life. I brush off the Filipino cultural stereotype of “plasticism” or ” caha-de-oro syndrome“. Rather, I should engrave the heap-coals-of-fire-on-his-head virtue in my molted mind. Rather, all I want is to do the things that will make me happy.
Finally, although I failed to do my reading goal last year, I realized that I have this bookish leanings after all. What I feel now is I am gung-ho about the books I have hidden for many months, the books I splurged on given that I was almost financially embarrassed, but I still am. (laughs)
In 2017, I plan to finish the books on my currently-reading list on Goodreads, particularly the one given to me by the writer himself, I have knocked around and now garnished with dust bunnies.In fact, I miss reading more than 20 books in a month like what I did in 2015. I was such a bloody monster at that time.
So far, I have read three books: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Matilda by Roald Dahl, and Falling into the Manhole by Jack S. Wigley.
I have still been musing over my reviews of them. I hope I am able to post any of them next week.
My Facebook wall has still been inundated with a spate of heart-warming greetings from my families, friends , and the people I am acquainted with since Tuesday ,reminding me of that it is now my 30th years of existence in this complicated world.Gee, I am now in another passage of rite where every aspect of life may be beyond control. Thus, aside from the fact that it is the time when I have to consider my health, career, and marriage life- if the universe conspires with me – I look forward to reading more books that are more meaningful, more life-transforming.
Ever since I was such a simpleton, it was typical of me to to be observed in the corner of the living room burying myself in pieces of paper people might have found academical. If only they knew. I would read any books at my disposal: textbooks, old newspapers, brochures, magazines, notebooks disposed of by a student, bibles- anything I could read. But I never had a good chance of reading the literary books every child must read such as Hans Christian Andersen ‘s fairy tales, Lucy Maud Montgomery‘s Anne of Green Gables, Alexandre Dumas‘ The Three Musketeers , Shel Silverstein‘sThe Giving Tree, Rudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Book, to name a few. Nor was I brought along to a book store where I could have been encouraged to choose ones I would have loved to read. Our life at that point was still a hand to the mouth.
My 20’s was the stage of my life when I took the chance to read the books I could afford. I have got a job which gives me access to this epistemological obsession given the fact that my profession is paid peanuts. Thanks to book stores selling second-hand books. Besides, my enormous enthusiasm for books has groomed me to be a trying-hard literary critic. I have discovered some famous writers I wish to have known when I was still very young, whose works have shaken the world history.At the same time, I wound up in some book club sites where I have met many book monsters like me who give me ideas of how to write, of how to mold the potentials I had been shrouding in the darkest nooks of my unconsciousness
In my 30’s, I look ahead to having crossed out all the books in the 1001-best-books-you-must-read-before-you-die list suggested by an online magazine, The Guardian before making the transition to mid-life crisis. Click here for the list. I fancy having aged out of this life period like a well-read person, young at heart. At that time, I would be such a consummate book bore you might turn your back on. In addition, I will try to be well-versed in other major forms of literary genre I have not explored yet such as academics since there are many things in the world I want to know more, poetry since I want to write a ala Lang Leavpoems you might wince at, dramas since I could be a masquerader, commentaries since I am a social activist, and what not.
Also, in my 30’s ,I hope I will be able to keep this blog updated, available till kingdom come . I will try to be more dedicated to and enthusiastic about writing and sharing all my idiosyncratic and hyperbolic ideas. Most importantly, I hope I will be able to accomplish my own masterpieces , somehow as critically acclaimed as an immortal writer’s. I am an ambitious frog. Fancy that!
For the meantime, another special friend of mine sent her love with a book gift. It is Will in the World.
A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world’s greatest playwright.
Also, I was deeply touched by a special letter from my Korean student. This is one of the best letters I have received thus far.
People say that life is the thing , but I prefer reading. – Logan Pearsall Smith-
It’s the wee early hours in the morning. I fell asleep . I heard the cock living next to our house stentorianly crowing to the world, saw the sun streak of the breaking dawn through the fissures of our roof pillars, made of poor plywood. I forgot that I pulled an all-nighter; I had to prepare for another bloody exams in school. I had to get higher grades from the two subjects I nearly flunked last mid-term test. I didn’t want to keep behind my smart-alec classmates. Besides, I had to study harder; I wanted to be on the dean’s list or more than that. I was so driven to do so since it was not that easy to save money for the next semester, especially both my parents worked so hard.
I left my room for the kitchen which is not just far from me. My room is just one place I share with my younger sister with wooden partition. I greeted my mother who was still lying in her bed while brushing my teeth.
“ Ma, I’m going to school now.”
My mother did not reply. She must have been sound asleep. I could peripherally see her half body inside the mosquito net. She had to cover herself for the sake of our two-year-old born sister who was also sound asleep with angelic face, next to her. I wonder what they were dreaming about. My father was sprawling across from her, passed-out, dead to the world, full of the alcoholic spirit that rendered him unconscious of my presence in the kitchen.
I skipped breakfast since I knew there was nothing mother would fix for me. I would just sip a cup of coffee despite my buzzing stomach. I would not care about it; I am inured to this misery. I would eat whatever was prepared on the table.Sometimes,I would subsist on my small allowance. As long as possible,I would tide it over because I didn’t want be such a burden to my parents. It broke my heart seeing them,particularly my mother preoccupied, absent-minded,or sometimes catching her crying alone at night when everyone was asleep already.
Since I was in a hurry, I did not mind my creased all-white uniform. We did not have a flat iron. Sometimes, we would borrow one from Ate Ning, one of my mother’s closest friends. Sometimes, I dislike her being a bigmouth toward her two children. Her roaring bawl could be heard in the neighborhood.
When we forgot to return her flat iron, we could no longer borrow it out of shame. One time, I could not bring myself to go to school because my uniform was so crumpled that I was very conscious of it since everyone could be nitpicky. So I tried to experiment by filling a bottle with hot water ; then, I rolled it over the clothe. Unfortunately, it could flatten the spots like the big ones seen up on the moon. I had no choice. I wore it with aplomb. I knew my mother had a pity on me.
I was so excited to go home because our last class was dismissed early. Since it was the final term, I had nothing to keep up with. Besides, I prefer to review at home than in the school library. I could find solace in the house , especially the presence of my mother bringing up our younger sister soothes me. My father was somehow busy with his job at my uncle’s mini-factory.
As usual , it has been my habit to buy a ‘pasalubong’ for both my younger sister and Mother. Sometimes, I buy two pieces of turon, Mother’s favorite, or purplish ube when no one sells it . If I guess that she’s tired of them, I buy two pieces of hamburgers. Anything I can get, mother would eat them. Nothing can describe my happiness whenever I see my mother smile in joy at something at my hand for her.
I decided to buy two pieces of turon again. I know it is her all-time favorite. Thanks to Aling Lucy; nothing beats her big and savory turon. Its wrapper is brittle, coated in brown sugar. But its banana slice with jack fruit adds to the heavenly taste.
When I got home on foot, Mikaela had arrived from her work already. She is working for a meat processing company. It saddens me that my parents are not even able to send her to college. So she has no choice.
“ Oh, Reggie. What is that?”, as she noticed something in my hand.
“ Some turon for mother and Mae”, as I put them on the table, “ Where are they?”
Mikaela was just quiet, confused. Her eyes popped out at my question.
“ Don’t eat them, OK? “ Don’t be PG as in patay-gutom.”
Mikael and I are almost close. We can banter with this kind of barbaric language. I felt that Mikaela wanted to blurt out something, but I skipped out on her because suddenly, I was conscious of myself. I had to change myself right away ; I smelled so disgusting; I was soaked in sweat after walking in the scorching sun. No wonder my skin is burning brown.
I decided not to call for both Mother and Mae. They must have been at someone’s house. I was sure Mae wanted to be comforted by the people she is familiar with. It is a matter of object permanence as I learned in psychology.
I stayed in my bed strewn with books , notebooks , and colorful highlighters. I had to review.We would have the last final term after that day.Actually, I did not have to worry about that because I found PGNC and Economics easy to commit to my memory. As far as my classmates are concerned, they know me as the “Father of Rote Memory”.
I leaned against the wall by the window so that I could be freshened up with the afternoon breeze although this air comes from our greedy neighbor’s pigsty. We, along with our neighbors, have been complaining about that putrid pig smell since we moved in our place. The owners just turn deaf to us. Despite that, I tried to stuff my mnemonic memory with all the key words until I dropped off to sleep.
I woke up to the sound coming from the kitchen. That must have been my mother. She must have been busy cooking something. Mae must have been playing. I heard her babyish voice from the living room. Whenever mother was busy, she would let Mae on the ground cluttered with her toys , gliding , talking to herself or her toys giving them new life to play with.
I stayed in my bed staring at the rusted roof which we have never thought of covering with wooden ceiling. I closed my eyes and was pleased with the busy sounds echoing around the house. It was like a lullaby that I wanted to sleep through. Maybe it’s better not to have the roof covered with wooden ceiling. It creates echoes whenever the people make happy noises . I just can’t stand the noise echoed around made by the nerve-wracking dispute between Mother and Father or between Father and John.
I came back to my senses when I heard Mae wailing. I got up and hurled out of my room to catch her. I reached for her in my arms trying to comfort her.
“ Why Mae?”, as I was trying to hush her , “ Hush,now. What’s the problem?”
Mikaela came down , surprised at what was going on.
“Where is Mother?” “ I heard her doing something in the kitchen”, I asked.
Mikaela was trying to hold herself. I did not understand why her eyes welling up about to burst into tears.
“ You should not let Mae play alone.”
As I said it, father came from his work. He looked bedraggled and exhausted. He may have gotten home to call it the day and been ready for lunch.
“What happened?” as he was reaching for Mae.
“ Suddenly I awoke to her crying.” “ Where is mother?” “ I heard her cooking in the kitchen while she was playing on the ground here.”
Father wanted to get Mae from me, but I refused because he had not changed himself yet. I was trying to calm Mae, “ Hush, baby” , “ Mother is coming.”
I looked back at both my father and sister . They looked gloomy, trying to hide their faces from me. I could not understand. I was bewildered.
Father sat himself on the wooden bench he made last year, quiet, staring into space . What was he thinking?
Mikaela decided to leave us , fluttering as if she was trying to wend her way through the door. Suddenly, John turned up, entering past her .Mikaela was surprise- stricken at his arrival , in pale as if she had seen his archenemy. They have never liked each other. Nervous, she turned back to father and looked worried.
Fred came up to father. “ They have come.” He murmured and left the room.
Father looked sadder upon hearing him and turned to me.
(What’s everyone so weird?)
“ Reggie, give me your sister.”
“Why?” “ You look dirty. You haven’t changed yet.”
“ No worries, son.” Fatherly calm, he was trying to hold himself not to cry. But what was the reason for him to cry?
“ Reggie, my son. I’m sorry.”
He had taken my sister away from me. It was too late to realize that I was letting go of her since I was confused what he meant to say, “ I’m sorry.”
“ Wh-y?” Shit.
I saw my father can no longer control himself. He cried. (When was the last time he did cry) ? Mae wailed all of a sudden , infected by his emotional state. Mikaela wanted me to ease my grip on her. She left us with her, teary-eyed too.
“ What’s happening here, father?” I pleaded. Then, I thought of my mother. Where was she ? Did she know what’s going on in here?
All of a sudden, my brother, John, came nearer with four men in white uniform.
(Who were they? )
“ Father, who are they?”
Father could not look straight in my eyes. He was tearing his hair, turning his back on me.
The three men gently grabbed both my arms. I tried to flinch.
“ Hey, what the fuck are you doing?”
Two of them trussed both my arms ,trying to put me in a straitjacket while the two supporting me not to hold back. I was trying to tussle with them.
“ Father, what’s this?” “ What are they doing to me?” Afraid. I was more confused. I didn’t understand what was happening.
“ Wait!” I shouted at the men. “ Does it mean that I am screwed up?”I was asking my father.
But father finally did look at me, surprised at what I said. He looked at me, worn to a frazzle. Then, he gave a nod at the three men.
“No, father!” “ I am not crazy!” “ Tell them I’m not a nut!”
At this time, I cried in fear. I cried that I might be gone in the head out of confusion.
I was dragged out of the house.The sun was still high up in the sky. I was shouting to my father. There were many onlookers. They were staring at me. They were supposed to be taking a siesta after lunch.I did not understand. I didn’t know what to do. I saw Ate Ning. She was looking at me too as if she was feeling sorry for me. I was trying to move toward her while being taken through the crowd.
“ Ate Ning! What’s happening? Where is mother? “ “ Where is she? Please, call and tell her what these fucking amoebas doing to me? …Please, I don’t understand this.”
She just averted her eyes from me, trying to hold herself, bleary-eyed. I could feel her . I was being escorted up to a white van with the word ambulance printed on its wall. I looked around. I heard some of my neighbors whispering under their breath,
“ He went screwed up right after his mother died. Poor, Reggie! He can’t accept her loss.”
“ What?” I was surprised at what I heard, “ Loss?.” I was dumb-founded. I was trying to grasp their words, clinging to the reality . I could no longer walk . My feet were heavy. I could not muster up enough strength to hold the situation. I was about to fall over. Beads of sweat trickled down my neck. The three men tried to usher me up into the van.
“ Mama!!!” I shouted around.
“ Where are you???”
Then, I burst into tears. I could no longer let the tears well up in my eyes. I could not bear it any longer. I was all perplexed. I didn’t know what this was all about. I wish it were just a nightmare. I wanted to wake up. It could have been a sleep paralysis. I tried to move my fingers as what a book advised I had read before.
Out of nowhere, my aunt, my father’s sister, appeared to talk to me.
“ Tita, what’s happening? I don’t understand. Why was it that they said…loss?”
Then it dawned on me. “M-other died???”
I covered my mouth with my hand , choked to tears, trying to control it while searching for her answer in her face. But she could not even look at me. Instead, she attempted to embrace and muss up my hair.
“ Oh, Reggie. Poor, Reggie!” At this time , she could no longer stand it .
“ Yo- your mother died already. Sh- she died three months ago.”
“ What??? “ My eyes popped out in surprise. Everything seemed stopped moving , darkening like the nightmarish limbo I am afraid to dream about.
Before she got it across to me, the three men in white uniform had to escort me to the van.
“ Wait! Tita! What do you mean Mama died already? I don’t understand!”
The three men tried to drag me away to the van . I shouted to them looming away.
“ Tita! “, “ Wh-at do you mean Mama died???”
I was already put inside the van, trying to talk to them through the peephole.
I saw my father running up to her and hugged her as the ambulance was moving off from our house.
My mother and I walked along the sea and decided to walk through the water. We both looked up at the sky and at the scorching sun on the breath-taking horizon. We were both just quiet, calm, basking in the beauty of the ambience. I looked at my mother’s face- bright, clear, fresh, soft, and typical of a nurturing mother.
It took a little while before my mother looked down at my feet. She blurted out.
“ Wait, daughter. I will buy a pair of socks. Your feet must be wet.”
My mother walked in a hurry off the seashore. I looked down at my feet. To my astonishment, they were not wet at all. My mother might have been in a state of hallucination.
The sun seemed to be at its fast pace for the noon . Its rays started to sting in my skin. It had been a few minutes. But mother had not arrived yet. I could not catch any glimpse of her physical presence that should have been looming over the white sand. Then, I jumped to my feet hearing the trumpeting roar of a ship .
I looked out across the vastly stretched sea. My hair stood on end. It was a gigantic ship, similar to the giant ship in a famous movie. Its long haul and monumental bow cut the indivisible sea forming tsunami wakes, running at high speed , looked like bearing down upon the shore — upon me. I was confused, speech-tied. I did not know what was going on in there. I just understood that the ship was about to bring me up away from the place. Its imperious bow seemed to be a big threat, like the overcast sky , about to darken the ground where I had been standing for minutes on end.
I stepped backward, trembling in my boots. “ Where is mom?”, muttering under my breath , cold sweat burst into my forehead. Worried. Nervous. Confused. As if I wanted to cry.
Out of nowhere , I heard some heavy stomps coming from someone. I turned at the other side where my mom had walked . I saw someone blurry , waving his hand. It was my brother, calling to me, seemed to have been saying something for me to hear. I waited for him until he managed to come up to where I had been wading through like a pelican catching something eatable , beneath the saturated sand. He slouched ; he had used up all his physical power, gasping for air, trying to say something to me . I saw his hand giving me something. It was a pair of the socks my mom had promised.
“ Mother said that I have to give it to you. “ .
He was still panting for breath, trying to suck in the air.
“She jumped to her feet upon hearing the blare of the ship, so she got me to catch upon you . She is still walking off the miles. “
My mother was too frail to walk as fast as my brother. The ship had come to a halt aground. I could not see any one up on there- just the captain himself, in his angelic uniform but with authoritative composure. I looked over my brother’s shoulder, hoping to catch the glimpse of my frail mother, hoping that she could make it.
“ Mother!” , whispering in platitude to someone up there in the sky.
I had no choice but to get aboard. I stood on the main terrace looking out down on my brother . Then, I saw my mother trudging up behind him. She was waving at me. My brother supported her. They both waved at me, standing abreast.
“Good bye, take care of yourself!” My mother tried to shout .
I also did the same way, “ Good-bye, mother!!! Good-bye, brother!!!”, waving at them as the ship was moving off the shore. I felt the warm tears flowing down my cheeks.
The ship moved and moved and moved farther off the shore. I could see them no more. Then, I remembered what had happened.
Why were my feet not wet?
I awoke to it. Full of beads of cold sweat in my forehead.
When I was in elementary , aware of my academic incompetence , the only study habit I knew was just read any books at my disposal. I was motivated then when my cousin gave me an idea of how to speak English: I had just to memorize a dictionary by heart. I did it. When I was in high school, I learned to use a library card, so I always went to our school library right after our class. There I read all the books I could have done when I was still young. I just read and read. History and Science were the apples of my eyes. When I stepped in my first alma mater, I knew an old , definitely experienced, professor known for his style of teaching. He motivates his students to read books as part of intellectual development. In fact, according to him, there are four things which are good study habits a student or anyone should do: Read the following such as :
the Bible ( of your religion)
The Constitution ( of your country)
The American Dictionary
A book you find interesting and you can read at your leisure.
In harmony with the professor’s feasible, but optimal opinion, it is so strange to say that actually I have the same study habits every night. To cap it all off, I have this guilt feeling whenever I overlook to do so because I have the conception that reading and studying my butt off- although I have not worked my way through a graduate school yet- can help me to be intellectually satiated. I guess I am an apotheosis of an opsimath.
Here are the books I MUST do before hitting the sack; otherwise, I have an irresistible and unruly pang of compunction in the morning :
LONGMAN Advanced American Dictionary, 2007 New Edition. I am a trying- hard lexicographer and logophile. In fact, I have got six dictionaries in kind at home. Only this one can I put in my carapace backpack which I cannot even winnow out if my bag is too hefty to carry with me. This is so indispensable in my job as an ESL teacher as well as a bookworm – not to mention an amateur blogger. ( laughs ) In fact, I always recommend it to my students if they want to improve their academic writing. So, I cherish it a whole lot, for it was my big dream then to posses this kind of dictionary. Had it not been my student’s generosity, I would still slobber over it at bookstores; its price is still astronomical. No doubt the other outlets of the biggest bookstore in the Philippines is always sold out of it.
Newspaper. When I could not afford laptops or tablets before, I was in the habit of buying a newspaper on weekends or weekdays when I had an extra budget. I would read the newspapers in the morning while eating breakfast or on the bus to work. It also used to be my habit then when I was still in high school. I would not care about the price on account of my primarily thirsty desire to catch up with the current events and news affairs as well as with the editorial columns , which give me an avalanche of ideas on how I should write more effectively and interestingly. The good thing is that now I can subscribe to any newspapers site I find trustworthy gratis as long as there is internet connection.
I used to read Manila Bulletin Newspaper , for it is densely loaded with articles, but now I find the topics of The Philippine Star more interesting whereas The Philippine Daily Inquirer more credible. On the contrary, for me real newspapers are more educational than e-newspapers. Real ones are tangibly and olfactorily stimulating; I can catch words or phrases with my different colorful highlighters. ^_^
The Philippine Constitution. Awoken to the professor’s advice above, since then I have begun reading our Philippine Constitution every night. However, I just do it whenever I still have spare time at night, for I prefer to bury myself in a novel or another interesting book I can sleep through.
Reading the constitution is important because I am a citizen in my country and I must at least be familiar with all the laws as well as the legal system in the government. In doing so can help me understand and watch out for the political system, particularly the root of corruption, or groom me to be a future lawyer likewise. ( laughs)
An English Textbook. I am an ESL teacher. I still have to be a perpetual student ( in the air ) so that I could be a so-called leading authority as how my co-teachers delude themselves as when my students ask me off guard about English grammar and structure (a challenging situation that endeared me to my job for six years )
A fiction or nonfiction. Nothing beats reading a fiction or non-fiction. Period
Keeping up with the reads above seems to be physically impossible for you, but it is a matter of self-discipline.
Did I miss any one on the professor’s list? You got it! ^^
When I was financially embarrassed two years ago, I ended up writing a sorta philosophical soliloquy just the like of this:
October 24, 2013
Dear Juno Moneta,
I have a bone to pick with you.This is about the philosophical fact I realized in the past. Do you happen to know that you manipulate the inhabitants of this planet? You determine what choices people should decide on. You underlie what shape of life they should mold. Of course, you’re indispensable . You make life more comfortable,but, ideally, you don’t after all. Do you exist in the other dimension of the universe likewise? How about afterlife or Hell if there are such things ? Is it ideal that you don’t exist at all? The world would be like a Utopia. Gee, far from it! It would be like a grubby world of barbarians. You’re dystopic, indeed.
You are used to survive this complicated world. You are invested in attaining higher power.over the destitute. Therefore, you are the instrument of all evils, for our minds are held hostage. Much more if you are on our genes; for sure you would replace the GOD and the god of the gods. Otherwise, you would be as nefarious as Lucifer. Ah, you must be one of the offsprings of the greatest Evil , if I were deeply religious to put it bluntly. No wonder friends, families, politicians,and nations declare wars against one another. I may be wrong; some may have this wisdom shield.
I don’t want to put the blame on you, for you are created by a HUMAN himself since the ancient civilizations were built. Do you intend to chasen people that GOD doesn’t really exist? Jeez, I may be wrong; I may be breaking the faith– I may be inconsistent– I may be being influenced by Dawkinsism ,or I may be suffering from low IQ.
From now on, you will be my master no more. I’ll put a bridle on you. You will never ever dictate to me.
So far, I have been trying to mop up all the havoc you have caused. I hope I can make it through , or else Harakiri or Kamikaze is the last resort.