Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Resurrected: Daring to Write-Off a Writer's Block

I was rummaging through my old things at the apartment, pushing away old cobwebs, wiping off dust, and grimacing at the poor state of my once-mint-condition collection of comic books, when I came across one of my writings. IT feels so weird, detached from what my normal psyche actually feels like these days, and to read how serious my tone was, dyslexic and incoherent in some parts, verbose and pedantic for the most part, and how oh-so-melodramatic. Eww.. hehe please forgive me. It actually bordered on goth, and dare I say, emo.. even. ^_^ Much too far from the current Jejemon that I am today. Kidding.

I must have written this during college, on one of those rainy days in my boarding house, with the window to the back of my study desk, and I don't know, maybe a lamp somewhere. circa 2001. or 2002. Lol.

Presumably, I may have been sad about something, or someone, and it affected me greatly at the time. The only remarkable thing I can say is that this was actually the past ME. And people do change. And, I've also proven that you can actually write about nothing and get away with it, shortly before dying of boredom. Or not. So, without further ado, I give you.. past Me! (stop laughing already)


On the Verge of a Writer's Block

Ah yes, once again I have called upon you to relinquish the extra memories that have tried to edge out into oblivion. In truth, I have nothing to recount, and the past days have only been filled with schoolwork and remote cerebrations, the occasional lapse into ennui, and some forgotten invectives. All crumpled pieces of time, as I'm wont to tell.

I realize that all my writings are done when the day is sedated, with clouds in a low-flying, light nimbus, almost whitish-gray, just before the rain, and perhaps nightfall. It has been this way when the weather is humid, when the is air stifling with restlessness. It is rather sad to find this new fact, I see that only now. I realize that all my happy and light moods have been poured to my previous letters to a person I knew.. or at least thought I knew, and it's even more depressing to think that they're probably all burned, or thrown away by now. Each and every single one.

But, as always, Time has this irritating habit of going forward, caring neither for friend nor foe. That's the blasted reality of it. He just has to drag everyone in is wake. Either we make something of ourselves or not. Once our stay is due, we fade. This gives me an acute sense of everything closing in around me, like my golden opportunities are flying away at once, a paranoia about being painfully aware of details, yet forcefully stuck in young, baseless feelings. This means my mind is somehow paralyzed, ineffective during times like these, when days are stoic and lazy.

Not only that, but waiting only kills you more. Like this, for example. Do I not merely want to waste my time in this causeless jaunt too shrewd to a fault? Why shrewd, you ask. Then again, would you care enough to? Shrewd, I say, because anyone who comes upon my writings will discover more than my actions can ever tell. It exposes a side of me would otherwise never been seen in the real world. If my eyes were the windows to my soul, these words are the bolts that hold them to the wall. They stitch my time and reality into one flat plane, where they can be freely organized or saved for later consumption.

Isn't it rather obvious? That is the point of all personal writings. Journals exist to remind us of who we once were, how we once felt, how we once thought and acted, and how we wished what we wished for then, even if you wrote it just a few minutes before. While it serves to validate or vitiate your long-held principles, or to document your existence, it still serves our own personal, often selfish purpose.

It's just another tool for posterity. And rightly so, we must use it to our advantage.

Fortunately or unfortunately, too many moments go by unfiltered. They escape like air drifting through your Everydays and Anydays. Sometimes you may feel them, and sometimes you may not. But, sometimes, when something quite extraordinary in your eyes erupts, you will want to remember all the details, excruciating they may be, and perhaps, even the air, the very atmosphere you most often took for granted. Yes, even the air drifting through your Everydays and Anydays.

As for me, my desire comes from sporadic bursts of mental excitement spurred by the fierce anger at my ineptitude, my gruesome faults, my borderline sanity, and the creeping boredom that inevitably envelopes everything during cold, gloomy, low nimbus days. Some people will feel it, others are simply too busy trying to stay alive to care. Only through these words can I hope to bring threads for my own life story, that looking back on this someday might give me a glimpse of this long forgotten snippet in my actual memory. This craft of ours will have to grow into something more genuinely human, with the anticipated quirks and nuances a character is expected of.

But then again, I would not want to sound like a character. I don't want people to read me as a voice culled from the depicted imagination of some author. I don't want to be a voice with many moods and insinuations, all leading to a falling out, with continuations always surpassing the last, as long as the writer is alive. The difference of this story is that there is none. We are purely trying to live things out, to get something more out of our dreary days rather than slouch and grow tired even more.

Come to think of it, I do have something to look forward to after all. I believe I am invited to a birthday party by my very close friend and kindred spirit. Ah, how time eludes us yet again. Alas, I too must take off if I am to prepare myself for the affair. We shall continue some other time. Till then, my friends.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Der Schloss Neuschwanstein: Wonderful!!

Just exactly how amazing is this place? Frankly, I don't know where to begin, looking at it and being blown away with all its history and deep iconic beauty can give a writer's block another writer's block. I mean, far from wanting to be a raving lunatic, I really don't know how I can start this off.

I was doing my usual thing, like stumbling around "dugg up" websites, if you will. One of the things that caught my fancy was this story here. It talked about how awesome castles were, and showed the most bad-ass castles you could ever see...ever. (Unfortunately, building castles has died out with most of the world's last monarchies) And the Neuschwanstein, or literally The New Swan Rock, got to me. Not only did it get me right on the face, it led on a string of subsequent wikis and research both in english and german, just to get a grasp on how its story goes. And I seldom read anything more than the comics section.

Originally intended to be a refuge by King Ludwig II, it was alleged to be one of the causes of his deposition in 1886 (it was later used by his detractors to be among the factors that made him unfit to rule: his overly excessive spending on his personal creative projects - a big example of which was this castle, among other buildings.). Today however, it attracts almost upwards of 6,000 visitors per day in the summertime and is open whole-year round except for Christmas. Tourism alone has paid for the castle many times over, even with the 14.5 million euros spent on it since 1990 for restoration and maintenance and visitor-related activities. It is also now owned by the State of Bavaria.

And why the hell wouldn't you want to go there? Even other castles want to go there. Seriously. ^_^ This has been further epitomized as THE castle when Walt Disney used this as the basis for his own Disneyland gigs. All the postcards that you see, the magical, fairy-tale feel, the sprawling imagery of the castle in the middle of an immense forest and overlooking a magnificent view. These feelings that you get are exactly part of the allure of making the trip. While it tells us that some people can go insane with the design, go overboard with the details and spare no expense while being called mad, it wasn't such a big deal if you were really larger than life, and well.. King.

Ludwig II was such an unforgettable character too, but I think I have another story about it, altogether. While most castles had the obvious fundamental function as a fortress, (you know, to keep most people out, protect a few inside) the Neuschwanstein was essentially dreamed up from the first cornerstone to be structurally pompous right from the start. Borrowing significantly from the design of the Chateau de Pierrefonds in France, King Ludwig II decided after a visit there that he could have one of these at home, so he did.

Deep inside it, the Neuschwanstein showed the King's ideals and leanings. He was a romantic and longed for a castle to be constructed in the medieval fashion of the classic German knights of old. It would be his own retreat, this palace of the Middle Ages. In it were also murals or picture cycles that described the works of the composer Richard Wagner, to whom this castle was also dedicated. As Wagner also drew heavily on old medieval lore, Ludwig II saw him as his hero, or some sort of a demi-god. But, even with all the oozing romanticism and medieval style, here was a very modern castle with the latest technology of its time, with provisions for plumbing, new ventilation techniques, electricity, and new incarnations of glass and steel. Hot air central heating, running water in every floor, electric bells for the servants, telephones on the 3rd and 4th floors, and even auto-flush toilets. Auto-flush toilets, in the 1860s? Cool.

I really can't tell you enough just yet, so you should really just go there to believe. Tickets are only available at the Ticketcenter Hohenschwangau, in the village just below the castle. Don't barge in, and it'll save you the extra trip back. Opening hours are from 9 AM to 6 PM during April to September, and from 10 AM to 4 PM during October to March. Also be advised that there is no photography, videography, dogs, or smoking allowed inside the castle. And no ditching the guided tour groups as well. And yes, I am copiously trying to monetize this as a means to augment my silly excuse of an income.

For more information on how to get there and how much the tickets cost these days, please click here for price, and here for directions. Enjoy your trip!

p.s. special thanks to flickr peeps: chinmay_oza, coolwater32, and fgross for the awesome pics!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Storm Warning: Bardagul's Apartment!

Ladies and gentlemen I have bad news. There is a very sad and grueling affair erupting in an old, crummy apartment in Quezon City right now.

That's right, I'm talking about the storm that has hit our home, and every other apartment where guys live with college buddies, believe you me. It happens to all of us. It happens to the best of us. My flatmates a.k.a. the Tongays and I, are whole-hearted proponents of the zen-nature-hippie way of life, and not in an entirely good kind of way. Let's think about that for a bit.

Let me give you a little bit of history. My crew and I have been mates and bros for the past 10 years. Since College. Up until now, well after we have all graduated and started working in the rat race. Yes, it's disgusting, I know. However, I must say that my apartment-folk and I are a responsible group of guys who 'clean' our apartment every Saturday (which incidentally falls after 'The Saturday great Gran Matador party night'.. you know, if some puke needs to be wiped and all.) Okay, so maybe that's not so true, but we definitely sweep it at least once a month. Alright, the truth is we haven't technically turned the apartment inside out with cleaning items yet this year, (it smelled decidedly funky when we moved in anyway) and I believe I used to have five roommates but one is now buried somewhere under old copies of FHM, Stuff, Maxim, UNO mags, dare i say CONDOMS?, DVD Porn Covers, and empty plastic bags from 7/11.

Now, the girls that live in the third apartment of the same building have worked out a sucky system for cleaning up: they take turns to clean each week, or have designated zones of responsibility. Who the hell thinks up these things, anyway?! I'm sure our system of NOT cleaning at all is way better because the girls are constantly bitching about who gets to do the leftover chores. That, and PMS. We guys, on the other hand, have never once fought about it. Here's a short example:

(oh yeah, the names have been changed to geeky Warcraft Usernames to protect the non-existent identities of the people involved.)

Pugiun: Zh'alyen, sayo ba yung brief na may peanut butter don sa lababo sa CR? [is this your brief with the peanut butter in the sink in the toilet?]
Zh'alyen: Yep, uhuh. Bakit? [yes, why?]
Pugiun: Okay lang, tutal baby pa naman to' e. [ah, it's okay then, you're still a baby anyways]
Pikoko: Tongs! I won! It WAS his!

Of course it was his, Zh'alyen's the only fat (but totally cute like a teddy bear!) bastard in our tight nerd herd. And indeed, because the brief was as huge as a tent. If the stain on his underwear were a kind of soup, his would be Campbell's: Thick and Chunky. You could just imagine the soup. Okay, please stop imagining it now, you sicko.

A bunch of guys living in an apartment together is really just a stand-off to see who can clean up the least without dying of an infectious disease. It's all a frickin' mind game. We're all darkly muttering to ourselves: Who's gonna give up first? Instead of cleaning, we find ways to live in peaceful coexistence with nature, hence the Zen-vibe. If my feet start to stick to the wooden staircase steps, I wear slippers. If they start to stick too, I wear sandals, then shoes, then army boots. The list goes on. If huge rats decided to move in the cupboard, we make friends with them and sometimes they help pay the rent.

But of course, we all have our valid reasons not to clean, if you should know:
Oragorn: I'm allergic to dust, I've asthma you see.
Gimu: Sige lang Tongs. My girlfriend will do that for me.
Pornholio: I'm barely here enough to make a mess. (he works a block away)
Pikoko: I don't have time, I'm trying to do my thesis. (And he's been out of school for years.)
Zh'alyen: I'm too young to do any manual labor. (He's hitting 29.)
Pooker: I don't make a mess naman e. (He stinks up the CR real bad.)
Me: I'm so bushed from work, barely had any sleep. (While I'm typing this.)

But basically, the reason why we're all trying not to crack and clean something up is because if that happens, that person permanently becomes the guy who cleans. From then on he'll be expected to clean. Even if Gimu spills Lambanog all over the PCs and pukes all over the floor, he'll think, "Forget about it, Pugiun will clean that up. He always does. This will also be the other guy's thinking even if Pugiun is the nastiest man alive, hasn't bathed for three years, and never had a girlfriend in his college life. Just because he took out the garbage that first time, he'll now be known as the guy with long hair who cleans.

In our apartment we have an XXL-size Rustan's supermarket trash bag that only allows us to empty the trash once a week. This does not change the fact that we empty the trash once a month. The trash tends to pile up until it begins consuming visitors to our apartment. Usually after there have been many olfactory injuries, I come back to find that the trash is gone. The trash isn't gone because one of us took it out; it'll be because the trash becomes repulsed by the living conditions and goes to reside somewhere cleaner, such as under a bridge. (Okay, so Pugiun finally took it.)

Furthermore, the floor in our living room has not been cleaned in the traditional sense since April Boy Regino had a career. For us, cleaning the floor means kicking the larger chunks of bread under the seven PC tables where we put up our gaming network. The good thing about it is that if we get trapped in our apartment during some freak nuclear accident, we'll have at least a two-month supply of food lying on the floor. Our technique for cleaning dishes, on the other hand, is to leave them at various locations around the place and hope that eventually they'll get together and take a group bath. Or until Pugiun freaks out.

Now on to the bathroom. To put it simply our bathroom could easily be used as a torture chamber. If visitors were locked in our bathroom, we would hear constant screams of, "This horrid stench is burning my nostrils!!," or, "WTF?!, it's a tooty-fruity flavor!" or, "Gawd! There's a half-life in that thing!" and, "I just stepped on something squishy yet crunchy, and hairy!" Come to think of it, I was the one who said that.

I also recently realized that our bathroom downstairs is growing hair. I don't know why or how, but our bathroom could be the spokesperson for Mane and Tail™. We just stopped putting a mat because the mossy tile floor has grown its own. Besides, the formerly soft and brown rag has turned into a crispy, flaky brown slab anyway.

I could go on, but something tells me my boss is already behind me and is about to breath fire on my ass and put me two inches closer to being fired. If this were the same as when I was caught sleeping for the fourth time, then I'm definitely screwed.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

“Requiescat in Pace.”

2nd November 2002; All Souls Day - Found from a Notebook
13:36 GMT, Saturday
My Original Ancestral Room and Table

It’s really very easy to fall asleep after a warm and hearty meal, coupled with the equally draining trek through the only-recently remembered graves of our faithfully departed. I already feel my eyes drooping under the weight of the circumstances, but I steel my hands from flailing now for there will never be a clearer moment, not now while they still softly simmer in my pot of memories. How dare I fall asleep when my own history is upon me? I will have none of that!

As one of the only scribes to detail my fading past, I literally take up this duty to record the last vestiges of my sanguine heritage. My elders are growing more feeble as we speak. Very soon they will no longer be heard, and my precious lore will forever remain a dream. This is the stuff of my very own kin, the forebears of my fiery blood. I will not, I dare not forget them.

Just why I’m so worked up right now are caused by two consequential things; the former being more physically linked. Caffeine. Fortunately for me, it still does wonders to the dulling mind. The latter, of course, is the obvious and stupid fact that I only started now. I should have jostled to listen to their stories long ago, when they were stronger.

Thus, I will attempt to recount what remaining data I have on my elder’s elders. We’re family all the way. The only peculiar thing about this, is that I found and dug up all these fascinating stories at the least expected place: the cemetery.

That is correct. The cemeteries of my parents’ clans gave me more insight into our beloved dead. This is one of the few places left on earth where I will throw kudos to the Roman Catholic dogma. At least this ritual has proven to have some practical use, and truths. Dead men DO tell tales. It just takes a kindred spirit to write it for them.

Naturally, it stirs a great deal of excitement within me as well; this being my only chance with this privilege. I will do my best to remain as sincere and faithful to the fact, and be true to the memories they would’ve wanted to be shared. All of these will be a bit romanticized in a sense, for what is a family without passion and zest? I am a scion come from their very blood, after all. They deserve this kind of posterity, finally.

Natividad Medalla y Obispo
Fallacio en 1949 de edad 69

This stead is great indeed. Like a sprawling imperial galleon with huge riggings and multiple masts, it dwarfs the surrounding tombs with nonchalant ease. My great grandmother. She was the aging maiden aunt of my mother’s father. Or almost. I never even realized she existed, until now. I asked my dad, who was lighting a candle at the base of her grave. My mom and her elder sister were at the far end, clearing away the debris from years of people passing through. Her spot was almost four times as wide as the normal grave, and her headstone loomed taller than three tombs piled atop each other.

My father says that she was a rich haciendera of the northern lands of Leyte. Her family had numerous businesses there. As she was single then, the task of supervising the plantations fell upon her. This was approximately during the turn of the 20th century, and transportation was mainly still by carriage or by boat. The manor house was situated in the heart of the city then, and it took half the morning to get across.

Fate would see to it that certain storms were to endanger her life and limb on a sea-faring voyage once. Her driver and boatman, her so-called man servant then, would ultimately save her from drowning. Back then, traditional Spanish beliefs about marriage and courtship still mattered, and it would weigh heavily upon her honor since any man who had seen a woman’s ankles or legs would as good as take her. Severely purist as was the norm then, and she couldn’t dare disobey.

And how. For the man had held her body and kept her head above water when their boat capsized. The boatman had not only seen her ankles, but touched her whole body in the act of saving her. She was thrashing about madly, and he had no choice but to hold her.

Funny how the customs can break up a family’s wealth. Thus they were married, and great grandmother “Nating” would take the name Medalla. Even though they were too old to have children, the former coachman was much too unaccustomed to his sudden great fortune. Unfortunately, he turned out to be quite the terrible gambler, and as his losses mounted, he proceeded to squander vast tracts of land to pay as collateral for his ruined gambits.

The area which is now a bustling commercial zone was reported sold by my great granduncle for a paltry sum of 40 pesos. The owners are Chinese now, and all for a bet in cock-fighting. The huge manor house is also gone of course, replaced by a concrete building today, another owner, another generation. My grandfather had only one other sibling, and she herself did not marry for fear the same mistake. Agapito and Victoria, my grandfather and grand aunt. Both entirely different stories on their own. Both gone from this earth. I must find out more about them. Yes, on another page perhaps, another time, at another piece of history I might gather from my other surviving elders. There is too much to know, but too little time. So soon will the cycle renew itself, and I will be one with them again, all too soon.

Till then I must live.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Meeting at Night: Trees

An hour to midnight.

Two people watch each other intently.
Total strangers, yet drawn by strangeness.
Exchanging glances, both gentle and probing, alert.
Delirious to some degree, purposely waiting, hoping for midnight.

The full moon swells in proud silence.
Water touches the sand,
like a lover running smoothly back and forth in the slight breeze,
leaving wet kisses now and then.
Her feet slowly carry her to the shore.

Her nakedness seemed so perfect, so pure.
As if goddesses were easy to find.
The smoothness of her thighs, the supple breasts.
The glistening beads of water on her hair.
He was already in the water, this beautiful man.
She came to him because he had such sweet smiling eyes,
like nothing could go wrong.

They splashed about, their laughter echoing into the night,
breaking the stillness.
They frolicked and swam, unmindful of the trees.
The island was theirs, at least for the night.
It was then that he drew her close, anxiously.
She offered no resistance, feeling his nakedness beneath the water.
And she was actually welcoming it, her breath rife with her feelings.
What is this desire, she thought in disbelief.

It was edging to devour her, making her heart jump.
They kissed, like lovers separated by time, mad, wanton and reckless.
They caressed each other, each touch leaving fire in its wake.
They could stand it no longer.

And the sea seethed with their excitement.

Where did the moon go?
It starts to pour, and the wind howls from nowhere.
The water is angry now, the sand in mute witness.
But they were madder still.
They could not stop, and the leaves were shaking, swaying frantically.
They would not stop.
Until finally, jagged bolts of lightning rip across the night sky.

Ah, soft, steady, pouring rain.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Words to the First

"Greetings once again, unknown eye or curious kin. It has been many arrogant years since I last set out to solidify my scattered thoughts. I have changed, that is true. But to what degree, I can almost always never tell.

As of writing this, the first score and three will have come. Fanciful folly and blind pride are to have supposedly left me, and that some slither of wisdom should now be mercifully at my command.

Ah, but dreams are still dreams. My eyes are fogged now, that is the only reality. I remember telling you that I started this book with ridiculously high hopes yet meager means to back it up. I was a fool then, as I am now. A written fool.

As I reviewed the brothers of this book, I can only think of the severe words that constructed me as an individual, of being outrageously extroverted offhand, but a catastrophic divide on the mental plane. My semantic experiments have taken me far beyond my own comprehension. I have tried many tongues on paper, accrued and attentuated many curses and rantings, attacked the unobstrusive and unheeding with my extradited dogma, and traveled many lifetimes to conceal what I have come to destroy.

And then, there is also the issue of my identity. For in our everydays, I feel we all change in some way, somehow, for something.. as a reaction of our consciousness.

Am I still even me? How will I begin to describe myself now? It's all confounding, to be brief. We only really know until we're far removed from it. Some good years away perhaps, and I will begin to reconstruct and evaluate my prose in reference to my character, and how life generally flowed around my words.

So, as usual, I must invite you to join me in the journey of finding myself. You will be more keen to find my flaws so that I might see, to help me steel my heart and mind from pain. This will be my only mirror.

The other sides of my complexity must also be considered if any worthy assessment is to be made. Here lies the dealings I have with other mortals in my sphere of interaction, including excerpts of our garbled conversations. A test to see how others react to my musings. This brand will be found most interesting, I hope.

Although I have suffered the terrible misfortune of losing a complete volume to the wind, it gives me great pleasure and relief that I have managed to salvage parts of my manuscript from its holdings.

Finally, it is with deepest pride that I welcome you once more into my mind, as we dive into the balderdash and the spindles of my yesterdays, todays, and tomorrow's promise."

Yours in freeverse,

IL Martello