Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A feat, this heart’s control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hand’s size
—from “Bonsai,” Edith L. Tiempo

All this time
Here is a pulse,
As faint as a pin,
Beating, and then gone.
Now this is what I fear:
I have no new words for love.

But I have other things to say,
Ocean wide, mineral bright,
And I need an anchor
To keep them where
They ought to be:
A chair, a small corner,
A dog-ear of a journal,
A hill house, or you.

If this is not enough,
I will comb the shores
For a conch, the poet
Of seashells, and keep it,
Listen to its ageless whisper.

Seldom do we get
A promise of a rosy future
From such smooth lips,
Something out of a treasure
We could hold and cradle
In the arms like a child.

Monday, August 22, 2011

there are no goodbyes

I didn’t expect yesterday would end up as grey as the aternoon skies. At around 5:30pm, August 21, National Artist for Literature Edith Lopez Tiempo passed away. I could not define the sadness that drenched over me all of a sudden, the wall that blankly stared back after receiving the news.

The literary community calls her “Mom,” and at this very moment her children are in sorrow.

She left a void as immense as her passion, and now it is up to her children to keep her words alive. Hope is all we could have—hope for relief, hope for posterity, hope for lasting remembrances.

There is not enough “thank you” to contain my gratitude for the teachings I receive from her, the fleetest moments I am with her, the gentle smile the first time I met her. She may be an old woman but the wisdom in her eyes is young, always ripe, sometimes with a glint of the jokester. “How proud I am to have a writer who is Biblically approved,” she wrote on my Sands and Coral journal I had her autographed back in 2008. In my mind, well, how proud I am to have you as a second mom in my second home.

In the Director’s Dinner last May 17 where Mom graciously attended for the 50th anniversary of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop she co-founded with her husband, Edilberto Tiempo, she said, “I am happy, happy to be with you as I have always been happy all these 50 years with writers, and I hope that each one of you will be happy to say that, ‘Oh, I was last night with a 92-year-old woman who claims she is a writer.’”

And in my simple words, I am happy, Mom. I am.

[ photo by Urich Calumpang ]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Nothing could be as sad
as two mirrors falling in love.
It seems they can never settle
on what they want to see
in each other’s faces.

Mirrors only find infinite depth
in sex. Doubling of repetitions
in sweet nothings. When one
reaches for a kiss, ennui is served
on endless plates of silver.

Humility could not save them,
not even their penchant to tell
the truth. Though gifted with
keenest memories, mirrors
fall victim to nostalgia.

Perhaps two mirrors
are too beautiful for each other.
Perhaps both should look
the other way. Though broken,
both would remain complete.


Just doing something playful this time. The four stanzas in this poem could be read in different order (1-2-3-4 or 4-2-3-1 or 3-1-4-2 and so on). I am not sure if there’s a name for this writing, but I’d love to continue making more of this—reflecting the content of the poem to the physical form, structure, or in any means other than just the persona talking. It is fun.

Friday, August 05, 2011

brilliance in music

The Camerawalls, which is led by Clementine Clem Castro, a member of the now-defunct band Orange and Lemons, has the freshest sound I’ve heard lately in the local music industry.

Lord Of The Flies - The Camerawalls by Lilystars Records

I remember seeing their albums Pocket Guide to the Otherworld and Bread and Circuses in Powerbooks Megamall, but when I went back the other month they were all gone. This broke my heart. Thankfully, samples of their discography are available in their
website. Just listen to the song embedded above (my personal favorite, next to
Birthday Wishes), or those in the site, and you’ll get this grand, sweeping sense of bliss, it’s as if you could touch and taste the beauty of colors.

And wait. Did I hear that right, strings from a rondalla instrument? Beautiful, indeed, just beautiful. Music like this should come out more often in the Philippines.

[ image lifted from this site ]

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

the storms around us

Can there be more damaging
than the whip of wind
on our roofs and walls?

What rests between sky and dirt
is not depth but our breathing, heavy,
and the regular whisk of debris:

Fur from stray dogs, plywood, broken
tree limbs, galvanized sheets of iron,
tin cans, newspaper front page, etc.

We cannot cry over tempests,
imminent like a plague of locusts
thick for days and nights.

So let us confess with the last
dreg of faith we hold on to, spill
not only the sins we have committed

but also those we have not: the eye
of the storm sees what hides behind
the calm we build around our houses.

We know our own transgressions.
Though secrets wade swiftly
against the current of our litanies

combined, I am a firm believer of rain.
Its urge to fall quiets the noise,
quiets the maddening soul.

[ image lifted from this site ]