Wednesday, January 04, 2012

perhaps a little happier than 2011

How I’d like to sum up the previous year in one picture.

My recollection of things is much clearer in the head, flamboyant and stirring, but when expounded in words the memory sometimes suddenly loses its charm. Perhaps eloquence is not my forte. And yet the recent past that is 2011 demands articulation. That year is beautiful for me, the months wildly prancing that one could easily wonder where they have gone.

So I will try my best.

Yes, 2011 has left us reeling with uncertainty. With the variety of disorder that have swept our landscape—ecological, political, emotional—is there a reason to cheer? Is there really something to look forward to? Immediate response would dictate us to do otherwise, but there are always other things. One of them could be hope.

I, on the other hand, have resorted to distraction. Not that I have ran out of my daily dose of optimism. It is just that distraction proves to work better for me, nudging an idle mind to do something.

And some things I did manage. Especially on my attempt to improve as a practicing writer. Whereas two years ago fiction has entirely invaded my attention, this time poetry seems to be on the
ruling side. There are one or two short stories coming out in this and that publication, but it is the allure of verses that keeps spinning my gears in the past twelve months. And I am not complaining.

The other year has brought me to a lot of places, too, new ones and revisited. It starts with the
hiking and camping trip at Nagsasa Cove, Zambales in March, followed by head-turning tours at Bacolod, Ilo-ilo, and Guimaras in April. There are the much-needed escapes to Bohol in August and October (and, of course, December). There is the getaway to Boracay and the nearby island of Tiguatian in November. I also remain true to my word of visiting my second home that is Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, twice, in May and in August. Each month bears a certain weight of contrasting emotions.

The first one commemorates the 50th anniversary of the longest-running writers workshop in Asia, the Silliman University National Writers Workshop. It is a gathering of a tightly-knit family with like minds. I have met a couple of brilliant people, and I hope they would remain as close as I have previously mingled with them this 2012. It is just as remarkable as the grand event that one of the two founders of the workshop, National Artist for Literature Edith L. Tiempo, is still present to witness the reunion. As always, she shares a gem of a wisdom on the last night. She never fails to impress.

That is why by August 2011, the news of her having passed away has suddenly pulled a plug in many of us. Something has just dropped. Whether it is some strange work of fate, I have come to attend the state funeral of Mom Edith—as what many in the workshop call her—at the Silliman Church, with my original intention to only visit Dumaguete for the university’s week-long founders celebration. Yes, it is strange to revel and to respect the departed at the same time.

And things will come to pass. In my head, what will matter most is that we will not forget. So we move on. I write more. And I am glad I did. Distraction.

Up to this point, the actuality of seeing my name in a book (and yes, in magazines and newspapers, too) always leaves me euphoric. It is a year of firsts for me. I have a poem anthologized in a landmark book consisting of writers I have only read and studied, more so deified in my biased preferences. And before the year ends, I finally have a short story included in an anthology that I have, for years, been cracking at to get in since its inception.

Blessings keep on rolling. Until that storm arrive. I have known some people who are affected by the devastations of typhoon Sendong and the others before that. As I board onto the plane last month to return to Bohol, my home province that is luckily out of danger, there is this black hole that is relentless.
What if it happened to us? What if another one comes? What if?

The indecisiveness of feelings is at it again, and this could be the worst state of being during Christmastime. That is why it is a good thing you have those people you could latch on. There is your family and there is your circle of closest buddies. These are those who know what ticks you off and what makes you smile. What more could I ask for?

Well, of course, there are a lot to ask for. Like many gatherings, it is almost usually incomplete, and I wish for the opposite. At home for noche buena and media noche, we are missing three siblings, who are currently all outside the country. For someone who is used to big family revelries, the absence is pretty obvious.

On the other side of the family spectrum, a couple of my high school classmates are suddenly getting this yuletide strain. I, myself, am not spared by the bug. One by one, day by day, he and she are getting sick that plans for huge outings and the usual excursions are either delayed, minimized, or squished to a little party of four or five. This is not what I have expected for a holiday break.

And yet, me looking back now, the sullen parts of this reality are really just that: challenging but compliant, abrupt but brief, harsh but adaptable. One just has to face the facts. For the new year, this is an effective exercise on happiness and contentment.

With that, we will have no problems recollecting memories of a future present. No matter how heartbreaking, no matter how mesmerizing. To each and everyone, have a bountiful and beautiful year ahead. Let us make 2012 work.

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