Attraversiamo

I had my fortune told a few days ago just like I had many times in the past. I would be successful, I would accumulate wealth but more often times than not, I would falter on the romantic aspect – I have heard all that before… This time, I was told that I have suffered heartbreak and failed relationships but this last time I should gamble. Gamble… Gamble on the two kids, a boy and a girl and a very compatible relationship on a man that would not disappoint me and hurt me just like the others did in the past. 

All the while, while I was being told these things… I was thinking of you, of him… As much as I tried denying to myself that I was thinking of you…

This may sound shallow, but it really affected me when Justin Timberlake married Jessica Biel. I felt happy for my childhood crush especially when he said that he was marrying his best friend. He made that statement and I felt that I wanted the same for myself. If the same thing happens to me, then I don’t need to put my best foot forward or pretend that I am ladylike, cute and a good homemaker because I am not all that. I don’t know how to fry an egg or work a microwave even if it cost me my life. I like playing Play Station games, I smoke weed and drink more than an average jock’s share of alcohol – I am nothing prissy or ladylike. I hate butterflies, ribbons and I don’t doodle flowers on my notebooks. None of that shit. I could be too bold, opinionated and argumentative it could get into the hairs of people. I won’t drone on about myself here. To cut it short, I am an acquired taste. Ending up with someone who knows me well would be my best bet.

And all along, after swimming in the vast sea of men and ending up covered in scum and seaweeds… There you are…

So if you have read or watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, I have been done with the Eat part as proven by the pounds I gained last year, I am done with Pray when I reassessed my life, traveled alone and dedicated my time to worthy pursuits… Here I am at the Love part… 

As you travel the world and I envy you as I subsist in my sedentary scholarly pursuits, I’m just here waiting my darling… What is the few years we have building the foundations of our future for the greater number of years we spent being friends… I fear the thought of it and laying it out in the open, but maybe this is “attraversiamo”…

There is danger in you… and beauty…

There is heartbreak looming in the horizon, yet I indulge…

A sweet caress, a gentle kiss and an illusion of a spark in your eyes when you look an me… All spun in a web of lies…

A Casanova in sheep’s clothing… A liar in the guise of innocent eyes and decent clothes…

You are the perfect midnight storm made into a man… Secrets embedded in red lips and hints of cigarette smoke on your suit…

LATE NIGHT SCRAMBLED EGGS

LATE NIGHT SCRAMBLED EGGS

By: Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie V

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The cliché that “the best things in life are free” must have surfaced from a general nodding of heads from people who have been in love or have experienced love. In my experience, it was him suddenly lying on my lap one lazy afternoon with just a book and a fruit shake in hand at Ayala Triangle. We had light conversations in between his naps and my reading, the feeling that those conversations gave me was the same feeling you get when you are used to eating burgers and red meat and you suddenly shift your diet to vegetable salads and sliced fruits. We sat on that spot until the moon was gazing at the world with lazy eyes, hesitant to leave its spot but itching to end its shift like a perfume sales man on a slow day or a prisoner guard. That day, the jokes we shared about couples in Luneta Park or Manila Bay became ubiquitous, we understood them all of a sudden because we were in the moment – we were in their shoes, in their state of mind. What happened that afternoon gave me an illusion and hope that maybe I could spend the last of my years with this man, on an old porch, sitting on a rocking chair, white hair, thick glasses, a large floral dress and a knitting project in my hands.

 

Recent developments made it clear that those romantic misgivings were indeed illusions and false hopes. Only the both of us hold the secrets of our affair and its demise, I always say our love grew in cunning, in silence and in quiet. As much as I would have wanted to share our story in full animation and gusto, I cannot bring myself to do that. My mind and heart trails to lucid moments of torrid kissing and tight grabs of once unknown places in my body that I am left in a resigned mood, left to the overwhelming gush of longing those passionate moments bring — those once unknown places in my body that became the territory of his hands and postmarked by the sweet juice of his kisses. I hug myself at the memory. I had to pause my writing this hug myself at the thought…

 

The thoughts of him bring vivid sensory recollections. I can still feel the reverberation of his voice in my ears when he tries to make a point, or the sound of his soft snoring wand heavy breathing after a tiring day. His eyes, seductive and expressive, sheds a fine light when he is engrossed in what he is reading or when we enjoy a morning stroll and the first rays of sun passes through it in a diagonal fashion. His eyes were the color of grape seeds; they were always teary and sad, like newly varnished mahogany. The deep pools of brown in his eyes came out even more when he wears his black scarf, he wears that scarf and he looks so regal and feels cozier to hug. His hugs say a lot about his feelings, most of the time it makes me feel like a starfish being taken to deeper seas by a big wave, a brainless starfish not knowing what to do. That feeling of engulfment is eased when I feel the details of his thumb mark on my cheek and all worries and woes melt into a blur – as if the world is so simple and nothing can ever hurt me. I miss the mossy smell of his apartment and the very distinct manly smell which sticks to his bed that I keep whiffing off his pillows and sheets when he is away, sometimes even when he is just taking a shower. I randomly get a whiff of his Issey Miyake perfume when walking at a mall or the streets and that is when I badly miss him, that is the height of my sadness and I feel all of a sudden that the buildings or the crowd would eat me a live – very nauseating, my legs throb and weaken and feel like it is giving away.

 

That same crowd that used to double over when we walk the streets, that gave a slight smile when overhearing our little arguments or funny takes on random things over dinner or drinks, that same crowd that stared when he pulled me in for a kiss good-bye and that followed me with its eyes on mornings when I have just emerged from his place with my hair in a rut and in man clothes – the crowd that gave justice to walking the walk of shame in those mornings.

 

His place, his apartment is the backdrop to the memories we have created together. That dingy old apartment: where quiz papers from fourth grade with perfect scores and smileys in red ink are scattered along laced panties and used condoms. A wooden ashtray that fills up as the night deepens and the morning enters, dusty books with frail pages seemingly salvaged and dried from a rainy day and an un-stringed Fender acoustic guitar that sits on its corner were a few of its remarkable features. His place was my refuge from storms and graying skies complete with hot chocolate and slow rainy day sex, my secret place for watching movies and fucked up documentaries that cause my impatience to go home from the office, his place was the breeding ground for our love and eventual pains with its four walls privy to our whispers. The same four walls banged by neighbors when we have raucous sex, the same four walls that are stained black from his cooking.

 

I lie about not eating scrambled eggs ever. I ate scrambled eggs because it reminds me of post-coital breakfast food he cooks deep in the night. It was cooked to perfection, a little milk and just enough salt that it turns out fluffy and tasting exactly the way I want it to taste.

 

Late night scrambled eggs that have been demoted to late night scrambled thoughts…

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QUIET

QUIET

By Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie V

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I prefer to remain silent about us, to not divulge the love ensuing between us two people very much alike and at the same time very much distant. Our love is the low flame on a stove, safe yet warming…

But at the same time, on good days with you, it is an influx of unidentified feelings that cannot be encapsulated in words conjured up by man to make another understand, all I know is that it is a conflagration… On good days.

On bad days, on normal days, I am adamant to feel the other side, the darker side because I have grown in the fear of hurting and losing myself again, I am inept of emotion, or maybe I prefer to be that way — unfeeling and oblivious.

As much as I want to talk about you, brag about you and tell them of the moments we share that make good stories, I prefer to hush and keep it to my memory… It is a beautiful secret…. And we are sheathed by their unknowing because what is habit and what is ordinary is often time missed – they will never notice because we are just together, a placement in the eternal parabola of time, a streak to the blind side. Seeming ordinary like a common thing that goes unnoticed in our everyday, like a toothbrush, a towel or a wrist watch that when lost would be a disturbance to the natural flow of things – that is our love.

P.S. Today, like the long days that have passed without you, I realize that the pain is losing you is remarkably different from the ones that I have felt in the past. Pain was one full blast of emotions that erupt from a break-up and recedes away as time passes. But the pain of being away from you is one that goes on a steady crescendo with time’s passing. I wonder if it would stop at a certain point. 

 

SEA AND SILENCE

SEA AND SILENCE
By Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie V

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It has been a long time since I have written but I trusted that the knack for it would come eventually. I have traveled quite a lot the past two months, a lot in my standards as I am a corporate rat and a miser working towards a dream. It has put my soul to rest, hence the silence of my thoughts and the purification of my soul’s unknown turbulence.

I would like to tell you of a ride in a boat with four friends. I was expecting cajoling and loud conversation as we embarked on that short trip towards the opposite island…

The conversation hushed gradually as we went further and deeper down the edges of the Pacific Ocean with only the sound of the friction of the boat against the water, its motor and the wind. And then, as the water turned from a light shade of blue green to a deep blue, hard to distinguish from black… Everyone was left to their contemplative moods and dreams…

It was beautiful seeing the peace in my friends’ faces as we fathomed the depth of the ocean and how our lives were at actual risk being there… That anytime a big wave could approach and set our boat and its passengers to the bottom of the ocean, lifeless and peacefully floating, and that the most painful kind of death is from drowning…

All the while I thought of life, love, dreams, sea, travel and the beauty that remains undiscovered in the country… I want badly to bring the person I would truly love to this island paradise and experience the silence of the boat ride with him. I stared at the lone lighthouse on an outlying island and had fantasies of going atop it when I visit the place again. At the fast paced lifestyles everyone else is busied with, it is imperative to put the camera down and relish the experience, it is much different captured artificially than when you are there at the moment.

The longest thought that occupied my mind was the realization that the greatest artists, poets and thinkers of then and now must have been inspired by the sea and by lost paradises; and I think that maybe one would not fathom the depth in black and white unless they see the sun reflected at the deepest pockets of the ocean…

 

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CANNED TUNA

CANNED TUNA

By Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie V

Modern day relationships, where there are relationships that require no label and no commitment, we settle for less and compromise the ideas of how a conventional and romantic relationship should be – we pretend that we are okay with whatever it is that is going on. But secretly we want a label, an assurance, a contract, a right to call someone our own along with the responsibilities and consequences that come along with it. Because loving someone is a right and with it being a right, it can be abused and contravened – there are laws that govern it, albeit arbitrary. This is the cause of confusion and pressure, the reason why one of the parties back out prematurely despite the so-called ‘relationship potential’.

But whatever…

As long as you don’t have to hug your pillow when you feel alone and those love songs have a new meaning again, then maybe it is okay, you can tag along and play the game…

While it lasts, let it be good.

While it’s good, let it last.

And while it’s there, feign.

The only solace is that you don’t need to cry as much as you did before, because you surpassed that and you are a survivor – a Napoleon, a Genghis Khan, an Andres Bonifacio in this WAR called LOVE. And labels, in this modern day format of dating, romance and whatever you may call it, are just good for canned tuna.

A BRIEF RESPONSE

I read your blog and I am overwhelmed with emotions for the first time this year, you said you missed the vision of me in your couch when I have only you white shirt on. I miss being that vision too, I felt my most beautiful, being in just your loose white shirts, smelling of laundry detergent and mothballs. I made a choice that day, I chose him over you and ended up with no one. And years after our brief dalliances, you still inspire most of what I write. Just like you, I put up this blog because I know it is one of the ways to reach you. Reason and reality over wishful thinking, it is only a sliver of hope that we still share tomorrow together. But before I sleep at night, before I am rocked away by the delirium of sleepiness, I feel our connection. I feel that I know the goings-on in your mind, what you are feeling and thinking at that exact moment. Sometimes, I wonder how many women have shared your bed and if you too think of me while you find a temporary cure for your lone. For now, the past would be the glue that binds our like minds and hearts, a reason to believe that in the vast spectrum of eternity a vagabond and a minstrel were once destined. I miss your laughter and wise eyes…

But, if you say you miss me like you say you do, you should be willing to put it through the true test:

When you walk on a beach or when you witness a magnificent natural phenomena like the sunrise or the warm tones on the sky when the sun is about to set, close your eyes and feel your heart… If you feel that you want me to be beside you holding your hand as you walk through the shores or sit on the sand, if you want to whisper dreams and sweet nothings under the sheath of stars in the night sky, if you think of me when the sun rises in the morning… that means you truly miss me… You miss me if you think of me at the most beautiful moments and at the saddest ones.

Closer

Corinne Bailey Rae is definitely one of my favorite artists, I mean, in my ideal version of the world I would marry her off to John Legend. This performance is smooth and perfect – you have to listen to how clear all the instrumentals are and how Corinne Bailey Rae actually felt her song and emanated the emotion of it as she felt the air with her arms and hands. It was beautiful. If you download the digital version it is just as clear, if they could make a live performance sound this good then the world would be a better place. Great song, great performance, great back-up instrumentals and great voice!

FIBA WORLD CUP 2013: A TESTAMENT TO OUR LOVE OF BASKETBALL

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FIBA WORLD CUP 2013: A TESTAMENT TO OUR LOVE OF BASKETBALL

By: Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie V

 PHILIPPINES-RAILWAYS-POVERTY

The world stops in the Philippines when there is a Manny Pacquiao fight: there is no traffic, the malls are less crowded, streets are less congested and you can actually sit in the train and buses and in the small neighborhoods and barangays, young and old are cloistered and glued to their television sets – cajoling, shouting and betting. The same scenario was true for the FIBA 2013 World Cup where almost everyone held their breaths as we hosted the games, hoping that doubts of us being hosts would not come to life and that we hear commendations and good tidings from our neighbors.

The peak came when standard-bearer SMART-Gilas was pitted against the giants of Iran’s team. The social networks were flooded with well-wishes, updates and cheers for the local team and comments on Iran’s Hadadi’s enormity. Iran was indeed competition despite the fact that their A-sport is soccer. Philippines emerged as a successful FIBA Asia team with a silver medal for this year sans Kelly Williams and Asi Taulava – Japeth Aguilar took on the center stage like David against the Goliath which is Hadadi. To date, our country is still the most successful FIBA Asia team for having the most gold medals. Although China and Korea are making ruckus in the basketball world, they only became successful recently. We could trace our long-standing success in basketball to the great influence of Western culture and that we had national leagues earlier than everybody else. Although losing in the finals, Gilas made it to the Olympics which gives us something greater to look forward to as we again showcase our basketball acumen to the world stage – it may even be a blessing in disguise that we lost the finals as we didn’t even make the cut for the Olympics last time.

The whole world may find it odd that given our short built and other physical characteristics said to be apt for soccer rather than basketball, we take pride in being probably the only country in our continent in love with basketball. Yes, we are making our mark in football, but a Filipino can never forget its first love. If you ask some of our fellows what our national sport is, some of them would respond BASKETBALL, sometimes despite knowing what the national sport is, it comes out au natural.  It driven us to the edge of our seats once more but we proved and prided our nation that despite objections and dissent, our passion and inherent love for the sport could lead us to greater places. And, just an answer to recent developments and issues, the P1 million grant of our government is well-deserved; they did work hard for it and represented our country well.

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ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14

ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14

By: Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie Villar

 

Activists For North Korean Human Rights Rally In Washington

 

The reason I want to become an International Lawyer is profound, it needs a separate entry but people like Shin Dong-hyuk inspire me to do well and do good for this world – leave legacy, change lives, and be successful. I was reading about the dire conditions of North Korea a while ago as stories about this country interests me a lot, it mystifies me, there is an allure to their story that makes me want to see it for myself and in some way reach out, give them a hand after acquiring the power and right to do so.

 

It is his second life, Shin Dong-hyuk, he has suffered many “mini-deaths” and bigger blows in his life back in his old country. There is a very slim chance that anyone can escape the dreaded labor camps but Shin Dong-hyuk was not only able to escape the dreaded labor camp, he escaped the most brutal labor camp, Camp 14 which is reserved for threats to the communist regime, “the most serious political criminals”. Shin, being a North Korean is affected by the “Three Generations of Punishment” policy meaning that if your grandfather commited a crime, you are to receive the same degree of punishment usually leading to entire lives spent in prison camps. Shin was born in the camp to an arranged marriage of two prisoners who were allowed to spend a couple of nights together as a result of good work the reason being his uncle commited the grave offense of deserting the army and defecting to South Korea, aside from that his brother and mother attempted to escape the prison camp when he was still a child. These offenses are considered the worst and warrants an execution or an extended sentence in the prison camp. It is said that in Camp 14, the Kaechon intermittent camp, prisoners barely make it to 45 years of age but Shin escaped and lived to tell the tale. It would be a dream come true if I be an audience to one of his talks.

 

Survival was the top priority in the camp, there is no room for human affection or emotions that Shin felt that his mother and brothers were competitors for food rations. As a means of survival, he even reported his mother and brother for attempting an escape to get a reward. To curb his grumbling stomach he ate rats, insects, frogs and reported other inmates for more rewards. In his eyes, even as a child, he saw many executions, violence and abuse. Prisoners die of stavation, illness, torture and work accidents. For breaking a sewing machine, a part of his right middle finger was cut off by his supervisor and here we are complaining of the “harsh” conditions we have at our ergonomically designed seats and desks at work. Shin was also tortured when he reported his mother and brother, for four days he was tied to a hook (the scars on his back are still visible up to present) and a charcoal fire was lit on his back for the guards to solicit more information from him. He and his father was kept in a small concrete prison cell after that and when they were taken out, they witnessed the public executions of his mother and brother which at the time did not matter to him but would be a haunting memory he would have later.

 

“I still think of freedom as a roast chicken”, this was coming from a man who all his life ate a soupy gruel of cabbage, corn and salt with the occasional rats and insects. He learned of the outside world and the other types of food that he can eat outside from a 40-year old political prisoner named Park he met while working in a textile factory. The idea of eating as much food as he fancied, from Park’s accounts drove Shin to want to escape. The attempt to escape was creative, Shin would provide the inside information about the camp while Park would be responsible in using his knowledge of what lies outside the camp to escape the country.

 

The night of January 2, 2005, Park and Shin were assigned to work near the camp’s electric fence to collect firewood. The two waited for the guards to be out of sight and made their attempt to escape. Park went first but was electrocuted by the high voltage fence, Shin then used Park’s body as a shield to ground the current to pass over the wire. He escaped the camp and broke into a farmer’s barn where he found a military uniform which he used to guise himself as a military man. It was a story of survival and how he learned to live in more “liveable” conditions until he was discovered by a journalist in a restaurant in Shanghai when he was working as a laborer.

 

August 2013, Shin gave an interview gave a testimony to the United Nations first commission of inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, he is still an active and strong voice in campaigning for human rights abuses in the country and assisting refugees. What struck me most in Shin’s story was a statement he made for an interview for the Financial Times where he said: “I don’t really know anything about music. I can’t sing and I don’t feel any emotion from it. But I do watch lots of films and the one that moves me most is Schindler’s List.” How can one live and not have music in his life? It is unimaginable. It is now my life plan to provide music in the lives of others, whatever way I can and with Shin’s story I only want to become a more thankful person than complain all the time. If given those conditions, would we have survived? Would we still know music?