Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The X-File

It is not something I like to talk about- even to friends. And certainly, it is not a smart choice for a topic when you want to converse with someone you’ve just met. Sure it’s interesting, but if he can’t relate to it—which is the case most of the time— you’ll be thought of as a loony.

I see dead people.

Well, nah, not really. I just said that to get the feel of having said such infamous (do I hear weird?) line from Sixth Sense. Anyway, I do see entities from a different plane. An alternate universe, if you must. In the vernacular, it’s aptly called dili ingon nato or engkanto. And how, you ask, do I know they’re not actually dead people unable to pass through that famous blinding white light? I just know. It’s a gut feeling, I should say. And well, by now, thanks to movies and books, I should already know how ghosts and engkantos differ in appearance.

Some people I know are amazed and shocked about it, while some dismiss it as mere figment of my rather restless and peculiar imagination. I, for one, cannot understand it sometimes. Not that I ever tried. See, I’m the kind of person who believes in ‘What you don’t know can’t hurt you’—well, most of the time.

They say each one of us has the gift of ESP (it’s extrasensory perception, just in case you’re on the wrong page). And that it is only up to us how we can open it. In most cases, it is triggered by trauma or tremendous stress. Well, I never asked for anyone to open it. And as far as I know, I didn’t smack my head too hard on any surface whatsoever to experience trauma. The stress? Well, I don’t know, but I’m positive I have it under control.

I have no first-hand accounts of the early manifestations of my seeing ‘other entities’ as I was still too young then. According to my grandmother, when I was about three or four years old, I started talking about a lady who was carrying a girl, hiding behind some banana plant. Or is it banana tree? Oh, you get the point.

According to the quack doctors my grandparents consulted, the huge mango tree in our backyard was home to a family of, well, engkantos. And that girl the lady was carrying was of my age. And that the mother apparently wanted me to be her daughter’s playmate. I still find it creepy until now.

So what happened after that? Of course, ‘they’ were unable to get me because of some ritual the quack doctors did. And well, I spent good 15 or so years not seeing unworldly entities. All I can remember is that back in high school, I could always sense unseen beings around the house. I could sometimes feel a pair of eyes watching me from a corner. I could easily sense if a house had inhabitants other than the humans occupying it. But then again, we all get that feeling, don’t we? We all ‘claim’ to sense something in a house or a place.

It wasn’t until we moved into our current house that I started seeing things again. Now, this may refute what I previously said about not actually seeing dead people, but the first unworldly being I saw after so many years was a white lady. Or was she just wearing white? And besides, engkantos are known to wear white clothes too, right? Anyway, it was around three in the morning, while I was finishing the last set of the chiffon cakes I was baking. You can argue that it could have been just borne out of fatigue or sleepiness, but I have to say it was that incident that opened my eyes (again) to the others around us.

Since then, I’ve been seeing this tall guy who always appeared in silhouette, among other figures. As it turned out, other members of the household have always been made aware of their presence, although most of the time they couldn’t see them. Frequent sighting of this tall silhouette guy prompted me to give a name. What—I couldn’t just refer to him as the “taas nga laki, dako, murag foreigner ang built” every time I told my family about the supernatural visits. I named him James, for no apparent reason. Another female being of frequent appearance in our house, passing by the hallway from my bedroom to the comfort room, was named Samantha, for no apparent reason again.

All my ‘sightings’ have been confirmed when we held a party, and a friend of my sister saw the exact being that is James. She had no prior information that ‘others’ were living in our house. Her description was the same as mine. It was confirmed, I wasn’t hallucinating, and to my mom’s relief, I wasn’t on drugs.

A neighbour's maid came by the house a few months after that (and again she had no prior knowledge whatsoever about the supernatural things in our house) and asked if we’ve been experiencing some unusual things. When asked why, she straightforwardly said that other entities were living in our house, and it was a family- a husband, a wife, and a kid.

The rest of the household was shaken, although temporarily, but I wasn't. I don’t know, maybe because I was used to it. It didn’t really bother me (still doesn’t) that we are sharing a house with beings from another place. For many years, we’ve lived in harmony with these beings. They sometimes make their presence known via visual manifestations—hey, even neighbours comment about seeing ‘people’ in our house. Strangers in motors or tricycles sometimes slow down and look at the house in a perplexed kind of way. One time, our house help heard a stranger commented, “Kagwapa sa baye ui,” while looking at a certain place on the lawn. And no one else was there.

There are also shape shifters in our house, unless of course James and Samantha, and their kid, could actually shape shift- in which case, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. They sometimes copy someone’s appearance and voice. Once, I waited minutes after minutes to pee because I saw my cousin enter the comfort room, only to find out that he was outside doing the laundry.

Recently, the manifestations sort of had an upgrade. The TV suddenly turns on or off. Doors and cabinets close (and no, there isn’t a gust of wind), the faucet opens. A five-gallon mineral water is mysteriously emptied halfway hours after it has been refilled (and no, we can’t drink that much water in a matter of hours).

Should one think all of this is an excuse to write a post or that I am really insane and hallucinating—I dare you to come to our house. Who knows, James or Samantha, or someone else might appear before you and even offer you coffee in my behalf.



So this is how it feels. A drill making its way into your core, boring through flesh of memories and familiar emotions. You wince at the pain; you ebb into nothingness as if it were sanctuary. You feel every muscle tighten at the thought of days gone past. Like history shaping the foundation of the present, and memories molding emotions.

You stare blankly into nowhere; feeling parts of you chip away with every second of silence. And that security you once held, it’s gone now. You wonder if it’s ever going to come back; if that smile on your face would ever be complete again.

Maybe you should start gathering the pieces. But gluing them together won’t patch the hole in your heart. It’s useless to even consider it. You know the only glue that could hold those pieces back again. But it seems too late now. They say it’s never too late, but why do you feel like a crust of your earth has fallen off the universe, and the ground you’re standing on is as unsteady as the beating of your heart. So this is how it feels to miss someone. This is how it feels to lose someone so dear to you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


decay 2

Now, this may sound uncharacteristic of me—being that I am often perceived as a frivolous creature—but I really think my generation is headed on a downward spiral of moral dissolution. No, I don’t think everyone in my age group is superficial, shallow, or desultory (and yes, those three words do have similar meaning, but they define the same subject differently), but most of today’s twenty-somethings are too concerned—or rather gripped—with money, sex, and other superficial things.

These days, success is defined solely by the salary one earns; the brand of clothes one wears; the car one drives; the number of seemingly important people he’s affiliated with.

Happiness is dependent on how many orgasms one has attained in a single night; the number of Cuervo and Red Horse bottles that pollute the table and our otherwise sober minds.

Self-esteem is represented by how one is able to move from one relationship—lust-driven at that—to another in a matter of days.

Today, respect is not given because one has earned it, but because one is merely a prominent figure in society, and one has a title before or after his name.

Beauty is beauty only when one is a photogenic cam-whore whose facial features resemble those models you see on TV. Handsome means having a six-pack, leaning-on worthy biceps, and great hair. Beautiful means having a svelte figure with a 36C bra size and a Jennifer Lopez ass to boot.

A person is no longer someone who needs to be known, but someone who must be appraised. When one has passed pop-society’s qualifications, one is beautiful. Otherwise, one is dismissed as someone who belongs to the lower end of the gene pool, and therefore is not worthy of knowing. Talk about giving ‘face value’ a new meaning.

Maybe it’s not our fault after all. Maybe we are indeed products of our media-influenced environment. The same media that etched in our minds the idea that good always triumphs over evil, and that after the storm, there is always a rainbow.

Yes, I belong to the same generation. And yes, I still dream of one day becoming a filthy rich son-of-a-bitch (regardless of my intentions). But excuse me, I don’t believe in the rainbow after every storm. Believing in such is a major bullock, and is therefore likened to believing in fairy tales. And well, I don’t believe in fairy tales. Fairy tales, in my opinion, only delude us.

For me, success is not measured by how fat one’s bank account is. It is not measured by how many cars one drives. I agree to the almost unheard-of saying that “Success is found is smaller packages than most people realize.” Happiness must not be dependent on worldly things, but on the simpler things in life. Self-esteem should be evident on how one stands by his principles. Respect is given to someone who actually deserves it. Beauty is the totality of a person- inside and out.

I am not losing hope, though. I still believe we can fight this faulty mentality. And I’m not even saying we should rid ourselves of all worldly possessions. Am just saying let’s not be consumed by too much superficiality. We must not forget the more important things in life- things that truly matter. After all, when we reach the end of the line, none of those trivial things will matter.

Monday, February 15, 2010



Half-awake—and needless to say, half-dreaming—you sense the dawning of a new day. Another day. You open your eyes unhurriedly, despite the exhaustion that you know would be appeased by a few more minutes in bed, as you reach for your mobile to check for received and missed calls during slumber. The fallen angel carrying a naked man in his arms is the first sight to greet your bloodshot eyes, being your mobile’s wallpaper.

3 new messages: Forwarded. Rhetorical. Bullshit.

1 missed call. You wonder what the caller wanted, trying to call you up past midnight. You had set your phone to ignore calls on wee hours from unimportant contacts, and so you can’t give a fig about it now.

You grab your phone and your portable mp3 player, and scurry out of bed. As you head to the living room to turn on the audio equipment, a housemate greets you “good morning,” as she walks behind. You ignore her and her feeble attempt at mollifying you for her complete defiance of your authority in the house the other day. You’re not that easy. But more importantly, you ignore her because you are not a morning person. You hate morning greetings. But only when it comes from the people you’re living with.

Your favourite artist, your life teacher, addresses you about expectations—facing them, meeting them, defying them, and eventually leaving them—after you have turned on the DVD player. You head to the kitchen and fix yourself a cup of coffee, your first for the day. In the dining area, you take your seat at the table, yawning. It has already been set. Just a little rice, you remind yourself, so you make up for it with mouthfuls of ham, and a hard-boiled egg. You hate your tummy that seems to have a life of its own, growing ever oh-so colossal compared to the one you had just a year ago. You eat, but as soon as fifteen minutes has passed, you stop eating and gulp up what’s left of your coffee. You hit the shower, and after yet another fifteen minutes, after all the scrubbing, lathering, face massages (and yes, singing), you’re done.

Back in your room, with cabinets and drawers open, you choose your clothes randomly yet fiercely. Minutes later, you face the mirror. You stare at the face you’ve known for years. You don’t exactly look like a poster boy for that brand you like, but you look at your reflection and you are reminded of the many admiration and indecent proposals you’ve had over the years. You smile. You smile at the narcissistic thoughts that add to your confidence.

In the car, you scoff at your driver’s stupid remarks. You watch the streets as you are driven to your workplace, rock songs through the speakers. The cars, the trees, the houses, the pedestrians. The sky, the clouds, the birds. You feel a sense of belongingness in the world, and you smile again.

In the workplace, your voice echoes in every corner. Your mind races with thoughts as you try to drive some language instructions into someone whose only worry is if his hometown would ever escape the shadow of its neighbouring city, and eventually be worthy of worldwide attention. You have been saying the same things for the past three years. You have been repeating the same discussions that sometimes it chokes you like verbal diarrhoea. But you find amusement in the thoughts that occupy your consciousness. You’re doing fine, you tell yourself. And maybe you are.

At the end of the day, you go home, and drop the weight of your body on the bed. You close your eyes for a few minutes, as if the day’s fatigue would be magically lifted off your body. You get up, and indulge yourself half an hour of channel surfing, and another half an hour of checking your account on the seemingly ad-driven networking site.

Dinnertime. And unlike breakfast, when you have the whole table to yourself, you eat with the rest of the household. You listen to their daily ranting about politics, neighbourhood gossip, rhetorical questions, laughter at seemingly nonsensical yet really funny stories. Another sense of belongingness engulfs you; you pitch your rather sarcastic comments, your thoughts on global warming, your political views. You leave the table and claim your usual spot in the living room, in front of the television. After an hour of watching the leisure channel, you take a bath and contemplate on the day’s this-and-that.

After praying the rosary, you once again claim your throne in the living room, clutching the huge remote control-cum-drum stick that you sometimes pound on your palm. After yet another channel surfing indulgence, you leave your throne and head to your room to harass your cousin about playing that infamous java-based game too much. You wait after he logs out of the system, then you crank up the volume of the speakers. You hop from one random website to another, bookmarking the ones that you think might be of some use in the future. You check your networking account to see if any of your friends are online. Offline. And so you, too, decide to log out.

You head back to the living room and harass, once again, your cousin and rest of the household. You reclaim your throne in glee. You fix yourself your second cup of coffee, then your third, your fourth, in between commercial breaks. After an hour or so watching television, you raid the fridge and munch on some cookies and bread. Now that you’ve had your fill of the boob tube and your stomach has been rewarded with pre-midnight snack, you brush your teeth, wash your face, and go to bed. Before you close your eyes, you set your phone again to ignore calls from unimportant contacts. You stick the earphones in your ears and press play on the portable mp3 player. You set the mp3 player to automatically shut off after half an hour of playing. And like the mp3 player, your consciousness surrenders to an alternate universe after half an hour. You twist and turn, your eyes shake, you let out a light snore as sleep completely takes over.

Yes, tomorrow is another day.