Friday, July 30, 2010

The Artist’s Eyes (Part I)

(In which I search for an unbiased, more reasonable vision.)

Not just presentable

but attractive to all the senses.
Fair and smooth
and foreign-branded
are now what we wanted
to elucidate

devoid of character deeper
than mere skin.
Placating by all means,
charming its way
to everything
and everyone
are now what we needed
to be considered
let alone seen.

If an artist sees beauty in all
then could these exteriors be at par with a wall?
Or a lemon peel or a ball
of fire or nothing more
than waves rushing to shore?

If an artist pays
the same interest and attention
to the fair skin of a lass as he does
to mosses on rocks, could he also see
how character builds beauty?
If he does, let me pray
for a pair of irises that recognize

what’s invisible in colors
and cutis textures
and dimensions of youth.

Let me wish
for pupils free from enchantment

of these masked faces.
For liberating are the eyes
that care not for

beauty dictated by




Photo source:Masked

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Through Spines and Pages

(In which the recluse speaks.)

I find refuge in the written word
I, the epitome of loneliness
the person no one wants to be
the face you don’t want to see
in the mirror
before you.

I find respite in the written words
I, the escapist who believes
in ever after
and waits patiently
for the one destined.
Yes, I believe in destiny.

I find comfort in the written word
and love – yes, love –
in fictional lives,
of fictional people,
in fictional situations.
I, whose hands sought
darkness and felt air
and still found

I find life in the written word
of others and mine.
So in case I, the existence unnoticed,
woke up one day invisible
their words and mine remain.

I find respite in the written word
when almost everything in the world spites me.
I, the person next to you,
your neighbor, your friend,
your unrequited lover
whose life is about
and the death of it,
a ray of light,
total darkness.
And the cycle goes on
and on
and never

Photo sources:The Reader

Monday, July 26, 2010

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

(In which colors on a framed canvas embark on a journey to share light.)


“I have decided to focus on a genre to help me choose what books to read,” I told Teacher Jean one afternoon.

“And what is it?” she queried with her signature intent look that tells you she’s paying attention.

“Art in fiction.”

“Let me guess. Was it inspired by the author of The Forest Lover?”

“Yes. You know the feeling of finally finding something you can grasp and appreciate, right? That’s how it is with her books. It’s like reading a work of a real artist.” And I went on intoxicating her with art jargon.

“Whoa!” she exclaimed, overwhelmed. “That’s one reason why I don’t usually read that stuff. There seems so much to be digested.’ And that started an enjoyable exchange of literary opinions.

We decided to trade books. She mentioned her predilection for those about Black psyche and I knew right then and there that I’ll give her Stacy Patton’s That Mean Old Yesterday as my part of the book barter. The next day, she sent me a text message that just blew my mind off.

“Good morning. Guess what I found in my shelf! Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. And I’m sure you know who she is. See you later.”

I screamed for joy and was excited to go to work for the first time in a very long time. I started reading the book and was caught by a beautiful surprise that never left even after I unclip the magnetic bookmark.

The novel is a compilation of eight stories of eight different people from different time but with one lovely connection – an alleged Vermeer painting. The story is narrated in a reverse chronology to offer a wonderful time travelling experience to the readers who bear silent witnesses to the journey the painting takes and to discover if it was indeed a Vermeer. The discovery of which will leave questions to the readers regarding the action of the present owner, Cornelius: will he keep the painting or destroy it?

In an era where technology is slowly taking over painstakingly handmade art, Girl in Hyacinth Blue offers a fresh reason for everyone to appreciate traditional arts and its value – the wonderful ways they touch human lives. Sadly, however, the novel also depicts the harsh reality that almost all artists face in the name of talent and fame.

Routing back to seventeenth century Amsterdam, Girl in Hyacinth Blue takes its readers to a complex web of stories designed to show the magical relief and inspiration a silent and mysterious girl by a window offers its owners and to marvel at how a masterpiece outlive tradition and survive standards. Its value is beyond measure that the possibility of its being a Vermeer would only be the icing on the cake. What’s more important is that the artist poured his talent and heart into every careful brush strokes to produce an artwork that would show the world something beyond light, figure and color. And it did.

Currently reading:

Photo Sources:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Lieu of the Temporary Internet Freedom There is Permanent Blockage

(In which lucky are those who own laptops.)


For the past two months (or was it three?) everyone in Wonderful Academy enjoyed unrestricted browsing of previously blocked websites. But the absence of restriction has always been spoiled by the slowness of the internet connection. But if that’s the price we have to pay for having the next best experience to unlimited and liberated browsing, that’s fine. So we didn’t complain, at least not that much.

Just today, the academy was hushed by a slow yet sure progress. The time has come. We are never so naïve to think that everyday is a sunny day in the online world with the fact that we are in a corporate environment. But aware though we are, the immediacy of the action caught us by surprise.

The maintenance cum messenger grabbed my arm and led me into an empty classroom. Looking in her eyes and seeing the nameless expression on her face made the moment feel as though the demons have risen to shower the earth with evils of all kinds. And that our survival rests on our being discreet.

“It’s blocked,” she hissed; her expression still hard and focused.


“Facebook. And Youtube.”

Actually I don’t care about those two websites. All I care about is that Yahoo Mail and Blogger be safe from the eviction. I made a sigh of relief within me.

“And they’re now thinking of blocking Yahoo! as well.”

“WHAT!?” I almost shouted. It’s my immediate reaction after she burst my bubble.

“Sshh!” she covered her mouth with her index finger. A signal for me to stay quiet. Oh no.

There was a silent monster creeping in the academy. In the background were news of negotiation and a betrayal scheme. Amidst all these I was quietly praying that I’ll be able to post this draft on my beloved transparent floral blue template using my office computer.

Well. I’m sure there are other ways.

UPDATE: Cheers, jumps and shrieks! Blogger is saved!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chunkster Challenge 2010

(In which the newly-born reader in me wants to live up to my pseudonym.)


I have brought some friends with me while I was buying books. Once, a friend asked my why I chose a thick and big book over thin and small ones.

“Because they cost the same,” I explained.

“But it will take you longer to finish the thick ones,” she reasoned out, waving her hands as she tried to make a point.

“Well, that’s exactly the point. If I pick up a shorter book then I’ll finish it earlier. And the fact that they have the same prices makes the choice easier,” I replied. I grabbed two books with the same price tag. “Look, this thicker one has Times New Roman size ten, I guess, and single spaced. This thinner one has Times New Roman, size twelve. Wait, is the space for this one 1.5?”

“So you’re grabbing books to the cashier because they are thick?” she probed.

“No,” I put down the thinner book and hugged the other. “I like the blurb for this one.”


Once, I slept over BF’s house the day before our trip with officemates to Laguna. I leafed through her Anne Rice book and had to part the pages a little more forcefully so as to read the words near the margin. When she entered the room, she uttered a gasp, grabbed the book from my hands and looked at me, gaping in disbelief.

“Oh my! I don’t read my book that way.”

“Then how do you read your book?” I asked, bewildered by her sudden mood.

“Like this,” she opened the book slightly and peered into the pages. “Now, look at the spine!”

I saw her rubbing the long scratch that ran the whole length of the spine, as if rubbing it would smoothen the surface.

“Oh no! I’m so sorry,” I uttered, remembering how expensive her book was.

That’s just another reason why I prefer larger books. I don’t need to be extra careful with them. They put up with my force.


Now, I stumbled upon the Chunkster Challenge on a book blog and found the challenge interesting to say the least.

It is a challenge for readers who like reading chunksters. What are chunksters?
– A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature (fiction or nonfiction) ... A chunkster should be a challenge.
– If you read large type books your book will need to be 525 pages or more ... The average large type book is 10-15% longer or more so I think that was a fair estimate.
The Rules of the challenge are as follows:
– No Audio books in the chunkster. It just doesn't seem right. Words on paper for this one folks.

– No e-Books allowed - we are reading traditional, fat books for this challenge.

– Short Stories and Essay collections will not be counted.

– Books may crossover with other challenges.

– Anyone may join. If you don't have a blog, just leave a comment on the Chunkster Challenge post with your progress.

– You don't need to list your books ahead of time.

– Once you pick a level, that's're committed to that level!
The challenge is quite flexible since it has several categories to choose from.
The Chubby Chunkster – this option is for the reader who has a couple of large tomes on their TBR list, but really doesn't want to commit to much more than that. 3 books is all you need to finish this challenge.Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? – this option is for the slightly heavier reader who wants to commit to 4 Chunksters over the next twelve months.

Mor-book-ly Obese – this is for the truly out of control chunkster. For this level of challenge you must commit to 6 or more chunksters OR three tomes of 750 pages or more.
Since this is my first reading challenge, I choose The Chubby Chunkster. Good luck to me!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tuxedo Park by Laura Furman

(In which a women learned where limitations are and when to let go.)


When the naïve 19-year-old orphan Sadie Ash, fell in love with the wealthy 30+-year-old Willard Weaver, she thought that fate has finally worked its magic on her. She had found “rock bottom” when her parents died in an accident and her over-protective brother Reuben had to take care of her. But with Willard, she thought things will start to be fine. She gave herself to him and did her best to build a happy family and for their relationship to last until death. Until the inevitable happened. And then a near tragedy followed.

For one of her children and the rest of the community, Sadie is a hero and a martyr waiting for a miracle but does miracles while doing so. But Sadie’s maternal heroism could be considered a façade. Despite the touching experiences she had to endure alone while keeping a broken family, one would notice her apparent avoidance to reasons adhering to logic. And the worse thing is that she continues to be stubborn even if her childish reasons were matched by reality. She believed that Willard loves her and would soon come back. She denied him divorce in the hopes that someday he’ll realize that she and the family are everything that matters and kept the truth from their daughters for a decade. Had it not been for her older daughter’s suicide attempt she wouldn’t have had the guts to face the fact she’s been ignoring too long. She didn’t want to believe Reuben when he told her it was wrong to marry Willard in the first place. Not only is it because of the incredible age gap but also because of their obvious incompatibility – she, an innocuous young woman and he, an unctuous womanizer and a seemingly natural wanderer.

The plot of this novel was presented with surprisingly inconsistent transitions – some sections too long and the others too short. This oftentimes fails to provide enough time for the readers to move on.

Though the ending sounds pointless – perhaps for giving the reader a “hanging” feeling after reading the long narrative about complicated people in a family as well as the other complicated characters surrounding the family which, I believe, should have given readers the right for a better ending – one could not deliberately dismiss the novel as entirely ugly knowing that raising children is undeniably challenging and life-changing and because the writer was successful in bringing a domestic atmosphere with additional teenage drama to the readers’ imagination vividly.

Tuxedo Park is a story of a family torn apart by infidelity and boredom and was held together by simplicity and obstinacy. The most gripping part of which is the remarkable effort of a mother to provide a home for her daughters in an exclusive neighborhood despite their apparent poverty after a heartbreaking desertion and to compensate for all they lack by surrounding them with beauty and protection. It is a novel that reaches to every home and every mothers and fathers and children; a story highlighting how far a mother could go when torn between her own passion and her unconditional love for her children made more complex by her own desire to be a good person. It speaks of the bond that remains in a family no matter who left and who stayed and taught everyone how to find happiness in the mere presence of the people who never forgot when one has already become a minor memory to everyone else.

Currently Reading:

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland

(In which one's love for art was once again proven to be worthwhile.)


Emily Carr’s penchant for painting aboriginal themes was inspired by boredom from city scenes. She was aware that the coast of British Columbia offers more marvelous landscapes and tribal villages. But once she gets into the lush, green forests and the artistic culture of the Indians and befriended a native, her preference was turned to passion - a passion strong enough to lead her to Paris and study a newer art genre in her desire to depict the totem poles more closely and with spirit; powerful enough to inspire her to paint amidst storms and an army of mosquitoes; pure enough to make her determined to save a memory of a culture threatened to be gone forever. And this passion is the self-same strong, powerful and pure thing that led her to greatness in art and history.

Susan Vreeland’s The Forest Lover isn’t just a mere art fiction. It is, for me, a book for artist by an artist. I was amazed by how Vreeland uses hue names and techniques as well as how strokes were made to create form without appearing to be trying hard. I understand that describing how artists paint is a challenging task especially if you’ve never painted before. But assuming that some writers of art fiction somehow tried to experience painting for writing’s sake, the challenge is in describing how a professional artist works. This, I believe, is one of the reasons why this work by Vreeland was especially liked by the artist in me.

Currently reading:

Photo sources:
The Forest Lover and Tuxedo Park

Diary Peek: Funandfearless and the Tactless

(In which I let you in a page in my diary.)


Three days ago, I and BF gave her student, Ricky, a “guided” tour around Manila. Little did he know that we’re actually aliens in our own capital – we don’t go out to travel! When in Intramuros, he kept on asking if we’ve been there, probably surprised to see us enjoying the place as if we’re no different from the American tourists around. We went from the Walled City to Rizal Park in search for The Orchidarium. We walked in the park (was it Orosa Street or Finance Drive? See? I’m an alien in my own country! How embarrassing!) and found out that we were walking the wrong direction (as if one embarrassment wasn’t enough).

Walking was made more terrible by the heat. It seems like summer is here to stay. So we decided to drop by the Chinese Garden for shade. Ricky thought that it was better than Intramuros. I did, too. But it’s not because the Chinese Garden is greener or shadier. It’s because the entrance fee is seventy-peso cheaper!

We continued our journey to The Orchidarium and passed by the Japanese Garden. No, we didn’t enter. Instead, he asked why there wasn’t any Korean Garden.

We finally reached The Orchidarium only to find out that it was under renovation. So we headed to the Mall of Asia on our empty stomachs regardless if we’re just twenty strides always from a Vegan restaurant. Anyway, I don’t entertain my vegetarian side when I’m starving.

After walking the incredibly spacious mall, we went to Star City to check out Snow World. Oh, isn’t it wonderful to be embraced by an icy air after the summer heat has tormented you? But when we arrived there, we’ve got the most surprising poster of the day saying that Snow World will be closed until August. But we chose to enter anyway. Besides, roaming around that theme park though missing the only attraction we looked forward to was more interesting than sulk on the way home and miss the chance of getting into the next best thing to Enchanted Kingdom.

The trip wasn’t very cool, literally and figuratively. We marched and were barbecued, were victimized by taxi meters which malfunctioned and were deprecated by a fellow Filipino (a taxi driver) by thinking that we were Ricky’s escort girls. (That’s long enough to deserve a separate post.) But the most memorable thing about this Manila tour took place at the Mall of Asia.

We were sitting in a coffee shop after we had lunch. Ricky asked me if I’d like something to drink. I declined the offer. So he and BF had hot chocolate and coffee, respectively. We talked about his business plans and his wife. Then out of the blue he asked a question totally irrelevant to his business plans and his wife.

“So, whose house is bigger?” he asked while doing eeny meeny mini mo.

“Her [BF’s] house is bigger.” I was quick with my reply.

“I’ve never been to her house,” BF responded.

“Oh, really?” he asked, his wide eyes on me.

“Well, yeah. I’m not really comfortable inviting people over.” Then I regretted not ordering anything. It would be great to have a cool drink while someone is scrutinizing you. (Don’t worry. I won’t waste the beverage on his pores.)

I understood his surprise after hearing that I’ve never invited my best friend to my house. However, whatever my reason/s is/are, that’s none of his business. What I didn’t understand was the need to ask the kind of question we normally ask students during a lesson on opposites, adjectives and pronouns. I’ve heard of ranking businessmen and/or politicians by their net worth. But measuring ordinary people in terms of lot and floor area? That’s downright impolite!

Okay. Perhaps he’s already classified me as a social climbing lower-middle class or an heiress trying to keep a low profile and he just needed a confirmation to be able to sleep that night. I wonder if it will satisfy him if I told him that I live in a provincial compound notorious for thieves and prostitutes. That my complicated family owns a renovated two-story wooden house which was originally inhabited by termites. That we just stuff the old couch with foam to prevent the wooden foundation from becoming palpable. That the wooden post in the toilet was too old it looks like a stalactite formation. That flying cockroaches (Students said Korean cockroaches were small and wingless) and rats as big as cats roam around the first floor at night. That the wooden floorboards in the second floor give out dusts that make the house dirty no matter how often we clean. That my wooden bed creaks and that I sleep without a mattress. That the mold-infested ceiling of my bedroom already has a creepy image on it. And that all those were reasons enough to scare visitors away and thus the same reasons why I don’t invite my best friend as well as other friends who live in subdivisions over. Oh, you wouldn’t want me to enumerate everything!

I was glad he stopped the impolite interrogation there. I was actually thinking that he would ask who has bigger money in the bank but I’ve already decided that I would tell him I don’t even have a bank account. Then I’d ask him who uses bigger condoms – he or his best friend.