The Violinist

What I don’t understand

I only listen to.

What are you thinking of

when you play?


Do you relive

the composer’s days

as though you were him

in another place and time?


Or do you see yourself

in every note, traveling

through not-so-distant memories

of a friend,


a lost love,

a stranger

or of being all alone?


Can you still feel pain

on the tips of your calloused fingers

or does the song

make you forget?


What are you thinking of

when you play the last note

and put down your bow?


I can only wonder

as I sit and wait to see you play

 and perhaps go where you are

at the sound of your strings.

rbp 07.27.11

Published in: on July 27, 2011 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment  


There is no rubble before me.


I do not see

strewn remains of walls of homes

of bodies ravaged

swallowed by earth

swept away by sea.


I only have visions of a dance I was taught

when my eyes could still see

when my feet were bound

to make slow, deliberate steps

when my  hands were trained

to cut through the air with one graceful twist.


The drum rolls today

as did its beating more than once, in past

led me to move

to surrender

to something greater than myself,

than every man, woman or child.


Water pushes forth.

We are still.


There is no rubble before us.


In silence

we restore order within.

Our dance is greater than our grief.

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 10:27 am  Comments (1)  

7:00 AM

It’s bright outside, but the incandescent bulb glows warm yellow inside a lamp I have not switched off. I hear birds chattering all at the same time. They are excited to tell their stories of places they have been to and yet to go. The wind must be calling them. I hear the whistling through the slats of the blinds I have not yet opened. The chirping stops and small voices in the distance replace them. They are as excited as the birds, talking about where their little feet had gone and where they want to take them. I keep my Indian sitting position in this cramped computer chair and move with it only as it swivels from side to side. I do not think of places I’ve been to or where I want to go. I only think of chocolate chip pancakes. The chair makes a clicking sound as it turns. It’s almost like a clock that depends on my movement to keep ticking. From this nook, I can make time go fast or slow. I am almost afraid to stand up, though my legs are telling me these pins and needles won’t go away until I do. If I stretch my legs now I know they will carry me away from this clock I can only control from this cramped space with my legs folded, my shoulders slumped and  my back stooped. Once I head to the porch and switch off the lamp’s light I will join in the chorus of the birds and the children, and I will think about the places I’ve been to and where I want to go.

So, I go. The pancakes are waiting.

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 2:00 am  Leave a Comment  

MY CREATIVE WORKOUT (Creative Writing Workshop –

Write the sentence: “The cat stretched one gray paw, sinking his claws into ———-,” on a blank sheet of paper. Spend the next 10 minutes writing whatever comes to mind. “Don’t stop to think, worry, or edit and redraft your work.


Here’s what I managed to do:


The cat stretched one gray paw, sinking his claws into a can of Vienna sausage. The small, tin can with a picture of shiny, brown sausages made him push away his bowl of milk in distaste. Sitting all alone on the empty kitchen counter, it was too tempting to ignore. But it had been exactly twenty-three minutes since he jumped onto the cold, granite top and began digging into what is turning out to be a formidable opponent.


He had all but punctured the tough tin can, writhing and hissing, scratching and screeching, trying to keep a steady gait with all his might on three slippery paws, while the other incessantly works on the insurmountable task.


The white door suddenly swings open and a red and brown quilted kitchen ornament falls to the floor. A hand reaches down to pick it up, giving him enough time to jump down and land right beside his bowl of milk still full.


The cat sloppily licks his milk and his paw, alternately, in false contentment. As he examines his blunt nails, he throws a sharp glance at the tin can being lifted from the counter top, and at once the sight startles him. An open flap beneath exposes even edges of slits made by a can opener, bobbing up and down, as if laughing at a big joke, taunting him, and giving a good holler as the empty tin bangs against the walls of an aluminum garbage can.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 11:55 am  Leave a Comment  

An overripe banana

I’ve read in one article that the best way to eat fruits is to eat them first before having a meal – quite the opposite of what many of us are accustomed to. Fruits are usually equated with dessert, thus, we save them for last. But supposedly, our body absorbs the nutrients far better on an empty stomach rather than a full one. It figures. It seems the same is true with the mind. It will never accept anything when it’s full.  So, when you’re standing there holding an overripe banana, debating with yourself whether or not you should eat it because you’ve already had your lunch, and it’s an awful waste of potassium, and you can still have it later on before dinner, you just…  eat it anyway.


Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 4:29 am  Leave a Comment  


You learn a lot about yourself when planning for your home’s interiors. Sometimes, when you want less, you exert more effort because you know you have to make do with only so little. You have to keep only the essentials. Take out the trash. Acquiring more is oftentimes easier. You just have to think of another empty nook or cranny that will submit to the new occupant. And there will always be room for more. But how much more does one really need?  When it comes down to the barest essentials, it takes an enormous effort to make that list. Once it’s done, you realize how little you really need.  And you stop writing. You have to. Fold up that list and put the pen down. And keep thoughts of curious distractions away. Not even if it’s on sale. Except maybe, if it’s a 99-peso paperback.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment  


Did you know that a hot air balloon aviator cannot steer the balloon but can only move it up or down and go where the wind blows? I always thought there was some sort of mechanism that will allow you to direct it as you please. Maybe I watch too many Disney/Pixar movies.  I have to admit I was horrified! Having no power to make it go left or right (or make it stop in midair – “I love the view…can we just float here forever???”), for me, is a terrifying idea. And that is because I’m a control freak. I want to know where I’m going and how I’m getting there. Which is why I love to drive, to run, will never go sky diving or bungee jumping, and am still afraid of the dark.

What if the wind blows them towards the sea? What if they go to some uncharted territory of rocky cliffs and deep ravines? What if a flock of balloon-popping birds come and start pecking, and you can turn neither left nor right? (Okay, maybe not the balloon-popping birds…)

To be brave enough to go where the wind blows is astonishing. To know when to soar high and when exactly to lower yourself to almost touch the ground is a gift. To land without falling out of your basket is, well, taught in aviation school, I suppose.  And the chasers, that’s another thing altogether. Going after something freely drifting until it’s within reach is what they literally do.

So, maybe that’s why I didn’t mind waking up at 4 am even without my necessary-to-keep-me-nice-cup-of-coffee to see balloons. Not just balloons – people NOT steering balloons and going where the wind blows. A pair of eyes among a thousand pair of eyes following these balloons with people NOT steering balloons. You see, I can’t get over it.

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 4:28 am  Leave a Comment  

An Open Letter to a Bride

February 12, 2011

Dearest Cris,

No sneakers today, I see. I’ve never seen you more beautiful. Your smile reminds me of our cups of coffee on bright early mornings when we are still drifting between the sweetest of dreams and startling wakefulness at our workstations. The short walk from the parking lot, where we shiver from the cool wind blowing our damp hair but find warmth in grasping our Seattle’s Best coffee cups (yours, a tall white mocha, and mine, a short latte), is bliss.

I still see the look of contentment on your face that lingers for all of fifteen minutes and slowly dissipates as we are lifted up eight floors until it totally disappears when you turn on your PC to reveal the plummeting service levels.

Today, you are not walking with me, and the comfort you are feeling on this cool morning comes not from a cup of coffee, but from the warmth of his hand. The look of contentment only grows as you walk down the aisle.

You are walking in high heels. All that nagging in the office about a make-over, and here you are, without your usual damp hair, but with soft curls falling on your shoulders. And you are actually wearing a dress. You think you’re beaming? I am. But not because you are not wearing sneakers today, not because of your high heels nor your soft, cascading curls (but remind me to give you a high five for that one). I am beaming because at the end of the day, without a care, you take off your heels and walk barefoot, laughing and smiling while posing for photos with your ninangs and ninongs, family and friends.

I see you, my dearest friend, in your wedding gown, baring yourself to the world and to the one man who will walk with you for a lifetime – whether you are in high heels, sneakers, or barefoot.

If that isn’t happiness, I don’t know what is.



Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 5:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Chicken Feet

He says Chinese mothers use these

as training ground for frail fingers

to learn to feed the mouth

using two sticks.


Children do not squirm at the sight

of three toes that have scratched soil

for everything that sustains

comes from the earth.


To acquire dexterity is a skill

of enormous proportions

not applauded by hands

that understand this is a way of life.


Published in: on January 22, 2011 at 4:51 am  Comments (1)  


A hardy and reliable puller

On streets made of potholes and “no crossing” signs

Which nobody heeds


Maybe it is true that it is

To a man what it is to a warrior

In a horse-drawn chariot


Certainly the stronger and faster

Gives the charioteer a clearer vision

Of triumph


Only this is a war

Where his people battle on smog-permeated streets

And stand on highways beside

“no loading and unloading” signs



For their winged charioteer

To lead them to deliverance.

Photo by Jose Paolo Prado (Vigan)

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 4:15 am  Leave a Comment