I just finished watching Aswang

…and unlike the person who couldn’t stomach it after 23 minutes (looking at you, ma’am), I watched Aswang by Alyx Ayn Arumpac to the end with, I hate to say it, an almost clinical frame of mind. Being subject to daily headlines and news stories of the world going to clowns around you and your country being the tenth circle of hell can numb you like that.

The events covered in the documentary were mostly ones I already knew, having not lived under a rock for the past four years, but it was still riveting to watch it all play out from a personal, almost trance-like, fellow-Filipino POV.

Then the weight began settling in. As cinematic as the pictures were, as high definition as the video was, and as crisp as the audio was, this was all real. Happening in real life. People are dying. People have died. People will continue dying and suffering this way — unnecessarily — as long as Duterte is president and the “drug war” is ongoing and the government is the way it is. (Oh, and along with the piss-poor handling of the pandemic, things aren’t looking very bright.)

I was most drawn to Jomari, the street kid who looked up to Kian delos Santos as a kuya figure. The film artfully sees to it that you come to care about the brash, astute, independent little boy who does what he can to survive and visits his mother in prison on the weekends. I had a sinking feeling during the part where the crew revisits Jomari’s usual haunt some time after the initial meet with him to find that he no longer frequents the place. This sense of dread only surged in the shots where they go searching for him, only guided by word of mouth from bystanders who’d seen the child around. It’s all the more unsettling when you realize that in the climate and environment set in the documentary — a.k.a. the Philippines as it is today and the reality we’re living in right this very second — it’s entirely plausible for this hunt to lead to the worst imaginable outcome.

One thing that angered me the most was when the documentary showed the hidden detention cell in Presinto Uno (MPD Station 1 in Tondo). I had read about this three years ago, and that alone was harrowing, but what happened to the prisoners was never really explained and I only assumed that the CHR had managed to find a way to free them. But no.

Nothing was done. The prisoners were simply transferred to a jail that was minimally better than the acrid hole they’d been stuffed in for days. The people who were supposed to do something about the situation stood by, the perpetrators got away, and the ones who wanted to help couldn’t do a damn thing.

Watch Aswang. There’s a lot of ground I didn’t talk about, from Brother Jun (who I initially thought was a journalist and then maybe someone who worked for an NGO, only to discover later that he was a Catholic missionary) to the film’s juxtaposition of the circumstances with Filipino mythology to a jarring scene of blood being swept away in an alley. Everything is relevant.

The film was released on Vimeo with limited viewing, and will be shown again sometime in the following days. Follow them on Twitter to get news on when it’ll be back up and jump on it right when it does, I implore you.

Their official website has a page listing what you can do to help. Donations go to the families of the EJK victims.  When the film is up again, you can also organize screenings (with proper distancing, ofc). Aswang’s Twitter also encourages you to share your account with trusted friends and family, if you buy access for $0.99 (around 48.99 PHP, at least according to today’s exchange rate).

Other good reads while waiting for the next release:

Watch Aswang when you can. Please.

Ceiling thoughts

I don’t quite get how these new WordPress blocks work; they confuse me. Maybe I’m getting older or maybe I’m just beginning to prefer simplicity and a straightforward UI over customizability, but I miss the old format where I —

Okay I had to cut that off because I thought, Right there’s probably an option for switching back to the original editor. And I found it. And I switched back. And I’m happy again.

Alright, getting away from the distracting thoughts and back to my original supposed point.

ceiling.jpg

I spend a large percentage of my days in front of my (slowly dying) computer, either working my ass off on actual money-earning work or doing my best to work on projects I’ve been putting off for almost a decade. 

Around every few hours though, maybe once or twice a day, I get overwhelmed and lean back on my seat and just… stare. Like this, my view consists of a long line on the ceiling, a light bulb, and — as of this moment — a string of dust (or destroyed web?) dangling and pirouetting in some invisible breeze. Not much, in other words. Which is perfect. A nice respite from OneNote, two messaging apps, Spotify, two or three folders, Steam, and the 130 tabs open on my browser. No joke. Session Buddy doesn’t lie. 130

The ceiling doesn’t offer any answers; it holds 0 clues about how to deal with the constant buzzing in my head. There are always, always thoughts about thoughts about thoughts about other thoughts and the opportunity to give my mind room to breathe and process the information I have before moving on is precious.

Somehow it also helps that the space isn’t completely blank and has a bit of character to it: its uneven line and hanging dust string and specks of dirt and barely noticeable moisture bumps. Things to focus on. Sometimes my mind hones in on the deeper outline of the thin crevice, and sometimes it pays more attention to the dust thing. Sometimes a random speck of dirt. Rarely the light bulb. And then I end up getting lost in thought and before I know it, an entire hour passes by, or sometimes almost the whole afternoon. In the many, many times I’ve done this over the years, my thoughts have been either senseless and random or hopeless and negative.

Recently, I started having online hypnotherapy sessions. The first thing the therapist asks you to do during the process is to focus on a certain point on the ceiling or wall and feel your eyes slowly drift shut to put you in a hypnagogic state, since it’s apparently in this state where your subconscious is most susceptible to suggestions.

I wonder if I’d been inadvertently self-hypnotizing all those years and in some twisted way have been subconsciously causing my own creative block. I guess I’ll never know. Of course, this agnosticism hasn’t stopped me from giving myself nice affirmations instead once I made the connection.

Now whenever I stare at the ceiling, I tell myself I can finish things, that it’s fun to finish things, that what I create is worth it, that I can have confidence in my work. The ceiling is a friend now, instead of just a void I bounce thoughts off. And if this post is any indication, maybe — hopefully — it’s working.

 

 

I just imported everything from my old blog

…accidentally, actually, because I was looking for something and thought that to “import” was to simply have them saved as drafts. But now that I’ve gone through everything again, I figure I’m just going to keep them up on the blog. Yes, everything dating all the way back to 2012 when I was a mere child of 17 years old. Because why the hell not?

It’s funny, looking back at all the things I wrote over the past years and seeing how different my tone is now. There’s a lot less of that sugar/spice/sunshine/rainbows vibe and just a bit more cynical adult sprinkled onto the mix. I don’t say certain things anymore, and a bit of the air of innocence is gone as well. I certainly don’t end all my posts with smiley faces any longer or hopeful one-line notes. But then in exchange, I no longer actually write. The past few posts (and admittedly, half the notes and journal entries I have on my PC) are all about “finally” get back into writing again, “finally” having time to write again, “finally” making a resolution to write more — and then I don’t. It’s pathetic, really.

I digress, though. I’m leaving the posts up, broken images and all. And maybe when I need a pick-me-up, I can check them out and inhale a bit of that good old pre-jaded, sparkly, less sensible me. I might just learn a thing or two from her.

And maybe this time, I will write more. (Some things never change, I guess.)

In a few weeks I’m going to be free again

Free to work on whatever I choose to work on whenever I want to work on it and not under some profit-minded corporation’s unreasonable timelines. I know I keep saying this, but now I really want to make writing a priority. I keep coming back to this blog whenever I’m in a slump, and heeeey let’s face it, I’ve been in a slump for more than five years now.

Time keeps going by and I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with my life. Don’t get me wrong, I know what to do. In general. I have this vague idea of who I want to be in a year, and in five years. I still want to be a polymath, and I still want to dabble in all sorts of things. I still want to be an EMT-slash-writer-slash-rockstar mom-slash-editor-slash-musician-slash-artist-slash-creator-slash-YouTuber (yes this is a new one to heck with everything)-slash-consultant-slash-arnis player-slash-animal rescuer-slash-basically everything you can possibly think of minus accountant or anything to do with counting money.

I’m still so lost.

I finally have the time to sit down and write

but who am I kidding? I could have made the time for it if I wanted to — or if I thought my thoughts were share-able enough.

Almost two months away from home and I still care too much about what other people think. The anxiety gets to me and I’m still nervous about how I’m received. I still feel the need to explain every single thing I do. I still overthink situations and mull over blunders I made seven hours ago and how people must have hated me for them, when they’ve probably already completely forgotten what happened. I still groan over the times I was stupid on the commute and looked like an idiot.

When I’m left with my thoughts, I wonder how people think of me back home. I wonder if I’m making the right decisions. In my head, the guilt of leaving home behind is gnawing at the growing sense of fulfillment and freedom I’m having. And I wonder if it’s okay to be happy the way I am now.

Because I am. Despite the constant war with my anxiety, I can feel myself starting to get better and fend for myself and speak my mind and move on bit by bit from the tiny things I need to move on from. I asked for my change on the jeepney yesterday. I texted my landlady and questioned why my rent was higher than it should have been last month when the old Trisha would have just left it alone and made excuses for them. I felt bad about what a friend said to me and directly asked him what he meant when the old Trisha would have been overthinking the statement and wondering if he hated me.

I’m here, sharing my thoughts again and with each word I type growing the courage to actually post this instead of letting it sit in my drafts because I don’t think it’s good enough.

So yes — I am happy. I have a job I genuinely enjoy and feel challenged by, a daughter at home who’s growing a mile a minute and learning new things everyday, a boyfriend who loves me just as many oceans as I love him, and a backbone I’m starting to straighten and build up little by little.

I still have no idea what I’m going to do or where I’m going to be in five years or how I’m going to work everything out. But I’m hopeful that I will. And I’m going to keep writing through it all.

Time for a sappy one

but forgive me, because feelings. They’re just overflowing right now, and so out of the fullness of my heart, my mouth speaks. Or rather, my hands type.

I will never cease to be amazed by my boyfriend. He frequently expresses his hatred of humanity, but when you see the way he is with his friends and family, you wouldn’t notice even the tiniest smidge of hate. He’s just filled with so much… love. (If you’re reading this right now, yes I just said that, forgive me for painting you as a huge softie. BUT YOU ARE. AND THAT’S OKAY.)

He takes time for his friends and genuinely cares about each one of them. He feels directly impacted by horrible things and situations that happen to them, and is there for them when they need company. He goes out of his way to talk to them and see them and make time for them and doesn’t expect anything in return. With his family, he’s playful and touchy and teases and bullies them a lot, and it’s always so wonderful being a part of those moments, even just as an observer.

Watching how he interacts with everyone, it just strikes me how every single one of his actions is genuine and packed with a huge serving of “you are important to me and I’m glad you’re in my life”. Honestly, I envy him.

That is the end of feelings-sharing time. I doubt this’ll be the last boyfriend-related post I’ll make, and I hope y’all forgive me for that. I’m just really happy with my relationship now and am very much in love.

Aaaaaaaaaand on that note, this public, online display of sappiness must end. For now.

Cheers to the rest of 2018 and more unrestrained blog posts.

 

Ten(?) books

I just copied this from my comment reply to Jolen’s post, thinking heck okay since this is long enough to be a blog post already, lemme just make a new post as well. So for anyone else curious about what I like reading, here’s a sneak peek into my identity:

1. Super Freakonomics – Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
– Reading this felt like someone took a needle and poked at my brain until it burst open and all my thoughts came spilling out. It’s one of those books that bloat your ego because you now have a cache of relevant random knowledge in your head, but humble you at the same time because half of your preconceived notions are whacked at with a sledgehammer.

2. Protector of the Small series – Tamora Pierce
– Ahhhhhh, this series. I’m a huge fantasy geek (more of a fantasy > sci-fi person) and back in high school, the strong lead with her struggles of making it as a knight in a path dominated by men pulled me in. This is cheating, I know, but I can’t pick a single book of the four that I like the best! So I’ll just name the entire series hahahahahaha

3. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexander Dumas
– Monte Cristo was the very first novel I read as a kid. My uncle gave it to me as a birthday gift in 2nd grade, and I remember skimming through it but not really understanding much. What I understood, I got from the Viggo Mortensen adaptation my family watched soon after. I reread the book a few years later, and ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. I returned to it almost every year, made a book review of it for 3rd year high school literature, made another book review in 1st year college. I just… aaaaaaaaaa.

4. A Ring of Endless Light – Madeleine L’Engle
– Found this in the library when I was a first year in high school and fell in love with L’Engle’s writing. Although I also equally love A Wrinkle in Time and Many Waters, I’m choosing this particular one for the list because of how I kept going back to it every school year. I loved the concept, the communication with dolphins, the idea of non-linear memories, and the use of Henry Vaughan’s poem, The World.

5. Fables – Bill Willingham
– A more recent find, but something I now count as my very favorite graphic novel series. I am a sucker for fairy tales and fairy tale adaptations, and how Fables brought the characters to life and humanized them so realistically… God. I actually found about about this after playing the game adaptation, A Wolf Among Us — which I also very highly recommend!!! It’s dark, gritty, urban, and tells so much of human nature and politics.

6. Forever Odd – Dean Koontz
– Another find from my high school library and the first book of the Odd Thomas novels I read, though it’s the second in the series. I loved the way Koontz told the story, and I love Odd as a character. I remember writing down a number of quotes from this on a few pieces of paper that I kept with me all the time to read back on. My love for this series extended to my attachment to the movie adaptation of the first book, and eventually made me feel a strange connection to Anton Yelchin — I know what they say about crying over celeb deaths, but I really did suddenly start bawling when he died.

7. Razorland series – Ann Aguire
– Of all the strong female lead dystopian novels I’ve read — and I’ve read a lot of them — this is my favorite series. I am cheating again because I’m listing the entire trilogy. It completely drew me in, and this, I think, is the only (dystopian) series where I wasn’t disappointed by any of the individual titles.

8. Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
– Persepolis 1 & 2 are must-reads. I cannot recommend this enough. I regret that I only read this last year; I really wish I read it earlier. Yes, I believe that reading Persepolis earlier would have made a substantial difference in my life.

9. Catch Me a Firefly and Other Stories – Freda Jayme
– I think this time I cheated in an entirely different way in that I took more than a few minutes trying to think of it hahahaha. I remember being in 4th grade and having an amazing adviser. She had a small collection of books on top of a cabinet behind her corner classroom desk and me, having no shame, asked to borrow the interesting-looking yellow one I usually saw her reading during her free time. She let me take it home, I read it, I was enthralled. It was a Philippine short story anthology in English, and I loved all the stories. This book actually stuck to me for years in that I never remembered exactly what the stories were — except that the title story was about fireflies — but the warm feeling of being in love with stories stayed. Just last night I couldn’t take it anymore and posted on FB, asking people for help in remembering the title and mentioning my teacher. Someone linked her new profile and voila! I struck a conversation with her and asked her about it. And that’s the story of how this list item came to be. Omg I’m sorry I’m making this so long hahahahahahahahaha.

10. Basara – Tamura Yumi
– Time for a manga! No joke, manga in general has left a substantial impact on my life. It’s a very valid medium of storytelling and offers a lot of the most wonderful content I’ve ever seen. And Basara, my God, Basara. It’s a long, now-completed manga series, published around 1998, which I guess some people would consider as old. It’s progressive, political, has a lot of relevant messages, speaks against tyranny, just… this is one of my very favorite stories of all time.

Feel free to comment, ask questions, criticize me on my taste, bash, whatever. Happily receiving replies on this (unemployed, looking-for-work, nothing-to-do) end.

Ask me something personal

(in person, that is) and in the next few seconds watch me devolve into a sputtering mess.

Okay, not really. But that’s exactly what I imagine I look like when anyone does happen to ask me a question about myself, or what I’ve been doing, or how I am, or anything at all that’s even the slightest bit personal-life-probing.

I have my guard up, for some reason — my body goes into automatic defense mode in those cases.

Earlier all my dad asked me was “Where did you go earlier?” and before he even got to finish the question I could feel my heart pound hard and the blood rush to my ears. My answer was breathy and quick and I stumbled on two words, even though I’d done nothing wrong and was telling the complete truth.

I could spout facts for an entire lie detector test and still fail it.

The year is new again

and there’s so much to do. I really didn’t want to begin this year by overloading my entire being again, but I guess that can’t be helped. The circumstances demand that there is much to do. Rest is far away.

I haven’t been posting for months because I forgot it didn’t need to be perfect. I forgot I didn’t need to check everything and edit everything and make it suitable for people to see. I forgot I could just type whatever I wanted here. Now I’m remembering and it feels good, amazingly good, to just sit down and let my thoughts flow freely through my fingers.

True rest is far away, but at the same time this is my rest. Blogging. Typing.

This, along with games, my journal, watching my daughter sleep, and talking to him. I have a him to talk about now, and it’s strange and wonderful.

This post is going nowhere and that’s okay. This is okay.