To whom should these spoils belong?

One of the first things I did last year to cope with the break-up was to pack my ex's things in a huge box the size of a small refrigerator. (We Filipinos call this the balikbayan box, a box usually filled by Filipinos overseas with trinkets to send back home to their families.)

I carefully folded each shirt, each sock, each pair of pants that he left behind. I deposited his bags, his toys, any trinkets he might have forgotten when he was last here at home with me. I found shoes that we shared, and I carefully decided which ones he especially loved. (I was very careful not to send anything that he gave to me; I didn't think it was kind to return gifts.)

Lastly, I packed the only picture of us that I framed and so proudly displayed at my office. It was one of our very first pictures together back when we were dating in 2007. We looked tentative but happy in the picture.

I packed those items in the balikbayan box, and there they quietly stayed, waiting for when I was ready to see all of his things go. I told myself, I just need one more month, then I am sure I won't break down as his things finally go.

One month became two, and two became thirteen. Every single month, I would ask myself, "Am I ready to see his things leave, too? What if he comes back?"

There it was, the question a broken up person should never ask. "What if he comes back?"

I asked this question in embarrassed silence in all thirteen months that I kept the box. My friends would ask me, "So when is the box leaving?" I would kiddingly say, "Maybe tomorrow." Tragic as it may be, what I really wanted to say was, "Maybe it doesn't have to."

My father visited me last month to help me with some personal arrangements. He found a few unused appliances in my kitchen, and he asked if he could have them. "Of course," I said, not really remembering to whom those belong. "If we haven't used them for a while, we won't be using them ever."

My dad packed these appliances in the balikbayan box, and I finally sent them off to
Manila. I told my dad to coordinate with my ex when the box lands so he can just get those from him.

Tonight, I received a text from my ex, asking if he could keep some of the appliances. (I could only assume that the box had arrived.) He mentioned, "They're really important to me."

(Only then did I remember that he might have bought those appliances. We used them together for so long, the ownership over things things dissolved into a blur; one never prepares for the clarity that might be necessary in the event of a break-up.)

I couldn't help but feel sad and angry. I am sure he didn't mean it the way I am feeling it, but I somehow got the feeling that the appliances were worth more than our relationship. I was once important to him, but, now, I only got the words that the appliances are important to him.

No, it's not that I want to get back together with him. It's just terribly sad that I never would have imagined that what I had put in the box would seem to be more valuable than the life we had shared together.

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Every single day. 

It has been five months and four days since we broke up.

It terrified me this morning when I realized that there has not been a day since when I did not think of you. I still cry when I think of where we are; I really wish I could rest my nose again on your left shoulder just like I always did.

I have never really shaken off that habit of experiencing things with you: there is not one new experience I have had that I did not wonder if you would enjoy it, too. In all the lovely restaurants, spas, parties I went to, I was quietly thinking of you.

I have been with other guys, yes. (I stacked them up rather quickly over the last few months.) I had hoped that they would fill that void that you left. I knew it was a doomed pursuit, but loneliness makes one do the insane.

Many of them have been kind; some not so. I will remember them all fondly because they were all great guys. I survived this far because they helped.

Life has gotten a little bit easier since five months ago. I can eat, I can work, I have been with friends.  (It certainly wasn’t like that in the first few weeks.) I have since tried dating, and my social life has been bustling. I still haven’t slept well, but I know it’s because I haven’t stopped spending time crying in the mornings because I miss you.

I really wish you would come back. We were so good together; I can’t even think of any other reality without you. I miss you.

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I miss him who dances like water.

After nine beautiful years, Jair and I broke up.


I still remember our very first date: we were going to meet at a bookstore in Greenbelt, then head for lunch at Cafe Bola. I saw him from across the room, and he was browsing magazines. I remember telling myself, “Wow. I hit the jackpot.”

Jair has always been the most beautiful man in my life. His skin is bright, and his smile, always awkward. His eyes, at turns, are fierce and sad — not unlike the eyes of an injured animal. He moves with the grace of light; he dances like water.

Jair is a huge fan of Halloween. Every year, he would devote days to build his costume and props just so we could walk around parties and have people ask to take pictures with him. His eyes would light up from his evening of celebrity; I enjoyed how beautifully he smiled when children would point at him and ask to hold him. His genuine kindness always shone through his very dark eyes.

On the night I was diagnosed with cancer, Jair lay beside me on my hospital bed and held my face. As we cried in fear for the long battle ahead of us, he told me, “Lalaban tayo, ha. Stay strong.” Throughout my surgeries and chemo, Jair stayed to make sure that I was strong enough to fight. He would make sure I ate right, that I took all my meds, that I kept all my appointments with my doctors. We fought that goddamned cancer together, and we won.

Toward the tail end of the cancer treatments, we moved to Singapore. Together, we both made a life for ourselves: we found jobs, built a home, and travelled. We would watch movies from the first row of the cinema, go to the wet market on Saturday mornings, and take naps on Sunday afternoons.

In his own way, Jair loved me as intensely as I did him. Every single day, he would ask me, “OK ka lang ba?” No matter how exhausted he was from work, he would head to the kitchen and cook our dinners. Sometimes, he would bring flowers to make our home more beautiful. When I am sad, he would send me YouTube videos of cute babies falling on their heads. He would change the sheets in our bed, watch videos of my drag performances, and pack my lunches for work. (I hated his cooking, but I always said that with an embarrassed joy that someone I love so intensely prepared my meals.)

When he moved back to Manila when his visa ran out, we would spend our nights being on Skype (sometimes not even talking) just to be there with each other. Whether beside me or online, I always enjoyed watching him sleep; he is most beautiful when he is in the peace of his sleep.

I still do not understand how we ended up where we are right now. We had problems, but I am not sure how they managed to break us up. I really don’t get why we broke up and how we are no longer together; what we had may not have been perfect, but it was as beautiful as we could ever will it to be. We loved each other; I still do.

Jair has always been my center, the one constant in my life. It has nearly been a month since we broke up, and I am spiralling in a thousand directions. I really want us to be back together. I miss him so much, I miss out life together. I miss the promise of our future together.

I miss Jair painfully.


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I would love to hate Piers Morgan, but I can’t completely.

Last year, Piers Morgan interviewed Janet Mock to talk about her book on her path to womanhood. In the interview, Morgan mistakenly said Mock, a trans woman, was born a boy, and lived as a man until she was 18 (when she had gender confirmation surgery).

The entire interview remained very pleasant, and Mock did not jump at any opportunities to point out Morgan’s errors. According to Morgan’s account that Mock never disputed, their interaction during and after the interview was very cordial. There was no mention of any offense taken.

Five days later, Mock tweeted that she was disappointed by the interview, and that Morgan sensationalized her story. She spoke openly (and quite condescendingly) at how she thinks that Morgan needed to get it the fuck together.

Within 24 hours, Morgan invited Mock back to his show in what I felt was a continued tone of sexism and transphobia (albeit an unwitting one). In the second interview, Morgan declares his intention that he wants to understand why he was vilified online after what he felt was a very supportive interview with Mock. He points out that Mock said absolutely nothing about any glaring errors in Morgan articulating Mock’s experience. She kept quiet after the interview, stayed that way for five days, then took to Twitter to express her disappointment. When Morgan confronted Mock on why she said nothing, she said that she was scared.

Both Morgan and Mock have since moved on from this episode.

While I do not dispute that Morgan sorely needed direction and information, I am confused as to why Mock missed the opportunities to help Morgan see his error. Mock calls herself an activist on trans rights, so I am unsure why she kept quiet in the face of her identity being misgendered.

Yes, Morgan might have benefitted from reading Mock’s book prior to the interview (it seems that he hadn’t), and his writers might have been good to brief him on talking points before the show. (For crying out loud, material on this is flooding the internet.) There is that massive responsibility on Morgan’s side if he claims that he is a staunch supporter of equality. However, Morgan clearly did not do his homework, and it puzzles me that Mock did not do her job, either.

Far be it for me to dictate how a trans woman should react about this (and I recognize that it is my privilege as a cisgender man that allows me to think this), but I feel that Morgan does make a salient point about how surprising it is that Mock pretended that nothing was wrong in the face of available opportunities for education. I was watching the interview, and I felt uncomfortable at all the misgendering that was taking place. I was surprised myself that Mock did not address these issues then. For a person who calls herself an activist, Mock certainly did not make use of the moments of education that Morgan patently needed.

That being said, I cannot even begin to imagine how Mock must have really felt during the interview. She may have genuinely been scared, and this might have affected her ability to think clearly. Mock is a trans woman of color, and the power dynamics between her and Morgan are complex. Also, the compounded microaggressions that built up until the interview might have influenced her decision not to say anything. This is not something that Mock addressed or articulated in the interview (something that I feel Morgan may have a role in), so I am still unclear as to what happened.

That being said, I am not sure that Morgan took away as much as he should from the experience.

This is actually sadder:

Also to be read as cis people discussing trans experience.
(Pretty much what I am doing now, too, yes. I am mansplaining. The irony is not lost on me.)


ETA: After the second interview, Mock apparently talks about her feelings during the first interview with Morgan. (I guess my guess was right.)


Key take-away: Every opportunity to learn from each other is good. It will be uncomfortable (especially if the matter is unfamiliar to another person), but an interaction in a positive direction of learning will be helpful. Our co-existence need not be adversarial.

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Death makes angels of us all.

Last Friday, my grandmother died.


The last time that I saw Lola Norma was thirteen years ago: it was a humid Sunday afternoon, and flies were buzzing over a small bird that died in the empty lot beside her house.

“Kumusta ang schooling mo? (How is school?)” she asked.

“Mabuti naman po, Lola (It’s fine, Nan.),” I said as I sipped the lukewarm Coke whose fizz had already gone.

She wanted to say more, but she probably noticed how I swirled my Coke, clearly hoping for the night to announce the end of that visit.



I remember her slightly differently, but, yes, she was pretty.

Lola was a very pretty woman; in her youth, she was one of the loveliest ladies in her town. Her skin was dark, and her eyes lit up with the intoxicating fear of an injured animal. She would tell us that young men would hover around her, trying to catch her glance. One day, a hormone-enraged teen dared to touched Lola’s bare hand. Mores as they were in her day, Lola was forced to marry the young boy, and he later became my grandfather.

Lola went on to raise six children. They were very poor, and she sold vegetables at the market to put food on their table. She barely made any money at the end of the day to feed half of her children; they all had to suck their guts because they had to make do with what the little that they made.

When her children grew older, money came a bit easier for Lola. When her children would visit her, one of them would secretly hand her a tiny wad of cash as a gift. Suddenly, there would be a spring in Lola’s step as she scurried to cook her new favorite child’s requested dish. (The scurrying is a lot more comical because she was normally unable to lift one foot; it was blackened and weighed down by severe rheumatism.)

Because of this shifting favoritism to whoever gave her the most money, she earned from her children the monicker Normang Pula — Red Norma. (Red is the color of the fifty-peso bills she was so delighted to receive, and it was also a jab at how the sweetness of her smile could be likened to the freshness of nice fish in the market — pulang pula ang hasang.) The pure delight in her coy smile whenever she got these gratuities from her family is priceless.


Lola’s body lies at wake in her home in Manila, and I am told that the funerary rites will be carried out tomorrow. Her six children and several hundred of us grandchildren survive her.

I saw a picture of her white coffin bathing in warm lights; I am told that she looks very peaceful. (I imagine that it was the way she had envisioned her wake would be — white, bright, and clean. From where she sits, I am sure she is very pleased.)


Image taken from my cousin’s page.

I will not be there tomorrow, so let me say my prayer now:

May you find your comfort in a place where there are no flies, no hunger, and no want; may your smile be eternally as sweet as when you received gifts from your beloved children. May eternal peace be unto your soul, Lola.

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Rainy days.

This afternoon, I was at my therapist’s for the last time this year. Her office was colder than usual, and I was wringing my hands to keep my fingers warm.

“How are you feeling today?” she said.

“It has been raining non-stop since this morning,” I told her. “I used to like the rain.”


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Crazy times.

So much has happened since I last posted anything here; I owe this blog a thousand entries. I can report so many good things that have happened, and maybe I will. If it is worth anything, I am glad to report that things have been going quite well.

Dandelion lady

I moved to a new apartment, I changed jobs, I now have a regular drag show, and I have a new living arrangement with my partner. Yes, there have been tons of major changes recently, and I am so glad I did not unravel as I usually would. Amazing, ne c’est pas?

I missed blogging. I miss being able to talk about myself endlessly without the restriction on the number of characters, and without being embarrassed about it. I like that, when I read blogs from years ago, I feel embarrassed about my posts. It just shows how gritty the entries were, and how tiny the gap between text and heart is.

It has been a lovely weekend for me, very restful. (I missed this kind of weekends when I spent practically all hours in bed.) I think this is what I needed after all: a good break. My mind is now evaluating what I can do to give more meaning to my big picture.

I gained A LOT of weight. I wonder if I will ever shed this off? It definitely does not look good. Let’s hope I crave enough for yoga that I will make time for it. I did it for a long while, and I just need to keep at it again.

Two days from now, I will officially be on my third month in my new job. That should mean that my post will become regular in the company, and it will be time to reevaluate my goals. I took a ton of notes when I was setting goals for my first 90 days at the new job; I hope I met all of them.

Nothing keeps me going like the feeling that I am succeeding.

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