BY Kat

05/01 Direct Link
Letters to my father
You were making coffee when I left the house tonight. I heard the sound of teaspoon against mug while coming down the stairs, and immediately it reminded me of what you said about Lolo. How it's one of your fondest memories of him--the sound he makes when making coffee. Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle. When I'm old, my memories of you will consist of newspapers, good food, warm-sounding guffaws, tentative shoulder pats, a love that's there yet struggling to leave. Staying. This. You stayed. In some worlds, it's the bravest choice.
05/02 Direct Link
Another day of me stressing myself to sleep. We applied for an Internet package upgrade and got denied 2 weeks after, so I had to reapply (today is the second day of that reapplication, still no update, with one episode of me being a drama queen on 171 [PLDT's inconsistently helpful customer service hot{cold}line]. Byron has been seminagging me on the status of our Internet (because we're going on 3 weeks without by now) to the point where I told him to stop, because I'm stressing! While are chill. You're just, whatever. Teach me your ways.
05/03 Direct Link
As response to my frustration at PLDT, I decided to be too-positive and wrote on my planner that our Internet would be fixed today, even without prior notice from PLDT. I just, what do they say, "claimed" it. And so at 8:30 a.m., my phone rings, and it's the technician. Before 9 a.m. they were done installing our new router/modem and I look back at my rage the past week and laugh. What was all that anger for? Pa, what is anger for? Why do we use it as a crutch? What is the alternative?
05/04 Direct Link
This PLDT debacle mirrors our family situation, to some extent. We’ve been dysfunctional for years now, hanging by a thread, bursting at the seams with all that is wrong. Before this upgrade, we’ve had the PLDT connection for seven years, three of those I think we’ve been teetering on short of a modem explosion. It survived an ant infestation, innumerable resets, two routers, a wonky power button. And…my point is, there is a point here somewhere. We make do with what we have. We stay even if things are wrong, because there’s still something right—somewhere buried among the ruins.
05/05 Direct Link
“My resistance to help others for stuff they really should know how to do by now and my dependence on others for stuff I really should know how to by now.” Saw this in my notes, then came this avalanche of guilt. In some ways, I’m like you—gentle, patient, forgiving. However, here are other traits I got from you—volatile, selfish, lazy. This isn’t to diss you. I’m at that age where I’ve learned everyone is entitled to their weaknesses. It doesn’t make them any less if they’re this or that. It’s in how we choose kindness always, right?
05/06 Direct Link
I am reminded of you in transit, when alone, in my dreams. There’s a car sputtering up a hill—black smoke billowing, threatening to swallow other vehicles behind it. There’s a specific building for where people should have sex in, there’s a street where there’s rows and rows of this. There’s a windowless factory, inside are workers with no eyes. There’s a ship anchored near a Toy ‘R’ Us, I can see it from my hotel window—Ma says you’re in that ship. I can see you and yet I can’t. I call you, your voice is there. You’re not.
05/07 Direct Link
She's blasé about news from other countries, not in a condescending way, just in a straightforward OK that's happened I'm moving on way. She reads about a fire that's gutted a museum, an earthquake that killed thousands, a famine, tyranny--she reads about these then moves on. She's like this even with news about her own country. Honestly? She's like this even about news in her owm family. Maybe she's a rock. An unfeeling cement wall. She knows she used to feel, back when she thought she had a family, a real family. Somehow, she got lost, and lost eveything.
05/08 Direct Link
Was it today. Not sure. But sometime this week you cooked stellar binagoongan. It's in my journal, just...too lazy to get up and check when exactly. I'm slipping. Stuff I used to obsess over, I let go easily now. Eh. Shrug. Thing is, some of this stuff are important, like if I let them go there will be unsfavorable consequences. But you know, Eh. Shrug. Maybe I got this from you, maybe I really am this way. Who knows. I often feel a sharp tenderness for you I have to steady myself. You're my father. You're still sometimes best.
05/09 Direct Link
Did that sound patronizing? Because it's not meant to be. Just, sometimes I'm reminded of what a good person you are, fundamentally. I have this friend who, even if there's a straw in his glass, he still drinks from the glass. Ignores the straw so it's just there at the side of his face. It drives me crazy why he just doesn't take it out? He tells me: I love you, but it's none of your business. And yeah, it isn't! I feel like this is my relationship with everyone. I want to fix them, but I don't have to.
05/10 Direct Link
You remember the day Lola died? How Byron and I had that fight and exacerbated your sadness and discomfort? And you were up-front, told us we need to grow up? I still feel guilty about that day. I remember dressing up for work and going into a seedy theater instead. A Maui Taylor movie, was it. The lesbian theater person (not sure now what her job there was) followed me inside and made sure I knew what I was doing, was I OK? It was an unexpected kindness I didn't know how to accept. It puzzles me until now.
05/11 Direct Link
Sometime this last week there was heavy rain. Got to the office soaked and hungry. I forget now if you were at the house when I left. Days meld into each other, I'm not sure which is which. I just know you have basketball on Mondays and Wednesdays. But I think you also had basketball yesterday. IDK. All I can picture now is your calm face, your gentle voice, your smooth skin. How I both want to stop loving you and give us another chance. Do you remember, Pa? Last September when I said I don't want to live here?
05/12 Direct Link
You didn't say anything. It would've hurt if I were a younger version of me. But that time I was almost 38. Too old. Not saying age insulates us from hurt. Your nonresponse cruised over my shoulders and dusted themselves off, never to be seen or thought of again. I can control being hurt now. I will remember you during summer rains, when drinking good coffee, when eating spectacular pasta, when riding a bike. I will remember you for all days, the good memories. This might sound sad, it's not. I think we're finally reaching some sort of finish line.
05/13 Direct Link
We talked about Switzerland today. You asked about my opinion, my feeling about something. That took me by surprise. You seldom acknowledge other people's opinion, much less ask for it. Last week, the narra trees at Fernandez Street showed off. Day after it rained, there was a shower of small yellow flowers. I read about it, and learned that it was probably the only time it would happen this year/summer. I took it for granted that I would see it again. Photos I took are horrible. Someday, I will look back and regret that I didn't love you enough.
05/14 Direct Link
My dreams lately: bougainvilleas, marzipans, an oversized jacket, past loves, violence, anger, fog. I wake up sad, lost, and without intention. When I open my door, often, you are ambling up the stairs. Upon reaching the landing, you'll see me at my doorway, frozen, about-to-cry. "I don't know if I can face today," I say. Feeble. Hair sticking out. You pat my head, my shoulder. Silent. Kind face. You point at the bathroom. "Start there." Water. Wake up. Feel. Is this still a dream? I wake up a second time, or is it the third? It never ends.
05/15 Direct Link
It's challenging to extract joy from the days. You know, all the days. There were days last week, and this week it's more days. How many relatives have left us now? It seems every weekend lately you are in Paete with Titas and Titos. You like it there, yes? You grew up there, and yeah, well, Samar, too. How are they, in Paete? Kuya loved spending summer there. Me not quite. I used to rib Kuya about his "Paete accent." He was so mad. The hurt kind of mad. He loved it there, did I say? I want to understand.
05/16 Direct Link
If that recent entry sounded flippant, please know it's not. Someone really kind left us recently. She was very kind to Dada Gaudio, too. I will not forget her. Pa, you often tell me you don't like death and all its other cousins. When someone's too sick, you'd rather not visit. I get that. Maybe I'm the same way. Remember Lola? She looked so different. So...not-Lola. A whole new other person in pain. And it was like being in a different planet. We prevent death so much it's almost like we don't know it's where we're all headed.
05/17 Direct Link
If my trip home today had a personality, it would be an inconsiderate guy who keeps talking on his phone in the movie theater and kicking my seat, even after numerous times of being asked not to. The train ride especially was, just...I'm so tired. Middle finger. Thom Yorke in my ears saved the day. Idioteque came on shuffle this one time a girl was elbowing my face. And Pa, wow, I discovered today how Radiohead is an awesome commute companion. How to Disappear Completely is the star of the day. Tell me about your escape routes during commute.
05/18 Direct Link
Dear Pa, thank you for your patience. Sometimes I'm also thankful that you keep your distance. It's less stressful. When I was young, I saw you as a balancing force to Ma's in-your-face love (Ma and Pa, I meant that as a compliment). It's impossible to absolutely know of course, how other people's families shaped them, and everyone has their own stories. I don't know how differently me and my brothers were raised, what types of fear and bravery resulted from our childhood. But this I know for sure: You did the best you could. I love you.
05/19 Direct Link
Today you saw me again hunkered by the modem/router (I was timing the intermittence). You asked why, and I answered "It's erratic again." The next time you were in the living room, I was by the landline to 171. I told you "Nakakastress itong PLDT." And you sympathy-chuckled. That was nice, Pa. Whereas before you'd dismiss me by saying "Sus yun lang," today I guess you had empathy. I'll take that win. Each day to me now is about a win, however small. I pleaded to the CSR to please fix our connection. Then stressed myself to sleep.
05/20 Direct Link
Lately it feels like I've forgotten how to breathe. Every now and again I gasp for air. I know this may be a medical issue, and here I am attempting to philosophize. So yeah, stopping here. Let me tell you something else, Pa: This month is out to get me. No? Change subject? OK, here: Radiohead is unbelievable. Out of this world. Wow. What was your favorite band when you were younger. I remember Fleetwood Mac, Police, Eurythmics, Pet Shop Boys, Crosby, Stills & Nash. We had a turntable. I remember the color brown. Warmth. Your smell. Your voice. Your laugh.
05/21 Direct Link
In 2001 when you had that job at Glorietta, I remember you telling us about how spacious the MRT was. Almost no one was riding. Unreasonable prices, was it? What I would give for space at the trains. Today I realized and was reminded of how dismal my pay is. Not saying this to bring myself down, observation that, wow, I'm poor and I can't afford to bring you somewhere on a vacation. Because other stuff takes precedence in the spending realm. IDK what it is with today or this month. I wish it stops being woozy, unknowable.
05/22 Direct Link
He's a natural at being positive. He just...has it. The X factor, the charm, the brighter side of things. He walks into a room and bathes it in light. He will be remembered as "that lovely boy." Even through online correspondence you can feel he's flying, like he's coasting along while others are drowning. The best thing about him is he listens, he has empathy, he's sincere, he thinks of other people first. One can say he's perfect. Yes, if there's a perfect human being, he just might be it. We've all met him, and we've all lost him.
05/23 Direct Link
Dear Pa, it's a Thursday. This is one of my favorite days. We only have seven days, can you believe? To which someone else will say: No, we have X number of days. An infinite amount of days. This Thursday is different from all the other Thursdays. But why does it feel all Groundhog Day-ish? Been feeling this since around 100 Thursdays ago, or more. The bus is filling up. In a matter of 2 minutes we will be heading toward McKinley. When I left the house you were watching the news. Coffee mug beside you. I miss you.
05/24 Direct Link
Every leaf that falls knows where it's supposed to go. We are a species that focuses on the black dot on a white page. I kept thinking during this month, I should write about something fun and light, something that would make someone smile, perhaps. Pa, do you ever wonder what life would have been if we weren't a family? You never met Ma, you never had us. Because I do. I imagine for me it would largely be the same. A childhood steeped in insecurity and confusion. Teenage years, forced bravery. Always a leaf that falls, lost and mad.
05/25 Direct Link
On Saturdays we rarely see each other because I'd be asleep well into Sunday. What do you do on Saturdays? I have so little interest in people I'm supposed to love. Is this how it feels for you, too? You don't have ill will, no. But you also don't have interest and curiosity, let alone the urge to at least try. But it doesn't mean we're bad people, does it? I often tell Ma that I understand you, Pa. Because out of your three children, it's me that inherited your personality. Utterly disinterested. In his own world. Happy when alone.
05/26 Direct Link
Sundays when we were young are for Luneta, biking, Jollibee. There's a photograph of us three in similar jogging attire (different colors, same make). If I tell you now about the love I have for my brothers, you might tear up. Kuya got that from you--his sensitivity, his vulnerability. I love you. I love you. You remember when Kuya and his friends surprised me with a newly painted purple room? When I saw it, I said Wow again and again and again. When I went downstairs I saw you wiping tears. Smiling. You were happy, too. I love you.
05/27 Direct Link
I spent the whole day with officemates today. Adding yesterday when I was out almost the whole day, I'd have been out of the house for almost three days? We don't talk about these things now, I just leave, say bye to you when you're there. When I'm out this long I become 5 years old again, wondering why my father isn't looking for me. I'm not lost, no. I feel like a butterfly attempting to fly high and fast as the eagles. Thing is, this is fine. Thing is, I'm so used to it. I'm too old for this.
05/28 Direct Link
"In a city of the future, it is difficult to concentrate. I'm okay./I am all the days that you choose to ignore./When I see you messing me around, I don't want to know./Here I'm allowed, everything all of the time./Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon./Cut the kids in half./Where'd you park the car?/We're not scaremongering, this is really happening./You know where you are when, floor collapsing, falling, bouncing back, and one day, I am gonna grow wings, a chemical reaction, hysterical and useless./How come I end up where I started?"
05/29 Direct Link
I will now always associate 2019 with Radiohead. Much like 2011 is Foster the People, 2012 is The xx, and so on. You do have these phases, yes? I used to only know Creep, High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, like many others. But it's true what I read, once you get into Radiohead, as in really into them, there's no turning back. I had this phase before. Just...this month I happened to listen to Let Down again and, all those years just came rushing back. In a good way. Feels like I'm clean now. The blackness is leaving.
05/30 Direct Link
Not particularly happy with this batch writing-wise. But I am happy with this month, Pa. Feels like a hard slog, but when around positive people--the slog becomes bearable and tranforms into something strangely beautiful, yes? It's corny but I imagine you'd be nodding your head. The entry two days back are random Radiohead lyrics. The other day I was daydreaming about Thom Yorke being my father. He'd have this lovely laugh at breakfast. He'd be humming a song. He'd be cranky or jokey, either way he'd be my dad and all is well. I have these fantasies sometimes.
05/31 Direct Link
Someone who doesn't know our family might probably think, what a sad girl with an absent father? But it's not like that. This is me also explaining to you, Pa: I'm grateful. During commute--any time I am far from home--I think of you and feel a tenderness. I pray that you're always happy and content. I pray that the love we can't give each other, you can give and get from someone else. But most of all, I pray that we can stop being afraid of loving each other. For us to realize that we still have time.