(immig)RANTS: Fall

May 12, 2018 § Leave a comment

It seems like my first experience of fall brought about so many reflections. Fall settled maybe a month ago in Rotorua, and the chill it introduced has not sunk into my understanding — not while the sun still shines painfully.

Processing the coexisting chill and heat is a difficulty, but also something I revel at feeling. My forehead could feel the nearest star and it cracks at the air’s dryness. But my hands earn scales from the sharp, cold air. And my body overcompensates trying to regulate heat — my armpits sweat, my back warms up, I blush. New sensations that I find excruciating to bear but at the same time I feel excited about having. I know I am in pain and still I continue existing one minute after another. I go to work, I go to school, and I go on living (albeit fleetingly these days).

These conflicting sensations and dissonances I feel extend even to my attempt at moving on. My fall began exactly when I let go of, well, someone I held on dearly—much like how the leaves would let go of summers to begin reddening. After I received the message, I went out and bought a down jacket, as if to find warmth I lost. I could feel the impending sadness and tearful nights. But I also realize that I have a real adventure ahead of me — a genuine adventure in which I do not know where I might be heading, where I’ll be settling, and who I become after everything. I would rather not think of it as a plan being destroyed. I choose to believe that new paths have been opened for me — new sensations. I know I am in pain (and there’s a pang of bitterness in there too), but still I continue existing. Forcing myself to smile became a daily exercise, and I may have found new things to learn to love about myself and my situation.

But even when I chose to smile and be excited, these hesitations still permeate and it makes me question how much I actually treasured that someone. Am I allowed to feel this sense of wonder? I believe I have still much to process and understand about that fall and maybe I’ll write about it.

I am just glad that Rotorua provides a scenery to inspire. I look to the sunset-kissed treetops while I walk or ruminate in bus rides. I envy these trees. They are always rooted and they change to adapt. I envy how instead of curling up into a ball to shield themselves from the cold, they evolved to strip themselves bare. Their leaves fall and they would accept winter’s embrace with their skeletons ready. And even after that, they grow older, still beautiful, as a new spring arrives. I could only hope that I can do the same. After all, I was a tree born in a tropical country. Who knows how the four seasons would affect me?




Dear Tara,

January 2, 2018 § Leave a comment


The year 2017 was very tough for you. You had to live through one of the coldest nights of your life during the middle of winter. More than that, you had live through the death of Chester, a person you look up to, whose music became your friend. You had to live through seeing your cries reflected by walls and into your ears, and hearing your reflections discourage you as you try to talk yourself to finishing your days. “One step at a time, one step at a time,” you whisper to yourself as you cross roads to work, to school, to grocery stores, or even to the restrooms, to your futures.

You learned that your worst critic has always been yourself. You list things you should be grateful for—the day, the food on your table, the new friends you meet, the old friends you left, the family you miss, the boyfriend you long for, the room you sleep in—you find it difficult to smile at the thought of them existing. In turn, you think that maybe you do not deserve these things because you can’t be thankful. You forgot to feel gratitude as your reality started to weigh you down, trapping you under duvet(s) with your sighs and prayers for a better mood after your slumber. And you always pray for a long slumber.

I wish you know you’re of worth.

I wish you know that arriving in New Zealand was not something you expected to happen two years ago, but look at you! You’re alive. You have a job. You’re gonna do great in your studies. You’ve formed a bond with people you see as your inspirations.

I wish you know that you are loved.

You seemed to have convinced yourself during many nights you wrote notes for people you might leave behind that your passing won’t even affect them. You do not seem to feel the “I love yous” you receive from your parents and him. Tara, do not forget them. Please don’t project the worthlessness you feel for yourself to other people when all they ever did was love you. It is damaging for both of you. Find it in yourself to apologize to them, forgive yourself. I wish you discover or rediscover the things you used to love about yourself.

Tara, I wish you know that you are brave.

You are brave for flying out of the country at the age where you should have been trying to get back your youth. Even if you berate yourself for the same reason because you always wanted to be there for your country, you are brave. And you persisted through it all. You are brave for choosing to love knowing that it will be months or years you will see him again. You are brave for facing the distance and displacement, the dehoming, and the search for a “while-here” home. You’re doing it. Do not discredit the achievements you’ve reached.

Do not take yourself for granted.

Tara, I hope you remember to smile (for real) this year. I wish you smile because you feel peace through the hardship you will experience along the way. Everything will arrive and leave; they will run its course and leave you with lessons.

You will grow.

All the tears you shed will water the paradise that’s inside you. At the moment, it is in the process of breaking through the concrete you chose to shell yourself. And your experiences will be nourishment. These experiences may be difficult, but turn them into something useful. Weep, laugh, but grow, most importantly. Live to see the paradise you are tending inside. I wish you remember this.

If anything else, I wish these words I write were from a concerned friend. But no, it is from you, to you. I hope you see this as a manifestation of your inner strength—that all you need will be your will to continue. You will heal. You will be strong. And you will live through 2018 for better or worse. I hope you do.


With conviction,


sunday service

November 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

matag Dominggo, muhalok akong tuhod
sa tiles, manlimpyo sa giludhang porselana.
mabati ko ang bendisyon sa disinfectant
hapdos sa akong aping.

dayong duko, trapohan ang singot sa agtang,
kupot sa dughan, mangayog ginhawa
maghandom sa pamilya nga sila mapadal-an
magdahom nga grasya gihapon ang
mutubag, bisag ako nalimot na sa
(Rotorua, New Zealand)


October 17, 2017 § Leave a comment

I never hated myself as much as I did tonight. Looking at the mirror has been more agonizing than I thought. I wish never had it in this flat. And this flat—this flat makes me feel underground, even when it is located at the second floor. I don’t like what I see in reflective surfaces. It is a reminder of how distraught  have become in the past four months. Smiling is okay, unless until I see my face. I’ve never been this pretentious. Have I came to here to learn how to pretend? Learn how to fool myself?

I thought the bad feeling had been because I felt myself getting uglier by the day. My face is always swollen, topped with unceasing growth of acne. I hated seeing it. So tonight I thought I’d try exercising by dancing to songs I used to dance around. To lift my spirits up. I was determined. Thought that if that does not work, I’ll just do that one-woman mosh to songs I rock out to. So I danced. It worked for a while, and it didn’t. I tried a different song to dance to. That worked too, but before the second chorus I hated doing it.

And still I attempted. I danced to Brave. Before it was over, I switched it to Out Tonight, which always made me feel great. I changed it to Supermassive Black Hole. I danced.

The song was not over, but I can’t hear it anymore. All there was is the ringing in my ears and my heartbeat. My breathing. Floors creaking. The song was lost.

I stopped and sat on my bed directly facing my mirror. I couldn’t recognize myself. I saw a girl, sweating, not living. She stared. I know it’s me but, I don’t know her. I don’t know here. I thought I was alone in this room. I fought the fear and flipped the mirror around. I glanced at the girl for the last time. She looked pathetic. And she disappeared away from the mirror.

When the ringing subsided, I realized my neck was soaked with heat. I took my shirt off and wrote an entry half-naked. Wished that girl could flip my side of the reflection.

I want to disappear.


October 17, 2017 § Leave a comment

That short moment of consciousness between sleeping and waking tricks me into thinking that I’d feel the sun’s heat through my window and my dad’s cursing. I open my eyes; I remember the heavy duvet on me and my cold, dry throat. I wake up remembering I am here, my home a fortune away. I pine for motherland. I pine for my favorite fast food chain. My cat. My dog. I wipe my face of crusts that were tears a few hours back. I am existing away from everything I’ve built myself around.

I am now used to the cold, used to the solitude and the quiet that is here. I feel a great disconnect to the life I used to have. When I chat with friends, I sometimes think about how long it will take before they forget me—or I, them. When I go back, will I still find the motherland’s sun a pleasure? Will I really have a life here? Can a car just please run over me?

It’s difficult waking up everyday with a dread of opening your eyes. I can’t comprehend how I am here and that it has been four months already. I sometimes stare at the street pavement, be hit with the realization that I’m seeing white birds and people walking toward me. I wish it were cars that had hit me. My new flat had me living near the business district, a one-person room on the second story of a what once used to be a motel. It was called Pineland.  The first floor reeks of a crusty, wet smell, like that of a towel never dry, or an oven never cleaned. The roaches are my flatmates. A large mirror is unattached in my room. I flip it around after I use it.


I forgot the feeling of my skin opening. The cold keeps my pores closed and I have never gone back to cutting. I wanna see my dog before I die.


To be continued.


Panganad sa Kabugnaw

August 21, 2017 § Leave a comment

20986112_1912828155398597_1258467711_nsa inadlaw-adlaw kong pag-alsa sa bug-at
nga duvet palayo sa akong lawas
nangdagko na tawn akong masel

dawat ko na ang kanunayng pagpanggahi sa akong kamot
ug gikalimtan ko na ang dagway sa akong tiil nga di mabuwag sa medyas
amigo ko na ang dugo nga mupabilin sa akong labakara kon ako manikma
Ang upat ka layer nga pambabaw
tulo nalang
di na magpaabot kada-oras sa iyang chat
ug ang mga samad sa ngabil puro na uwat

anaa gihapon ang init nga busay nga naggikan sa mata
manghilam-os sa nawng sa di pa mupiyong

Sa ilawom sa duvet, mag-ampo
nga ang adlaw mugawas ugma
para sa labhonon nako


(Rotorua, New Zealand)

Pan Balaan

April 22, 2017 § Leave a comment

Kampana ang kahumot sa pan sa Arbee’s; bag-ong luto.
Hinay-hinayng nilakaw akong kobalong tiil nga nalimot unsa ang makatsinelas.
Mahulog sa yuta ang lapok sa akong nawng
kon asa nagminyo ang luha, singot, ug abog sa kadlawong kalsada.

Sa pagduol nako, nikanta ang tiyan nga gahilab,
nangandoy nga mahapuhap ang pan
likod sa bildo ug alisngaw.

Sa kagutom, nausab ang nawng sa ginoo.

Ang init sa bag-ong haon mabati nalang sa kurog nga kamot.
Ang mata nipiyong, daw nag-ugom.

Ninaog akong kamot palayo sa bildo,
Ug ako nanguros.