Saturday, February 25, 2012

All for equality I ramble

Because we're all human.
Credit to A Bicycle Built for Two
Marriage is a man-made institution, that much we know. And yet many still yearn for the stability and the sense of safety brought about by having someone, a spouse and a partner, who's got your back, to put it mildly. To some, marriage, represents the pinnacle of their love's consummation. To bind yourself to another person for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in toothpaste caps left open, and in soiled clothes dumped in a messy heap by the hamper, takes a lot of courage and devotion.

To take the plunge of marriage is to set off to seas of contingencies unknown. Both parties realize it's not going to be a walk in the park and the opportunities to stop and smell the roses will be few and far in between. And yet, we still hunger to be part of an institution so fragile. It's a human need to love and be loved. And marriage, the binding, the promise, the vow to be together come hell or high water, seems to be the next natural thing to do. So what's all the fuss? Love is love regardless of who is loving who.

To hamper an individual's right to marriage because of his or her sexual preference is similar to a DOS attack. In a denial-of-service attack, an attacker attempts to prevent legitimate users from accessing information or services. By targeting your computer and its network connection, or the computers and network of the sites you are trying use, an attacker may be able to prevent you from accessing e-mail, websites, online accounts or other services that rely on the affected computer. Pardon the comparison but the parallelism, for me, is uncanny. Denial of service. Denial of access. Denial of the right to express our love. To deny a person her right to happiness is the ultimate oppression, deprived of access to love, to care, to the right to be by her partner's side in times of sickness, and a myriad of things that heterosexual partnerships enjoy. How can another human being be so cruel as to deprive another of the most basic need to feel and express that feeling?

When we fight for our right to marry or strike a domestic partnership to the one we love, we are merely expressing our devotion. In no way are we trying to taint the sanctity of your own heterosexual union. In fact, we are happy you've found a love so special some people only dream of having and one that people fight long and hard for. Simply put, and as cheesy as it may seem, we just want to be happy with the woman in our life. To live and to let live.

Bear this in mind: Just because we are women who love women or men who love men does not make us subhuman, it does not make our love less legitimate, less pure, unfit to be recognized.

Friday, February 24, 2012

En pointe

When the white feet of dancers beat across the stage
the sound is like the wings of birds at dawn; fluttering,
and when the feathery light bodies rise en pointe, spinning
like the wind across a lake
the sight is romance, uttering.

Variation on a Theme
D.H. Lawrence
David Ira Rottenberg from Soldiers of Beauty

I haven't watched a good ballet performance in a long time (none of my friends don't ever seem to want to go with me!), so when Ballet Philippines delighted audiences with its performance of Crisostomo Ibarra, I was one happy clam. During the show, I played around with our Nikon D90 and snapped the photos included.

Crisotomo Ibarra was a contemporary dance retelling of Dr. Jose Rizal's pivotal novel Noli Me Tangere. The dance performance was part of SGV's 65th anniversary celebrations and Mr. Washington SyCip's 90th birthday. Atty. Minney Reyes, Dr. Rizal's great grandniece through his sister Saturnina, was also present to lend her support. She noted that it was a timely staging, as 2011 is also the year of the 150th birth anniversary of our national hero. She encouraged the audience to remember what Rizal died for and to live out those same heroic values everyday. The one-and-a-half hour show featured music by Jed Balsamo and choreography by Paul Alexander Morales, who also directed the performance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


sa dagat sang paghigugma
alugaynay nga ikaw naga-utawutaw
puno sang ining balatian
nga pakalisud sang isang wal'ay balatiagon
sa gilayon ako nagahulat
sa pagbukas sang imu mga palad
nabinhod, nga pilit nagtiklop dala sang kasakit

palangga, kung ako imu tugtan
gilayon ko ikaw nga kup-an
para ang hapdi, ga, imu mautwasan

Stilettista's note: What joy it is to discover that Hiligaynon may very well be an able dialect for love and all its musings. 

Confessions of a stiletto addict

So we veer away from sensible blogging to indulge in one of my vices: SHOES.

Presenting this red, hot wonder from Balenciaga's 2011 Fall Collection. I die.

Credit to Tommy Ton

Monday, February 20, 2012

Commercial Break

It's 4:15 p.m. in my part of the world and aside from the occassional trips to the ladies room, I have been chained to my desk for most of the day. Safe to say, this bondage will continue on until close of business this rainy Monday. Ok, I refuse to wave the proverbial white flag today at work, kahit pa pagod na pagod na ang mga mata ko sa pag-eedit at parang walang bukas ang pagdating ng trabaho. Why not, you ask? There are words that keep me going. These words are welcome distractions, beautifully written, so much so that they temporarily take my mind away from all the technical writing I am paid to read and edit. Oh, I am not complaining about work but I'm human and I get tired. I'm going to let you in on a little secret -- I actually like editing technical documents. I learn a lot and I feel it's valuable knowledge.

Aside from these words, there is another reason for my renewed vigor in work and life. Early this year, I made a few resolutions to myself. Now, I don't normally go about making resolutions. For the longest time, I've cruised through life taking it all in, riding the waves and leaving the shore when I feel like it, only to come back when and as necessary. But this year, dahil tao lamang, I got tired. Bulag sa maling akala, I thought I could go on loving and loving and loving. Haha! Wala pa lang Energizer Bunny for love. I fell in love for the first time. And yes, it was beautiful. Yet, like most things in life, it, too, had to end.

When it ended, (for good, mind you) I made some resolutions I am hell bent on seeing through. One of these resolutions is to awaken a renewed enthusiasm for work. Ambisyosa ako and I want another promotion yun lang. Anyway, back to regular programming and I have about less than a hundred pages to go. Yes, that's how long these documents can be. Sometimes more.

More than happy to oblige

Ang pag-abot

Kaladlawan kag kakilibut
Ang imu pag-abot

Dala ang pag-amigohay
Nabuhian ako sang paglaum

Sa imu pag-abot
Akon nalimtan ang kapait sang kahapon

Naging masidnadyahon
Wal'ay dulonan nga pagpangalipay ang akon naagum

Gani sa imu pag-abot
Kag sa sunod naton nga pag-kitaay
Ang matam-is mo nga yuhum
Ang mainit mo nga hakus
Akon taguon sa dalamguhanon.

Stilettista's note: 
Grappled for a while and edited it a bit. Forgive me but after all, writing is essentially rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. I've never tried my hand at a binalaybay before until a beautiful soul came along and wisely told me, Filipino is such wonderful language, in whatever dialect. It captures feelings and emotions more heartfelt. She should know and so I humbly follow and explore. This is my first foray.

A binalaybay is Hiligaynon poetry. Hiligaynon is the dialect of Iloilo City, a small yet bustling southern town in the Western Visayas. The writer is a bona fide Ilongga, born, bred and raised, recently having discovered the beauty of a dialect she so abhorred in school. Her Hiligaynon professor would be so proud.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

And so we wax poetic

I wake up this lazy Sunday with a smile.
My, how that thought makes me smile. Wider.
Lately, it seems, my smiles, they come freely.
And my steps, they've regained that spring, which can only mean I am treading life happier these days.

I revel in this feeling for it has been quite a while.

Never to end, how I wish I can capture this feeling, this giddy happiness resonating in my being.
I want to worship its every nuance, undress it to reveal the pulsating jewel inside.

I want to make sugary  love to this new-found happiness, partake in its beauty and strength, dip my fingers in its sweet, sweet nectar.

And to taste. Oh, to taste! To open myself to every wonderful sensation.

Famished, that's how I used to be. And this happiness, it fills me up. I am sated.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Back story

Because I'm such a girly girl and because I can't resist an outfit post (ok, there will be many!).
The one time I totally went out and dolled up for an event was during our 65th Staff Anniversary at the SMX SM Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City. I couldn't believe how I was able to find this dress and have it fit perfectly, like a glove, off the rack. It still hangs in my closet, a reminder of a fun, glamorous night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The In-between

A spontaneous combustion...
A languid caress...
A deepening understanding...
Exploring, delving, discovering something amazing
Tucked in an in-between.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Some kind of wonderful

Thank you
for the endless conversations
for the laughter that we never seem to tire of
for how easily we slip into each other
for smiles easily given and hugs that make you want more.

Thanks, Ga. 
See you soon.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Forgotten November

I remember a different kind of rain one November morning. 
Pouring. It was the rain inside unrelentingly pouring; 
Unshed tears flooding my being. 

Raggedy Anne by Tata, 2010

Amazing what resolve can do to a person.

At the start of the new year I resolved to be happier
more spontaneous
more outgoing
more appreciative
and less wary of people.

I was bullied as a young girl and since then
I began constructing walls around me
and I waited
I waited for that one person who cared
Cared enough to break them down.

When that didn't turn out quite the way I expected
I was devastated
I cried
And cried some more
But yes, tears run dry

Nonetheless, it was necessary I let them be
I let them pour until I could cry no more
You see somewhere I read
Tears are essential to make the eyes see clearly
And see clearly I did

Resolve paid off more than I could ever imagine
I have come to meet new friends
Fabulously, wonderful people
Who give so much
And for that, Maraming Salamat.

And this is why I'd rather watch heads being decapitated...

I must say I don't think I will ever have the strength to finish The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. Inasmuch as Rooney Mara is captivating as Lizbeth Salander, delivering the darkness and intensity with so much grace and aplomb, I don't think I will be able to handle the sex scenes. So far, I've seen only two: 1) Lizbeth giving her case officer a handjob, which eventually led to a blow, to be able to receive her allowance; and 2) Lizbeth being chained to a bed and violently raped by the same case officer, this time for food. I steeled myself and continued to watch the rape scene out of principle but I was already feeling the beginnings of nausea. This is one thing I realized about myself --- I can watch horror movies no matter how bloody and violent they are with the ease with which I put on make-up in the morning (in fact, I'm watching the 1979 Amityville Horror movie as I am writing this) but I can never stomach films that show the consequences of poverty, the bleakness of war and the violence of sexual assault on women and children.

This apparent fascination with fear triggered by horror movies is often met with a kind of amused incredulity by family and friends. One friend went as far as to point out to me that real life is scary enough as it is without having to watch this depressing, gory, useless form of entertainment.

Oh, I know real life very well, having lived independently for over five years and counting. I know how it is to encounter lean months and how it is to hold back and prioritize to pay the bills. I know how it is to constantly worry about my future, whether I shall have saved enough to be comfortable in old age. So I don't discount the fact that real life is scary. Truth be told, it is. And that is why I'd rather watch horror movies as a form of escape. I don't need to watch heavy drama and all that jazz brought about by a depressing film on poverty to be reminded how real it is. I don't need to be reminded  that women and children do get raped and sometimes left for dead, and that people corrupt power and take advantage of the less fortunate. I don't need to be reminded that I can very well be a victim if I am not careful.

Note to the Universe: If you send someone my way, I'm hopeful that she, too, would be able to tolerate horror movies. Not necessarily love them with the same intensity as I do but I would really thank the high heavens if she'd watch a movie (or two) with me from time to time. :-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ditch the girdle

Romantic love is one topic that one never really tires of. There will always be some view or other that celebrates the euphoria of love returned or laments the injustice of love unrequited. We are told by some that romantic love is the tie that binds, preventing the human structure from buckling under the weight of an increasingly capitalist world. To others, it is an opiate that dulls the mind and enslaves the psyche to defy logic. To which, French essayist, Andres Maurois, agrees, “We owe to the Middle Ages two of the worst inventions of humanity – romantic love and gunpowder.”

Such opposing views as the above barely scratches the surface of the apparent fascination over romantic love.  This post hopes to highlight that fascination. It will neither celebrate nor lament the failings of romantic love. Rather, it will examine how romantic love relates to society and culture, particularly heterosexual gender relationships. While others have examined the impact of culture on human relationships, I will take on a more feminist approach, focusing on how socially constructed roles influence the romantic practices modern women employ in attracting a potential partner.

Stilettista's note: I promise to explore to the nuances of homosexual love in the future. 

Women's liberation has met its match in the avenue of dating and romance. “After 40 years of women's liberation, women still don't typically ask men out,” says Janet Lever, a sociologist at the California State University, “but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't want to, society just doesn't permits them to do so.” The same holds true in the Philippine dating scene for it is the man who makes the move and the woman who waits patiently, much to her annoyance. Still she waits, because society dictates that she has to. But that was a long time ago when liberation meant girdles gave women the freedom to wear whatever they want.

The girdle has been relegated to the back of the closet but why is she still waiting? She is waiting partly because it is the socially defined appropriate behavior. Alas, there is no way to deny this sad truth and she very well knows it. She is unperturbed however, for she has taken a page out of Sun Tzu's book.

“It is said that if you know your enemy and you know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.”

She is waiting because she knows that if she makes the first move in a fit of empowerment and liberation, he will retreat. She knows he is not yet prepared for women like her, women who trail blaze their way into the once male dominated world. She doesn't blame him though; he was born into the bondage of his sex as much as she is. Socially constructed dominant, men find it difficult to reconcile the fact that women are equally capable of finding their niche in the world and succeeding, even in this day and age. It is an arrogance born out of centuries of male dominance and the unreasonable insistence on male privilege.
            “All warfare is based on deception. Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”
It is not enough for a man to be male; he also has to appear masculine the same way it is not enough for a woman to be female; she has to appear feminine. By waiting for the man to make the first move, the empowered woman makes him feel masculine because she knows he needs to feel masculine as is his social role. She acknowledges that her impressive credentials – attractive, successful, intelligent, and strong – do not equal the submissive femininity that men find so appealing. Being the go getter that she is may end up emasculating him in the process, thwarting all possibilities for a budding romance.

The empowered woman is secure enough to simulate the seemingly inferior and secondary position that she and her forebears have fought long and hard for. She is the damsel in distress to his knight in shining armor. She may find it a hard and bitter pill to swallow but she is superior this way, knowing that eventually, he will wrap himself in her little finger. After all, what uses have we for knights in shining armor when there are no damsels in distress?
Socially constructed roles between men and women limit and shape their attitudes and behavior. This is especially evident in romance. Being forced to think and act in the box is one of the worst forms of oppression for the modern empowered woman. She is strong, intelligent and will definitely take initiative, and so she does with a little help from the oldest military treatise in the world. Until society relents, the ammunition will be overflowing.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hold your heart

"What kind of heart doesn't look back?" Sara Bareilles asks and I reckon she's right.

Had life not dealt us a hand, February shall have been one helluva memorable month with a triple whammy of celebrations: 1) our anniversary; 2) her birthday; and 3) my birthday. What about Valentine's Day, you ask? We're not firm advocates of this Hallmark-created holiday with all its mushy and pretentious hullabaloo. Methinks that if you truly are in love with a person, everyday is a celebration of your love. You show your appreciation in little ways day in and day out, not in a one-time, big-time exhibition of expensive gifts or four-course meals. But I digress.

So we will not be celebrating anything this month. Oh, there will be greetings and maybe dinner. This thought still saddens me; one can’t help but reminisce from time to time and certainly, despite everything that’s happened, I will always cherish our time spent as lovers and partners. On the same note, I look forward to the time we will continue to spend as very good friends. No love lost for this girl.

Perhaps you being my first love has swayed this heart from being vindictive or holding a grudge. I refuse to dwell on the negative; instead, I will focus on the many happy memories we made. Truth be told, Grumpy Bear, there were many, and these memories definitely outweigh the bad.

It is without pain or feeling of loss that I write this ode to you. It could be that I’ve moved on. Who knows? But one thing is for certain, I finally understand.

So I’m letting you go. This time without strings, I will let you fly. And if in time that God will work his magic and we find ourselves together looking at the possibility of another chance, it will be most welcome. But until then, I will find my place in the world and you, too.

It took me a while to arrive at this point. I realize now that I clung to the illusion of “us” in the unhealthiest manner. Simply put, my heart, in all its bullheadedness, refused to fold. And in my naivet√©, I didn’t want to give up without a fight. I guess I needed to fight to understand that there are things that one must let be. This is one of them.

Now I bid goodbye to what might have been. No longer will I get caught in the web of what could be. So despite February being uneventful where we are concerned, I am happy and content. I bid goodbye to a lover and welcome a friend. A very good friend.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The perils of distance learning, and second chances

I'm on my second chance at finishing my postgraduate degree after foolishly going on AWOL a couple of years back. That was foolish of me because I was doing pretty well and the subject wasn't that heavy or difficult. The simple reason why I stopped was time or the lack thereof. I'd shifted gears and the adjustments were too much for me. Before I knew it, I was way behind my schoolwork and I'd lost the drive to catch up. I simply let it go.

Now that I'm back, I'm experiencing deja vu of sorts. I'm a little behind in one of my subjects, Research Development and Management, and I'm doing my best to catch up. Thus, this weekend I'd planned on holing up in the condo and had forgone any plans of catching this queer-themed play I was looking forward to watching. Sacrifices. Sacrifices. We all have to make sacrifices and today (and for the rest of the weekend), I'm taking one for the team. I would love to think my attitude towards my studies have taken a turn for the better considering that plans to pursue a scholarship is in the works. And I believe that with this degree, I shall have improved my chances quite substantially.

Not to rationalize my AWOL episode in the past but there are indeed difficulties, challenges if you may, in distance learning. I'm enrolled at the UP Open University and I can vouch that it's not as easy as it seems or sounds. Take it from me; I was wrapped up in the misconception that distance learning will be a walk in the park with lots of opportunities to stop and smell the sampaguitas. The beauty of distance learning which is essentially learning with the convenience of doing it in your own time, wherever you choose to be in the world and in your own pace, is also its bane. Distance learners tend to forget they are "in school." This much has happened to me and continues to happen from time to time. Because distance learners don't enjoy the typical classroom set-up, they lack benchmarks with which to compare their progress. I've often had to trudge blindly into the world of some of my subjects without knowing for certain if I'm on the right track. But this is not to say we are left to run around like headless chickens by our professors. Quite the contrary. Our professors are always there, just an e-mail away, and generously provide their feedback and assistance to make life easy for all of us. It, therefore, lies on the distance learner to take initiative and be proactive in her studies. 

For this distance learner, that lesson is still being learned. It's an uphill climb for me but I'm determined to see this through. Second chances are hard to come by and I consider myself lucky with the ease of readmission UPOU has given me.

Alright, folks! This distance learner is rolling up her sleeves to get to work.

Readings galore!

Hello and Goodbye

What other words, we may almost ask, are memorable and worthy to be repeated than those which love has inspired? It is wonderful that they were ever uttered. They are few and rare indeed, but, like a strain of music, they are incessantly repeated and modulated by memory.

Henry David Thoreau
"A Week in the Concorde and Merrimack Rivers, 1849"

We welcome the month of love, and my birthday month, with goodbyes and hellos. I say goodbye to my old blog and say hello to this new one -- Coffee & Stilettos. This blog is named after two of my most favorite things in the world: a frothy cup of caffeine wonder and footwear that make my legs look a mile long. The former gets me through a hectic work day while the latter allows me to face one hectic work day after another with awesomeness. A girl can't have one too many shoes and stilettos, my dears, are a girl's bestfriend.

I had deleted my old blog along with all the photos and words I've written. Whether written in a spur of inspiration, a blast of boredom or in a fit of rage, there is no denying the meaning behind all those posts. It was with a heavy heart that I had to delete my blog but I felt it was for the best and I was glad to do it. In life, one must prioritize and there are things that take precedence over others. I will expound on this in another post someday. For now, we stay silent and wait.

But the waiting will not last forever. After all, our words and stories will one day need to be told. And I can't wait to tell this particular story. Oh, the unfairness of it all!

So, for now, it's "Ola, Coffee & Stilettos!" I am positive that we will have a spankin' good time.