TPP2018 #1: Candido’s Apocalypse


Candido’s Apocalypse

Nick Joaquin

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Last year, I put a halt on my reading to give more time for work. Thus, I currently read at a much slower pace than I used to. To ease reading back into my habits, I decided to start with shorter pieces first and then gradually move on to longer pieces as I gain momentum. Hence, I picked this novella, thinking that if I could finish 83 pages in mere hours back then, then I would probably be able to finish this within 3 days.

Boy, was I wrong — I overestimated myself. Candido’s Apocalypse took me more than a week.

Or maybe, more aptly, I underestimated Nick Joaquin. Because you don’t simply bite off a Nick Joaquin — you take your time chewing on it, trying to sense a hint of sweetness off the bitter taste.

What took me more than a week to finish the novella was my insistence to read it as my teenage self because to be able to understand both Bobby and Candido, you, too, have to revert back to your most tumultuous years.

Candido’s Apocalypse tells of seventeen-year-old Bobby Heredia’s struggle to break free from conformity, which he openly mocks as phony and “overacting”. In his yearning for a rebirth and an identity free from the norms of a pretentious society (as he sees it), Bobby unleashes Candido.

Candido is a grimly special boy — he can see everyone in their filthy nakedness, revealing their clothed secrets and buried pasts. Candido is Bobby, had he been born unmarred by his parents’ pretensions and ambitions. Candido was Bobby, until in the end, he chose not to be.

The theme seems to be really simple — the novella shows the social awakening of an atypical adolescent in a typical society, a story line reminiscent of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye — and yet it felt unfamiliar. Candido’s uncanny ability stirred in me both fascination and disgust. Although intrigued, I found it too surreal for my taste that I had to keep coming back to past pages, trying to put myself in the shoes of Bobby and Candido. In the end, after much pondering, I did find a glimpse of myself in Bobby and Candido by forcing myself to recall the confused and angry teenage girl who once quietly voiced out some of Bobby’s rants and who seemed to perfectly reflect Candido’s smugness.

Seeing how it ended up with Bobby, Nick Joaquin has got me thinking, Was Bobby right for detaching himself from Candido? Was I right for doing the same thing?

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Hurts to Hurt


“Ma’am, tell me if it hurts.” I smirked.

She started right then, pricking and pinching my face. Instantly, I regretted my nonchalance.

“Ma’am, does it hurt?”

Eyelashes moist, I murmured, “It’s fine, go ahead.”

Are we, women, really programmed to endure unnecessary pain, in fear of being seen as weak?

The Panitikan Project


On Day 1, I talked about ditching yearly resolutions and deciding, from now on, to focus on a single word for inspiration. For Creativity 2018, I have decided to wake up my hibernating right brain.

With this goal in mind, I finally started this personal reading challenge that I have been meaning to do for years — to read 20 books or more in a year, all authored by Filipinos.

2018 Reading Challenge (1)

Originally, the plan was to read at least 50 books but as 2016 had proven, 50 books is not feasible if you have a full-time job that demands time even after work hours (we are not required to work after hours though, I am just that workaholic). Hence, the cut to a measly 20 books.

But why only Filipino authors?

Here’s the thing — I am Filipino yet I am more familiar with foreign literature. I grew up reading American series such as The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley. My favorite author is Haruki Murakami, a Japanese. My favorite book is Love in the Time of Cholera, written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Colombian. I have read all books by John Green and Lang Leav but I’m not even a fan of either. Meanwhile, you can probably count all Filipino works that I have read, mostly required readings in school, with just your ten fingers. So you can say that I am a Filipino bookworm who knows little about Filipino literature.

The irony of my reading habits speaks of the deep-seated Filipino insecurity that we are never enough and that foreign is always better. I have always wanted to prove to myself that we, Filipinos, can be great artists, too, but I did not know where to start. This year, it finally dawned on me how to begin — by educating myself. Thus, with this reading challenge that I have entitled The Panitikan Project, (panitikan is the Filipino word for literature) I aim to hit two birds with one stone:

  1. To feed my sleeping creativity by reading books again and
  2. To educate myself about Filipino literature and to prove that the works of our own writers deserve a significant place in every Filipino reader’s bookshelf.

First on this list is Nick Joaquin’s Candido’s Apocalypse. Hopefully soon, I can tell you how it goes.

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P.S. I wish not to insult John Green and Lang Leav. As a reader, I may just have unconventional preferences. If you were offended, I am deeply sorry.

Creativity 2018


At the start of every year since I was eight, I had been making New Year’s resolutions. At the end of January every year since I was eight, I also break them. Well, actually that is not entirely truthful. A few were broken mid-February — they were the lucky ones — while many did not even had the chance to be broken because they were not even started.

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Like most people who make New Year’s resolutions, if not all, I never managed to discipline myself enough to accomplish my yearly goals. While I have long accepted that this is part of our humanity and I have been making resolutions only for the sake of tradition (and to placate holiday guilt), I have decided to shake things up this year. Instead of making another set of certainly ill-fated resolutions, this 2018 I will be living by my Word of the Year.

This “resolution revolution” was first introduced by entrepreneur and founder of Uplevel YOUChristine Kane. In this alternative, you pick one word and you let it guide you to your aspirations and dreams for that year. You will live by your chosen word.

Word Art

In 2017, I ended my first year and started my second year in my first ever job. Being a workforce neophyte with a deep-seated insecurity regarding my skills and talents, I dedicated my 2017 as the year of building habits that will fortify good work ethics, in an effort to prove my worth to my own self. While aware that there is still a lot of room for improvement, I was more or less satisfied with the results of my efforts. However, it came with a price — I am slowly losing my lifeline.

Writing used to be my lifeline. When reality was frustrating and seemed hopeless, I could always turn to writing. But lately, I have been struggling to write for at least twenty minutes without being distracted.

Writing is my first love and I realized that despite the writer’s block that I am currently experiencing, I am still willing to fight for it, the same way I did when I started this blog. Thus, this 2018, my Word of the Year is Creativity.

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This 2018 I will live by creativity. Because of 2017’s creative drought, my 2018 will be spent trying to wake the hibernating right brain. I do not expect to be able to write again with the same passion as I did a few years ago because knowing myself, action does not happen in a snap (and that is why the word of the year is not Create). But at least, I expect to rekindle that passion, even if in a lesser intensity.

I have no detailed plan of action and I have no intention of making one. All I know is I need to go back to my old habits that used to elicit a lot of light bulb moments — i.e., reading a lot of books, visiting museums, taking long walks, etc. — without breaking the new ones I worked on in 2017.

It will be tough, I know. But who knows? Maybe cultivating creativity this year will also help me at work. After all, creativity is a necessary trait for teachers.

Cheers to 2018, the year of Creativity!

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Unwashed by the Sea


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It is the color of serenity,
of blissful solitude.
Unwashed, I watch in guilty tranquility.
Away from the vicissitude masked by quietude.

The sea endlessly beckons,
its rolling waves serenading my wandering soul.
It is a trap, I though reckon,
knowing many souls it once stole.

But what if the sea is my salvation?
What if only it can wash what weighs me down?
But I am afraid, beyond consolation —
What if the sea is but a ghost town?

I shall allow the sea to wash me someday.
I shall wash myself, but not today.

 
Serene

God? I know you’re there.


November 8, 2017

We were discussing about earthquakes in class so naturally, I showed a documentary to my students. As the geologist narrated about the most destructive earthquakes the world has ever faced, one of my students mumbled to himself, “So where is God in all of these?”

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“Where is God in all of these?”

It was not meant to be answered, based on the way it was said, yet this has been the most difficult question I had to answer as a teacher.

Many have claimed that in the beauty of nature, we see the face of God. But face to face with nature’s wrath, where is God?

Always, I have staunchly upheld my faith. Despite strongly disagreeing with the Church’s comments on reproductive health and same sex marriage, I have remained a Roman Catholic. Despite my science education opening a world of truth for me, I still believe in God. But never have I found an evidence of God’s existence. You may think, how can I, a made scientist, believe in an entity whose existence I can never physically prove?

I can only sigh. I do not really know where God is in all of these. But there is comfort in trusting that somewhere, he must be there.

Homeless Heart


“Home is where the heart is,”
they say.
My heart is lost.
I am homeless.

This homeless heart waits right here,
waiting for someone to take her home.

To not know


It is no secret that I do not know what I am doing most of the time. “Just do it” can easily be my life’s motto — I just do things without fully understanding the risks and consequences of my actions. But hey, if I do not just do things, I will never be able to get anything done. I would have never even lived at all.

This never came to me before — not knowing what you are doing is a crucial part of life. To not know is to have the capacity to learn. To learn is to know better. To know better is to keep moving forward. To keep moving forward is to live.

I do not know what I am doing most of the time. I must be living my life just fine.

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Tulala


29 September 2017

Finally, an unpopular — and therefore, empty — cafe.

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As I slurp my iced latte, I wonder how many Filipino words are not translatable into English. For instance, the word tulala. To be tulala, in the usual context, is to stare blankly ahead, mind wandering aimlessly in a different time and place, real or fictional. Sometimes, as in my case, it is simply thinking quietly. It annoys me that I cannot think of an English world that perfectly encapsulates this.

Just then, the barista (that’s what you call a person working in a cafe, right?) arrives with my bacon and eggs. He introduces himself and told me to look for him if I need anything. I heard him but I do not catch his name. Whatever. I never ask for anything extra, anyway.

I pick on my bacon and swirled the undone yolk of my sunny-side up with my spoon, wondering this time why people often ask me why I am tulala. I mean, why do they care? What’s so wrong about thinking? Apparently, for some people, thinking in virtual solitude is a crime.

My yolk-swirling is interrupted by the same guy, this time asking if the food is okay. I gave him half a smile and flashed him a thumbs-up. Honestly though, cafe food anywhere tastes the same to me. Whatever. Anyway, I am just here because I need a deserted place and some time to be tulala.

Being tulala keeps me sane, just as writing a ramble does.

Now I feel a little better.

A Blue Rose


All I asked was a blue rose.

That blue rose never came.

For years I watched you search far and wide for that single blue rose. It took all those before you finally realize that a blue rose is impossible.

I am sorry, my love. I am that blue rose.

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