Sunday, August 29, 2004


A friend who's very much in love sent me a text message on the phone late last night. He was wondering if he was just fooling himself. As he poetically puts it: this love shit is a fucker.

Though this friend of mine has a great sense of humor and (at least, I hope) he wasn't serious about his message (it did end with a smiley), I had wanted to reply with something that would cheer him up.

But I couldn't find the words.

How can I tell him that everything will be alright? That, soon, she would realize how right he is for her? That love shall prevail?

How can I possibly tell him to keep the faith when I am weary of believing?

For a long time, I just sat in my study, the phone's cursor blinking and blinking and blinking on the blank reply page.


I dreamt about her* again.

Oh, don't worry. I respect her so much that, made into film, my dreams of her can generally be rated fit for all audiences.

Like this dream I just had. She appeared at some party in my house and had a copy of my high school year book (apparently, she had borrowed it from somewhere because in the dream, my own dusty copy was still on the shelf) with her. As with most dreams, I have no idea what it means.

I don't mind dreaming about her. It's actually the only time when we really get to speak.

Still, it hurts whenever I wake up.

*If you have no idea who this is, it means you had been spared of my past gushing. Be grateful.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by


There were about twenty other commuters waiting by the time I reached the stop this morning. That wasn't good. At 7:45 there should only be about two or three waiting for a ride at the area, with the jeeps coming along almost every minute.

But then, who was I kidding? By turning slightly to the right and looking at the filthy waves and flooded banks of Boni Avenue, I could tell I was in trouble.

Still I waited, foolishly hoping that somehow a jeep would come along.

Again, the rain fell. Hard enough to drench my boots in seconds. Hard enough to send drops through the fabric of my (obviously not so dependable) umbrella.

I stood by the road for a few minutes more. I watched the cars make u-turns in the middle of the road, humbled by knee-deep flood waters that stretched for blocks, and move down the wrong side, back to wherever they came from. I watched the single jeep (overloaded, of course) drive past us, plow into the water, and give those folks wading in the flood another shower for the moring. I watched the little crowd around me grow as more people reached the stop and no other jeeps arrived.

Nothing new actually.
Not a single thing.
It was almost 8:30 according to my very wet wristwatch.

I crossed the street and headed for home before the rising flood could creep down the block and trap me on jeepney stop island.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


On the ride home, I noticed the lady - seated a passenger away from me - holding a box of...


While there was a great possibility that she had merely forgotten to take the fruitcake home after it was given during the 1997 Company Christmas Party, it was still...


Ye gods.


Just this evening, I saw a girl (perhaps fresh from college and in her first few months in some call center) with another female officemate/friend beside a squidball cart.

Call center girl was vigorously waving her stick of five squidballs up and down. She was either trying to let it cool faster, or experimenting with a flamboyant technique for spreading the flavored gaw-gaw sauce.

Of course, any kid from the streetfood-eating class would instinctively know shaking a stick of squidballs was a no-no.

Because aside from squidballs on a stick, you'd also get two squidballs-shooting-off-the-stick-and-bouncing-on-muddy-Makati-curb.


Somewhere, in a parallel universe I am:
… in a British colony because the English fleet happened to be the one to defeat the Spanish armada.
… on the train to a concentration camp because the Allies lost.
… licking the fur on my paws in a world where humans evolved from dogs.
… wondering if I could ever leave the frozen wastes of Luzon and head for the Siberian tropics.
… running among the ruined buildings of Ortigas, rusty firearm in my hand, fighting in a decade-old civil war.
… trying to regain control of the second-hand hover car that lost power high above EDSA.
… female…and had shaved my head instead of growing my hair long.
… at a diner booth, having a burger and a thick milkshake in a world that got stuck in 1955.

In some other reality, I:
… took Psych in Ateneo instead of Comm Arts in UST.
… dropped out of college and joined a band.
… convinced myself that slicing my wrist wasn’t such a bad idea.
… recently got a civil wedding.
… am an aging fast food crewmember wondering how much grease I could stand.
… am a priest wondering if my vows had been worth it.
… finished picking up litter in a New York park.
… have been stuck in traffic since 8:30, late for work with my son who is very late for school.
… just received papers filing for a divorce and am asking if anyone knows a good lawyer.
… decided to stay in television production and am working on one of those cheesy soaps.
… gave in to my doubt if I had what it takes to be a copywriter and opted to be an AE instead.

In some other truth, I never stood along Pasay Road one particular night.

Monday, August 16, 2004


I've been in my new job for a week now. And in this span of time, I have been mistaken for an art director, a UP scholar, an Atenean and a fine arts graduate (not sure if its UST fine arts).

Of course, among the mistakes that people have made, my favorite is when they think my age is somewhere between 25 to 28.

Friday, August 13, 2004


On some afternoons, the wind blowing from the direction of Manila Bay carries the scent of the sea for miles. I smell it in the streets of Makati. I smell it in my room at home when the windows are wide open.

It is the scent of summer and beaches. Of the bounty of the ocean. Of saltwater warmed by the sun.

Then there are those stormy nights when the wind from the west has a particular bite to it. Those nights, the wind still smells of water. But it is darkened with the scent of a shadowed vastness and huge waves. Of countless galleons, boats and battleships rotting in murky, haunted depths.

Nights like those, I close my windows slightly.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


I want to work here, I thought as I looked around Ayala Avenue.

This was around the time I went job hunting for the first time. I was fresh out of college and, watching the nicely dressed people heading into the glittering skyscrapers, Makati felt like the place for me. I looked up the lofty blue Rufino Tower. Yeah. I'd want to work in a place like this.

Fast forward to this morning.

To the moment when I realized something while walking to the new office building. At Ayala Avenue.

Oh shit.

I got my wish.

I guess I just wasn't specific about exactly when I'd want to work in the Ayala Area. I even missed the Rufino Tower by two buildings. Two.

Well. As I'd always say, be careful what you wish for kiddies...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


The doors of my new office are equipped with these electronic locks (in my former place of work, we counted ourselves lucky when the elevator didn't break down for the day). You know, the kind where every employee would need a card key to get in and out.

It was a major inconvenience on my first day.

Keyless, I had to wave from behind the glass door, hoping that the nice security guard behind the other glass door at the opposite end of the hall would see me and unlock the device. Or, if I got lucky, I'd manage to sneak behind the keyed people before the doors shut once more.

They found me a spare key yesterday.

Now, I can head for the toilet whenever I want. Hah!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Got a new job. Started yesterday.

Once more, I found myself weaving between the monday-numbed herds on their way to their respective concrete, steel and glass pens yesterday morning. But I don't mind. I actually (and inexplicably?) missed the entire routine of getting up and going to work on weekdays. And having stuff to do and keeping busy is probably good for me one way or another.

Besides...I'm almost out of tea.

Sunday, August 08, 2004


It rained last Friday night, but I'd like to think it added a nice touch to the general mood.

The lights were low, and Sinatra crooned as I uncorked a bottle of red wine, and poured a glass for someone special.


I've been saving that bottle since Christmas (thanks again, Jo) and that evening, I found a nice excuse to...ah...unsave it. It had been a rough week (shit...It's been a rough year, actually) and surviving it seems reason enough to celebrate.

It didn't matter if I wasn't in some fancy restaurant playing footsie with a date in a little black dress. It didn't matter if I was alone in my study, coloring a drawing on my pc between sips of wine and nibbles of cheese.

That night, as I pretended to conduct a classy big band from another time and place while in my shirt and boxers, my problems washed away with the rain.

And I was simply, completely glad to be alive.

Sunday, August 01, 2004


After almost a week of drab, rainy afternoons and evenings, I got to see a great sunset while waiting for the bus yesterday.
From the zenith downwards, the sky was an expanse of pale blues and grays. Then, just above the horizon, a kiss of pinks and purples, immediately followed by a glorious, golden burst that...


Did you actually think that this blog is called 'duskwatcher' just because I was trying to be cute?


Decided to come up with this two-part entry because some of you nice folks out there had asked about the origins of duskwatcher.

Aside from my susceptibility to being dazzled by sunsets (still trying to figure out if I ended up loving sunsets because my room faced the west or if it's the other way around), Duskwatcher is also the name of a character - a griffin - of mine from a few years ago.

This is one of the (unfinished) stories I've written about him, set in my version of a sword and sorcery type of fantasy world:

Except for a stone obelisk, the approach to the Defile of Rudram remained as Duskwatcher remembered it.

The griffin mused that the Defile had always looked lovely, as it did now, during autumn. It was this time of the year when the long, emerald valley that curved between the Peaks of Threthada transformed into a river of yellows and crimsons and coppers. And it was this time of the day, with the evensong (or owl's light as the humans call it) fast approaching, when the valley was at its loveliest.

Duskwatcher padded over fragrant grass streaked with shafts of late-afternoon light and the lengthened shadows, towards the obelisk. The griffin came to a halt before the sun-drenched monument, and sat on his haunches.

In the slanted light of the setting sun, the griffin's white aquiline head took on the hue of gold while his yellow beak and his yellow eyes looked golder still. As the feathers on his head gave way completely to feline fur past Duskwatcher's neck, so did the gold give way to a striking bronze on his normally tawny lion's body. The sleek, brown outer feathers of his wings - which were folded neatly against his body so that the white feathers underneath did not show - had streaks of ocher light.

As he sat on the warm grass and basked in the sun, Duskwatcher regarded the monument.

The obelisk was about a man's height. Being larger than a draft horse, Duskwatcher had to crouch slightly to see what was inscribed on it. The words chiseled in stone seemed starker in the gilded light.

Written in the Common Tongue, it proclaimed:

On the Twenty and Second Year in the Reign of

Lagrim the Fourth,

this Memorial is raised to those who offered their lives

for the Greater Glory of the Kingdom of Ledlowe.

"Kretch!" Duskwatcher's leonine tail swished in irritation almost the same time that he cussed aloud in High Gryphon. For the greater glory of Ledlowe indeed, the griffin went on in his head. What a stinking cartload of unicorn shit!

Leave it to someone like that arrogant fool Lagrim to give history a tweak that made what was nearly a massacre sound like a military triumph. Lagrim was merely lucky that a contingent of the Paladins of Ar'thar (with Duskwatcher, then an Honorary Novice and the only non-human, among the ranks) had been in Ledlowe's eastern limits, patrolling the area for marauding trolls and wandering mimes. Without the intervention of the independent knightly order, the army of the neighboring Baronies of Calreigh would have poured through the Defile. Ledlowe would have been another territory owned by Calreigh's powerful Leauge of Barons. And Lagrim would have been as dead as the last Calreigh monarch when the Barons took over.

Yet the Paladins had intervened. And the order paid the price with blood.

Duskwatcher sighed. His annoyance at the king's vanity slowly ebbed away to leave a dull sadness that seemed out of place in this valley of such breath-taking beauty.

All of a sudden, he had the urge to fly off to Black Abbey. He could use a tankard of the monks' miraculous ale. It was not really a sacred, magical sort of ale - Duskwatcher merely thought it was a miracle that the brew did not taste like garlic. The monks grew garlic by the acres. The pungent bulb was the Abbey's chief source of income. And, as Abbot Mateus would always say with a knowing wink, garlic kept the environs of the Abbey free from vampyres.

By wing, Black Abbey was about an hour south of the Defile. He would get there way after vespers and the frugal supper (particularly for a griffin - a creature made up of two carnivores) of thin garlic soup and flat garlic bread that the monks always had. Just in time for some ale with Mateus, thought Duskwatcher. He missed the friendly arguments on history with the hearty old monk.

The griffin realized that he had been staring blankly at the obelisk for quite some time and the words on it had turned into meaningless scratchings on stone. He turned away from Lagrim's monument to gaze at the valley where many of his contingent, senior Paladins and lowly Novices alike, had fallen in the defense of the pass.

Duskwatcher closed his yellow eyes and recalled the lines from the Remembrance, which was spoken before the funeral pyres (griffins believed that cremation was the only acceptable manner for creatures part lion and part eagle to be sent off into the afterlife: as they are consumed by flame, they return to the earth and, at the very same moment, rise up to the heavens) of his former Clan members. The Remembrance was a griffin eulogy, but it was the best way he could honor the memory of humans he considered his brothers.

The griffin then opened his eyes. He got up on all fours, and with a voice that rang clear in the crisp autumn air, addressed the gilded valley:

"Though we can no longer look upon you, we shall see you in our dreams.

Though we can no longer hear you, we shall listen for your voice in our thoughts.

Though we can no longer talk to you, we shall speak to you with our souls.

Though we can no longer touch you, we shall feel you in our hearts.

So shall you remain, honored and alive, as we continue to live of this world.

Until the day when we all shall meet once more,

To fly wing to wing and heart to heart in endless skies."

Duskwatcher lowered his head and gracefully spread his wings wide in the elegant griffin bow reserved only for those who deserved the greatest respect.

Then, with a leap and a mighty clap of wings, the griffin launched himself from the ground. In a few moments, Duskwatcher was high above and on his way south, swiftly leaving the Defile to its ghosts and the coming twilight.

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