Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For The Taking

I am tall, tan, medium built with a nice flat tummy. I am 21 years old, I have a boyish appeal and although talent scouts will not buzz excitedly and scamper to capitalize on my looks, I’m tempted to add that I’m charming. This sometimes deposits me right into pleasantly scandalous situations. I’m smart, eloquent, refined and intelligent with an independent mind. You may now gather that I have an attitude. Or ego. Acquisitiveness is a fine virtue.

I ferociously believe I have talent but that sometimes-humorless thing called fate has been pointing its finger at me and looking down its nose on me for quite some time now, having decided that I must remain a useless tissue matter. With mirthless passion, I hereby state the obvious: I am a bum. I couldn’t figure myself into a more productive state and not for lack of trying.

I station my bum-hood in Cavite at my sister’s apartment, which she shares with her husband. My immediate concern is to move out and have my own pad. I’d like to live in the Makati area. Not that I remarkably enjoy breathing poison among other threats to my existence. Only that like most people, it’s more reasonable for me to think that bigger opportunities are in bigger, more urbanized cities. And when I’m finally settled in, I shall set up a command post from which I could hunt for jobs. I do notice that the process looks more realistic when reversed: Paycheck first before the bills. Here again is my knack to play with chance.

I am not being ambitious, at least not at this point. I don’t want a penthouse right away wherefrom I could survey the expanse I might later plan to conquer. I don’t want an entertainment system whose acoustics could blast you off to Mars. A studio-type unit will do so long as it has its own bathroom with walls that I could touch without feeling sick. Of course, I need a cozy bedroom. I’ll bring along my portable stereo and stack of pirated CDs, and then I could live for as long as I have clean clothes to wear. When I run out, I’d have to run back to Cavite. It would be presumptuous of me to think that I’ll have a washing machine as soon as I move out.

I am hoping for a spacious enough pad where I could put some divisions between the bedroom and the living room and the kitchen. It might turn out to accommodate a maximum of just three people at a time. Nevertheless, how I will afford it, I do not know. We live in a place where the reward for hard work is insultingly, outrageously, and despairingly meager. It was a constant wonder how slum people could buy washing machines, TV sets, VCD players, etc. Middle class people in the province don’t even have washing machines. And yet, slum people still have money to spare. They periodically play lotto and drink beer and buy cigarettes and play tong-its and all the while wailing about and passionately complaining regarding how expensive living costs and blaming it all on the government. Aside from realizing that they don’t pay for the land they built their shanties on, I was belatedly enlightened by a news program, that the honest members of the population are the ones who shoulder the electric bills of some squatter areas as their unscrupulous consumption remains unmetered (I use the adjective Honest comparatively). No wonder. But grudgingly, I’ll say I don’t blame the poor entirely. The power company is inefficient and the government snails its way in addressing the housing problem. I don’t have to say that I’m relegating the blame in fear of a homemade explosive and a rusted ice pick.

And then there are the migrants from provinces far away, hoping to find opportunities, as if by magic, in the metropolis. When their hopes get crushed, they say it’s the President’s fault. May I ask: Who decided to leave the province in the first place? These people are crazy blaming the consequences of their discontent on someone else, much like activists who know no other leisure except whining and wailing and causing traffic jam. They’re not helping any. If you don’t have a solution, shut the fcuk up. When you’re in the province, what you need is diskarte then you could eat talbos ng kamote and tuyo everyday without having to worry about steak or caviar. It’s healthy. And if you had even just a bit of land and an honest resolve, you cannot really go hungry. If you want more than that, decide to take the risk of migrating to the city but knock some sense into your head and face the challenge you so wanted to take, but were too fatalistic to comprehend.

I definitely plan to stay away from places where disgruntled migrants build boxes they call home. I’m sure discontent isn’t contagious but I’d rather play it safe. Then, for as long as I have my clothes and my music, I’d be fine. Talking about music, I used to listen only to R&B, disco, hip-hop and rap back in college. I went through college in a place where no one is allowed to listen to anything else. It was universal: Girl/Boy bands must be hated, clothing apparels must be imported, everyone must have a lighter skin tone. Everybody looked the same. Everybody smelled the same. Everybody felt cool. If I wasn’t listening to Eraserheads or Martin or Barry Manilow, it wasn’t because I had to be just as cool and hate everything local or old. I was deprived the embarrassment of being different since no store would sell a CD that couldn’t be patronized by everybody.

Cavite isn’t at all like that to a point where the most degraded form of vocalization may be worshipped. At least it’s a free country down here. There are people who formulate their own standard by which music is judged, just by looking at a singer’s face as if her eyes, nose, ears and mouth were shaped like note symbols arranged into a divine melody having the entire face as the G-clef (no offense to the long-chinned). And then there is this case where just because of her outstanding acting career, this artist’s album was awarded a platinum recognition. Her fans pay no respect about the distinction between Do and Re. Hell, everybody sings because our leaders sing specifically because of the ardent determination to be liked and get reelected.

I sing better. I wake up late and when there appears to be a concert inside my sister’s bedroom, you’d know I’m up. I love being challenged by high notes. In my relentless attempt to reach my third octave, I’m excitedly surprised that the mic is still working. When I grab the mic, you’d have to pray for reprieve. When I get my own place, I’m going to have it soundproofed. Don’t take this to mean that my voice is a torture to the ears. I’m now a sucker for ballads because I just realized that I could do good vocals. I’m annoyed that my friends invariably find this claim comical. Wait till I’m confident enough to exhibit myself onstage. I mean as a singer.

In the meantime, I’ll do my singing in my sister’s bedroom, bum around and eat. Chronic insomnia has again taken its grip on me. Now, before hitting the sheets at 4AM, whereupon I hibernate until the same time in the afternoon, I eat. Thank heavens I have good metabolism. My tummy is still flat unlike my male contemporaries who seem to grow mountainous over the midsection every year. Even so, I suspect that if you ran a scalpel over my wrist, a murky substance would gush forth: masticated rice. If you know of a job that fits someone with an overly healthy appetite, please approach me.

What else is there for me to do? I guess I’ll just point a finger back at fate. Not the index but the middle. I get jaded just thinking about life sometimes but I’m young. The world awaits me. I’ll move that damn mountain. For now, it’s in the form of my laundry.

I have what it takes to succeed. And hey, I’m a good citizen, okay? How can I still be jobless? I hear about evil people and con artists, hopelessly stupid people and unscrupulous politicians who are successful and filthy rich. I am more than commensurately enraged. Such knowledge in the face of my benign existence begets a more bitter appreciation. I’m not sure I’m complaining. Just angry, I guess. Life is unfair. I sing, eat and fantasize about my own place and a job for I wouldn’t wallow in an idealist’s agony knowing very well that in the first place, and I’ll say this over and over, nobody ever said that life is fair. Won’t waste time imagining that it is.
Originally written in May 2002 | taken from my Essay Portfolio


wanderingcommuter said...

nicely written. you were able to fabricate so many thoughts and issues in one writing, without me even noticing that you have already transisted to another topic.

good job!!!

xxxborgexxx said...

Hey, thanks! It's a testimony to how messed up my thoughts are. I would initially plan to write about something, then end up talking about a lot of other things. Hahaha.

Anonymous said...
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xxxborgexxx said...

I'll upload some parts of my portfolio when I can't think of anything else to write about. Or when I've got something to write about but am too lazy to actually write. Or type. There's something I wanna write about but I can't sit down and think then type at the moment. Perhaps tomorrow. Ang gulo ko. Hahaha. Friday na bukas!

xxxborgexxx said...

And yep, don't be surprised...

R-yo said...

wow! i wish i could write this much about myself. tameme ako compared sa eloquence mo, he he. now i know who should write my biography. :-)

Sexymoi said...

nalula ako... ang haba but interesting hehe... btw, thanks for dropping by.

Gigi said...

Your write VERY WELL! You paint the pictures with your words. You write like a writer from Esquire or GQ - kind of sarcastic yet straight to the point. Nice that I found your blog :)

xxxborgexxx said...

@R-yo : thanks for dropping by, and thanks for a generous compliment.

@Sexymoi : wag malula, madami naman ako maiiiksing write-ups. this is from 7yrs ago nong wala pa'ko ibang magawa sa buhay kundi magsulat. at magyosi. at makipag-inuman. hehe.

@Gigi : thanks for appreciating my writing that way. i used to write for an international publication but i quit. even as a member of the editorial staff, i couldn't pay the rent. hahaha. now, 7yrs later, i'm earning a bit but with the stress i'm buried under, i can't really say that i didn't like 2002.