Secret of the Sun

There is nothing surprising about the sun.
It comes, brightens this dark side of the earth,
and leaves, just as it has for a million years.
And while it still burns even when it is night,
and while it goes on to unlock the beauty
of a flower, like a million others I was blind
to its total simplicity and predictability.
After all, our lives revolve around it, so do
thousands of creatures fleshed out of this earth,
all circling the sun as one colossal organism.
Six months ago, I have decided to awaken
at the electric blue of dawn, wrap a blanket
around myself, put my slippers on, and walk up
a long staircase to the rooftop, where the sun
would slowly rise as a circle of naked radiance.
Some days it hides behind smog, clouds, rain;
Other days from across the sea or mountaintop
its steady warmth tears through fog and haze,
and draws peels of mist from the skin of trees.
Wherever I am, the sun gives without question,
births an infinite wondrous things, and destroys
as easily with the flare of its tongue. And while
I have seen the sun a hundred times and
marveled at the shades and shadows it stirred,
it is only at this hour that the sun gazes back
at these eyes whose pits lead to vacant interiors.
Day by day, the sun comes to shine through
and illumine the dark, unreachable chasm within:
that claw of guilt, that blow of shame, that lust,
that perpetual replay of persecution and burning.
One by one, the phantoms dissolve and disappear,
and in their place a lightness of being sets in.
And when I forget to get up at dawn, the sun
in its utter stubbornness and radial affection
continues to rise in the drowsy eye of my dream:
a perfect hole of light, pure and silent, coming
ablaze in the clear sky of my consciousness.

// Jul 2017

Vegan Kilawin

Tastiest raw vegan dish I've ever had. (Thank you, Michael!) Wild fruits and veggies in coconut milk and fresh chillies and ginger. Been transitioning to veganism since March 2016! There were MANY pitfalls but I clawed my way out every time. Oh lord, I hate meat now. Just the smell makes me retch.

// Jun 2017

A Bird Among Birds

What with the rain starting to soak everything, I'm acclimatizing myself again to living indoors. Acclimatizing to less wind and daylight, to the tiled or cemented floor, to walls and enclosed spaces, and to moving around hand-made furniture. Actually, I've been showering in the rain this morning before locking myself up in the house. Now that I think about it, staying indoors feels remote, alien, and even unnatural. Since I came back to El Nido from Coron, I've been living in a treescape with a killer bay view and been sleeping in a tent. The site sits on a hilltop bird sanctuary, where the door of my tent faces a sweeping view of the sea, the sunrise, and the moonrise. Other than waking up to the glowing sky, I'd wake up to the riotous sound of the forest, where more than a hundred species of birds live, play, and thrive. Today is the fourth day of rain, and sadly I have to relocate in the house. I have moved to sleeping in the balcony, where the owner of the place, Mike, used to sleep in. I invaded his favorite spot. It's mine now, my own little quiet and comfy space. Mike moved to the treehouse.

It's funny that I've already pictured this when I thought about moving to Palawan: that I will be living in a coastal village, and specifically, on the second floor balcony of a house, facing the sea and the sunrise. Then again, maybe it was a vision of a future, one year ahead in time. The things I pictured in my mindspace about a year ago came true. Ha. And not only did they come true, they're even better than that. Just living in a sanctuary in the shade of many trees, within an earshot to strange birds, and being 10 minutes away to the beach, just these little things make me feel really gewd. This hilltop campsite is my little Eden, my first real outdoor home. I have yet to document the hundreds of birds that live here, or fly here in passing to fertilize the soil. So far, the pretentious aviary expert in me is not familiar with all of them except for the Philippine eagle. With wings stretching longer than human arms spread wide open, the Philippine eagle would soar around the campsite in the morning as if protecting its young and scouting the forest for wild chickens or large mountain rats. After sighting the varieties of birds here, my favorite so far is colored bright aquablue. I've yet to know its name. All I know is when it flies, it flies as if it's clothed with the sea. A flying pocket of ocean.

Even when I was packing up the tent, I had to clean up its rain cover because it was painted with an artwork of bird droppings. White, cream, green, brown, black, the droppings came in a variety of hardened slingshots from the sky. I may have spent a whole afternoon wiping that shit. The owner of the campsite is a professional agriculturist, an ecclectic guy who knows everything about Palawan's local and endemic trees, fruits, plants, and flowers, and is at the same time a great cook, barman, and a drunk. Up here in the campsite, he's cleared the ground of weeds, only to retain the cashew trees, whose cashew apples serve as delectable breakfast to birds. He's also planted several other flowering and fruit-bearing trees to serve as buffet tables to year-round, migratory, and seasonal birds. Other curious residents of the campsite include a rooster, a lone skunk, and different species of squirrels, lizards, bees, butterflies, moths, termites, and ants. To date, we've cleared up some land where we'd soon plant organic brown rice and different sorts of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. We've long been waiting for the rain, and now that its season has arrived, I'll be changing my daily habits all over again.

Showering in the rain isn't so rare here, what with the lack of fresh water on site. Maybe we are nature-worshipping hippies like that, but the truth is, the communal water source is located about 15 minutes away, across the highway and the rice paddies. The rice paddies are like a maze; if you don't know the route, you'd encounter narrow trails broken away by waist-deep mud and then you'd have to retrace your steps to find a different route. I learned this the hard way: when I was feeling a bit adventurous the other day I risked taking a different route and ended up getting stuck in this rice fields out in the post-noon burn of the sun. The longer route, which takes about 20 to 30 minutes by foot and 10 minutes by motorcycle, that's where we ply on wheels to get water for the toilet and kitchen. (Fortunately, we have a toilet in the campsite!) We're drilling a deep well this year and hopefully I get to see this before I leave for Nepal. In the meantime, the daily skyshower is enough to rub the dirt off our skin.


Mike's rules in the campsite. He's a hippie and does not know it.


The tent where I used to sleep in, now birdshit-free.


Alejo, trying to be sober.


Our neighboring gecko.


The beach is just a few minutes away. This one was taken during sunrise.


Seascape from my new home.


My minimalist outdoor workspace.

// May 2017

I Wake Up Tentacular

In Coron, the weather is steadily feral and unaccommodating. Besides Mt. Tapyas, every ideal pretty place to hang out in and contemplate the apocalypse, every pretty place is a boat ride away. I've been renting a room at the foot of the mountain. Every morning, I go on a pilgrimage to hike, anticipate the sunrise, and draw the skyburn inside my eyes. To purge every molecule of shitty vibe absorbed from the day before. So I am clean for the day ahead. Then again, this is my own little religion, my everyday ritual, patterned after my sketchy vision of nature. I sweat out into poses later and climb a strangler tree to read a book, before heading back home for shower and writing work. Or I visit my favorite bar, talk to artists and musicians, and pretend to be interesting.

Every morning, I go on a pilgrimage to hike, anticipate the sunrise, and draw the skyburn inside my eyes.

So far, I've been around El Nido and Coron. I guess my only favorite spot is eastern El Nido during Amihan season. Other than that, the heat reigns supreme. I'm darkly sunbaked from staying outdoors too long I can pass off as a tree. I am a tree. Currently in a relationship with a tree. The strangler tree, or balete tree, I climb it almost everyday. I talk to it, and it me. I love touching its heavy trunk, its sinuous, crawly branches, and cooling myself in the shade of its green leaves, cracked with soft sun. Giant red ants and pointy-beaked black birds live there too. And together we make up a small ecosystem of transient animals feeding off the tree's sacred spaces.

By Tuesday, I'm having my sidebelly inked with a huge octopus tattoo. In a recurring dream I wake up an animal. I wake up a ghastly octopus, gravitating in a dark and heavy, cold place. Deaf and blind, I grasp the world merely by tentacular feeling. My choice of weapon is black ink, my only mode of expression, drawn from the ancient juice of the ocean. Maybe the octopus is my personal inner beast. If I were born an animal, I must be tentacular.

Maybe the octopus is my personal inner beast. If I were born an animal, I must be tentacular.

I met an artist in town, who is similarly a nomad. He said the best place he's ever lived in the country is in Sagada. Ideal. Maybe I will move there soon. In the meantime my quest of a writing sanctuary (and home) continues.

// Apr 2017

Hello there, Coron


I may be slowly turning into a sunworshipper. Eek.
Awesome spot to practice kriyas daily.

// Apr 2017

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