detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Friday, March 16, 2001

: . a personal vignette in lieu of an about page:

I’m easy to spot in any classroom, library, or some other academic place. I’m the one with the bookbag so overloaded I look like I’m about to topple over. (That and my tendency to speedwalk, from space I probably appear like a humped biped chased like prey). There’s no need for the books, office supplies, the picnicker’s complete lunch, the camper’s survival gear, and the knife...just in case. The weight of it all, all these years, must have curved my spine irreparably. So much baggage. But there’s good reason for this. Years ago in Manila, on my way home from school, I got off a jeepney stalled in a traffic jam without alerting the driver. No para!, no dito na lang po. I just got off my seat and with my back bent, my big bookbag brushing across the jeepney’s luridly handpainted ceiling, absentmindedly headed out. My mind must have been crammed with too many thoughts or muddled by too many recollections or numbed by a song, probably a Tagalog power ballad, playing non-stop. Too many things all at once. What happened? Traffic un-jammed, the jeepney lurched forward and I fell on my back on the hot asphalt road. Horns honked, fellow passengers gasped, the driver cursed but I rose without any injuries. No broken back, no skull fractures not even the briefest spell of unconsciousness. I fell cushioned by the pack on my back and I stood up unscathed. Hurumphing a final putangina! the driver stepped on the gas and the jeepney speeded past. For a second the record playing in my mind (very likely Sharon Cuneta’s Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas) skipped and I must have mumbled some prayer of thanks. But, as Oprah would say, I know this much to be true: this was no literary denouement that in memory pulses with deep things. Very simply: There is safety in sameness but sometimes we are spared from the gravest harm by our very difference. Very simply: My baggage saved my life.

: . Which reminds me:

is my mother tongue
A mother tongue is not
not a foreign lan lan lang
--a foreign anguish.

--Marlene Philip

: . Resil Mojares in House of Memory: Such is the volatility of souls that a core-concept in Malay (and Philippine) animism is the distinction between free and bounded souls. The thesis is that matter or category tends to anchor essence progressively such that each category has its corresponding ‘soul’. On the other hand, essence tends to break through the categorical boundaries to coalesce and form free spirit (or ‘Soul’), a notion parallel to the Christian’s yearning for self-extinction and union with God. In Malay animism, a tightly bound soul (rested comfortably in the body housing it) implies health, neutrality, and profane-ness. A free soul implies un-health, activity, danger, and sacred-ness…Perhaps we have something to learn from the primitives concerning that constant subversion of complacency, that experience of utter peril, of fear and trembling, which is the quest for the sacred.

: . Did I ever write this? Did I know what I was thinking when I wrote this? Then why is he quoting me? He really should be quoting Dan. At least Dan took a class with Derrida.

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