You Learn by Jorge Luis Borges

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn
With every good-bye you learn



DAY ONE | May 19, 2014

The preparations for the workshop itself is a story on its own. But in reality, I just wanted to kill time. I didn’t expect that I was plunging into a whole week of “firsts” and immersing into the marvels of Italian culture (c/o Politecnico di Milano) right at the comfort of our own university.


Spot the #SexyKulot. (c) Valentina Colonessi

DAY TWO | May 20, 2014

The second day comprised mostly of walking tours around the areas of Intramuros, Quiapo and Binondo. It would be an understatement to say that it was tantamount to torture but the funny antics along the way made the whole trip worth it. We found comic relief in bullying Boris (the only UST delegate), in estimating Dr. Jose Rizal’s pace factor through the copper sheets which supposedly mimicked his last foot steps, in watching Kuya Fab’s soulful karaoke performances inside the bus, and in listening to each others’ cultural anecdotes.

While we were resting, Kuya Caloy was itching to have his picture taken with Stefano who resembled the SAS player Manu Ginobili. I may be wrong with my conjecture but I think the Italians also recognized the inside joke since he offered Kuya Caloy an autograph after the shot.


Since when was Manu traded to OKC?! Lels. (c) Nino Ricardo

After the Fort Santiago death march, we tried to visit the San Agustin Church which was closed at that time. They settled for a nearby museum instead but the other Filipino delegates also bailed out on the museum to take the opportunity to rest and to prepare ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally for the subsequent sumptuous meal.


Say “chicken!”(c) Caloy Borromeo

DAY THREE AND FOUR | May 21-22, 2014

While we were discussing our schematic plans for Pasig River’s rehabilitation, one of our group mates mentioned that she wrote an entry for her blog which tackled the idea of creating an underground chamber for the storm water spillover. However, her friends from engineering reacted negatively and pointed that such a mechanism would be rendered useless by the fact that the Pasig River was connected to a large body of water which will only expand the river’s width but will not directly address the problems in flooding.

I found her blog, by the way. I don’t know why I’m even surprised but it was, of course, written in Dutch. I can’t really rely on online search engine translations. Bing, for instrance, translated Sir De Chavez’s “in bocca il lupo a tutti per le presentazioni oggi” into “in mouth to the wolf to all the presentations today” when all it meant was good luck. The translation mishap gave me a good laugh, though, so it can’t be that bad.

The next two days were mostly work and little play. But it’s during work when you get to develop this deeper understanding of a person’s work ethics and disposition. I was also able to put my video editing hobby to good use by volunteering to make prepare the two project videos, even if it entailed two sleep-depraved summer nights.

DAY FIVE | May 23, 2014

The final stretch of work (read: cramming) was on the fifth day. It was followed by the presentation of all the output from the workshop. The pleasantries were punctuated by Marco Grassi’s AV Presentation which collated pictures taken throughout the week. He even used Kanlungan as the background music and truth be said, it was a little tear-jerking. After which, Sir Orbon invited us to a post-workshop celebration.

But before leading us to the socials, Dean Espina apologized for the cramped room and said, “the tighter, the better!” Sir Joson, who was beside me (huehue), grinned and shouted, “YES, YES!”

It was all blurry speeches, inebriated songs and beautiful goodbyes, after.

UPCAxPDM Song Number

Nailing a Guns N Roses song to cap off the night. (c) Ibay Sicam


I’m not really the type who usually documents every activity I have. But I feel kind of obligated to post about the Workshop on Contemporary Cities and Urban Regeneration held recently. Still, I left out several major details of the experience. After all, different memories have their corresponding way of immortalization. Some are meant to be written, some are meant to be captured, while the others are meant to be silently appreciated.

Introspectively though, I want this post to serve as a reminder of the memories made during those five short but meaningful days, of the endless possibilities this world has to offer, and of my dreams to broaden my cultural perspective by travelling. Indeed, limitations are merely personal contructs of the abstracted manifestations of our fears. Humanity is too awesome to let such a trivial detail ruin visionary ideas and their inevitable materialization.

Mario Work It

“So, let’s WORK IT”, says this gorgeous Italian plumber.

Phone-In Question

We were having this Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Seminar when the Arjay Mercado mentioned that for HIV to be transferred through saliva, we would have to drink (for the lack of a better term) buckets of it before acquiring the said virus.

To wit, the speaker added, “matindi-tinding MOMOL ang kailangan nun.”

As expected, the crowd roared in laughter. However, my seatmate stayed silent, a bit dumbfounded by the situation. When the boisterous hysterics has subsided, she sheepishly asked me in her usual conyo accent, “what’s MOMOL?”

The question is fucking golden. When you’re so used to having people around you (including yours truly) add malicious shit to almost anything and everything, stolen moments such as this one is like a breath of fresh air. To be honest, it’s actually pretty sweet that she still has this tinge of innocence, considering that she already has a boyfriend at her tender age of seventeen.

Nevertheless, she reminds me of the 15th Rule of the Internet by the Urban Dictionary: the more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt it.

Morning Musings on Resilience

Life has a funny way of making a fool out of us all. The choices we deemed appropriate now may take that inescapable sharp turn to the other side and consequently flip our psyches around later on. Other decisions which seem gut – wrenching at first may eventually become the most explosive cinematic reveal ever. So no matter how much (or how little) control we claim to have over our judgements, there’s no way we could instantaneously distinguish their righteousness or truth value.

You see, we have this unwritten power of turning worst resolutions into the best plot twists in existence. Unfortunately, other people don’t realize this because their hormones are making it harder for them to think straight, or maybe life is on this dragged out PMS that causes it to behave like an even nastier bitch than before.

My point is that we coax ourselves into perpetually believing this childish notion that times stops at every road bump we encounter. But it doesn’t.

So you flunked a subject. Look back and take mental notes on the points you got wrong. We’re you too busy ogling your professor? Or do you, perhaps, need to lay low on your use of deceiving social networking sites? So the love of your life broke up with you. Cry but don’t drown in your own tears. Better yourself for the right reasons; not out of spite or revenge but out of your personal resolve to grow into your ideal self.

After exerting this perceivable effort to make amends only do we have the right to romanticize and say with moist eyes that bad things had to happen. Only then will we realize that the events weren’t random at all because we chose to not be mere passive audiences in our own lives. Only then will we appreciate the multi – faceted aspect of our daily encounters; that events other than those affiliated with love and romance could also make us feel larger than life.

On Guilt and Promiscuity

I have attempted to watch Diary of a Nymphomaniac for about twice now but it was only yesterday when I finally mustered enough courage (albeit maturity) to finish the film. Throughout Val’s occasional soliloquy on her musings about her own promiscuity, Sir Neil Santillan’s unanticipated lecture on Gender and Sexuality kept resonating at the back of my head.

Our professor was giving a brief overview of the ancient Indian civilization when the discussion veered towards the Kama Sutra. A bibliophilic classmate of mine debunked the misconception that the Kama Sutra is nothing but a sexual guide for the public. It was, in fact, more of a hygienic manual rather than a mere piece of erotic literature. This brought the inappropriately suggestive movie counterpart of the book into question. However, the part of the debate that left an indelible mark on me was when Sir Neil probed on the apparent guilt of women in terms of virginity, or lack thereof.

In our conservative culture, virginity is an overused social construct utilized for judging women’s worth. With this bias, we are preconditioned to think that if we engage in premarital sex, we’d be ultimately stigmatized and considered as sinful and immoral. Conversely, if we chose to keep our virginities intact, we are bound to be placed on this esteemed pedestal of incorruptibility and high moral resolve. But in a devoutly Catholic setup, even the casual discourse about sex is taboo.

I dream of a time when people are measured by the yardstick of common sense, and not through some abstracted means of qualifying gender.