A poem for you

i used to think

that love always

manifests itself

in grand gestures

but i know better now

love screams louder

in the silence

of a gentle massage

on a beloved’s weary back

and shouts i love you

through this poem

solely written for you

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I fucking want to live

I don’t know about other people, but every time I come home after at least 10 hours of work every weekday, I can’t help but ask myself: “What the fuck am I doing?”

Really, what the fuck am I doing? Where did my day go? What have I truly accomplished? Meetings here and there, blasting emails one after another. A day sucked into a black hole. Tired when all I did was sit. Exhausted when all I did was drift into currents of calls and text updates and “urgent” requests… and at the end of the day, meaningless work.

Truth is, ever since my promotion last year as head of engineering, my life has been utterly miserable. True, there’s prestige that comes with being the youngest head in the company at age 27. True, there’s pride in being entrusted with such a huge responsibility. True, there’s a vestige of fulfillment in leading a team of engineers and accomplishing things of value for the company.

But at what cost? At the expense of what? A balanced life. My fucking life.

Indeed, at the end of every workday, I feel a deep sense of exhaustion and an acute pang of guilt. I feel guilty because I know I have done my best to exercise strong decision-making and apply sound strategies and deliver quality work, and yet I feel like I’m barely accomplishing something. There’s just so much work to do and no matter what I do, work just keeps on piling up. There’s always an urgent analysis to prepare, another urgent presentation to present, a more urgent meeting to attend, a super urgent issue to fix. Everything seems urgent and critical and important. And so I attend to all these things, as soon as I can, the best I can. But like gremlins, the more I wet my hands on accomplishing things, the more they keep on multiplying!

Maybe I’m not productive enough. Maybe I don’t know how to manage my time. Maybe there’s something wrong with my approach. And maybe, maybe there’s something wrong with me. Am I not good enough? Not competent enough?

And so I researched. Tried to read everything about productivity and how to hack it. Read and absorbed everything about increasing my work performance. Learned that it’s actually about managing one’s energy, not time. Learned how to delegate. Learned how to say No. Downloaded productivity apps. Applied what I learned. Aimed to get things done. Failed miserably.

What if there’s really nothing wrong with me? What if this is really about being in a work environment that doesn’t put a premium on work-life sustainability? What if the system, the corporate culture, is broken and rotten that the employees are overworked and exploited to the point of anxiety and unhealthy lifestyle? What if this is a much-needed wake-up call to get out of this corporate sinkhole? What if the only way to live the life I wanted is to have the courage to leave the stability and security of my current job and muster the grit to explore the horizon? A ship in a harbor is safe, but then, that is not what ships are built for. Am I a ship in this awful harbor?

My greatest fear is to wake up one day only to realize that life has passed me by and I’m already on my deathbed. My greatest fear is simply to exist and take up space and consume oxygen and eat and shit and live such a boring life that even worms wouldn’t devour my flesh when I die. My greatest fear is not death but to have not lived.

My boss told me that with my exceptional performance and dedication, a few years from now I’ll be promoted again and rise up the corporate ladder and be successful. My future is secure and stable as long as I keep on excelling. And in my mind, I was thinking, hell no. There’s no way I’ll keep being a corporate slave and there’s no way I’m gonna keep being like this: waking up at 6AM and rushing to the office and sitting in meetings and replying to emails and giving tasks to underlings and kissing asses and slaving ’til late in the evening and going home feeling like accomplishing nothing and then doing the same things over and over and over again. And to what end? What madness!

Would it be better if I’m just stupid? Would it be easier if I could just go with the flow? Would I not be miserable had I accepted this fate, this life? Would it be a comfort to think that there’s nothing more I can do because all choices have been pre-paid and pre-destined?

Is it so wrong to want to truly live? Is it wrong to want more out of this drudgery? Can’t you see? Every ticking of the clock is a tick closer to our last breath. And here we are, slaving ourselves with work, sedating ourselves with stupid TV shows and watching porn and buying useless stuff just because they’re “in” and spamming each other with ‘likes’ and faking intimacy online and infecting each other with our own insecurities and chasing after the wind. Is this what living has boiled down to?

I can’t take this shit anymore! I fucking want to live.

Upos

Sana ako yung tipo ng anak
Na kayang ibigay ang lahat
Ng walang alinlangan
Ng hindi nahihirapan
O kaya’y nasasaktan
Pero hindi eh
Napapagod din po ako
Nauubos din po ako
At sana sa bawat patak ng luha
Na dumadaloy sa mukha ko
Habang sinusulat ito
Sana’y umulan ng kapatawaran
Dahil sa aking nararamdaman
Pagod na pagod na po ako
Ubos na ubos na po ako
Patawad

Little things

In the grand scale of things
It’s the little things
That I appreciate the most

Like how you sneakily put on my phone Calendar
A 3-PM alert that says “Hello! I love you”
Or how you just randomly text me “I miss you”
And how that one time I got upset and told you to buy me cake
And you indeed bought me a cheesecake
Or how you asked me about my favorite color
Just because you wanted to know me more.

Like how you wait for me to get off work until late in the evening
So we can speak repeatedly about things all the same
Such as — how our day has been, how quotidian, how boring
Yet we don’t ever get tired listening, don’t we?
Because it’s not really just about recounting how our day has been
But more importantly about just spending time with this person
Who brings life and color and meaning in the mundane.

Like how you open yourself up and risk being vulnerable
And how you tear down your walls so I can enter your hall
Like how you tell me things you’re initially uncomfortable
And how you’re always there to answer whenever I call
Like how you say “Babe” with all the sweetness in the world
And how we talk about having genius kids and growing old
Like how you make me believe that love conquers all.

In the grand scale of things
It’s the little things
That means everything.

Round in circles

I’ve been here before. Felt like this before. This yearning, this thirst. To know you more. To taste your lips. To get inside your head.

I’ve been here before. Felt like this before. To yearn for someone I barely know. To dream of someone I haven’t yet seen. To feel blood rushing deep under my skin.

I’ve been here before. Felt like this before. To be terrified of what I feel. To foresee the ending even as things are just about to set in. To die as life begins.

To my siblings

It’s not because I love you unconditionally. Indeed, far from it. And it’s not because I’m selfless. No, that would be a lie.

I did what I did, and I’m doing what I’m doing — awkwardly filling in the role of a father and breadwinner of our family for the past eight years or so since our parents separated — because I have to, because that’s what being the eldest sibling means, because I had no other choice.

But that too would be a lie.

Of course, I had a choice. I could have chosen to rebel and wasted my life away. I could have slacked off, made our parents’ separation and financial woes an excuse to retreat to a life of self-pity and misery.

But I didn’t.

I studied hard to maintain my academic scholarships, worked part-time to augment my income so I can support our family, and eventually graduated and got a relatively well-paying job. And all that because my anger to our situation and especially to our father fueled my intense desire to prove him wrong about leaving us. What better way to get back at him than to make him see us succeed in life without him.

Whenever I’d feel exhausted and hopeless, I’d hold on to my anger more fiercely as if it is the very source of my sustenance. My anger became the guiding light to my darkest days, the manna from heaven when I wandered in the wilderness.

What I did not notice was that as time passed by, as the three of you continued to perform excellently in your studies and mature into the kind of wonderful persons you are now, the lesser the flames of anger burned. The more we spend time together and the more we open up to each other’s lives, the lesser I felt the need to prove our father wrong.

Only now do I realize that I no longer look forward to getting even with our father. Only now do I see that the responsibility of supporting your studies and leading our family no longer became something I must continue to resent.

If I have loved you this much, if I have proven again and again how much of myself I’m willing to give for the three of you, it is only because you have reciprocated that love a thousand times more. If I have given up an awful lot for the three of you, it is only because you’ve consistently proven yourselves worthy of the things I’ve given up.

You make my life more fun and meaningful, and for that I am grateful.