Friday, October 31, 2003

why i did not die at age 14

i wrote this several years ago. my parents came across a copy and i think they felt bad. but i couldn't take it back anymore. anyways, here it is, since i'm on the subject of deaths in the family anyway.


I was supposed to die at the age of 14. 14 years and 6 months, to be exact. Since it is the year 2001, and here I am writing about it, apparently I did not die. No, I was not to be executed, nor was I ill with some life threatening disease. I simply concluded that I was going to die on that day. Why? Because my brother died at 14.

My brother’s name was Joselito. He was a full 12 years older than I am and for as long as I could remember I have heard people remarking on how uncanny the resemblance between us is. The same eyes, the same nose, the same lips…. Perhaps the only real difference was that he was male and I, female. I think we even had the same texture hair. As I grew older the resemblance became more pronounced. People started calling me “Joselita.” It didn’t bother me, of course. My brother was absolutely gorgeous.

When my brother died at age 14, people began to look at me as if I were a living testament to my brother. The remarks on our resemblance were still there, tailgated by “sayang…” Still, it didn’t bother me.

It didn’t bother me but it affected me greatly. Just how much I did not know until I turned 14.

See, my brother died 14 years and 6 months to the day of his birth. April 30, 1963. He died on October 30, 1977. Now why am I talking about the day he died? For the reason that I always thought that because I was so much like him, I would die in the same manner and under the same circumstances. I never really found out what he died of. I still don’t know and I don’t think it matters anymore. “Cardiac arrest” without the underlying causes is sufficient. All I knew was that I would die 14 years and 6 months to the day of my birth. Um… that would be January 14, 1989.

The fact that I didn’t know how my brother died didn’t matter one bit. I knew I was going to die. It didn’t matter how. I was just going to. It was a foregone conclusion. After all, I was my brother’s sister, his replica. Didn’t people keep reminding me? Of course I was going to share the same fate.

So imagine my disappointment when January 14 came and went without incident. Midnight came and there I was. Alive. Painfully alive.

Painfully? One would have thought I’d be oh-so-happy to be alive the next day. But I wasn’t. Insecurity set in. I was no stranger to the saying that “only the good die young.” Therefore I was going to die young. My brother died young. I was like him. I looked like him. Therefore I was going to die young. To my young mind it was the most logical thing in the world. So if I did not die, then the inevitable conclusion (again, to my confused mind) was that I was not good enough to die young. Fairly twisted? Maybe. But at the time that was the direction that my thoughts were following.

Questions plagued me. What did I do wrong? What did he do right for the Big Guy up there to want him for company so early? Maybe I was bad. Was I bad? What made me bad? And so on, and so forth. Questions I could not answer.

Life went on, however. And as I grew older, bits and pieces came together and I was able to make some sense of what I thought had happened or did not happen. There were still no answers to the questions I had asked at age 14. I just realized that I was asking the wrong questions. Actually I had come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t have been asking questions at all. Or perhaps one question was worth asking. Why didn’t I die at age 14? And the answer came with such enlightenment that I was surprised there were no sunbeams and singing angels.

I did not die at age 14 because I was not my brother. Nor was I a mere shadow of what or who he was. I am not Joselito, not Joselita. I was Tina B. (I still am.) A person in my own right, with a different path to follow, a different life to lead. I was who I am, not who people thought I looked like or who people thought I was like, or who they thought I should be.

I knew my brother was a great guy. Everyone said so. And what little memory I had of him corroborated those statements. But then, with all due respect to all who remarked that I was so much like my brother, I think they should have kept the comments to a bare minimum, if not kept them completely to themselves. At such an impressionable young age (since age 2) I was under the impression that because I looked so much like my brother, I was here to take my brother’s place (for a while at least) or to serve as a monument to his memory.

I am sure, with the growing wisdom of years, that they never intended for me to start thinking that way. After all, how were they to know that I was probably turning out to be a precocious child (read: weird) and would take their comments to heart? But intentions aside, and I know I am not alone in this, I think people should be careful with comments they make to and around children. It affects their lives greatly, for good or ill and for the latter, sometimes the effects only become apparent when it might be too late to rectify whatever damage has been done.

It took me years but eventually, I got over the notion that I was not good enough to die young like my brother. That I was meant to be his replacement. He was meant for other things, and so am I. What things? I’ve yet to find out. As a friend recently pointed out, I am still young.

So here I am. Ages older, wiser and awful glad that I did not die at age 14.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

the 30th of october

today marks the 26th death anniversary of my brother lito. he was 14 when he died.

it's strange how when a member of the family dies, their death anniversary is the one date we remember, and not the birthday. i guess it's logical, since we remember birthdays when people are alive. still... i think we should still commemorate the birthday more than the death, so we celebrate how they were in life, and not how they died, and certainly not the aftermath of their deaths.

recently a very good friend's brother died. i had met him less than 5 times in all the years i've known the family. i suppose it would be safe to say that i did not really know him. but when he died i felt a pang of sadness, and pain. i realized that if the death of someone i had not really known, and who i knew only because i was close friends with his sister, could cause me to feel that pain, how much pain is his family going through?

i cannot imagine how painful it is. when my brother died i was all of two years old, and i did not even know he was dead. he was just a memory to me. a fading one at that. i do not remember feeling pain. and i can only surmise how shattered my family felt then, and how my friend and her family is feeling now.

26 years is practically half a lifetime. kuya lito's death has marked us, to what extent, i'm not really sure. but i'm sure 26 years from now we will still remember the 30th of october.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


last night my sister bought tiny bangus (banguses?). she wanted my mom to make sardines. but since my mom was in no mood to cook, i volunteered.

my first attempt to make spanish sardines. there were some hitches and i panicked for a moment because we had no back-up ulam! but then, couldn't back out anymore.

turned out fine. my sisters really liked it. i didn't get to taste it because i was overwhelmed by the smell while i was making it. so i'll just have to take their word for it.

i felt so proud of myself. sigh. small pleasures.

yza and carlo

was looking at yza and carlo yesterday. they both look enough like me to be mistaken as my children. i looked at my baby pictures and sure enough, striking resemblance.

sigh. according to my high school plan, i should have 2 kids by now. and a husband to boot. i guess things don't really work out the way we want them to.

but maybe there's something better in store for me. i want my own kids asap but in the mean time, i'll make do with my niece and nephews. they're more than enough.

Monday, October 27, 2003

beer and democracy

a few months ago i had a blog entry about my moral dilemma regarding drinking san miguel beer and how i'm probably helping fund danding's campaign.

yesterday the text messages came in, telling me to boycott san miguel products and to pass the message to everybody because danding is threatening our democracy.


should i give up san mig light and red horse for love of country?


lone star, here i come.

so that's why i failed

5 years ago i took the board exam for interior design. my sister told me to skip going to review classes because i had already decided that i was going to law school.

but i took the exam just the same and failed in a grand manner. i cried a little but i knew it was my fault. ang yabang ko kasi. taking the exam without reviewing.

i had materials alright. my classmates were kind enough to send me bound photocopies from manila to baguio just so i can study.

anyways, i was cleaning my room and i came across the box containing my materials. i opened them and looked through. most of them remain unopened till today. and they contained concepts i had never before encountered. no wonder i failed.

i hope i do better in the bar exams. at least i got to sort the materials out.... sheesh.
somehow knowing that something is going to end makes that something all the more precious, valuable. and losing it hurts more. the knowing doesn't prepare you for the loss nor does it lessen the impact.

an ex once said that an indication that he still loved me even after we broke up was if i could still hurt him...

i am preparing for loss. i don't know when or if it will even happen. but i know that if it does, i will keep on hurting for as long as i live.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

new acquisitions

went to the ukay the other day and looked around. this girl was cleaning up a box and she was looking at a small wooden thing. it was a boomerang. and it looked authentic.

i asked her if she was throwing it out since she didn't seem to know what it was. she said she was selling it. for 10 bucks. i jumped at it. bought it.

i was right. it is authentic. it's dark and has a painting of a kangaroo on it. made by aborigines. really nice.

then i headed for national bookstore. bought a new book. stardust by neil gaiman. coolness.

Friday, October 24, 2003

fat cheerleaders and big bands

my niece is very easy to please. my sisters start their routine with "ready, okay!" in the tradition of bring it on. then they do the hair swings and big smiles and shouts of YZA WIZZA! and hand claps.

they look so cute.

she's also easy to put to sleep. i just put on harry connick jr. he sings songs from children's movies with a new twist -- a new orleans flavor. yep, a big band. and yza loves the music. loud.

she listens and promptly falls asleep with a smile.

thank god for little kids. life doesn't seem so bad when they're around. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


am craving kesong puti and shakey's. sigh.


ate mia had her operation yesterday. tom, my parents and i kept vigil outside the operating room while ate lani stayed inside the operating room to keep ate mia company.

it took almost 4 hours but she's now back in her room and resting. she needed only one unit of blood so she used mine. i'm afraid she might turn alcoholic. :)

we have a lot to be thankful for. we pray for a quick and uneventful recovery.

Monday, October 20, 2003


just finished donating blood for my sister. we're both AB so it's a little difficult to find a match.

i am happy to find out that i am aids free, syphilis free, malaria free and hepatitis A, B, and C free. :)

funny thing tho, my sister kay thought all the while that she was AB. she got confined in a hospital a few months ago and they said she was AB. she just found out today that she's type A. di siya special. hehehe.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

children and theology

carlo: bakit nasa cross si jesus?
me: para ma-save tayo.
carlo: bakit niya tayo isa-save?
me: para di tayo mapunta sa hell.

i left at this point. then i sat down beside him again hoping he'd forget.

carlo: bakit nakapako si jesus?
me: (looking for help. saw the priest.) father, may tanong si carlo.
father dado: ano yun?
carlo: bakit nakapako si jesus?
father dado: nacha-challenge ang theology ko. how do you explain the crucifixion to a child?

after which he left. big fat help.


carlo: bakit nakapako si jesus?
father dado: kasi makulit siya.

end of story.

home and pink m&m's.

got home yesterday at 2 am.

was so tired. spent the day driving to the manila central post office, then to pasay to get a package which we had asked to be put on hold. the package was supposed to go to baguio but it would get here on monday.

and we needed that package by friday. so i picked it up. drove, or rather crawled, in heavy traffic for over four hours. i think a got a cramp in my singit already from stepping on the clutch.

i opened the package and found party favors. sure i knew my sister in the states was sending over party favors. there were small baskets, a baby dress and ribbons, tulle, and a big bag of PINK M&M'S.

we were going to have a christening the following day.

anyways, my sister said that she was going to send over my new shades so i had some motivation. but the shades were not in the package. only pink m&m's.

i was so tired. so sleepy. and all because of pink m&m's. when we got to baguio at 2 am, we had to pack them into the baskets and wrap them in tulle and ribbons.


so tired.

but seeing the happy baby made it all worth. i just don't want to see pink m&m's till my next lifetime.

and it's good to be home.

time for breakfast now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


i'm down to my last two episodes of taken, the steven spielberg series.

each episode is roughly an hour and 20 minutes. it's got me stuck like glue. 10 episodes. 10 episodes with all the delicous men strutting around. they're so good looking they don't seem real. yummy.

after i'm done i'm going to need new glasses. sigh. worth it though. :D

today the closet, tomorrow the world!

just finished folding clothes. a ton of clothes. i thought i'd never finish.

dang. i felt such a sense of accomplishment that i thought i'd start fixing the house too.

it's like pringles you see, once you pop, you can't stop.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

bad timing

trust me. you don't want the aircon guys to take out your compressor at 2pm. you're going to have to drive home with your windows open in heavy traffic.

and that, my friend, is bound to toast anybody stupid enough to do it. meaning me.

flat broke

for the first time in my life i experienced a moment of panic because i had no money.

well i had cash. 10 bucks. which wouldn't have been enough for parking. no money in my account because i haven't been getting much allowance, see. (unemployed eh). plus, the night before, i gave all my cash to my sister.

it didn't occur to me that i would need to bring cash since i had planned to shop for my niece's christening dress using my card.

ah, folly. oh well, i was meeting gak so that was okay. if all else failed i would have converted the dollars i had.

anyways, after the moment of panic, it passed. and i just found it plain funny.

then i went to buy a pen worth 8.25. who says the peso has no more buying power? :)

Sunday, October 12, 2003

pinoy erotica

one of my pre-bar book acquisitions is a book called eros pinoy. an anthology of contemporary erotica in philippine art and poetry. published by anvil publications.

was pretty surprised when i saw it in national bookstore. there's a drawing of a woman's thigh and navel complete with all the in-betweens on the cover.

inside there are pictures of sculptures and paintings and what-have-yous of naked men and women, alone, or together, in various stages of lovemaking. whew.

and it has some funny entries. let me quote the first and the last lines of a poem by nick carbo entitled foreskin crackling (a prose poem)

"She had this wild thought to dip my penis in a pot of Swiss chocolate........She led me to the warm pot like some big animal, spanking my bare bottom along the way with her wooden spatula."

kinky. but fun.

good buy. go pinoy!


it's weird how families work. i don't know if i mentioned how close i had gotten to wen's family. well, we were close. the way he was to my family.

i am ninang of several of his nephews and he's ninong of mine. and i forged some pretty strong bonds with some of his sisters.

anyways, one of his sisters and i were supposed to go out yesterday. but she couldn't find anyone to watch the kids while she was out so we settled for a phone conversation. couldn't go there because she's in laguna.

inevitably we touched on the subject of the breakup. she asked me if i was seeing someone. i said yes but didn't give out any details. no boyfriend yet, though. it's weird. it was like we were talking about different people. i felt so detached from it. i seem to have pretty good defenses and they kick in as needed....

then i talked to his other sister. she asked me if i have a boyfriend already. i told her no and she didn't believe me. heyng? why doesn't she believe me?

(that little voice inside my head whose name is ego said she doesn't believe me because i'm too much of a catch to stay single for long.... :D)

anyways, i steered the conversation to something more neutral like birthdays, and when they're coming to visit.... she wants me to visit. sure. it's just in mindanao, right?

i found myself questioning the wisdom of staying friends with them. i'm pretty close to the one in laguna and we talk about anything and everything. we've helped each other through some tough times.

still, sometimes when i talk with them i find myself remembering occasions and feelings i would much rather forget..

in the grand scheme of things, does it matter if i'm reminded of those things or not? or do i go with my policy that friends matter more than the past hurts they remind me of?

Saturday, October 11, 2003

dunpa dunpa and my husband is a sculptor

last night i attended a supposed girl's night out for a high school friend who's getting married. (supposed because one of the husbands and the fiance arrived after dinner)

we were going to have dinner in dencio's at fort bonifacio. rina and i went there together, mumbling all the way about how we were unfamiliar with makati and its surrounding areas.

we passed through c-5. i used to pass there on my way to the airport so it was quite familiar. so everytime rina would ask whether we should make a turn, i'd say "dun pa, dun pa."

then she goes to me, "they're remaking that film daw."


willy wonka and the chocolate factory?


oompa loompa!

oh. when i said dun pa dun pa the song oompa loompa came to mind daw. hence, the odd segue. weird. we started singing oompa loompa. and promptly got lost when we sang our next song, "cold summer nights."

anyways, we eventually got to dencio's and the first thing one of the girls there says is...

i went to this gallery. andun nga yung sculpture ng husband mo eh...

huh? (getting repetitive, i know.)

di ba sculptor ang husband mo?

last time i checked i was still single.

rina came to the rescue. pau (other friend) is the one married to the sculptor. ahhhhh... ok....

sigh. for a moment there i was married.

Friday, October 10, 2003


fried sardines. my favorite. spanish style.

i like frying the sardines again in the oil they come in.

does that make the food fried fried sardines?

Thursday, October 09, 2003

girlfriend in a coma

read one of the books i bought before the bar. girlfriend in a coma by douglas coupland.

before buying it i read the first page. it starts with "I'm Jared, a ghost." okaaay. interesting enough. it seemed like fun.

and since i was on a book buying rampage (to calm my nerves before the bar) i bought it.

finally got to read it. it's about a group of friends. one of them has weird dreams and after making love with her boyfriend (for the first time) on top of a ski mountain, she goes drinking a lapses into a coma. (the ghost guy eventually explains that she went into a coma because she wanted to escape the events in her visions. her system went independent and actually induced itself to go into a coma. weird.)

9 months later she gives birth to a baby girl. prolific boyfriend. one shot deal. she wakes up 17 years later and starts predicting the end of the world. and it does end. but the group of friends survives.

i finished it and ended up depressed. i don't know if it's particularly depressing or it's just me. all i know is that after i read it i felt like i wanted to go into a coma, so i wouldn't have to go through the events that led to the end of the world.

apparently, people stopped asking questions and stopped growing. they weren't living anymore.

it scared me. maybe we're not living. just going through the motions, to quote buffy.

it seems we go through life just to get it over with. sure, there's the occasional highlight but then... what?

sigh. maybe it's just me. but that book made me want to read an inspirational book. so i searched through my sister's books and got og mandino.

desperate, huh?

one more thing though, i hope i never end up wanting to go into a coma to escape life.

a mad pianist for a neighbor

damn. i've been living here for 3 years and practically everyday my neighbor, who is probably a music major, has been playing drills.

i find nothing wrong with that. after all, he does have to practice to keep those fingers supple. but hey, does he have to scream everytime he makes a mistake?????

the pattern is this: drill, drill, drill, fingers dancing over keys. then he hits the wrong keys. then he slams his hands on the piano and screams ARRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!


artistic temperament? bs, if you ask me. he should get a sound proofed house (or is it just sound proof?) and he can scream his lungs out. nobody said he had to include the whole neighborhood in his frustrations. mad mad mad.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

memory lane yada yada yada

yesterday a friend and i went on a looooong lunch. along with the long lunch, of course, was the long talk.

i missed talking to her. we could talk for hours on end and it would still not be enough. but one thing is certain, after the talk, i walk away feeling a little better about myself, (knowing i'm not alone in my insanity after all) and the world feels a little kinder.

we took a stroll around the campus. i'm going to miss u.p. it's that other place i call home. apparently she feels the same. everytime i enter u.p. and i see the tree lined drive, i feel settled, secure. i have been here for 11 years now, going home to baguio for the occasional break. so we walked.

inevitably, every spot that ever held meaning for me called to mind memories. some sad, most happy, some hilarious, and some plain idiotic (i did try to rotate a one way sign after drinking red bull. never touched the stuff again.).

a kiss shared behind that post, whispered conversations on that seat, picnic on the grass, beer and isaw in that corner, hugs shared in the waiting shed, parting at the street corner, tears on the steps.... it all came back as i hit each particular place. and faded when i passed it.

i felt like i was putting my demons to rest and saying goodbye to every tree, plant, slab of concrete, brick, steel railing and whatever memories they have guarded.

i know i'm coming back. but i don't think i will ever call it home again, unless i start living here again.

but it remains special. i will never get over how beautiful the trees are, or how good the grass smells after the rain, or how peaceful the place is at 4 am...

when we got back to the car we said our goodbyes with promises to do that again sometime.

and when she left i looked around and sighed. this place used to be home.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

oh there you are, blog!

what to write about? haven't visited my blog in ages.

well mainly because i've been busy sorta kinda celebrating. 2 alcohohol free days in 1 week. been really catching up.

met some friends, gave thank you tokens to those who helped in my barops, spent time with my parents who were here for my sister's concert, watched my sister's concert, finished the second book from my stack.. and drank and drank.

did loads of things but need to do loads of things too. sigh.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

weird analogy

the other day i was about to sleep when my friend edy sent me a text message saying it was so weird, not having anything to do.

yes it was weird. it still is weird. but the funny thing is, finishing the bar is just like breaking up.

it was as if for months i had this relationship with the books and then the bar came, and i had to put the books away. then i didn't know what to do anymore. for the first time in a long time i don't know what to do with my time. i don't know where to go, if i should even go somewhere, or if i should just stay home and clean the house.

i have no schedule to keep, no pressing matter to attend to, no lectures, no deadlines. just like breaking up. no anniversaries, no dates, no activities to plan....

like i said, weird analogy. but same effect. i have too much time in my hands. and i don't know what to do with it.

then again i have a humongous stack of books to attack. that's a start

i fear no beer....

finally. got to go out and party again. my friends from law school, my college friend and one high school friend.

such fun to be dancing again. haven't done that in a long time. sure we were the only ones dancing, but hey, to each his own.

woke up without a hangover too, which is always a good thing.

i am officially a member of the ranks of the unemployed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

my first tv appearance

got ambushed by the press last monday pala.

a tv crew from the insider went to the student lounge while we were all singing our hearts out. avoided the camera but the reporter followed. sigh.

she asked me what my plans were. told her i was going to go home and get to know the family again.

too bad i didn't get to see it. oh well.

sooner than i thought

well it happened sooner than i thought. the supreme court decided to just nullify the mercantile exam and spread its 15% allotment out to the rest of the subjects.

of course we were happy. but then it was also anti-climactic.

traditionally, after the last exam of the bar, bands line up under the lrt along with the students. much like the first day of the bar exam. but then people bring beer and shower everyone walking. then off to some place where the school sponsors a drinking session - called beerops.

we didn't have that this year, owing to the fact that at that time we thought we still had one more exam.

sigh. sad. but then we made up for it. somebody brought over a videoke machine and we started singing and drinking at the lounge. we were few but it was fun.

now the only problem is what to do with my time. i think i'm in for some serious drinking.