Life has always gotten in the way of many things, we like to say, as humans. But then, I realized that, to be human, a living one, one needs to live a life. For us writers, we need to live life to write about life. And we need to have a life, in order to be able to write.
Confused? Don't be. Sometimes the most convoluted thoughts contain the simplest of truths. You just have to be more aware to figure it out.
That's how life is, I suppose. A string of truths, hiding in plain sight, but we tend to overlook them, since there are so many distractions, preoccupations, and other things necessary or otherwise.
As a writer, one is also preoccupied with uncovering such truths, or creating to contribute to certain ones out there. But that kind of pursuit is sometimes halted by other things that need more attention at the moment, foremost of which is, as always, making money.
I've made a good deal of my own lately, actually, to the point that I was able to pay off my condo home loan ahead of time. Yes, that also happened: adulting, to the max. In fact, my 15 years-to-pay deal ended this week, after a whopping 10 years. Pucha, biro mo mehn, titulado na ko! I now have property to my name. When I used to teach in UP, I always got a bit sad come SALN-filling time, because I don't really have any assets to declare in that column, but in the liabilities column, there it always was: home loan condo. Well, no more na this year! Thanks to my parents who also had a hand in funding some of the amount that we always had recalculated whenever they had some windfall amount at hand, and also to my own windfall of rakets here and there, we were able to close the loan and the bank handed me my land title this week.
So yeah, this week, let me add one more title to my list: homeowner.
|Titulado na lola mo, something better than a PhD methinks.|
Nakakaloka. After ten years, kaya pala. To think that I "wasted" all those years in Quezon City, renting apartment after apartment, ranging from 8-10k a month, siguro dalawa na ang condo ko ngayon. Pero hindi ko rin naman magagawa ito noon, of course. I started living on my own independently, and like all early independents do, hikahos lang ang simula. I even had roommates in one house, so that we can all share the rent, bilang mga newbie independents kami.
|January 2008, ilang buwan pa lang mula nung turnover. |
May sakit ako nito, pero nakakaginhawa sa
utak at kaluluwa na may tanawin akong ganito,
Pero hindi ko rin siguro ipagpapalit ang mga experiences ko na yun sa pagre-rent sa iba't ibang apartment, kasi they also had a hand in forming my character, and sharpening my being. Hindi rin naman kasi traumatic ang ibang moves na iyon, at ang iba pa nga ay looking forward pa ako sa move. Let me tell you some of them in a handful of nutshells:
Move 1: House to jowa's place
I was already working in a film production company in Ortigas when I wanted to move out of our Marikina house already. My father and I didn't get along so well sometimes, and also I felt that it's really time I had a "room of my own." We were in a 2-bedroom bungalow, the best my parents can afford as working middle class professionals back in the '80s, and they're still there now. I made working in Ortigas as a viable excuse for me to move out, but finding a girlfriend who was living in a 3-bedroom house made the move easier. Her mom's relatives owned the house, and she was looking after it, with the 2 other bedrooms leased out to 2 other women as tenants. I went to live with her in the 3rd bedroom, and it lasted for less than a year before we broke up. But after we broke up, the two tenants also ended their lease, and she had to move to Baguio to finish her law degree there. I took over her room as a tenant, and asked two of my close college barkada to rent the other rooms. And that was where our ConCon barkada was born -- in that halfway house in Naranghita.
|The late '90s was a hoot. Our film barkada was still intact then.|
|Some of the housemates I had, and our frequent visitors. |
All UP film college barkada, circa 1998.
|Instaparty kapag may balikbayan sa amin.|
|Instawild din kapag nag-inuman na. This was how Gen-X partied back then.|
But this was not the first time we had a halfway house of sorts, me and my college film berks. We actually had two, which I think prepared my parents for my eventual moving out for good. I think I have to include it here in my listing.
Move 0.1: Temporary (UP) Bliss
It was the sembreak of my last year of film school when my friends and I decided to share the rent in a unit inside the UP Bliss housing. Our film teacher sponsored a film to be done that time, script by my BFF and me directing, shooting in 16mm film ha. That would have been my first, prior to my 16mm film thesis sana, but the project fizzled out for reasons I can't remember anymore. But that several weeks in that UP Bliss gave us a taste of living independently, with roommates, paying bills like an adult, and I suppose it whet all our appetites.
Move 0.2: Mahiyain mode
Right after graduation, a handful of friends wanted to create a raket film production group, which was very rare pa back then (this is mid-'90s folks), and we decided to rent an apartment in Mahiyain street to have a headquarters. Well, we had a glorious first client which helped us pay the bills and rent, but everyone also had more glorious egos that clashed during work. So in short, that fizzled out faster than when it started.
Move 0.3: Maginhawa nga ba?
Another college friend of ours turned out to have his own fizzled film prod raket grouping, so he decided to tap me and my BFF to be new partners. We also tapped another film barkada, and this one was sturdier a samahan because our recruiter friend had a formidable work linkage in the form of this Fil-Canadian lady with a desktop publishing biz. She wanted to form a video production biz din, and she had the equipment, so we were the workers. Her huge home in Maginhawa had a small American-style garage at the back which actually could be converted into a 2-storey living quarters, so we lived there for a few months, too, as we made several rakets for her. But again, personalities crashed, as well as other things I can't recall anymore, and we ended up splitting from that setup, too, me and my BFF. So I went back to my parents' house for a while, until I made that pivotal Move 1.
|Kumu-conceptual photography with a tripod and SLR camera, |
with legitimate celluloid film to boot.
Slight naubos pera ko sa kakapa-debelop ng rolyo noon,
but the memories are worth every analog print of it.
Historical preparations, ain't it?
Move 2: Ex-jowa's house to new ex-jowa's house.
I think it has already been 2 years in that first house in Naranghita when I met a lawyer who became my jowa of 5 years. She was living in a compound owned by her ex's family, and in one of those doors, that ex of hers was also living there. And in another door, another lesbian lawyer was living there, too, who was the jowa of my jowa's ex. Magulo ba? Masusundan mo 'yan kung matalino ka, pramis hahaha! But things went bad with that ex of hers and that ex's jowa, who were living just next door to each other, literally. The jowa cheated, so my ex's ex wanted to move out of there. Meantime, we also wanted to move out already, so we three lesbians of Mabait street went and rented a new place in Mapagkumbaba street, up and down, one bedroom my ex's ex, and one ours. But that ex of hers found a new jowa and eventually moved out of our apartment. As for me, after 5 years, I also found a new me -- one that didn't want to be with her anymore. We were supposed to move into a new space actually, but that moved became a split into two different directions, not one, since I decided to split up with her, for good.
|My last months in that house, and that relationship. |
'Twas when I realized I should love myself more.
Move 3: Kamuning
My cousin-in-law's parents were renting out a duplex apartment somewhere in K-3rd street, and my cousin was living there with her young family of three in the smaller area. So I ended up renting the bigger area, all by my lonesome. That move was pivotal, since I was starting many lives back then: as a newly "singled" lesbian, a post-showbiz/media worker, post-NGO worker, and now a college professor, and also a new TV director. Which meant that the titser suweldo is not that ideal to keep an 8k a month rent, so I had to augment my income then. That Kamuning time was indeed such a busy time, so busy that my health suffered, so I ended up turning semi-vegetarian to have my lab results even out again. But then, cousin-in-law's parents decided to sell the house, and I had to vacate asap. Salamat ha. Thankfully, I found a new place in an old neigborhood.
|The perks of renting a house all by your lonesome is you get to |
decorate it however you want. So naturally, my artistic inclinations
arose that time, and I had a better canvas to explore.
Yes, those are windows. It's acrylic, so it washes off easily.
|One of my prized possessions back then: a theatrical poster of Tomb Raider, |
from my newspaper entertainment editor days. Sayang nasira.
|Wherever I lived, even if it was temporary, I made sure it was homey.|
|I also had preference for high ceilings. |
Not a claustrophobic, but I dunno, I just felt like it.
Move 4: Naranghita part deux
A good deal of my teaching life was spent living in another part of Naranghita street, where the rent is basically the same as before. It's interesting to be back in the Anonas area at that time, a little bit older and wiser, but maybe still a bit stupid in the love department. See, when I was about to do Move 3, I met someone else right after I split with my ex of 5 years. She thought I two-timed her (at iyon ang pinagkalat niya sa mga tao), but that's not really the case (and I don't actually care kung ano ang pinagkalat niya sa akin, kasi I know the real score). This girl I met wasn't really such a good one for me, that's why the relationship never really became solid to begin with; it only served as a catalyst for me to jumpstart many things left dormant by the 5 year relationship. But she wasn't the sole catalyst, of course. Going back to the media grind also helped, thanks to my college barkada-slash-former housemates. But this girl just kept being present in my life, even after making Move 3. And she even came to me during Move 4, but only her things moved with me, because she stupidly moved out of her and her brother's own rented apartment back then, her without a plan, her brother moving into his own small apartment, so she ended up hauling her things in my place. "Pakilagay" lang daw, pero tuwing lilipat ako, nakikilipat din siya. The nerve, di ba. Even if I was already dating another person during this time, in this space, andiyan pa rin itong isa, nakikigulo. Hay naku, how did I even enter such predicaments back then is beyond me. All I know is that I'm glad they all ended.
|Kahit katiting lang, dapat ang tirahan ko ay may bintana, |
kung saan maaari kong matanaw ang langit at
ilang bahagi ng lupang may luntiang nagkalat.
Sa masikip na espasyong ito, puwede na
rin ito noon, pansamantala.
|Ang chaka lang ng view, pero at least meron.|
|Dito ko muling naharap ang MA studies ko, |
kaya naging espasyo ng pag-aaral ang bahay na ito.
|Ang lagi kong kasama sa mga paglilipat: ang pusa ko, at ang kurant ko. |
Pareho nang wala sa buhay ko ngayon, kasi bawal na.
Move 5: Condo living
So finally, this is it, pansit! No more lingering ex-jowas to make sabit in this move, because this one is a purchase already. No more renting. No more sabits. The girl I was dating prior to this move, she also graced this space from time to time, but she had her own space with her son somewhere else. That immediately fizzled anyway, and then another person came into my life then. That one lived here for a good two years, before getting herself knocked up by a man. Galing, di ba? For a while I felt trapped here, since before, if an old relationship finished, I can also move out of the apartment and rent a new one. Not here. So what I did was, when I finally had enough cash, I disposed of all, I mean ALL, of my previous home furnishings, and replaced them with new ones: couch, TV display, TV, corner shelves, dining table, name it! Living room and dining room showcase ang change pare, even bedroom showcase. Mahihiya ang The Price is Right sa pinamigay ko nun. Pero na-cleanse na naman ang espasyo, at napalitan na ng ibang energies, kaya eto na siya, okay na.
At ngayon, akin na. Akin na talaga.
|The moment I saw these kinda picture windows, |
I was hooked. I knew I was home.
|Ready for Occupy Marikina project again, |
after 10 years of being in QC.
I mean, look at those windows, and the view!
|Sa tuwing mag-eempake ako noon, feeling ko |
sasadsad ako sa depression sa kung anumang kadahilanan.
Ewan ko ba kung bakit. Signos ng pagtatapos
siguro ng isang chapter, malamang. Pero itong hakot na ito,
wala, walang ganun. Kaya alam kong tama siya.
|Mas marami nang puwedeng galawan, kahit papaano. |
Level up na ang buhay, salamat sa kalawakan.
I always called this space my sanctuary, because it was. When the world is feeling mighty mighty low, at least I have a space I can retreat to, hibernate if you will, so I can recharge whatever needs recharging in my soul. For a time there, I also thought of this space as my Fortress of Solitude, because I lived here with no one and nothing but my thoughts, and Jor-el would be proud. Ninja training fortified. Before, I used to treat my temporary shelters as a respite, a stopover to wherever life will take me next, whatever I'm doing in life at that particular moment. But this time, no more of that. Having some kind of permanence also gave my being some peace of mind as I struggled to live here. 'Twas a struggle sometimes, indeed, especially financially, but I'm glad it turned out fine. Really fine.
And now, it's legally mine.
|No matter what the mood, the space is a safe one for me. |
(Salamat din sa Rosco lighting gels swatch
na nakuha ko sa US sa eksperimentong ito).
I turned 45 this year. Sometimes I feel it, sometimes I don't. Sometimes all of these memories are crystal clear, sometimes they're just a blur. But when I recall the spaces I've lived in, it somewhat makes recollections easier, since there are automatic groupings, new chapter headings if you will, of this narrative I call my life. I guess now, now that this space is all mine, it's when Book Two starts naman. No more chapters. No more snippets. Sarado na ang unang libro, at panibagong simula na naman ang bubuksan nito sa buhay ko.
Sige lang. Andito lang ako, humihinga. Tignan natin kung ano ang maiuuwi ko naman ngayon, sa puntong ito ng buhay ko.
|Kampai! At ibalik ang ibang kinaligtaan sa buhay.|
And yes, thank you, you, for still reading this space. More to come. Pramis!