Apprentice of Bright Sky

Apprentice of Bright Sky

I should have been busy fixing myself
In a library or walking on a campus
Fevered with aged trees
On a Saturday like this, the freest day
Of my work-slaved mind and body.
But what I elect to do now
Instead is to rediscover
Each corner of this house for
Tenant tales and spirits,
Take in the monastic quiet
Of the room I have burdened with books,
Wait for hospitable memories
To ambush in my wake
As I carry you in my arms
Pointing out the objects we
Started to cart into your tiny world,
Unveiling the words you could
Drop off now to the deepest well
Which surprise us by their bouncing
Back with glee of angels.
All these with hope that you concoct
A potent magic as well
To the universe of language, get
Entangled in the intricacies of life
Beginning with flower,
Bird, guava, cat, turtle, tree,
Dog, cow, grass, child, sky, God.

(for Nikki, one year old)

Published in Philippine Free Press  (1993)


Nikki, my niece, turned 18 this month. Although the occasion was celebrated quietly with a few of her friends at home and I was preoccupied playing host to my sister and brother-in-law who visited Cambodia early this month, I had thought of putting this out all along. I feel a strong compulsion to put something on my blog about Nikki’s stepping into the world of debutantes, where society is officially recognizing her as a woman poised to carve her own life; but there’s something more I wish she could do apart from going through the motions of life , and that is for her to transcend beyond the sophistication of a contemporary lady setting her mind towards career and self-independence. Mainly, I wish that she will progressively learn the things that really matters in life like values, family ties, friendship, virtues of understanding and compassion, humility and simplicity, and being on the side of the lowly and disadvantaged. I am not much of a good uncle to her, having gone and passing my time away from everyone, working and all that, and not being able to carry out my avuncular role all the time. This holds true for the rest of my nieces and nephews. But in prayers and through constant wish of seeing all of them reach their goals and a good measure of equanimity and contentment in their adult lives, I hope these thoughts will find realization in God’s time.

So to Nikki, I say break a leg. It’s time to begin your life journey.

Nikki and her Mom, Catherine


Sojourn in Cambodia (Part 2)

At Mocbai, Vietnam border in transit to Cambodia

Royal Palace, Phnom Penh

@FCC meeting up with hometown (Guimba, Nueva Ecija)  friends who are now Phnom Penh residents

Visit to Oudong

Snack by the road

Ceres checking up on family & friends on Facebook

Angel walks down the street like a local; succeeds in making his first buy of a sugarcane juice in Khmer Language… knom teng teuk ampaw

@ Bayon temple with Srey Sor and Nuth

@ Angkor Wat


Feast of October

Feast of October

In the middle of our fun, Khmer dancing and beer,
The sick dog wobbled out of the office room
And fell down the fishpond.
The cook and the cleaner disturbed the water lilies
To pluck him out from the bottom,
Laying him down beneath a shrub.

There is a moon growing to fruition,
A benign evening sky spreading out in our heart.
With the forest seemingly lifeless in its silence,
I grasp for the language of anything eternal,
The mighty cathedral that would bring
Indelible peace. But with this dead dog,
I also become aware that my time is rushing
Towards some unspeakable domain: a body of water,
A speck of meteor, a turbulent swirl of air,
A snare of harrowing dream.

Tomorrow I will step into the sun,
Perhaps lightly sickened by dark intoxication
And would I hear some lamentation
Over a dead dog?

22 October 2004
Koh Kong, Cambodia




I am back. Risen
From the columns
Of darkness
With a singular wound,
That of struggling to exist
And breathe on the edge
Of sadness.

I am at the foreground
Of things again. Touching leaves
Of every sort, thinking,
Truth may be in them
And I can forgive
My being
Rude in a seasoned

I am going to love
Even the emptiness of it
Through the end
Because it is, all
Like the rain that keeps
Drowning itself, essential and
Intimate as windows.

Tacloban City, Philippines