At Twenty-three






I remember the time when I was young.
When I looked at the world in awe,
when I read books and traveled far.

I remember the time when my curious mind would ask.
How come stars form figures in the sky?
How come we have day and night?

I was full of questions then and was eager to learn.
I would read and read and read.
I would ask anyone about anything.

And then the time came when everything turned different.
I continued to ask not anyone, but just myself.
I have traveled far but found no relief.

What happened to that young child in me?
What happened to those good old days?
What happened to awe and curiosity?


And then I would wish to go back to the time when I was young,
When books are enough to reach distant lands;
When simple answers are enough to satisfy my mind.





Photo: Google Images


Water Lilies, A New-Found Friend and My Lake Sebu Experience

The sun tried to shed its light on the lake despite the clouds.

          "To, ano nga ulit pangalan mo?"

          "Kenken po."

          "Ilang taon ka na? Nag-aaral ka pa?"

          "Thirteen po. Opo. Grade seven."

          "Nag-aalaga kayo ng tilapia diba?"

          "Opo."

          "Sa palengke nyo dinadala?"

          "Hindi po, dyan lang sa Punta Isla."

          Our conversation went this way as the wooden boat traversed the placid waters of Lake Sebu. I asked a lot of questions and he answered all of them shyly, blurting few words each time. I was thankful that he agreed to let me ride his boat to go to the part of the lake where water lilies are full abloom. 

Kenken's an early riser. He was already on the lake before I got there.
          It was actually yesterday when I saw Kenken on his boat with his little sister tending on fish pens that made me ask him if he could let me ride with him too in the morning to watch the rising sun on the lake. Without any hesitation, he agreed. He just told me to be on the lake shore on the other side of Punta Isla by morning.

          I woke up at around five-thirty. I rushed outside to check if the sun already rose. It was cloudy. A thin blanket of mist is visible around the lake. I went back inside our room to get my jacket and proceeded to the place where I'll be meeting Kenken. He was tending their fish pen again. Few minutes later he prepared his boat and rowed toward where I was standing.

The boat's a 'lil bit shaky. Or it's just me?
          "Hindi naman tayo lulubog dito no?" I asked Kenken when I boarded his wooden boat. I tried to maintain my balance. As far as I could remember, the boat I boarded last time, capsized. 

          He answered me with a chuckle and said that he know how to swim anyway. He then started to row and we went past fish pens and few huts near the lake. I found out that T'boli natives, like Kenken are living around the lake. Some of them are raising tilapia for a living.

Fishes love lilies. Men love fishes.
          We waited for the sunrise. Unfortunately, the clouds seemed to grow darker minute by minute. I was not able to catch the sun rise by the lake. The sun appeared only later as a faint ball of yellow sphere overhead.

          I was lucky enough though, to witness the blooming water lilies. It is said that they open their flowers on certain time of the day. Perhaps it was the reason why I only saw buds yesterday; since when I first arrived here, I was hoping to see water lilies in their most beautiful state.

These egrets sure know that food is abundant in the lake.
          After few minutes of picture taking, I told Kenken that we need to return back to the resort. The sky was showing that rain is imminent. He rowed steadily, steering the boat toward the direction of Punta Isla. I found it amazing that at that age, he is already skilled as boatman. His parents seemed to rely on him too to tend their fish pen. His actions showed that he knows by heart the way of life in the lake.

          As we get near the lake shore, I gave him a hundred-peso bill. 

          "Salamat Kenken ha?"

          "Salamat din po dito kuya."

          "Walang anuman. Sana makabalik ulit ako dito sa Lake Sebu. At salamat ulit ng marami. Mag- aral ka ng mabuti ha?"

          "Opo. Mag-aaral po ako ng mabuti."

          I get off the wooden boat and Kenken smiled while rowing away from the resort. I just waved my hand as he went past the water lilies. He is such a nice boy, I thought. I could only wish the best for him and his family. 

          I stood for few minutes to watch the lake, the mountain ranges, the fish pens and the water lilies before I go back to our room. I couldn't help but reflect on the simplicity. The beauty. The peaceful aura. As I turn my back from the lake, I smiled. I will definitely return here sometime in the future.

Water lilies at their most beautiful state. 




Kiss


How long has it been since I last kissed somebody?

Has it been weeks? Months? Years?

I'm starting to actually forget what it felt like, not until you asked me to kiss you.

It was weird on my part, but we were both drunk. We just set aside the world for a while, our lips started to meet in passionate lock.

You were more of an aggressive type, so I tried to keep up. Lips to lips. Tongue to tongue. Your hands crawled and caressed my back. Mine went down to your hips. It was as if we both danced to the music made by the waves crashing on the shore and the soft breeze overhead.

From that very moment I felt eternity.

I don't know when we are going to stop, not until I realized that we shouldn't be doing that.

Reasons. Circumstances. Situation. Reality.

I guess I have to thank you for letting me kiss you.

How long has it been? Weeks? Months? Years?

That very night. I was reminded what a kiss felt like. 

Balik-Pinas Random


          

Me: Thank you for calling bridge. How may I help you?
Caller: Baba na diyan! Pauwi na tayo!

            Pagkatapos ng anim na buwan na kontrata, dalawang linggong walang internet, at ilang oras na paghihintay ng flight, nakarating kaming buo at ligtas sa Pilipinas. Mabuti na lang at hindi umuulan sa Maynila, dahil umalis kami sa Taiwan na parang binubuhos ang ulan mula sa kalangitan.

*****

              Sa loob ng dalawang linggong walang internet, wala kaming ibang napagkatuwaan kundi ang irecord ang sarili namin at gawan ng parody ang music video ng OST ng Oh My G! Nakakatuwa daw kasi si Janella Salvador.




*****

          Parang napakabilis lang ng anim na buwan. Halos lumipas lang ang araw na di namin namamalayan. Kahit na tila saglit lang ang kontrata namin, nakakatuwa dahil nadagdagan ang kaalaman ko at naging maganda ang samahan namin sa barko, kumpara sa mga nauna kong nasampahan.


Pwede rin naman palang i-imagine na nagwo-wall climbing
 ka habang nakasakay sa Bosun's chair.


*****

          Isang araw pagkarating sa Pilipinas, pinaputulan ko na ang buhok ko. Ipapaputol rin naman iyon ng fleet manager ko kapag nakita niyang ganung kahaba. Maraming nagsabi sa akin na huwag ko munang paputulan, kaso wala eh. Magpapahaba na lang ulit sa susunod na kontrata.


*****

Bago ko pala makalimutan, ang nanalo ng "Lobster Award" ay si....(drum roll please!)


Lobster photo from Google Images

          ............ay silang lahat ng sumagot sa mga katanungan ko. Congratulations kay Sep, Sir Jo, Yccos at Fiel-kun. :) Kitakits tayo sa Sabado sa Megamall!hehe >_<


*****

          Iniisip kong magbakasyon ng apat na buwan. Sana lang talaga ay di ako agad na tawagan ni fleet manager. Gusto kong makapag unwind at ma-enjoy man lamang limitadong panahon ng pananatili ko sa lupa. Sana lang din eh umayon si Panahon at maging maayos ang ilang naka-schedule nang getaway (fingers crossed).



Rhea's Reply

 Kuya,

          Alam ko galit ka pa rin sa akin dahil sa nagawa kong kasalanan. Sa tagal ng panahon ako'y nanahimik lamang dahil akoy natatakot at hiyang-hiyang sayo sa aking nagawang kasalanan. At ngayon lang ako nagkalakas ng loob upang humingi sayo ng kapatawaran.
 
           Kuya, sana patawarin mo ako sa lahat ng nagawa kong kasalanan.
 
           Alam ko na para sayo ay mahirap magpatawad lalo pa't sobra ko kayong nasaktan.

           Mapatawad mo man ako alam kong mahirap nang ibalik ang dating pakikitungo mo sa akin. Hindi ako magtatampo kung magbago man iyon . Dahil hindi naman kita masisisi sapagkat ako ang gumawa ng kasalanan. Kuntento na ako kung mapatawad mo man ako. 
          Ikaw na ang naging sandalan ng pamilya buhat ng nawala si Papa.Naging haligi ka na ng tahanan para sa ating mga kapatid. At sa espesyal na araw na ito ako'y bumabati sa iyo ng maligayang kaarawan. Wala man akong materyal na maibibigay sayo lagi naman kitang pinagdadasal na sana lagi kang gabayan ng Diyos sa iyong paglalakbay. Kahit sa isang munting mensahe naipaabot ko sayo ang aking taos pusong-pagbati at paghingi ng KAPATAWARAN.
 
 
 Rhea
 
 
   I was overwhelmed. It was the best birthday present a Kuya could ever receive.                             

Five Things To Do When Boredom Strikes On Board


          Boredom happens to anyone. It's a fact. No matter who or wherever you are, there will always be a time that you don't actually have anything to do (aside from breathing). Or you get tired of doing things over and over again. 
          When you are working on board a vessel, boredom is quite worse than when you are working on land. Imagine floating in the middle of the sea seeing nothing but water and clouds for days. Imagine talking to the same person and hearing the same stories for six or nine months. Imagine people watching the same movies again and again that you can already recite the script of the characters. Imagine eating the same food for weeks. 
           Things like that will continue to pester your very existence and then you'll arrive to the point when you can say that sea life is boring. That your job sucks. And eventually, that you are losing your mind and a little more things will turn you insane.
            Of course you will go nuts if you keep on thinking on how boring it is to be a seafarer. Therefore, you have to find a way to make your life for few months at sea a little bit exciting, or if not, less boring. There are books that you can read, games that you can play and areas where you can do some workout. You can also do some music jam (most of the ships have band set) or belt "My Way" to your heart's content without fearing for your life.
           Most of all, there is the Internet (thanks to the technological advancements in seafaring). You can browse, chat, share pictures, post videos, send message, among others. Some ships have strong internet connections that you can even make video calls to your friends or family at home. Sadly, younger generation of seafarers nowadays prefer to stay inside their cabin and face their laptops most of the time than to interact with other crew members.
            Anyway, I already mentioned several things that you can do on board to make your time worthwhile. If those things are not enough, you can do the following when boredom strikes:


             1. Take a selfie, duofie or groufie. Let's face it. It's fun posing for the camera. You might project a serious face, a wacky one or both, but you enjoy the idea of taking pictures of yourself. You may get tired of your crew mate's faces but keeping some photos with them will make you remember your days together and will  provide some crazy throwbacks in the future.

Duofie pa more!




Alamin kung sino ang original bearer ng "The Mole"



             2. Organize a pool party. Make sure to get the approval of higher officers especially the Captain if you are going to organize a pool party. You can also ask the galley department to prepare some drinks/foods. If approved, take off your clothes and dive. Anyways this is applicable to ships with small swimming pools. Don't ever dive if there is none. Ano yun adik lang?





              3. Grow an indoor plant. For those who love plants, you can try your luck growing a small plant inside your cabin as long as it is not an endangered species, something that brings disease or a coconut. 

Dati tatlo lang ang dahon ni Panfilo. Ngayon siyam na!

             4. Encourage your crew mates to show their talents and make impromptu shows from time to time. 




             5. Make a music video. If you come across the latest dance craze or trending songs, why not make an MV or record yourself while lip syncing? Below is our version of Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) by Silento.  Note: No animal was hurt during the shooting process nor any international law was violated.




          I only mentioned five here but there will always be a thousand ways to do when you feel that boredom is engulfing most of your head. All you need to have is a part of humor, a part of resourcefulness, a part of pakikisama and a perspective of positivism that is innately a Filipino trait that makes us smile despite the odds converging against us. So boredom? Bring it on! I definitely have a lot of tricks  to counter you. :)


Liebster Award





"The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a liebster? the meaning: liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn’t that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.”

 
1. Thank the person who nominated you with a link back to his/her blog.
2.Answer the questions given to you by the nominator.
3.Nominate (and notify) other bloggers for the award that have fewer than 500 followers.
4. Create 11 questions (or less) for your nominees.
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.
6. Display the Liebster Award logo on your page. List these rules on your post. 

(mula kay steve, http://stevevhan.blogspot.com na galing naman sa nagnominate sa kanya.)


*****

          Ayt!Ayt! Limang buwan na ako sa barko at medyo nawili sa pagsayaw ng Nae Nae (abangan ang nakakaewang vid). Medyo nananaba na rin ang utak ko sa mga trip ng ilang kasamahan ko pero ayos lang. Isang buwan na lang naman at masisilayan ko nang muli ang Pilipinas!
           Me nagnominate pala sa akin sa Liebster Award. Salamat Steve, haha! Pero nung una kong mabasa ang salitang "liebster," naglaway ako. Eto kase ang naiimagine ko:




Pucha, liebster pala, hindi lobster.
          At dahil me mga tanong nga na kailangang sagutin, eto ang sagot ko sa tanong ni Steve:

1.What is the most nasty thing you did and said while you dine with someone?

  • Sinita ko yung kaharap ko sa kainan, subo kasi ng subo ng pagkain kahit me laman pa yung bibig. Sinabihan ko ng, "alam mo pre dalawa lang yan. Me lahi kang macaque o pufferfish ka sa previous life mo."

2. What's the craziest thing you did while you're on a public place?

  • Sumayaw ako ng "We Can't Stop" sa labas ng Timezone.

3. If you're a superhero, what is the power that you'll choose from the following: SPEED: WORM CRAWLING, LICK:  SUPER LONG TONGUE, FLY: MOSQUITO WINGS.

  • Yung me mosquito wings na lang. Wala eh. Buti yun nakakalipad.

4. What will you choose, zombie apocalypse or end of the world?

  • Zombie Apocalypse. At least, me world pa rin.

5. Choose what you like to pet: Crocodile, 15 ft. long Anaconda, Vulture, Piranha.

  • Anaconda

6. Action movie or horror movie while riding a horror themed speed train.

  • Horror movie. 

7. If you're gonna die later, what will you do, who will you say sorry to and what type of death would you want?

  • Eat a lot of spaghetti, to the last person I have a misunderstanding with and hmmmm, pagkahulog sa bangin na 100 miles deep.

8. Talk to God in 1 hour, what are your 3 questions?

  • What is His personal name, What's His purpose for human beings, When will all suffering end.
          At ngayon, by the power vested to me by mollusks, crustaceans, echinoderms, fishes, sea mammals, sea nymphs and King Neptune himself, I nominate the following: Sir Jo, Fiel-kun, Yccos, Niss/mem'ries, Sepsep, Zaizai, Lalah, Sir Rolf.
          Me nagsabi sa akin na madali lang daw sumagot ng tanong pero mahirap gumawa nito. Kaya medyo hihirapan ko na lang ang tanong ko.haha! Eto ang mga tanong ko:

  1. If by some chance you turned into a talking toad, what are you going to do aside from talking?
  2. What Filipino food best describe your love life today?
  3. This is related to no. 1. You turned into a talking toad but can only blurt 6 words. What are you going to say and to whom are you going to say it? (Note: Only a kiss from a human being will turn you back to normal.)
  4. Aside from world peace and forever, what are you going to wish for if a genie grants you a wish? Bawal magwish ng another wish.
  5. What are you going to do if you were trapped on an elevator with the man/woman of your dreams for 24 hours? (Note: walang signal ang phone nyo at lobat na rin kayo pareho)
  6. What obscure English word best describe youself? (Give three with definition please. >_<)
  7. If you are going to change the scientific name of human beings, what would it be and why?
  8. What facial feature of a person appeals to you the most? (exclude the eyes, nose, lips and teeth.)
  9. What is your favorite '90s TV program?
  10. How are you going to react if you were crowned the titleholder of a prestigious international male/female pageant? Show your reaction using a gif.
         Sampu lang ang tanong ko. Haha! Pero para mas masaya, ititreat ko sa ArmyNavy ang me pinakanakakatuwang sagot. Seryoso. haha!




        

LOXODOGRAPO


Matagal ko nang gustong palitan ang pangalan ng blog ko.

Wala lang talaga akong maisip kaya lumipas ang araw, linggo, buwan at taon na di napapalitan iyon.

Pagkalipas ng mga araw, linggo, buwan at taon, me nakita ako kanina sa mahiwagang Dictionary of Nautical Terms.

Napaluha ako sa tuwa at naramdaman ko na unti-unting umi-expand ang mga bagay-bagay.

Umexpand ang kalawakan, mga bituin sa kalangitan, pati yung noo ko.

LOXODOGRAPH.

Dumaloy ang luha sa mga mata ko.

LOXODOGRAPH.

Dumaloy ang uhog at dugo mula sa ilong ko.

Sa ilang taon kong pagbabarko ngayon ko lang nalaman na me ganyan palang instrumento.

"A device for recording ship's oblique course or to record a ship's travels," sabi sa diksyunaryo.

Siguro ginagamit iyan noon ng mga sinaunang marino.

Anu't ano pa man ipapangalan ko yan sa blog ko.

Tatanggalin ang H at papalitan ng O.

Para maging tunog Pilipino.

Tulad ng James na naging Santiago. Bert na naging Berto.

Lahat sila sa dulo may O.

Kaya kahit korni, gagawin kong LOXODOGRAPO. yey!


Marino Diaries



 People may never understand his plight, but one thing is for sure: he always got a friend in me.

Unlabeled
By S.E.

          I've been working as a seaman for some time now. From time to time I have to deal with my crew mate's attitude towards me. I have to conform to the standards that may not be written but implied by the industry whose patriarchal complex and machismo is at large. Like most people who struggle in their workplaces trying to be themselves, trying to avoid discrimination, mine is of no exception. Let me share my story, a story of personal journey to self-acceptance in a world where the definition of the word acceptance is elusive.

           I remember when I was still a kid. I was innocent and carefree. All I wanted to do was play and have fun, until I grew up and the world introduced me into their set of rules. Boys are supposed to do this and girls are supposed to do that. If you won’t conform to the society’s expectations then you will be labelled like an object and be a subject to never-ending insults, making you beg for what is supposed to be given free to everyone-LOVE.

           Sometimes I ask God why He allowed me to be like this. Why do I have to see the world differently? Why would His creations hate me and tell me that I am nothing but garbage in the society, a disease. Does God really despise me? Am I not His son? Have I really been sent by Lucifer to lead mankind’s extinction? These perceptions are the very same barriers that hold me down. I am a prisoner of sexist ideology, tied to the ground their stereotypical judgments.

           For a guy who’s always been in constant struggle in finding affection and acceptance, life is not easy. While I’m up fighting an endless battle I’ve always had for more than half of my life, people around me will never cease to enjoy ideas regarding sexuality in which they have declared themselves masters at. Little do they know that it’s more than a What-you-see-is-what-you-get situation. Sexuality is a complicated puzzle. Being a hard one to decipher, in some cases, it had lead for some to question self-worth and their existence. It had even claimed lives because of the society’s pretentious idea of righteousness and godliness.

           The only way of moving forward is by suppressing every thought and emotion, practically everything about my genuine identity. I admit I would want myself to break free from the barriers that have been holding me, but I am afraid of the things that would come after. I am afraid that I would turn out to be the same generic gay guy the society had stereotyped. I am afraid how the world is going to receive me, and of course my family, whom I have always lived for. Will all my efforts of trying to be a good son and a brother go to waste? Will they still see me as the same person they have shared home with? Will I all of a sudden be a stranger to them?

            Self–acceptance is freedom or so they say. But being under the scrutinizing eyes of the people who refuse to understand how it is being on my shoes don’t seem to make that valid at all. I am torn between what I feel is right and what the society imposes to be the only way of living. I don’t see the significance of choices and living one’s own life.

           From then on, freedom is out of reach, but now as I think of it, I am not the problem. I was never the problem but the world is, blinded by too much light shed on it, failing to see the person that I really am. The guy who wants to succeed in his life and be capable of giving his parents the life they’ve always wanted to give their children but couldn’t. The guy who laughs at silly things and cries when his soul is beaten down. The guy who wants to find someone whom he will spend his life with. Have kids and a home. Go to the mall. Eat at ice cream shops. Watch sunsets. I want to be with someone I know I am going to be happy with and that is not a bad thing because to love was and will never be wrong for God is Love.

           All I have ever done was love and that is the only thing that I deeply needed. But why is it that all I ever receive is hate? I have never harmed anyone. I have always been silent, tried to be somebody whom nobody cares about. I have always been avoiding attention but when they do realize my presence, it will be the start of my never ending struggle. Emotional and mental abuse can lead me to self-destruction. But I won’t let it be my end. I just couldn’t.

           God is love, I remembered and all of a sudden I am awake. God is love. I keep on repeating it to myself like a long forgotten mantra.

         I am all that and gender will never dictate my relevance in this world. I will never fear destructive comments from people who don’t know a single thing about my personality for I am not a bad person. I will never seek revenge to those who did me wrong for I am better than that. No, I will never declare myself holy nor will I deny being a sinner. The world can judge but they can never destroy me because I have faith in God for I am His son. I will always remember that there is no evil in honesty and it shall never be called acceptance of fault. I am choosing happiness and freedom for the person that I genuinely am. Besides, I didn’t choose to be gay, I woke up like this.

Being Dark is Awesome


          Nognog. Charcoal. Tar. Negrito.

          I get it. My complexion is a bit darker than other people's. In different shades of brown, I stood on the darker side. People usually notice the color of my skin whether I just met them for the first time or after some time. On several occasion, I get ridiculed for it, especially during my childhood years. When I grew up and went to high school, things got even worse. My skin tone turned out to be one of the reason of my growing pains as a teenager. I can still remember the time when somebody sent me a hate letter, addressing me as the "black man" of  Freshman Eagle.

         So much with the scorn tease at school, even some of my family members make fun of me simply because I look darker than the rest of the clan. For instance, during our family reunion, one of my titas would make me sit beside my fair-skinned cousin just to emphasize to everyone "how fair my cousin is." Of course, everyone won't come up with that single conclusion in mind. They still looked at me mockingly and I would feel like I am the darkest person alive.

          I told myself that I've had enough when I went to college. So I started applying all sorts of cream on my face, only to incite hostility upon my facial pores. I would wake up everyday with a fresh bunch of pimples that seemed to appear out of nowhere. The rest of my day would become a total mess, with me becoming self-conscious every minute because of those little devils spewing out secretions of my sebaceous gland.

         With things becoming worse, I stopped using those creams that are supposed to turn my skin fairer and magically make me gwapo. I'll just let my color be the way it is. After all, I don't want to look like an endangered species of  monitor lizard walking around the school premises.

         I managed to boost my self-confidence after accepting the fact that having a dark complexion doesn't define the person you really are. The color of your skin, no matter what it is, is not the measure of your worth as a human being. I keep on repeating this to myself every time people make sarcastic remarks on how dark-skinned I am. I tried to stay cool. Though I still feel bad at times, I was able to shake their comments off.

         Fast forward two years after college, I was on board the training ship Spirit of MOL. There, I met people of different nationalities and culture. Russians, Ukrainians, Indians, Indonesians, light-skinned and dark-skinned. Our group was so diverse in color that even my classmates didn't bother to notice me at all. The shade of anybody's skin never turned out to be an issue or an object of derision.

         My experience as a cadet on the training ship made me realize two things on skin color and Filipino society. First, skin color is merely a portion of genetic make-up that varies from one person to another. It will never be the determining factor of your own worth, or limit you to attain things in life. Second, Filipinos still revere the idea of having a white skin. Majority still have obsession on a whiter complexion and often equate it to beauty. Take it from numerous ads on whitening products that never fail to catch the attention of most people in our society. 

         I also noticed that it was my Filipino classmates who used to tease me about my skin color before we were on the training ship but it was my Russian classmates who appreciated my complexion. One of them even told me that I should go to Russia, because girls would definitely dig me there.

          Our society may not teach us to be proud of our own complexion, but I believe that we should uplift ourselves by not clinging to the idea that having any skin shade will mold our own fate. It's not our passport to success. What really counts is the unseen qualities of a person that prompt him to act with such dignity and endeavor to accomplish his dreams and live life to the fullest.

           I still get some jokes on how dark I am. Nognog, charcoal, tar, negrito, etc. I even receive funny gestures sometimes (my friends would wipe their hankies on me every second week of January). I don't get hurt, but when I think I had enough, I just tell them to stop stating the obvious or check the color wheel pag may time.

           Being who you are is awesome. That awesomeness includes all the aspect of yourself, even your physical appearance or skin color. And when my complexion becomes the main topic of any conversation, I always express my pride of having a skin color that marks my Filipino roots. That having a dark color, like any other color, is simply awesome.




Marino Diaries


things are different when...

SEAMEN TALK ABOUT SEX
By J.S.

           I find it ironic and sometimes awkward that seamen, a general term to call men working at sea, is pronounced like semen. Coincidental or not, it seems to have some point. I had attended trainings last year to comply with the requirements of the industry. In almost every occasion, my instructor never failed to sneak in the topic about sex.

          In one of my courses, when it's three fifteen in the afternoon and everyone had gone for a coffee break, our instructor starts to tell his stories during his life on board. He narrates experiences with emphasis on how good he was in attracting prostitutes to have sex with him. He was teaching us his techniques and telling us what he does. The next day, he began telling his other sexual fantasies. On another day, he was telling us how he cheats on his wife and how he escapes confrontations about it. Until our last day, he had not failed to talk about sex.

          I always get disturbed by his stories and I begin to ask myself questions. Is this how men talk about women and sex? Couldn't he think of better ways to keep our attention besides talking about sex? I believe that a real man is more than what I have seen. A real man has a mature mind. Someone who can think clearly. Someone who will not deal with a prostitute to satisfy his flesh. Someone who will not be proud about cheating on his wife. A real man will not make other men do the same mistakes he committed. A real man is responsible for his actions. A real man will make every sacrifice just to keep his family.

          In my next training, I was hoping things would different but it didn’t get better. While many were falling asleep, our instructor started to talk about sex to pump up everyone’s attention. Stories about his sexual adventures from Brazil to Venezuela, to Netherlands and Russia, to Singapore and China and even in the Philippines; for every country and every port, he definitely had something to tell. From the stories of these selfish individuals, seafarers became stereotyped to have gone for sex to every race in every port in every country. I couldn’t put all the blame on them for committing this mistake but I am optimistic that it’s not too late to make things right.

          The last training I attended turned out to be different. I did get sleepy but there were no lame sexual stories in between topics. We talked about sex on our last day, but in a totally different perspective. Instead of telling how to win a woman for sex, our instructor discouraged us in bringing sex outside marriage. Sex is a gift of God to a man and a woman who are bound in marriage. It must be kept sacred for your wife alone.

         The nature of our work as seamen brings us closer to temptation. Long months away from home, from loved ones make us long for love and affection. Sex may give us a temporary satisfaction to the emptiness that we have, but it doesn't mean that we have to dwell in the idea so much to lead us into infidelity. Sex is not something we should keep unspoken of either. It is something to talk about with an open mind and holistic perspective. We just have to reveal the truths and expose the lies about it.

           So, shall we talk about sex?

Random: Sala sa Init at Lamig



Ang gyro compass, bow.

           Mag-aapat na buwan na ako sa barko. Katulad ng dati kong ginagawa, magsisimula na akong magbilang ng natitirang araw ng pananatili ko sa dito. At dahil mas maikli na lang ang kontrata namin ngayon ( 6 months), makakauwi na ako sa katapusan ng Agosto kung sakali (yey!).  Medyo matagal na rin pala akong di nakakapagsulat ng maayos na post. Marami akong nasimulan pero di naman matapos. Andun lang sila sa drafts, naghihintay ng karugtong. At dahil wala naman kaming pasok ngayon, naisipan ko na lang na magrandom.

 *****

          Nadelay kami ng tatlong araw sa China dahil sa makapal na fog. Less than one nautical mile ang visibility kaya hindi kami makapasok ng Qingdao port. Yung fog siguro ang dahilan kung bakit yung mga fishermen nila eh napapadpad sa mga isla malapit sa Pilipinas. Tapos aangkinin nila. Anlabo mehn. Parang fog. Anlabo.

*****

Namumuo ang mga ulap sa malayo. Hindi namin alam na makapal pala na fog ang sasalubong sa amin.

         Pagkatapos namin ng discharging sa China eh agad naman kaming pumunta sa South Korea para sa bunkering (pagpapagasolina). Akala ko noon eh di naman matutuloy ang ilang naka-schedule na operations dahil na naman sa fog. Kinahapunan, nahawi naman iyon at sabay-sabay na nagsidatingan ang mga barge at service boat. Hindi magkamayaw ang lahat kung ano ang uunahin. Pero natapos naman iyon ng mga alas-dyes ng gabi at nakaalis kami ng Korea ng alas-sais ng umaga.

*****

          Nababadtrip ako sa sarili ko dahil nagsisimula na naman akong mag-procrastinate. Andami kong dapat gawin na hindi ko nabibigyan ng oras at madalas pinagpapaliban lang muna. Kahit na alam kong mas madami akong time na gawin iyon ngayon dito sa barko, di ko pa rin makuhang gawin. Nakakamiss tuloy ang mga study sessions namin ni Jan. Napapapursige ako. Sa ngayon sarili ko lang talaga ang kailangang magtulak sa akin.

*****

          Maraming nababadtrip sa bosun namin. Kabilang na ako. Pero di ako nagsasalita kung gaano ako kabadtrip sa kanya sa tuwing siya ang pulutan sa mga usapan. Not my thing. Nakakasawa kung puro si ganito si ganyan ang laman ng kwentuhan. Masyadong makatao.


*****

Nakakatuwang pagmasdan ang dagat. Parang salamin ng ulap. Naks!

          Kung gaano kalamig sa me Eastern Asia, grabe naman ang init malapit sa Equator. Kalmado naman ang dagat na parang nagiging salamin na ng mga ulap kung titingnan. Yun nga lang, ang iniiittt! Abot sing it!

*****

Bagong gupit. Selpi agad pagkatapos magbanlaw.

          Mag-aapat na buwan na rin pala akong hindi nakakapagpagupit, kaya kahapon, nagpagupit ako sa isa sa mga kasamahan ko. Pinabawasan ko lang ang gilid at tinira nya ang bandang tuktok. Voila! Undercut na daw. Konting haba pa at maitatali ko na ang buhok ko. Yung tipong Ariana Grande daw sa ponytail sabi ni Yccos.

*****

          Nagpa-contest pala ako sa mga kapwa ko marino. Tatlo lang ang nagpasa ngunit nakakatuwa naman ang pinagsusulat nila. Nagrequest pa ang isa na ipost ko daw dito ang mga iyon minsan. Bukas o sa makalawa, isa sa kanila ang makakatanggap ng $100. (yey!)

*****
 
Ang kalapati naming walang pangalan. Me kanin pa sa tuka.

          May alaga pala kaming kalapati ngayon sa barko. Apat silang galing Taiwan pero siya na lang ang huling natira sa kanila. Nakarating na siyang China, Korea at Papua New Guinea. Pero ayaw pang bumaba. Siguro dahil me melamine sa China, mers-cov sa S. Korea at malaria sa PNG. O dahil hinihintay pa rin niya ang pagbalik namin sa Taiwan. No one knows. No one knows.

*****
          Someone's creeping me out lately dito sa barko. Isa sa mga bagong kasamahan ko dito. He's giving me creepy stare at times. Subukan nya lang mang-assault, itatapon ko talaga siya sa dagat.


No, hindi siya yung tinutukoy ko. Me flashlight lang yan kaya ganyan.

           So far maayos naman ang lahat. Mas magaan ang mga trabaho ngayon dito kumpara sa dati kong barko. Ayun nga, naghihintay na lang ako ng ilang loading at discharging at uuwi na naman. Sana lang eh makapagbakasyon ako ng tatlo hanggang apat na buwan dahil bitin na bitin ang bakasyon ko nitong nakaraan (sabay katok sa kahoy).

Sofia



How much? Quanto?”

Ciento cincuenta minimo, dos cientos maximo.”

That's expensive huh! Couldn’t it get any less?”

Que?”

Uhm, no ciento cincuenta... how about cien? Then vamos?

No, no. Ciento cincuenta minimo.”

But that's already in euros! Entiendo Ingles? Habla Ingles?

No. No intiendo, no habla. Pero siento cinquenta es bueno para ti. Es bueno para mi.”

What? Yo no intiendo. Yo hablo y intiendo Español un poco. Can I just speak English here?”

Que?”






Ngumiti siya. May sinabi pang ibang hindi ko maintindihan. Ngumiti na lang din ako, sinubukang magsalita ng Ingles. Walang pagbabago. Hindi niya ako maintindihan. Limitado lang din kasi ang salitang Espanyol na alam ko. Muli siyang nagsalita, itinuro ang madilim na pasilyong malayo sa kinauupuan naming dalawa. Habitación, iyon lang ang naiintindihan ko. Kwarto. Mukhang ipinapahiwatig niya sa akin na mas mabuti kung sa kwarto na lang kami mag-usap.

Natatawa ako sa sarili ko. Bakit nga ba ako nakikipagtawaran sa babaeng ito? Sa pagkakaalam ko, pumunta kami dito sa bar upang uminom ng kaunting cerveza, at magpalipas-oras. Nang umupo kami at umorder ng maiinom, nagsimulang lumapit ang mga babaeng nakatambay kanina sa may malapit sa pintuan. May ilang umupo sa tabi namin, nakipagkwentuhan.

Me llamo Sofia. Y tu?

Ahh. Hola Sofia. My name? I am Froi. Me llamo Froi. Sinusubukan kong hukayin sa pinakasulok ng utak ko ang mga salitang iyon.

Kahit na madalas ay hindi ko siya maintindihan, nakukuha ko pa ring maunawaan ang ilan sa mga salitang binibigkas niya.

Taga-Ecuador daw siya. Dalawampu't dalawang gulang. Napadpad at nanirahan dito sa Barcelona simula nang siya ay dalagita pa lamang. Mas mabuti daw ang buhay niya dito, mas maayos, kumpara sa pinagmulan niyang bansa. Marami pa siyang sinabi, at karamihan doon ay hindi ko maintindihan.

Lumipas ang ilang minuto at napagod na yata siya sa mga pambungad na kwento at salita. Dinampi niya ang kaniyang mainit na labi sa pisngi ko, at may ibinulong na mga katagang di ko maunawaan. Naramdaman ko din ang dahan-dahang paglapat ng didib niya sa braso ko.

Sofia, what are you doing?”

Que?”

Humagikhik siya. Tanong lang din ang sinagot niya sa tanong ko. Muli siyang nagsalita ng Espanyol, at napagtanto ko na iyon ay tungkol sa kung magkano ang presyo kung ikakama ko siya.

“Sige na Froi, ako na sasagot niyan kung isandaan lang,” si Fitter.

“Okay 'ter, kakausapin ko muna kung papayag.”

Quanto Sofia?”

Ciento cincuenta minimo, dos cientos maximo.”

Uhm, no ciento cincuenta... how about cien? Then vamos?

No, no. Ciento cincuenta minimo.”

“Ayaw 'ter, gusto talaga wanpipty.”

“Sige lang, kausapin mo lang yan at mapapapayag mo din yan.”

Muli kong hinarap si Sofia. Inaalok ng isandaan. Hindi pa rin siya pumapayag, kaya pinagmasdan ko na lamang ang natutunaw na yelo sa inumin ko habang patuloy niya akong sinusuyo sa gusto niyang mangyari.

Napansin siguro niya na natahimik ako kung kaya't lalo siyang lumapit sa akin. Sa pagkakataong ito, tinuturo niya ang kanyang pisngi at niyayang akong humalik sa kanya.

Magiging masyado naman akong antipako kung hindi ko iyon gagawin, kaya't dinampi ko ang labi ko sa pisngi niya. Sa paglapit kong iyon, hindi ko maiwasang mapuna ang amoy ng pabango niya. Pinasidhi niyaon ang pagnanasa kong muli siyang halikan. Maya-maya, may binulong siya sa akin.

Vamos a cuentas.”
 
What Sofia? Que?”

Yo y tu...en la habitación.”

Pagkasabi niya noon ay agad na kinuha ang mga kamay ko at nilagay iyon sa dibdib niya. Ito ang pangalawang pagkakataon na nakahawak ako ng dibdib ng babae. Mabilog ang mga iyon, malambot. Nag-init ang pakiramdam ko. Parang may dumaloy na kuryente mula sa kamay ko patungo sa buong katawan ko.

Bueno? Si?”

 M-muy bien! muy bien Sofia. But I won't if it's one hundred fifty. I should be one hundred. Cien.”

Tinanggal niya ang mga kamay ko sa dibdib niya.

No cien. Ciento cincuenta.”

Uminom ulit ako sa baso na nangangalahati na sa alak. Wala na. Hahaba lang ang usapan. Hindi rin naman papayag si Sofia sa gusto ko.

 Muli niya akong niyaya at tinuro ang madilim sa pasilyo sa isang sulok ng bar. Ngunit umiling lang ako. Maganda si Sofia, ngunit masyadong mahal. Nagtanong ulit siya kung gusto ko ngunit humindi na ako. Pumunta lang kami dito upang uminom.

Lumipas ang ilang minuto na tahimik ako. Napansin niya iyon at kusa na siyang lumayo at pumunta sa grupo ng iba pang mga babaeng naghihintay sa maalok na customer.  

Habang inuubos ang nalalabing alak sa baso ko, matama ko silang pinagmamasdan. Silang naguumpukan malapit sa may pintuan at patuloy na naghihintay sa kung sino ang maaaring bigyan ng panandaliang kaligayahan.

Sa grupong iyon pinako ko ang tingin ko kay Sofia. Katulad ng iba pa niyang kasama, nakangiti siya ngunit hindi tuwa ang makikita sa mga mata niya. Ang nakikita ko lamang sa kanya ay pagkainip, at pagnanais na umalis sa lugar na iyon.

Sa patuloy kong pagmamasid sa kanya, sa pag-iisip at pagtatanong sa sarili, bigla akong nakaramdam ng panlulumo.


 


Of Landlubbers, Shellbacks and Pollywogs


 

''Be it known to all ye who enter my Realm,
that on this day this sailor was initiated
into the Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Oceans
on board the ship Gigira Laitebo

...and in Latitude 00°00' and Longitude 137°40' East,
be it remembered by all ye Mermaids, Sea Serpents, Whales, 
Sharks, Dolphins, Skates, Eels, Lobsters, Crabs, Shrimps, Pollywogs,
Ice Worms, Passengers and Landlubbers...

...that when ye are honoured by his presence, 
ye shall treat him with the respect that is due to one of my Trusty Shellbacks
than which no respect is greater because by him and by his forefathers were many new,
Whereof nor you nor any of you may to the contrary
as ye answer at your peril."

                 
Neptunus Rex           


      We crossed the equator on April 7, 2015, and that was my first time. Who would think that an ancient tradition still exists on modern merchant vessels? The pictures below will show how the three newly joined crew members turned from slimy pollywogs to King Neptune's Trusty Shellback.

 

Everyone, look! Someone's coming!

Akala namin kung sino. Si Fairy godmoth...este si King Neptune pala.
 
Magbigay-pugay tayo sa hari ng karagatan! All hail King Neptune!

...and there the three pollywogs knelt.

With my magic wand...err, trident, I hereby command thee to perform the rituals.

And then King Neptune made us drink some sort of nasty liquid.

I will toss these coins into the pool. Bring these to me and prove that you are worthy of becoming my trusty Shellback.

At lumusong kami sa tubig, kinuha ang coins gamit lang ang bibig. Dun nauso ang sisid marino.

Sa kabilang dako, King Neptune's subjects were doing some photo shoot while we were having a hard time getting the coins.

Matapos ang ilang taon, nakuha rin namin ang coins at nagsimula na ang piging! De, papiktyur pala.

 
Kasabay din ng pagdiriwang na iyon ang paglusong ng lahat sa tubig.
 
At marami pang papiktyur sessions.

At last, I'm a full-pledged Shellback. Hawak ang aking certificate, nabilad ako sa araw. Mainit. Seryoso.

       





    


Rhea

Apat na buwan na simula ng umalis ka sa bahay.

Apat na buwan na naming sinusubukang  tanggapin ang naging desisyon mo.

Apat na buwan na ngunit hindi pa rin naghihilom ang sugat na iniwan mo.

Noong una kong natanggap ang balita ng pag-alis mo nang walang paalam, hindi ko alam kung ano ang mararamdaman ko. Naghahalo ang galit, ang lungkot, ang awa at panghihinayang. Hindi ko lubos maisip na gagawin mo iyon, gayong sinabi mo pa noon sa akin na maayos na ang lahat at huwag na kaming mag-alala dahil gusto mong ipagpatuloy ang iyong pag-aaral sa kolehiyo. Buo ang tiwala ko na tapos na ang unos na dumating sa atin nitong nakalipas na mga buwan. Kumpiyansa na ako na mas pagtutuunan mo na ng pansin ang iyong pag-aaral, at iiwasan mo nang maulit pa ang mga nangyari na halos humantong pa sa barangayan.

Ngunit mali pala ako. Masyado akong naging positibo sa lahat ng bagay. Masyado akong naging mabait na kuya. Inisip ko na hindi na mauulit ang nangyari na. Mas pinili kong manatili ka sa atin gayong maaari ka rin naman  naming iiwas sa mga bagay na bumabagabag sayo. Iniisip ko lang din naman noon na nasa sayo pa rin ang desisyon kung ano ang tatahakin mo, at wala kaming magagawa kahit pa ilayo ka namin. Dalawang buwan lang ang lumipas simula ng pangalawang semester  at  pinili mo na ngang tuluyang lisanin kami, magsarili.

Araw ng pasko noon. Tumawag ako sa atin upang batiin kayo. Si Mama ang nasa kabilang linya. Alam kong may hindi magandang balita simula nang marinig ko ang boses niy. Nang magsimula ang Christmas vacation, umalis ka aniya sa boarding house dala ang mga gamit mo na sa buong akala ng ate mo ay iuuwi mo sa atin. Ngunit anong ginawa mo? Hinihintay ka noon sa bahay ngunit di ka dumating. Dumeretso ka na pala sa bahay ng boypren mo.

Napaluha ako. Umiyak, humagulhol. Magkakahalo na ang nararamdaman ko, ngunit ang higit na nagpabigat ng loob ko ay ang pag-iyak ni Mama habang kinukwento niya sa akin ang lahat. Ramdam ko ang sakit na sinisikap niyang itago sa akin. Ramdam ko na nahihirapan siyang tanggapin ang nangyari, at wala akong magawa upang ibsan iyon. Sinisikap ko ring pigilin ang pag-iyak ko dahil alam kong dudurog lang din iyon sa puso ni Mama, ngunit hindi ko magawa. Mabuti na lang at naroon si tita, kinuha niya ang telepono kay Mama at siya ang nakipag-usap sa akin. Doon lang ako muling nahimasmasan.

Wala na kaming magagawa dahil iyon na ang naging desisyon mo, sabi ni tita. Tama nga naman, dahil igapos ka man namin ngunit kung patuloy ka pa ring magpupumiglas, kakawala ka at mas lalayo lang sa amin. Iniisip ko noon na darating din ang araw na mapapagtanto mo kung ano ang nagawa mo. Kung ano ang naidulot ng naging desisyon mo.

Sa totoo lang, marami akong katanungan. Maraming bakit, maraming ano. Tinatanong ko ang sarili ko kung nagkulang ba kami ng pagmamahal at naghahanap ka ng pagmamahal mula sa ibang tao, o kung kulang ba kami sa pangaral at mas pinili mong itapon ang pagpapahalaga namin sayo. Bakit mo iyon nagawa gayong wala naman akong nakikitang dahilan upang iwan mo kami, sabihin sa amin na itakwil ka namin. Malayong-malayo sa nakababata kong kapatid na nasubaybayan ko ang paglaki at pagdadalaga, malayong-malayo sa Rheang kilala kong iniisip lagi ang kapakanan ng pamilya.

Naaalala mo ba ang mga panahong umiiyak ka at sinisikap naming gawin ang lahat upang patahanin ka dahil ikaw ba ang bunso namin noon? Naaalala mo ba ang panonood natin noon ng betamax at gabi na tayong umuwi ng bundok dahil malayo pa ang inuuwian natin? Naalala mo pa ba ang mga panahong masayang-masaya tayong lahat sa pamilya, dahil kahit salat sa mga materyal na bagay, buo at magkakasama pa rin tayo? Naalala mo ba ang pagtanong mo sa akin noon kung bakit masyadong makasarili ang ate mo dahil pinili niyang mag-asawa ng maaga?

Hindi ko sinasabing perpekto ang pamilya natin, subalit kahit papaano, nalalampasan natin ang mga problemang dumarating sa atin. Lumaki naman tayo sa pangaral at pagsisikap ng mga magulang natin na itaguyod ang pag-aaral natin, kaya hindi ko lubos maisip na gagawa ka ng bagay na ikakasama ng loob namin.

Nakita mo na kung ano ang naranasan ng ate mo kaya iniisip ko na hindi ka na gagaya sa kaniya. Nakapagtrabaho ako at kahit papaano, nakagawa ako ng paraan upang tustusan kayo sa kolehiyo. Mayroon nang oportunidad, at iniisip ko kukunin mo iyon, magsisikap ka upang hindi na natin maranasan pa ang paghihirap na dinanas natin noong mga bata pa tayo. Iniisip ko na aabutin mo ang mga pangarap na sinasabi mo sa akin noon, at ako bilang kuya mo, handang magsakripisyo upang maabot mo iyon.

Nakakalungkot dahil parang binura mo ang lahat ng iyon sa isang iglap nang sumama ka sa taong kamakailan mo lang nakilala. Hindi ko mailarawan ang nararamdaman ko dahil sa ginawa mo, dahil parang gumuho ang mga pangarap ko para sayo at ang mga pangarap natin para sa pamilya. Masakit, oo, ngunit higit pa palang mahirap ang pagtanggap sa katotohanang dumating na sa puntong namili ka, at hindi kami ang pinili mo.

Sa ngayon, sa tuwing tumatawag ako sa atin, lagi ko pa ring tinatanong si Mama kung kamusta ka na. Masama pa rin ang loob ko ngunit naroon pa rin ang isang bahaging naaawa sayo. Hindi ko iyon maiiwasan; magmatigas man ako dahil sa nagawa mo, kapatid ka pa rin namin, baliktarin man ang mundo. Sana sa mga panahong ito naiisip mo rin kung ano ang naging epekto ng mga desisyon mo hindi lang sa amin kundi sa haharapin mong bukas. 

Sana sa mga panahong ito mapagtanto mo ang mga bagay na higit na mahalaga, at ang mga bagay na nasa palad mo na ngunit binitiwan mo. Matalino ka, alam ko, ngunit sana, magbigay ng aral sa iyo ang mga pangyayari. Hindi ko maipapangako na ako pa rin ang makikita mong mabait na kuya sakaling muling magkaharap tayo. Alam kong kahit anong oras handa kang tanggapin nila Mama, ngunit kilala mo ako. Kilala mo ang kuya mo. 

Handa akong magpatawad ngunit dahil sa sugat na naidulot mo, hindi magiging madali iyon. Kaya kong magpatawad ngunit hindi sa ngayon. Hindi sa ngayon.