I woke up not knowing what to expect. I cowered under the sheets, allowing a few more moments of forged security to calm my senses. It’s a mean world out there after all, and I am just another grain of sand in the vast desert of moving mortals. Among the triumphant titans, I am just another broken soul, just another grain the rain washes over, just another useless body to use, just another name to forget.
The world is suffocating from the smoke of burnt offerings. It had gone blind from the glitter of fake gems crowding the altar floor. It had gone deaf from the roar of pretentious praises. I have nothing to offer but my broken soul. My pockets are empty except for the pieces of my being I tried to keep but failed to put together. My feet are muddied because of the puddle my tears created. Will the altar accept my fears and nightmares as offering? Will it be willing to take my dark memories? Maybe not, so I’m walking on.
The clean congregation mocked me. I have soiled their sacred ground with my careless mistakes. It is sacrilege to come with my sadness, my shadows misfitted among the crowd of the enlightened. I am a sinner walking along the clean floors of the baptised and the chosen.
Some dreams are created in dirty alleys. Some hearts are born along infested gutters, like colorful confettis left by a grand parade. Some souls scavenge garbage bins for a bit of kindness, a drop of compassion. Often though, this world is fast to sing hallelujah, but too stingy to give love to those who need it the most.
I am my sacrifice. My life is my offering to God, along with the shadows of my past, my mistakes and my weakness; my fears and my confusions; my broken dreams and my endlessly bleeding heart. I have nothing that glitters, for I am a black hole. I have not memorized scriptures but I can recite what I often tell myself when the devil wants me to end it all. I can tell you the names of the people I cried with, people I allowed into my hiding place so that even for a moment, they will not be alone. I will tell you the story of my life, grit and all, for it is all that I am, and it is all I have to give, in this makeshift altar among the outcasts, the lepers, and the lost.
You walked this path before I did, unfrazzled and innocent to the dangers that we seem to attract. You built your home before I did, and weaved your dreams like an unsinkable ship. That was your mistake. You trusted the world too much. You had no idea, not until you were snatched out from the comfort of your bed and hanged upside down from a tree. Not until you were burned at stake, by the very people you tried to protect. I still don’t know your name.
I woke up drenched in sweat from a nightmare that should no longer frighten me because they were mere repeats of every night’s interrupted slumber. Nightmares that are no match for what reality has in store. Yes, reality is more threatening, because it’s logical. Because the evilness isn’t just weaved from distorted imagery and besieged memory.
Are you buried somewhere in this lonely earth undiscovered and forgotten? Will your bones suddenly turn up in one excavation too many, like a story reaching out beyond centuries, and beyond a hundred lifetime? Maybe then, you can tell me your name.
All I know is that I’m not alone. Not in the face of betrayals and not in the face of broken dreams. You’ve faced them before I did. Made the mistakes I should have made. And each night as I awaken from another disturbing dream, I’d sigh because again, I’ve forgotten to ask your name
It would have been my folly, a consequence of not thinking straight, that there were too much upturned earth in our midst. The signs of indecisions, the epitome of a collapsing life. That warning sign that says, “You have no idea what you’re up against”.
Time had not weathered most of the scars. The dead birch tree still stands on our backyard, like someone refusing to move on. Of course the roses have all died a long time ago, perhaps the same time we both started dying. Before the very essence of our union started its short journey towards decay.
The child’s swing still hangs. A sad reminder of a dream that’s never meant to come true. A thing so misplaced, it distorts the very essence of its existence. It’s all been a gamble, and we lost big time. Like planting a rose in our backyard in the middle of winter, foolishly hoping it would survive to see spring.
The house resonates a sad whimper each time the wind blows. Old houses and sad memories, of dreams and defeat. We once had a life, and it perished within these walls. And the evidence of the catastrophe marks every corner.
And so I walk in it, day and night, haunting, remembering, retracing the steps of a life that had once been mine. Touching the walls that only knows the past and never the future. The floors creak, and the old beds sag. The photos on the walls look on like windows to a twilight zone. The old grandfather clock strikes midnight, and I continue my walk around and within the house, that once hid my body and now imprisoned my soul.
When you’ve been touched by a monster, you’ll never forget. The scent will forever haunt your waking hours, and uncertainties will always be nudged in to your dreams.
No one wants to be a victim. No one wants to be labelled weak. Justice sometimes come many years too late, and the damage had taken root, obliterating everything you once believed to be true about yourself.
This world is full of victims, and monsters alike…, of predators and prey. And no one is like what they seem to be. A world overtaken by disguises and masquerades. A world swallowed up by the sheer need to dominate or survive.
There are those who fight back. Those who simply refuse to be taken down by circumstances. Those who hold the memories like torches against the black nightmares that permeates the night.
When we’ve been touched by monsters, we never forget. We learn to acknowledge the fact that life is a series of breaking and rebuilding. That absolute justice only happens when we brave to stand once more and make something out of life, with the monster’s reek and all, we struggle to live a significant existance nevertheless.
I’ve been touched by monsters. And I carry their marks on my soul. And because of that, I have become immune to their seductive lure.
Just so people will understand how a Doctor To A Bario is actually being carried out nowadays: All physicians who are DOH scholars, or doctors who had their education in government subsidized medical institutions are obligated to serve atleast two years in areas of needs. But, the government can not force these doctors to serve in areas that are obviously dangerous. No doctor can be forced to go to war torn areas or in areas where security can not be guaranteed. So, how did Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas end up in Lanao’s Municipat Health district? The answer is simple. He chose to be there.
Dr. Perlas was just 31 when he was shot dead by an unidentified gunman while on his way to his apartment, yesterday night. He just returned from a medical mission which he himself spearheaded in a far flung barangay in Lanao. People who witnessed the incident rushed him to Lanao District Hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
Lanao lost a dedicated doctor who placed their needs above his, and the medical community lost a brother, and a respected collegue.
He could have stayed in Aklan, where he will be among the people he knew since birth, or he could have chosen to go to Manila to specialize. He could have become one fine specialist, and allowed some fine things in life. But he chose to be deployed in a war torn, derelict, and chaotic area, away from his family, and far from any chance of career advancement. Why? Because amidst the mutation and open destruction of our beloved profession, there are doctors like Dr Perlas who find his medical license not as a key to make money, but to serve the poorest of the poor. He served the outcasts, the discarded, the unknown. And he was killed burdened by the sufferings of these people who seem to have been forgotten by the world.
He was only required to give back two years to the government. Instead, he offered 12 years, an entire lifetime, if you come to think of it. 4 years as BS Biology student in UP Los Banos; 4 years as Medicine proper in Visayas State University; and finally 1 year as post graduate intern. He did not specialize. After receiving his medical license, he chose to serve in Lanao and spent 12 years of his life there as municipal health officer, until his death, by a single bullet that pierced his heart.
The entire medical community mourn his passing, but it is the Lanao people, those who reside in the outermost limits of civilized living, who lost the most. They lost a hero. They lost their “Superman Doc”.
When you murder a doctor whose life had been dedicated to serving people that for years had been deprived of doctors and medical care, you did not just murder one person, you killed an entire community.
She was engulfed in smoke
Somewhere in between
Consciousness and sleep
In death throes deep within.
She cried silently
In the blackness of night.
While dreams danced.
She held on tight.
She is somewhere in between
With what is and what had been
She was an obtrusion.
She moved in shackles
While all the others soared.
She fertilize the land with her flesh.
While the rest of her they devoured.
No, it’s not easy to write, especially when the subject is myself. I struggle to communicate to others what I do not have a solid grasp on. I am a specimen I do not look forward to dissect.
I’ve questioned my insights, doubted my perspectives. And as a story takes its form, I question its significance. My mirror is as smeared as anyone else’s.
So why do I write?
I have no clear answer really. I do not have a delusion of grandeur. I only knew that writing eases the thoughts that keep me awake at night. Thoughts that have no meaning until I write them down. Noisy riddles amidst the silence of blackness, I call them, like the insistent chirping of crickets that penetrates even my sedated slumber.
The significance of a life holds meaning only to the one living it. But stories have echoes that transcends the invincible perimeters that separates one life from the other, and it makes its dents and marks in varying debts, just like music.
I write, because it’s the only way this world will make sense to me. It’s how I manage my pains and uncertainties. It’s how I put the abstract pieces of a puzzle together to mean something. I paint a story with words, until an image I can understand takes its form.
I do not write with a subject in mind. I write with an avalanche of seemingly unrelated thoughts, and an overwhelming feeling of sadness and fear. These thoughts are interlaced together only as they are written down.
I guess I just admitted something I’d be judged for. The collateral damage of trying to unbox the person to its barest. Well, I am still a story teller, and I launch echoes that will haunt long after I have ceased to exist.