On Romance and Romantics

One of my eccentricities is collecting books. Not the popular books of today but those which your parents or grandparents have delighted in reading long time ago. Some refer to them as “obsolete” fiction but for me, they are classic. I have a penchant of collecting all the titles I can get my hands on from second hand bookshops. Why do I love these books? Maybe because they have fired my imagination. Their pages may have yellowed through the years but the stories remind me of people I am fun of, wrinkled and browned because of maturity, yet retaining the beauty that makes them interesting. These are my kind of books.

My hobby of collecting led me to different bookshops in the malls and shops around the City. Looking back, I started collecting since 2005. Just imagine how many volumes I got for almost 12 years now.  Why am I collecting these books? What is special about these books? These are few of the questions that I have been asking myself whenever I find myself burrowed in some second hand bookshop’ shelves or in their *ukay-ukay sections.

I wrestled with my conscience so many times about the “sense” of collecting these books. Am I really investing my money on something that matters? They don’t cost me millions but if I will sum up my purchases from 2005, roughly I spent a thousand or more. Yet these books believe me or not fed my soul. In a way, they help me think and believe in the beauty of the human spirit, the” real” us obscured behind  our “make up”, hiding the inner person. This I think we call “soul” needs some feeding like we feed our hungry stomachs.

To take care of ones soul is as important as saving for an insurance policy or a health insurance. It is an eternal investment since it takes care of something that has eternal value and that is the soul. My books helps my soul grow, be in touched with what matters with humanity, the foibles and finesse, the ugly and the exquisite combine. I rejoice in being a lover of these special books and I find delight in every pages of my collection. I keep them displayed so that I can look at them and find joy.

My burgeoning collection can be categorized into three: 1. Romance fiction 2. Detective fiction and  3. Classic fiction. Novels by Betty Neels top the list of my category 1 and some of these paperbacks are courtesy of Harlequin Romance dating back to 1972.  Neels’ humor and interesting characters caught my fancy for years now and compared to some modern Romances available nowadays, none could equal the charm of this author’s plot and storytelling. Although, we keep coming back to Netherlands and England for its setting but the interesting thing is that the familiarity does not” breed contempt” rather it produces a sense of intimacy with the author and her characters, a feeling that you are “in the know” as if Jaap and Susan are your neighbors. The doctor-nurse tandem of her stories adds some drama to it plus the compassionate characters that she makes them. What’s fascinating about Neels’ women protagonists is that they are often plain “Janes” but meaty characters. Some women were described as “mouse-like” but they possess certain beauty in character, one which truly matters in reality.

* a Filipino colloquial term for bazaar or bargain. “ukay” means to dig.

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The Filipino Heart is BIG

I believe that we Filipinos basically have a BIG heart. This gives us the capacity to embrace diversity, welcome changes and to see the bright side of difficult circumstances. Our BIG heart also allows us to  incorporate anything beautiful and excellent from other cultures and include it our in our menagerie of something exotic, extraordinary and more. This BIG heart also allows us to go beyond modernism’s limitation in terms of believing in the supernatural or the reality of GOD. As a Filipino, I believe that GOD has something in mind when He created us, so watch out and see!

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When hope enters a heart, no one can stop it from dreaming of a better life. When the seed of hope begins to grow it will create many transformations in the life of a person. Then he/she begins to know what’s real and what’s not. This poem hopes to illustrate the movement of the Filipino spirit that has encountered what real and eternal life is…..

I burst  like a flower

kissed by the eternal Sun

I fear nothing even if my days

are numbered on this earth.

As petals turned pale

and I lay my head down

Tomorrow awakes me

to another day.

I see open spaces

of vast infinity

mirroring silver lakes

and pathways of gold.

Life begins now to eternity

Mourning turned to dancing

In this land of the living.

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The Call

I wrote this poem back in 2008 when I was helping a mission work among the street-level urban poor here in Davao City. This poem is a part of my reflection about the plight of our Filipino teenagers living homeless in the City…a sad reality that we have to face as Filipinos so that we can do something about the situation….

Don’t walk the narrow spaces of haunting shadows

Where talons of desperation claws at you

Stop running from the light to dance the song of death

Where hope smokes out from a blackened heart.

Fear is a menace if you harden your heart

To the voice within, calling you name,

Listen to the sound that beats in your heart;

“I am life! I am Life!, Come here!”

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We are Not Pure Filipinos

To say this is to admit that we as a people are not a pure breed which is in fact has its own positive connotations. One positive thing about our race is that we can be versatile. Versatility means we can play different roles and adapt to different environment since our race is a mixture of many peoples. Mongrels may not be pure breeds but they have the highest tolerance to adverse conditions compared to pure breeds I guess. This blog is a celebration of all that is Filipino and that implies a mosaic of different cultures blended in one person who is distinctively a different flavor or design from the others. We are a creative lot and we celebrate our diversity. This blog will feature some of the good things that a Filipino acquires from his/her vast experience in life, from his/her journeys and wanderings. We are the true “people of the world” and with that is the capacity to find our niche wherever we are in the part of the globe.  We will talk about Art, Food, Music, Poetry, People, Spirituality and many other beautiful things that make life what it is–worth living!

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