Letter to Lola

As you rest in power, I can’t help but to think of a string of apologies that I’ve kept at the back of my throat
The strength in holding them weakened my voice
So I apologize for staying silent for so long,
I’m sorry I’ve missed you

I’m sorry for my absences
I never thought my attendance would matter in the long run
I skipped quality time for time that ticks money
And now I’ll never be able to share my wealth with you
The times I’ve spent while away
While paying my dues
While making sure that I was okay, first and foremost
If there is one thing university taught me, it’s that skipping classes will have you miss out on key lessons – and most times they’re not from the textbook

I’m sorry for being selfish
It was so hard for me to see you suffer
I watched you carry my sister, my younger cousins
As I am sure you have carried me, Chris, Jas, Kuya and Ate too
Your arms spread like Nike’s wings, you carried us to victory
Up until you no longer could
Up until we ourselves learned how to fly on our own
And had to look down to see you laying with all of your strength confined to your bed
It hurt to see you incapable
It hurt to fly without you
I promise the clouds will comfort you more than your bed ever has

I’m sorry for letting go too soon
For the times I’d see you and not hold your hand long enough
For not constantly reminding you who I was
Who I am
Anak si Pidong. Anak si Meren. Capatid si Melissa.
I will never forget the smile that shone when you remembered
It was the brightest 10 seconds before memories faded back to black

I’m sorry for not being by your side in your last moments
But I promise you I celebrated life
Especially yours and its freedom into eternity
I felt the supernova of your soul touch the atmosphere
Maybe that’s why it was scorching outside that day
I felt the heat of your steps catching every beat
I swear you were with my friends and I
You let me know that you can walk again
That you can sing again
That you remember who the fuck I am

And I know you can see and hear me better now
But I’m sorry that this is not in Ilokano or Tagalog
Though I recently developed a craving for it
I still yearn for my mother tongue
An opportunity for a seat at the table
An opportunity for a seat with you
I wanted to know your story
To capture the beginning of as far as I knew the Toquero’s ran
The start of Tita Rose’s crawl
It was the beginning of us being rooted to you
We are the fruits of your neverending labour
Though we are not your end
Your legacy will transcend generations


phoenix (performance edit)

I have burned myself to the core for the sole purpose of my renewal
and resurrected from the burdens of my past mistakes and decisions

From these ashes I rise brand new
shedding any remnant of a past me you once knew
She no longer lives here
but her memories serve as lessons for as long as these wings pick up the winds beneath them

Her journey is as far as the edges of the horizon and as deep as her soul allows
though the depths of this distance may frighten her
she knows she will never be lost or drown

After creating homes in places I have never known
I feel familiarity within the ways the winds blow
its routes reassuring the power of my wings
I let my history weigh in
slowly but delicately
my legs have been waiting for this moment

And I take off once more

Reclaiming a newfound strength that is untouchable
feeding the stomach of her new being
she is nourished with knowledge, love, and light

Soaring to new heights, I am no longer afraid to fall
knowing I will rise once again


enough (performance edit)

Curves full of body and soul,
are your hands whole enough to hold her?

Are they strong enough to not let her slip through the cracks of your fingers?
Do you see how much she carries between them?
How much power she holds in just the spaces?

She leaves them open
for you

But are your hands ready?
Are you willing to have knuckles crack at the expense of freedom,
willing to get your fingernails dirty,
willing to risk breaking bones
Are you willing?

Are you enough?

Are your hands delicate enough to cradle her heart
letting it pulse in your palms
transferring energy through your fingertips

Can you feel her pain?

Can you feel the number of times it has broken before you
its tears still in the process of healing
can you feel them too?
its beat emulating the syllables of lies she has heard before you
following a basic algorithm

Are you the one to solve this calculation?

Can you process her through a multitude of equations
or is she just another addition to your problem solving
and if she is,
are you smart enough to subtract her before she further divides you from your formula of manhood?

Are you?

Are you smart enough to decode her locks?

Maybe you can unlock her walls
revealing the bareness of something real

But will she let you?

Unknowing of the weight of it all
are you ready to catch her when she falls?

Are your hands bold enough to hold her back when she wants to chase danger?

What if she wanted to chase you?

What if she wanted to keep chasing you into tomorrow,
making each tomorrow better
so it feels like you’re forever living

Do you still want to hold her then?

What if forever is not enough for her
what if she wanted yesterday

So how about now?

Will you still be there to hold her tomorrow?

If she brings a tsunami will you offer your hand
or do you watch her drown in her own faults

But what if she brings the sun?
Do you hide yourself from chances at burning
or embrace her radiance

Can you handle it?

Endless possibilities with predictable reason
her energy fed with passion unlike another

She will always be more,
never empty
a continuous refill of might

A woman with such power holds the nerve
has the audacity to make a man question if he is
to hold

This power held not with her words
nor actions
but with a simple glare
that gleam in her eyes that asks,

Are you scared yet?
Are you enough?
Are you love?

But are you man enough
to let her know,

You are
You are not



wavy like the moon
I make you ride the earth’s plates

forces waving hello
leaving goodbyes from under my feet
I sink deeper as she pulls back, dragging the ground beneath me
But my feet stay firmly planted though

the winds dare shake me, attempting to brush over my thick skin
The final masterpiece showcasing a blank canvas and missing the point of absolute destruction
they barely kiss the atmosphere in which I am breathing
but my chest never caves in

My chest pushes out with pride
I remain satisfied with my stance,
both feet firmly planted

I take on this newfound power and ride with it
I rolled until I crashed onto different shores, caressing new lands until I learned each callus and each crack, hole and misfigure
I figure one day I will fill each void
my droplets seeping to the very bottom comforting the grains above me
keeping them grounded in the land I planted myself in

I am rooted in my surroundings under the circumstance that I will continue to grow through every living thing

You cannot escape my oxygen
you are breathing in my words, messages rushing through each artery
soon turning into muscle memory

Can you feel your blood warming up?

You now know what I know
another capacity achieved while your brain is retaining the way that I speak
the frequency of my voice rocking the waters of your mind

They say waves don’t die
and neither will I


in her shoes

I dare you to walk a day in my shoes


Walking in my shoes is an understatement as I
strut with seismic powers
I tremble the ground you stand on
I rattle your senses
I crumble your expectations of what a woman should look like
what a woman should be

The slightest of my footsteps exude grandeur
their soundwaves have the ability to reach the most open of fields
producing decibels that shatter your eardrums
I want you to hear me roar

I am constantly on the prowl
each move more calculated than my last
this climb as exhilarating as ever
I can the see light of my goals ready to highlight my existence
the feeling almost ethereal
the ecstacy of the rush uplifting me
I feel myself rising

At only 5 feet tall
I have experienced the forefront of cosmic heights
felt the depths of the soil
and although I know the infinite capacities of the galaxies
I still slip on my 6 inch heels to gaze at the stars

I am boundless to the world
the stars pixelating within the shimmer of my eyes
they foreshadow the vastness of my future
so I ride the waves of the universe
its lengths carrying me through life’s hills and valleys
these landscapes as intimate as the second time around
my first time coming was a mapless scavenger hunt

With the mastery of cartography within my grasp
I will no longer be lost
I have coloured in the places I have touched
and marked those I have yet to visit
my navigation skills at their peak
sun peeking over the horizon
illuminating the lands I will one day conquer

So don’t tell me I’m too small
because these size 5 heels are a big space to fill


edit: the de(a/p)th of us

We hold onto unfamiliarity
clutching onto its very existence
I wonder if you feel it too
the heartbeat of the unnamed
the breath of something that is very much so alive
for the moment

I realize I have never reached this depth
a surface I had always wandered but never cracked
chipped but never broken
I only knew the surface level
an intimacy only skin deep, I longed for the profound
wondered but never explored
I wanted to get to the core

Scratches on the surface are a collection of failed attempts
patterns turned my pain into a masterpiece
memories fragmented of a rotten past
nightmares persist within the same frame
an endless rerun of a shadow leaving
I never remember the shape
but I know they always leave

But continual efforts of a deeper expedition render me confused
we reach an untouched fraction of the same surface
I am on foreign grounds
I have never been here before
yet flashbacks of shadows pry into my mind
a paranoia of you soon disappearing
questioning if your intent was to leave
questioning if your intent was temporary
questioning your intent, period
I’m sorry

Our grip on the unknown tightens
holding onto a sense of knowing it was never there in the first place
we never intended on the descent
yet we lay six feet below the ravaged surface
deeper than the skin we lay in, we’ve left that behind
the complexity of being bare
maybe we should have left that too
but I sink deeper, my doubts multiply
though I can still see the light pierce through the now peephole
I can still feel the warmth

I grew fond of an embrace that loosened over time
a habit that turned into desires
I can only feel my hands now
they clasp onto the mystery of something we knew was once there
irrational thoughts flood my attention

I can never seem to focus on the fact that you’re still here
an apparition manifested into reality
yet I still look for your shadow
even when you’re standing right in front of me
I still look for your shadow because
I don’t feel your presence anymore
even when you’re standing right in front of me
I still look for your shadow because
I can feel you leaving with the sun

The ambiguity of falling to the depths of the unknown
my hesitations tend to win sometimes
I never mean to scratch you with the surface
unnecessary battle wounds render you fatigued
you still stand in front of me, chest high
you still stand in front of me, soul low
you still stand in front of me

Why are you still standing in front of me?

My hesitations tend to win sometimes
I question your ubiquitous ability
an exhausted you prevails, rupturing the surface that I spent years of scratching
you are now everywhere and nowhere
another place for you to stand
yet you still stand in front of me, tattered
you still stand in front of me

Why are you still standing in front of me?
Holding on like my body never took the space or time
I am everywhere and nowhere
like fog
I am everywhere and nowhere
in your arms

But I still feel your heartbeat
I still feel your breath

and I will still hold on


warm waters (12/15/2016)

You are the calm before the storm that never happened

I was always treading lightly in cold waters
My body became adept to the numbness
A feeling I adapted to
An almost forever after

A swimming chameleon treading harder
wavelengths rippling in different patterns
frame translucent transcending into fluidity
the waves drifting her away to where nothing mattered

As long as the water is warm, I’ll feel safe again.

Spinning cycles into the direction of wavelengths,
its patterns transformed into a full design
I finally learned to make use of my wasted time, and
created my beautiful dark twisted disaster

But after the storm is the inevitable calm
an ambience once perceived and lost
I flowed into unfamiliar territory
I accepted the challenge

I felt the Sun’s rays in the spaces I wanted to explore
I craved the adventure, hesitantly
Taking my first steps,
doubting whether or not I wanted more

I called to mind all of the times where I labeled this substantive
A “Once upon a time” ago
A pleasant fate I never attempted to believe in
I lived loving freely and dangerously
distributing elements I unconsciously held
until I became emptier than what I used to be

Then the water settled around me, pouring into the cracks of my skin
Filling in the voids I coldly ignored
Temperatures fluctuate: a slow rise, then fall back to the beginning
I am stuck in a different cycle
This sequence more than comforting
I sense more of myself than I had ever been

I felt a body of water
I felt a body
I felt a
gradual warmth of the current igniting a sensation through my veins
I was lost in the arteries as my blood turned iron into steel

The Moon protected my serenity though her waves crashed onto me
I was ready to drown but only if the waters allowed
Nonetheless, my soul is eternally afloat

Warm tides brushing my body, an attempted reminder of this being my reality
The absorption of warmth grew to be a radiating part of me
Something tangible I can never let go of, the waters waving inside of me
I can already hear the whispers of the shore, a steady welcoming

Remnants of the ability to swim flood my memory
Soon regaining the strength to move, once again I move reluctantly,
but surely, the waters will carry me to familiarity
A place that once felt like home