Teaching my Left Hand how to Right

You know how things go, tender one.

You believe you are here for the sole purpose of supporting your sister’s shit.

Maybe it’s because of natural order

that you were considered inferior

so mama trained you to compensate in appearance.

For the longest time, you remained soft, smooth, and clean

decked with the finest of gems,

shelled in the warmth of a velvet pocket,

only for the small price of following someone else’s directions,

holding someone’s extra weight,

and picking the less important tools.

After all, she wasn’t named right for no reason.

You know how things go, tender one.

You have already resigned yourself

to a life that is easy just because you obey the order of the universe.

It’s a credo you have long since memorized

while your sister, your other self, upsets the balance by

flipping the bird and deciding to collapse

for an indefinite vacation

leaving you all alone in this house

to fend for yourself

without any last note or technical know-how.

You know how things go, tender one.

Life shits for the weak,

but I just want you to know

you have always been strong even now.


Your limbs are capable to carry weight and open doors.

Maybe not as powerful as your sister’s

But strong enough to pick empty beer cans and unhinge a few locks.

You can still wash dishes, dust furniture, pull blinds

Purging this house of sheltered ghosts

As you let visitors in.


Don’t mistake your softness for weakness. Your naïveté for ignorance.

There will be nights when the curve of your palm will be home for someone else’s.

Someone whose hands are roughened by a day’s work, calloused by life’s grievances

will find solace in the cushion of your tenderness.

You will be this hand’s stronghold

as its bones melt within your embrace.


When dust gathers at the pads of your fingertips,

you will find yourself nimble to lift a pencil and shape clay.

Probably not yet adept enough to create a statement

but you can always start with tracing the shape of your name.

Learn its strokes, its intricacies,

your long loops, and abrupt stops.

They are imprints of your own making.

You are not your sister’s handwriting.

Maybe your sister forgot to tell you this:

Making lines is an intentional cut through time and space.

Keeping your existence entails work.

So grip.

Flex those tender muscles.

Do things that only those who are left alone can only do

instead of obsessing on how to be the next Ms. Right.

Because you can never fill in her gloves

but you can always choose not to be left behind.


Notes to a Younger Self

Forgive your parents for never giving you an older sister. They had a hard time making you possible, on the first place. Besides, you’ll have tens of sisters looking after you by the time you reach my age. And if you are still not contented, know that you have a built-in sister system:

That’s the two other personas living inside you.

Do not freak out. Everything will turn out to be alright. You’ve probably noticed that something is strange about you ever since you were a kid. But not all strange things are bad. Let them grow. They are just like you. They eat, they sleep, they also fart. And because you all share a space of a body, you’ll be assured that there’s someone who is going to carry your shell home when you are already lost in your world of daydreams and emotions.

Befriend your other selves. Talk to them. Hang out with them. You’ll find out that they have their own ticks and they respond to different names, but they are still you in every sense. In time, your friends will learn and accept the difference. And even though they have a favorite persona to hang out with, they would still love you all the same.

You are one of a kind. Never shortchange yourself for a person others want you to be.

But even though as I speak this, I know that you’ll still go through that process (I wouldn’t blame you ‘cause I wouldn’t be here if you didn’t). You’d play it down and repress your other selves because you probably think that you suck, and you dress terribly. Yes, you did dress terribly when you were in high school. But be consoled that at least, the people who befriended you aren’t fazed by the way you look or the way you smell. They like you for who you are, hormones and all. Treasure them because they saw you when you weren’t even seeing yourself.  Yet.

Know that things will get better when you reach college.

But you’ll still carry that angst that you had by the time you meet new people in your university. It’s never easy to let go of something just by changing the way you look or the place you live in. You’ll grow your hair long. Dress in fancy outfits. Do things that the cool people in your high school think you’d never do. You’ll drink shots and shots of angst laced with curiosity, chased by regret. It’s a potent cocktail, after all. It makes you feel giddy and down at the same time. But please drink moderately. You need to get sober so that you’ll remember the names of the people who you meet in mixers. You won’t be able to do so when you are drunk; you tend to confuse their faces with those of the people who have hurt you in the past. You’d end up sitting alone at the bar because you think you are just in the same club no matter what you do. Again, do not shortchange the night for drinks. This is your time to dance. Revel in the beat and changing of lights.

At the end of the day, go home with the people you know you can have coffee and brunch with when you wake up the next morning. They are the ones who aren’t afraid nor intimidated when you start drunk-stripping in front of them. They are the ones who wouldn’t take advantage of you when you let your nakedness be exposed in full light. They’d probably lend you their underwear when yours lay forgotten in someone else’s bedroom. Stick with them. Do not return the things that they’ve given. Rather, pass it to someone else – to the next partygoer who’s wasting away like you did last time.

Do not break this chain of kindness. Someday, it will return to you but in a different form. When it comes back, do not keep it in your closet. Give it again to the next person in need. That’s the way life goes.

When lonely, do not wait in empty train stations. Do not chase after buses that have gone already. Never wait for someone to pick you up. That boy you’d texted would never come (back). He never promised to come, anyway. Learn to walk when public transportation fails. You’ll appreciate the landscape more.

When society tells you that actions speak louder than words, reply that actions should also be backed by words. When someone acts nice to you but doesn’t tell the reason why, it’s either because (1) he’s afraid, or (2) he’s a jerk. Have nothing to do with him. You need a man who has the balls to say that he likes you and can stand by it.

Instead, listen to people who love poetry. They have a keen eye for beauty. Observe how their words disambiguate defenses. Thus, they also make sense of your tedious and flawed way of thinking. Look at the world through their lenses. Befriend their muses. You’ll learn more about yourself when you do.

Not all things could be learned from adults. Sometimes, they are the very ones who would twist the ironies in you. Look not at the teachers but at the lessons. Take down notes. Pass it to your juniors who wouldn’t believe it anyway. When your theories get shot down or discouraged, understand that hostility is a mask of fear. You are probably treading on something that has yet to be discovered or tested. Continue. Not only for your own benefit, but also for those who would come after you. They’d probably believe when things get written in books.

But do not get complacent

Because change is constant. The things I’m probably writing right now might probably be not the same tomorrow. Likewise, I know that you’ll end up kind of different from the person that you know you are right now. Cheer up. You’ll see better days. You’ll also see worse days. But know that as long as you are willing to evolve, the future will save a space for you.

All the best,

Your (young) self.

An Open Letter To Meme and Vienna

May 29, 2014


May Anne Gorion and Viennalyn Jane San Juan

Two of the Most Important Persons in My Life

Here in My Heart (Yes, this is how cheesy as it gets)



I’m writing this because I have so many feelings from our “despedida” coffee + cake + conversation earlier. A part of me wants to continue this convo that we had and haul you into my room for an overnighter. Alas, it can’t be. Vienna has a TR for the night, Meme has to take care of her CavSu papers/business et.al and I still have to go to work tomorrow. Times have indeed changed. We can’t just ditch our classes like we used to. We have different sets of priorities now and we’ll probably have less time for each other. That is why, I really appreciate it that we have made time for each other today. Thank you for being there. Thank you for pushing it. Thank you for putting a high premium on this relationship.

Actually, I want to thank you for a lot of things: For being there when I’m sick and stranded (even when I’m pretending to be sick- thank you for tolerating it/covering it up for me at times). For being my wingman/parent/brodah/devil’s advocate when situation calls for it. And most importantly, for showing me the world in another perspective…in lots of perspectives, actually. I don’t think I’ll be the person that I am right now if not for the two of you. I don’t think I’ll grow my hair this long or I’ll ever have the guts to go to a high school reunion party (and pull enough courage to talk to the guy that I liked for so many years) if not for your support. I also don’t think I’ll have the motivation to try to find love again and to leave many dysfunctional relationships behind if not for your lives. My thank you’s are not enough, actually. I don’t know any other words to express how much grateful I am for your existence.

I am rereading Kundera [again] and I’ve come across his musing on Nietzsche’s idea of eternal return. Examining it, he concludes that Nietzsche’s idea would render events that happened only once as nothing, bearing no weight at all no matter how beautiful or sublime it is. On the contrary, things that happen again and again bears weight and becomes a burden for mankind. That is why history is given importance (because it repeats itself) and we consider the people who we passed only once, as something that is trivial. But in the latter chapters, Kundera asks- if people try to assign opposite attributes to pairs, what is deplorable and what is splendid? Heaviness? Lightness? What shall we choose?

Connecting these questions into our lives, what are we? Do we recur or are we the-only-once-in-this-lifetime type of friends/people? What is more ideal, more apt to describe this friendship that we have?

I still don’t have a sure answer for that. As for now, I like to tread the gray area and conclude that we are both- lightness and weight. Just like how Meme’s love returned to her through Vincent, this friendship that we share will recur and will return to us, only in a different face.  And with that, I am grateful because you showed me how friendship is like. However, a part of me is still torn because…I don’t know. It’s still different in a way. I cannot imagine myself having this kind of relationship that we have with our other [future] friends. There is something (a 1%) that stays inside the two of you that when you leave out of my life, I know that it will not return to me in the exact way again. And this is not the clingy me talking. In my heart of hearts, I know that will not be this same person without the two of you.

I’m sorry for my messed up understanding of philosophy and for not making any sense at all. But yeah, I know we’ve been through that already. And thanks for hearing me out, despite my inconsistencies, incapacities and dramas. Just a few stuff that I would like to say to [both of] you (in no particular order):

  • Thanks for picking me up when I was helpless and stranded. You were the only persons who did. Now that I think of it, I’ve met many people who respond in times of need. But they are the types who respond when it’s kind of convenient to them. You are the only persons I know of who would brave a storm just to rescue a friend. Thank you.
  • Thank you for teaching me that love is not passive. That it is not as rosy and ideal as it seems. That it fights, it gets angry (but it overlooks and arrives at compromises) and that at times, it also admits defeat. I still haven’t found THE ONE yet, but thank you for believing that I still have a hope in this field. SOMEDAY.
  • Thank you for understanding my Stockholm syndrome with Jason. You know how much I am tormented with my high school shits- and how much I am making a big deal out of it. I also know that at times, you get tired from hearing it. But thank you for lending an ear anyway. And for being my devil’s advocate when I need a whack in the head and a serious reality check.
  • I’m sorry for not giving you gifts. I’m still broke. Thank you for overlooking all our debts to each other (when we can help it). And for being patient when we collect it. BEST FRIENDSHIP EVER. J
  • For the sex tips and sexploits- I’ve learned a lot from you guys. Looking forward to practice it in the future. Please buy my first pregtestkit (KIDDING (but you know what they say about jokes)).
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=450p7goxZqg
  • I don’t think there is a need to reaffirm this, but YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. BEAUTIFUL. BEAUTIFUL. Not even Pau’s beauty could rival to yours, I swear. And that’s saying something.
  • Maan is still the most beautiful in my eyes. Don’t contest over that.
  • Since we will not be seeing each other for a long time, the super attentive nice guy I’m talking about is actually- shit, should I really confess this?– a barista. Shame he’s not on duty when we were there. And aside from the many other reasons why I’m having second thoughts on him, I’m actually quite unsure if he’s nice because he’s paid for being nice. But god, how he notices the little details that either annoy or gratify me. You know that I have a thing for SUPER kindness. Well, he’s the one who pulled the strings just for me to print my resume on time. He’s the one who recommended to try the drink that we had awhile ago. And he has puppy eyes- Ian-like, puppy eyes. ANYWAY, I’m leaving Ortigas so there’s no reason for me not to hold back this piece of information from the all-knowing eye of the internet. I’m doomed.
  • I love you
  • I love you
  • I love you
  • I will never stop nor be shy to say how much I love the both of you because really, I do. I love you more than what the English language could supply for the word “love” because that’s how I really think and feel.
  • Writing to you because we will not be seeing each other for quite a long time is just an excuse. Heck, we know better than to put this relationship into the hands of Fate (c.f. Invictus). Let’s go camping together. Finish that darn checklist. Add more to that. Stargaze while lying in the trunk of a pick-up. I know that you will not be like my other botched friendships in high school because we’ve fought for each other. A lot of times.
  • See ya.


I love you,

Hannah Riesa/Harie/Hannah Abangan

Your Forever Abanger Friend

Even in the Parallel Universes


P.S. I really appreciated the Kebabers stunt. I guess that sealed what I feel for the two of you.



Throwback Saturdays: The Coin

I made this poem a year ago- back when I had so many questions that needed answering. Some of those questions have never been answered. But it is alright. Time has a way of compensating for what one has lost. 

The Coin

The coin thought

That he’s old enough

Circa 1993

Forged by sweat and fire

Once a shiny, spotless piece

But now

Already a dull silver gray

Already grimy at the edges

Already passed through many hands

(Some soft and squeaky clean

Some rough, almost hardened

Some glistening with blood and sweat

Some covered with dry gloves or mittens)

The coin thought

That he’s old enough

Until one day,

A man plucked him from the pocket of his jeans

And threw him into the sea

And down, down, down

He sank

As the sea creatures swam

Totally oblivious to his demise

The coin thought

That he’s old enough

Until he fell into the sea floor

And felt the dusty embrace of the earth.

Until he got covered with its thick softness

And tasted it salty-sweet.

Until he smelled the loamy musk

Which the oceans stole when they were born.

And finally, the coin knew.

Derek Walcott: Love After Love

Love After Love

Notes: The reason why I discovered this poem is because my all-time bias, Tom Hiddleston, has posted this in his official facebook fanpage. Of course, coming from no other than Hiddles, I made a quick right-click and selected ‘Save.’ Little did I know how this poem would carve out a niche in my heart.

I don’t know about you, but there are times that I just hate myself for being pathetic. I mean, I know I’m not perfect but I also know I have both good and bad qualities that make me an interesting person. There are just times, though, that I feel so inadequate…so inferior compared to those “true blue beauties” that I know and meet on a regular basis.

I’ve been doing a lot of self analysis on as to why I feel that way and I found out that the answer is really simple: I always think that I’m just the second best. I know because I’ve been hearing this a lot from the people around me: “She’s kinda pretty but she’s fat.”, “She’s nice but (insert friend’s name here) looks more appealing.”, “She’s smart but she’s the only one in her peers who doesn’t have a boyfriend.” and all other things. For years, I grew in an environment where who I am right now is not enough- I have to be something more. I have to be better, to be prettier, to be more charming, to be slimmer…there are tons of things I should be. And it’s frustrating.

Of course, I’m not placing all the blame on the society I am in. I’m chiding at myself too, because instead of confirming my own self-worth FIRST, I’m trying to seek the affirmation of everyone else just to ensure that my identity has a considerable value in wherever I’m in. What’s even more stupid is that as I try to get their affirmation, I lose and drive myself away in the process- I grow up hating the current version and dreaming of a better one in the future: sexier bod, more charming disposition, a higher social status, a boyfriend…the list grows endless.

I am not saying that it’s wrong to dream. There’s nothing wrong about self improvement. What I’m pointing out is just wrong with me is that I’m dreaming because I’m angry and discontented with what I have…with who I am right now. I am trying so hard to become the person that I want to be that I fail to accept myself for who I am right now.

Where does Derek Walcott’s poem fall in this?

“Love After Love” tells that wholeness only comes when I will look back and see that, hey, I wasn’t inadequate after all. I was already made complete. And so do I am right now. I don’t need to use references- those love letters from the bookshelves, the photographs and the images of models posted on my mirror. I don’t need to try so hard to earn their love. Instead, I just have to feast on my life, on my own image that God has given me, and everything will close to a full circle.

Adequacy comes when I’ve forgiven the mistakes I did in the past and when I’ve loved my past self- all its glory and all its flaws. Who I am right now is not a failure neither who I was years back.