Showing posts with label singapore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label singapore. Show all posts

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chasing Sheep

It is past midnight again, where a heightened sense of wakefulness gets repetitive and unwittingly long. At this very hour, I am sure of but one thing, that restlessness will be stretched out all throughout the olden night. It invariably happens to me whenever I oblige myself to finish reading a chapter or two of a good book -- a great escape from the day-to-day 8-hour cycle of labor -- until I lose the elusive sleep. Now I regret shrugging it off, for I have to impatiently await its revisit in the wee hours of dawn. 

The electric brain waves have not ebbed just yet, and the least I want is to have to open my eyes at such an ironic, unforgiving, inopportune time. 

The wind blows a slow chill at 16 degrees toward my conspicuous naked feet, which manage to crawl out of my thin blanket. The white lights from outside knife through the curtains, not helping in concealing everything, lifeless and breathing, in this room. Blackholes, after all, do not exist on earth. Even in a woman's jet-black locks, one may find a stray brown strand of hair, an outlier that triggers an itch. Pardon me of the utter nonsense. Why can't it all be painted black at night? 

I look up the headboard, following a wealth of visible spectrum past through the window. There goes the culprit. I wince at it. Is this the threshold of sleep deprivation? Or a wry humor? 

I can feel the quiet fanning of the AC, fixed up high at the side of the dull whitewashed wall devoid of anything artsy, hung or posted. Its soft mumbling turns into a lapping of the soles of my feet, rousing a gentle tickle not enough for them to retract, nor for me to curl up. I can endure it for hours, like a log, so long as hypothermia remains at bay. I love it, and it might lull me to dreamland, just maybe. 

But still, it does not help, and I cannot invoke sleep. Now it has become a luxury. Remorse is everywhere, when I should have seized it while it was on a high courting me to rest. The more I resist it, the more its spirit dwindles. I realize it is a sulking fellow, too, which will leave you alone furtively. Now I am running after its tail, and it is, perhaps, around the bush, stubbornly hiding. 

I finally reach for my phone at my bedside, switch it on, in hopes that writing about the luckless circumstance at this very hour will tire and let me fall asleep.

Image: Woodlands Waterfront Park, Singapore

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Over a Bowl of Thai Beef Noodle Soup

Block 183, Toa Payoh Central, Singapore. An old man, with silver mustache and beard trimmed to an inch long, spilled out his beads of wisdom at the hawker centre. It was him and his audience of only three, and then there was me seated at the far corner of an eight-person, elongated table, across, one seat apart from a young man, overhearing their discourse. They were done with dinner. Their mess all cleaned up save the man's cup of coffee, half-full. Black coffee it must have been, spelling a whole lot of luck to a much-needed goodnight sleep for the aged.

I had just started with mine, a Thai beef noodle soup from a newly-opened stall. This one's better than its Vietnamese brother at Block 177, I confess.

It was half past eight. Really, I was starving and could concentrate less on anything, except for food, of course. But I had my ears pricked up, anyhow.

And now the host was on a roll.

Old man: I started smoking at a very young age. It was in my secondary years. I am cleaner now, hopefully. Finally, I bid goodbye to smoking.

Young man: Did somebody tell you to stop smoking?

Old man: No one did. It was my body who did it. It almost gave up on me. And, oh, dear God, the Holy Spirit struck me in the head!

Young man's mother picked her excited hands, clapping several times. But hands barely touched each other. Such discreet hands.

Old man: No cigarettes for 10 years now.

Young man: Wow! After 50 long years! What an achievement!

Wife, sitting beside the old man, kept on smiling with beaming eyes.

Then I started with my mental calculations, wishing I had the sharpest of concentrations.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Memoirs of the Hopeful

Something keeps my mind pre-occupied unnecessarily at this pitch-black hour, like an extreme comedy enforced upon a lifeless outrigger sailing aimlessly over the immense, fogbound ocean. It holds captive all five senses, their purpose lost. It seizes my faculties, rendering me a hard-core inutile on the ever faithful ground. Much more, it punishes the last dregs of my breath. It screams king from its exploding, arrogant chest; and I am the enslaved soul on all pitiful fours, fettered and wounded. It spells dread in its countenance that I shudder and become weak at the knees. It lives in a prominent, arresting mansion over the hill this poor dreamer could only fancy about, as it murders the sullen truth that rides the silent and infinite ripples of black water -- putrid and nobody's wine nor tea. The phantom lingers its shameless exploits round me. 

As I don my tattered shirt and threadbare pants, which speak loudly of what it wants me to, exhausted with bloodshot eyes, I toy with the penetrating idea of how to escape, which is now a crime. How hapless this soul is, it could not sing anymore. But there should be a tunnel out! If not, I could dig my way out all day without its prying eyes noticing. I could outsmart my enemy, however skinned my hands and restless my heart would be. I have to. 

Now it seeks to suck out of my life, leaving me freezing in stiff air with the deafening, shrill cries of its mocking guards lurking in the dark, whose labyrinth-red eyes I can only see. Poised to battle against this mimicry of the devil, I pretend not to hear any of it, nor to imagine what creatures bear those eyes. I turn myself into a modest stone. I need to endure its bigotry. 

I close my eyes with a dying heartbeat. I swallow my saliva to quench a parched larynx, only to murmur within myself. I rest my mind from the convoluted pollution. I hope to muster a sleep. 

This is not a race to forever, nor a fruitless struggle. A triumphant claim looms over me.

Image: Toa Payoh, Singapore

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Plant

There you are my muse
in the nook of my soul,
looking out for my god
dressed in my faith and hope.

How the silence of your mien
perpetuates through my afternoon,
is to my indignation not;
it is the fuel stirring 
my affair with solitude.

I delight in your fine expression
-- coy, playful, full of conviction,
yet unpredictable.

You carry the eyes
watered with spring and summer,
and direct which to mine;
and for that, so grateful I am.

Despite all the nuisances
dangling and screaming around,
you remain calm and steadfast,
only to breathe with me,
to sleep in our own pulses
and be swayed by our simple happiness.

I catch the phrases let out from your foliage
-- young, smiling, and still wading
in the ruffled air and storms.

I love you.

Image: Toa Payoh, Singapore

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lungs and Nicotine

Left with the unavailability of tables for starving beings with pink lungs and nostrils that unwelcome their nemesis called nicotine, I lunged myself to the far side of the hawker centre. It was the perfect spot for the addicted patrons who were puffing away on a cigarette as if smoke would be contained in their own boundaries, their imagined vacuum, and wouldn't dissipate to elsewhere. My butt sat like it owned a puff smoke shop. However, in a snap, there was the prune-skinned uncle, the sole master in command, not of a sinking ship, for, as he claimed, he had lived a good life. And my thoughts came running from old age to "the calling." I am sorry; I have to euphemize the latter. I am just caught up in a paradox. 

I hoped for an easy trespassing that I felt I did. My lungs said no worries; all things would be very well, anyway. 

I carved my teeth into my pork pao, and it caused a scene in my mouth. My taste buds met it as a father would his prodigal son, making me hungrier, yes, salivating even more. The pork and the pao milled out of their juices, forming mini-balls and bumpy plains, finally, were pushed down to my storage, making me a fraction of a pound heavier. Oh, how my gut worshipped anything but pork! It sang in glorious harmony! I took a sip of my iced lemon tea bombarded with ice barrels -- ah, just a perfect companion for my pork pao. 

I enjoyed my afternoon cravings. I really did, until four more smokers joined uncle. Our circle swelled with nicotine and rained ash. Indeed, they had their own vacuum, and that just killed someone else's pink lungs.

Images: Toa Payoh Central, Singapore

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Midnight Air

Just when I thought these presumably two grannies would only stay up late at night, chatting and laughing comfortably on a bench, lo and behold, they actually sleep on it! Strange. But, I want to believe they are not homeless when everyone has virtually a decent shelter here.

Rationalizing. Probably, all they want now is the company of cold air past midnight, and that's them not needing any blanket nor any jacket. Are they just resting for awhile, napping on the metallic? What is thinkable is just strange enough still.

And, if you could shift your eyes closer to the foreground, uncle has finally hit home.

Image: Toa Payoh, Singapore

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Cup of Honey Lemon Tea

Sitting on a ledge on top of the palace of dreams, gusts of wind slap my face solid with an invisible, animated mask, compelling my eyes to grasp less of the wide plains and my lips to unwittingly shape curves and crooked polygons.  But it is a joy. Bliss, the fuel to my veins, darts my heart pumping, and it starts from where the weather bears fruit of all that is good. At this elevation, I claim to be floating and flying wingless as the colugo leaps and glides from tree to tree.

As I turn forty-five degrees to my left, there is the hammock of lullabies, in its lucidity against the ageless sun, hums the mountain’s distant, forlorn songs and those melodies that echo paradise. At this very moment, the former is muted. The lovely music travels to my soul, caressing, reassuring, and healing every wound. I forget and move on as the saxophone plays on, the only instrument that can legally rob the violin of its the most romantic title. Induced to hear it, I close my eyes. Every note, every high, and every low, is emotion verbalized.

Captured by the fragrance that bleeds behind my back, I step diligently onto the immediate arc my feet can reach. Oh, the surprise of all wonderful surprises, the red roses in the garden beds smile at my already tickled look. Painted by the master of nature, they glisten beautifully and slowly pick up the music I hear. Nothing can be carelessly uttered, when all you know is that everything is right and perfect and sound and seamless.

Then the rain suddenly comes pouring down, as I become a poor fowl perching on some bare branch. It has been years since the last time I was this drenched, and it brings back good, old memories. I am far from ending this moment; the water is just beginning to taste as good as a cup of honey lemon tea.

Image: Singapore

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Thing About Those Little Things

Even if you have to metamorphose into something less human-like, you are important, just like the toiling Philippine carabao that ploughs the rice field under the peaking sun, mindless of time, and its shrinking energy denied of water and rest, or the diminutive ant that with its marching army scavenges for and carries crumbs heavier than its own body.

Even if you have to be oblivious to the fact you are a thinking being, you are important. No matter how menial a thing is, however reduced your cerebral capacity is, you are important, an integral part of a whole.

Even if those humongous, watchful eyes towering over you only see the superficial, the skin-deep, you are important, because you are that essential of a detail, that small mud-brick that composed of the colossal pyramid.

You little thing, you are important. Yes, you are. You are greater than all those above you combined. You are highly appreciated.

Image: MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Singapore

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Solace in Perfect Beauty

Blankness. Blackness. The streak of light that arrows through my left foot, that with its loyal pair freezes in all its indolence coupled with the sogginess underneath, blaming the scorching air that pierces the virtually muted room. The still motion disgusted by the sole arthropod doing its rounds on the ceiling. The dust that finds the darkest corners as its home parades itself as a quiet killer. And the intensity of silence that amounts only to the sound of eternal tick tocks and the faint honking of cars a hundred feet away. All these set me in a subtle trap. I feel the immobilization on this varnished wooden chair is as long as an unfortunate series of events.

Distraction approaches its rebirth every time the faculty of memory involuntarily scans the unforgotten times of me and you. And it is as tasty as more than half of the grocery store’s bitter gourds.

I remember you.

Those crazy times I pursued the youthfulness of you, embraced by the summer air in the same breath as those cold nights, were never a mistake. It was during those times when I realized that a bland being could love, be thrilled by your distant presence, where my pupils dilated like never before, be sometimes shy by your nearness, and be hurt by that fire that resulted in a throbbing Romeo. Those rainy times I penned those love letters by the window, were silly nonsense, but a child is always blameless and only his adulthood finds fault in its absurdity; we laughed together when we reread those eight years later. Those playful times we chased each other running barefoot on the solitary hill among the wide plains conjured our song. That beaming time I touched your delicate milky face as you adored drawing your favorite TV character, and those aimless scribbles meant our simple happiness.

But that happiness indescribable inside our light chests flew miles away years ago, unidirectional like it could never come back. It was gone to nowhere, to never our land anymore.

Never will I gaze again at your beauty that transcends living on a borrowed time. And when seen from every angle, it is like a candle that never melts. It glows, lighting up a dark room, in all its perpetual glory, wiping the sadness away.

Image: Joo Chiat Road, Singapore

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Her Name Is

Down the river in the wilderness, a distance too far for my eyes to see unmistakably, a figure emerged gracefully from the ground, a silhouette wrapping her milieu, swaying with nature’s cadence. I could tell it was a face accompanied by her long locks and body with royal proportions.

She was dancing with the night. Her fluidity that joined the water facing the majestic moon, the cold wind that touched my weary face, the trees that broke the silence, and the nocturnal creatures that bore witnesses to the magic, had me enchanted.

And I fixed my eyes at what could be the satellite in her sparkling eyes, the shape was beautiful. I stared at hers for too long. I wanted to see more, and then we were locked, chained by the universal obedience called togetherness. We were face to face. My proximity caught her by surprise. She lifted her hands to mask the entirety of her face, perhaps fighting off the pressure that crept into her midst, and hiding from a stranger. But, I saw it. It was a snicker, twitching her eyes, which left my heart racing the whole night. And she disappeared, remaining without a name.

Nevertheless, there is still a today or a tomorrow when you will tell me your name in my consciousness.

Image: Woodlands Waterfront Park, Singapore

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Conflicts: Politics, Religion, and Relationship

Nothing can be well-explained when politics come into play, for it is colored in the worst kind of discrimination and subtly reserved for the players’ own interests that would become blatantly shameless. Disenchantment is upfront, compounded by the fact that can nevertheless be more right or truer in its sense as they sail their own boats only to defeat the others dirtily and to surface atop the rest, wrapping it with an overwhelming victory in their all-encompassing calculating minds so undeserved.

It is sadder upon the realization of their now bared textured souls, rich in cavities you wish to scrape away until they become spotless and pure, even if they have to bleed and it calls for your exhaustion.

For human spiritual needs, an open mind to accept that which satiates the soul in a moralizing tone freed of a heavy heart can be let enough than to debate and refute their truth against yours. When we do, violence is out there silently laughing, waiting to explode.

Violence only breeds another. It is an endless vicious cycle that is trapped and bottled unnecessarily in the name of defence as the oppressed or of offense as the deluded, yes, the often brainwashed. No one is above the other, no one can tell which the more absolute truth is, and no one is ever more powerful -- for we are all born equal, believing in the One with different names.

The reality of an individual is relative due to his/her circumstances and how he/she experiences life. Religion becomes part of life, a reality meant to be appreciated to make sense of our transient existence but never to cause harm on others, especially that the barbaric times had centuries-long been gone.

Innate human imperfections are precisely to be blamed. No one stands faultless succumbing to a fallibility, which may be grounds for the friction. We try to be logical, we dare to be called correct, we act to will it, only to cross past boiling point, thus, the clash.

A petty or a serious skirmish is but linear, it takes you to a dimension infinite and never ending. However, it takes a humble party to resolve it, just brave enough to talk it through and to ask for forgiveness, which will snowball into something far greater than any reward one could imagine.

From there, despite marked history, a relationship can still be perfected and not dead any more.

Image: Toa Payoh, Singapore

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rainy Days Shed Some Light

Today isn’t the first time the skies descend into the earth. Nor is it the first time the soaring birds nestle in their shelter, heavy and shivering cold. It is the millionth time, perhaps, the lightning strikes the hapless animal left cut out of a life in the open farm. It is the millionth time, perhaps, the traffic on the highway becomes sluggish, attempting to test the patience of jammed brain circuits. It is the millionth time, perhaps, the wind blows too strong, ripping the window naked, shamelessly giving an unwelcome opening. Nothing will ever be a first time.

As the rain thuds on the roof, waking up the asleep snuggling in bed or keeping the idle up in the couch, nothing remains as vivid as seen under the blue sky. Everything rightly becomes a world of parallel visibility. It becomes the alternate world taking over before the eyes of a stranded soul. And it’s been recorded recklessly in the pages of time. It is nothing new, and the past has been repeating itself needlessly sometimes.

Nothing is new in the books of age, where the past is just waiting to be flipped through only to be retold in the later chapters. The past has its way of propagandizing itself as either a ridiculous or lamenting alter ego. Sometimes, it is an agonizing piece of junk in one’s hand. But to give light in the dark, more importantly, it makes sure that through today it will serve as a lesson for tomorrow.

Nothing will ever be a first time, but anything can be your first.

Image: Singapore

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Balloons Don't Fly Away All by Themselves

When you free someone close to you for reasons you have known all along spell of his/her happiness, you free a big part of yourself, if not the biggest you realize you could never keep until the very end. But it’s not a bad thing after all. You have simply removed yourself from a sea of uncertainty, false hopes, bitterness, and being unfair to yourself. And the grandest of things, is that you have just found the ticket to your salvation.

It’s not an easy personal decision, perhaps, but over the days, months, or years, the only choice there is, is to grow apart from each other, and as optimism does nothing but miracle, move on to where you should be – in a far better place where you could finally pick yourself up, despite having let go of what could be once a prized possession.

Yes, a possession that evaporated over time.

Just like the balloons that could never be yours forever to keep, and in ways ironic as they seem, you appreciate them more as they soar great distances away from you. Untie and see them fly away freely to reach their highest, than to be with you forever unhappy and dying bit by bit.

Image: National Museum of Singapore

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shades of Grey

According to the wise, only two things in life are real -- one is black and white being the other. These two gauge what is exclusively a right and what is a wrong, what is a yes and what is a no. They are perfect instruments to weigh on objects, people, and deeds, and judging differentiates one from another. They help assess the value of something by tagging it with either of the two extremes and no middle ground.

However, black and white alone make no sense, sometimes. If someone asks you for an opinion, sometimes we have to bypass a straight answer for a less obvious one. We become our own moderators where mitigation creeps in because we want to keep the better of the relationship while sounding rational and honest. A filtered response seesaws in our thinking before we shoot it out in order to be more careful with the person’s feelings. That in a sense is just being a person sensitive enough for the feelings of others.

Great are those who can speak their minds with no holds barred. They speak that way because they know what they are doing, are knowledgeable and truly gifted communicators. The highly opinionated would only tell you whether it is black or white and no grey areas. But it is beside the point if you’re being self-centered. Egocentricity is manifested in so many ways, and let me point out one way in the context of the topic. It happens when you fail to check the people around you because you’re so full of yourself and the lack of sensitivity is astounding, blurting out what’s always on your mind for your own good. All you could think about is saving yourself from the sinking boat first, and yes, probably, you care for others but just using the wrong means, which would be easily misunderstood. The worst is when you tell everyone that it is just the way you are ever since, and that you deserve to be understood. Point well-taken, but have you tried improving yourself lately, and until when will you be deadpan? Have you, after all these times, asked yourself whether you said something enough to be hurtful? Being hurt and hurting someone is a good thing only for the good reasons.

It is high time to re-evaluate, re-examine, and open that window to your soul you probably for long refused to see. You need to see it for yourself. A change of heart will help you do it, and that shades of grey sometimes deserve some recognition after all.

Image: Woodlands Waterfront Park, Singapore

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pulau Ubin: Rustic Side of Singapore

Little is known of the old ways and what used to be. But with much curiosity and keen observation, history effortlessly unfolds before your very eyes, taking you deeper into the forgone times.

Once you step into the soil of Singapore, its overwhelming modernity somehow makes you forget about its beginnings. Coupled with its clever conveniences, shiny skyscrapers, green environment, Singapore does exceed best in many categories, drowning you with all the good things in an ideal city, providing easy access to anything and anywhere, presenting you with possibilities of the future (if you know what I mean). Surprisingly, to the delight of probing heads and adventurers at heart, Singapore does have remains of the past, and what I’m talking about is its living past -- somehow untouched literally that pulls you closer to a better-sounding laid back setting as opposed to its fast-paced lifestyle. That there is still an area in the city-state that is stuck in the past.

So let us travel a few short miles from the central to one of its islands called, Pulau Ubin – Singapore’s last frontier, appropriately far removed from its common definition: ultra-modern.

Pulau Ubin is situated off the north east coast of the mainland and only 8-minutes away from Changi Point Ferry Terminal via a bumboat (one-way fare is 2.50 dollars per person). Upon arrival, you will be greeted with numerous streamers, which mean business is so alive in the island. It is just sprawling with activities for adventurers most especially.

Personally, the best activity there is biking. There are numerous rent-a-bike shops there, and it is worth giving emphasis the “2 Dollars” signs because it is a bit deceiving, for the price is meant for kids only. When we went there, we ended up renting 9 dollar mountain bikes and started pedalling our way at 11 in the morning (until 4 in the afternoon). During that time, we met so many bikers on the road -- families, couples, groups of friends. The paved roads made biking a lot easier save when we went uphill, which was quite challenging.

Then, we headed to the abandoned granite quarry sites that turned into lakes - sure they're quite scenic.

Biodiversity is best exemplified at Chek Jawa Wetlands, located on the south-east tip of Pulau Ubin. It is divided into the Coastal and Mangrove Loops -- home to nipa palm trees, mangroves, wild boars, mudskippers, birds, and many nocturnal animals.

Pulau Ubin is simply an enjoyable contrast of the city, where you can see one-floor houses with aluminum roofing and on stilts, where locals are getting creative at their own backyards as opposed to typical HDB units so confined within equal spaces. Truly, it is simply the other side of Singapore worth exploring.

Changi Point Ferry Terminal
Biking and the road
Pulau Ubin jetty
Welcome to Pulau Ubin!
bicycles for rent
monitor lizard

Pulau Ketam
Pulau Ketam, a small island off Pulau Ubin
as seen from Pulau Ubin
Celestial Resort

Abandoned Granite Quarry Sites


Rural Singapore
definitely, not a typical Singaporean house
houses on stilts
taxi stand
Noordin Beach

Chek Jawa

Wild boars
Jejawi Tower
nipa palm trees
mangrove trees
mangrove tree roots
trail in the marshland
House No. 1, a pre-war structure facing mainland Singapore
House No. 1's jetty

Leaving the island
We had a wonderful day! :)

Back to Changi Point
Changi Point Ferry Terminal
Changi Beach Park, near the terminal
It was March 19, 2011 when the moon was closest to Earth; it happens every 18 years