Originality is an illusion
Almost impossible
In this world where experience
Is something everybody meets and greets
Like an author whose work is more popular
Than the names of Uranus’s moons
Like that everyday travel buddy
Whose life to you has been a 24/7 open book
Because you do nothing but listen to her stories

Originality is an illusion
Almost impossible
In this world where style
Is a choice and choice is what everyone makes
And choice comes from options
Which means forever having that possibility
That someone else picks the same one as yours

Originality is an illusion
Almost impossible
In this world where television
Is a regular thing
And people sit in front of it
Day and night
Longer than the time
A mother spends to watch her baby sleep,
Watching the same things over and over again
With or without them knowing it

Originality is an illusion
Almost impossible
In this world where music is universal
And music artists are distinct and indistinct
At the same time
Like melodies or lyrics you think you’ve heard somewhere
It’s natural

It’s natural that even mistakes
are never original
You repeat them a hundred times over
Despite knowing repercussions,
Yes despite suffering repercussions

Your story
If you haven’t written it,
Somebody else has written it for you
Maybe he or she is from across the planet
Or just the one sitting beside you on your couch
A good old friend
Or a complete stranger
Your story
It’s never original
Somebody else has had it
A better or a worse story
And you
Must have also written stories
Of someone you haven’t met
Or of someone you will spend the rest of your life with

It’s not at all bad
This impossibility reminds us
How miraculous minds are,
How mysterious this life is,
And Why for the nth time you read your favorite book,
You still find yourself falling in love

Villain Instead

I had saved millions
But no, never call me hero
Because it was thoughts I saved
I had let them be miserably safe in the castle
When they should’ve been battle-scarred
In this war ground of words
Fighting for their death
So they could be buried deeply
Into their reader

Catching Fire

No. This is not about your hunger games. This is about catching a glimmer of light amidst the darkest. This is about catching flickers of candles as one catches flickers of hope.

The past few days, I had no contact with the world outside that mountain. I had no contact with my phone, with my laptop screen, with my regular meals and desserts, and with the fluorescent lights. I had no contact with my calendar, and with my papers. I had no watch, no make-up, no formal dress. I just had myself and the folly that I was before the real essentials of living.

That living is so complicated is an idea that never occurs to the Tanay people. Life has been rude and ungenerous to them yet they have been living it as if it were so kind and sympathetic. Their poverty is sheer simplicity to them. Their empty plates are a bounty. Their wooden couches are a cradle.

Their neighbors and their classmates are their social networks. The bamboos and the flowers are their gadgets. The trees and the uphills are their playgrounds. The soil and the dust are their shoes. The clay and their hair are their canvass. Walking and running and jumping are their dance. Their shrieks when playing are their music.

I have witnessed how the littlest things can bring out the hugest smiles; how the simplest jokes can trigger the hardest laughter; how the smallest loaf of meat can fill the hungriest stomach; how the tiniest piece of flower can beautify the dullest place; how the slightest touch of your hand can offer the warmest caress to a longing child; how your shoulders can be the highest place they have ever reached; how your old things can be the newest they have ever seen; how your flashlight can be the brightest thing they have actually held.


Sometimes, children could be more knowledgeable than you. During our immersion, the children always led me. They taught me how to get to places, how to climb trees. They showed me how to get bamboos for a living. They toured me and explained to me history behind things. They told me stories only people who had that kind of perspective could share. They taught me how to be a child all over again. They taught me I missed a lot of my childhood. They taught me hope beyond its very meaning. They taught me living. They taught me life. And they did not even try.

Contrary to popular belief, the candles they light at night are actually not a necessity. They can survive without these candles, I am sure of that. They can even walk along the trails without any lamp. But why do they have to light those candles if they are not necessary anyway? It is because these candles are the only luxury they have. These are the only extravagance they can treat their families with. These are the only things that could express their undying hopes to have better lives when not one of them bothers to express it beyond the mask of contentment. These are the only fire they can catch, with their dreams as their arrow, their family as their bow.


After all, I didn’t have any regret in participating in that immersion activity up the Tanay mountain for I met people way richer than I in more ways than you can imagine.

Between a rock and a hard place

Indecision to decide
Is worse than being in a quandary
When every petal
Is a wretched foliage
Blown feebly by the wind;
When every bee
Is a pathetic follower of nature
To serve pollination;
When every root
Is a shameful creeper
Helplessly hiding under earth;
When all soil
Is a barren home
Divorced from vitality and warmth;
When each moment is a loss
And fate is a coin tossed.