The Tragic Story of Half a Chocolate Heart (as told through a poem)


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taken from
Today, I saw tragedy.

Lying on the street

between Taft and Vito Cruz

soaked in a puddle

drenched and looking forlorn

was half a chocolate heart.

I wondered,

where could its other half be?

Is it lying at some forgotten corner?

Staying, hoping, and waiting for forever?

And if by some miracle, they do see each other

would they still fit together?

Uneven edges and all? Would it be that easy?

Wouldn’t it be messy???

But wait …

I guess the biggest question of all is —

can we really call this dismembered remain a heart at all?

Does a heart remain a heart, even when it’s not whole?

And while I thought of this,

a passing jeepney backfired

startling a poor soul walking by

causing him to jump and step on

that poor half a chocolate heart.

Ah, what a horrible end to this story

For now we know 

the two halves would never meet,

for our half a chocolate heart 

is definitely crushed beyond heartbeat.

Yes, too bad, it’s too late …

and now, all I could think of 

is how badly I’m craving for chocolate. 


What I learned from Nobel Prize laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa


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Last Nov. 8, I was fortunate enough to attend the awarding of the honorary doctorate in literature degree to Nobel laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa, at De La Salle University Manila.
He fondly recalled that during his younger days he was educated by La Sallian brothers, and one of them, Brother Justiniano, taught him how to read. Llosa then proceeded to tell us about the significance of reading and of the power of literature to change us and grant us a deeper and broader understanding of ourselves and the world.
Here are some of the learnings I’ve gleaned from listening to his inspiring speech. Unfortunately, I did not have a recorder with me, and so the following account is a mixture of his words and my words as well.
1) Good books enable us to overcome prejudices. It is within the pages of a book that we will find characters and situations that are hauntingly familiar to us. According to Llosa, stories make us realize that there is “the equality of human experiences”. We are not alone, and at the heart of it all, we are all the same. Think about it, have we not all felt love, despair, hope, jealousy, or happiness? Have we not all witnessed the miracle of life, the silence of death, the victory of the human spirit against all odds, or the tragedy of loss so great that it leaves us feeling numb? It is because of this equality of human experience that we are reminded of the truth that — we are the same.
2) Good books allow us to access civic and spiritual values. Books are avenues to explore and understand other people’s beliefs, ideas, philosophies, faith, and opinions. It is by reading about other cultures and other lives that we learn to understand other people, and in the process, we are also able to reflect on our own values and beliefs.
3) Good books develop in us a dissatisfaction with the way the world is, and it also develops in us a hope that society will be able to transform for the better. I think that statement is already self-explanatory.

On Reading

One of the remarkable things that Llosa said that captured my attention was this : Reading makes people think, and in the process, it critically engages and “trains citizens of a free and democratic society.” He also said that, “It is not exceptional that regimes in history have tried to control human lives and are always suspicious of literature … because literature is a vehicle that carried the fears and the realities of the citizens and individuals.”

On Literature

I was able to quickly jot down what he said about this, and I think, if I did miss out a few details here and there, they are quite minor and could be excused. So here is what Llosa said:
“In free society there is an idea that literature is just an entertainment. This is a big mistake and a dangerous mistake. Yes, it is an entertainment, but at the same time it is also a kind of knowledge of the world and human beings that, you cannot learn from other fields. Literature teaches us that we have living experiences, we learn to enter into the intimacy of a culture, and the personality of a human being — allowing us not just to learn who we are as human beings, but also the most secret aspects of our personality — our feelings, our passions that determine our behavior. So, we must read and we must teach the new generation how to read. We must convince our children that reading is a way for them to become better citizens and to face challenges that they would encounter in their existence.”
I end this article with those powerful words. I hope that this piece would inspire you to read, and while you’re at it, why don’t you start with some of Llosa’s novels: “The Storyteller” or “The War of the End of the World”, which won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature.



The End Days


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There are no stars tonight
the sky is dark
black as a funeral shroud,
and all I could hear
are the croaking of frogs.
Faintly, from somewhere,
from everywhere, it came
becoming louder
like a thousand thunder
the deafening sound
of a multitude of gnashing teeth
and the keen wailing cry
of banshees running mad,
as the moon turns red
looking like the great eye of God
fixed, eternal, steadfast
all seeing, all knowing
the hearts and thoughts of men
hearing, understanding
putting on record all of man’s mockery
waiting, until the appointed hour
when the well of mercy runs dry
and the moon is eclipsed
as the great eye closes,
upon hearts of stone that are cursed
and there is nothing more, but darkness
descending relentlessly,
for we reap what we sow —
and the juggernaut of reckoning comes
on burning wings of requital it strikes
unmoved, unaffected
by time and the rise and fall of kings,
and I could hear angels sing
a dirge
as the rain of blood
fell from the sky
drowning out the frogs
and the land turned crimson
when judgment came
beyond human will and reason.
Artwork was taken from

Ashes of Yesterday


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She was earth,
warm and giving
perhaps too willing,
perhaps too trusting.
He was fire,
hot and fiery
too burned
too weary
to see how he hurts her
how he consumes
all she could give,
until in the end
nothing remains
but the ashes of yesterday.
Note: Photo is mine.

Thoughts of A Nobody


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I am a nobody.
A disembodied face
wandering the narrow streets of this city,
a constant in the alleyways of squalor,
a witness to everyday horror.
I am a nobody.
A normal abomination.
Civilized society’s aberration.
Seen yet unseen.
Child of the sewers lost in the din.
I am a nobody.
A ghost? Spirit? Monster?
No one could tell,
but one thing is certain,
I can inhabit any shell.
I am the undead walking
looking at you with red bloody eyes.
I can make you turn away
with derision or confusion,
and your conflicting emotions
leave us all, with nothing to say.
I am the unpleasant prick
who stabs you, in your face
with the savage force of truth
and you wonder why you are bleeding
as your heart constricts in panic
while I feel — nothing.
I am the gut-wrenching stench
that you cannot get rid of,
seeping out of the gutters
creeping towards you
with the fatal embrace of decay
making you sick
with a soul-numbing fear
that you cannot allay.
Look closely now and see …
the ghost
the monster
the unpleasant waif of reality —
the hollow souls of this city,
fleeting from place to place
in the darkness
under a bridge
in the smoky chambers
deep down a filthy underpass
in shrouded crowded corners
of boxed walls and pungent floors
in carved-out tree trunks
surrounded by patchworks
of tattered tarpaulin dreams.
Can you see me now?
I am the little girl clawing, reaching
for the juicy meat that you’re eating.
Or perhaps, I am that little boy searching
for priceless plastics and papers
worth an honest day’s meal.
Maybe, I am the old woman, hunched over
on some forgotten steps, begging for mercy –
the compounded interest
of century after century
of flawed democracy.
A broken soul, purloined
who now lives for the rattling of coins.
But I could be that man, waiting at the corner
emaciated but still acting tough
scrambling to call you a cab,
because if I’m lucky enough
you’ll toss me some dough,
but are those ever really enough though?
Better yet, I am that woman, carrying a baby
peering and knocking on your window,
hammering down on a glass,
separating me from you,
forever closed,
like the display cages at a zoo.
I gaze at you, from the outside
I stand, quietly staring.
Asking for some loose change
that, I know, is far from coming.
I am them. I am a nobody.
Unknown. Unseen. A statistic in your book.
Just another number in your ordered world.
Yet, maybe, someday this nobody
will make your blood run cold.
After all, I have nothing to fear.
Nothing to lose.
And each day the hunger grows
fed by pain and loneliness
fueled by your beautiful apathy
parading each day in designer clothes
that everyone could see,
I could see ….
And I grow tired of seeing.
So maybe, one of these days
at knife’s edge
you will see this nobody —
within that split second
reflected brilliantly in silver —
become your somebody.

Photo was taken from:

Morpheus Dreams


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Light a candle for me

by your window

keep a vigil 

for dreams of bright-eyed boys and girls

soaring in swirling silver moonlight,

flying toward the sky

on backs of dragons

so fierce that their stare

could make the moon blush bare.

As phantoms of starlight

dissolve in pools of sunlight

lost in depths of wispy details

this heart must stand witness 

for the stories, the forgotten memory

of a night that was

but could never be

in the shadowed halls of your mind

in the sleeping corner of your heart

where myths live and breathe

and nightmares have teeth

that gnash and howl 

under the fast fading night.

(Artwork. Tomcrielly. “Morpheus The Sandman”. Web.

Chasing Sunsets


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Have you ever looked back  

at a sunset and felt 

all your yesterdays 

staring back at you?

Then your heart

ached and swelled

at the bittersweet knowledge

of how fleeting is today?

(Photo is mine, from my IG account: saintcharlotte)

The Baptism of Rain


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With my arms wide open

spinning like a child,

under this pouring rain

caught in this curtain 

of cascading silver ribbons

baptizing me with awakened dreams

I will laugh

l will live

l will love

And with my tongue sticking out

in defiance to this world that says

I can’t

I won’t

I shouldn’t

I will raise my cup in laughter

and drink liquid starlight.

I will taste with pleasure

the freedom of being reborn,

and thank the howling wind

and the relentless beating rain

for seeping through my tired soul.

Allowing me to answer the call

of a half-forgotten wish

that came to life again

under this blessed rain’s

quickening insistent kiss.

Manila on My Skin


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 Galerie Francesca on Jef Cablog  “Liquescent”

Manila on my Skin

I want to wear Manila today

like a shirt

bright, tattered and frayed.

Fashionably ripped

embroidered, printed, plain.

Studded with colors

of maniacally insane designs. 

Criss-crossed patterns of lines.

I want to wear Manila today

like pants

stretched, new and faded.

Acid washed, hand-painted 

faux-leather, dignified slacks,

sprouting skulls and flowers

skinny, tired-looking trousers.

Pastel-hue, soft and lovely 

elegant, shimmering, so different

from attitude-filled Divisoria jeans.

I want to wear Manila today

old and new

young and forward

stately, refined — undefined.

I want to feel it 

seeping into 

my skin, my soul 

beating and searing

its sacred sins


its vibrant art


around me, on me

its psyche

its spirit

echoing, haunting

my tattooed fickle heart.

The Girl on the Street


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She gets nervous with herself sometimes


with the restless companies in her mind.

Thoughts that refuse to be silent

screaming to be heard

like the ear-splitting screeching sound

of nails scratching on pristine surfaces,

leaving deep ugly marks

that would scar over

and bleed out through clenched teeth,

spewing out words

as black as the city’s hidden corners

where fear and hate –

children of pain lie waiting 


in the gutter of her soul.

(Picture was taken from Pinterest. Artist unknown.)