charlotte, charlotte aninion-de guzman, charlotte de guzman, Creative writing, insight, Insights, Life, Literature, Living, loneliness, people, Poem, Poetry, realizations, saint, saint charlotte, saintcharlotte, sanctuary, serenity, sharing, stcharlotte, wisdom
the empty chair —
in a corner
at a coffee shop.
He watched and sipped,
blended packaged limbs,
the earthly aroma
of their uniformed grande dreams.
to their percolated tales in the air,
he was fascinated
by this menu of people
living their ticking lives unaware.
the empty chair —
in a corner
at a coffee shop.
He watched and sipped,
tasting with great care
the different flavored stories they bared:
“Did you hear the rumors of a coup?”
“What of love and lust?”
“Goodness! There was a drug bust?”
at the myriad of questions they shared:
“Waffle or sandwich?”
“Is she a saint or a bitch?”
“Abortion or life?”
“Sex or brains for a wife?”
the empty chair —
in a corner
at a coffee shop.
He watched and sipped,
on used plates,
discarded drinks —
existence gone in a blink.
Cleaned with a wipe,
the now silent tables
stood without life.
And he decided
he did not want
to be a minute crumb;
to be bland and numb.
So he lived
that empty chair —
in the corner
at a coffee shop,
dusting off woes
and haunting echoes
of other words
and other lives.
This morning during my World Literature class, we were defining poetry and part of the definition said that poetry is the imaginative awareness of experience. I asked my class what they thought was meant by that phrase, someone answered that it probably has something to do with tickling the imagination, and another student said that it may probably pertain to evoking an emotional response from the readers.
I told them that they were both correct, because poetry is able to evoke an emotional response from the reader after giving the reader a new perspective on an ordinary object or idea. Poetry enables the reader to visualize the object from a renewed point-of-view. I even told them that Wordsworth himself said that, poetry has the power to make familiar objects unfamiliar.
One of my students, Martin, asked for an example to make things clearer. I replied that not only will he have the example he needs, but his classmates would provide him with several examples. I asked the class to give me adjectives to describe the white board that we were using for our lecture. I listed down all of their answers:
you doodle on it
I then told them that they have 5 minutes to come up with a poem that will describe the white board in a totally different light. They were allowed to add words and phrases to their poem.
Taking into account the time pressure and limited subject matter that was given to them, I am quite happy and proud with what they came up with. I am pleased to share with you some of their exceptional works.
I.On this simple blank surface I strike but meaningless lines and curves But set your eyes on this white plane And see how shapes and colors make worlds.
By Carlo Lava
II.A white plane that you doodle on So simple, blank and smooth. It shines as if it holds the soul Of sweet untainted youth. And yet with every mark it may So easily be marred. And cleaned again, with sweeping moves, Too quick a healing scar. But sometimes, one will mark with wrong Types of inking tools And there we see permanence Left blithely by a fool. Some things may go, and come and go As life is fleeting now, And always, but some things just stay And stuck and scar, somehow.
By Motzie Dapul
III.Beneath that shining armor Lies a place to let your emotions pour As blank as it may look It is filled like a book
By Lara Zamora
Trust (Whiteboard)Let’s start over Plain white surface, with no cover Erase all the written lies Clean of hatred; things you despise. Oh trust, oh trust Has metal frame that can rust But the surface is as clean as new Although that’s what we both knew Time will pass by, everything has a phase Permanent mark; you can never erase.
By Pauline Hermoso
This one is unfinished, but he did try JFrom the eyes of the layman, they only see what their Mindset is telling. As I look through reflections Facing against me, vivid images of our lessons begin To fill my mind with intellectual lessons of deep and Unimaginable understandings that shine against the fuzzy Light of the room
By Nino De Guzman
There are days when I just love being a Literature professor 🙂 Since I am in such a good mood, I think I’ll share one of my favorite scenes from the movie, Dead Poet’s Society: enjoy 😉
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I watched my daughter
as she takes her first steps.
Stumbling like the mermaid in the story;
a hundred needles, pricking her soles.
Yet she takes to it, like fish to water.
Smiling with happiness,
she was surprised
by the sound of our excited applause.
Cocking her head to one side,
she seemed to be listening,
to the distant melody of a dream.
She plods forward, in the midst of smiling faces.
Guided by the illusion of life
on muted silken carpets of truth;
bearing the swiftly disappearing traces —
of lives unlived … of roads untrodden.
Why does my heart ache
as I gaze into your round innocent eyes?
Why do my arms seek to enfold you? Protect you.
Keep you safe from sharp points of dreams.
Will you understand me
in the sweetness of your flight?
Will you hate me
when I tell you —
that we are all creatures of fantasy,
fighting against insipid realities?
And that the illusion of steps
you took during this morning’s early light,
is now just a receding patter
in the fullness of the coming night.
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I received a very honest letter from a friend a couple of weeks ago. It was a short letter, barely two lines long. I guess she wanted to keep it simple, since her life must be getting quite complicated nowadays. You see, she just lost someone she loved, and we all know when that happens, our world generally gets turned upside-down.
Her email asked me a couple of questions, but they were questions that couldn’t be easily answered. Her words stared back at me from the screen and I struggled for the right thing to say. She was asking me how long will the grief last? How long will the pain of losing someone you love last? After a while, I decided to answer her as honestly as I could. Why? Because I wished someone told me the same things when my mom died instead of trying to sugarcoat the reality of the situation for me.
I told her that the grieving will never stop, because there are still moments in my life when I still catch myself crying whenever I remember my mom, but I did tell her that in time, the emptiness and pain will be much easier to bear.
I also told her that she might reach a point when she will get angry with the world and with the people around her — and that’s okay. I was enraged for a long time. I couldn’t believe people could go about their lives laughing and be so blissfully unaware. I mean, how could they enjoy life when someone who used to make me laugh, who used to fill my life with love was now suddenly gone? It just didn’t make sense and it felt so unreal and so unfair.
If I told her about rage, I also told her that unlike pain, the anger will vanish in time. She will learn to smile and laugh again, because if there’s one thing death could make anyone realize is that, life is too short to remain angry for too long.
I also warned her that she might suddenly start to have questions about faith. I told her that when my mom died, there was a part of me that rebelled against God and questioned Him and life in general. I reached a point when I couldn’t hold it in anymore: I ranted, I raged, I talked to Him as if He was in the room with me and I cried. Deep within, from my very core the tears came … I cried out all my fury and my pain, and I knew that God heard me and He listened. I can’t explain how, but I knew that He was there the whole time I dished it out. Yes it’s a good thing that God is a patient and faithful God — He never turned His back on me when this happened. After that, things started getting better.
Above everything else, I told my friend that she will survive. Life will not be as sweet as it used to be, but she will overcome and survive — and that’s what matters most.
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Will I tell you my secret?
Will I whisper it to your ear?
Will I bare to you my problems
and my deepest fears?
Can I trust you to keep silent?
Can you keep my story safe?
Can you be a true friend,
who will defend me till the end?
Will you lend a hand?
Will you go out of your way,
to be my support?
Will you help me make a stand?
Or am I seeing shadows?
Snared by illusions you weave?
Falling prey to your charm
and alluring deceit.
Will you stab me behind my back?
Will you point to others
virtues I bitterly lack?
Tell them my dilemmas,
without the facts.
Embellish the situation.
Paint an exaggerated picture,
make me the centerpiece;
the main dish —
the article of your criticism
and your derision.
in the world of your creation.
You pretended to listen,
acted like you understood.
But secretly you rejoiced,
as you sang and danced
on my desolate wasted land.
As we look in the mirror
Who is the worst?
I, with my tragic face;
or you with your arrogant smile
merciless devious grace.
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The new Nescafe commercial really bothered me. It started out with a feel-good vibe focusing on the young mom and wife supposedly fulfilling a whole load of social roles (that are all happening within the domestic sphere by the way), and finally ending with a tagline that made me slap my forehead in dismay: “Ang pangarap ko ay matupad ang mga pangarap nila.” (The central female figure in the ad of course said this as she watched her entire family go off to school and work while she stayed behind to tend to household matters.)
I looked down on the cup of coffee I was savouring up until that unfortunate moment when the implications imbedded in the tagline hit me. I put the coffee down with a weary shake of my head and proceeded to take the commercial apart in my mind.
Unfortunately, since the Spanish period, women in the Philippine society have been assigned specific roles, behaviours, functions and even way of thinking that are deemed to be acceptable within standard norms. If the woman would delineate from these “pre-ordained” social roles and behaviour, then she would be branded as a “bad”, “bitchy”, “eccentric”, “zany” or even as an “immoral” woman who should be shunned and ostracized. This is the harsh reality that women had to live by.
However, the modern period and especially the rise of Feminism have somewhat alleviated the female condition. Finally, women began to fight for their rights and little by little society began to recognize the inherent rights of women to decide for themselves, to vote, to engage in intellectual discourses, to be heard and to assert what they want to happen in their lives. Yet, we still need to ask the question: have women truly come of age as a social group, or are they enjoying these so-called “liberties” because the world they live in has “allowed” them to do so?
Women only have to look around them in order to realize that they still live in a society that is still male-dominated, and yes, women were given “freedom” (can we really call it that?) but only to a certain extent. It is through subtle manipulation that women are still being “socialized” into accepting and fulfilling the roles assigned to them since time immemorial. The Nescafe commercial is an example of how this is still happening today. Analyze the latent message behind this ad and you will see that it is telling women that their sole purpose in life is to live for their family and to serve their family, for it is only by doing this that a woman would find fulfilment as an individual. “My dream is the realization of their dreams.” (Ang pangarap ko ay matupad ang mga pangarap nila .) Were women not individuals first before they became mothers and wives? What of their own dreams before they got married? Are they expected to become domestic slaves, foregoing their individuality and their dreams? Does society expect them to sacrifice their hopes for the stability of the family without even as much demanding the same commitment from men? Where is the equality in this? Where is the recognition of the rights of women? And why is this thought being promulgated?
It is all right to become a mother and a wife, there is nothing wrong with that, but there is more to a woman than just being a wife or being a mother. As women, our lives don’t just revolve around these two facets of our existence. People must remember — we are our own being, we have our own dreams, we have our own aspirations; and yes our families can make us happy, but they are not the sole source of our happiness. We should not be imprisoned within the confines of domestic “bliss” and “satisfaction” that ads like Nescafe is propagating. Simone De Beauvoir is right when she said that we should transcend; we must go beyond the roles that have been given to us; we must challenge ourselves to become better individuals, simply because we are women — we live, we love, we laugh — and most of all — we think.
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Well, exam week is over and the grades have been computed and encoded online. However, it never fails to amuse me to hear the reasons students come up with for missing their final exam. Here are some of the most absurd ones I’ve come across with so far 😉
5. What? Today was our schedule for final exams? Really?
4. I totally forgot the time and the room where we were supposed to have our finals.
3. Ummm … I was studying so hard for my other subject that I was exhausted by the time our exam came around … so I kinda slept through our exam …. (Well, I have to give this one some credit for brutal honesty)
2. It was conflicting with my other schedule — it was either our exam or my cousin’s wedding. (D-uh)
1. Sorry Miss, but I had a prior appointment with my dermatologist.
Ahhhh … I’m sure other professors have heard other outrageous reasons as well.
By being, without time
having a soulful haloed face.
in a trance ….
Beyond earthly language
and meanings I cannot place.
from blinding grace;
To be damned or worshipped
like demons entombed in angelic case.
in livid limbo ….
Hanging between worlds
drifting out-of-reach from saintly curse.
like a sullen slave;
To taunting spirits, ensnaring sprites
whispering from some hallowed cave.
in rattling chains ….
To beasts I cannot deny
to voices that give me pain.
my silent soul ….
To time’s eternal embrace,
inside the void’s ethereal maze.
in crimson blood ….
To lamenting ancient forgotten gods —
These unfixed tales, under mortal eyes and fate’s baleful glare.
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As Mother Nature would have it, the rainy season has come to Manila. Following the natural course of things, my daughter came home the other day with the sniffles, and guess what? She passed on the sniffles to me which became a full-blown cold in my system the next day (Ah, the travails of a mother). The ironic thing is, my daughter is now fully recovered and is running around with her friends while I’m huddling here in bed. My body has ALWAYS somehow, for some absurd reason, reacted negatively against the cold virus. A cold virus can knock me out for days: runny nose, fever, teary eyes and non-stop sneezing (not to mention the aching joints that accompany the rest of the symptoms). I hate getting sick, and over the years, I’ve come up with my own “comfty” solutions to help my body recuperate as soon as possible.
1) Eat lots of chicken soup — I know this is cliche, but somehow a steaming bowl of hot soup warms just not my body, but my heart as well. This is my own recipe, and my husband and child (even though they’re not sick), usually ends up devouring this as well … And I do mean devour 😀
- Elbow-size macaroni noodles
- 3/4 chicken breast (not de-boned please, because you want the juice out of the bones later on — this will make your soup tastier)
- 1/2 cabbage (shredded)
- 1 small carrot (diced)
- 1 small onion (cut using a half-moon shape)
- 1 can of Alaska evaporated milk (other evaporated milk brands would also do, but Alaska really tastes better; if you don’t have evaporated milk, I think Fresh Milk could be a substitute.)
A) Boil the chicken breast in at least 6 cups of water. (Make sure you scoop out the grimy looking bubbles that will surface while you’re boiling the chicken. They usually make your chicken stock taste awful if you don’t.)
B) After boiling the chicken, set aside the chicken meat from the soup (DON’T THROW AWAY THE SOUP, you’ll need it later on.)
C) Pick the meat off the chicken, leaving the chicken bones behind. The chicken meat should be bite-size big.
D) Get the chicken soup that you’ve set-aside, if the amount is just right for you, then you don’t have to add any more water to it. Put the macaroni noodles in it (Don’t forget to add a bit of oil and salt in the noodles). Once the noodles are cooked, put the shredded chicken and onion in the pot as well. Let the whole thing boil, then add the carrots. Stir the whole mixture for a while, until the carrots seem a bit tender to you already.
E) Last but not least, add the shredded cabbage and the evaporated milk. Let the whole mixture reach the boiling point again before adding pepper and fish sauce (patis) to taste.
F) Cozy down and enjoy your soup.
2) Boil a basin-full of water, then add 3 tablespoons of rock salt in it. Notice the smoke being produced by the rock salt? Good, you should inhale it, it will ease your clogged-up nostrils, and before you know it, you can breathe easier again.
3) Get plenty of sleep and rest. Try drinking freshly-squeezed orange juice, or if not, at least drink 1000 mg of Vitamin C.
Speaking of rest, I think I’d go back to sleep now. I still haven’t fully recovered and my nose is so red that Rudolph would turn green with envy. See you guys soon and if you’ve got tips of your own, maybe you could share them with me too?