Sunday, January 16, 2022



"Where do you want to go next month?" asks Auntie Bebet as we soak in the warm sea of Sarangani Bay, meters away from the coastline of Kitagas. The water is neck-deep. The waves are gentle. It is still early, by regular standards, but we are nearing the end of the narrow timeline that allows enjoyment without being sunburned. It is no small mercy to see thickening clouds from afar, showing incoming signs of rain, perhaps in a few hours: the perfect weather. As people of the tropics, we are tired of the sun and hide from it if we can.

We are in Kiamba, an hour's drive from General Santos (and two or three hours from Koronadal), for an end-of-the-month celebration. There is nothing specific to celebrate. The next birthdays are in February; the most recent birthdays have already been celebrated. There are no deaths or anniversaries, too. What has trigged this beach overnight escapade is my cousin Hannah's wish to visit the sea. Working in Manila for many years, she hasn't been to the beach in two years. We agreed, "Why not?" For my mother's side of the family, it is the most spontaneous plans that often push through. 

On the Friday night of our arrival, my cousins and I played Monopoly just before we slept. The youngest among us, Adrian, was the banker and fourth player. Speaking like an old, mature man when he is barely through with his teenage years, Adrian scolded his Kuya Kobe (his cousin many years older than him) for not paying attention to Vine Street, with a warning that he would lose the chance to collect rent if the next player had thrown the dice. Kobe, after four turns, eventually mortgaged his properties and ended up bankrupt—much to his relief, for he seems to have been pressured into joining the game in the first place.

We have all the beach to ourselves. A sister from church, who owns the property, has allowed us full access. It is not a big hotel but a charming private getaway that offers generous views of the mountains on the other side and the sea on the opposite. Her generosity inspires and encourages us. It is fascinating that God's economy operates beyond human logic: joy is multiplied when blessings are shared. It is what she lives by.

We are home now, safe in our landlocked properties and farms. As we return to the cares of this world—emails to check, patients to see, office work to accomplish—we hear the sea beckoning us to return during the lucid intervals of days. And we will, by God's grace. Maybe in February?

The Hiligaynon word for the day is dahúm. It means anticipation.

Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku (Bishamonte), 100th Centennial Edition. Read about how I got it in Singapore. Pen: TWSBI Eco White, rose gold, medium nib. Paper: Victoria journals

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Sunday, January 2, 2022


We had lunch at my aunt's farm in Banga, some 30 minutes away from Marbel. A tributary of the Banga River flows through this property. 

Banga River

When we were children, we would traverse the waters, but only when it was safe. The river could rise to dangerous levels during heavy rains. Our cousins told us of carabaos, farmers, and children drowning to their deaths. 

We visited this farm during summer breaks from school. Our slippers would be trapped in the fine, dark sand underneath, but losing our footwear and walking barefoot to Auntie Cecil's house was part of the fun. She had spare slippers waiting for us, with a warm meal of tinolang manok (free-range, "native" chicken), adobo and vegetables fresh from the garden. 

The Hiligaynon word for the day is subá. It means river.

subá (river)
Ink: Vinta Sea Kelp 1944. Pen: Platinum 3776 Chartres Blue, medium nib. Paper: Bazic Premium Composition Notebok, quadrille ruled.

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Saturday, January 1, 2022


I woke up to Paul's crying at 1 AM. I turned on the lights in the living room and, in my pajamas, went out to the garden to look for him. The night was dark but alive. I could hear fireworks and car horns from distant neighborhoods. I imagined families drinking beer with pulutan after a hearty salubong meal, enjoying the happy times, which, in the past years, have been few and far between.

Sean met me in the living room. Paul, tagging along with my brother, wagged his tail. I was surprised to see him in a playful mode; normally, by that time, he'd be curled up in the porch, relishing the coolness. He was in Sean's room all along, safe from the human noise and activity.

Nanay and Manong could not be bothered to wake up. Sean returned to bed, telling Paul, "Hindi magsinabad ha? Tulog na kita." Minutes later, I turned off the lights, went back to bed, and dreamt of an adventure I could no longer remember.

It is 2022. Praise be to God for His goodness and mercy. 

The Hiligaynon word for the day is bág'u. It means new.

Bàg’u (bago)
Ink: Diamine oxblood. Pen: Kaweco Student 70's Soul, medium nib. Paper: Muse Cahier d'Exercises (80 gsm, 5 mm dotted).