This is the first post I’m writing from Sevilla. I got here last Tuesday, and have had to live pretty much without internet over the last week. I finally got my connection to work today.

I’ve been spending my days away from everything I’m used to. Here my mobile phone is virtually useless, and I hate using it. (I guess I hated using it in Manila as well anyway.) I’ve been speaking Spanish more than 80 percent of the time–I catch myself now beginning to think thoughts in Spanish, however basic they may be, and I feel this is good progress. Instead of rice and ulam, I have an abundance of cheeses and breads for meals. I’ve been learning to get around on foot, by bus, by metro, and occasionally on my friend’s Vespa. I guess the material comfort I miss the most from my life in Manila is driving my own car. I enjoy my commutes of course, the city is absolutely lovely, but I felt so much more in control of my life when I could come and go as I pleased. Here I feel I am, in a frightening, abstract way, at the mercy of bus schedules and metro stops, of taxis that may or may not pass through. I’ve been able to go everywhere I’ve wanted without much difficulty, without knowing very much about anything. I feel braver, but also more fragile than I’ve ever felt. I’ve never thought of myself as fragile, but I suppose being away from all the things and people who make one feel secure has its own profound effects on one’s temperament.

Spanish lunch: salmorejo, jamon iberico y huevos de perdiz (partridge eggs!) on bread

Spanish lunch: salmorejo, jamon iberico y huevos de perdiz (partridge eggs!) on bread

I have plenty of friends here, more friends than most people do when they move to a new country, I suppose, but I’ve been inevitably spending more of my time alone. I haven’t been as lonely as I expected to be. Mostly I marvel at what an amazing thing it is to be able to pick up and leave and begin an entirely new life in an entirely new language. It makes me wonder what things really make up a life–possessions, relationships, ideas, activities, memories; makes me try to guess at the substance of each individual. What are you and who are you when all you have ever known and been are no longer there? Often I feel like Franz the way Milan Kundera described him in The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Franz felt his book life to be unreal. He yearned for real life, for the touch of people walking side by side with him, for their shouts. It never occurred to him that what he considered unreal (the work he did in the solitude of the office or library) was in fact his real life, whereas the parades he imagined to be reality were nothing but theater, dance, carnival–in other words, a dream.

Maybe all I really am is all that’s here in my head, and even though I’ve moved here to Sevilla, to a place where I long to “be my other self,” I am cursed and blessed to be this same person in the realm of my real life–the life I live in solitude–regardless of my context, and people walking side by side with me, their shouts, are far removed, and cannot really touch me.


Buwan ng Wika Special: Spagalog 101

Hindi ko palalampasin ang Buwan ng Wika nang hindi nagsusulat ng blog tungkol sa mga natututunan kong kakaibang bagay tungkol sa wika. Mga 8 months na akong nag-aaral ng Spanish. Mayabang ako, pero hindi pa ako masyadong magaling. Sa katunayan, in moments of greatest testing, ganito ang nangyayari:

“Estoy ninenerbyos, porque tengo una entrevista en español,” bigla akong mapapasigaw, habang nakapila sa Puregold at pinag-iisipan ang (kawalan ng) direksyon ng buhay ko. “¡Qué katakot!”

Tinatawag ko itong Spagalog. (Spanish+Tagalog ang ibig sabihin nito, hindi spaghetti+gambas+itlog.)

Sabi nila pag Pinoy ka daw, hindi ka masyadong mahihirapang matuto ng Espanyol: kasi nga maraming mga salitang mahuhulaan mo ang ibig sabihin, at marunong ka nang mag-English at mag-Filipino, kaya medyo may alam ka na sa pag-aaral ng bagong wika. Totoo naman. Pero nakakalito din talaga.

Sa tinagal-tagal ng mga Kastila sa Pilipinas, napakarami nga naman talagang salitang nagkakatulad, nagkakaiba ng konti, at nakakaloko. I-she-share ko sa inyo ang sampung halimbawa:

1. Kung sa Ingles, tuna ang tawag sa tuna, sa Espanyol, ang tawag nila ay “atun.”


Ngayon alam ko na kung saan natin nakuha ang mga salitang noypi, erpats, todits at repapips.

2. Sa Espanyol, may salitang “demasiado” na ang ibig sabihin ay “masyado.”

In English, “too” or “exceedingly.” O kaya “super.” Use in a sentence: El hombre es demasiado guapo. Translation: Sobrang pogi nung lalaki.

Pero sa Tagalog, pag sinabi mong “‘di masyado”… Di masyadong gwapo, di masyadong matalino. Wag na lang.

3. Sa kanila din galing ang salitang “casilla.” Ang ibig sabihin nito ay “hut.”

Hindi ito lugar kung saan nagna-number 2 ang mga espanyol. Hindi ito plural (casillas), unless dalawa o higit pa ang casillas mo. Kung may maganda kang kubo ka sa beach, casilla ang tawag dito. Hindi ito kadiri.

Ang hula ko, dati kasi jumejebs yung mga tao sa isang hut sa labas ng bahay. Tawag ng mga Kastila, casillas, o hut, at ang tawag ng mga Pinoy, kasilyas, o banyo. Pero Kastila ang salitang baño at ang ibig sabihin nito ay…


4. Ang merienda at cena ay dalawang magkaibang bagay.

Ang merienda ay merienda at ang cena ay hapunan. Magkasunod sila pag nilista mo lahat ng kinakain mo sa isang araw, pero hindi iisang bagay na katulad ng paggamit natin ng “merienda cena” dito sa Pilipinas.

5. Kung ang Pilipino nagsasabi ng “pwede,” ang espanyol naman ay may dagdag: “puede ser.” Pareho ang ibig nilang sabihin.

Ang puede ay present tense third person singular ng salitang poder (can, may): it can. Ang ser ay ang Spanish equivalent ng “to be.”

Tao ba ‘to, tao? “Puede ser.” Bagay? Hayop? Pook? “Puede ser.” Gamit sa bahay? “Puede ser.”

Nagalit ang nanay ko dito kasi chauvinist daw. Dapat daw pwede rin (puede ser tambien) ang “puede mam.”

7. Meron namang mga salitang halos kapareho lang ng gamit natin, may ilang pagkakaiba lang sa spelling o accent.

Katulad ng mesa, tenidor, libro, carne, zapatos, coche, guapo, presidente at cerveza. At ang mga paburito (favorito) ko: bigote, barba at calvo.

la foto

8. Merong mga salitang ginagamit natin sa Filipino na may kaunting pagkakaiba ang ibig sabihin sa Espanyol.

Pag sinabi nating graciosa, ibig sabihin ay gracious. Pero sa Espanyol, ang ibig sabihin nito ay witty.

Pag sinabi nating aburido, ibig sabihin troubled o di mapakali. Sa Espanyol, ang aburrido (double r) ay bored o boring.

At ang pinaka-nakakalito sa lahat: ang ibig sabihin ng derecho ay deretso, pero ang derecha ay kanan.

9. Dalawang Mahalagang Tips sa Pagsakay ng Taxi:

Una sa lahat: Wag kang sasakay kung ang taxi ay hindi LIBRE.

taxi libre esp

Isang libreng taxi sa Barcelona, Spain

Isang libreng taxi sa Mexico City

Isang libreng taxi sa Mexico City, Mexico

NGUNIT: Kahit LIBRE ang taxi, kailangan mo pa ring magbayad.

9. Kapag nagkaroon ka ng problema habang nagbi-biyahe sa Espanya (hindi yung Espanya na may baha), at pag kinailangan mo ng tulong, o naligaw ka, dapat kang lumapit sa…

guardia civil

Guardia Civil.


Oo, Guardia Civil.

Wag kang matakot. Hindi ka nila sasaksakin ng bayoneta (hindi na sila gumagamit nito), ikukulong o gugulpihin pag hindi ka nakapag-pakita ng cedula (maliban na lang sa kung pinunit mo, ibang usapan na yan). May kaibigan nga akong nanghihingi ng direksyon sa Guardia Civil kahit hindi naman siya naliligaw dahil kadalasan, pogi sila.

10. Kapag tumawa ang mga Espanyol sa WhatsApp, Viber, email at Skype, ganito ang tawa nila:


Hindi sila jejemon, Espanyol sila.

Isang tumatawang caballo

Isang tumatawang caballo


I love/hate the internet

Earlier this week, I joined a website called LinkedIn (is that correct–to join a website?) which I’m still figuring out how to use, and it’s freaking me out quite a bit. By this time tomorrow I probably would’ve abandoned it already. I am on WordPress and on Twitter, but in these two sites all they ask of you is to share your thoughts, as opposed to putting your life on display. (Though, admittedly, one can use both Twitter and WordPress to display one’s life just as well if one so desires.)

I write a lot and I do like to talk, but I don’t like to be talked about, whether in actuality or just in my head. Social networks make me severely uncomfortable, though, I realize now, not for the same reasons that I quit a couple of years ago.

For the most part, I think of myself as an ordinary Person 1.0, to borrow from Zadie Smith. In my world, the world that existed before social networks, you met people and sometimes lost touch, when you or they moved to new schools or jobs or countries. If you wanted to remain friends, you had to make a deliberate effort to do so–phone calls, emails, handwritten letters. I’ve kept a good number of friends this way. Granted, social networks make this easier. Sharing pictures and daily updates are less cumbersome than they used to be, and they allow you every so often stumble upon old friends and rekindle old ties. Some of my friends have also made the argument that social networks are best for capitalizing on “weak ties” which lead to more professional opportunities. (Hence my attempt at being more of an adult and joining LinkedIn, but I’ve yet to prove this hypothesis.)

But I am also very well aware that it has taken away certain privileges. Among these is the intentionality of maintaining a friendship: nowadays, instead of expending energy to stay in touch, we only happen to, and this in many cases detracts from the quality of the interaction.

But my beef with it really lies with the converse. This article in New York Magazine laments, in a manner of speaking, the impossibility of cutting ties with one’s exes in an age of social networking. It’s like everyone you ever dated suddenly moved in to the same apartment building and you can be stuck on the same elevator with them on any given day. Before social networks, a Person 1.0 could choose to burn bridges, bridges that would stay burnt except in extraordinary circumstances, and we could live our lives in relative peace and quiet. We were afforded then a privilege we don’t have now: the right to disappear. The right to obscurity, to anonymity, to not having other people know where you are and what you are doing at any given time.

This really happened to me on Facebook.

True story.

It’s not so much an obsession with privacy, which stems from self-centeredness, but a desire for genuine solitude and quiet, which I believe is central to a healthy human life. I think it ought to be an inalienable human right, this right to disappear, but I find it is one that we are only too eager to abdicate.

My relationship with the internet has been characterized by this push and pull. It’s not that I’ve been outdated by the times; I am simply uncomfortable with the idea of being so attached to a virtual life to the point of being unable to abandon it. I’ve quit Facebook, gone on occasional Twitter hiatuses, and kept and completely deleted at least five blogs in my lifetime, just to remind myself that I am still Person 1.0, and not the Person 2.0 which I’ve invented on the internet. I reserve the right to disappear as I please. There is still a real world, outside the virtual realm, in which I exist, and where I feel most at home and most comfortable, where to write still means precisely that: to put pen to paper, to record life with ink and with blood.