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joanna carlos
joanna carlos WHAT'S THERE to write about in Pampanga that is peculiar to this place? I once had Cubao to grip my imagination. That was years ago when I took random jeeps that dropped me at Ali Mall, me in secondhand clothes which I bought from their stalls, circling the territory, placing flags. You mark your municipality in the province despite growing up thinking it was a vacation house; you stroll around wondering if you can feel passions other than incredulity when all you really wanted in this world was a long transcript. “I can get no satisfaction.” In those breezy, wind-battered jeeps you pull up a notebook because you were writing a location profile entitled “Cubao.” The weather that afternoon was perfectly warm and it illuminated the 3 other people seated far apart on each side, but I was not after them. A song that I discovered just then was playing over the vehicle’s speakers- the first thing I wrote that day was its lyrics. I knew I would get to visit that fabled place again in a quarter of an hour and get my chance to flatter it with cajoling, with remembering, with inventing. That day and today are far apart and I am beginning to stoop from old age so I must rely on my good judgment to laugh at everyone else who travels in circles. When I am in Angeles, I feel that I could barge into a room and people would know that I am on their side.

Recently, J. asked me, “Taga-Pampanga ka? Saan do’n?” I said where I was from, and he seemed as though he was not satiated by all this conversation, as though his discovery that I was a fellow Capampangan (He was from S.) was an everlasting well of curiosity for him. I felt briefly sorry for his overzealousness but he would not cease over the next few days. I would catch him looking at me with eyes searching out some secret Pampangueno-ness in my each action. Normally, I would be entertained; I knew he was from there too, what a lark. I’d be playing charades. J.P. looked every inch from Pampanga: reddish sunburnt complexion, sugar-addled teeth, muscular physique. I was glad that we shared that place (however dead without being valued); without a word my life was accepted, overpowering any reason/logic simply because he had entitlement, and quite possibly a legitimate understanding of my origin, however physical, no matter how infinitesimal. So I guess that people love something that reflects their own selves in another, especially in these times of strife. I see that in this Age. I see other things as well but I tell them to a friend in secret.

Developing Dancing Block

I have not the inclination to decorate my language, and writing this now, I see that the style I valued in my past is waning and that I now suffer looking in horror at the things I produce as though I had never in my life experienced talent of any form. You know what they say, “the first art is the passionate one.” I still like long sentences, telltale detail, descriptions but I do not like what happened to my voice. (Look at that sentence, I wrote differently before.) Gone are those brief fleeting joys that would ultimately doom anyone worth their salt, replaced by a pathetic crawling back into the memories of old habits. What had been lauded and effortless before stagnated into the word that I key in minute after minute, another mediocre letter after another and it can’t be stopped, this stupid Alzheimer’s. How is it that the more decorated I became, the blander I turned? The horror. I have little to show the world other than a lifelong struggle, my body, and the book I am thinking of.

There is this handsome person alight on a train, with black earphones snug and loud, moving restlessly, facing inwards, sometimes outwards each large window, with a languid sort of easy charm, lady-killer and a trifle insensitive. He looked lighter than the mysterious stranger from Clark so many months ago and I looked at him, with me seated safely in the hard LRT bench staring wonderingly at his familiar face, with its contours softer, fuller, clearer than its predecessor. They could have been fraternal twins, so I now had 2 curiosities: one in Manila and another in Pampanga. I could bump into either one as long I retrace my steps. I felt the pull between black and white very strongly. There was this magnificent brocade and I had all the ingredients necessary for said primordial broth as I wanted to be there when it exploded. (Yes, I am resorting to summarizing as a conclusion, bear with me.) These are the things that are occupying me now. Words are disappointing me, living double lives is a challenge, and you’d be thinking of all the things that you search for when you take a midnight walk… So you gauge what the environment does to you, you breathe all this into yourself. Some people will want to be with you and then you discover that in places, there’s something that can be determined that would make you want to stay.

[About the author. Joanna Carlos considers herself Kapampangan, having grown up in an atmosphere in which the dialect was distributed freely among locals and expatriates here and abroad; thereby she ingested it like the smell of dying sampaguitas, the sound of cicadas by moonlight, and the sight of lanterns, ablaze in the sun, that decorate the city. She is dedicated and compassionate, and is interested in many things. After leaving the KSA, she has then immersed herself in the folkloric society of Pampanga. Joan is kindhearted and generous. Yet she has her pet peeves, her Lilith moments, so don't be a "cold-hearted capitalist" and irritate her, because even then you wouldn't realize who you are up against. Her writing was honed throughout the years and so has she. Joanna, then, is an amalgam of the child and the present, accepting, just..]

-Posted: 8:30 PM 3/10/14 | More of this author on eK!