Strange Commutes

Have you ever been to the Philippines? Have you ever ridden a jeepney (formally called public utility jitneys or PUJs)? For most Filipinos, riding a jeepney is a regular occurrence that doesn’t even bear a second thought. However, we all know that each jeepney ride is unique in the sense of the things that you notice, the things that you do and the things that happen. Whether it was an annoying seatmate, cramped spaces or heavy traffic a single ride is an experience worth going through for itself.


Clutching the white folder and the red plastic envelope in my fist, I could not care less about ruining what was in my hand. I gripped the handle above me and tried to hide my face. I was hiding my face because I am crying.

I see a woman across from me. She looks sympathetic. She’s the only one who knows that I’m crying. All the rest are minding their own business. I want to rip her judging eyes out so that she can stop staring. I’m grateful for my restraint that tears are not falling. However I know that my eyes are watering up…and that staring woman is making it worse!

Sitting in front of me, judging me. God I hate her. I stared back down at my hand and I see that goddamned white folder again. Along with my red plastic envelope. The envelope contains my life and the white folder is the ticket to my dreams. Unfortunately, the plane to the dream had crashed and there’s nothing I can do to save it.

That’s why I’m crying. And that’s why that woman keeps staring. She knows. Fortunately, she’s the only one who knows. And I don’t know her. So she doesn’t matter. Not really. But she knows. Who cares if she knows? I don’t!


Of Sleep and Other Nightmares

I wrote this specifically for this blog. I sometimes get haunted by insomnia and I thought that it might be an interesting theme for me to write about. So these are three different stories, inspired by different day dreams that I’ve had in the past.

Haunted existence

Last night, I was unable to sleep at all. I slept only when the sun started to pour into my window and as I ran out of things to do with my things. Truth is, I avoid waking up as much as I want to avoid sleeping. I avoid sleep because it’s dark out there. I avoid my life because I’m too lazy. I like staying in my room. I don’t like going out. But I would often look out the window and wonder at the lives of other people, then I dream that I am a part of it.

Last night, I was shaken out of my solitary reverie as I heard my neighbor knocking at her house. She was calling for her son and daughter, asking them to open the door. She decided that what she was doing was futile and soon she was knocking everywhere–the windows, the walls, anywhere she could reach.

She kept on knocking and knocking. I wonder why no one answered the door because I could hear scurryings, the noise of comings and goings from the house next door. She kept it up. Again and again. Persistent. Relentless. Bone coated with human flesh beating hard against wood or glass. Her voice carried by the wind. Calling. Jessica. Jason. The door. Please. Open.

The cacophony of the woman next door was oddly one of the most relaxing things I’ve heard in a long while. I finally felt as if it was safe to sleep, knowing that if the lady next door can survive the darkness, I can surely survive the night.

Early warning signs

It was a peaceful night. The night wind was brisk but with the caffeine warming my veins, I braved the cold winds to trudge on home. It was a satisfying feeling to watch the fog wreath the lamplight in a mystical cloak, making the light dreamy and unreal. On the street, I was the only soul moving along its slick path with houses on both sides of me in deep slumber, sheltering its inhabitants by effectively keeping the cold away. Although I wore a warm coat that night, the winds still whistled its cool tunes along my ears–so cold it made my ears uncomfortably warm.

I just got home from a satisfying bout of drinking coffee and chatting with my closest friends. It was the perfect end after a long day of working. Teaching students may have been my choice among other possible career choices, but it was not an easy one. Every single day with those students is a veritable challenge, draining and yet I am always oddly fulfilled. That feeling could be the effect of both caffeine and nicotine as well as the high you get when you get rid of extreme nervousness.

And so I enter my house, energized yet drained. Restless yet tired. After brushing my teeth and other rudimentary nightly rituals, I lay in bed. Sated as if after a hard round with the best of the best. I lay awake thinking about all the great things that happened that day and without warning, I fell asleep.

I suddenly woke to the sound of a sharp bark. Soon, that bark was echoed by all the dogs in the neighborhood. They were barking their heads off but everything in the neighborhood was quiet and still. Then just as suddenly as they started, the dogs stopped but the earth started moving. My walls started making noise. I could hear the wood panels creaking and the cement crumbling.

However, it was all over too soon. It was around 4am.

My secret life

When I was much younger, my room was missing a portion of the ceiling. So at night, I could see the moonlight laying bare the beams that should have been covered. Of course, I also see a mysterious cavern whose shadows the moon cannot penetrate. In the imagination of my young mind, I can see what the shadows protect, hidden just under the roof.

Even as a child, it was never easy for me to go to sleep. Even if I close my eyes, I would imagine myself climbing up to the mysterious space between the ceiling and the roof. In my mind, I knew that there would be a giant spider. A spider so big that it can eat me whole and still hunger for more.

I knew without a doubt that this spider would never do me any harm. In fact, this spider has the magic of wishes. Not the smart aleck kind of wishes that genies have or other obtuse wish-granting magical creatures. This spider can see in your head and make possible the dreams that you conjure. The dreams that the spider grants are not the random dreams that you get during the night…but the dreams that you yearn for during the day when you are wide awake and in full control of what you want to happen in your mind.

When you make your wish to the spider through your mind, it will make your wish come true. However you have to go to the spider to claim your wish but if you have not claimed your wish, they will just simply accumulate in that mysterious space between the ceiling and the roof. Since I was so scared of the dark, every night I would wish for as many things as I could in the hopes that the ceiling will collapse under the weight of my wishes. But the ceiling remained strong…and I couldn’t come up with the courage to venture there during the night.

One day, I climbed up to the ceiling to take a little peak at that mysterious space but the sun would banish it with its light and I never saw my spider. Perhaps my magical spider and my wishes only appear at night. Continuously, I would wish to that magical spider, still hoping that the ceiling will collapse under the weight of my wishes.

Then, I started to forget about magical spiders. I stopped wishing. When our house was demolished so that we could build a new house, I didn’t even remember the spider or my wishes. I guess it was just my imagination and the spider wasn’t real. But that’s just another guess…like my guess that a magical spider exists. Which one is the truth?