Trains in Manila are not exactly romantic. Not only are they unromantic for me, they were also insignificant.

My commuting life has always been a choice between cabs or jeepneys, which can go either way depending on my mood. I like both. Inside cabs I feel safe, sometimes productive. Inside jeeps, I feel enthralled, as if every person who comes and goes offer a new story.

Trains I never cared for. I rarely got to take them anyway.

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Dear Luis

*For Luis Katigbak, from an accidental fan, now indebted to you for always.
Dear Luis,

Your death came at a time when I felt that some things in me were dying too. My fire was burning out, I was growing tired, a phase that had probably been the tenth of its kind in my 25-year lifetime. So I decided on a drastic change, but one that still reeked of uncertainties.

I was going to leave the Philippines in months time, rejoining the tumultuous arcade of dysfunctional relationships and migration issues. I was desperate for an escape, but my only choice came in the form of another country where I was going to be broke and probably unhappy with strangers that happened to be my family.

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There’s No Saying Goodbye

This time last year, I was preparing to leave my job of four years, and the only job I really ever wanted to have. I was part of a class suit against GMA Network that demanded regularization and statutory benefits for the media workers. As a result, we were meted with an unofficial death sentence — to be fired when 2014 ends.

That didn’t happen. We were allowed to stay in the company meanwhile, and up to this day, our future remains unclear.

A lot has happened in the last year.

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A Stranger Made Familiar By The Places They Went To

This was first published on

On May 25, 2012, Che Gurrobat, the blogger behind Backpacking Pilipinas, wrote:

The world will not stop for a girl with a broken heart. Tomorrow the sun will continue to rise and shine, rock stars will continue staging sold-out concerts, football superstars will continue striking goals, verdict will be cast on to the Chief Justice on trial, somewhere a mother will give birth to another baby, my bills at home will continue to arrive monthly, and my goal to do 80 provinces before I turn 30 will have to be done. I realize that no matter how intense the quandary I am in now, life goes on.

She wrote that on her flight home from Davao. It was the end of nine years of her relationship. But it was only the 30th of the 80 Philippine provinces she had pledged to visit before she was 30 years old.

Life goes on, and so should her journey.

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The Parable Of The Watershed

This is the original draft of the report that was published on GMA News Online

Dave Azurin’s resume is not a piece of paper. It is a 1,500 hectare-forest with 765,000 trees.

Sixteen years ago, experts described the La Mesa watershed at the heart of Quezon City “totally disturbed.” The watershed was turning brown due to slash-and-burn farming (kaingin), and informal settlers increased through years, turning it into an urban jungle and leaving the natural forest cover to a distant memory.

Azurin tells this story as if he was telling a tragic tale of a child he lost — and the story of its redemption like he saw that child revived in front of his very eyes.

It was 1999 and Azurin was hired to head the reforestation efforts of the 2,000-hectare forest.

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The Right to Party

“A wolf is a wolf even in sheep’s clothing.”

This was the biblical quote that a guy I went to a Catholic University with used when he defended his stance that the club “Valkyrie” was reasonable in turning away transgender women at their door.

The wolves in the bible were false prophets. Celebrity Trixie Maristela and fashion designer VJ Floresca aren’t false prophets and Valkyrie certainly isn’t Jesus who come to warn us against them.

Maristela and Floresca are transgender women who wanted to party. They just wanted to party.

But there was another argument: how could Filipinos be so shallow as to fighting for the right to enter a club when other countries are fighting for the right to marry.

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This Victory Matters

This is the original draft of the essay that appeared on
The news was broken to us around 7:30 pm last night, Thursday, June 25.
My head writer on State of the Nation, and one of the officers of Talents Association of GMA, Edma Remillano, whispered to me while we were writing our scripts: “Nanalo tayo sa NLRC (We won in NLRC).”
We were told that our Association President was just outside our Newsroom with the official papers.
So we ran outside, knowing we could not spare more than a minute because we still had jobs to do.
I counted it. 10 seconds to hug our fellow TAG members, 10 seconds to congratulate them and shake the hands of the 5 people who were there. 10 seconds to snap a photo of the first 3 pages of the decision.
And 30 seconds to compose a short status on our Facebook page:
“TAG wins its regularization case before the NLRC. In a resolution signed by Labor Arbiter Julio Gayaman, TAG members were declared by NLRC Labor Arbiter regular employees of GMA Network.”
It may just be one of the most important news I have ever broken.

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