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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

entry arrow1:10 PM | Streaming From the Start of the Loooong Weekend in Sugar Beach in Sipalay

It’s difficult to find something to write about in a noisy Internet café right deep in the heart of Sipalay town in Negros Occidental, where I’m currently holed up for the Holy Week in the, umm, holier pursuit of sun and surf and sacrilege.

The young boys next to me, huddled with such concentration in their little cubicles in this dark, small room called Jurecis Internet Café, are deftly going through their keyboard strokes in whatever computer game they are playing, cursing as they make their play—“Hijo de puta!” seems to be the requisite curse—and calling out to each other with such abandon. Their shouts resonate, and then some, in this small room. And the cavern becomes cacophonous, and so I straddle the fine line between amusement and irritation. I choose amusement instead. (I always try to see all manners of glasses as half-full these days.) Their Hiligaynon—peppered with a little Cebuano—is gibberish to me the uninitiated, and it takes a while for me to settle in the rush of unfamiliar words and inflections, and the unfamiliar southern brusqueness of speech.

When I finally do, the noise they make becomes a kind of music, almost, and I find myself forming a strange new delight: of knowing that I am in new, strange place, and there are new adventures afoot. It is a Monday when I write this and the week has barely begun. It can only lead to better things, I’m certain of that.

Still, my own words do not form.

I have always needed the stillness of a calm room—where nothing must stir or make sound, not even lilting music—to find my words. This is especially true when I need to articulate things I know that I must be careful about in the handling of the appropriate diction and style. Complete silence gives me that. And I had really wanted to write about the inspiration I get from some of my former students in the ways they have led their young lives. But that essay calls for nuanced sensibility, something impossible to achieve in the din I find myself in.

And so I have decided, finally, to write this post guerilla-style, hoping that the stream-of-consciousness approach can jumpstart a panicked brain that has yet to have its daily dose of caffeine. (I have not had coffee in two days. Imagine my panicking veins.) Thus: noisy boys in a café plus no coffee in sight equals inability to render words.

But my editor has texted the previous night, begging me that I must send something by Tuesday, before the whole country shuts down and goes comatose for the Holy Week. The problem is that I have already taken my Holy Week leave a little earlier than usual. In the previous week, I had slaved over the making of grades for my classes in the last semester—and I still remember the rush and sweatiness and sourness of the horrible days and nights I spent wading through the muddle of papers and other requirements, and even through the bigger muddle of crunching the numbers. I finished the whole grading project the Saturday night before the official Holy Week started. This, after more than two weeks of utter hard work, softened only by the occasional urge to go out into the Dumaguete night life to unwind with a little beer and conversation with friends.

The ink on the grading sheet had barely dried when my older brother Edwin called—and announced, without so much as a preamble, that I had to come with him to Sipalay for a week’s sojourn. And that we were to leave Sunday morning—the very next day—pronto. “I can’t,” I immediately said. Because there were still many things left to do and finish before I’d go about my own plans of going to Siquijor at the height of the annual witching season. But he insisted, and I could smell the subtle sense of emergency in his voice. He wanted me to come with him. He was set to leave home for Switzerland the very next week, anyway—and this was our chance, I guess, to bond before departure.

And so I have found myself here, in this sleepy little town in the other side of Negros. The beach is gorgeous. The sun is delicious. The days are long and mostly quiet. The nights are soaked with song and interesting conversation. The people are lovely. Last night, after arrival, we did the “village thing” by attending the locality’s weekend bayle, which was in honor of the crowning of their newest chapel beauty queen. (Don’t ask.) That was interesting. Last night, I took a moonlit bangka cruise along Naw-ang River, which then made its way towards the open Sulu Sea, and straight on to the beach front of my resort. While we were cruising, the green ocean waters gurgling beneath us, I felt the rush of the open night skies, the starlight generous and beaming on my face and on the clear waters. This was how it is to live, I thought. Work hard, play harder.

It is that thought that brings me close to a sense of fullness, and I begin to accept the varieties of experience a good life can bring—even if that includes noisy Internet boys playing games.

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