The First Time She Said I Love You

It was a long weekend and the holidays stretched out before her. Alice decided to take a vacation and told their team leader of her plans.

“I am going on vacation,” she said without preamble. “I am leaving for a week starting Saturday. Which is tomorrow,” she added, just to be clear.

Melissa peered at her through her horn-rimmed glasses. There was a hint of amusement around her lips. “Is your boyfriend in Mindanao again?”

“Yes, Mel. And Jonas and I are just …”

“Dating, going out, seeing each other … whatever. Sweetie, you have got to loosen up. You have the makings of an old maid already and you are not yet 30.”

Alice stared at her boss, wondering if she should be insulted.

“Statement of fact, sweetie, no judgment at all,” Melissa said. “You can have one week, talk with HR regarding the paperwork.”

“That’s it? That’s all you will say?”

Melissa looked up, smiling (smirking?). “Alice, you’re 24 and your resume said that you graduated magna cum laude. What else can your 47 year old boss tell you that you don’t already know? Have a safe flight … and for god’s sake, safe sex okay. I don’t want you coming to me asking for maternity leave in two months.”


The cheesiest lines in the history of film, in Alice's opinion. Image from

The cheesiest lines in the history of film, in Alice’s opinion. Image from



Safe sex indeed! Alice was still bristling at that when her flight landed in the Davao airport Saturday.

She doesn’t know what in heavens made her clear her schedule and come scampering here after some guy. God, she is really some cliché. Like that Julia Roberts character that went after Hugh Grant and said: “I am just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her.” Uggh!

It was Jonas who said the words first. Actually, he’s the one who keeps saying them. It’s not as if she asked him to.

When he left at dawn a week ago, what he said was: “I love you Alice. Hell, I can’t believe I’m leaving. I’ll miss you, honey.” Quote unquote.

And what she said was: “Okay.”


So now. She’s here. She texted him that she had arrived and that she will see him in Tagum and that don’t worry she knows how to commute and that the people can understand her Tagalog (thank God because she doesn’t know a word of Bisaya).

He texted back: Okay


She was grimy and weary by the time the bus stopped at the terminal. Jonas said that he’ll meet her there and to wait for him. A young girl selling native cakes greeted her as she stepped down. She went to sit down on a wooden bench beside the ticketing area and texted: “I’m here. Where are you?”

And then, (like in a movie) the crowds parted, a fresh amihan wind blew softly against her face, the hustle and bustle of the terminal seemed to quiet down and all she could hear was the thudding of her heart.

Alice grabbed her handbag, her backpack slung on her shoulders. And ran.

I love you,” she said when she reached him. “I don’t know why I couldn’t say that before. I really wanted to. When you left. Well even before that, actually. It just felt … weird and stupid. What is love anyway? It’s just a chemical reaction, right? Like endorphins and serotonin playing havoc in our hypothalamus. Even if I say that … what’s the difference if I say that or not? What will be the point?  I don’t even know why I’m here. It’s not as if you can’t come back to Manila in a few days as you said. I am just being weird and stupid and …”

Jonas kissed her on the lips. Which stopped her rapid-fire, manic ramblings. Kissed her right there in  front of all those people who must have been scandalized. It was Tagum, not Manila, after all. Kissed her like in a movie. Only, in this case, nobody clapped and nobody really paid attention. Save for the little girl who was selling native cakes – she was staring at them open mouthed – everybody just went on doing what they were doing.

So after about about 3 or 5 seconds, Jonas ended the kiss, took the backpack from Alice and hand in hand, they started walking towards a motorbike.

“You just did that to shut me up, didn’t you?”

“Yep,” he answered. “But you also looked so cute and I couldn’t help myself.”

So when he kissed her, it wasn't exactly like this. But it was close enough.  Image from

So when he kissed her, it wasn’t exactly like this. But it was close enough.         Image from


Consensual Sex: Then & Now

Oh those wonderful days when to rape and pillage are just all in a days work. Attila the Hun. Image from:

Oh those wonderful days when to rape and pillage are just all in a days work.
Attila the Hun. Image from:

If one were to ask me what I am most curious about, I would say: I would want to know how it is to be a man. How a man feels, how he thinks, how he processes stuff. There’s a whole dimension out there of information that I would only know superficially. Because I am not a man, will never be one … and has absolutely no interest in growing a penis. (I can hear G chuckling behind my back.)


“If a man thinks having sex with a woman who is stuporous or passed out is okay then he is on his way to being a rapist. Once he has sex with a woman who can’t consent he is a rapist.” — Dr. Jen Gunter, OB Gyn.

These are sweeping statements and I would understand if guys would think them as unfair. But I would have to agree with Dr. Gunter there. Her statement may be tantamount to saying: “The only way men can know that they haven’t raped a woman is if she said so.” That would hold guys to a high standard of behavior. And that. Is. Just. So … hard.

It is so difficult to be a man these days when these female bitches are just yammering on and on about what men can and cannot do. Blaming guys for their (women)  being confused, drunk or stupid. Woman, I thought you said you own your own body. How come you blame men when you get yourself drunk and then get raped?

I feel for you there, guys. However … would you rather that we go back to the time of Attila the Hun? Oh silly me … your answer may just be “yes” :( :(

Sex once upon a time. Attila's of foreplay. Image from

Sex once upon a time. Attila’s idea of foreplay. Image from

On a more sedate topic, I also wouldn’t want to go back to how medicine used to be just to make stuff easier for myself:

:) :)




Notes to Myself: How to Write a Sex Scene

I no longer had money to splurge on food so I had to go home to Lucy’s vegetable stew my Aunt had taught her to cook. The maid was alone most of the time for my uncle and aunt worked the whole day. She had already finished cooking the vegetable stew. She was dark and a little chubby, but her face was warm, friendly. She had finished high school and had wanted to study in Manila, but she did not have enough money;  she worked instead as a maid for one of Aunt Betty’s co-teachers, but the teacher no longer needed her so she passed her on to my aunt who took her grudgingly although she often complained how difficult the housework was.

“You can eat now if you want to,” Lucy said at the door. I was warm and perspiring for though the rains had started and the brown weeds along the tracks had started greening, it was still humid.

The shower adjoined the kitchen and I started soaping myself with the laundry bar.  I was a virgin. Though I knew all that should be done, the most that had happened was a brief interlude with Marie; she was in section B in our senior year and I often danced with her in our high school parties, holding her so tight her breasts pressed close against my chest, and I could feel the smooth curve of her thighs. But there were few chances for us to be alone and though we had some sort of understanding that we would continue the relationship when she got to college in Manila, her family could not raise the money for her tuition and board.

Anyway, I was soaping myself and had to do it again. It did not take long really and, though I enjoyed it, I looked forward to the time when it would be for real.

When I got out, Lucy was at the bathroom door, her face lighted up with mischief. I was very embarrassed when she asked in a bantering manner, “What have you been doing?”

She was slightly older than I — maybe 25, and I asked angrily, “What do you do when you take a bath?”

“It depends,” she said. “I didn’t hear the shower for some time.”

“You do not rub off the dirt or soap yourself?”

“It was not soaping or rubbing,” she said, looking at me, the grin on her face telling me that she knew.

I  fumbled and did not know what to say.

Then, confirmation, the laughter crinkling the corners of her mouth.

“You peeped!” and I went after her.

I did not want to hurt her and I really was not angry — just embarrassed. I grabbed at her, but she was ready and we were soon wrestling like two children from the kitchen on to the living room. I pinched her buttocks and she yelped aloud, then she grabbed my  arm and bit it so hard, I cried at her to stop.  When she let go, I held her and dragged her to the floor then pinned her down, panting. She glared at me, her breasts heaving; and I had her legs wide apart, my torso between them. Her arms were pinned down and she could not move except to try too bring her head up. Then, suddenly, I felt this stirring and, bending down but still holding her wrists so that she could not hit back, I kissed her breasts. Almost immediately, her struggling ceased and when I looked at her face, the fight was no longer there — instead the unerring light of expectation, of wonder. Bending over, releasing her hand, I kissed her, thrust my tongue into her mouth.

I really did not care anymore if a sudden knock exploded on the door or if the windows were open, which they were not because they were always shut more as a matter of precaution against robbers than for privacy.

I thought conquest would be easy for, by then, the compulsion that were surging in me could no longer be leashed. But Lucy started pushing me, wriggling, and was all arms and elbows and pointed knees — but these, more than anything, served only to heighten my resolve and convinced me in afterthought that there was a latent ruffian and rapist in me. Her resistance, it turned out, was temporary; I do not know if it was just to show that she was no easy prey or she wanted to test how determined I was. Or maybe, she found out how physically strong and well beyond calming I was and there was no further sense in lengthening the struggle which, after all, I would soon vanquish.

My entry was gentle and smooth; through her gasps, she said: “Do not hurry … please. No one will be here … we have all the time.”

She did a lot of housework, but her hands were not rough. They were soft, beautiful hands, exquisitely expert and strong ; her breasts were  firm and after a time she cautioned me for, as she said, they began to hurt.

We went up to my room after we had lain for a delicious length of time on the tiles which were cold but which we had become impervious to, sweetly unconscious as we were  of the world except the rhythm and the warmth of our bodies. We took our time upstairs as she had suggested, savoring each other in the light of day, and then it was dusk, time for her to cook dinner. We were exhausted and it was an act of will for both of us to part.

Everything was not in the script, everything was not as I had read in those guidebooks that passed through our hands in high school — explicit American guidebooks to that mysterious domain which is woman. I had thought that I would be clear-minded and  would recall everything — the step-by-step preparation, the plateau and the peak, the cozy, cuddling type of talk and display of tenderness that would cap it all — but I had merely acted out the hasty and irrational beast. I did not forget, however, to ask her if she was happy and in reply she looked at me — those big, black eyes dreamy and half closed — and she nodded.

From “Mass”, pp. 20-22, F. Sionil Jose, Solidaridad Publishing House, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila, 1973.

Mass_FS Jose


I can’t remember if “Mass” was the first F. Sionil Jose (FSJ) book that I have ever read; or was it “The Pretenders”?

They are both parts of Mr. Jose’s Rosales saga, a 5-book epic spanning 100 years of Philippine history. They are very entertaining reading; especially “Mass”  whose hero Pepe Samson epitomizes the typical (in my opinion) Filipino lower-lower middle class male, virtues as well as faults.

“Mass” also has the hottest sex scenes.

My other favorite author, Lualhati Bautista (LB), wrote a Tagalog translation of “Mass” (she titled it “Masa”), also published by Solidaridad Publishing House which Mr. Jose owns.

Excited is an understatement to describe how I am looking forward to reading the Tagalog translation. I am itching to know how  LB managed to translate FSJ’s more, ehem, raunchy scenes ;)

A Word From One of Our Sponsors (or How to Use a Condom Properly)

(Alice’s POV)


1. First, make sure you have one with you before doing anything. It is very difficult to stop in the middle of making out to go to a store to buy one. Hold the pack at its edge and open by tearing from a ribbed edge.                                                                             thcolorful-condoms_h200

2. Make sure the penis is erect before putting it on. You can make sure that the penis is erect by touching it. Put the condom on the erect penis before the penis touches its partner.

3. Pinch the reservoir at the tip of the condom. Unroll the condom all the way to the base of the penis. The condom should unroll easily. If it does not, it is probably backwards. As with a lot of things in life, practice will prevent this problem. (At this point the assumption is that we are dealing with a circumcised penis.)

4. After ejaculation, while the penis is still erect, withdraw the penis from its partner, holding onto the rim of the condom to help prevent it slipping off and the semen spilling into the vagina (or anus). When in doubt, remember that that there is always Plan B.

5. Throw away the condom in a pit latrine or trash container. Do not use the latex condom more than once (that would be so gross).

Image from

Image from



I am putting into paper stuff that I never thought I’d talk about in a million years. Jonas did say I’m a prude. Maybe he was right.

I am doing this for posterity. And for me, and for him.

I am hoping that by reliving the times we were together, my thoughts will somehow reach him and he’d come back to me.


It was January 16, nine years ago. Of course I remember. Girls pretend to forget things like this. But we don’t. Never. Not really.

I already knew I loved him then. But darn it! It was so difficult to say it out loud. I am like that. I regard words with fear, knowing that they will bind me, which I hate.

Since December, he had been an almost-permanent fixture in the apartment. Kim, at one time, jokingly asked him to pay rent. Jonas good-naturedly paid up; and Kim bought a futon with the money.

Kim would get almost teary-eyed like a doting mother-hen whenever she saw me with Jonas. That girl’s dream was to play matchmaker, and now her experiment /project seemed like a success.

As she was always in the hospital (she was on night-shift every 3 nights and everyday she had classes and other clinical work), I was left alone in our 32 square meter studio in Taft Avenue.

Jonas claimed that he liked hanging out in my place because of the convenience. The LRT is just outside our building, he would point out. He didn’t even have to bring his car.

He actually had a key to the apartment courtesy of Kim (the meddling chit!). And he once surprised me when I came home one Friday night and he was in a blue apron tinkering in the kitchen, looking very proud of himself.

“Why are you so happy?” I asked him putting down my bag, leaning against the lone sofa in the living room.

“Three reasons,” he said. “One, after a million years, Congress finally passed the bill that would regulate the mining industry; two, mom’s biopsy came out negative; and three,” he held up three fingers and gave me a looked that can only be described as wicked. “you’re here and I have you all to myself.”

I had to laugh at that. Sometimes Jonas could say the most outrageous things!

“So what are you cooking exactly?” I went over to the 4-seater wooden table that Kim and I bought from BLIMS a year ago. On it was a tupperware containing some sauce that I am sure Jonas could not have possibly made. “Who made the marinara?” I asked.


“And does she she know you’re stealing food from your house?”

“If you must know, Alice, it was Marianne who suggested that I bring some over. She attached a note on the container, I think.”

I peered at the yellow plastic and sure enough, there was a folded post-it taped on one side. I detached it and read the message from Jonas’s sister. “Hi Alice! I made a large batch of marinara, since I know my brother will be going to your place. Nahihiya na ako na lagi syang nakikikain sa inyo. I hope to see you soon. Marianne.”

I looked up and told Jonas, “I love your sister. At least she knows how to cook; unlike some people we know.”

“For the nth time, I didn’t mean to burn that rice. And besides, what I lack in cooking skills I make up for in other departments.”

“Such as? Do tell!”

“Do you really want to know?”


At this point, I want to reiterate that we have been sort of dating for almost a year. In general, I have learned that males and females who have been seeing each other in a romantic context for 3 months or more tend to get physical (you know what I mean). Otherwise, they are either ultra-conservative, a member of a fundamental religious sect, or they’re not real.

Jonas and I have been seeing each other for 10 months 2 weeks and 2 days.

The day before the above scene took place, our conversation went something like this:

“I really think Woody Allen is overrated … Uhh … don’t you think? His earlier movies are … uhh … boring … uhh … what are you doing?”


“Okay, anyway, I don’t really like … uhhh … Woody Allen … he gives me the creeps. Oh God … what are you doing?”

“Don’t you like it?”

“I do but … uhmmm … aren’t we going to watch this movie?”

“I want to make love to you.”

“O-kay. But do you have a condom?”


That’s the gist of it. Basically.

And no, at that time, he didn’t have a condom. So nothing happened. Then.



How do I describe the first time we made love? Had sex. Shagged each other. Fucked.

How do I say the correct words without sounding obscene or nauseatingly sentimental? How do I inject my prose with just the right amount of sweetness and honesty? Without sounding coy or vulgar.

The truth is, it was one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life.

One moment you keep yourself at a distance, not giving anything away, self-preservation your middle name. Then the next, you are one rattled, frazzled, marshmallow. You know what marshmallow looks like after 30 seconds in a microwave, or in a camp fire? Well, that was me. Post-orgasm. Or something.

Afterwards, Jonas asked me if I was okay, if I was hurt, if I had any regrets. Of course now, I would say no. But right then, I had no fucking idea.

We just ruined Kim’s futon so we transferred to my bed. He wrapped me in my blanket and kissed my hair and held me until around 3 am. (He had to leave early because his flight to Davao was at 6 am.)

And he told me he loved me over and over. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I was considering the following responses:

1. (grateful) Thank you, now I won’t have to die a virgin.
2. (flippant) I had to lose that sooner or later.
3. (bitchy) I had a great time, now you can go.

I didn’t say any of those things, though.

He told me years later that he was worried at my reaction that night. That maybe I was turned off (yeah, right!) or traumatized (puh-leaze!) or that maybe I didn’t love him. I had to laugh at the third one, and teased him (years later) that really, I was just using him for his body.

He told me that that night changed him; and that then he knew that I was the one. Imagine that.


Now I look back and remember, staring at the picture of this man who loved me, above all others (or so he said).

I wonder if he is dead. I wonder if all the years I spent away from him were all wasted. I wonder if this dark heavy uncertainty, this limbo of worrying and searching, will ever end.

Riding in Cars with Boys

I stepped down from the plane and just died.

Which, of course, is an exaggeration. I’m still alive, obviously. But with the stifling heat and humidity, the airport delays, and the lack of decent facilities (like air-conditioning) at NAIA, I might as well have died. I was home alright.

I  have never considered New Haven as “home.” Granted, I was only there for 4 years; but I have actually contemplated becoming a permanent resident. Without this incident that prompted me to return, I would have gladly turned my back at Manila, easily forgetting such a city even existed.

When I left 4 years ago, the roads surrounding the airport were craggy, bumpy and perennially congested — with cars and vans, trucks and buses; and commuters that are illiterate to road signs; and traffic enforcers that are overworked or corrupt or incompetent (or all three). These roads that all led to shopping malls.

Four years later, except for additional malls that have sprouted like ghastly mushrooms, everything was still the same. I was home, alright.

Auntie Juliet met me at the airport. Unlike NAIA, Auntie has changed. She looked stooped and smaller than I remembered. The lines on her forehead  more prominent. She still had that same smile, sweet but not cloying. She welcomed me the way she always did when I came back from school; when school meant college which was just a few cities (not a few countries) away.

“I told you I’d just get a taxi. You shouldn’t have bothered going all the way here,”I said.

“Shut up,” she told me cheerfully. “And get in the car.”

Unlike me, Auntie can drive. I am a klutz when it comes to cars. I have begged Jonas to let me practice on his Honda but he would only give me a look that I interpreted to mean: “You have got to be kidding!”

I don’t know why he couldn’t be more supportive. I feel like an incompetent ninny because everyone around me thought that when I get behind a wheel, that’s a sign that the evening news will feature a road accident along Quirino Avenue. Or C5 Road. Or Nagtahan Bridge.

Truth be told, I was not too keen to drive a car, either. First, the charges in the parking facilities in Makati where I used to work were tantamount to usury. Second, Metro Manila’s traffic was something straight out of purgatory. So I used to commute using the LRT or the bus or jeepney. How plebeian!

When I started going out with Jonas, he assigned himself as my designated driver. Whenever he was in Manila and not off doing field work in some godforsaken place, that is.

I liked having Jonas drive me around. I loved the long trips most of all; when during the weekends he would accompany me to my hometown and the trip would take 4 hours (5 if the traffic was heavy) and we would have these philosophical discussions about important questions such as:

1. Which has better french fries, McDonalds or Jollibee?

2. How many mistresses does Erap Estrada really has?

3. Who was the mastermind in the execution of Andres Bonifacio?

4. Was Imelda Marcos sexually frigid?

5. Do dogs and cats really hate each other?

6. Is shower-sex overrated?

Jonas’s opinion was: “dexterity counts a lot when attempting to go all the way in the shower.”

My opinion was … I had no opinion.

But since I had to pretend to be more worldly that I actually was, I had to make up an opinion, so I said, “I think it’s best to do it in a car.”


We did do it in a car. Eventually.

In a gray 2001 Honda CRV with tinted windows and while the stereo was blaring “All I Need” by Shamrock.

Yes, shower-sex was definitely over-rated.


Raffy: Bakit ka nagpaiwan?

Lea: Bakit umalis ka kahit naiwan ako? Dahil malakas  ka at malakas ako. At iba ang gusto mong gawin sa gusto ko. Nawala ka sa akin pero kung sumunod  ako sa iyo noon ang nawala sa akin ay ang sarili ko. Magiging masaya ka ba sa isang babaeng walang sarili? Hindi na sya siya magandang asawa kapag ganoon.

(Raffy: Why didn’t you go with me?

Lea: Why did you leave? Because we were both strong and we wanted different things. You left, I lost you. But if I had gone with you, I would have lost myself. Would you be happy with a woman who doesn’t own herself? She would not have been a good wife for you.)

Bata,_Bata…_Pa’no_Ka_Ginawa_by_Lualhati_Bautista_Book_Cover   From: “Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa” (translation mine)

Award winning Tagalog novel by Lualhati Bautista.

It also had its own movie which starred Vilma Santos,

an actress who became a politician, a typical career path for Filipinos.


(Alice’s POV)

I miss Jonas.

It is April but I feel chilly which, according to Kim, is weird because everyone in New York just adore this weather. Maybe, she said, I am cold intolerant.

I just woke up and the one-room loft  we share is empty. Kim’s bed is already made up; she went out early to make rounds.

I am alone save for my thoughts and these … memories … of him, who else?

I know, I know … this was my choice. I chose to go.  I chose to leave him hanging there with his ring and his good intentions and his heart which, according to Marianne, I have broken into smithereens.

So I am the bitch. Fine. I admit it. You can unfriend me on Facebook, Marianne; I messed up royally.

But … I also had to do this. I had to get out of that country which is slowly suffocating and killing me. I had to escape from my work where I haven’t been happy for a long time. I wanted this — this opportunity to learn so much more than I would ever have a chance to know had I stayed in Manila. I would never have forgiven myself if I didn’t take this chance.

Jonas, don’t you understand? I love you. With all that I am. But I also love me. If I had stayed with you, I would have lost myself. And would you be happy  with a woman who does not own herself?

I feel cold. So I wrap Kim’s sweater tighter around me, and curl like a child on the lone sofa in the living room. I listen to the Chinese foodstore owner haggling with a customer downstairs, the smell of fermented shrimp paste wafts up my nostrils. Smells of home have never made me feel sadder.


Alice wonders at how clean and beautiful everything is in New York. She would have enjoyed being here, in the center of the world, if only she didn’t feel so shitty about what she left behind. Central Park in April. Picture from Wikipedia.

Notes About “Falling”

Really, sometimes it can be nothing special. Like one day, you go along when someone asks you to go out, and you have nothing to do, so you agree.

basta driver sweet lover

What will trigger it may be something as mundane as a wicked sign on a jeepney, or a teenaged couple doing PDA in the middle of a busy street (get an effing room, you said under your breath; which for some reason amused him so much);

PDA -- "public display of affection" . Image from

PDA — “public display of affection” . Image from


… or a stray dog crossing the road (a comment he made on that would segue into a story about his favorite dog when he was a boy).my dog

When you were younger, you thought it came with violins and hearts and flowers. And thunder and lightning and rainbows. And they did say (whoever they were, you never could figure out the identity of “they”) that it would be like walking on air, sublime happiness.

You can’t really relate with the idea of sublime happiness. Marginally comfortable is just fine with you.

Hiking -- something to get over an other humdrum Saturdat morning

Hiking — something to get over an otherwise humdrum Saturday morning. You did protest and said that you don’t do nature stuff. And he said that there’s a first time for everything.

But then, when he started striding into your life as if he owned it, you started to question the stuff that you were comfortable with. He asked you:  why not go mountain hiking because you spend so much time indoors that you lack vitamin D. Instead of saying, I can buy supplements at GNC thank you very much, you said “okay”.

Why is that you wonder?

And then he said that he liked it when you wore your hair long and free from confining ponytails behind your back, you actually blushed!

Remember when you were suspicious of people who gave you compliments? Now you have actually forgotten your scrunchies and have started the habit of blow-drying your hair!

And then when he started hovering around you almost everyday, you did not tell him to go home and stop making a “tambayan” out of your apartment. You served him iced tea and at one time even cooked pasta.

The problem with giving people an inch of yourself is that they would eventually ask for the whole package and you would be too polite to be selfish.

…. Or you would be charmed because they asked so nicely.

The problem with sublime happiness is that it can creep up on you like a burglar. And steal all your furniture.

You wake up from sleep and all that you thought you owned (including your heart) was no longer yours.falling in love