Rural Myths and Legends (or A Roadmap to Second Base)

black sands beach

The beach has black sands, most of it is composed of a metal called magnetite. Chinese merchants have been mining the black sands for close to 15 years now. As a result, there are areas in the water that would immediately dip and deepen which is very dangerous for an unsuspecting swimmer.

“Every year, the sea would claim a life. The townspeople believe that, like it’s an obligatory sacrifice. Last year, a group of students from the provincial capitol went on a picnic on this beach. Two of them drowned.”

“You don’t really believe in that baloney, do you?” Alice asked him.

“I’m a scientist, Alice. But there are many stories and I think we should listen to them so that we can understand the people who have to make them up.”

black sands little boy

She nodded. “Where I grew up, our neighbors believe that the forest beside our town was haunted. With black or red dwarves, or something.” Jonas started touching her neck and she was momentarily distracted. She gave him a warning look. He grinned at her, but stopped anyway. Alice continued, “So they believe that when you step into the forest for the first time, you should give the dwarf, the nuno, a sign of your respect. Like you can bow and ask for it to let you pass. You can also wear your shirt inside out, otherwise it may make fun of you and make you get lost in its forest.”

It’s forest? So you really believe in this folktale, huh?” Jonas teased.

“My grandfather used to tell it to me all the time. I think he was just trying to scare me, to keep me from wandering off and getting lost. What’s so funny?”

“I am just thinking that your grandfather was telling you myths and folktales, while my father used to read me A History of the Manhattan Project as bedtime story.”

“So that is the reason why you are such a nerd!” Alice exclaims, shamelessly lying with a straight face.

Jonas is the farthest thing from a nerd one can imagine. As far as physical attributes go, Alice may appear nerdier than he is: with her glasses (gone now; since she started going out with him she had preferred contacts) and her books and her perpetual ponytails (which have disappeared with her glasses; he always managed to unbind her hair whenever he’s around). Jonas looks like a basketball player, though he’s not that tall. A lot of great players in the PBA are not very tall.

Jonas kissed her nose and stretched out on the blanket, his head on her lap.

Now what? Alice thought. They were alone on the beach, save for a few sand crabs scurrying around them. The nearest fisherman was a kilometer away.

Jonas closed his eyes. “There is another story about this sea. Once upon a time, a mermaid used to live here. Every year, at Lent or Christmas, she would take on the body of a beautiful woman and mingle with the local people. She would encourage the males to drink the local wine which she had spiked with her magic potion, and eat some enchanted food from the ocean. She would do this so that they will forget who they are and follow her.”

“And where are the women in this story, I wonder?”

He opened one eye. “They are tending to their kids.”

“What happens when the guys follow the mermaid?”

“They fall on the ocean and they drown.”

Alice laughed. Guffawed and chuckled like a madwoman. She laid down on the blanket beside Jonas, took his hand and started playing with it. “I like your story.”

Jonas turned and embraced her; her legs, arms and torso in a tangle with his. He was smiling, looking into her eyes.

“I knew you would. I like it too. It got you lying down here with me while my other attempts have failed.”

So then … one of them proceeded to go where (as the Star Trek saying goes) no man has gone before. It was not an entirely boring morning.



Reading Lists and Interesting Pictures:

Swear Words and Kisses (or The Effect of Ethanol on the Hippocampus and Amygdala of Mimosa Pudica)



8 years (or so) ago …

Jonas never swears.

Between him and Alice, she is the one more prone to spewing out gutter words and expletives when she is angry or frustrated. That day, though, his sentences are liberally peppered with the p-word and other creative adjectives that leaves Alice in open-mouthed amazement.

“Who are you? And what have you done to my boyfriend?”

The word “boyfriend” still makes Alice queasy; but not as much as before. There are times when she is comfortable and even pleased when hearing it coming from her voice.

Jonas regards Alice; and when he answered, he sounds calmer and leveled.

“Those ass-kissing, donkey-headed, fruitcake retards in congress have shot it down!”

“That bill you were lobbying to make that forest a protected area?”

Jonas nods. “Congressman Bautista is a pretentious, slime-y, small-balled, prick-brained ….”

He seems at a loss for the best insult to use, so Alice chimes in, “poop-eating goatfucker?”

Jonas smiles at Alice. “That’s just right on, honey. Thank you.”

“We aim to please,” Alice replies, glad to be of help in another human being’s hour of need.

However, she is not sure if this giddiness she feels is due to the gin cocktail she just consumed.

Or because Jonas just called her “honey.”

“If I kiss you, would it make it all feel better?”

Did she just say that?

Yes, she most definitely did. That wide, self-satisfied grin on his face is evidence that she did.

“Kiss me where?”

“On the lip, you dolt! Why? What did you think?”

Dramatic sigh. “I thought that tonight I am going get lucky. Remind me to ply you with alcohol more often.”

Then he kissed her. It lasted for 60 seconds (more or less); and involved lips, tongue, teeth, hands, and bodily fluids.

It left Alice dazed and disoriented.

Her opportunistic rascal of a “boyfriend” has the gall to tease her afterwards: “You are getting better at this, Alice. Have you been practicing?”

Now she can’t very well let that pass without a scathing reply, can she?

“No practice. Just a natural inborn talent. Unlike some people who just had to make so much effort.” She managed (and succeeded) to raise one eyebrow at him, not an easy feat. “Are you impressed?”

Jonas laughs. “Very much so.” And they continued where they left off.

Necessary Fictions

Ana met up with Carrie after the conference. This was one of those seminars that people in Ana’s profession go to out of obligation. In her case, Ana felt obligated to attend because Carrie, who is a dear friend, already paid for her registration.


Ana started reading Mills and Boon before puberty. So maybe that's why she is R-rated and Carrie is PG. Mills and Boon are the precursors of Fifty Shades of Grey, with better editing.

Ana started reading Mills and Boon before puberty. So maybe that’s why she is R-rated and Carrie is PG. Mills and Boon are the precursors of Fifty Shades of Grey, with better editing. They sold to women who wanted to have fun. People cannot seem to understand this. Sex+love=romance and romance sells because it’s fun. Atrocious editing, bad narrative structure and seemingly shallow characterizations are (sometimes, though not all the time) superfluous. A roller coaster does not need to be blue for one to feel adrenaline rush while riding it. An orgasm is an orgasm whether one has had  it with a dildo or with something else. Picture from


Once upon a time, Ana and Carrie worked in the trenches together. They were excellent soldiers — obedient with just the right amount of cynicism; they could look at blood and gore with clinical detachment; they could sublimate their fear, disgust and depression, until a more appropriate time (however long that takes). They could have been made into generals. Ana actually rose to captain but she found that she  hated soldiering and was in it only for the money. For these girls (or women), Carrie and Ana, their passive-aggressiveness is an effective antibiotic to future success.

Now Ana  is thinking: there is something about being in a war-zone (which is basically what their previous job was all about) that draw people closer. If I had been more determined, and gave in to my Inner Goddess and quit while I was still  relatively sane, Carrie would not have been my friend. I would not be sitting here now, drinking mojito and commiserating about our husband’s infrequent erections.

Carrie: I think something happened after I gave birth. That fourth degree laceration really took something out of my sex life. Maybe it’s the lubrication or something.

Ana: I miss it when we were in our twenties and would have sex every other day. Half the time I was asleep, which is a bummer now that I look back on it. Men’s interest really go down with age.

Carrie: I love our daughter and I think I don’t mind not having sex with Ian at all.

Ana: Really!? You mean that?

Carrie: Ana, of course I’m lying! But I can’t help thinking that he doesn’t really love me. That he just married me because I got pregnant?

Ana: Oh please! Are we going back to this storyline? Harlequin, Loveswept, Silhouette, even Mills and Boon novels are teeming with the accidental-pregnancy-plot-that-leads-to-marriage — haven’t you learned anything by now?

(Carrie’s face is blank so Ana would have to spell it out for her)

Ana: Ian loves you, get that through your thick head. It’s not as if you pointed a gun at him and made him marry you.

Carrie: For men, isn’t an accidental gestation just like pointing a gun to their  heads?

Ana: (Silent. How would she know? She had never been pregnant.) Tell me again how your daughter was an accident?

Carrie: I forgot to take my pill.

Ana: Wow, that’s stupid.

Carrie: Thank you, Ana. That is very insightful.

Ana: Well if you will do it all over again, I’m sure that that you will not prefer not having had your daughter. I mean, Arielle is cute and smart and she will probably be your last chance at genetic mortality because, and I quote, women’s chance at conception drastically go down at 39 even with IVF. Hey look, you should have another kid, otherwise, you will smother this one.

Carrie: I am on DMPA.

Ana: Wow, is that so. Well you’re 38, you should probably give yourself a deadline. Don’t be like me. I am still not passionate about progenies and I’m only 3 years younger than you.

Carrie: Having a child is difficult. A real drain on the finances, and on your energy. You want to give her the best. And it’s depressing when you realize you can’t.

Ana: I am so glad you said that. I am tired of these women, and even men, who keep yammering on like having a kid is the Holy Grail.

Carrie: Of course they will say that Ana. It’s a necessary fiction.



Review of the week: Fifty Shades of Grey

“we should not begrudge E. L. James her triumph, for she has, in her lumbering fashion, tapped into a truth that often eludes more elegant writers—that eternal disappointment, deep in the human heart, at the failure of our loved ones to acquire their own helipad.”






Sex and Anarchy

ladies of avignon

Ladies of Avignon (Pablo Picasso). According to some sources, this is one of the most erotic arts in the world. Ana does not agree. A picture of naked women does not make her hot. If she wants to look at naked female bodies, she would strip her clothes in front of a mirror.

Sometimes, Ana would wonder: what can the world be if women took charge?

It would be so boring. And rigid. Women are so puritanical as a group that if they took the reins, everybody would all be worshiping in the church of Prada and dildoes would be a required accessory. But there would be no sex.

For sex to happen, there has to be anarchy.

Or more specifically … great sex requires the messiness of men. Or maybe Ana is just biased because she is not a lesbian.

The greatest orgasms (hence the best sex) Ana have ever had were the ones that have taken her by surprise. For women that usually seem to be the case.

The problem with that is now, a girl won’t usually know when her next orgasm will be coming from. But then, Ana consoles herself, a promise of something is better than a universe of nothing. Which is basically why she is thankful that she has found her husband (amidst the billions of human XYs in the world) and fell in love with him.

Ana found herself agreeing with Pope Francis when he said that we must permit ourselves to be surprised by love. (What he actually said was: we must let ourselves be surprised by god’s love. But, then Ana  thinks, the pope is Catholic so it’s understandable for him to insert his own deity in what would be a profound statement even for an atheist — or maybe, even for a Muslim, if we want to do the inclusivity thing.)

Ana is beginning to think that Jesus must be a feminist too. Granted, he had to relegate his mom Mary to the role of perpetual virgin; and his girlfriend, Magdalene to the role of perpetual whore. Despite those shortcomings, the guy had some of his marbles in order.

Ironically, this train of thought started because Ana was horny, not having seen Christian for the past 24 hours.

Cupid and Psyche

This sculpture of Psyche and Cupid … now this is hot — Ana.


It’s even more erotic when seen in close-up!


Readings Lists:


Deflowered But Not Devalued*

(*with all gratitude to Shoshanna Shapiro of “Girls” from whom this line was lifted)


Alice contemplates. She doesn’t want to; but she can’t help it. Sex does not really mean anything, supposedly, ideally.

So why does it feel like it does?

She googles when she contemplates, so her laptop currently has several tabs opened from enlighteningly esoteric websites, such as the Journal of Adolescent Health and UNFPA and Family Planning International. She should  start doing her lecture, and really that’s what she meant to do. For some reason, she got sidetracked and she now has to remind herself that her lecture is about general cognitive psychology and not Adolescent Counseling.

Drats! She is not an adolescent anymore. But she feels like an adolescent right now. Thinking about it, she acknowledges that she had never really been given a chance to be an adolescent. For one, she can’t remember having a rebellious phase … until now.

Truth be told, going all the way with him (god she can’t even think of it as “having sex”) has an element of … activism? Or, liberation maybe?

Okay, it’s not as if being a virgin is the be-all and end-all of a woman’s existence. Not anymore.

Alice wonders: what's the big deal about virginity when it can so easily be commoditized like this?

Alice wonders: what’s the big deal about virginity when it can so easily be commoditized like this?

She is not living in the 19th century. This is the 21st … the third millennium. In  a few years people will be going to the moon and set up lunar settlements; or colonizing Mars. Sex and the City and Ally McBeal and Friends say it’s totally cool to be out there and  just … do it. Because it feels good, it’s feminist, and it’s liberating and it’s …

Why is she so bothered?

Due to years of social conditioning, probably.

And the fact that he immediately went  to Mindanao after what happened and now (despite the daily texts and that one time he called her cel) … and now … she misses him.

It is a novel feeling for Alice to miss a man. Come to think of it, she didn’t even miss her father when he went and became a TNT** in the US.  She missed her mom when she died. She misses her grandmother and her aunts when she doesn’t see them for weeks. But a guy? No, never a guy. This  is a totally new thing.

She was reading an article in a journal about Turkish girls who undergo surgery to have their hymen restored. And  Alice’s reaction is: give me a fucking break!

So this is what a hymen looks like. Imagine all the stress women have to undergo for this measly insignificant  piece of  tissue!

Alice: So this is what a hymen looks like. Imagine all the stress that women (for centuries) have to undergo for this measly insignificant piece of tissue!

She totally sympathizes with the Turkish girls, though; can completely understand how important physical virginity is in a society of male chauvinist religious fundamentalists.  If she was born in Turkey, she would probably be lining up in a gynecologist’s clinic right now.

She wonders what virginity feels like for guys. Do they acknowledge that concept for themselves? She wanted to ask Jonas what it felt like when he lost it. But she’s, well, embarrassed — liberated outspoken girl that she is. Until now she still cannot think about the details of what happened without wanting to bury her head under Kim’s futon.


(TNT – Tagalog “tago nang tago”, term used for illegal aliens in the US

A Friendly Get-Together

These days, Ana can’t stop thinking about her good fortune.

She and Christian are doing well both in financial matters and in the more personal aspects of their relationship.

The intensity that defined their first years together has mellowed and has settled into something like heated coals that glows toastily warm or blazing hot depending on one’s vantage point

dinner-with-friends-box-cover-posterLast night, they went out to dinner with Christian’s friends, a bunch of men and women that Ana is particularly fond of. This group has none of the affectations and city stiffness that defines their other friends from the school they met in. Provincial people is what these are, and Ana feels warm around them.

One of them, a thin tall man whose wife Ana occasionally sees in her work, has just returned home from his job in a foreign country. Let’s call him Aidan.

Aidan’s wife, a woman that he has known since high school and has courted during their college days when she was still in a relationship with another man, was laughing at her kids’s antics – a boy and a girl. The boy is impishly cute; the girl is as quiet as a reed and as thin as her father.

To this group comes (in his usual lateness) a fair skinned, slightly slanty eyed male in cargo pants. We will call him Jonah.

Ana imagines that Jonah must have some serious father issues. His dad left when he was small and his seeming brashness belies, Ana thinks, a huge chip (the size of a boulder) draping on his narrow shoulders. He has just gotten out off an “it’s complicated” type of relationship.

So today Ana was thinking: I think Jonah would hit it off with my friend from work, Madelyn.Who is a sometimes-separated mother-of-two, and is very pretty.

She floated this idea at Christian when they went home, but Christian was not too excited with this idea.

“Darling, your friend is married,” he told her with some tenderness and a whole lot of emphasis on the “m” word.

“Her husband is a jerk and she wants to leave him!”

“They are married and they have two children.”

She gave him an information that would get him to Madelyn’s side. “Her husband hits her.”

Christian was silent for about 5 seconds. “Okay, he’s a jerk. I agree.”

“So I think I’m setting her up with Jonah.”

“Ana, darling, for god’s sake, leave them alone.”

“Jonah is miserable. Madelyn is very miserable. Misery loves company.”
“I can’t believe you just threw that bumper sticker cliché at me.”

“Jonah is single and ready to mingle,” Ana continues with her clichés. “You said so. And Madelyn needs a sane steady guy with stable work to help her take care of her kids.”

“Do you realize what you just said?”

“Yep, I made it sound as if Jonah is a desperate DOM* and Madelyn is an opportunistic bitch. But then, we are also more than the two-word descriptions that people make of us – and you said that… darling.”

At this point, dear readers, Ana and Christian have gotten their clothes off and while they are not naked (we will call their states of undress en deshabille), they are currently eyeing each other wondering who between them will take off that last piece of underwear.

What Ana loves about making love with her husband: 1. He can touch her down there in a manner that she could never do with herself; 2. When he comes in her mouth, it gives her a feeling of accomplishment – like she just scaled a mountain. Or something; 3. When she comes with him inside her, she feels that she had come home to herself.

*DOM – dirty old man 🙂

One Morning at Starbucks (or The Problem with Men)

It is 6 am and Alice just got off from work. She proceeds to the Starbucks beside their building for her daily caffeine quota. Her backpack feels heavy and she is unbearably sleepy. She will proceed to her apartment and sleep the whole day. At 6 pm she will teach evening classes at the university. Work, school, home … the rhythms of her life.

She orders a cold capuccino, to jar her up. She needs the extra adrenaline for the commute home. She doesn’t really like Starbucks coffee, but it is convenient and fast.

It’s also obscenely expensive. He said that. Two weeks ago; when they were debating the merits and disadvantages of changing the Philippine constitution to give more ownership to foreign corporations.

These days, his voice would manifest in her head without warning, during times when she is most defenseless. Like at six in the morning when she is bone-tired and sleepy. The jerk hasn’t called, texted or even emailed in over a week! How dare he intrude in her thoughts.

He has been parachuting in and out of her life for the past – oh, 5 or 6 months. Each time she would see him was always like the first time. Initially, she would be indifferent (hostile, even, especially if he appeared after weeks of disappearing with no trace at all). But then he would say something, or touch her in some way, or smile – and she’s … gone. Alice would feel her heart do that hopping routine and she would just welcome Jonas like a long-lost friend … or something.

Two sips of cappuccino and Alice feels awake again. She checks her cellphone for messages; and there are two missed calls and a text. Speaking of the devil!

Hi! Are you still in at work?

She is tempted to put the cellphone back in her bag without answering. Let him freeze, she thought.

Hu u?

It’s Jonas. And I don’t believe that you lost my number. For god’s sake, are you still in Makati?

Her phone vibrated and the tune from the play “Rent” started humming.

“You don’t have to sound so grumpy, you know,” said Alice without preamble.

“I have been calling you for 30 minutes,” the male voice on the other line said grumpily.

“I was at work! I had to turn my text messages off.”

“Oh well, okay. I’m on my way to Makati.”

“Oh so now you want to meet up!”

“Alice I haven’t seen you for two weeks. I just got back from Mindanao.”

“Hold it right there. That. That is just the problem with men. They want to meet up and they want you to just drop everything. Like what am I? A geisha, or something?”

There was a pause and a loud sigh. “I am going there and I and I am meeting up with you. I assume that you’re at the Starbucks beside your building? Thirty minutes, wait for me.”

And that’s that.

Drats! Alice knew she would wait. Some geisha she was turning out to be.