Friday, March 25, 2005

Available and Kind

like Pavlov's dog
you start
when he
turns away.

how many times
must you be told
again and again
dear heart?

find somebody
available and kind.

emotionally there
if not yet
physically there

who will treat you
with the tenderness
and respect
that you deserve.

break free,
break free
dear heart!

nor any other man--
is not your master

find somebody
available and kind.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


the thought of
seeing you
disturbs me:

is this
a terrifying sweetness
sweet terror?

are you
and my
February-born Angel
and the same?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Vagina Monologues

the world famous play came to our city this weekend and i watched it with my sister and eldest daughter last night.

i already had an idea of the content of the play, having read and heard of it from so many rave reviews before, but still i was curious about the details. i think most other people there who came went there to be titillated, but i hope they came out more enlightened about women and how things really are for women.

the play is a product of hundreds of interviews by Eve Ensler with women, talking about their vaginas. but it is not as simple as that because the vagina is a very political thing in itself.

it can be said that the vagina is a woman's mouthpiece. if she doesn't even see hers, much less know it and is intimate with it, she is basically without voice, in the real sense of the word. but when she starts getting to know hers, and all its intricacies and complexities, lo and behold, she finds her voice to speak up for all the many other things that assail her -- feeling overburdened, unappreciated, used, abused, giving too much without getting as much, etc.

it is interesting to note that in a so-called postmodern, free-thinking world, most people, including most women, are still hesitant to call a vagina a vagina. the very act of naming something is acknowledging it; and not naming it for what it is is, in fact, ignoring it, disempowering it. so that was the first part of the show, with one of the lead characters asking the audience for a show of hands to count how many vaginas there are.

my daughter, sister and i enthusiastically raised our arms, but the rest were shy to follow. but oh, i can tell from the shy smiles and the twinkling eyes of those who followed, it was a small act of liberation, of empowerment for them, to actually acknowledge their vaginas and be proud enough to admit it. heehee.

my 12-year-old daughter, Thea, smirked, "that is downright stupid, to be afraid to call your vagina a vagina, and to be shy to admit you have one. it's like being shy of calling your nose a nose, and admitting you have one!"

i'm training her early, my little girl who is not so little anymore. : )


i found my vagina, and--looking back now-- my G-spot, when i discovered the wonders of self-pleasuring at 9 years old.

i loved sleeping on my tummy (i still do) and one restless night, with a pillow under my tummy, i started rubbing my self against the edge of the pillow... and i was on my way. : )

at that age, i never even knew what the term for the pleasure spot was, nor the self-pleasuring act it self, but i kept at it even when i learned that it's supposed to be taboo and sinful, just because when the world turned really rough and tough and nobody was there for me, i knew at least that i could give my self pleasure. (up until lately, though, i never realized that the G-spot could be stimulated from inside, as i've always done it from outside!!! : O)

throughout my teens, i was curious about my vagina and what it could do to give and receive more pleasures so i read a lot of books and looked at a lot of drawings to become intimately familiar with it.

strangely enough, as i also wanted to be a nun all throughout my teens, i kept my self physically "pure and chaste" by not even holding hands with a boy!!! don't laugh now, but i actually practiced kissing ... with a small banana, twirling my tongue around it, at the coaching of my girl best friend.

what a contradiction i am, huh. : )

the familiarization took on a more compelling turn when i was about to give birth to my first child. almost every day towards the day of childbirth, with mirror in hand, i looked at my vagina every chance i could get, gazing at it in wonder and awe and amazement, getting to know its very intimate folds and crevices and changes in color, texture and fragrance, at different times of the day and night, at different days and nights.

i was surprised to find that the eleven (11!) moles i had around the vaginal and perineum areas in my late teens, have dwindled down to seven, but i thought maybe it's about time i moved from Power 11 to Lucky 7... hehehehhhh... as i was married and was about to become a mother anyway. : )

last time i checked, it was still a Lucky 7, so im okay.


how a vagina behaves is a metaphor for how a woman likes to be treated by a man.

it is hidden until it is encouraged to come out, with loving care and attention. forcefulness can make it show itself too, but you won't get it wet and ready, no matter how hard you try with all the sexual techniques you know. nice and gentle loving care and attention does it every time, though.

it's funny how the predominantly women audience resonated to that part when one of the characters asked, "If your vagina could speak only two words, what would it say?"

"Slow down!!!", and the audience hooted and clapped. : )

one of the other questions asked in the play was: "If you could dress up your vagina, what would your vagina wear?"

there were many and varied answers: from denims and lace, to satin and silk, a mink coat, shorts and a tee, a slicker and boots, a gold lame gown, a fancy hat and sexy lingerie and garters... the answers were as varied as women are varied.

the microphone never got around to me, but if i were asked, I know what mine would wear--

a tiara of diamonds, nothing more, nothing less, bare naked in all its glory!!!


Friday, March 18, 2005

Reflections on an Old Love

met an old lover for coffee today, after lunch. he texted me to ask if we could meet for old times' sake, before he left for home again.

i knew he was in town since last month; he emailed me his plans and schedule and texted me from time to time to tell me where he was. but i never bothered to initiate anything with him again, knowing too that he has a steady girlfriend now, or so he claims.

what amuses me though is he still keeps telling me about his life and his dreams, where he's been and what his plans are. and i was never really his girlfriend.

we hit it off when we first met two years ago, so much so that by the second date we were intimate. but i've always understood that our basic conflict is that he was too young for me, and that we ultimately wanted different things in our lives.

we met at a time when i had just broken free of my marriage, while he was seriously thinking of settling down. that was one of the first comments he made during our first date, and he looked sad and disappointed about it: "so you're just spreading your wings huh, and starting to enjoy your freedom."

and when we became intimate, i thought we were just having fun, sharing pleasures affectionately as good friends. i only began to realize a little further on that i might have meant something more to him when he started asking me about my plans, and whether they would fit in with his plans too, and how he liked to call himself "my man".

but at that time, making a commitment, much less making a commitment to somebody much younger, was never even in my plans, so it took a long while for me warming up to the idea.
by the time i was considering it, he had moved on to other easier "conquests", i guess.

then, too, one conversation we had struck me about how vastly different our views of marriage were: he was still stuck in that never-married single twentysomething person's idea of marriage as some sort of a social and economic exchange idea ("you take care of us as you have a better career, i'll take care of your kids and our home for you!") while i was (and still am) looking now for a real life partner-- a best friend and independent equal whom i don't have to baby nor to play slave to.

his marriage plans amused me more than they insulted me. he said he was looking for an educated filipina whom he could take with him to the States so she'll work and have a successful career and support him, while he stays home and takes care of the household and the kids and does his travelling and his nightlife socializing as he says he's tired of working his butt off. hahaaa. i credited that to his youth, although i also wondered if that's how cut-and-dried men think when they think of finding somebody to marry.

of course, i said no and pointed out to him as gently as i could that i didn't plan on being somebody else's provider nor surrogate mom, when i already have my hands full taking care of my three kids and my self. and so that ended it.

still our coffee and long chat today brings bittersweet and tender feelings to the surface.

he talks about his girlfriend now and how she fulfills his dreams of finding somebody willing to support him and let him do his thing. he says what makes her a great catch is because she's so conservative she wouldn't even allow him to kiss her, so that's a sure thing that she won't cheat on him. he also says that she's not into nightlife socials so he'll be sure she'll always just be home, where he wants her, even when he's out socializing. he asked me what i thought, isn't that great?

(i know what you must probably be thinking... "pig!" huh? heehee. well, yeah, me too, but i credit that to his youth more than to his being male.)

i frankly told him it might be great for him but not for her. he insists it's great for her too because she agreed to the idea. i told him, yeah, wait till she's 35 or 40 and wakes up to how you have been ripping her off! hahaaa.

he nonchalantly said, well she could leave me when she's 35 or 40, i'll just find somebody younger.


i mean, that doesn't sound like a man in love to me!

so, the reason for the bittersweet and tender feelings resurfacing.

from the way his gaze lingered on my face as we talked, to how he made any and all excuse to touch my arm, my shoulder, my hair, even brush a finger or two against my face... to how deeply he looked into my eyes as i told him about my life too (i had to look away many times, just to keep the friendly distance) ... i could tell: the love is still there.

but then, haven't i learned not so long ago already? --

many times, love is not enough to make it last.

but still, i can't help wondering... who is luckier-- the "official" girl friend, or me, the unacknowledged love?

sigh. the price a thinking woman has to pay!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


a friend and colleague of mine is doing a study on single parent teachers in the university and how best they can be helped by the administration in their needs. she asked me to be one of the respondents.

one of the questions asked about how im feeling right now with my life. I answered: empowered, joyful, excited about life's possibilities, overworked but fulfilled.

another question asked me to write my top three needs, how they can be addressed, and by whom. i could only think of two:

1. Added income to take care of my growing children's needs;
- addressed through taking on extra freelance writing, research and lecturing projects, as well as part-time businesses like my mom's business;
- addressed by God, self and other people's good will and referral to other clients

2. Sex : )
- addressed through self-help, until the opportunity for a good, healthy and loving relationship with another comes up;
- addressed by God, self, and a good man with a good mind and a good heart who knows how to treat a woman right

my friend laughed at my answers. she half-believed i was serious. "Is this all? This is all you need?"

i thought about it for a split-second, and said, "yeah. that's basically it."

and she said, "you don't need a good man's true and lasting loving?"

i just smiled and said nothing.

but her last question haunted me all throughout the day.

of course i do. why didn't i answer that?

maybe not now. not the lifetime-lasting one, at least. maybe im not ready. my life is just opening up and showing me all sorts of possibilities, and right now, i want to explore all without tying myself down to one option.

maybe so.

or, maybe that's just my brain answering for me.

when i look deeper, i am quite disturbed by my heart's answer:

maybe, deep down... i don't believe it's even possible anymore; something not even God can do anything about.



this is a striking piece of self-revelation to me.

hmmm. : (

it's interesting how the truth of my life and needs can be instantly summarized by my short bulleted answers to a one-page survey.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Airport Thoughts


it's funny how i was thinking these thoughts today about my life now and how i am growing to view the whole love, sex and romance stuff... while at the airport waiting for my flight home, and then i get home to find a friend's email sharing with me these words from one of his favorite movies, The English Patient:

We die, we die
rich with lovers and tribes,
tastes we have swallowed...
...bodies we have entered and swum up like rivers,

fears we have hidden in like this wretched cave...

...I want all this marked on my body.
We are the real countries,
not the boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men...

...I know you will come and carry me out
into the palace of winds, the rumors of water...
That's all I've wanted -
to walk in such a place with you,
with friends, on earth without maps.

i could never have written it as beautifully, as courageously and as truthfully!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Dharma Sutra


my friend says im crazy.

we met in the morning today at an administrative meeting. she's our university's bookstore manager, as well as the incoming Chair of our department, after my resignation takes effect in may.

she came to the meeting bringing with her a small red book titled, Dharma Sutra, really a small pamphlet of a local author on the whys and how tos of Dharma Sutra. the book got passed around the meeting made up mostly of women, who giggled at the pictures in the book. it got to me too, but what intrigued me was the title, and the preface.

i hastily whispered to my friend, who was beside me, "why Dharma and not Kama? I've only heard of Kama Sutra."

the book explained how Dharma Sutra can be used as a force to empower women, to diminish prostitution and marital rape and all other forms of sexual abuse against women.

but then, the meeting began, so we had to forget about the book altogether.

anyway, i was quick to notice the little slip of paper inserted in the book, containing the author's cellphone number.

so early tonight, i texted him to ask about the book. i was surprised by the price-- only 40 pesos (around 80 cents)! but i was even more surprised by the man's reaction, he seemed apologetic about the price and tried to justify it with a breakdown of where the amounts go to-- printing, cover, royalties, blah blah.

i stopped him. i told him that if his concept was valuable, he needn't apologize for the price. in fact he should even increase the price.

but i think the bottom line truth is that, especially in our country and society, people are embarassed about talking about sexual matters in the open. that's why he was so apologetic, even if he was the author.

and i think that's why too my friend calls me crazy, for ordering the book on impulse and being so open about it. ( i had to text her about it too as i asked the man to deliver it to her office, where i'll also leave my payment.)

but frankly, what i don't get is the the good sense of NOT educating one's self about all the powers one has.

especially at this time in my life, when i made a firm resolve since the New Year, to start giving to my self at last (and not wait around for anybody to give to me; holding one's breath for too long makes one blue!), to follow my deepest desires, and explore my truest pleasures...

books, writing, films, music, pasta, salads, good coffee, spa massage, beauty parlor head-to-toe pampering, looong nature walks, the adventure of travel, learning new things like belly dancing and aikido this summer,.... and of course, good lovemaking, with self or another.

if you set the stage, the actors will come. heeheeheee.

: )

Monday, March 07, 2005

Grace With Fire


when i give my students my email address for them to contact me off-school in case they still have questions with their reading assignments, i get impressed but mixed reactions from them.

the guys snicker and tease me; i think they think "Fire" in the name means something deliberately provocative. the girls ask me why i still have to include "Fire" to "Grace", when they say "Grace" already describes me fine.

i have a reputation at school for being one of the most loved teachers, who gets along easily with everybody, with strict standards but without the ego tripping theatrics in and out of the classroom. so, i guess that means my girl students can't see me ever as being fiery, in the fiery manner of egomaniacs they have been accustomed to. : )

with other people, i get more or less similar reactions. i get the impression that they think i am trying to be deliberately vampy with the name, or flaunting my capacity for rage. : (

both are totally far from the truth.


"Grace with fire" was born as a Net id on june 16, 2003. i distinctly remember the day.

like in those movies when a particularly important moment suddenly happens in slow motion, i remember that mid-morning at home, feeling sick with flu and weepily heartbroken, sitting in front of the pc, making a sudden internal decision, wiping my tears and sitting up straight, erasing all my old email accounts and signing up for two new ones, this time with the name, "grace with fire".

up until then, i had only been a year separated, having left a horribly sick 10-year-marriage, and struggling to rebuild my life at all fronts -- financially, emotionally, spiritually. i thank God that, at least, i was (and still am) in very good physical health.

up until then, too, i had only been introduced to chatting on the net for around 7 months. before then, i didn't even know where and how to start one, contenting my self only with emailing and surfing for topics i was interested in.

i was introduced to chatting on the net through this dating site ad which popped up for me on nov. 2, 2002. i was in a net cafe, and my email browser and other surfing browsers hung. i clicked and clicked but only this pop up ad worked. so while waiting for the browsers to function back again, i toyed with the pop up ad and signed up for their free membership.

needless to say, that absentminded toying introduced me to a whole new world of meeting people, particularly men, in the Net.

the many instant messages i got and interest alerts, averaging 10 a day for the first month, did much to bolster my non-existent womanly self esteem then, i guess. : ) i was starved for attention, and thus was not even discriminating of who i was communicating with. i entertained one and all, like a kid with a new toy on christmas morning.

it afforded an inexpensive and safe way for me too to meet men, and learn and practice my conversational and flirting skills (!). before that, i didn't even know what flirting was, would you believe?

my ex-husband was my first boyfriend, and my first everything, and it was a whirlwind courtship of only four months. before that, i basically led a sheltered, cloistered life, with no close boy buddies, with my nose in my books and writing, and wanting to be a missionary nun (!). so you can say that my introduction to online dating was my first introduction to dating, period.

anyway, on dec. 20, 2002, i met a man in this site, whom i had instant and intense connection with. we chatted 5 to 8 hours a day, whenever we could, emailed, talked and texted on the phone, talking not only about our selves but the world, business, politics, issues, books, travel, people. you name it, we discussed it animatedy and intensely.

needless to say, we fell in love fast. we finished each other's sentences, and contacted each other at exactly that moment when either one of us missed each other terribly. we believed (and still believe) we are soulmates.

three times, from december 2002 to june, 2003, we planned on finally meeting, but each time, something got in the way. first, it was changes in his schedule, with a business deal about to fall through. then it was SARS. the third time was because i refused to meet him anymore, given certain shattering discoveries.

it was the week of june 10. we were finally meeting in 2 weeks. everything was all set and we were both excited and happy.

and then one early morning, as i was waiting for him to come online, a strange id messaged me, asking me if i knew him (mentioning his name). i didn't answer at first, but then the stranger presented her self as his wife!

i didn't even know he was married, in the first place!. : O

i was disbelieving, so i asked her to furnish me with recent pictures of her with him and their family. and she promptly did, via email.

over the course of the next few days, his secret life unraveled before my eyes. his wife called me and we talked. she also emailed me and gave me further details of their life together and his other life as a philandering husband.

the last straw was when she gave me his passwords to all his email accounts and invited me to open them my self. and what i saw tore my world apart.

he was emailing and chatting with so many (mostly philippine) women at the same time, basically telling them the same stories he told me, and buttering them up with similar sweet nothings and empty promises.

what made the situation even weirder was that the wife now asked me for advice on what to do with their marriage, after i asked her how come she took all his bullsh_tting so passively when she knew of them all along.

it was a surreal time. she and i talking, he not knowing, he and i talking still. until that june 16 day i found out about all the other women he was conning too.

i was down with the flu, busy with school opening bedlam, yet living this other life in the Net in this rapidly unfolding drama and tragicomedy. my heart was breaking with each new truth i learned about him, and i was doing all i could to keep my world from falling apart. this did not yet include my legal and financial battles with the ex, and having to deal with the creditors he left behind.

but, thank God, i was in the middle of reading Conversations with God, Book I too at that time, and i was exactly at that part about making a statement to life of Who You Are when life happens to you.

so, that june 16 morning, as i was opening all his email accounts and reading all his communication with the other women, this thought slowly formed in my mind and an internal decision was made: "i will NOT let whatever is happening to me now bring me down. i will NOT remain a victim of this for long. i will turn this around, i don't know how, but i will turn this around, and be the star of my own show that is my life. i've had enough; this does it. no more ms. goody two shoes. from now on, i will NOT take sh_t from anybody anymore, but take it back to where it rightfully belongs!"

as i was reading his mails, i don't know what got into me but i just coldly, methodically started erasing them all, including all the names in his address books. i didn't even stop to think whether i had the right to, when even his wife didn't even have the gall to do it. i just felt really sleazy, and i didn't want to see my name up there in those accounts lumped together with all those sleazy-looking and stupid-sounding women.

and then, after finishing with his emails and his address book, i turned to his signature. his initials are M. L. , to which i added the caption -- "Married Liar: I have a wife who supports me and two grown-up children and I am just out to screw all stupid women, particularly Filipinas!" -- thinking with secret satisfaction now that he'll never know what hit him once he still sends emails to all these women (granting he remembers their email addresses) and the women find their emails from him with this automatic signature attached to them.

i also had to hammer the final nail in the coffin. his wife told me he had spy software installed and that he actually monitored all my chats and emails with other people. not that i had anything to be guilty of, but i felt that i had to be rid of him, of them, of all of this, and get as far away as i could the fastest way i can. everything felt sh_tty and the only one thing i was certain of was i wasn't part of that sh_t, that i wasn't made of sh_t, even if these other people are.

and so, one by one, too, i deleted all my accounts coldly, methodically. the tears had run dry then, and the only thing left i felt was this steel determination growing inside me that whatever is happening, THIS IS NOT WHO I AM AND I WILL GET OUT OF THIS PROUDER OF WHO I AM THAN EVER.

so, while signing up for my new free accounts now, and thinking of a new name to describe my self, i was reminded of a personalized astrology reading and report i had ordered for my self some years ago, which described me as being both elegantly simple and mysteriously complex, with the tenderest sensitivity and compassion and the coldest and most unbreakable will and hottest temper, once sufficiently provoked-- somebody who is grace with fire.


and that's how "Grace with Fire" was born, my statement to Life of Who I Am.

: )

The Truth Between Us

drive me to school
fetch me from work
carry my bag
mark my papers
compute my grades

snake tongue

my lips --

orchestrate my dinner
temper my bath
tweeze my leg hair
massage my limbs
arrange my music
bear paws
my breasts --

screen my email
ravage my diaries
cut out my family
from my childhood pictures
bull shaft

rams through
my forced spread thighs --

cJCP, 2002

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mona Lisa Smile

beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond image...


the tagline above was borrowed from this beautiful movie about what it means to finally come into your own and letting go of all the crutches you've known all your life -- to finally take responsibility for your own life, in all naked honesty and stubborn courage, despite its consequent ambiguities and confusion.

it's the last spoken line in the movie, and the one that stuck with me as i contemplate my own life now.

Woman at 33

The me I was
at 23--

the same old dreams,
the same old spunk,
the same old fears--

is the me
I am

I have come home
to me
at last.

cJCP, 2001


... except that I have just turned 37 (i wrote this when i turned 33) ... : ) but this poem expresses how I'm feeling now: more of Me than ever before!