We’re interwoven. We pretend to be autonomous or we would like to think we are. But somehow, something in the universe connects us, binding us in more ways than we had originally known.

A Malaysian tells his taxi driver kanan and the guy goes right. A Filipino tells a pedicab driver this and he does the same.

A Filipina yuppie recalls watching Ultraman as a child. An Indonesian professional says he did the same.

And on and on. Tiny threads that string us together into a colorful banner circling through the world.



Three sets to go! Is the year really passing by that quickly???

36. Subject: What are you looking forward to?
37. First Line: He wanted her job, and it would be easy enough to discredit her
38. Dialogue: “Does he know about the baby?”
39. Scenario: A friend has been staying with you since his relationship break-up. He has overstayed his welcome but you don’t want to ask him to leave. Think of an imaginative scheme to make him decide to go?
40. Title: Messages in a Bottle

Keep an eye on this blog on Fridays!

Catching Up + Weeks #30&31: The Skeleton in the Village

I have some writing to catch up on. Will be mashing up the last item from the last set and the first item from this one:

31. Subject: Write about a train journey.
32. First Line: That summer seemed to last forever
33. Dialogue: “Give me one good reason why I should wear a dress.”
34. Scenario: A man lies close to death. Describe the images from his childhood that fill his mind.
35. Title: A Far Cry From The Mountain

Care to join me in a train journey?

* * *

30. Title: The Skeleton in the Village
31. Subject: Write about a train journey


There’s something about slow, intentional travels that make sojourners like me sink into a deep melancholy. Today’s journey is no different. Especially since I’m headed to a place one can’t help but feel nostalgic about.

Today, I’m going back to the past.

The train chugs along lazily. Trees wave surreal branches at me as I pass from one station to another. A thousand suns rise and set with each mile passed and, with each burst of golden orange, I know I’m closer to my destination.

By the time my ride draws to a stop I already know that I’m here. I’m in the Past. I’m in a village filled with remnants of my childhood, of my teenage years, of some early days of my adulthood, too. I breathe in — slowly — take my bags, and get out of my coach.

Everything’s exactly as I remembered. The squeaky swing sets are still there. Mr. Chipmunk’s store is still up and running like it’s business as usual. The driveway is filled with bicycles, scooters, roller blades, and a roller skate that I’ve always claimed as mine. I want to get on the swings, buy tsoknut from the store, put on the old skate, but I stop myself.

I’m here to retrieve one thing.

There’s a skeleton hiding somewhere in this village. I need to bring it with me to the present. People don’t usually do that. People usually keep these skeletons locked up in the past, in the darkness, where no one can bring them to the light. But that’s exactly what I need to do — bring it to the light.

I once read that if you shine light on something, you can set that something free. I want to be free. I don’t want to be haunted by that skeleton anymore. But the light in the past isn’t enough. Only the light in the present is.

I find the skeleton underneath the staircase leading up our house. Its pungent aroma hits my nose. I’m surprised nobody’s found it. I’m surprised nobody’s dared to relocate it, bury it, or even throw it away. But then, of course, nobody lives in the Past. Nobody’s bothered by it.

Only I, who knows it’s there, am.

I throw my black travelling bag over it. Fix it up. Zip it up. Pick it up as I head back to the train station so that I could make my way back into the present.

It’s time to set myself free.


On Mashups

I am missing a few weeks and I might miss a few weeks more. But I shall make up by doing mashups, like what I did last week. Looks like Weeks #10 and #11 will be mashups as well. But let’s keep doing this, shall we?

For the next five:

11. Subject: Write about a phobia.
12. First Line: The horse came back alone
13. Dialogue: “Do you think he crashed the car on purpose?”
14. Scenario: You’ve been ordered to kill someone you’ve fallen in love with. How did you get into this situation and what will you do next?
15. Title: The One That Got Away


potato salad

Week #1: Dear Sixteen

Dear sixteen-year-old Mari,

You wait little girl on an empty stage, for fate to turn the light on. Your life little girl is an empty page that men will want to write on… To write on… You are sixteen going on seventeen, baby it’s time to think. Better beware be canny and careful, baby you’re on the brink. (Sixteen Going on Seventeen, The Sound of Music)

I have begun this letter with a song because I know that is how your brain ticks. Your default reaction is to respond (in your mind, rarely out loud) with song. Don’t worry, that’s what makes you unique. It will come in handy, too, when you start song leading.

So… What does 25-year-old Mari have to say to you? Well, you’re going to start college this year, little girl. You’re life is going to change dramatically. You will meet a lot of great, interesting people. And, I won’t spoil it for you — but you will meet the one, but you won’t realize it because you’ll spend some time hung up on some other one. Or ones. But you will write a memorable one-liner about the one. And you’ll surprise yourself when you go back on that entry nine years later.

Gah, I said I wouldn’t spoil it for you. Anyway.

Like I said, your life will take a significant 180 degree turn. You will never be the same again. And that’s good. Because I know what you did last summer. Kidding. But I do. I’m you.

Anyway, girl, I just want to tell you to loosen up. Don’t try to please people too much. Don’t put so much unnecessary pressure on yourself, too. CMSC 11 will turn out fine. It’s CMSC 150 that you have to worry about. But hey, you’re still going to graduate with flying colors. So much flying colors that the electricity will go out. You’ll make the Centennial Graduation memorable, darling.

Don’t stop reading books. Don’t stop writing. Don’t stop doodling — oh are those anime characters I see in your Math 1 handouts? Tsk, tsk, tsk, you should pay more attention to your teachers — one day, you are going to be a teacher, too.

You won’t always be as level-headed and pulled-together as you want to make yourself out to be. See how crazy and disorganized this letter is? This is already the 25-year-old you talking, deary.

With that, I’m going to end with this: don’t be afraid to be Mari. It will take you some time to grasp that. I’m still trying to absorb and apply it even now. But that is what I shall leave you with.

Some words of wisdom, huh?

You’ll turn out fine.

Hugsies (Not that you’ll really bring yourself to say “hugsies” in real life),

25-year-old Mari

I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist, 16-year-old Mari. Teehee.
I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist, 16-year-old Mari. Teehee.

For the 50-Week Writing Challenge. Subject: Write a letter to yourself aged sixteen.

2014 Writing Challenge

50 topics. 50 weeks. Are you in? Let’s do this!

Well, hello there, 2014. So I’ve been musing on what direction this blog will be heading to this year. In my January 1 post, I said I would be starting a happiness project. True, I’ll definitely be doing that, but I won’t be posting my resolutions and progress reports here. And though I am keeping a virtual happiness box, that would be for my personal use, to be opened on days when I need something to make me feel un-blue.

I want to work on some other writing projects, too. There’s the one with the rewrites. And there’s one where I’ll be chronicling my almost-five-years-but-still-counting-stay in Malaysia. Wow, I’d have stayed here for five years this coming June!

So what will happen to

It will still be around. I’ll still be working on it harder than ever.

And with that, I present to you The 50-Week Writing Challenge.

No, I am not going to list down all the 50 topics here.

I will post them by groups of five, though. And I will be posting my response for each challenge every Wednesday, same time, same place, here in your favorite TV — er, Internet? — station. All the topics are coming from ‘s topic generator, by the way.

So for the first five:

  1. Subject: Write a letter to yourself aged sixteen
  2. First Line: “It was broken, but she was determined to fix…”
  3. Dialogue: “For some reason, I’m attracted to you.”
  4. Scenario: Every day at the station, you see someone you’re attracted to, How would you go about getting yourself noticed?
  5. Title: What Lies Beyond The Garden Fence

 Game? Let’s get it on!