After that whirlwind festival watching, inhaling, ingesting so much dance, out the door at 8am, home at midnight, I spent today (technically yesterday) in the t-shirt and jammie pants I wore to sleep last night. I only woke up early because I had to buy dog food. I cleaned the house, talked to my sister, played with Moby, wrote down some impressions of the last few days, cooked food for myself and eated said food, talked to some of my friends, cleaned the kitchen counters, did so much laundry, talked to my mother, tried and failed to plan my week, joked with my brother. In between, as often happens on days when I’m not around people, I weep a little for the loves that I have lost.

It gets easier, but it never goes away.  So, it’s awesome that nobody’s around to see me in the clothes I slept in the night before, blurring my glasses with my tears as I clean my kitchen. I tend to look at the bright side these days.

For Mamia

My eulogy for Mamia, my beautiful grandmother, Merced Hernaez-Banzon. Written on the day she passed away, September 24, 2014, which I shared on Facebook. 

mamia and me

Mamia was never sentimental, so I have nothing to share like her saying, “I’m so proud of you…” and stuff like that. When I was taking my MA, she said, “What’s your MA about?” I said, “Art Theory.” She nodded and said, “But what use is that?” When I went home and made a point to see her this year, she said to me, “You should invest in a condo! Your Tito Baby will give you a good deal.” No “I miss you,” no “I’m proud of you.”

What she did instead was tell other people how proud she was of us, and, if possible, help us fight our battles. In college, because I couldn’t come to rehearsal, I was not included in a tour to China. When she saw Steve at one of the recitals, she said, “Steve naman, bakit hindi mo sinama si Joelle sa China?” If there was a visual representation of “Hindi mo kailangan magbuhat ng bangko, buhay pa lola mo…” there would be a picture of my grandmother. 

She watched my shows, always sitting in the front row to make sure she could see her grandchildren. After I failed to complete 32 fouettes in a black swan pas de deux, she said, “Hey, that part where you were turning many many turns was really impressive.” And she was talking about the double pique turns I did after I couldn’t finish the fouettes.

She once asked me if I was ever getting married. I said, he doesn’t want to marry me. She said, “Well, marriage isn’t everything. Have some fruit salad.” She asked only once and never asked again.


She taught me a lot about independence, racism, style, grace, how to enjoy your life. She taught me about forgiveness. She was the strongest woman I know. No, scratch that, the strongest person I know. Next to her is my Mom. If I am strong, they are why.

I miss you, Mamia. I know you were proud of me. I love you very much. RIP.

It begins, Berry ate a cookie


After eating chocolate chip cookies, Berry went to inspect the can of butter cookies her Lolo showed her and found a circular piece of paper in it. Like any kid, she took the paper and an orange pen and started to write on it. First she put her name. Then wrote a sentence using words and symbols. Originally, the sentence read, “Berry ate a cookie on the wock.”

I said, “The wall?”

Berry said, “No! The wock!

I said, “The walk?”

Berry said, “No! The wock! The wock!”

She pointed at the symbol for wock and someone (I think Tata aka my sister Jacqui) exclaimed, “On the rock!”

Berry said, “Yes, the wock!” I did all I could from dying of laughter. While it constantly amazes me how brilliantly smart she is, I am comforted that she’s still just my baby girl who still can’t pronounce her Rs.

Since we didn’t get “rock” right away, instead of thinking her Ninang was stupid, she started to fix her sentence. The rock became another cookie, and it finally read, “Berry ate two cookies and loves (the ❤ symbol) Daddy and Mama.” She insists there are only two cookies. I think she means the other cookies as background design.

Berry, the writer/editor who works with multi-media. This is where it starts, people.


There is an elderly dog who lives on our street. By that, I mean he spends his days on the actual street – scrounges for food in the garbage, drinks water from the gutter and the curb, sleeps under the cars. He’s not a violent dog; if anything, he looks very thin and tired. And sad.

He wears a chain around his neck. The first time I saw him, I thought he had just lost his way and looked out for “Lost dog” signs with his description on it. Now, I think he belonged to a household that either neglected or abused him and he managed to escape. (I know, I know, I have a dramatically creative mind! It is my life’s work for which my brain has been programmed!) Also, the first times I saw him, he looked terrified of everything, which strengthens my abuse assumption.

He reminds me of my Doggie, but thinner, sadder, less healthy. Doggie never had weird reddish eyes (well, the skin around this stray dog’s eyes were terribly pinkish), and up until he was in his senior citizen years, he reminded me of a dog version of Chuck Norris. But otherwise, they were built the same – medium sized with long legs, white short coat, long nose. So when he’s near the house, I often stop and look at him, thinking my Doggie was reborn.

I guess because he looks like Doggie, and because he does look very sad, I have been trying to be nice to him – I used to leave food out for him when I see him, but he always looked scared of me and would run away. Yesterday, though, Mom saw him drinking dirty gutter water and put out both food and water for him. He drank the water, and tried to eat some of the food. Mom says it seems he’s not used to eating dog food, or at all anymore. Breaks my heart.

I would love to take him in, but my own two dogs are territorial and taking him in and trying to assimilate such an old dog into the pack would be a nightmare. Sammy doesn’t like other dogs at all, he only likes Hugo. He gave our other dogs such a terrible time, especially Tyler at the height of his illness. I would just be exposing old dog to constant harassment. I am wondering if calling a shelter is a good idea, but I need to know if that shelter will take care of him until he’s adopted or he dies naturally and won’t consider putting him down. Is there an agency that does that?

What I would do with a million bucks. 😦

So, I leave food and water out for him and pray that he doesn’t die of pneumonia or hunger. Maybe one day he won’t be scared of me anymore and will let me pet him.


My own happy dogs, Sammy and Hugo, after their morning walk today

Father’s Day

One of the things I found interesting today was how people who didn’t have fathers (kids of single moms, etc) were opinionated about this fact on their social networks, whether they’re heartwarming greetings to their single mom (i.e. Happy father’s day, Mom!) or snide remarks about not having a dad. At first, it amused me, but I started to feel sad about it. It’s like, you go celebrate this stupid holiday, I’ll shit on it a bit so that you don’t feel all that special about having a father.

I’m very grateful about having my father – he’s super difficult most of the time, but I concede I am the way I am because he helped my mom conceive me, he raised me, he taught me right from wrong, how to dance, how to live. I posted this photo of us on Facebook because I wanted to show him how much I appreciate him. I guess, I just felt that the other people posting why they don’t celebrate Father’s day kinda cheapened it. I mean, I don’t make an announcement about why I’m not Buddhist on a Buddhist holiday. Live and let live lang dapat.

My own dad, traditional Pinoy that he is, used to not care about Father’s Day at all until several years ago, he noticed all the commercial hype about Mother’s Day and then the much lower excitement about Fathers’ Day a month later. He was all, well, this is unfair! and wouldn’t shut up about it. So, we actually make a bigger deal of Father’s Day because of this. My mom never minds, as long as there’s cake.

Daddy and me and our green jeans

Daddy and me and our green jeans

I hope your Father enjoyed his day. Or if you’re one of those who jumped out fully-grown out of your mother’s brain, I hope you had a nice day too.