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Cry, Heart, But Never Break

I've been avoiding it for the longest time, but alas, this time of the year has come. It's a few days away from the 23rd. And that means it has been a year without you, Tita Gina.

Is it fitting that I woke up today with news of another person's loss? Today I found out that a writer I admired so much, Luis Katigbak, had passed. And this week, another legend in the English department died too, my Shakespeare professor, Dr. Wilhelmina Ramas. Oh, and to make April even more somber than it already is, the Faculty Center was reduced to ashes the first day of this month.

Slowly and surely, the universe has found a way to claim so many things I hold dear. Isn't April the time for spring?

Last night, as if on cue, Twitter reminded me of an article on BrainPickings about a children's storybook on death. It was "Cry, Heart, But Never Break" by Danish author Glenn Ringtved and illustrator Charlotte Pardi. It's a contemplative tale about four children whose grandmother is terribly ill - and Death has come to claim her. And so they devise a way to keep Death busy all through the night until dawn breaks, that way when morning comes, he'd have to leave without her.
What makes the book particularly touching though is how broken Death himself was the entire time. Despite being all clothed in black, he embodied neither fright nor anger - just dispiritedness - as if he too is overcome with sorrow and resignation with his mission.

Is Death a friend? This is a concept so hard to grasp, especially for the grieving. Death is not kind, I thought, especially when it happens at the most opportune time to the most undeserving fellows. I remember thinking to myself while holding your hand, as the chemo was being administered to you, how can dying be so painful? How can it be so cruel, so terribly upsetting?

There is so much life left to be lived. This has always been my regret. That there is still so much out there to be said, felt, touched; there is much love to be shared. Songs to be sung. Rides to be ridden. Buildings to be designed. By you. All by you.

I could have been any one of the children in the story, tirelessly pouring coffee for Death just to delay the inevitable. Anythling to keep him up, anything to skirt my way around what he was supposed to do. I kept sending you positive messages on Viber. I was searching for survival stories of cancer on Google. I was watching videos of The Stylistics on YouTube and thinking we'd be able to sing those again. That was when I met an acquaintance, someone that lingered when Death was around.
Denial, that's his name. He sat with me at the bench in your hospital room. He helped me review for Corpo midterms the entire time I was on "duty,” making me un-hear the unspoken between the lines of what the doctors and nurses said. It was him who made me hold on to the idea of life winning over death.

But it was also him that made me unable to let things go. Denial made certain body parts ache in the middle of the night, thinking that you'd still be a Viber phone call away. Denial smoked cigarettes somewhere and made me take a whiff of it, reminding me of your nicotine breakfasts. Denial made me not want to think about going back to Singapore. He stopped making me wear the last few MAC lipsticks you bought me. He even made me stop listening to The Stylistics and Dionne Warwick.

I didn't see you die in person. I didn't have to, though, to feel the weight on all my senses. You know how sometimes, when your laptop's battery is almost empty, the screen grows dimmer to conserve battery? That's how everything seemed. Still the same, but a tinge darker. Grayer. Of course I could go back to normal, of course to the outside world I was working just fine. But there are things only the night and I would know; just like the stories only you and I shared at midnight.

Maybe Denial is a worse friend than Death. Death was kind enough, at least, to let you go in tranquility. Denial, at some point, made me want to choose you being in pain than you at peace but gone. But it wasn't Death that was causing you all those aches then, was it? It was life. And the many loves lost and gained along the way.
Sigh, Tita Gina, how to make sense of your loss? Is it a disservice to your memory to try? Or to just let it go? I don't know what is the better way to honor you: to weep quietly even in well-lit rooms on sunny afternoons, or to swallow tears as I go shopping for new shoes. A year later and still no answers.

But this I know: perhaps in the gaps between each sentence strung, or in the spaces filled in new shoes worn, there I'll find you. In blueprints, in song verses, in every slice of Conti's bananalicious pie, I'll hear your faint hellos. And when things are most difficult, I'll remember the look on Death's face - the Death on the children's book story I've been reading - and find small comfort in knowing that he was a friend to you. A better friend to you than I, or us, or life will ever be. Because Death has taken you away; but it has taken all your pains away too.

A year is not enough to grieve. But it's enough time to experience an infinite number of resurrections from within. Each sad moment forces me to bring life to a sense of hope, a new spring. A sense of wonder. That maybe tomorrow will be better, that maybe flowers can still bloom even, and especially after, the longest, coldest nights. And if they don’t? Then it's okay too. Death doesn't come for the grieving; he comes for those whose lives he already deems well-lived. And what a life you've lived indeed.

The curtains were blowing in the gentle morning breeze. Looking at the children, Death said quietly, “Cry, Heart, but never break. Let your tears of grief and sadness help begin new life.”

Then he was gone.


Tryst 2016: Ambrosia

In anticipation of our 83rd year, UP Portia Sorority threw a gigantic party last Friday, April 8. This year's Tryst, Ambrosia, was held at URBN BGC and was sponsored by Jose Cuervo and Smirnoff Mule, along with Uber, So-En, Giordano, and Monster Radio RX 93.1. 

You can pretty much say it was an epic night! By far the best Tryst I've attended in all my years as a law student (and as a resident sister.) No doubt, good girls can throw the "baddest" parties! We partnered with UP's Sigma Rho Fraternity, DLSU Law's Juan De La Salle, and UST Med's Tau Mu Sigma Phi - and boy, what a crowd we drew! Kudos to this year's Tryst team, headed again by the formidable Monique Lee! 

It was a night of foregoing our inhibitions and finally letting go of the post-Holy Week Hell Week stress we've all had to trudge through. Almost everyone had midterms and thesis submissions to worry about. I, for one, had to rush my SLR (Supervised Legal Research) as I had two exams on the same week as my deadline. I had to forego a family vacation, spending time instead all holed up in Batangas to finish drafting and studying - but all worth it. There is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel - and a few bottles of beer too!

Portians at our VIP table / booth

Stress? What stress?

"Have you ever seen a night flower bloom?" was this year's tagline, along with the hashtag #BreatheDeep. I think we took that too much to heart when we did this crazy thing of performing a short number, originally composed of mostly seniors. It all just started out as a funny retort thrown around in the Portia room, but one thing led to another, and before you know it we were spending our Saturday practicing a short two-minute remix of Yonce and Sorry. LOOOL, talk about taking our jokes and taglines seriously! :))) Ayan tuloy, we forced our inner night flowers to bloom! :))

For the record, I don't dance - or rather, I don't dance well. :)) I like to move around a lot, but that hardly qualifies as dancing. But, you know how when you get older you learn to just go with the flow and push? Funny thing is ever since senior year began, I've made friends with almost everyone in my batch. Thanks to our internships at OLA and OGCC, and our elective classes, we've all gotten to know each other - and that meant seeing each other at our weakest and most stressed, but also at our most victorious. It's great to finally be able to make friends with people outside your block and to actually feel at home. And since we're all quite near the finish line, we've learned to let our guards down even in front of each other. That means finally getting a kick out of seeing each other make complete fools of ourselves and / or have an incredibly good time :))

Can't believe we spent hours practicing for just a two-minute dance (and I had to forego my yoga because I felt so exhausted after practice! How very unfit tita, hahaha!) I think I fared well as far as ASAP standards go - that is, I think I looked cute enough despite my basic white girl dancing skills :)) But that's the Boyfriend's assessment of the dance, so you'll just have to take it with a grain of salt. :P 

Needless to say, I had fun! 

Portia dance crew caption suggestions: 'We just filed our Motions' :))

Speaking of the Boyfriend, we actually owe Louie for this party. Some of his bosses owned shares iin URBN, so the ties helped in booking the place and getting a pretty solid deal. Ah, adult-life networks! Too bad his bosses were in Tagaytay to attend a wedding that weekend; it would have been great to have them around and actually thank them. Since the party was a bit of a Law-Med mixer, it would have been interesting to have a few engineers thrown in the fray!

Perennial date :)

I brought my Re again this time, and though I didn't expect great photos, as usual I ended up being surprised with how decent some of them turned out! Considering that the club was dark, the lights were blinking ablaze, and the camera had no flash, I had quite a number of pretty cool-looking shots.

Since last year's Tryst, I've dubbed it as my #tiwala cam for parties because you don't really have time to check the viewfinder in the app when you have a shot glass in one hand and your boyfriend's hand in the other. But it's great for capturing things as they happen, and not worrying about how they turn out. It lets you be in the moment while still taking a slice of it.

(I really should start asking HTC for promo fees now! Haha!)

Indigo-tinged photos, coming up:

Pam, me, Kat, and Chrissa by the Portia booth

Louie, Des, Kat and I claiming our Cuervo shots first thing upon arriving! 

Des, my spirit animal: fellow only child and perpetual appreciator of Eng'g students, hehe

With Kat and Bec, and the spirit of Ellie Goulding after an epic set of her songs

Tax and Credit classmates from what used to be 3E! 
Best thing about being an "international" is meeting more people!

It's summer already for almost everyone else outside law school, while we're a month-and-a-half away from finals. But weekends like this make the climb bearable - and enjoyable, even. It's always great to spend a fun night out with friends, old and new, but even better to do so with free drinks, sick beats, and fancy lingerie! (Shoutout to So-En - I swear they were the highlight of my night! I love their giveaway, so pretty!)

We're turning three in a month!


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Losing the Faculty Center

How do I even write about this grief? I am overcome with sadness and devastation. What a terrible loss: all the books, manuscripts, and documents; all the memories we've come to attach to the spaces; all the future generations who will miss out on the many stories that each bookshelf will tell. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of all my professors, whose greatest possessions in life are, no doubt, their collection of books and their life's works, all found inside the Faculty Center.

Indeed, it is so painful to lose art and history. To stand in front of CAL last night and see the flames crawling across each beam, each wall - truly heartbreaking. What a way to welcome the National Literary Month of April.

It feels like I have lost a friend. But we can rise from the ashes. You will always be home, CAL.


(photo credits to the Inquirer and Angelo Gonzales)

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