Huggybear's September 2013 Diaries (Part 2)

November 2-8 Edition

Jonathan Aquino's Journals

September 4, 2013

I had a telepathic time-traveling dream again. I keep talking to voices when I couldn't see anyone, jumping from one scene to another like a pingpong ball.

I was walking in the woods, giant trees all around me. It's like an enchanted forest from a Brothers Grimm story. At the end of the clearing, I saw the mansion in Antipolo in Rizal province in the Philippines where I grew up. I saw my aunt Mama Bai, who died in 1989.

She was standing in front of the outdoor kitchen sink that's full of water, her hands submerged, washing something but I couldn't see what it was. We were talking and laughing. I was asking for something that's strapped to her waist but she wouldn't give it to me because it's dangerous.

I jumped to another place but I couldn't see anything except a sort of endless void, colored like coffee with cream. A voice was telling me that a certain temple in Jerusalem used to be a church "before they put the crescent moon over it."

In an instant, I saw a group of Moors with a large metal pole with a crescent moon symbol. With ropes, they were hauling it to the roof.

I jumped to a different scene. Across the street was a small Catholic chapel. Instead of a wall, there was a gate with metal bars from floor to ceiling. Inside was a priest and some nuns and altar boys, all dressed in white. They were looking at a man outside dressed in blue Arab clothes. He was kneeling, his forehead to the ground in the traditional Muslim worship, but facing the altar.

On my right, next to the chapel, is a Chinese temple with its doors open, the Buddhist monks inside lighting incense.

"This would be a great picture," I remember thinking, "a symbol of religious harmony!"

I  ran to get my camera. I found myself at the back of the house of my aunt and godmother Tita Fe, which is on the next street from our house. I was wearing only white briefs, and my feet hurt from running barefoot. Then I'm at the front of the house. I saw Tita Fe, looking so young and happy, going out the door. She's still alive as I write this but the years have taken their toll. We smiled and I kissed her on the head. She's leaving but promised to bring me a chicken fillet from Wendy's.

I entered her house. I was alone, mentally talking to someone who sounds like the voice of Optimus Prime in the Transformers cartoon even when the TV was off. We were making a bet but I don't remember what about. He also wanted to show me something. What's vivid is that I went inside because I wanted to watch the cartoon.

In a flash, I saw myself in a white bathroom, washing my feet under a faucet. I jumped again. I was in the Lahug public market in Cebu, asking how much is the tapsilog, a local dish of dried beef, egg and fried rice. When I heard the price, I cursed them for their "pathetic greed."


"Just got home, idiot me left phone in the house," I replied to a friend's text message at 4:53 in the afternoon. "I got my NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] clearance and borrower's card from the library but they're asking for a 'guarantor' who's a city hall employee or barangay official in Cebu City."

The idea is to assign someone who will pay because they think people borrow books to steal them. I don't know anybody in the local officialdom, but as much as I find it disgusting to deal with government bureaucrats, starting with getting a library card, I guess I'll have to find another one.

I found treasure as I scouted the entire library: the out-of-print literary gems by the great German mystic Herman Hesse. I finished two of his novels today.

When I was a kid, I've felt an inexplicable kinship with Siddharta, the Brahmin who renounced the world's illusions in his timeless classic, which I wrote about in our August 10, 2013 edition.

I am on a similar journey of discovery and enlightenment, like Siddharta, like Hesse himself.

Herman Hesse belonged to the League, a secret society of men in pursuit of wisdom that transcends the material world.

"Our Journey to the East and our League, the basis of our community, has been the most important thing, indeed, the only important thing my life," he writes in The Journey To The East."My tales becomes even more difficult because we not only wandered through space, but also through Time. We moved towards the East, but we also traveled in the Middle Ages and the Golden Age. We roamed through Italy to Switzerland, but at times we also spent the night in the 10th century and dwelt with the fairies."

My favorite character is the pilgrim Leo, beneath whose placid calm lies unfathomable power. I fully intend to achieve Leo's serenity and sense of oneness with the animal kingdom. I love dogs and cats and horses, and they are drawn to me: that's a start. Leo talks about the Biblical King David, and he says that the happiest time in David's life was when he was just a simple shepherd boy: a lovely youth who plays music to sooth the ragged soul of King Saul.

"That," says Leo, "is just what life is when it is beautiful and happy - a game."

How can two young men born centuries apart and on the opposite sides of the globe be so much alike? I felt a weird feeling of dislocation when I came across Hermann Heilner, the rebellious poet and Hesse's alter ego in Beneath The Wheel, his "spiritual autobiography."

"What an odd fellow! Han's worries and desires simply did not exist for him," writes Hesse. Hermann Heilner "had thoughts and words of his own, he lived a richer and freer life" and "seemed to despise everything around him. He understood the beauty of the ancient columns and walls. And he practiced the mysterious and unusual art of mirroring his soul in verse and constructing a semblance of life for himself out of his imagination. He was quick and untamable and had more fun in a day than Hans in an entire year. He was melancholy and seemed to relish his own sadness like an unusual condition, alien and delicious."

Hermann defied the stupid rules in their seminary boarding school. He was even forbidden to walk in the garden with his best friend Hans because of his reputation as someone who doesn't conform. Heilner has nothing but contempt for narrow-minded hypocrites.

"The authorities demanded that he throw himself on their mercy," writes Hesse. "He refused in front of the teacher tribunal and was neither intimidated nor subservient."

Herman Hesse's "Beneath The Wheel"

Hermann Heilner: Huggybear
Hans Giebenrath: Robert Pattinson
Emma: Emma Watson
Flaig: Anthony Hopkins
Father: David Strathairn
August: Bob Hoskins
Principal: F. Murray Abraham
Pastor: Ewan McGregor
Aunt: Glenn Close
Livy Professor: Kevin Klein
Journeyman: Christopher Plummer

Herman Hesse's "The Journey To The East"

HH: Huggybear
Leo: Dustin Hoffman
Speaker: Christopher Lee
Deserter: Collin Farrell
Longus: Julian Sands
Lukas: John Malkovich

September 5, 2013
Cebu City

I attended the first of a two-day seminar in the business district across the Mandarin. Naturally I gravitated towards the big boys who sit at the back and smoke during breaks. I already have lunch buddies: Nick and Mart who both speak Tagalog; I'm getting to know the rest. It's fun: I had a great time, met a lot of interesting people from different cultures and made wisecracks where everybody laughed.

"Hi, I'm Johnny!" I said. Short and sweet. I didn't tell them I'm a writer. I also didn't tell them I'm a sex machine.

One of my Filipino classmates is from General Santos, a major city in Mindanao famous for its tuna industry and Manny Pacquiao. I find it really fascinating that he's one of the survivors of the infamous Valentine's Day bombing in 2005 by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist scums. The bomb went off just a couple of yards where he was. The stranger between him and the blast died, deflecting the explosion.

"It's still not your time," I told him, knowing how cliche it sounds. But when you come down to it, is there any other way to explain why he's still alive after what happened? Or for that matter, for anyone who survived a tragedy where a lot of people didn't? I could go on and on but that's it.

"Life is like a rosary," goes a slumbook motto I remember from elementary school. Why? "Because it's full of mystery!" I can't think of anything more corny. I can't think of anything more true.

I'm reminded of the one story that blows my mind no end. Once upon a time, a young man is walking in the marketplace in Baghdad. He is shocked when he sees Death. So he runs to the Caliph and pleads for the fastest horse so he could flee to Samarra. The Caliph grants the request then goes to confront Death.

 "Your Majesty, I didn't mean to frighten the boy," explains Death. "I was just surprised that he's here. You see, I'm supposed to take him at midnight in Samarra."

September 6,  2013

I got up at dawn with a couple of Six Sigma ideas which I'll do this weekend as a personal project, none of which will rake in money but the satisfaction is priceless and will last a lifetime.

"Is it really horny?" I asked.

"Very detailed," she assured me.

I was talking to one of my female classmates yesterday about Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James. I haven't read it yet but I have this idea that it's about sadomasochism. That's really intriguing. We were at the pantry having some coffee before going home with The Hunger Games on cable. She gave me a tip: follow this certain group in Instagram who buys eBooks then shares it to everybody.

Also yesterday: Another classmate, the girl in front of me, had her headphones on while we're waiting for the teacher. I tried to guess what song. I came up with images of Edward and Bella getting married.

"What are you listening to?" I poked her.

"I Love The Way You Lie," she smiled. "Rihanna."

"Oh," I said, crestfallen. "It's not A Thousand Years?" I know it's a stupid question but I was getting desperate: That was my guess.

"No." She has a nice smile.

"Well," I said, groping. "Who's next?"

"Christina Perri."

A Thousand Years
Christina Perri
[Theme from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I]

"I have died everyday waiting for you,
darling don't be afraid I have loved you
for a thousand years.
I'll love you for a thousand more..."

It's normal to want to do something you haven't done yet. It's natural to want to have something you don't have yet. I find it a bit spooky that events seem to be fitting perfectly into the things I want for my life. I need to do just a couple of things, simple things, so my life will be even simpler. Streamlined. Lean and mean with meaning.

"If you're building a house, the most important thing is the foundation," I said to a friend as we chilled in Bo's Coffee after dinner. I like that installation art in the little stage when they do Mass on weekends.

"Yeah," he agreed, understanding the metaphor. He has plans, I have plans. Good things are coming our way, and there's so much to look forward to.

Rain began to fall softly as I was about to go home as my companion left. It's 9 at night as I stepped out of the mall.

I went back inside and straight into National Bookstore. I got just the book that mirrors everything tumbling happily in my head.

"ThoughtStyle," is a "highly developed sense of accountability, audacity, passion and responsibility," says Jerry Porras in Success Built To Last. There are 3 essential elements of success: Meaning, Thought and Action. They should be in harmony. Desire and plans without action are useless, and getting busy without meaning is a waste of time. "ActionStyle" is the critical factor.

Utlimately, success is about taking action. So just "get on moving and get on doing what you really care about doing."

September 7, 2013
Banilad Cebu

I have a phobia from expecting too much from people. I now only hope for just one thing: Fairness. I don't ask for loyalty because I would soon be gone anyway. I'm content if people would always respect the dignity of his fellowmen while I'm still here, making my way in this patch of earth under the infinite sky.

"Hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan, hanggang matapos ang kailanpaman..." I was in a small alley when I heard the old familiar strain.

The music takes me to a hillside in Batanes where I see the ocean reaching out into infinity. Then I'm back to the present, with my senses heightened and everything around me more vivid as if I'm seeing them for the first time.

"Until the farthest place of eternity, until forever ends," is what the lines mean.

I found a small eatery in one of the many interior neighborhoods I passed through. The radio was in a house behind me with a dog chained beside the open door, wagging its tail. This song is special to me. I like all those sung by Basil Valdez but this is different. It's been played on the screen but when I hear it, the first person to enter my mind is me.

It is a part of my life. This is a song I call my own.

Hanggang Sa Dulo Ng Walang Hanggan
Basil Valdez

"Giliw kung sadya siya lang ang 'yong mahal,
asahan mong ako'y 'di hahadlang;
habang ikaw ay maligaya, ako'y maghihintay,
maging hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan..."


"The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique."

~Walt Disney