April 23, 2005 at 7:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

two saturdays ago i was speaking to a group of youth sector activists about policy advocacy in the god-forsaken mamaw country of paenaan where no cabs and FX taxis were to be had and the only way to get to the venue was by a 1-hour jeepney ride.

i was talking non-stop for about an hour and a half and by the end of my talk my throat had dried up (i had a glass of lukewarm water but it was to no avail). after taking in more fulids, i took delight in my humble incentive for coming to the meeting: a free swim in the pool.

well, i didn’t actually swim as much as i just wet myself in the water. swimming is one of those great frustrations in my life, one necessary skill i never learned. which is why i am scared of sinking ships. i would be the first casualty.

in the pool, i tried just floating in the water, my head bobbing up and down, my arms and legs striking the water and against its enveloping force, and in less than two minutes i felt my limbs start to weaken. so i stayed close to the edge, against the gutter, and just held on while i tried to float my legs. i tried a few laps and i did move a few inches. i just can’t get my feet to float, and i don’t know how to move my head, so that everytime i swam i was completely submerged, my lap only going as far as my breath would allow.

but this incompetence notwithstanding, i love being in the water. i am drawn to it like, ehem, a mermaid. i feel it is where i belong, like i expect myself to turn into foam everytime i step into the water and my whole body is covered in the liquid embrace of the sea, or in that saturday’s case, the pool.

when i am underwater, i love the feeling of silence, amazed by the sense of drowning, the feeling of water filling up my lungs in place of air. it is a death most honorable to be embraced and taken away by the very force that created life.

but not that day. not yet. and so back into land i went. i dried myself off and bid my goodbye to the youngsters and was off to manila, away from the mamaw country.

but the water continues to haunt me. and it beckons. someday.



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  1. vincent grabe ha, ano tong last piece mo? drown? well, just wanted to say that im extremely disturbed by these thoughts of drowning, of the water haunting you, beckoning, of the water filling your lungs — why these dark thoughts? whos making you feel bad these days?

    by the way, swimming was my own big frustration too until i took swimming lessons one year ago. now i can do laps weekly in an olympic-size pool. trust me, madali lang…

  2. i don’t need to feel bad to feel like drowning. although it appears the piece may be inspired by thoughts of death, it is not. more like, being one with the impalpably powerful force of water.


  3. hey vince, i’m not a great swimmer too but i also love the water. maybe we should go take swimming lessons together! but please, no thoughts of being one with the impalpably powerful force of the water until we know how to tread okay?


  4. swimming lessons? cool! especially if… you know… hehe. we have to stake out the nice places in town for that. and don’t worry, i’m not pulling off a woolf anytime soon. 😀


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