Creative, Inspiration, Personal

Graduation, in a few words.

How many people could say that once in their college lives they were a debater, a poet, a beauty pageant contestant, an exchange student, an exchange teacher, a bereaved daughter and a survivor? I only know of one.

It took her six years to finish college. The little student who once almost jumped from second grade to second year high school took her time to figure out who she is and where she belongs. And if there is truly some sort of grand design, I’d say she pretty much defied it as much as she could.

To be honest, I wasn’t satisfied with how my college life ended. The last semester was too difficult for me. Physically, I was recuperating from surgery, yet I had to walk-run from PNU to AdU so I could finish in ten not eleven semesters. Mentally, I lost my previously fantastic memory. I broke down in class once because I couldn’t remember simple terms from what we just discussed for a simple quiz. Emotionally I had to keep it together, to not miss my mom too much, to maintain a modicum of functionality, and most difficult of all to muster all the courage I have to finish school. Spiritually, I held on to poetry, to late night wordless conversations, to smiling even when I felt like dying inside.

That is not to say that I did not have a good run. I soaked up so many new and big and shocking and precious words, which I will soon use to tell stories. I met so many wonderful people (if you’re reading this, you’re one of them), read and learned so many fascinating new things, and most importantly I found love.

I found love within me, the capability to sacrifice and work harder than I thought I could for causes greater than myself. I found love in the people who believed in me enough to let me be myself and let me grow from there. I found love in the people who gave me warm hugs, shared their stories with me, lent their light in my darkest moments, and celebrated with me in my brightest ones.

Love, I found out, is not an ideal to strive for, not an X on some treasure map you have to search the ends of the earth for, not-and this is crucial-something better read in books. It is finding pieces of you in other people and vice versa, seeing both new and dying stars burning in co-existing universes we know simply as human beings.

After graduation, I feel like a part of me sort of closed like a book. I had been a student all my life, sitting still and trying to keep my naughty mind from wandering to things beautiful and sublime. I don’t know how I would learn things which do not have letter-grade equivalences. I don’t know how to dress myself after wearing a uniform for sixteen years. I don’t know how to transition from someone who craves learning to facilitating it. I don’t know how to get first place in someone else’ heart.

What I know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that I am loved. This makes me brave. Who knows? Maybe even brave enough to help others be brave too.

So here we are! I am Pia Besmonte, college graduate, ready to take on whatever the hell is next, never mind the world!

Girl Trouble

Girl Trouble bites: Who hurt you?

First impact: Robin is a sensitive and (rrreally) horny guy who has commitment vs. sex issues and thus suffers from the consequences of his own (in)actions. That is not to say that his pain is any less heartbreaking.

Second: Let’s talk hero archetypes. Robin as a Filipino male protagonist – what does it say about our men? Does he represent all Pinoy men? (If so, should I be troubled?) Add Eros Atalia’s Intoy and Bob Ong’s prots. I think I’d prefer Kundera’s Tomas or Dostoevsky’s Underground Man if Robin didn’t have good playlists, but I digress. The narrative, however, was somewhat one-dimensional and the women were just listed down by how they turned Robin on and how they proceeded to run over his heart with figurative ten wheeler trucks.

Third: Highlights were the out-of-school youth joke, condom incident, post-Tiray hysterectomy video, and the two black pages. Very honest. Author style reminds me of Jack Kerouac (Very raw and Beat), and the two authors I’ve mentioned above.

Fourth: I couldn’t detect misogyny in the novel, despite all the “bitches” and “cunts” and more “fuck you bitches”. Just the rants of a very messed up, irrevocably broken character. I wish I could hug him. But I’m not Ellie.

Fifth (rhetorical): Alan Navarra, how Robin are you and who hurt you?

Three of five stars for Girl Trouble. I had to stop reading a few times because typos and trauma triggers. That being said, eye opener.


You Were You Are Elegy by Mary Jo Bang

Fragile like a child is fragile.
Destined not to be forever.
Destined to become other
To mother. Here I am
Sitting on a chair, thinking
About you. Thinking
About how it was
To talk to you.
How sometimes it was wonderful
And sometimes it was awful.
How drugs when drugs were
Undid the good almost entirely
But not entirely
Because good could always be seen
Glimmering like lame glimmers
In the window of a shop
Called Beautiful
Things Never Last Forever.
I loved you. I love you. You were.
And you are. Life is experience.
It’s all so simple. Experience is
The chair we sit on.
The sitting. The thinking
Of you where you are a blank
To be filled
In by missing. I loved you.
I love you like I love
All beautiful things.
True beauty is truly seldom.
You were. You are
In May. May now is looking onto
The June that is coming up.
This is how I measure
The year. Everything Was My Fault
Has been the theme of the song
I’ve been singing,
Even when you’ve told me to quiet.
I haven’t been quiet.
I’ve been crying. I think you
Have forgiven me. You keep
Putting your hand on my shoulder
When I’m crying.
Thank you for that. And
For the ineffable sense
Of continuance. You were. You are
The brightest thing in the shop window
And the most beautiful seldom I ever saw.

An Open Letter to the Future

Every word I write comes from you. As I write them down they are claimed by the Present and are quickly handed down to the Past. You are the fearsome elusive, the unpredictable unknown, the Muse of dreamers like yours truly.

I honestly don’t know why I feel the urge to write to you. These past few weeks I have been nervous by the very thought of you, as new lovers are after transitioning from a long friendship. I might even mistake these emotions as falling, headfirst, in love.

You take away my appetite, my sleep, my social energy. My usually short attention span has been reduced to an unlit match. The vein above by right brow has protruded and taken to throb at its own command. There’s this sinking feeling in my stomach, the exact same thing on my first week alone in New York City. I call it scared shitless.

Nobody knows what tricks you have up your sleeves. You are a Pearl Jam concert set list, a jazz piece, a flip top response, a streak of lightning. One moment you call me to Holly Golightly’s city, the next you call to take my Mama away. You send me to prepare for career and send me to the hospital in the same season. (I am trying not to blame you for what the Past already owns.)

I never know where I stand with you. I guess nobody ever does, and the great secret of life is that we never really know until we receive the cards with which we are dealt. And who we are is how we respond to them.

So what now? What about me, a girl who always needs a second try? What do you hold in store for someone who tries not to expect anything from you? Where will you lead my little flame of existence?

Thank you for eventually responding.


Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


Studies in cognitive neuroscience, moreover, support the assumptions embedded in trauma theory – that the mind confronted with an overwhelming experience tends to isolate the memories associated with this experience in specific areas of the brain that are inaccessible to conscious recall and (hence) integration into the subject’s ongoing narrative of his or her life history (Kolk in Plain & Sellers, 2007).

Forgetfulness is a kind of freedom.


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It’s probably because of graduation. Closing time. My feet fumbles around the tip of the sinkhole I claimed to be my life all these years. I can’t see anything in the dark turquoise water.

There is so much to face and so little time in between. School, work, relationships. My existence, my changing mind and body, my art. The past, now and the unknown.

Sometimes I tell myself, “You feel too much.”

Then I hear a voice inside: “Tell that to God. He created earthquakes and storm surge.”

I take a deep breath, take a step, and jump.

This time, to finally live.