What To Do When People Use You

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The Silent Treatment

“He treats you like shit regardless of what you do”

She takes a sip of her Pinot Grigio

“You want to appear unavailable, or unreachable–”

“And then what? Flee? Ghost the person like a bored and dissatisfied 19 year old? Bitch please, I’m 26,”

“That’s cruel. And you can’t renege on commitments you made because than you’d be no better than a liar. I say, deal with the shit and then go quiet, don’t end the friendship just yet, just drop off the radar for a bit and hope for the best”

Confronting the Person

“Or–why don’t you just talk to him, look him in the eye and tell him to stop it. And then give him the middle finger for extra effect.”

M takes a pink macaron, she examines it for a moment. Her yellow, Versace sun dress illuminates the space around us.

“Tell him you’re having none of it. Tell him after all the help, all the sacrifices you made, that you deserve better.

“if you have any self-respect, you would sit his ass down, cut him like a bitch and pour salt all over the goddamn wound. And when you’re done dressing him down, you can tell him to go f*ck himself.”

Letting Go

And then I ask my two friends

“But what if I just let him go? Burn bridges, you know. I can do the disappearing bit for a while before I confront the bastard and when that’s done, I can end the damn thing”

“But it’s not that easy huney. Human relationships are complicated. And when you end one friendship, you end ten. You lose one, and you lose a tribe. It’s a zero-sum game”

“So I’m fucked both ways”

“Not exactly. But I’m only saying that to make you feel better”

M takes a macaron, cuts the pastry in half and sets it on her plate.

And then I remember what my father told me years ago. I take my journal from my black knapsack and read the entry verbatim.

“Don’t say anything, do not abandon the person and don’t ever confront him. You’re wasting your time. Stay where you are. Stay civil, stay gracious, but say and do no more, and let the thing run its course”

Classy.

***

We leave the cafe, full and pressed for time. M and my other friend call a cab, leaving me to my own devices, I mull over their counsel. I mull over my situation. I mull over an answer but I fail to discern a choice.

People are complicated.

The Virtue of Saying Little

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I recently reactivated my Facebook profile following a month-long “cleanse”. I felt instantly overwhelmed by the familiar; photographs of young mothers and their children, manicured lawns, and women posing artfully before mirrors, their heads tilted on one side, hands bent at the hips.

A caption over one photograph told this unsuspecting reader to “fight the good fight! Never give up”

Whatever she said.

***

Once upon a terrible valentine, I was an aggressive Facebook user. A troll who bombarded friends and non-friends with updates, quotations from the holy book, righteous lecturing, the works. I wrote very frequently about politics, about fashion, sex, about issues that concerned the national interest, and I pretended to revel at the immediacy of my own delusions. But deep inside I was playing a character (even when I wasn’t aware of it), a persona, that of a well-to-do provincial, who knew it all, and seen it all. Who read Plato and Jean Bodin, embraced the full spectrum of post-modern political philosophy and proffered poorly constructed arguments to an audience who didn’t care.

I gave up when the likes began to dwindle. My dear, it was discouraging.

So I found Instagram and began to communicate using only photographs, a medium that was foreign to me (until now). Pictures photoshopped and doctored to a T. Innocent “selfies”, evolved into photographs of street peddlers, urchins in funky, neon hand-me-downs frolicking about and red-tinged stills of drug-saddled sex workers earning a living in alleyways all over town.

I was telling a story in pictures.

And while I was limited to images, and constricted to a few pixels, I found it immensely fascinating…that I could convey an idea this way. That I could express so much, and say so little (or nothing at all) liberated me in some way: in such that my art, my photographs could more or less, speak for itself.

***

So Facebook.

I posted an entry today. A photograph of half my face. I posted it without much ado, without a caption. 11 likes and counting. A woman wrote a comment complimenting my eyes. I failed to thank her. Not that I had to.

The Bored (Photography)

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I sit at cafes, observing the goings-on of the bored. There’s a woman outside, eating madeleines on the fly; she’s distracted by something on her little magic box; totally unaware of the world. When did people become so mindless, when did a cigarette become a means to escape, a means to forget, to pass time when time drawls on listlessly. I thought smoking was glamorous, something only the really rich enjoyed between gossip and cups of cafe au lait.

Continue reading “The Bored (Photography)”

For Peter, My Ghost (Poetry)

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Peter old friend

we are only human

we are made of dust

from Adam’s soil: ashes

creatures of chance

unable to cope

unable to see

blind to the world

and the bridges put forth before us,

we are damned

to suffer, one way or another

to rest everlasting, to end.

But we are glorious

even when we come undone

and the world will always remember

the songs we wrote

for Alice, for Emma

for women we do not even know

–Words by Teegee Villanueva

Full Moon (Poetry)

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Unravel: as they come

Horses

Drums

A funeral march

 

A coffin, a hammer

A nail and a kiss

A sip from a poisoned chalice

 

Why,

Do I put myself through this?

I am trapped and isolated

Four white walls enclose me,

Vibrating with an ever quickening pulse;

The floors catch my menses

And the tear that refuses to fall

 

I am tired, black death

I am a specter without a name

Floating amongst the living:

Listless among the dead

***

Painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, words by Teegee Villanueva

 

Dyck Cediño

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“We seek and we find; merely to find and then seek. For every beginning there’s an end, but what end brings is a new beginning. We are the essence of creation and the embodiment of destruction: this is the duality of our existence. We create in order to make sense of our own destruction. We constantly seek to find meaning; only to discover that we are meaning itself; mirror images of the vast infinity found within every single being. And the only consolation we get for this life is our own death. This is mainly the reason why I create art, cuz I believe that as much as we are representatives of destruction (physical or ideological), we must also create to make amends with this duality of existence. And this is how I move forward.”–Dyck Cediño

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Prints by Dyck Dedino.

Thoughts on Art

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I figured it out. Art is about authenticity. Not beauty. It’s about expressing what you truly feel, it’s about being honest about something: an emotion, a thought, an idea, and expressing that in some way. That’s art. Beauty is completely beside the point.

Or is it?

 Photography by Teegee Villanueva, 2016.

Self-Portrait

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  1. I like cigarettes…a lot…I like it with my coffee, with my tea, with my juice, after my workout, before classes, after classes. I smell like an ashtray and I love it.
  2. I write, like, a lot…on my notebook, in longhand, and I am soooo not intend with current trends.
  3. I go to school, but I feel like I inhabit a different space…the four walls of a classroom remind me of a prison. Your thoughts are contained, and everything feels constrained to a single subject. I hate it.
  4. But I am at the top of my class. I have 3.86 QPA and people don’t care. Apparently, I don’t matter.
  5. That’s a picture of me in my boxers by the way. Enjoy.

City of Smiles

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Stray observations

  1. Bacolod is a bore. That’s not to say the city isn’t nice, there just isn’t a lot to do. I went to see The Ruins in Talisay and visited the San Sebastian Church, and they were both incredibly beautiful, but that was it: pure spectacle (I wanted to see Murcia but it was out of the way and I really was short on time). The capitol grounds and the lagoon were overdone but the two bronze sculptures that flanked each other were beautiful.
  2. I got lost just now. I was out looking for a 7/11 to buy water and iced coffee, and I completely lost track of everything after a while. And I was terrified because I ran into a couple of drunks and they were making gestures, calling for me, asking for my head (I think). Thank God for the pedicab driver.
  3. The people from Bacolod are pretty polite. And helpful. They will go out of their way to tell you the history of their people, a monument, something about the Lacsons, anything. They’re proud Negrenses and I love them for it.

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More photos to come.

Photography by Teegee Villanueva, 2016.

Facebook Detox: Day 3 of 100

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I’m reading The Optimist by Laurence Shorter. It’s a book about hope and optimism. It’s autobiographical; an author’s quest  for meaning; hoping that true optimism (and the pseudoscientific psychobabble he espoused) can cure the social malaise that plague society today. it’s silly and  (appears to be) satirical, it was deftly written, but it also took its subject seriously at some point

He interviewed numerous people, among them Richard Branson and Desmond Tutu. Branson believed that optimism was about “loving what you were doing”, and that caring about others and giving back would propel us forward as a species—it’s something to do with karma, something karmic. Unfortunately, his is a philosophy that wasn’t easily understood. But it was Desmond Tutu’s words that hit me (all because of its timeliness) here’s a quote: “you’re cynical because you think that external things can make you happy…you know, a smart car, a nice house, a beautiful wife, but it was discovered long ago…[that] you don’t have to be a Christian to realize that…all of these material things, wealth, success, sex…they don’t actually have the capacity to satisfy.”

And then there was the interview with a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, an author, Imaculee Ilibagiza. She believed people, despite their capacity to commit evil, were innately good. This I found touching and a bit hopeful, and I made  a quick note of this in my journal. She said even the most hardened criminal could change for the better; all must be forgiven, she said. My dear why aren’t you a saint yet?

The book is not self-help. Like I said, it’s largely autobiographical. I’m about three quarters into the book. Among my best books of 2016 so far. You should read it

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Photography by Teegee Villanueva.

Follow me on Instagram: @teegeev