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Lawrence Ypil


Here in Singapore, it’s been called a circuit breaker, and beginning June 1, restrictions are going to be eased--- which means air-conditioners can finally be fixed, and parlors can now finally color your hair. Sons, of course, will now finally be able to visit their fathers, daughters their grandmothers, but not brothers their sisters, cousins their aunts. My family’s back home in the Philippines, so just so that I can feel the difference in a few days, I think I’m going to get my hair colored, just because.

I had been planning to do a summer writing residency, so you can say that I advertently got one. Until the borders open, and travelling resumes, it looks like, as with many, here is where we definitely are. I’ve been living on campus, and since the semester’s done, it’s been a kind of free-for-all. I’ve definitely unraveled--- dinner now is at 1030. First thing in the morning is more often than not a movie. You can say my body’s finally finding its own beautiful but reckless rhythm. Yes.

In the late afternoons and evenings, though, I try to sit at my veranda in order to get some writing done. I’ve been finding it hard to work on anything new, so I’ve taken to editing some essays that I wrote more than a decade ago that I’ve been thinking of collecting into a book. Many of them were written in my twenties and the more I read them again every day, the more it feels like my quarantine has been spent, hanging out with a younger version of myself. Which means more lyrical, yes, but also more serious. Why do we sound so serious when we’re young? Relax, a bit, dear sir, I want to tell him, before he belts out a song, again, about the streets of his childhood. They're also not as as well-written as I thought they were, which means I have a certain amount of work to be done in the coming months.

I find it almost funny though, this version of the Philippines from a decade back--- more peaceful, a bit naïve, certainly without a clue to the kind of authoritarianism that would eventually begin to grip the country in just a matter of years. It makes me wonder if I would have been able to write these kinds of essays today--- ruminations on piano music at night, my father’s garden, a painting seen sideview at the height of noon by the beach. Who would read them? Now when there are so many more pressing issues that need to be heard: the all-too-quick militarization of everything, including a pressing health crisis, the wanton disregard for human dignity, the decaying respect for the law. What to make of an essay on the sound of rain on one’s rooftop, the slant of light on a table in the veranda? Maybe all writing is a wish for some future peace of time and place to come, when we can read ourselves again.

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