Growing up, I was engulfed in the love stories of Yna Macaspac and Angelo Buenavista in the teledrama series Pangako Sa’yo // Promise to you, of Bujoy and Ned in their journey of best friends to lovers in Labs Kita, Okay Lang? // I love you, Is that Okay? , and of Basha and Popoy in their journey of finding the right time, the right place, and the right love in One More Chance. There is a constant theme in these movies aside from the happy ending. FIRST, the guy must fall in love with the girl and decide to court her and THEN the girl makes her move towards a relationship and family or be the heartbreaker. We were presented with a formulaic approach to the perfect love with the key ingredient of a man who must first choose us to fall in love with and the rest will fall in line. So we wait and wait for the perfect one. However, when that type of love has not come yet, shame comes with our answer to the Filipina Auntie at the family party who asks: “O, Do you have boyfriend yet?”
1, PLUS FOUR. MINUS 3
I knew exactly what it was [or so i thought]
I knew what it looked like, what it was supposed to feel like
bright colors, fireworks on a cardigan weather evening
smiles, butterflies, hot, everything great squished up into a thing. It’s a thing. it. is a thing.
As if we are provided with a formula
and all I needed to do was to find the variables
one that would add to the beating of my heart
making my blood rush through my veins
elongating the electrical currents etching the words I, and Love, and You
together with such precision.
one that would subtract me from the present
sweep me away to nirvana
where trees sway and birds CHRP away
divide my feelings of indifference
breaking it down into atomic pieces
letting it be blown away to wherever the wind desires
and make each second feel like forever multiplied by infinity.
IT was supposed to be amazing.
So then it came and it went. Suddenly, the formulaic love is realized to be a little box and we have features of a circle, alway learning, always remolding, always growing. There exists a love that gives and asks for nothing in return, a selfless love that once experienced, our mind will travel to a galaxy of moments, our heart will beat. too fast. too vast. To be a KASAMA // comrade is to love, and to grow loving without shame // walanghiya.
1, 2, TREE
absorb the water seeping through your roots
buried deep under unscalable walls.
experience one’s touch
and clutch the light,
even if it is too bright.
blood rushing through your veins.
it is okay to feel alive
It is okay to have no shame
I was staring at the top of the clouds in the mountains of Mindanao, awakened by the songs and dances for freedom and justice. It is here that I found the greatest love, one for the movement towards a just and lasting peace. With it comes the feelings of infinite love from those alongside you from across the seas. while struggling to find love, we will find love in the struggle.
1, 2, EIGHT
I hold my heart, it is heavy.
I stay where I am.
I emerge from a state of unconsciousness
I stutter to and fro
I disturb the surface
I am a mass movement
Nikki De Leon is a Filipina, born in the Philippines and raised in Portland, Oregon. She is a community organizer with the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), an organization that serves Filipinos by educating and advocating for social, economic, and racial justice. With her camera on hand, she observes, she absorbs, and she serves the people. Website | Instagram