Friday, June 17, 2016

What it's like to be in

What it's like to be in
by Justine Camacho-Tajonera

Free to roam
Until I settle on a
Lovely cover or maybe a
Little tome of meditations.
Yearning is walking among
Books and books and books
Or stationery, washi tape, and what-not
Only someone like me would ever
Keel over for and covet.
Essentially, it's a place for
Dream-wandering awake.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

The Light

The Light

by Justine Camacho-Tajonera

For Kenneth

As we sang your anthem, one morning,
you noticed that the Clock Tower was dark.
You quietly left our side
and turned on the light.

Beside us. That's where we
want you to stay. We want to
hear your steady voice telling us
everything will be

But you need to turn a light
on. Elsewhere. And so,
quietly, you watch us stand
on our own, the way
you taught us.

We'll keep the light burning
for you. That's what we'll do.
There will be no corner
in the shadows. You
make each of us

After December

After December

by Justine Camacho-Tajonera

For Mich

Your smile was our home,
we could find any corner in it
and bask in its warmth.
It was the key to our doors,
the first hand we held in an
unfamiliar place.
We have our bearings now
because of you.

We would not keep you
from new shores
but we are grateful
that you stayed a while.
After December,
the better world we build,
piece by piece,
will have a memory
of you.

The Man in the Suit

The Man in the Suit

by Justine Camacho-Tajonera

For Rudy

You do it with ease. A hundred
phone calls a day is a snap
for the man in the suit. There's
always a quip that's waiting to
be shared in the corners of
your smile.

It seems that everyone knows
you. Well that's because you make
it easy. There's always space to
breathe whenever you are around.
And just like your boys, if anyone
asks, we'll tell them we, every one
of us, own this city
of ours.

Open Door

Open Door

by Justine Camacho-Tajonera

for Ricky

We never really need to knock,
not with you. At the threshold,
you take the burden in our
hands and tell us we carry it
together. Mountains level
because of your smile, because
you say, "Come this way."
And we would go there
because you say
we can.

The door will never really close,
not with you. That's who you
are. Your gentleness makes
us all strong.
You told us a story once.
About choosing to mind
the things that should not
break. We take that with us
when we tend to children's

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 9, 2016

Voter's Finger

May 9, 2016
- Justine Tajonera

Turds and 'tards and faded yellow
ribbons. Bullets and grain. Red
for change and blue for hope.
When we hold up the mirror,
we see the cracks. Into them go
our broken trains and hungry
farmers. Into them go our bank
accounts and tears and children's
tuitions. From them spring
the stones we hurl at each other.

Last November 2013, a torn cloth
flew over our devastation. That same
cloth shrouded fallen soldiers last
January. What color of cloth
will hold us together now and shield

"Everything will be all right," I tell
my son. He puts his trust in me.
It makes me tremble, yes, but
it helps me see beyond
my fears.

Note: May 9, 2016, Philippine National Elections 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016


Justine Camacho-Tajonera

We live in a vast, old
world. We think we know
enough to dream of launching
ourselves into the stars,
a collection of vast,
old worlds.

Our pioneer states
only exist in
our minds.

We conquer nothing
of what is already


Justine Camacho-Tajonera

I am no singer but there are moments
when I join the choir and my voice
finds a universal note, gathering me
then dispersing me
into the afternoon


The Deluge
Justine Camacho-Tajonera

I need somewhere to put all these tears.
Stone-faced, I save them in my fists
though they are no place for keeping
anything for long. I know I cannot
pretend that they are not falling.

These tears need to find their
level and join the cycle of all
things though sometimes it feels
like they need a vessel for all
their significance.

So I gather them and honor them
and shake them into the wind
and rain. This world is full of
weeping as it is full of
light. All seasons begin
as all seasons end.

I will crawl from this deluge
into dry land.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

#4 of 24: A Story in a Story, A Review of Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra

Fairy Tale FailFairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Story in a Story

I am not like Ellie Manuel, the protagonist. There are elements to her that I can identify with but she's the carefree type. That was why it was fun to get inside her head. That's for starters.

After having read Mina Esguerra's #RomanceClass textbook, it seems that Fairy Tale Fail fits perfectly into the Hero Journey. It felt meta. :-) But in a very fun way. And I was rooting for Lucas the whole way. Okay, no spoilers.

What I really liked about Fairy Tale Fail was Ellie's journey into self-awareness. She realizes that getting what she wants doesn't necessarily mean it's the best path for her. For many people, getting what they want is the be-all and end-all of things. That's the whole point of the journey. But I'm glad it didn't turn out that way. It's nice to see Ellie be who she is and appreciate herself just the way she is. This is the kind of protagonist that I'd like my daughter to read about one of these days.

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#3 of 24: The Thrill of a Bad Boy's Past, A Review of That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra

That Kind of GuyThat Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Thrill of a Bad Boy's Past

What hooked me immediately with this story was: WHY? Why did good girl Julie say no to a marriage proposal from obviously hot Anton? The story begins with one of Anton's past "conquests" and that sucked me into the story.

To begin with, Julie isn't an all-around nice girl after all. Her staff actually hates her. So, that kind of made her a more layered character, someone I wanted to get to know better. I really liked this story. For all the good girls (a.k.a. Manangs) reading it (haha!) it will give you some vicarious thrills. I liked how Julie wanted to get to the bottom of her feelings, no matter what the situation. She knows there's something missing in her relationship, so she doesn't just follow her feelings. That's a brave thing to do. Confession: I wanted Anton to be "badder." Or maybe I wanted to know him more, to understand what was going on in his head throughout his string of flings. But this is more of Julie's story. Don't get me wrong. It's a really good perspective. Go read it!

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Friday, February 19, 2016

#2 of 24: A Review of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; A Very Long Journey

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Very Long Journey

I've been told by a friend that the TV series is where all the excitement is at. I wanted to read the book, nevertheless. It took me several months to read. And I stuck with it. It wasn't exactly a page-turner for me. It's a brave new concept: romance/science fiction/ historical fiction/ adventure. So, I committed to it even though it took me forever to finish. Claire was likeable enough and Jamie was hot. Maybe that's what spurred me along. Or maybe I wanted to find out more about Geillis Duncan, one of the most interesting characters in the book and a time-traveling witch villainess. On paper, it looks like the type of book I should have liked more. But I don't think I'll be moving along to Dragonfly in Amber. Outlander alone was a very long drawn out journey. But, hey, I stayed the course.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

#1 of 24: A Review of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert; Permission To Write For The Heck of It

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Permission to write for the heck of it

This was a long, leisurely, meandering read for me. What I loved about it was the paradoxical way she made writing both sacred and mundane (something embodied in the last story she tells from Bali...but I won't spoil it for you). Writing is both divine and frivolous. I get it. Would I still write even if I never make a bestseller in my lifetime? Yes, I would. Because writing is a lovely thing. It *is* being touched by the divine...and yet it is also totally unnecessary. A poem is a privilege and a gift in a way a physical chair or even a dentist's appointment never would be. It is totally not practical, useless in a sense, and yet contains the meaning of life or at least the seed of it. I also love how she encourages creators to follow their curiosity and to put away the costume of "the tortured artist." Write for the pleasures of writing and don't feel guilty. Share it and move on. Perfect to share this during Valentine's weekend. Love is ephemeral and yet eternal. That's the same thing I can say of the creative life. Big magic. Tiny, beautiful thing.

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