A Letter from the Heart

It has not been easy, darling daughter—the years of our separation. Two years of missing your birthday—the second and the third—is not A-okay as a cartoon character that tickles you to giggle with gusto would tell you. But, hey, pray tell, do you know that many of these shows that you are watching are being made here in Hollywood and in the Universal Studios?

I used to work in the Wilshire area in Los Angeles, some minutes away from the famed Hollywood by the subway train or the Metro bus. From my window, I could see clearly the marker on the hillside declaring to all and sundry, that indeed, the visitor has reached the famous place where fantasy and reality meet. Each morning I would look out the window and I would tell myself, as in a prayer ritual, that, the Providence willing, you will get to see this place on or before your fourth birthday. I will show you around in the vast Universal Studios and I will let you feel how reality and experience coalesce and collapse in so many ways. But I will not tell you these things in words—but in that silence of language that goes with a father (that’s me!) and a darling daughter (that’s you!) having a grand reunion as if in a film. Ha! What do the thousands of miles separating us know, darling dear?

I look out the window again and I see myself leading you into that popcorn stand. The popping of the corn kernels always amazes you, your mother tells me in her email on your birthday. It is so good—I feel satisfied—to know that the boxes of goodies that I sent you reached you just in time. With it, you got to see again—with all eyes and heart—the popping of the kernels and in that picture your mother sent me, I see your round, brown eyes glued to the oven, ever watchful if one kernel gets to escape from the possibility of popping.

I show you around now—and with your small hand on mine and carrying you on my shoulders, I tell you of the magic of making magic out of scenes and the little mermaids’ gleeful singing in the rain, of little foots and teddy bears jumping in the snow and baby monkeys swimming in the river. Such enchantment—such fantasy, such play of the imagination!

When you will get here, we will walk hand-in-hand on that concrete walkway of Hollywood with all the names of the actors and actresses you both know and do not. It does not matter that their names will not ring a bell to you. You see, dear, you will be holding my hand—and I will be holding your heart. Far ahead, towards the Kodak Theatre, you will get to see the cartoon characters in their best finery yet. So this is Cinderella with her silver and golden shoes on. The seven dwarfs are there, in that corner, behind that big, hulking gorilla with a King Kong smile, do you see? On that side is a pair of wannabes, one looking like the singer Britney Spears, the other a Cristina Aguilera. Or are there newer and younger singers that you are a fan of and that I have missed?

On that other side are the many rising stars and starlets—artists all in their best and their worst. For here, in this Hollywood by the north, in these hills of soaring ambition and celluloid dream, so many men and women are either made or unmade. Not everyone will be able to make it, dear darling daughter. As is the case in life which the French would simply economically philosophize in their curt c’est le vie, Hollywood in more ways than one is a hollow metaphor of a life lived in the edges of dreams and of dreams of dreams. What that is not easy to explain. There is glitter in the life here—but there is also this certain ghostliness as well. Hollywood is hauntingly beautiful but its impressions and images are a trap. We need to be careful with the reality that it sells.

Well, it is your birthday, darling daughter. I only wanted you to tap into that which is real and genuine as you reach your third year. Start early. I will ask your mother to explain things to you.

I promise you that you will get to see Hollywood and the Universal Studios soon—but I will show their two sides: the real and the not-so. Make this wish as you blow your three candles.

Love you so dearly,

Published in The Weekly Inquirer Philippines
July 16-22, 2005

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