The search for My Imaginary Ex

my imaginary ex











I saw Mina Esguerra’s My Imaginary Ex a few months ago and I promised myself that I would buy it. I have read M.D. Balangue’s Mr. Write and Claire Betita’s No Boyfriend Since Birth and I have enjoyed both immensely. Unfortunately, every time I had the money to buy Miss Esguerra’s book, I couldn’t find it. And whenever I saw it, I didn’t have any money. It was as if I wasn’t meant to buy her book.

And then, by some stroke of luck, I saw her book again—and I had the money to buy it! The only thing that prevented me from buying it was that the copy had a torn cover. I quickly asked one of the salespeople if they still had another copy of the book. They didn’t. I asked if the book would be discounted because of the torn cover. They told me I’d still have to pay for the regular price of a hundred and fifty pesos.

Now while I had nothing against paying that amount for a book made by a kababayan, I still wanted to pay for a new copy of the book. So, I didn’t buy it. I searched for it in numerous bookstores and still came up with nothing. I promised myself that the next time I saw that book, I’d buy it—even if it was torn.

On February of this year, I saw the book again in the same book store. It was still torn, but I bought it anyway. I did not regret my decision.

Mina Esguerra skillfully writes the story of two unlikely friends, Jasmine and Zachary. It’s boy meets girl in a classic way, but Esguerra manages to change some of the rules, giving it a fresh feeling. Instead of a common interest, it is a lie that binds their friendship. In a desperate attempt to get the girl he liked, Zack asks Jas to pretend to be his ex-girlfriend. Though hesitant at first, Jas eventually agrees.

However, ten years after, everyone still considers that lie the truth.

Here’s what happens when you play pretend. Those are the first words you see on the cover of My Imaginary Ex and it is quite appropriate. Somewhere along the way, the lines blurred and both Jas and Zack forget what is canon and what isn’t. And for a friendship between a man and a woman, blurred lines always make everything more complicated.

I think one of the reasons why I was so adamant in buying the book was I could somehow relate to it. No, I have not been anyone’s imaginary ex-girlfriend, but I knew how it felt like to be thought of as your best friend’s girl. I understood why Jas never thought of Zack as anything but her best friend. He was her best friend and to think of him as something more than that would be crossing a line.

Here’s what happens when you play pretend. After reading the book, I kept looking at those words. At some point in a friendship between a man and a woman, one of them blurs a line and tiptoes to the other side. If it works out, we thank God for the courage He gave us. If it doesn’t, we blame ourselves and regret we even played along. No one can predict the outcome and most of the time, this is what scares us more. Sadly, more of us never try to cross the line—contently watching that person we love become someone else’s. As one song says, I’ll always have the memories. And she’ll always have you.

My Imaginary Ex is a very entertaining read for everyone who has had that friendship with blurred lines and complicated feelings. It reminds us that sometimes a seemingly innocent game of pretend can change everything. Especially when you have two meddlesome exes—and an imaginary one to boot.

As posted in themonestery.


“I challenge you to fall in love.”

strange nervous laughter











So, how was your Valentine’s Day?

Like the past x number of years, I had no special someone to spend it with.  I won’t deny that I was a little melancholic (I am turning 26 this year, y’know), but after watching the Silly Love Songs episode in Glee, I felt better.  I could somehow face the day that was supposed to be the bane of my existence.

But that Glee episode is not what I’m going to talk about today.

A few months ago, I came across a book entitled strange nervous laughter by Bridget McNulty.  I have always been more of a mystery book lover, but the title and the summary at the front flap made me curious.  So for less than a hundred pesos, I purchased the book.  And I am glad I did.

strange nervous laughter wasn’t one of the usual romance novels that I’ve tried to read and have read before.  While most romance novels tend to be overly mushy (c’mon, let’s face it), McNulty’s book showed the more “real” side of love.  Maybe it was because she had presented everyday characters with everyday situations.  It made it easier for me to relate to the characters, laugh with them, and sometimes cry with them.

Yes, the book was still mushy and a little corny at times, but McNulty managed pull it off without making it unrealistic.  In fact, in one part of the book, there was an almost unrealistic situation and McNulty voices out all our doubts and answers it in a very simple way.


❝Oh please! I hear you say.
That stuff doesn’t actually happen.
There’s no sudden transformation,
no validation of a thousand cheesy Hallmark cards,
no selfless passion, just a slow, cautious walk up an unfamiliar,
bumpy path that may or may not be peppered with landmines,
and once you reach the end of the path, there’s a nice comfy armchair.

If you’re lucky.

I challenge you to fall in love.❞


Yes.  She’s right.  You might be the most cynical person in the world, but when you fall in love, you will sound like all those Hallmark cards you once despised.  You probably won’t recognize it, you probably will deny it.  But it’s there.  You will see all the birds and the bees, and hear them sing and buzz.  The world will be one worth living because that person is alive.  Because that person is with you.

But how often do we really feel this?  How often do we fly?

Not often enough, I think.  And in my opinion, that is exactly why a lot of people have become cynical.  Or, in a more modern term, career-focused.  We hide behind these seemingly perfect defenses and we think no one will ever know that that part of us even exists.  We say we don’t believe in love at first sight—that it’s just lust!—but deep inside, we crave it.  We want it to be real.  We want to have a Hallmark card relationship.  Not exactly perfect, but something that can make us smile for no apparent reason.

I challenge you to fall in love, McNulty said.
I challenge you to let yourself fall.


❝—the principal aim of the society to be longevity rather than fairness.❞

I was required to read George Orwell’s 1984 a few years ago. I’ve never told anyone, but I gave up after a while. I tried reading it, but I never got past the first few chapters. I never finished it; I just browsed through it as quickly as I could. It was a good thing that I didn’t need to pass a paper on it.

Fast forward to about five years later. My sister gave me a copy of Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey as a Christmas gift. I had wanted a copy of Fforde’s Thursday Next novels, but the book store didn’t have it that time. However, Fforde’s book didn’t disappoint me. For me, Shades of Grey was a “simplified” version of 1984. It was an easier and more colorful way of getting the message across. It reminded me of all the lessons we had back in college, and you don’t know how much that made me happy. I haven’t read something like that in a while, more so have that kind of conversation with someone. It was a relief to find such a book that actually talked to the Development Studies part of my mind.

That quote above spoke volumes to me. When I was still in UP, one of the topics we touched was Socialism. No matter what my professor said, I never believed that it was possible. People can’t just mindlessly follow rules. We think before we do anything, before we follow anyone. Deep inside, we all question things before we follow — it’s what makes us human! Plus, what kind of life would you lead if you just do what someone asks you do? How boring would that be!

Thinking, doubting, asking. It could threaten dogmas and laws, but what the hell. It makes this life more exciting.