fiction | nonfiction

Anti-Epal Underground Collective

Anti-Epal Underground Collective

Posters sprouted like mushroom overnight, showing the name and the face of this one politician. This must have happened at night time. Someone must have hammered the wooden-braced tarpaulins onto the electric poles while there were few people aka witnesses. These were set a couple of meters from the ground. How people here remain calm with this is baffling. They’re just maybe more level-headed than I. Or they have much more immediate concerns to face.

Not only is this visual pollution, it is also a safety risk. The innocent driver, whether of a two-wheeled, three-wheeled or four-wheeled vehicle, might get distracted by the politician’s face and just right there in the middle of the busy road get into an accident. Some might even do it on purpose – ramming the pole just to release the pent-up rage that he feels.

Day in and day out, weeks and months pass, and the face remains. Commuters have by then blocked the image psychologically. The tarpaulin have blended with the landscape, but some remnant of the image lodges itself in the subconscious. At night this causes awful awful dreams.

A deranged young man, a former functioning member of society, takes it upon himself to do something. One night, he dons a black bonnet, jacket and jeans. He fills a black backpack with cans of spray paint. He carries as well a lineman’s spiked boots and grappling belt. He hops on his bike, rides around looking for targets (which doesn’t take that long), does the deed, then quickly slinks back into the darkness.

In the morning, citizens witnessed his handiwork. Fangs and horns on the politician’s faces. Neon-red foot-long tongues sticking out of mouths oozing blood. Giant penises framing the smiling prospective Governor’s face. Pentagrams, 666’s, Hail Satans, eyes blotted out or made to appear as if crying tears of blood.

These images quickly became viral on social media. Young folks, the internet generation, the so-called ‘millennials’ shared them freely and widely online. Comments ranged from severe disapproval to severe agreement. A few were particularly vicious, since this one particular defiled politician is supposedly progressive and youth-friendly. The phantom spray-painter spared no one – from the supposedly progressive to the dirtiest traditional politicians. As long as the face is seen in public, it is fair game.

Word spread through Facebook and SMS that a bounty has been placed on the popular vandal’s head. No one is sure who among the politicos wanted him dead, but it did not matter. He obviously got on the nerves of several, and at least a few wanted to make a cautionary tale out of him.

Statement from the Anti-Epal Vandal:

“It has come to my attention that y’all political mothafuckas want me dead. I’ve been expecting shit like this for a long time. So have me killed. Don’t care. I have what you fuckers don’t – peace of mind. It feels good to shit upon your holy, sacred political faces. The thrill, the adrenaline, it’s all too important for my psychological well-being. Will do what I’ve been dong til the day I die. Hail Satan. 666. =).”

As proof of identity, he attached a video-recording of himself spray-painting a bold horizontal bar across the eyes of some young up-and-coming-always-sprightly-glad-to-be-here Vice Mayor Candidate. He also blackened one of the candidate’s front teeth. Done. He then climbed down the electric pole, walked towards the camera, turned it off.

This latest stunt generated intense buzz among Generation Y netizens. Several websites and social media accounts were created documenting the latest defacements. After a couple more months, the spray-paintings included the non-politician celebrities whose colossal visage populated the lines of sights of commuters in the cities of the National Capital Region.

Vandalism of faces of politicians and celebrities became a contest among various clandestine spray-painting groups that sprung-up. Here you see peeking out of a porcelain-complexioned model’s underwear – a massive penis. There Ms. Celebrity-For-All-Reasons lost an eye and a couple of front teeth. Everywhere young people took it upon themselves to reclaim, from below, the common spaces. xxxx

Kite [idea for short film]

The main character is a high school student. We know this because he is wearing his uniform. Just generic polo shirt with school logo on pocket, black slacks, black shoes. He is in this vast green field – picture the Sunken Garden lawn of UP Diliman. He arrives carrying a backpack. He removes his shoes, places them at the side with his backpack. He pulls the materials for the kite from his backpack and places it in front of him.

It is bright, nearing afternoon and he is sitting cross-legged on the ground with the materials for the kite laid in front of him. The materials are: a plastic/cellophane bag, scissors, a spool of thread, and a couple of ‘ting-ting.’ The whole process is meticulously documented – close up shots, individual photos/shots of the materials, profile shot of him working on the kite, shot of him from the back. Audio is just the wind or cicadas buzzing or something (something that conveys the feeling of: heat, afternoon, summer).

There are people doing their thing on the field as well. They sometimes stand by and watch him work. One of these folks tries to ask him something, but he does not reply. He is so focused on his task. A group of children have gathered, and they ask him what he’s doing. Same/no reaction from him. They get bored after a while and like the other people, leave the weird severely socially-awkward high-schooler alone. But not all of them. One of the kids stays behind and gets really interested in what the kite-builder is doing. The kid just sits there at a polite distance, lookng silently, observing.

Kite is finally done. The kite-builder places it on the ground, he stands up and stretches and yawns. The kid stands up as well, he excitedly watches the kite-builder. The kite-builder now begins his attempt at flying the kite. He finally acknowledges the presence of the child. He beckons him over, hands the child the kite, and tells him to stand there. He is slowly unspooling the thread as he walks away from the child. The crowd/people/folks/children have gathered once more, and some are making sure no one accidentally walks over the line/string/thread.

No wind. So, they stand there, staring at the clouds and trees for a bit, waiting for a breeze. We can see the tension on the faces – the spectators are starting to get bored. Both the child holding the kite and the kite-builder are starting to sweat. But we see determination on their faces. They have gone this far. They’re not going to give up.

Finally, wind! The kite-builder signals for the child to release the kite. Kite is released as the kite-builder backs away some more. Kite quickly gains altitude, and we see the look of triumph and happiness on everyone’s faces. (Maybe close up shots of people gazing upwards, shielding their eyes from the bright sunlight, smiling). The kite-builder then calls for the child, and then carefully hands the spool of thread to him. He advises the child on what to do, shows him how keep it from darting earthwards, etc. Then the friends of the child crowd slowly around him, all chattering and excited now that the kite is so high up. The kite-builder meanwhile, walks over to his things, cleans up, puts on his shoes and backpack, and walks away.


*Notes: Working title: ‘Kite’ [or some other local language word for kite. If the dialog would be in Cebuano, it would be ‘Tabanog.’ If the dialogue would be in Tagalog, then it would be ‘Saranggola.’ Depends on the language of the dialog.]

Journal, it’s been centuries …

October 19, 2015 Journal


It’s been centuries.

The clouds hang heavy and are dark. From where I am scribbling this, I can see the newly-constructed building of the college. It’s beautiful, too beautiful. I am not convinced of it. It has yet to prove itself to me. I am waiting, but I am not impatient about it. It can unveil itself in its own time. Meanwhile I am grasping for thoughts and the right words and some tiny bit maybe of inspiration. I wish I could say that my thoughts are turning circles. I don’t even have trains of thoughts anymore. It’s just tiny bursts that are few and are far in between. It’s a desert in this head-space, man.

It seems all people talk about nowadays is politics and the weather. The hype is fueled by the media, the media itself also fans the flames, whatever useful analogy. It’s honestly boring the masses into stupidity. I feel this is class warfare. It’s a strategy of the super-moneyed class which is also the literal ruling class, in staying in power. There are criticisms presented, but the spectrum is limited. It does not go past these boundaries. The debate therefore is narrow and does not cover reality. A progressive mind should offer the whole picture.

Massive disappointment with Sen. Miriam Santiago over her choosing of BongBong Marcos (BBM) as her Vice President. The whole world is a question mark. Is this out of character for her? Part of the puzzlement is that she appeared all these decades to be actually credible and sane. On the immediate surface there were wacky quips and outbursts of emotions expressed in very sharp tongue, but we thought these aren’t as important as the bottomline. The bottomline being that Miriam is one of the only functional minds in high government. And so the whole political house of cards collapsed into an absurd heap. The sighs can be heard all over the country.

Duterte meanwhile made people cry. He was the hope and shining beacon of justice and vengeance, but ultimately he decided to only run for Mayor. Filipinos are so emotional, especially towards officials they are enamored with. The key is to be cynical to all politicians, thus one achieves calmness of spirit and mind. When rumors started of him running for the Presidency I felt it was too good to be true. I joined in the speculation train about a Duterte presidency – what changes he would institute in the country, what would happen to criminality and the drugs and gambling problems, whether he would be authoritarian or not.

The dream team would have been Miriam for President and Duterte for Vice-President. But alas, that remains a dream. Politics ain’t that easy yo. There’s backdealings and under-the-table dealings, and all sorts of realpolitiking going on. This could partly explain the choosing as VP of Marcos by Miriam. It’s just realpolitiks. BBM has the political and economic strength to be able to mount a Presidential campaign. It’s about money and alliances, not morality and ethics and all that stuff.

It’s dark, and it looks like rain. News of flooding in the North of the country from a superduper typhoon. It is so strong it merited an official nation-wide broadcast by the current President Aquino. The announcement is basic safety and national disaster prevention stuff. Some hard lessons learned showing here due to the Yolanda disaster. The announcement ended in a somewhat positive note, the President saying that the massive influx of water in so short a period of time could provide relief for the water shortage problem currently faced by farmers.

In Memory [rough draft] [~2000 words]


Other possible: IN MEMORIAM, IN MEMORY …


This guy. Call center agent. Works eight or more hours a day. Night shift. Keeps drinking coffee. Literature/Philosophy graduate. Contemplates asks self a lot: how did I end up here. Oh right, for the money. Need the money to live in this city. Need money for food supply, for living space, for clothes, for daily consumables, etc. He watches TV, or tries to watch, only watches the news. But these advertisements man, these intrusions into his consciousness, he does not welcome them. He hates them, but cannot turn the TV off yet, not right now.

He watches all these injustices on television. Notices the way the news reporters deliver the news. First they act all outraged, then they act all happy, then they act all outraged again. The whole range of human emotions seem to be presented, displayed five nights a week by these host and co-hosts, and the people watch. The people, the people. He starts to dream at night about this crime-fighting ninja. This vigilante who targets the corrupt politicians and all those sleazy celebrities, those old pedophiles never caught and are spending the rest of their lives respected and beloved. SOmething about the latter just does not sit well with him, and so he starts dreaming about the ninja.

The ninja wears all black and he sort of squats at the top, at the corner at the top of this tall building, looking down at the city. The ninja sees the traffic, the snarl of vehicles and pedestrians he hears as this miasma of noise emanating from below. So far from his memories of being a trainee ninja, up in the mountains oh so many years ago. Up at the building’s top, the ninja thinks and feels and breathes. He focuses his mind on the theme of love. What is the proper scope of love. Love emanates from the self, spreads outwards towards people immediate of one’s self. From there, it infects groups and societies, until love conquers the world. He sees the poor people, the poor children, the old and infirm and the abandoned, sees them all in his head, and he imagines them being loved and remembered. He stands up and jumps down, the cloth covering him head to foot fluttering from the wind as he falls head first.

Call CEnter guy wakes up, and it’s still morning. THere’s still light, I shouldn’t be awake at this hour. He makes himself instant coffee. He likes it bitter and warm. At the office, they fine you if you stop speaking English, the team leader eyes you like a hawk making sure you’re not wasting office hours doing whatever. The coffee breaks and bathroom breaks are monitored. At least, he thinks, this place is air-conditioned. At least my co-workers dress well, at least they all are college-educated and are into most of the same things as I am. They sometimes go out to drink and talk. There’s romance sometimes, but he keeps out of it, liking his solitary single non-complicated lifestyle.

He used to be an Internet addict. He is currently trying to limit his hours spent facing the computer screen. He is finding it hard to associate the computer screen with pleasure anymore since he started working, after having to spend hours upon countless hours facing it. A few months into his work, he started getting these episodes of severe headaches. Thankfully these only happened while he was at home, in front of his laptop. So there’ another reason for you. He started to associate it with memories of that time of severe headaches. Now, he starts and tries to read more books.

Real, actual physical book objects. Not ebooks, not webpages. He likes the reality of it, the physicality, the object-ness, the weight. Whereas years ago he fell asleep to the light of the monitor screen on his face, now it’s when the sentences and letters of the book no longer make any sense, then he slowly drifts off.

And the days pass, and the weeks pass.

And he has finally weaned himself away from any screen besides the ones used at work. No more Internet, no more laptop, no more television.

One day, during coffee break, this girl is crying. He asks why.

Didn’t you know?

The girl is pretty. The girl is religious. The girl believes in God. Frequent topic of their conversations are these retreats and conferences she goes into and all the important motivational stuff and spiritual stuff she learned. She tells him this. She tells them to everyone actually. But the girl is not that gregarious now, and telling him that Joey de Sotto has just been killed.

Where have you been, what have you been doing. It was all over the news.

Joey de Sotto has been a staple of the collective consciousness for the last three decades. Comedian, actor, producer. Beloved for his antics and for playing funny gay characters. He was brutally murdered beside his car the reporter on television said. So sad, the face of the reporter conveyed to the watching masses. A moment of silence for our fallen beloved ‘Tito,’ as he was fondly called. And let’s watch the CCTV security camera once again.

In the black and white but very clear video, an all-black wearing ninja suddenly appears attacks the bodyguards of Joey de Sotto. Kicks and punches and some Krav Maga moves. We can see clearly that he has some rattan sticks secured at his back, and he does not seem to be carrying any other weapon. The security guards move too slow for the ninja. Once all the guards have been subdued, the ninja opens the right back door and pulls out by his neck Joey de Sotto. De Sotto is wearing casual clothes – jeans, shoes, polo-shirt. Tucked on the left chest pocket of his polo-shirt is a sunglass. The ninja thn shoves him down so hard onto the pedestrian walk, we see his head bump and bounce a little on the pavement. Joey de Sotto is sprawled, facing up at the hot afternoon sun, as he loses consciousness. Then the ninja unfastens the rattan sticks and starts beating up Joey de Sotto. We can see clearly Joey de Sotto coming back into consciousness in the middle of this ordeal. He tries to block the blows with his arms and legs, he curls up and tries to roll on his side, but to no avail. More blows rain down. On his face, on his chest. On his groin. Then the ninja just focuses everything on de Sotto’s head. The deed done, the ninja drops the bloodied rattan rods and as quickly as he came, disappears.

The girl saw this last night, and tells it to him. He did not know this. Where have I been, what have I been doing.

On the news a couple of days later, another detail is revealed. After cleaning up the bloodied rattan sticks, the police investigation team found a message written on both: “In memory of Sarsi Petrova”

And then it all made sense somewhat.

The Joey de Sotto murder, one of his co-workers explained around other co-workers during lunch time in the lunch room, is basically revenge killing. During the mid-80s, the co-worker begins in his high-pitched self-important tone, Joey de Sotto, and two other celebrities was involved in this scandal with an underage sexy actress who had the screen name of Sarsi Petrova. She was raped by them, and when she tried to get justice for herself, she was out-maneuvered in the courts and there was some alleged harassment against her. A year after her rape, she killed herself. Knowing nods from some of the co-workers. This story has been floating aroud the collective consciousness for a time. Few people remember it now, but those who do, remember it well, though some details are hazy.

Sarsi Petrova. Barely eighteen when she hanged herself. Raised by a drug addict mother, the family was abandoned by the Caucasian father, who went fled back to his home country. Sarsi, scouted by an agent, birth certificate faked, groomed to be a sexy actress. Pale, petite, beautiful, long black hair. It was a different time, the co-worker continued, there were a lot of these movies and they were all cheaply-made but many people watched it. It was one of the few liberties allowed by the very strict government at the time. The producers and actors justified these films as art films and so have educational value for the people. There were several of these rising pretty young celebrities, Sarsi being one of them. Already at the time, Joey de Sotto was well-known and beloved and respected. The coverage of the rape trial was suppressed but of course things got out. Joey de Sotto and the two others who raped Sarsi, the Co-Worker continued, publicly admitted of their guilt and was spared the death penalty.

And she killed herself, and she was so young, and people grieved, but not so much, because there were other things they were busy about, and concerned about. And the years passed, and Joey de Sotto became even more beloved and more famous, and that episode with Sarsi was barely remembered anymore, until now. Until he got his head bashed to a pulp by a ninja.

The Call Center Guy was listening to all these, and he was one of several who nodded knowingly when the Co-worker started telling the story of Sarsi Petrova. He knew of the story back in college, during his internet and info-addiction years. He sought newspapers that were scanned online, he sought stories and found plenty, and found more comments saying these all happened years ago, and people have moved on, and Joey de Sotto is really a well-liked and well-loved and respected person. Who is this Sarsi Petrova anyway. She’s nothing, she’s a nobody, the Joey de Sotto supporters wrote and responded. He remembered seething and raging about it, and became an advocate for justice about it on the internet. But that was years ago, and he changed and he suppressed a lot of things during that time, because you can’t be angry forever, you can’t hold on to burning coal forever. But he still religiously avoids the television except for the news. Joey de Sotto endorses a lot of products and he tells you to buy this soap, or this shampoo or this liquid detergent for your dirty dishes, or this powdered detergent for your clothes. See Joey de Sotto dancing and wearing all-white, singing for you to buy this product. See him smiling and embracing housewives who have made the correct decision. It is difficult to avoid seeing his face, hearing his voice.

A hill is strewn with the cement rectangles of tombs. The ninja is sitting on top of one of these tombs, legs crossed arms crossed, back straight, staring far away. It is almost dusk, and the sun is orange-red and the clouds are pink, and the sky is violet. There is a cold wind blowing, and it chills him to his core. He likes it, he never liked the heat, he associates it with the city, and all its sounds and sights and textures. The air up here is clean and invigorating. He takes a deep breath, and focuses his mind on the theme of Contentment. Is Contentment the killing of passion and desires? Is this a desirable state? Being content of one’s lot in life, being content with how society is being run, seeing all the injustices and sadness in the world, is it alright to be Content? But it could be turned, it could be twisted, contentment can also mean resignation to one’s fate. One’s fate one determines for one’s self. The ninja stands up, adjusts the rattan rods strapped on his back, and starts jumping across the tops of the tombs, one after another. I resign myself to this fate. Two more to go.

You left us way too soon, you son of a bitch

It rains here every afternoon. Noontime, it’s hot. Feels like the whole world is in an oven, and we are bread and the bread is going to be all crust, no soft bits, because it’s too hot. There was a dead dog on the side of the street near our house. It was all bloated and it would have been comical if it weren’t so disgusting and sad. The body was on its side and all four legs of the poor canine were spread out, looked like a tipped-over figurine of a cow. Under the suffocating heat, that body must really be rank and rotting and just filled with juices and worms and maggots right now. In other words, it’s really hot.

Anyway, our dog died, one of our dogs, we have two dogs, he died two weeks ago. We only have fifty percent of two dogs now. I have been wanting to write some eulogy or something for our dead dog. He was a good dog, one of the best we ever had I think. He had a great personality, very friendly and he went into all sorts of shenanigans and adventures. He would all of a sudden just start running from point A to point B for no real reason. I would then goad him, encourage the little bastard to do it faster and faster, which he would do. Like he understands or something. Run, run, run, faster, I would yell, And he would run his little legs and lungs out of energy and breath. When he’s done with all the running, he would bound upon my person and put his front paws on my lap. I would ask him what it is he wants, and he would bark back, and I would not understand because he is not talking or anything, just barking, so I would ask again. And he would bark again, the conversation is convoluted, it is going nowhere, so in the end I would just give him something to eat.

Fighter, for it was his name, loved to eat. He ate bread, rice, fried fish, fried chicken, pork, anything really, He loved to sleep. He would sleep on his side, or on his back with his legs all curled. He sleeps in places where foot traffic in the house is high though and this has led to several incidents where he gets accidentally kicked and he would yelp and fight and he would recognize you and be all friendly again. You would not want to get on his bad side, but luckily that aspect of his doggie personality seldom manifests itself. Fighter is friendly to other dogs not just towards humans. He likes sniffing the butts of other dogs, bigger dogs than he, for Fighter was a small doggie. He was well-muscled though, and he had a dignified working-class air about him. He works for his living. He is a guard dog.

At night, he would mostly lie down on the steps of the porch or veranda. If he hears anything weird, he would investigate and start barking. Usually this happens at the early hours of the morning, say one or two, when it’s really dark and cold outside. I would be jolted back into consciousness and curse the heavens and earth and hell, for this hellish noisy creature that has disrupted me from my slumber. But the barking subsides, I fall back to non-consciousness, and during the morning, I would open the door and there he would be all happy and tail a-wagging and he would bound upon my person, stand up, place his paws on my lap and start talking to me about all the things that happened last night.

How I Knew It Was Raining [spoken word by Cornelius Julius]

I put a bullet in my head last night. I placed it in my mouth. Thought pleasant things. Spat it out, prayed, and slept. I woke up at two in the morning. My head was throbbing, the world was spinning. I tried to get up, ended up face first on the floor after my arm slipped on the tile. On the floor, face-up, I saw the water slowly dripping from a tiny hole in the ceiling. That’s how I knew it was raining.

[music and voice by Cornelius Julius]
[words by radioactivelizard] [my reddit account. stalk me here.]

It Wasn’t A Mosquito

Horror is realizing a split-second after having just killed a mosquito between your palms that it wasn’t a mosquito. It could have been anything, but not a mosquito. Now your palms are together, sticky with insect guts and you’re too afraid to open them. You go on with your life with your palms stuck together like this. People look at you like you’re crazy, but you don’t care. Between the two fears, that of people thinking you have become unhinged, and that of finding out what it was that you actually killed, the latter weighs far greater on your mind. Your friend sits you down, and asks, ‘Please Mike, just tell us, what is the matter?’ But you just stare back, eyes on fire though ringed with dark lines because of sleep deprivation, ‘You wouldn’t understand it dude, it’s just, just leave it be, man.’ And then you bring up other matters, talk of different things. Your friend sighs, shrugs, gets up and leaves you be.

You have become a hermit, you live deep in the woods. You have learned to live using only your feet for your daily tasks. Meanwhile, your hands and arms have atrophied. They have become stick-thin, and the veins have bulged out so that they look like the exposed roots of large trees. Your nails have become so long. You have long cast off normal life in society, now preferring the company of small rodents and fowls. But it does not matter. You are content in this world you have made for yourself. At night you sleep peacefully.

Decades pass and one day, mountaineers find you petrified corpse seated in the lotus position, palms clasped together in the hollow of this tree. They think you are some sort of holy person who died meditating, like those Jains in India. Your grave becomes a shrine visited by New Age folks and some Tibetan Buddhism practitioners. One comments that your hands actually are in the position known as Añjali Mudrā, and is in the exact location above the heart chakra. Those visiting agree with this, and because your body is still unidentified, they just call you the Anjali Mudra Saint. One day a family visits your grave. The mother places the small child on the ground and gives her a garland made of tiny delicate orange flowers. The mother, with the child, walks up in front of you. The mother tells your corpse that she called on your visage while her child, this very child in front of you, was gravely ill. Through your interdiction, the woman continues, that child has slowly recovered and is now happy and strong. The child looks up at her mother. The mother looks at the child and nods. The child walks up to your corpse, and around your neck, gently places the garland.

Oven of God’s Creation

It is cold, and when it’s cold, the world makes sense. When it’s hot, like tropical weather/climate, the world is still being made, like it’s still in the oven of God’s creation. That’s why things move quickly in tropical settings. That’s why life here is not as important. I guess people in cold places are more ‘preserved’ metaphysically speaking. They have their individuality. While in the death-rich tropics, the species, the race is far more significant than the individual. Here in the tropics, there’s death, there’s individual death to be exact. It is expected of course for an individual to die, but in the tropics it is also expected that the person die young. And then there are the racial/species death, but that’s less common than the first kind of death. Dying is not such a big deal here. Life is not such a big deal here. When you die, there are others that will take your place in the scheme of things. You are a cog in the machine. There is nothing unique and special about you. Up there, and down there, in the polar regions of the world, that must not be the case. I haven’t been there, can’t be certain though. But I’ve lived all my life here in the tropics. It rains, it is hot, it is humid, and there are lots of insects – mosquitoes, flies, cicadas, fireflies, cockroaches, wasps, winged ants, non-winged ants, termites. There are centipedes, millipedes, snails, earthworms, slugs. At night before you sleep you make sure you set up your netting, otherwise all sorts of insects could enter your mouth or your nose or some other parts of you. The mosquitoes are especially pervasive. These are huge mosquitoes, about two inches from front to end. You can hear them buzzing, they fly around in a dense cloud during the late afternoons, during the twilight hours. They are merciless, they bite everything. You can’t sleep without the netting. Preferably, the netting should be made of silk and is very fine.

There are places here that still do not have electricity. Or rather the electricity is used to power the machines – the processing machines, the separating machines, the cutting and dicing machines of the factories. The centers of energy are the factories. Along the road leading to the factory are shanties. This is where the workers live. They make do with candles and kerosene lamps. The kerosene lamps smell when they burn. The town is infused with this smell. It sticks in the lungs and the throats and the mouths and lips of the sleeping children. Beyond, behind the houses are the tree line, and beyond that the forest. Lush growth, thick canopy of leaves and vines and parasitic plants. The forest is not a silent place, daytime or nighttime. You hear the cawing and hooting of birds, the high-pitched chirping of crickets, the buzzing of cicadas and other insects. It is always wet. The damp soil is covered in a deep layer of decaying leaves and other dead or dying organic matter. The air smells faintly metallic, like that of a freshly-honed iron machete.


We celebrate the feast day of Saint Isidore with a beauty pageant of bikini-clad teenage girls. People of all ages in the town are all gathered in the multi-purpose hall to witness this event. Local politicians are present to make their speeches and they are thanking this person and that person, and all the people gathered here, and of course the young people whose bodies we are about to ogle here in this feast day of Saint Isidore, May 15th. It is not an easy thing to do, the Vice-Mayor said. It takes a lot of guts and courage, so we should not heckle and say negative things about our brave and courageous and beautiful candidates. The Vice-Mayor is the daughter of the current Mayor of the Municipality of which this town is a constituent. The Vice-Mayor’s hair is a tribute to the 80s. It looked like it was sculpted first and then lowered with a crane on to the top of her head. She is about middle-aged and she is wearing this black lacy top, and jeans.

The night is warm this summer, people are gathered tightly-packed in front of the tiny stage in the open-air multi-purpose hall. It is mostly young people here. There are stalls selling popcorn at five pesos per small pack, fruit shakes at either five or ten pesos per plastic cup, size-dependent. I bought two five-peso cup mango shakes. I gave one to my brother. He is glowing red, practically incandescent in the badly-lit multi-purpose hall. We have just been to an uncle’s house where we ate a meal of pig’s blood, rice, and pork vegetable soup. Also there was beer. I counted one and a half cups my brother imbibed. Me, I lost count, but it was probably like seventy-five percent of a liter of beer. I have remarkably high alcohol tolerance. It takes a lot for me to be drunk, and I don’t stay drunk easily. While taking in the atmosphere of the festivities, a though appeared in my head, a question: Why is it that the drunker I am, the more I have the urge to write something?

Which was an unfortunate thing. I did not bring any writing implement, and besides there was no place where I could write. Overall it was typical drunk logic, which is to say it was illogical. But it felt good to think thus. Thank God for alcohol, one of the cool things in this world. Drink moderately.

Then up on the stage, while I was thinking thus, this girl’s turn to do her bikini walk. A cousin sidled up to me, and said, she’s a cousin of ours. Oh, I said, and strained my eyes. I seemed to have developed a bad case of drunk blindness, which is when you are so drunk your vision gets all fuzzy. Blind drunk, I thought, so this is where that phrase came from. I tried but failed to focus my sight. I ain’t no prude, but this whole event is much too icky for my taste. Maybe it’s the presence of older people. I mean, like, if it’s a youthful affair, no oldies allowed, then maybe it would be interesting. As it is, you have these old folks, semi-drunk to blind drunk, ogling as Rizal wrote ‘the hope of our fatherland,’ which is a very Eurocentric thing to say. Russia always though of their country as ‘Mother Russia,’ while Germany’s mindset I guess is more patriarchal. Anyway, I bought more popcorn, gave one to my brother who is wearing this black shirt with the words up front printed silver saying ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’ It’s a reference to the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. Fly Me to the Moon was originally sung by Frank Sinatra. Fly Me to the Moon was covered by the voice actress for the character of Rei Ayanami and it is the ending song of each of the episodes of the anime. I’d rather be back in my room watching my anime and shows and whatever, than be here.

On the way back to the house, riding at the back of another cousin’s motorcycle, I gazed at the darkness of the sky. The air was cold as it whooshed past us. Three of us in the motorcycle – cousin driving, my brother, then me. This is a primarily agricultural place, and there’s a vast space for all the projects of this agricultural college, which is the nearest center of higher learning in this municipality. Starry night, you can see much because the politicians and people here seem not to believe in street lamps. The cold wind contributed to my being back in a more sober state, and I thought about our dogs, and our rooster, which we haven’t fed yet, et cetera.

I dreamt of this girl

I dreamt of this girl I was seeing back in college. She was with this gay friend and they boarded up this jeepney I was in. But the jeepney only had one seat left. So the gay friend sat at the spot in front of me, while the girl sat on my knees. She has lost weight, and generally just improved her looks. I had my arms around her waist, then she started talking to me about how she felt when we stopped seeing each other all those years ago. Hearing her talk, my heart felt unburdened. Her voice, all the feelings, it was a cathartic/therapeutic experience. This was something we should have done before, I thought. Just laid it all out in the open, all those feelings, instead of just breaking contact because most things were awkward between us. I tried to tell her something but I could not remember what it was.


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