fiction | nonfiction

Memories of the Broken-Hearted Girl 1

Memories of the Broken-Hearted Girl 1

In the darkness of my room, I think about the girl. The girl died of a broken heart, literally. She was born with a heart defect. We were classmates in our third year of high school. Why do I think of her? Is it the boredom?

I’ve been feeling disconnected with the world recently. People I’ve known most of my life don’t seem to be what they are anymore. You think you know a person, but not really. Maybe I’m just seeing something I haven’t seen before, something that’s always been there, a hidden aspect. And all those feelings and perceptions built on that false understanding comes tumbling down.

The girl liked to read and write. We were in the high school paper together. She wrote Feature. I wrote News, Editorial and Sports. We were sent to journalism contests against other high schools in the city, and then the province. We never really reached the national level. I was labeled as the most silent in our class. But this girl, she was more silent than me. Short hair, pale, petite. I will always picture her in her high school uniform forever.

I wanted to say to her, look how similar we are. We both love to read. We both love to write. We both are recognized in this high school for our writing skills. The ability to string words together, to line up sentences into paragraphs, to write a story. But all these were just in my head. I was shy and silent, as shy and silent as she was. Most of what passed for conversation between us were two or three-sentence exchanges. Glances, wordless gestures. It’s as if all of the words we could have exchanged we poured into the pages.

Well, I did not finish high school. I dropped out, and wandered the world for a bit, ‘walking the earth’ in Eastern Martial Arts parlance. I trudged valleys and mountains and meditated under the shade of giant trees. When I came out of that episode of my life, I found myself enrolled in another high school to repeat the final year, and all of my previous classmates have gone on to college.

Year pass, the internet is invented, then websites, then social networking websites. I was then in college, I remember I was in the lobby of the dormitory, taking advantage of the lightning-fast internet connection of the University. It was the weekend and I had no classes. Following my habit, I spent the day watching funny videos of animals, mostly cats. Out of the blue, I remembered the girl.

. . .


Blank Sheet of Paper

Some writer once said that writing is easy: all it is is staring at a blank sheet of paper and waiting for drops of blood to form on your forehead. Writing has never come easy for me. At least the true heartborn writing I long for. This is the nth time I am writing something like this. What do I call this, this writing about being unable to write. This navel-gazing. At least it puts the black on the white page. It’s easier if you use a large and bold font. One sentence at a time, as Stephen King, wrote. I should maybe begin by talking about what’s bothering me now, what has been holding my attention these past few months and weeks.

It’s politics. As usual. The National Elections is only now just a week away. There’s this quote about how the most antagonistic folks are those who once truly believed. Well I found myself in this position with regards to this one candidate. He just seemed different at that time. But now a lot of information are coming out. And they ain’t good. It basically paints him as the same, if not worse than the other candidates he is in competition with for the Throne of the Land. Houses and properties and millions, most undeclared. Gifts and favors from powerful friends. All that boring commonplace traditional politico behavior.

But what really turned me off, what made me jump off the bandwagon earlier than most is the inability of this candidate to communicate straight. He always has to act all tough on this and that, always talking about enemies and evil people. The man cannot express himself well. That’s all that I really wanted – to hear from him all those things that I had mostly agreed with. He failed miserably in that regard. And so I said yep that’s it, this guy is not someone that I should support.

Why am I doing this political analyzing anyway when I don’t even vote? I haven’t ever voted in my life. I did not register and have my data collected and whatnot. My early experience of authority and the dynamics of politicking at the school level totally soured me to the system. It’s just so contrived and manipulative. Is not having ever voted a matter of pride for me? Probably. See me pure and white as the lotus flower.

This is what I consider shit writing. What I really wanted to write was fiction. I had this idea earlier of a boy growing up in a household of metalhead parents. He develops a quirk where he starts headbanging once he hears a metal song. Only stops this curious behavior once the song is over. At the beginning, his badass parents are all about it. They encouraged it, was really glad that their son is growing up right in the proper metalhead manner. But then it becomes a condition. The family is walking someplace and whenever a familiar song plays he cannot stop banging his head. Even when they are past beyond hearing range of the song, it doesn’t matter. He has heard so many of these songs that it just plays on in his head. It got to the point that there doesn’t even have to be a trigger. He just starts headbanging and won’t stop for three or four minutes. Or longer if it’s certain songs from Rainbow, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin playing in his head. That’s the basic crisis so far. I’m thinking something happens to the parents’ belief in heavy metal. Maybe they’d try listening to softer music like synth-pop or shoegaze or something.



The saddest most beautiful girl in the world killed herself last night. She finally did it, the idiot. And now the joke turns out to be real.

“You should say something funny at my funeral,” she said.

“What makes you so certain you’ll die before I do?” I countered.

Sly eyes, a smile from her.

And now my mind is a blank.

What do you want me to say?

What do you want me to say?

– – –

We Confront the Politicians

We Confront the Politicians

On the television screen, a thin rugged-looking young man, an AK-47 slung on one shoulder, drags a fat half-naked older man to the chair in the center of the room. Behind the now-seated man, on the wall, is a huge flag – a black hammer and sickle crossed with each other against a background of red. The camera focuses on the face of the politician, and he speaks. He tells us the reason for the singing practice is that the people have to be entertained. The people love it when you sing to them. It soothes their soul. This has been proven before, decades, almost a century ago even, during pre-election season. Apo Marcos and the First Lady Imelda had their duet sessions, up in that stage, brightly-lit, giant speakers by the sides of the stage and all over the venue, so everyone could hear. They looked so sweet, singing the alternating verses. And the crowd loved it. As you see, the captured politician continues, it was a necessary expense for the people. He tells us he hired some of those singing contest judges on TV to train him and his fellow politician friends. Music studios were built, using public money, just so they have some space to practice their singing. They bought pianos, violins, those giant violin-like things, guitars (electric and acoustic), drum sets, custom-made microphones imported from the United States and Japan. The room is of course acoustically-engineered, built so everything sounds clear and warm.

A microphone is set-up in front of the sitting chained politician. His hands are bound at the back, so the height and distance of it from his mouth had to be adjusted by somebody else. The camera zooms in on the scared fat face of the politician. From the side of the screen, the tip of an AK-47 pokes out and nudges his cheek a couple of times, prodding him, goading him. “Go on, sing for us,” a voice says off-camera, “let’s see the people’s taxes at work.” The music starts. It’s a familiar song, a classic, everyone in the country knows it.

“And now, the end is near …” The voice is tear-soaked and quavery. The sound is full-bodied and warm. It sounds very authentic. You can feel it in your gut. It seems the lyrics have really been internalized by the singer. What the politician must have been thinking is the path that he has trudged in order to get to the top, where he was, just a few months ago. He remembers all the difficulties he had to face, all the rivals and enemies, all the critics, the journalists and activists mostly, with their rallies and their hurtful words which really hurt his feelings. He really did it his way though. It was through his own means that these obstacles of his will, of his becoming, have been defeated. The voice comes not just from his mouth, but from his heart as well.

The politician thinks of his family – his sons and daughters from his marriage, and even the ones from his numerous liaisons with different women throughout the years. He’s thinking about them, of cradling each of them in the crook of his arm, of bringing each and every single one of them in front of the altar to be baptized, to be accepted into the Catholic fold. Singing, he remembers. And this comes through, and the people he thinks, notices this, and they love him. It’s about family, it’s about tradition, it’s about morality, it’s about the children and the future.

-bang. the young man shoots him in the head.

He met the girl in a bar. Or rather, she was brought to him in a private lounge in a bar. She was young and pretty, hair short and shiny. She smelled so nice. She wore a figure-hugging red dress, as well as too much make-up. That first night, after an intense bout of sexual acrobatics (mostly performed by her), he thought there was something different about her. While cleaning herself up in the shower, she would hum this tune, which he later repeated to his bodyguards and assistants. Finally one told him that it’s from an old Cebuano love song called ‘Matud Nila.’ It’s about this man who laments about how other people say he does not deserve the girl he’s pining for. He was smitten with her and brought her gifts and a house and a car, and gave her money so she could go on vacations. When he found out she likes to sing, he brought her to his private studio and had her sing her heart out. With a little training, her singing improved, and she started moonlighting as a singer in the bar.

One day, she called him and said a surprise was waiting for him. She chose a room in a classy hotel for them to meet in. What new surprise could she have for him, he though. He had his men wait in the lobby of the floor. It was a big hotel, and on each floor there was a lobby. Smiling, he opened the unlocked room and was immediately set-upon by a group of men. He was so surprised and shocked, he could not even scream. When he woke up, he was facing the bright lights and camera. “Where is she, what have you done to her?” First words he uttered to the blinding light. As his vision resolved, he saw her. She was wearing a green cap with a red five-pointed star in the middle. Her face looked so different, so serious. If it wasn’t for the red dress she was wearing, he would not have recognized her. She was humming a tune from ‘Matud Nila.’ She hummed it while she started slapping him. Her humming grew louder as she started punching his stomach. She was finally singing the song when he fell over and she started kicking him.

-The months following his capture was a blur. No one, none of the pundits and analysts on the newspapers, television and radio could figure out how the communists managed to overthrow the government. One said, it seemed the government was sidetracked or something. It was too busy about the upcoming elections and the re-alignment of alliances and loyalties that it did not notice the communists were actually winning. The politician was just one of the dozens of key government officials that were captured by the insurgents.

These commentators were finally silenced as the Committee on Communications took over the airwaves.

Desperate Country In Need of Dragons

Desperate Country In Need of Dragons

Dragons are our only option left. With their help we can finally put a stop to what the politicians have been doing to our country. Surely the dragons must understand, surely they will hear us. We might even offer our virgins, or maybe a few chickens. The point is, things are so desperate now that we have to resort to this sort of thing. What happened to our social justice defenders, what about those who passed the Civil Service Exams? How can they help us? The oligarchs and the multi-millionaires and billionaires and politicians are all colluding with each other to keep the ordinary people down. They sick their vicious hounds upon our persons and this ain’t good. The ordinary people must not be sacrificed. They are far too many, but they are precious each and every single one of them. The ordinary people includes passers of government service exams and other exams too (lawyer exams, nursing exams, engineering exams, etc.). Again, they are too precious. Thus, dragons are our only option left.

Where do we find dragons? Some say they are in a land over the Eastern Ocean, but we all know no one has ever crossed the Eastern Ocean and returned. We all know that the Eastern Ocean is just filled with giant sharks and octopuses, giant crabs and all sorts of giant things that would just eat people. But the 2016 elections are coming, and the possible outcomes are bleak. Right now, the last day of 2015, the opinion survey companies announced that Candidate Binay is topping the polls. People, the frightened lot that they are, have only half their wits left, thus leading to this sad situation. Otherwise they would not have supported Binay. Candidate Duterte, the darling of the justice-hungry and some of the Left and the Middle Class, and also Mindanao, is spouting all these crazy stuff. Like public hangings and killings without trial of criminal elements. He’s just not that polite-society-friendly. Of course it’s his effectiveness we’re looking for, but it’s neck-hair-raising to hear him say certain things sometimes. Then there’s Candidate Miriam. The biggest blotch in her campaign is BingBong Marcos Jr. BingBong Marcos Jr. is the son of the last Imperial Dictator BingBong Marcos Sr. Many people do not have such fond memories of the last Imperial Dictator who had a lot of people killed and tortured and did all sorts of sick and evil disgusting stuff. They worry that BingBong Marcos Jr. would become another Evil Galactic Imperial Dictator if their P-VP (Pres – Vice-President) tandem would win. This is because Miriam has just recovered from a bout of cancer, and is generally just old and thus prone to sickness and probably even death, god forbid. Roxas seems to be the safest choice right now, but the people are all giving him puzzling looks, then they shake their heads and sigh, stare off at the distance, over the mountains and horizons and think maybe they’d vote for him alright, just you know, to see what would happen. That’s the Presidential and Vice-Presidential political dramatics currently, but essentially Philippine society is still stuck in the mire of traditional politics where powerful families rule entrenched and unopposed in the respective regions.

We really need those dragons.

Marianette Amper is her name, abandoned as an infant, she grew up in an orphanage, scourge of the nuns. But they’re fond of her really, it’s just that she can get really pushy sometimes. Organizing the children so they could copy each other’s exams and homeworks. Running so fast Sister Luzviminda, most agile among the Brides of Christ, could never hope to catch her. And if they ever do and manage to administer some corporal punishment, our dear Marianette just laughs at all of their angry faces like she’s being tickled or something. That was her five years ago, and puberty sure have shaved off some of her harder edges thank you Jesus, so that one day, she just decided to stop going to her classes in midwifery school and volunteered to cross the Eastern Ocean.

“That’s crazy,” all the nuns and all her orphanage-siblings told her. “But I’m doing it all for you guys,” she said. “Especially for you, Sister Luzviminda,” she continued. Sister Luz just glared at her.

Well, there she was, in the middle of the Eastern Ocean, contemplating those words she said several weeks ago. There is no wind and though the food’s running low, she had the presence of mind and preliminary research to stock a lot of water. Has she regretted her decision? Right now, the answer does not concern her really, or so she claims. For the last several days she’s had this brutal headache brought on by the heat she thinks. The sun is so bright, I am so hungry, where the fuck am I going, what am I doing. Please Lord Jesus, I don’t want to die a virgin.

Sigbin Story

I think that in the end, we are all just decaying organic matter, and nobody loves us, and we would all die alone, and sad and miserable, and what the hell is that you’re eating.

They’re grubs.


These are the larval stage of this beetle that eats coconuts. Munch, munch. They’re rich in protein and vitamins and all sorts of healthy chemicals. Eat?

No, Jesus.

The conversation ends and we don’t know who these people are, or what their deal is in life, or whatever. This narrative ends here, unless you have anything else to add. Yes?

Uhm, sir, I think that since we’re already here, we might as well do something, you know.

Like what?

Share stories, like interesting ones, to keep the reader’s attention.

Yes, you at the back.

I have a story, sir.

Let’s hear it then, young man.

This all started when I heard rumors that my uncle was keeping a sigbin as a pet. To those who don’t know, a sigbin is this magical creature. It’s sort of a unicorn, but uglier. Like, it’s not a horse, it’s … nobody really knows what it looks like since no one has actually captured one and sent it to a zoo or a museum. Well, it was my mother was talking about it, and it was in a half-joking way, and I picked up the conversation and finally I just had to go to the province and ask my uncle about it.

The province, my mom’s hometown in the province, there are some people there who are known as healers. Their method is a combination of massage, dried plants, mysterious oils, and sometimes even incantations or prayers. Maybe they call on the Lord, or some minor local spirits or something. Well, anyway, one of the more famous and well-known of these healers, since his method was supposedly more hit than miss, was a drinking buddy of my uncle. How they knew of each other was because of my cousin’s condition. My uncle’s daughter has had asthma all her life. And it’s the intense kind of asthma too. She has a nebulizer and stuff, but like that Russian prince with hemophilia, was only able to be cured by some magical guy with healing powers.

Well, my uncle got really close to his healer, who was already old by then, but still liked to imbibe of alcoholic drinks. When this old guy died, rumors started in town that my uncle is now the owner of the old man’s sigbin. Apparently, the sigbin has been the property of the old healer for decades. No one knows where or how he got it. Relatives of the old healer decline to comment when asked about the origins of the sigbin. How the sigbin was transferred to my uncle’s ownership was this: the old man simply gave him the sigbin stones. This is the sigbin in its dormant form. It’s kinda like a pokemon situation. The stones are the pokeball. And it’s not just one stone, it’s several. Maybe if one stone goes missing, the sigbin can no longer be summoned, I don’t know. The old healer taught my uncle the words to summon the sigbin. And then after that, maybe a few months, maybe a few years, the old healer died.

Well, I never really got to talk about the sigbin with my uncle. I lost interest in the whole thing once I arrived there. There was a birthday party when I got to their house, and we ate and drank and sang on their brand-new karaoke microphone machine. It was my younger girl cousin’s birthday, I said happy birthday to her, visited my other aunts and uncles in the hometown afterwards. Then on the way back home, in the bus, I decided to stop by this sort of famous beach with white sand. It was cold and raining when I got there, which was perfect, as I hate the sun. And I was just there, all alone, on the shore, looking at the sea. It was heartachingly beautiful. And that’s the end of my story.

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.


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