Post-election days 2016

Post-election days were a bit of a letdown. The verbal pyrotechnics of the New President were just that exactly. Lots of barks, some bite. The bites were a bit interesting though. Lots of news now of drug pushers surrendering themselves to the authorities for fear of being actually shot by citizens. Or is it because they’re actually pro-Duterte? How does that even happen. Maybe these are not your ordinary criminals, maybe they are just citizens albeit rowdy scrappy ones who are sick and tired of the hacendado class of which Noynoy Aquino and his chosen one Mar Roxas are prime examples.

Local government officials seem to be caught up in this spirit of ‘cleaning up’ of criminal elements, albeit the ‘lowly’ types. You see these suspects, because they are still actually to be tried in a court of law, being humiliated by having to parade in the town center in full view of people. Placards and signs they carry highlight their transgressions. There was that one guy who was caught shoplifting, and as part of his punishment, he was made by the mayor to walk in the middle of the market and loudly proclaim that he is a thief.

What is most exciting in my opinion is the possibility of a saner government response to the decades-long Communist rebellion. Duterte is rational, even warm towards leftist figures. He just appointed several as heads of crucial government agencies. The question now, if an agreement does happen between the leftist authorities and the government, is whether the rank and file cadres will follow through with it. The top and the bottom of the hierarchy could have different opinions. Worst case scenario is that a splinter group, or splinter groups, would emerge.

The bourgeois character of the Presidency does still emerge. For all his warmness towards the Left, Duterte is very much friendly towards the Marcos Clan. Which isn’t really surprising considering both belong to the same economic and political group. These families move within the same circles, they interact, they know each other.

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I woke up to pain

I woke up to pain. My right pointing finger was slightly swollen and red. There looked like a bite or scratch mark of some sort. I puzzled over this for a bit, but could not recall what exactly happened. So I got out of bed and went on with my day.

I returned home from the market. I slowly put the things I bought to their proper places. The cat was being annoying, blocking my path while walking. So I grabbed that little adorable monster bastard by the scruff of his neck and placed him outside the kitchen door. After having completed these tasks, I stood frozen in the hallway on the way to my room. I could not remember whether I have fed the dog or not. This really bothered me, and so for several minutes I just stood there.

Then one detail I dredged up from my rusting memory chamber clarified things. I remember looking at the dog’s water bowl and it was bright. Meaning, it was morning when I fed the dog, meaning that I indeed have fed the dog that morning. So I unfroze and continued to my room to rest for a bit. I haven’t had a decent amount of sleep last night, and so this must be the reason why I’m functioning more sub-optimal than usual.

While lying down, and looking at things on the internet. I remembered what happened with my finger. Last night while I was sleeping, I woke into half-consciousness because I was uncomfortable. It turned out I slept on my right hand and I couldn’t feel it, it was numb. So in a somewhat panicky state, my half-asleep brain decided that the right thing to do is to bite onto that hand to kill the numbness.

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The Twins Have Gone Away

He sits and tries to remember. Twenty years ago their names were carved onto one of the perimeter walls of the school. They were special, the first ever class in that school. Now, sitting there, in a cafe across the street where the school is, he could barely make out the names. Cracks spread like roots, the tendrils merging with the letters. He wonders where they are now, the owners of these names.

The store he frequents since coming back in his hometown, a pair of female twins about his age minding it. They look so familiar. He has suspicions, that these were the twins he knew all those years ago. Their names are still there on the wall with his. But he had been gone for so long, these people are basically strangers now. One day, he no longer sees them in the store. The new shopkeeper is mean-looking and appears to be incapable of smiling.

It would be so awkward. What would they talk about anyway. Hey, do you remember this or that? But they were only six years old then, twenty or so years ago. Why this desire to re-establish a connection that was barely even there before?

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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.

. . .


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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.

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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?

– – –

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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.

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