Showing posts with label philippines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label philippines. Show all posts

Monday, January 2, 2017

Spotlights


Underweight, emaciated, and flimsy, you had met the big, wild world like a glaring spotlight in the dead of the night when the tempest was at its strongest, you the young, poor deer, scared you had nowhere to run. Of course, you didn't have a pint of a memory of that. Of course, it was your mama and papa who did, who had felt joy when you had finally broken loose from an aching, soaked-in-wet womb; but the joy was undeservedly fleeting and replaced immediately with worry after worry. Reality bit them hard when they saw through your bones how fragile you were, a most delicate white porcelain that breathed off precious life.

It was a painstakingly agonizing moment that would last as long you live. They both had realized that. You're the eighth child in the already-big family -- five girls, three boys. Your papa would often lose count of his young children whose age was indistinguishable. By the looks of their faces, built, and height, the first four seemed to be born in the same year, quadruplets if you will.

Being the youngest child and son, you were supposed to have had perks being one, to be given special treatment just as any old mother would. But such wasn't the case in yours.  Old mama and old papa, at forty-eight and fifty-one, were either too busy to scavenge for food to be brought to the non-existent table, or to care for everybody's baths in absentia for a couple of days or long weeks. All they had in mind was to survive, for all of them to be alive and be intact and in one piece before everybody dozed off, even though their guts were burning.

Nevertheless, you would never know that, nor understand the heaps of struggles mounting on the every day inside your shanty of anything-goes and what-have-yous. All you ever cared for was sucking milk out of your mama's sickly, close-to-arid breasts until they bled. Your mama's bosom was profusely hurting, you should know that.

The time came when you could muster baby steps as gentle as that of a dying battery-powered walking toy. Old mama and old papa couldn't believe you're strong enough to stand and walk wherever, paths emblazoned only by a child-king. Indeed, you were a miracle baby, and they thanked dear God for that, crying and kneeling before child Jesus inside centuries-old Santo NiƱo church.

Then your family relocated to the fringes of downtown Cebu, living inside an abandoned building, which I thought was better and sturdy enough to weather the passing storm, standing on the shores facing Bohol sea.

That was three years ago when you were at the onset of your walking.

Precisely a month ago, I saw you. Surprising, it was not. You were playing with, I presume, your friends in the neighborhood. I had never seen nor met them before as long as I could remember. New kids on the block, I guess.

As I went in closer, I had noticed the afternoon light cast a shadow behind your new abode, the empty windows serving as spotlights beaming lights onto the ground. Interestingly, you and your friends stood under those circular lights, happy and playing some characters, as if some mighty actors on stage.

What a sight it was to me. I suddenly felt hopeful, glad you had found those rays of light adults would deem of as pieces of hope in this big, wild world. But I was sad at the same time. The world knows why.

I stopped and was silently watching how you kids delighted in the gleeful afternoon.

You had said hi as soon as you noticed me. I saw how you have grown all these years, those bones were fragile no more.

You waved me goodbye like an old friend as I left, smiling without you knowing my name.

Image: Cebu City, Philippines

Monday, October 3, 2016

Intramuros: The Walled City of Manila


His majesty on a high horse had built a fortress made of stones meeting water carpeted with a thousand water lilies and land paved with cobblestones and dust and soot.

So vast a city it was within. Intramuros, it was aptly called -- great and gold and literate and manned by the powers that be, Hispanic and ruling and alien.

The city safeguarded the high society of the altar, of silk, and of the written word.

Universities. Convents. Churches. Government seats. 

The citadel was the center of the inseparable state and church, kissing each other while lording over the poor Filipinos -- now Christened brown-skinned people, erstwhile Muslims. Slaves and second-class citizens of Las Islas Filipinas they were reckoned.

War after war, Intramuros had slowly lost its power, its luster became a wistful memory, and was finally reduced to rubble during the costly Battle of Manila.

The colonizers sailed back to their own land.

Their prized possession, the Pearl of the Orient Seas, was back to the hands of a people that had been aspiring for liberty never they had thought of as fruitless.

Freemen, they had become, brave and audacious Filipinos.


Images:
Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
  Bureau of the Treasury
  Fort San Pedro
  Gusaling Don Pepe Atienza (PLM Graduate School Building)
  Muralla
  Real Street
  Baluarte de San Diego Gardens
  Casa Manila Museum

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Carabao Man


Merde! An excrement, says my dictionary! A carabao dung, in slow, painful-to-watch installation, is falling into the murky stream irrigating the rice fields of Malipayon -- my dusty hometown being taken ill by a hundred sleeping pills -- and descending into a steep, yet-unnamed, two-tiered waterfall.

I want to stop my exhausted beast, and not excuse her, from the disgusting deed, but it's all too late -- her last drop has just wrapped fast her nature-call up. If she had to deposit her stinky processed food, I would have wanted her to feed it to any green, to contribute to the wealth of grey clay. I am flaming, for I can't take any shit be submerged in any water or pool, but I can allow piss and sweat any day. I feel, by doing this, is me giving people taking a weekend bath under the noisy waterfall a mile from here a favor. Poo-poo is a no-no, sorry -- the bias I got when my feet were buried to cold, more nuanced slime many times before.

I sit every midday, immediately after a paltry meal of rice and dried fish, on my favorite bench, so alive, rough, and fat -- the overhanging branch of old acacia, as if bridging two banks, sowed by the first-known farmer in town, says the tale of yore. My back rests on the trunk, legs pointing to the running water below, hands gripping twigs.

On the bank facing the foot of the mysterious, secret-whispers-laden mountain, the tree bore witness to the time when the Spaniards first raided the town and trampled on the naive, bolo-and-sundang-wielding locals. It must have been surely a most nightmarish waking-up at 6 in the morning, when the shrill human cries drowned out the early rooster calls. The day was neither like any other day, nor a day that would fulfill its promise of a brand new day.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Image: Matalom, Leyte, Philippines

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Limits


A weakling, you were. A disaster in all its nakedness nobody wouldn't even want to see, nor get involved with. Failures were in the offing the moment you opened your mouth, and when you did what your mama had told you to.

Cracked a voice. Stumbled down on even your first walk.

It's a crippling truth, making you a big joke running around your circle.

It hurt you like the sharpest knife stabbed in your heart, in your back, and in your soul.

You couldn't even leave home to welcome the new sunshine, which was never one to you each day. All was dark within the four walls of asphyxia.

But you took everything that was being said, the ugliest most especially, to heart like a true valiant warrior, and made a vow only time would tell.

I will make it, you had told that to yourself.

You had grown seeds, a master plan, for a new beginning, swelling muscles, stretching tender joints, almost breaking bones, reaching limits -- your potential ready for the taking.

And now here you are, a virtuosic master, fluid and compelling, on your own big stage.

Be proud of yourself, as proud as the loudest applause the four walls of the theater could contain.


Images: Cebu City Sports Complex, Philippines

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bleeding Sunset in Mactan Island


The dull horizon of a spotless canvas – a garden for the pensive mind staring out at nothingness – exploded into a spectrum of raging fire, quite unexpectedly a visual treat at sundown, one fine Christmas day with family, merry and loud and full, in Cordova. It is a small town on an island ruled by the valiant Lapu-Lapu and where Ferdinand Magellan – the Portuguese explorer that set sail from Seville, Spain in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe – met his untimely death.

The sky that day bled a hopeful message that everything else was taken care of, that the blessing wasn't too far not to see.


Images: Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant, Cordova, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Battle for Mortals and Immortals


Mere mortals prejudiced against me and my own kind from heaven and hell, reeking of envy, stirring poison, I am set to soar high no matter what, however bruised my mettle is, however reduced I am to being inconsequential, and however clipped my wings are you do try so hard to. 

I may be dying — breathing with my bladed faculties that reveal of fire and my septuagenarian earthly body — but a colossal task looms in the horizon, revealing itself before my still laser eyes. I have to win this test — this ugly war. I owe it all to my dear people — mortals — and my own kind — immortals.

Image: Temple of Leah, Cebu City, Philippines

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bohol: A Thousand Chocolate Hills, Green Landscapes, Tarsiers, and Ati People


Images:
Chocolate Hills Complex, Carmen
Chocolate Hills -- Sagbayan Peak, Sagbayan
Tarsiers -- Sagbayan Peak, Sagbayan
Bilar Man-made Forest, Bilar
Loboc River, Loboc
Ati Tribe Riverside Community -- Loboc River, Loboc

Friday, February 5, 2016