Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts

Monday, January 2, 2017


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 as 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

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.


Image: Matalom, Leyte, Philippines

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


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

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Goodbye, Pain

I had never thought of it for many years. Childhood and adolescence were the two that had graced me with an assumed perpetual laughter. I thought that by just being optimistic, nothing bad would somehow ever happen to me. I agreed with myself that I was yet experiencing the best. But I was completely mistaken. After all, that was all I thought.

November 13, at break of dawn, a terrible accident shocked my system that was very severe. Never in my perception did it lurk, hoping someday it would be found and cause me disaster. My world turned to a trash in a split second, and was useless anymore. I was very down and low, forcing my feet to rise and perambulate, but I was crippled. I came believing that the world had betrayed me. And did I lose faith in everybody, traitors! Not a soul came to lift me and be human at once. I could feel their disgust or anxiety, for they cringed, turned their backs on me, and fled to the greener pastures, leaving me behind this nasty world. 

Hate, disgust, fear -- these were the ferocious predators devouring my being gradually. I considered suicide a treatment to the wounds where its fangs bore. The erstwhile place I called home was, I didn't realize, one of the many that were sucking my strengths of life. The family where I was, revealed the truth that was more painful -- an adopted member of the family I was. The story of my identity unfolded the answers to the confusion encircling my mind. This had made me more of a wanderer, alone, neglected, and weak. 

The world grows smaller and smaller as days consume my earthy hours. I am almost dead. Grave awaits me. Two days is all I am waiting for to leave this place you call earth. Forty-eight hours? Not so soon. I guess this is yet the best time to say goodbye. Goodbye to the good times and, most of all, to the pain, and see what awaits me.

Note: This article first appeared in The Junior Technologian, our high school publication.

Image: Esplanade -- Theaters on the Bay, Singapore

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Parkour Singapore

14 Shots and a Little Story 

Kid, when will you ever learn? I thought I had told you enough, a hundred times over. But if you had to learn the hard way, this way, then so be it. Just calculated risk, my kid. I don't want you going home with a bruised arm, a dislocated joint, a fractured jaw, a bump on the head, or a missing tooth. It's the least I want seeing from you. You don't have to endure all that jumping, flipping, kung fu, or whatever, or that gymnastics. Or that running on clean walls, like a lizard or Spiderman. Leave it to them superheroes. 

(Deep thinking) 

Hmmm, I heard your mentor, or the two of them, the other day. They made an awesome lot of sense, though. Talking to another student, they said bits of something like a necessary mantra to absorb before going out to battle: When in doubt, tame your fear first. If you are high on surefire Jet Li, fly to upper ground or drop 15 feet, gently, as if you are gliding through the air. I buy it, kid. Sure applies to life, though the latter part was a bit silly. You know the guy, right? 

(Quiet moment) 

So, go on, and please don't hurt yourself, again. Here is your second betadine. 

(Fast action)

Images: Clarke Quay, Singapore

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chasing Sheep

It is past midnight again, where a heightened sense of wakefulness gets repetitive and unwittingly long. At this very hour, I am sure of but one thing, that restlessness will be stretched out all throughout the olden night. It invariably happens to me whenever I oblige myself to finish reading a chapter or two of a good book -- a great escape from the day-to-day 8-hour cycle of labor -- until I lose the elusive sleep. Now I regret shrugging it off, for I have to impatiently await its revisit in the wee hours of dawn. 

The electric brain waves have not ebbed just yet, and the least I want is to have to open my eyes at such an ironic, unforgiving, inopportune time. 

The wind blows a slow chill at 16 degrees toward my conspicuous naked feet, which manage to crawl out of my thin blanket. The white lights from outside knife through the curtains, not helping in concealing everything, lifeless and breathing, in this room. Blackholes, after all, do not exist on earth. Even in a woman's jet-black locks, one may find a stray brown strand of hair, an outlier that triggers an itch. Pardon me of the utter nonsense. Why can't it all be painted black at night? 

I look up the headboard, following a wealth of visible spectrum past through the window. There goes the culprit. I wince at it. Is this the threshold of sleep deprivation? Or a wry humor? 

I can feel the quiet fanning of the AC, fixed up high at the side of the dull whitewashed wall devoid of anything artsy, hung or posted. Its soft mumbling turns into a lapping of the soles of my feet, rousing a gentle tickle not enough for them to retract, nor for me to curl up. I can endure it for hours, like a log, so long as hypothermia remains at bay. I love it, and it might lull me to dreamland, just maybe. 

But still, it does not help, and I cannot invoke sleep. Now it has become a luxury. Remorse is everywhere, when I should have seized it while it was on a high courting me to rest. The more I resist it, the more its spirit dwindles. I realize it is a sulking fellow, too, which will leave you alone furtively. Now I am running after its tail, and it is, perhaps, around the bush, stubbornly hiding. 

I finally reach for my phone at my bedside, switch it on, in hopes that writing about the luckless circumstance at this very hour will tire and let me fall asleep.

Image: Woodlands Waterfront Park, Singapore

Sunday, July 6, 2014


It pierces its way through the fine gap between the flesh-coloured curtains spread out from the high ceiling down to the tiled floor of a wholly bleached room. The visible ray of the spectrum, which finds the glass window as its true-blue accomplice at 6 in the morning, faint and dull, upsets the sleepyhead from her comfort. It taps me that it is a new day, and she is now mobile from a 6-hour paralysis, displacing herself slowly inch by inch on her mattress, creeping, as she stretched forth her hands to check on the clock at her bedside table. Fuzzy are its dials and numbers. She argues with the drag of getting up and succumbs to engaging in a 10-minute nap, setting the alarm this time, and buries her exasperated face in the lavender-scented pillow. 

I will wait until she wakes up again, while clearing my throat inaudible enough to be heard. My left temple rests on my fist. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, and the room doesn't get any less colder. 

She rises up, at last. As part of her morning routine, she stretches her extremities in repetitions until the cracking of joints satisfies her. Dishevelled, she combs her candle-like fingers through her hair and glues herself to the arched mirror and solicits a convincing grin for herself. It means she is all ready for the day, and she will be sporting that radiant aura all day, like what she does all the time. 

After washing her face with soap and lukewarm water, I follow her footsteps down the staircase. Barefooted, she grabs over the lacquered railing while yawning sheepishly, as though somebody has caught her red-handed. She laughs at herself. She must be very sleepy still, yet she treads as lightly as she can to the kitchen past the living room, the library, and the dining room. No one else is around as usual at this very hour. 

She plugs on the thermos just beside the bread toaster. She hurries herself to prepare breakfast sandwiches with bacon, egg, and cheese. Poor thing, lava-hot olive oil spills from the pan, compounding the beads of sweat forming on her forehead. A small drop of it burns her skin. It is nothing serious, though, as she continues on. 

Coffee, milk, and two sandwiches are now served. 

She climbs the stairs and realizes that she is without her slip-on slippers on, amusing herself twice today. 

She opens the door of the room right next to hers, which has always been unlocked. On his bed, she sits beside the 7-year-old boy who is reading his favourite children's book, a fable collection, for the fifth time. After flipping through the end of chapter three, he turns to her. Dejection wells up in his eyes, and she is accustomed to this cycle. Nothing has changed ever since that day. All that she can muster now is to hug him, one hand on his flushed, rosy cheek, the other on his skinny right shoulder. 

"Mom, I miss him. I wish dad were still here." These are the last words the young boy recites every time before they go down for breakfast.

Image: Johor, Malaysia

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Memoirs of the Hopeful

Something keeps my mind pre-occupied unnecessarily at this pitch-black hour, like an extreme comedy enforced upon a lifeless outrigger sailing aimlessly over the immense, fogbound ocean. It holds captive all five senses, their purpose lost. It seizes my faculties, rendering me a hard-core inutile on the ever faithful ground. Much more, it punishes the last dregs of my breath. It screams king from its exploding, arrogant chest; and I am the enslaved soul on all pitiful fours, fettered and wounded. It spells dread in its countenance that I shudder and become weak at the knees. It lives in a prominent, arresting mansion over the hill this poor dreamer could only fancy about, as it murders the sullen truth that rides the silent and infinite ripples of black water -- putrid and nobody's wine nor tea. The phantom lingers its shameless exploits round me. 

As I don my tattered shirt and threadbare pants, which speak loudly of what it wants me to, exhausted with bloodshot eyes, I toy with the penetrating idea of how to escape, which is now a crime. How hapless this soul is, it could not sing anymore. But there should be a tunnel out! If not, I could dig my way out all day without its prying eyes noticing. I could outsmart my enemy, however skinned my hands and restless my heart would be. I have to. 

Now it seeks to suck out of my life, leaving me freezing in stiff air with the deafening, shrill cries of its mocking guards lurking in the dark, whose labyrinth-red eyes I can only see. Poised to battle against this mimicry of the devil, I pretend not to hear any of it, nor to imagine what creatures bear those eyes. I turn myself into a modest stone. I need to endure its bigotry. 

I close my eyes with a dying heartbeat. I swallow my saliva to quench a parched larynx, only to murmur within myself. I rest my mind from the convoluted pollution. I hope to muster a sleep. 

This is not a race to forever, nor a fruitless struggle. A triumphant claim looms over me.

Image: Toa Payoh, Singapore

Saturday, April 5, 2014


As the paws of your power reached for my feeble spine and limbs, through the golden grass and earth of the safari, I looked into your weary eyes borne out of my carelessness. Unknowing, toothless, and short, I was raked back home. I was in dire peril. There was true commotion when I left the perimeter, yet I would never realize that. Closing in on your midst, I felt your growingly normalizing heartbeat, and it unwittingly pulled your upper lip up and lower lip down, revealing your hunting sharps that scarred a mighty history. All was converted into a relief. Comforted beneath the warmth and strength of your mane, the expanse of your kingdom is all but your arms entangled around my fragility.

Photo source credit: The Telegraph

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Cup of Honey Lemon Tea

Sitting on a ledge on top of the palace of dreams, gusts of wind slap my face solid with an invisible, animated mask, compelling my eyes to grasp less of the wide plains and my lips to unwittingly shape curves and crooked polygons.  But it is a joy. Bliss, the fuel to my veins, darts my heart pumping, and it starts from where the weather bears fruit of all that is good. At this elevation, I claim to be floating and flying wingless as the colugo leaps and glides from tree to tree.

As I turn forty-five degrees to my left, there is the hammock of lullabies, in its lucidity against the ageless sun, hums the mountain’s distant, forlorn songs and those melodies that echo paradise. At this very moment, the former is muted. The lovely music travels to my soul, caressing, reassuring, and healing every wound. I forget and move on as the saxophone plays on, the only instrument that can legally rob the violin of its the most romantic title. Induced to hear it, I close my eyes. Every note, every high, and every low, is emotion verbalized.

Captured by the fragrance that bleeds behind my back, I step diligently onto the immediate arc my feet can reach. Oh, the surprise of all wonderful surprises, the red roses in the garden beds smile at my already tickled look. Painted by the master of nature, they glisten beautifully and slowly pick up the music I hear. Nothing can be carelessly uttered, when all you know is that everything is right and perfect and sound and seamless.

Then the rain suddenly comes pouring down, as I become a poor fowl perching on some bare branch. It has been years since the last time I was this drenched, and it brings back good, old memories. I am far from ending this moment; the water is just beginning to taste as good as a cup of honey lemon tea.

Image: Singapore

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Solace in Perfect Beauty

Blankness. Blackness. The streak of light that arrows through my left foot, that with its loyal pair freezes in all its indolence coupled with the sogginess underneath, blaming the scorching air that pierces the virtually muted room. The still motion disgusted by the sole arthropod doing its rounds on the ceiling. The dust that finds the darkest corners as its home parades itself as a quiet killer. And the intensity of silence that amounts only to the sound of eternal tick tocks and the faint honking of cars a hundred feet away. All these set me in a subtle trap. I feel the immobilization on this varnished wooden chair is as long as an unfortunate series of events.

Distraction approaches its rebirth every time the faculty of memory involuntarily scans the unforgotten times of me and you. And it is as tasty as more than half of the grocery store’s bitter gourds.

I remember you.

Those crazy times I pursued the youthfulness of you, embraced by the summer air in the same breath as those cold nights, were never a mistake. It was during those times when I realized that a bland being could love, be thrilled by your distant presence, where my pupils dilated like never before, be sometimes shy by your nearness, and be hurt by that fire that resulted in a throbbing Romeo. Those rainy times I penned those love letters by the window, were silly nonsense, but a child is always blameless and only his adulthood finds fault in its absurdity; we laughed together when we reread those eight years later. Those playful times we chased each other running barefoot on the solitary hill among the wide plains conjured our song. That beaming time I touched your delicate milky face as you adored drawing your favorite TV character, and those aimless scribbles meant our simple happiness.

But that happiness indescribable inside our light chests flew miles away years ago, unidirectional like it could never come back. It was gone to nowhere, to never our land anymore.

Never will I gaze again at your beauty that transcends living on a borrowed time. And when seen from every angle, it is like a candle that never melts. It glows, lighting up a dark room, in all its perpetual glory, wiping the sadness away.

Image: Joo Chiat Road, Singapore

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Redeeming Thee

The smoke that smelled of mint, leaving a stubborn trail of white and grey, underscored the hell that that crammed house screamed of. The source, in my following, was from that little, dingy room with no window, and whose door manicured in dull red was its only escape, greeting my asthma so perfectly, whereupon I almost ran back outside. I thought the thickness of it clamping into my nostrils, clawing its way straight to my immaculately pink lungs would have me pass out anytime soon. Yet, I struggled, barely managed driving the near panic away. I continued with my feet pointing towards the door.

My vision, despite being blurred by the fog-like atmosphere rolling unceasingly in infinite directions and the lace curtains hanging in parallel with me, sorted three pairs of searing eyes that met mine. It was easy to see, anger nestled in their eyes, and it was maddeningly insane. I shuddered in fear I could hardly look at them for a second. I was so dumb I couldn't understand why. It was incomprehensible for a guest who expected nothing but a warm welcome. "Warm welcome your ass." I got it. And that echoed in the cavity of my head as I drew the curtains slowly.

My eyes searched for someone familiar, someone close to me, and then I saw you, finally. But I was stricken with horror. Your beautiful eyes were tinged with fright, and then tears came rushing to their floodgates down your cheeks. I wiped them while my heart cruised into thud after thud. I cried.

Saddened, disheartened, I closed my eyes, trying not to know anymore. I loved you. I knew it was you, because we had those strange affinities the first time I braved talking to you at the coffee shop. That fateful day that caused us spending a million wonderful moments together.

That sour reality pinched my core. I really wanted to save you, but you wouldn't let me. Just give me that hope, that chance. I am pleading.

Image: Iloilo City, Philippines

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Her Name Is

Down the river in the wilderness, a distance too far for my eyes to see unmistakably, a figure emerged gracefully from the ground, a silhouette wrapping her milieu, swaying with nature’s cadence. I could tell it was a face accompanied by her long locks and body with royal proportions.

She was dancing with the night. Her fluidity that joined the water facing the majestic moon, the cold wind that touched my weary face, the trees that broke the silence, and the nocturnal creatures that bore witnesses to the magic, had me enchanted.

And I fixed my eyes at what could be the satellite in her sparkling eyes, the shape was beautiful. I stared at hers for too long. I wanted to see more, and then we were locked, chained by the universal obedience called togetherness. We were face to face. My proximity caught her by surprise. She lifted her hands to mask the entirety of her face, perhaps fighting off the pressure that crept into her midst, and hiding from a stranger. But, I saw it. It was a snicker, twitching her eyes, which left my heart racing the whole night. And she disappeared, remaining without a name.

Nevertheless, there is still a today or a tomorrow when you will tell me your name in my consciousness.

Image: Woodlands Waterfront Park, Singapore

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Railway Tracks

Stop this train now. In a few minutes, armed with nothing but my jaded feet and a load of 5 kilos strapped to my back, I’ll be jumping off the train real quick, because the train, I realize, doesn’t stop. It only slows down. I may sound imposing, but they won’t hear it, even if I have to scream at the top of my lungs. I can only get off the moving train in the end as fast as I can.

That’s a crooked, insane thought. But that’s life -- life that is manifested by the endless train that comes rattling down the railway tracks. A ticket to your train destination is as good as your own life. You can make it dull, exhilarating, or crazy for the heck of it.

As long as you enjoy the ride, everything, from all of life’s frivolities to the philosophic drifts, becomes clearer. Without a doubt, you will further your journey to even more destinations worth the thrill, worth the spectacular possibilities. Your horizon grows and becomes wider every single day. That’s what happens when what you’re doing is spot on for your destination. Dreamy it can be.

But if you can’t take the ride anymore, there will always be ways that will serve you better, contrasting what you have initially thought to be good or the so-called immediate fix. You just have to learn to say no, to stop the madness once and for all. Sure, it might be an uneasy fit, never a walk in the park, but listening to your heart while having a good head on your shoulders comes to the rescue. Keep the drums beating excitedly, no matter how deafening they can be, for that’s your life’s fuel, and life’s meant to be spurred by what delights you most. Dig in your inner passion, motivate yourself despite all the odds, and don’t stray from the path. It will draw you closer to the purpose of your existence.

Define your own railway tracks. Take risks. Stretch your limits. Be on track. Happiness is on your way.

Image: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia