Showing posts with label life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label life. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lola's Hands

I see a map, a familiar one. It has a landscape contoured not with summits and abysses, not with springs and deserts, not with fields and hollows, not with flowers and thorns, not with greens and browns. It doesn't know lights and shadows, nor crests and troughs. It avoids memory of torrential rain for dry spell, or the other way around. It is not ruled by contrasts. 

It is blunt and unforgiving and commanding and brutal and honest and true and painful. Those bursting lines, those burned envelopes, those folded and cracked mantles. Veined, darkened, wrinkled. It is chaotic, perhaps a traffic quagmire to a capricious head in modern times. 

But, despite all that, it sees the odds in a new shade. Past its scars and bumps, even all calloused, beyond which, I feel its warmth and will, hopeful undercurrents that stream through its thinning vessels. It is greyed yet clear. It is frail yet surviving. It is losing but fighting. It is a character of strength battered through countless battles, living on a borderless world. 

It is a map with a landscape of inspiration thriving on life. 


In Talisay, inside a jeepney bound for Cebu City, lola (grandmother), with a huge wicker basket filled with goods, rummages through her belt bag. 


I had realized that the boy sitting beside me was supposedly her grandson, as he went on sitting on his lola’s lap later during the journey. 

I wish I could articulate better how I felt and what ran through my mind when I saw her. An oversimplification of her day-long labors until midnight is a travesty.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Davao Immersion: Lunar Eclipse and Gilded Mornings

It was the night when we patiently watched the lethargic, shapeless bakunawa (dragon) gorging on the hapless April moon, says a myth behind eclipses, that rose calmly over unmuffled waters around the island garden city of Samal. It was also the night when our big family gathered at the lone, doorless, beachfront cottage made of bamboo walls and seats, and aluminum roof. It housed the 'life of the party' -- the ever-present karaoke machine. We had required of its mic to be passed on to every single person seated in front of the cottage, leaving no dead air to fill in the night.

Beside the shelter, there we grilled pork and saba bananas -- all skewered in bamboo sticks. The gastronomical nature of the growing smoke that occupied the air, was only rivaled by the rising bonfire that fed on twigs and dead leaves. We conjured the boy and girl scouts in us. The night turned wonderfully warm and lit, even though the moon was waning gradually by the aging minute and the cool sea breeze was blowing off its mighty freezing faculties. We, too, had pancit (noodles) and grilled tulingan (tuna) -- our leftovers during lunch -- for dinner, and puto balanghoy (steamed cassava cake) and budbud balanghoy (cassava cake wrapped in banana leaves) freshly made from yesterday's harvest in the garden.

Full and reeking of San Miguel beer, a few of us rolled out the banig (mat) over short blades of bermuda grasses, lay spread-eagle on it, and gazed at the myriad emerging stars aided by the revived luna and clear skies. The others rested on two hammocks tied to the branches of an ancient sambag (tamarind) tree, taking turns.

It was already past midnight. Oh, night, I felt so home and free, and was just grateful for everything. I may be so far away from home, yet I was easily home. My own family had just grown bigger and happier.

The deepening night continued on with the family's minstrels singing nonstop, the ones having too high an alcohol tolerance still playing around a single glass, long catch-up sessions packed with amusing, though hummed chatter, and the ‘sleeping logs’ set at their dreamy comforts, probably thinking of an early dip basked in the gilded morn, again.


Before I flew to Davao City last summer, I had never been to Mindanao. If spending a number of days with relatives never had I met all my life, let alone on Facebook, should matter more, and not accounting the handful two days and one night I had stayed in the city to attend my dear cousin's wedding the year before, then I had never been to the country's second largest island. Without that trip, Mindanao would have been really a stark mystery to me. The journey was both a pleasing affirmation of Mindanao's hidden beauty and a discovery in itself, raring to be shared to the rest of the country and of the world.

Thanks to my auntie for inviting me to her hometown of Samal, an island in Davao del Norte. Prior to spending most of the days in Samal, I stayed in Davao City, her present abode, and she then brought me to Pearl Farm, a secluded beach resort (loved their buffet there), and the distant town of Asuncion whose banana plantations run opposite rice fields, just across the gravel road. I savored the countless hellos exchanged all throughout the experience and the lots of chitchats over beer that followed.

Catagman, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Hagimit Falls, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Kaputian, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Waterfront Insular Hotel, Lanang, Davao City
Pearl Farm Beach Resort, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Asuncion, Davao del Norte

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Children in the Fishing Village of Mui Ne

A young girl giving a baby boy a piggyback ride led my afternoon curiosity to their home. It was shortly after I resigned from guiltily taking photos of fisherfolk in their sun-soaked busyness, who not once flinched nor cared about the strangeness of a stranger with an intimidating barrel pointed to their preyed-on midst. They were too engrossed in their own world, a part of humanity that kept on looking down, literally, the whole time it seemed, while untangling and weaving long white fishing nets quietly, unlike the Mui Ne sea that was proud and never quiet. Some were barefoot, baked, and wet, standing beside huge basin-shaped boats I never thought would ever work at sea. Some were comfortably squatting down into cross-legged position inside a boat, under a makeshift shelter.

As I drew near the kids horsing around, I heard their amplified puerile giggles. They played their games, round and round inside their humble abode made out of wood, bamboos, coconut leaves, light materials, while holding hands. Of course. And the young girl caught my camera. She moved closer, stepped on their doorway, and there the piggybacking tandem posed for me, freely. The young girl grinned, while the young boy sported a confused face. Snap, snap, snap.

Suddenly, she gestured for me to get inside the bowels of their house. No utterance. No words. At the back, I met her sister. Her twin, maybe. The other girl held the baby boy this time and posed for my camera. Smiles. A peace sign. A sweet embrace. And then all three together, with their precious seashells gathered inside a basket.

I tapped their heads and then held the little boy. I thanked them. I heard no reply. Nothing. Still no words, but just their smiles.

I left their home. I waved goodbye. I was happy, elated about the kindness shown by those kids. But somehow, sadly, something had me disturbed. What if it wasn't me?  What if it wasn't me who crashed into that small house, not a safe haven to be at during bad weather, in an old fishing village in southern Vietnam? What if somebody, twice the charm, waved sweets in front of their faces or put dimes in their hands? Imagine, what if?

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

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bookstore Dialogue

Inside a bookstore on a Friday holiday. 

'What kind of book are you looking for?' asks the young girl trailing behind a bald man dressed in dark-blue long sleeves and black slacks, rushing inside the maze. 

'A funny one,' answers the man -- tall, round, blond, and white, attributes fairly acquired by the teen. His daughter, I guess. 

'I mean, the genre?' 


'I don't like animals.' 

Then, the teenage girl makes faces, while the father searches, left and right, for the funny book supposedly under the animals section. 

I stop and think for a while. I am lost. 

Which genre, again? 

End of story.

Images: Kinokuniya Bookstore, Ngee Ann City Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Singapore

Monday, August 31, 2015

Moments Frozen in Time

No matter how beautiful a dimpled face or a tropical paradise is, one which could be magazine-property anytime, even with the dictates of photoshop, which may have gone terribly bad, hurting one's eye, or just be perfectly eye-candy, missing the moment frozen in time, is and always will be an empty frame devoid of joy, anger, reason, madness, euphoria, indifference, love, or emptiness; or an empty shell without its meat; or an empty head with but biting cold air alone. 

Captured moments, or emotive visuals, make a good story to write about. Those that could inspire dozens in some exhausted, forgetful crowd; those that could trickle down through the impossible cracks of the walls of a monster dam, unapologetic to raging waters; those that could move Everests or Cordilleras; or those that could see a gazillion inflamed stars and tickled pink moon dancing and prancing, in slo-mo, over you.

Image: Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, Singapore

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Silver-haired Crowd

Revolving around and going about their own sense of time, the old ones, at the ripe age of 70 or 90 or the celebratory 100, gather their silver-haired crowd and find solace in this decades-old, AC-pumped place, stuffed with materials to chew on, or to sleep with.

Images: Toa Payoh Library, Singapore

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ninjas and Turtles

Ninjas and turtles. They thrived in water, mutually, as if they were in some happy, problem-free symbiotic relationship, or may be not, as the other was already groping for water, but not really. The other just needed water more than the other, I guess.

Wet and poised under the increasingly scorching sun, while sharing the same aerated pond in the park, ninjas and turtles caught my eye one Thursday afternoon. Three ninjas afforded themselves free swimming in a pond-turned-pool, and not only that, fished turtles out of the water using a hand net. 

As I went closer to the scene and took my phone out, I had been stopped and warned, or so advised. 

'Hey, you, be careful with your phone. It might fall into water,' said the tallest ninja, perhaps the oldest, too, obviously sounding merry and cheery about his own world. The youngest one was all smiles. The other one was scooping something in shallow water. 

Good advice. I thought about it for a while, and thanked the concerned ninjas. 

I held my phone tightly with my two hands, and confidently snapped pictures: first, of the ninjas, of the turtles next, and then of the unlikely group. Group picture. 

I went about my business, leaving behind the young ninjas and their afternoon friends, still out of the water.

Images: Toa Payoh Park, Singapore

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hardin sa Mang-uuma (A Farmer's Garden)

Your garden, peppered with your magical touch,
lies under capricious heavens and over silent, deep riverbeds.
It awaits the season of bloom, which cries of defaulted joy.
It is as patient as a vagrant crossing treeless lands, lost and parched and yellow.
It is, after all, a child without tantrums.

When it survives, you are the proud father.
When it grows, green and strong, you have found a pearl.
It wins every taste bud.
You can make yourself breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It is selfless and giving.
Your garden, after all, is a forest, a nature with lungs.

Images: Cebu City, Philippines