Sunday, October 16, 2016

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.

Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
  Bureau of the Treasury
  Fort San Pedro
  Gusaling Don Pepe Atienza (PLM Graduate School Building)
  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.


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

Sunday, July 31, 2016