Time

Fiction by | September 17, 2017

On the 25th Sunday, the 3rd month of the year, the breaking of the breeze comforted the whole season. The sun was so brilliant engulfed throughout the day, while the chirping of the birds sounded melodiously. They flew here and there, catching each other like lovers missed from hugs and kisses. They were played by the wind blows, swaying their wings against the air, chasing until they found their refuge and rested. Under the monstrous tree they were on, there was a nipa hat, a native, beautifully designed by hands. It was made up of good Nara, a lumber where drawn on it, the lines of the old ways. It was surrounded by the grassy ground but viable to anybody who would like to rest from a journey. But one could ask: was there anybody around that small house? If there was, then who would that someone be?

At 3:00 o clock on that same day, I was on my way home. I walked cautiously as my feet were forceless stepping on the ground. In a far away distance, I saw an old wrinkled woman similarly exhausted as I was, as if losing her breaths. She was panting while her eyes focused to mine. I did not hesitate to come over her to ask where she might be coming from. She dropped down her sungkod without answering my question. The woman collapsed. So, I looked somewhere else but nobody could have been there.
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Jimboy

Fiction by | July 30, 2017

Lola Myrna is a soft-spoken 70-year-old woman who lives with her toddler grandson, Jimboy. She has ash-gray hair, and she keeps mostly to herself.

Lola is well-known in their neighborhood for adoring only two things in this world: her garden and her only grandson.

Her garden is simple but well-kept. It complements the two-bedroom bungalow that sits on it, like a pretty porcelain figurine on a birthday cake. Adjacent to it are two Guava trees and a Calamansi tree which provide shade against the afternoon sunlight when Lola is having a siesta.

Lola used to give her grandson a bath with leaves from the Calamansi tree whenever he had fever. She plucked several leaves and mixed them with the hot bath water. It smelled really good, and she believed it made him feel better.

Beside the Calamansi tree, there are also rows of Santan shrubs on garden, and its red and yellow flowers are in contrast to the greenery.

Like most quiet summer afternoons, today Lola is enjoying her siesta under the shade of the Guava trees while Jimboy is idly playing around near her. She rests on a Rattan rocking chair that creaks every now and then, and beside her sits a glass of Calamansi juice that sweats furiously.

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The Parks of San Pedro Street (Part 2 and Conclusion)

Fiction by | June 11, 2017

Warning: The story below contains scenes of sex and violence.

Miguel started to have a deep breath as he observed the people walking, selling, and sleeping around San Pedro Street. His inquisitive eyes were staring to those homeless, rugged people sleeping on the public stage and in the benches. His curiosity continued as he observed the “Balut” vendor selling his product while riding a bicycle.

But behind these curious eyes, a revengeful heart is looking for that one person whom Miguel had sex with and is responsible for the HIV virus. This guy named Julius has been Miguel’s sex partner for the past five years. Julius is the park caretaker who is five years older than Miguel. He has been giving sexual pleasures to homosexuals in San Pedro Street at night after his work for the past five years. Julius is a sellable man due to his towering height of 5’11; he has fair complexion with black straight hair and a pointed nose. His sex appeal attracts gay customers both young and old who are looking for sexual adventures.

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The Parks of San Pedro Street (Part One)

Fiction by | May 21, 2017

Warning: This story contains scenes of sex and violence.

“I should have my revenge!” These poisonous words were running slowly in the veins of the desperate mind of Miguel as he was walking in the hushed yet lighted San Pedro Street at twelve o’clock midnight. His black jacket, white shirt, faded denim pants and gray rubber shoes perfectly protected him from the cold night’s wind. The fairly looking, medium built boy could not sleep because the laboratory result stated that he is HIV positive. This frustration gave Miguel a melting of heart and bothered soul. So, the young man rose from his soft bed and decided to leave his well organized room for a stroll in the downtown area San Pedro Street is the heart of Davao City due to its iconic landmarks. On the right side, stands the gray-colored San Pedro Cathedral; with its Spanish-style frontal-curved design makes the structure visible in the place. Adjacent to the church is the two storey beige color Sanggunian Building, in which, in front of this edifice erects the centennial monument. Neighboring to Sanggunian Building on its left side is the decade old Davao City Hall. The 1926 design building with its magnificent columns on the entrance hall makes the structure a truly landmark. San Pedro Street has four small parks-Osmena Park, Quezon Park, Rizal Park and Centennial Park.

Osmena Park is at the right side of the Sanggunian Building. It is a walled sanctuary. The green park has become a safe haven for birds which are looking for asylum in a busy metropolis. The park has tall, green trees that sway with the wind and colorful flowers that embellish the park lane, and gives blissful view to the people sitting on the benches. During day time, the chirping of the birds and the sound of the swaying leaves become the music of the place.

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Si Buktot ug Ang Iyang Kapalaran

Fiction by | April 16, 2017

Bukid sa Buda. Gianak si Veron. Namatay ang iyang inahan sa pag-anak kaniya kay dako ang iyang ulo.  Dili ulo ang nakita sa komadrona kun di usa ka bukog nga nagburot.

Ang bata usa ka buktot. Sadihang nigawas kini, kalit nipahiyom ang bata.  Nakakita na dayon kini. Usa kini ka kahibulongan ingon sa komadrona. Nidako si Veron nga bayot nga bata.Binabaye, hinay molihok, mokiay’g lakaw ug tabian nga bayot nga buktot.

Makalingaw kaayo si Veron og makawala sa kakapoy ug problema. Apan kontra kaayo siya sa iyang amahan ug inahan. Ginapasipad-an si Veron sa iyang mga pamilya, ginapaligid sa pang-pang ug bakilid. Nagadaro si Veron sa ilang uma aron tamnan og humay. Manglaba, magluto, magbugha og kahoy. Ug wala na nakaantos si Veron, nisakay siya og bus, nilayas siya ug nakaabot sa sentro sa syudad sa Dabaw.

Si Ado gi-anak sa Panaga. Layo kaayo nga lugar gikan sa syudad. Mosakay og bus, habal-habal, motabok og tulo ka sapa, mobaktas og pila ka kilometro, mosakay og kabayo, makaabot lang sa lugar ni Ado.

Si Ado, usa ka himsog nga bata ug bus-ok og lawas hangtud nga nidako kini.   Taas ang ilong ug sakto ang barog, ang iyang mga mata daw sa dili ka makabalibad og naa siyay ihangyo kanimo. Hamis pa gyud ang iyang pamanit murag wala gadako sa uma.Mura siya og anak sa adunahan og pamarong og tan-awon. Sa dihang natapos na niya ang hayskol, nanimpad siya sa syudad.
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Katas ng Pawis

Fiction by | February 26, 2017

Umiikot sa ilaw, nararamdaman nya ang init nito. Kumuha siya ng tubig at binuhos ito sa nagliliyab na apoy. Ang bato ay nanghina, napolbo, naging abo at usok sa sanlibutan.

Saksi ang kawayan. Malapista ang saya. Amoy pasko na ang kapaligiran. Sisig, ibang klaseng maanghang na pagkain na nanunuot sa aking lalamunan. Ang tinatagpi-tagping kahoy ay nagsisilbing upuan na bakat na bakat pa ang ugat nito. At sa saliw ng musika ay sabay-sabay na umiindayog ang mga dahon sa kawayan. Samantala ang haligi ay tayung-tayo sa kanyang kinalalagyan.

Ako ay nasisilaw sa liwanag na nanggagaling sa butas ng bintana. Tanaw ko ang liwanag na pumasok sa pagiwang-giwang na pintuan na gawa sa kawayan. Ang hangin ay maaring hindi galing sa langit o baka ito ay bunga lamang ng isang panaginip.

Gusto kong ibuhos ang aking galit sa awit at sayaw. Sa sinuman na kaya akong mahalin ay naaaninag ko ang walang pag-asa sa buhay. Ang lalaki ay hindi sigurado sa kanyang paa ganoon din ang babae.

Gusto kong takasan ang apoy, ang pagawaan ng kutsilyo, ang pagawaan ng uling. Kailangan ko rin ang tunay na pag-ibig. May karapatan ang sinuman mahalin at magmahal. Sadyang hindi lang pantay ang mundo.

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Cruel February

Fiction by | February 5, 2017

Today is the first day of February. But unlike the previous Februaries, this one is not merely the second month of the year having twenty-eight or, as in the case of leap years, twenty-nine days, this month might be daddy’s last.

The smell of newly applied paint could have lured me to stay longer. I like the house better now with its green walls and white ceiling. However, the stench of the canal continues to permeate the house. The living room, empty of appliances, creates a dull and muffled sound to my ears. When I suggested that either the radio or the television should be returned to the sala, I was told that a sick man does not really need much.

I went to visit daddy today. They finally resigned to put his bed in the living room. Hospitals are for those who could afford to postpone death. I would like to think that we can’t instead of we won’t.

He looks thinner now than he did when I last saw him. Strength abandoned him completely. Daddy cannot tuck his cigarette between his middle and forefinger anymore.

The problem of a human mind, I think, is the idea of free association.

We watched an action movie after dinner. Before the lead actor goes into battle against a major drug syndicate, Mama suddenly wailed. She claimed that the actor (his mestizo features, compact physique and arrogant stance) looks like daddy. I agree with the claimed similarities.

But there is a difference. Continue reading Cruel February

Armor (excerpt)

Fiction by | January 8, 2017

(Armor won 1st Prize in the Short Story for English category of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Literary Awards in 2013.)

The week Ronnie was planning to die, one of his neighbors paid him a visit. Ronnie had just come back from the seamstress, bringing home a newly mended sheath dress he would wear for the pageant, when Oliver showed up.

“The Death Squad,” Oliver said. “They’re after you.”

Ronnie considered what reactions were possible. He would back away from the Mylar-covered table where Oliver was nursing his coffee. He would warn him that he didn’t appreciate this kind of joke, not after bodies had been found in empty, grassy lots around Mintal. Instead, Ronnie soaked up his neighbor’s silence, leaned on the refrigerator and lit a cigarette.

Where was the Death Squad when he regularly handed out shabu to the crew of wiry boys who had hung out at his beauty salon? They were hired guns, the Death Squad, who used to go after drug pushers, but lately they’d been taking down street gang members, crystal meth users, petty thieves.
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Masahe sa City Plaza

Fiction by | January 1, 2017

“Maygale naabtan pa ko nimo diri, Mam,” matod sa akong suki nga masahista. Iyahang bus-ok nga mga bukton mihulma sa iyang nipis nga puting sando. Milingkod ko sa gamayng plastik na lingkoranan ug gibutang ko sa kilid ang akong napalit nga karne ug utan, apil ang akong naukay nga mga blaws. “Ulahi najud tika na kustomer mam. Sayo man gud mi ugma sa Marawi.” Gipatong nako ang akong mga tiil sa iyang paa.

“Mag unsa mo didto dong?”

“Didto mi mobotar mam,” matod niya dungan sa pagbubo sa uwil sa iyang mga kamot.

“Ha? Didto diay ka narehistro?” Iyahang gisugdag masahe ang akong mga bagtak nga mihawoy sa pagtindog og dugay sa ukayan.

“O, pero sila ra ang garehistro sa amo mam. Igo ra ming nagpirma sa form na ilang gihatag, tapos sila ray nagpadala dadto sa Marawi.”
Nahimatikdan ko ang iyang nawong nga nabaknot, ang singot gatulo naingog duga sa iyang mala-Adonis nga nawong.
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Should the Stars Return

Fiction by | December 11, 2016

It was the night that the stars returned and the first person to see them was Oskar Abebi. From his vantage point on the pavement, lying with his back flat on the street called Yoruba, he recognized the constellation. “The Hunter…” he whispered to no one in particular. The name escaped his bloodied lips as by compulsion. The giveaway was the line of three stars that made up the Hunter’s belt. From there he could trace the stars that hinted at the legs, then the outstretched arm and the club.

It was a Friday night and the traffic of shoppers and passers-by on Temple Market was starting to pick up. Oskar desperately wished one of them would stop by to help him up so he could share his discovery. But they all avoided him and each other studiously. They walked around him as they zipped past in all directions. One or two even stepped over his legs when they found no other path through.

Oskar wobbled to his feet. All the while his gaze remained up, his jaw slack as more pinpoints of light appeared in the sky. Over there: the Hero. And over there: the Twins. And over there: the Bear. And over there: the Lover. Despite himself, despite his cracked skull, Oskar laughed.

“Do you see? Do you see?” He pointed a crooked finger up at the sky. When no one paid him any heed, he broke taboo and grabbed the nearest passer-by the sleeve of her pleather coat. She yelped, then hissed and glared at him. “Look!” he insisted, jabbing his finger upwards. “Stars!”

The last time he had seen stars he was a boy. How long ago was that? Forty years? Fifty? It was on Ye-Ye’s farm, where they had electric lights only three hours each night and so there was nothing to do but look up at the sky and tell stories. Then came the city, and the stars were drowned in neon, glass, and steel, stabbing at the heavens as if to keep them at bay.

“Stars!” he repeated to the woman. His insistence finally made her look up. A few others, puzzled by the commotion, paused in their steps and did the same.

The stars were growing brighter by the minute. They pierced through the haze of artificial light of the city. More and more constellations became apparent. Oskar laughed giddily. “The Bull!” “The Lion!” “The Maiden!” “Look! Don’t you see?” “There! The Sisters!”

Those who paused followed his finger as he pointed, trying to make out the shapes. Then one of them, a young man wearing a rebreather cowl, broke the spell when he shrugged and walked on, disappeared into the crowd flowing into Yoruba East. The others followed suit, one by one at first, then in staggered groups, until the bustle was as it was before.

The woman wrenched her arm free and called Oskar a rude name as she walked hurriedly away.

“Stars…” the old man said again, but weakly. They were very bright now, so bright, you could almost feel their heat. The soup of humanity that gathered around Temple Market on Friday evening continued to thicken, and now people were jostling each other at the elbows and occasionally stepping on each other’s toes.

“Stars…” the old man said, one last time. Then he too was swallowed by the market.


Dom is a project manager of a small software development team in Davao.