Ang Kaisa-isa Kong Sandal

Nonfiction by | June 21, 2009

Kahirapan ay di hadlang sa ating buhay dahil lahat ng panahon ay nasa ilalim tayo. May pagkakataon namang nasa ibabaw.

Sa Cebu, naaalala ko pa nang ako’y nasa haiskul. Nang dahil sa mahirap lang kami, hindi ako nakapag-aral ng tuloy-tuloy. Kusa akong huminto dahil naawa ako sa aking mga magulang. Pito kaming magkakapatid at isang manggagawa lamang ang aking ama. Naghanap ako ng trabaho. Nag-aplay at napasok sa isang Printing Press bilang cutter ng
mga cellophane. Ipinagpatuloy ko ang aking pag-aaral sa gabi. Maghapong tumayo ako sa limang taon sa pagtatrabaho para lang matustusan ang aking pag-aaral. Sa awa ng Diyos, nakatapos ako ng haiskul sa University of the Visayas noong 1979.

Ibig kong ipatuloy ang aking pag-aaral sa kolehiyo ngunit parang madilim at mailap pa rin sa akin ang pagkakataon. Ngunit para sa akin hindi natutulog ang Diyos.

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Confessions of a 58-year-old Trekkie

Nonfiction by | May 31, 2009

Space – the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.

These words invaded my awareness more than forty years ago when the first edition of Star Trek came out on television. As a precocious teenager, I became instantly tantalized by the Gene Roddenberry creation, a penchant shared by my sister Thelma. At least once a week, we had a rendezvous at around 7:00 PM with the crew of the Enterprise in our 10-inch black-and-white TV set. As far as I remember, we never missed an episode, and should a storm occur at that moment with a blackout, we cursed the heavens for causing us to miss our date with Star Trek-TOS (The Original Series)!

The sci-fi series became a bonding link between my sister and I. There were other sci-fis that came out on TV later (Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon) but our interest was never drawn to them as much as with Star Trek. From the moment we met James Tiberius Kirk and the pointy-eared Vulcan Spock, we knew we were bitten by a bug from which we never recovered.

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Á Bientô, Great Man

Nonfiction by | May 24, 2009

It is not everyday that one gets the chance to grieve the loss of a great man. Great men come in too little a supply, and often, they leave without so much as a warning to lessen, if not completely halt, any pain that naturally comes from goodbyes. Yes, it is a pain to part, and even more painful to part with great men. Hence the natural order of things where great men are few, and to part with them an even rarer circumstance. My family, however, grieves the loss of a great man once or twice a year. And once again, the time has come for us to swallow the bitter pill that is goodbye.

A great man is one who loses himself in the service of others, including those he loves the most. A great man takes time to make up for lost time, despite knowing the futility of such an act. A great man braves the seven seas and the cruelty of the world, sometimes even literally, for someone other than himself. A great man is my dad.

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My So-Called Glamorous Life As A Freelance Writer

Nonfiction by | May 17, 2009

Everyone assumes that writing is such a romantic occupation. I most certainly did—I wished with all fervent hope that I would eventually walk the path that Edgar Allan Poe, Joseph Conrad and Mary Shelley took when they made it through the annals of literary history.

In my youth, I had imagined writers cloistered away in their lavish Victorian-inspired home, dark with velvety crimson curtains and thick tapestries. Quill in hand, parchment under their elbows, these writers would look out into the vast open countryside seeing not the green landscape, but characters—fictional characters, characters of their own creation—speaking, weeping, and eventually floating back to the paper, becoming wisps of breath fashioned into the writers’ great languid scripts where both characters and writers would eventually be immortalized in written text.

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Nonfiction by | May 2, 2009

It was during the summer of 2001. I and my playmates were under the heat of the glaring sun busy making our “tabanog”. Arjan, who was four years younger than me was holding a blue plastic bag. Like any inquisitive kid, he kept on asking me, “Ate Banban unsaon paghimo ug tabanog?1” he didn’t stop pulling my skirt until I replied his childish query.

“It takes patience to make a kite Arjan. So just sit there, relax and wait for me to finish the kite I’m still making, okay?”, I carefully explained to him.

So he sat at the corner and waited for me. When I finally finished my hand made kite, I asked the little boy to structure his blue plastic bag. He was very excited that time. He drew a curve on his lips when I narrated him my first instruction, “Okay Arjan first you have to fold the bag in half and it should be flat and even.”

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From a Davao Diary

Nonfiction by | April 19, 2009


There I was, one pleasant morning, on a long sweaty walk that started at the Davao City Hall and led to the unimposing Gaisano South Ilustre mall downtown: moving, maybe lost, but moving. Even though according to the locals I actually came close to the Chinatown of the largest city in the world, it was a stretch that struck me as more Western than Oriental: diners and billboards, no teahouses, and no lanterns.

No matter. Why exchange sixty minutes of sun and solitude for anything else? The weather was agreeable, and I was enjoying being a traveler, as opposed to being “just a domestic tourist.” Only briefly did I stop: upon a minor assault of hunger I had breakfast at a McDonald’s at one corner of an intersection. I forgot for one reason or another to take mental note of the streets’ names, a habit I had acquired in Manila. It was something else which I let guide me: the kites being flown above –looking like seven sperm cells in the clear blue sky– or something simpler perhaps, and vaguer, such as an impulsive fearlessness of the unknown. Whatever it is, if the guide disappointed, I still would’ve moved, just moved, in what R.L. Stevenson had once called “the great affair.”

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Endangered Pink Road and Sunflower Streets of Mindanao

Nonfiction by | April 5, 2009

Travel is the trendsetting lifestyle in the planet. The Venusian backpack is now virtually galloping from
one island to the next for many reasons: some maybe looking for men, some looking for love, some wanting to see places, and some maybe for work. Why do women travel? How are they different from the way men travel? Women may bring extra clothes all the time, for they are privileged to decorate themselves. An extra scarf will make a difference.

One of my most beautiful travel experiences are my journeys with women. It is travel by intuition rather than linear guide book driven. Women always carry candid open secrets, real meaty stories for they pay attention to details and listen to their hearts. They can hear the wind, touch the clouds and dance in water. These are the magic in women.

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Six Degrees

Nonfiction by , | March 29, 2009

Six DegreesI am better than you. We are better than you. They are better than you. You are better than me.

What made you say that? Why did you say that? How can you say that?

Our senses are fixed only on what we perceive. Black and white. Short and tall. Fat and thin. Male and female. The list goes on and on and on. The question remains: are we really all that different from each other?

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Our Cow, Red

Nonfiction by | March 15, 2009

I cannot recall how our cow was called “Red”. Maybe it was because of his color. Red was really a bull, but I prefer to call him a “cow”. At the time Red was acquired I was still an infant. My vague memory of Red was at three, close to the concluding years of World War II.

There were trees and bushes around the clearing in the forest of Cotabato. The sun was bright and warm. Red was lying down on the grass under the shade of a tree. He had horns (like a Texas longhorn) so he must have been a bull, but I prefer to remember him as a cow. My older sister Norma, was standing on his head, holding on to a tree branch, while she picked fruits. A dog napped near the cow’s belly.

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By the Sea, Sun-Kissed Children

Nonfiction by | February 22, 2009

There is a place in Zamboanga that is almost obscured by the onslaught of the fast paced life in the city. It is there, behind the revered structure of the La Nuestra Senora de la Virgen del Pilar, past the lighted candles held by the pious as their prayers rise, past the stalls that sell cotton candies and cheap rosaries, past the old acacia tree where placentas placed in shopping bags hang from its branches.

It is a place where a mere game of basketball is almost a religion, where women with baskets of fish on their head walk on rickety slabs of wood strung together by ropes. They walk cautiously, lest they plummet to the water below, which is almost solid after years and years of human waste of every kind have amassed. But they walk with fluidity and grace, like dancers listening to the ancient music produced by the tides of the sea. The men, whose flesh are wrinkled and dark, walk with a gait that belied their years.

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