Making Real Friends in GenSan

Nonfiction by | January 6, 2008

Pioneer Avenue is a place in General Santos City that has made me feel the real spirit of friendship that no other friendship networks can provide, not even the ever-famous Friendster community over the Internet. Having lived in General Santos City for eighteen years, I feel so proud that Pioneer Avenue has come such a long way. The whole length of Pioneer Avenue extends from Sydney Hotel to Chowking on one side and from Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges to Golden State HRM laboratory on the other side. The place is purely a commercial area. It was named Pioneer Avenue because it was where the first settlers of General Santos City had lived — “the pioneers.”

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The Clock

Poetry by | January 6, 2008

He whose hands
never grow weary
of moving on,
marches with cadence,
round and round —
as if that were its only purpose —
to race with time
and never look back.

Trapped but Free

Poetry by | January 6, 2008

It has always been
like this:

The birds are locked in cages
and fed;
a gold fish is placed
inside a cool aquarium;
and the big brown dog
is tied to a post,
standing on guard
while the master
attends to his other pets.
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Nanay Said Go to Bed

Poetry by | December 2, 2007

I was the only one left
in the sala that night
you told me the noises
on the roof were
Minang’s hooves –
on nights like this one
she was searching
for children whose stomachs
she could, through
her tongue
suck whole.

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Of the Bombs and the Sun

Nonfiction by | November 25, 2007

Tacurong City and I have seen good days. The atmosphere where I grew up in has continuously changed having something to do with my expanding horizons and growing consciousness of the various events.

When I was a child, all I thought was that Tacurong was my haven. I grew up with all the love and joy offered not only by the people around me, but also by the enchanted trees and the birds, I ran freely with the wind, I slept soundly with the crickets singing their songs.

I had a deep appreciation of the sunset that I always saw from afar – across the rice fields which were just meters away from our house, and across the mountains, the proud Daguma Range. My little eyes found pleasure watching the sun paint the sky with colors as it set. The mountain ranges looked as if they were palms embracing a crystal ball that predicted my future. I would always find myself leaning on our gate’s post, staring dreamily at the sun until it vanished and gave way to the stars.

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One Sunny Day in Mintal, Davao City

Nonfiction by | November 18, 2007

One sunny day when green snakes basked by the dormitory gates, and the warty toads came out of the toilets, and trolls from the adjacent rooms were creating such a ruckus that my headache had a headache too, I decided to go to the mall for some peace and normalcy. The dormitory of the University of the Philippines in Mindanao was situated literally in the boondocks, and it was a 2 kilometer ride down unfinished roads to the highway. The only available transport was the habal-habal: a motorbike turned rough-road-taxi, whose driver ferried up to 4 to 6 passengers at a time.

To the people of Davao, this was a way of life. To me, it was a learning experience. On my first semester at the university, I was literally stuck at the dorm. I did not know how to ride a habal-habal. I was terrified of it, being the size of two normal Davaoeño. When an errant jeep or bus chanced by, I hailed it with so much zest that people thought my armpits were on fire. On one particular day, when I was desperate to get off the mountain, I begged for a ride on a meat delivery truck, and hung on a hook in its cargo bay like one of its produce. I knew, despite my circumstances, that I was blessed, since the truck’s cargo was long delivered and the bay was freshly cleaned.

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Walking Home on an Afternoon

Poetry by | November 18, 2007

On this afternoon
the sky glows a soft amber
and everything under it obliges
and takes on a gentler, kinder hue
–even the dry path that stretches before me
–the gray sandbar that has led me home all these years
sheds some of its harshness
and I tread it with the warm, easy feeling that
I belong,
On this afternoon
I belong

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Observations of a Drinking Man

Nonfiction by | November 18, 2007

If I lie down Saturday afternoons in front of the TV, flipping cable channels – I’m alright. Or, if I close my eyes until the feeling goes away, and wake up at the exact moment my wife is serving dinner – I’m safe.

But the moment I venture out of the house, whether on an errand or after a phone call from a friend – I’m in trouble. The first shots offered are always refused. They are merely bait, dangled by istambays and kanto boys so that I will have the privilege of paying for whatever they’re drinking.

No, the first shot is best savored with a friend (usually the one who called.) The battleground is his sala or front porch with corned beef and lunch leftovers for pulutan, amidst loud laughter or whispering if the misis is around.

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