Thursday, May 29, 2008

Toll Tails

Overheard at the Greenbelt 5 park fish pond.

Tourist: Wow, these fish are adorable!

Local: Do not let appearances fool you. These fish, while brandishing looks indeed similar to the adorable Koi, are actually Philippine Neck-Biting Perch. They’re called Karupa in our native tongue, which, roughly translated, means “soulless swimming demons from the nether regions of hell”. An alternative translation, found in the journal of Father Juanito Chavez, a missionary who came to the country in the early 1600s, is “a water-bound terror which must never be spoken of”. They are actually born an iridescent white, but quickly turn orange the moment they taste blood… human blood.

Tourist: You don’t say…

Local: Oh yes, I say. There have been documented cases of these fish leaping out of the water and onto boats, where they slay their hapless, unsuspecting victims. And these are the juveniles. Adults, especially males, have been known to leap out of the water and actually walk to the nearest town to prey on people. Karupa, sir, truly are merciless, blood-thirsty monsters. My grandfather told me he had seen one brandishing a pistol once…

Tourist: Hang on… a pistol?!

Local: Oh yes, good sir. Excellent marksmen, these sons of bitches are. The Allied Forces tried to recruit some during World War II, but the danger they posed to humans was too great. Too great. (stares off into the distance) The shoal of about a hundred fish who were trained were released into the waters of Central Visayas right after the plan was shelved… and people wonder why the Japanese lost the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Ah, the greatest generation…

Tourist: I guess we’ll be on our way now

Local: (lights a Marlboro)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Liar

When I last saw her, she was but a faded shadow of her old self. Gone was the alabaster that covered her entirety; what replaced it looked like pale, light-gray, unpolished granite. It was apparent that the lather of creams from far beyond our seas did not touch her as often anymore, if at all. Her plain, threadbare garb gave finality to what was a slowly unfolding tale of her fall into our everyday, our every way.

She had everything going for her. She was sure to succeed. She was certain to roll in the velvety smooth lap of luxury. For as long as she breathed, breaths would always be comfortable.

“Hello. How have you been?”

“Hey. It’s been… great.”

She put away several sheets of paper. They appeared to be forms for preparing life insurance quotes.

“Good. Great. So, uh, what’s been keeping you busy?”

“Oh you know, this and that.” She smiled.

No smile lied more.

A Quicker Fix


He thought it wise to skip the Phentermine. He thought it was cheating--this quest for the holy grail of the horizontally challenged (or possibly, maligned), the silver bullet, Excalibur: diet pills that worked. It was a skewed sense of honesty, for sure; and if he had the same fervor for self-discipline, he might not have had to deal with paying for two bus seats on a daily basis. Ah, but to be wounded.


Jose Fernando Garcia knew about choices. When his uncle and guardian, the late Don Isabelo Penaranda, passed on, the then 19-year old orphan inherited quite a substantial amount of money. This was in addition to what people said was an unimaginable fortune in land and other assets. Now instead of squandering what so fortuitously fell on his lap, Fernan played the part of a wise sage far beyond his years and put all his efforts into further increasing his wealth. He shunned flaunted affluence, and this was reflected in his choice of a home. He passed on taking up residence in what he thought were the fake and soulless regions of the west coast and settled in a quiet corner of prime Wilmington real estate, where North Carolina met the Atlantic.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kilometer 56

November afternoons in Malacampa were extremely pleasant. With the dry heat of summer long gone and a steady, fragrant breeze blowing, most of the small barrio’s residents spent these resting hours sipping rice coffee and chatting with neighbors in what could be called the equivalent of a foyer, in their silongs. It was especially nice at my grandmother’s house. An irrigation creek ran through her backyard, and there my grandfather set up a place for us kids to hang around in so we wouldn't annoy anyone. A small sala, complete with teak furniture, had in fact been set up. There we’d laze about, tell stories, try to catch fish, eat halu-halo, and well, generally be kids. Good times. Good times.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Murder, Inc.

Juan decided to close his bank account and he did it the quick and easy way: he emptied his account using his ATM card. Now since ATMs only dish out cash in multiples of 1,000, 500, and 100 pesos, he left the measly 26 pesos that he couldn't have withdrawn anyway.

Now think of how many people do this to effectively close their bank accounts. In a day. In a week. In a month. In a year.

Using 26 pesos as a factor, let's say 5 people did this everyday. That's Php 130/day; Php 910/week; Php 3,640/month; and Php 43,680/year.

Someone's making a killing.

Kitchen Sink Drama Part Deux

Update: I consider myself, as majority of men do, somewhat a handyman so I decided that I’d get my hands dirty and fix the faucet myself. Went on over to the nearest hardware store and asked to be lead to the plumbing supplies section. A faucet, as far as I knew, was simply a spigot attached to a wall. Wrong. I reached aisle 17 and there they were, rack upon rack of kitchen faucets, bath faucets, automatic faucets, farah faucets, and a good deal more I can’t remember. It took me a fair amount of time but I eventually got the most basic model. I shall post more after I get the faucet fixed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kitchen Sink Drama

Dagnabbit. I was trying to cook a pasta meal over the weekend and our kitchen faucet thought it the appropriate time to seize up and keel over. What a time, too. It was a capellini-based dish, so timing was absolutely critical if I didn’t want ultra-soggy pasta. I turned off the heat half a minute before the recommended cooking time and planned on running the pasta under cold water as soon as it left the pan. Confident with my plan of action, I poured the pasta pan’s contents into a colander that was, by then, strategically placed on the sink. Soon as I twisted the tap, the whole dang faucet assembly came off and water was soon everywhere but on the pasta. We had McDonald’s take-away that evening.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hari (LP7; Umaapoy)

Maaaring labis ang pagod at kulang sa tulog dahil sa labindalawang oras na biyahe, pero pinilit kong gumising nang maaga para lang dito. Matindi pa ang kagat ng lamig; hindi pa rin tapos ang paglikas ng hamog; dama mo ang pupungas-pungas pang pagkilos ng maliit na bayang ito. Ngunit hindi paaawat ang haring araw.

Kuha mula sa balkonahe ng Ganduyan Inn, Sagada. Iyon na yata ang pinakamasarap na tasa ng kapeng nahigop ko.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

None The Wiser

“Hey man, did you hear about Francis? Word on the street is he’s on the straight and narrow now. Blind Louie Parker says he landed a gig at the airport.”

“Really? Wow, imagine that: Francis the Freak landing a nine-to-fiver. What’d they say he did over there?”

“Not sure what the job’s called, exactly, but I heard it had to do with keeping track of them planes as they flew. You know, like checking where they was all the time an’ stuff.”

“You mean like plotting them planes on a chart or sum’n? Yeah I know what they call that job. Looks like old Francis is now a jet charter man.”

“You sure that’s what it’s called? Sounds funny to me.”

“Do I look like I’m trying to get a laugh outta you? Sheesh. You ignorant fool.”

Quick Fix

Manuel was absolutely desperate. Four months into his nth attempt at losing weight, he was still pushing an astounding 275 pounds (he stood five feet, four inches tall). One afternoon, as he walked home from the corner pizza joint—he decided to get in some exercise that day—he came upon a piece of paper stuck to a piece of gum. Its trailing edge flapped in the wind as the gum kept most of it stuck to the curb. He picked it up (probably because he smelled the gum) and read what was written on it. It was a bit cryptic, “Phentermine no prescription”, but it might as well have been the freaking Rosetta stone to Manny.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bubble Wrap

I recently read some portions of that famous Randy Pausch lecture (I think it's even been published, appropriately titled--The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch) and I have to agree with one of his major points. To (liberally) paraphrase: children should be given the chance to see and feel life, even if it sometime means missing bedtime. I'm guilty as heck of it, but sometimes it's really plain difficult to not be overprotective. But then again, it really is important for kids to know how it is to run flat out on a grassy field. Even if it means bumps and bruises. The thrill of feeling the wind on their faces should make them forget any boo-boo. Easily.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hanep Sumingit!

Last night’s downpour, to me, signaled the start of the rainy season. Aside from all the crap we get during when the rains start coming in, I am particularly pissed as my family and I have yet to go on holiday and now it looks like the only thing we’ll get to see on any beach is mud--lots of it. Anyway, there may still be time and Joy and I are scrambling around for good flight deals/promos. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we can sneak in a trip down south before the country becomes the typhoon toll way once again.


Today is May the 9th. Around this time of year, not a few years back, Joe Writter bought his last vial of crack cocaine. As soon as he left the corner of 5th and Main, his whole body started shivering--violently at one point, as a matter of fact. He fought to straighten his gait, determined to get home and plunge into a numb bliss once more. But it was not to be. A few meters from his house, some idiot was trying to jack his neighbor’s Cadillac. The car was parked right beneath a beaming street lamp. Roving police caught sight of the scene just as Joe crossed the street and stepped onto the curb. The cops thought him an accomplice and in no time he was counting bricks in a dingy cell. Now, after spending more than a decade in and out of drug rehab, Officer Joseph Gerard Writter of the SMPPD takes the stage to as he is recognized for his service to the community, the corps, and the nation.