When I was sixteen at the old house, I used to sit on our wooden chair behind her and watch how she built fire with kerosene, wood, and pieces of folded paper. She would bend low enough, reaching for the fireplace, and I could see her spine arching downwards like a bamboo on a windy day, while behind her white head where I could not see much what happened, a light-blue smoke rose up to the sooted roof along with some ashes flying for escape through the slits on our wall.
She had told me once how to do it when Tatay was not yet around from work. We were alone inside the house and she began preparing rice to cook for dinner. Nanay Pacita sat on bended knees and looked for dry sticks under the fireplace. Tatay had split them outside days ago when there was still no job for him downtown. He had busied himself repairing the old electric fan, pounding wooden shelves for my books, and carrying large containers of water from the nearby pump. He preferred walking alone and whistling his own tunes of the sixties and once in a while, I would hand him a glass of water, which he would down in a single gulp and return to me.
Continue reading To Build Fire
From beneath the ground, across the leaves, up and down a wall, and into the cookie jar – the ants traveled, carrying crumbs of cookies back to their colony. Now and then, they would stop by and greet each other by brushing their antennas and then carried on with their merry hauling.
From far away – on the adjacent floor – the ant Antonino watched his fellow workers with a great deal of confusion and frustration.
Antonino had found a shortcut. By coming out of the edge of the colony, and passing through a crack on the wall, he could come out just beside the cookie jar. It would cut the length of traveling to less than half! His problem, however, was that the other ants did not want to take this route.
Continue reading Ant Travels
Listen to me, Jun. To tie a box, you have to make sure that you have strong straw. Strong straws don’t break easily even if you pull it hard. And once you twined it around the box, the straw would hold your box in place. I told you that before. Remember?
Now, hold the end of this straw and shove it under the box as if you’re scraping. Follow my lead. Here. You shove it this way then pull the other end upward. Straws are puckered, so be careful not to split the thread. Don’t even try doing it. Then, bring together the ends of the straw and do a knot. Just a single knot, though. That’s good. Now, twist the straw and shove it again underneath. Pull it up. No. Do it carefully. You’re breaking the straw.
Continue reading Junior
Excerpt from the author’s ongoing scifi epic narrative Maharlika 23.
In a parallel dimension, the eon Sun glistens over Maharlika City, a strategic metropolis in a continent of planet Erthe. It is another morning in the year 2276 for its 3 million inhabitants, considerably among the largest urban areas by 23rd century Erthean standards. The city is an eclectic profusion of newly evolved Ertheans aggrupating from the various continents of the planet, and of interstellar representatives as well. With other metropolises, it is a pilot area for the immersion phase program of Erthe Federation and the Confederacy of Interstellar Citizens (CIC). The city is a virtual melting pot of intergalactic cultures with 4th Dimensional and 5D-evolving SUPERbeings.
Grand Old Man, intimately referred by the local inhabitants to a nearby volcanic mountain, is a silent witness to the growth of the populace. Rising from the terrain ranges of the city’s backdrop, the forests below its revered peaks reflect the early morning sprinkles as they slowly roll down the landscape and into the gulf boundaries of the sea. The evergreen blanket surrounding the city, its profusion of flora and fauna with remarkable species once dubbed endangered yet reviving to a healthy population, attests to the success of a conservation program implemented by Erthean ancestors centuries ago and had since survived even after the Great Upheaval (GU).
Continue reading Maharlika 23
By the time Jheric got to the car, it was too late. The blue Toyota Corolla had already backed out of its space. Its window rolled down a notch and Vhong’s hand reached out for the coins. Then the car was on its way out of the supermarket parking lot.
“Hey! That was my customer! You know it was!” Jheric shouted.
“Ha! Early bird and all that, runt!” Vhong said. He jangled the coins in his hand.
“It’s mine! It’s mine!”
Vhong held Jheric back at arm’s length. Jheric flailed but his hands barely even reached Vhong’s shoulder. A small crowd of boys had gathered around them. “Go, Jheric! Give him what for!” They laughed. Vhong pushed Jheric. Jheric fell on his butt.
Continue reading Watch-your-car
My little brother returned home two days ago from Diliman for the vacation. Now, he sits beside me while I navigate the channels to check what television networks have in store for the summer.
Not a minute passes that David says, “I don’t like that they call our generation the Generation Y.”
I turn to look at David. Only eighteen years of age, a year younger than I, and having to spend two of those years in that university, and look now what he thinks the world is doing to him.
“It’s a slap to our face that we are named so because we have a predecessor that was labeled Generation X. It’s that structuralism thing. You are named this because you are after that. Blah…blah…blah…”
Continue reading Boob Tube Monologue
“So how’s everything?”
If only one could establish a pattern from its movements, he could perhaps assume that it is perfecting a complicated terpsichorean sequence. “Mmm… Okay.”
“Well, I will just tell the guys you’re coming home during the sem break. Perhaps you will have news to tell by then.”
The black fish in the bowl moved to the right wagging its tail as if calling attention to its translucence. “What? Ah, yah, sure…bye.”
It hurled upwards. Its mouth formed a small “o” while meeting these brownish crumbs its owner, the eldest son of the landlady, was sprinkling into the bowl.
Continue reading The Black Moor
It’s About Time You Meet Her
You knew her though, or someone you knew of. We were all aware of her existence that, like wallpapers, we never really took notice. Hers was a familiar face in the crowd with that look of desperation crawling right into you. Her face caked with pustules that nobody dared to touch. Her body looked so thin, her skin tightly embracing her bones. She didn’t possess those black-rimmed glasses and buck teeth (though she had one missing on the upper mouth); she didn’t have braces that completed the criteria for everyday geeks. Her mother barely covered the basics; another strain on their budget was certainly out of the question.
Continue reading Magdalena and Scenes of Chronic Poverty