Teodor/Teddy – middle-aged guy, meat vendor and butcher
Ardong – meat butcher and delivery man
Lydia – meat vendor and mother of Ji-ji
Ji-ji – daughter of Lydia, twenty-two years old
In a market. Two meat stalls face each other on stage. A space in between serves as the pathway. One yellow light bulb hangs in each stall. Lydia and Jiji’s stall is on the left side. On their table: a weighing machine on the right side, chopping board at center, meat slabs. Jiji stands behind the table slicing meat. On her left side, Lydia spinkles water on the sliced meat slabs. Ardong stands in front of their stall putting meat slabs on the table from his big plastic container. Teddy’s table is on the right side. His table is bare except for the wooden chopping board and the butcher knife.
It is four-thirty in the morning.
Teodor ties the apron around his neck. Afterwards, he ties a towel around his head. He pours water on the surface of his table and wipes it with a clean rug. His voice has a clear accent of Bisaya, always mispronouncing the words.
Continue reading Red Wine for Teddy
When I remember that fisherman
walking out of our house every morning
before breakfast, I think of
how we seemed too distant, his heart,
as usual, far from my own.
Continue reading The Fisherman
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