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Magnanakaw ng panahon

MAGSASALITAN lang ang maghapon at magdamag sa 24 oras. Na aabot sa 613,200 oras sa loob ng 70 taon, karaniwang haba ng buhay ng tao sa Pilipinas.

Walong oras ang nalalagas sa 24 bawat araw—kailangang ilaan sa mahimbing na tulog para sa lakbay-diwa, sabi’y para makiugnay sa tinatawag na subconscious. Para higit na maging matalim ang talisik sa kaalaman na tagos hanggang himaymay ng laman.

May nalalabi pang 16. Pero maliligis ang 3-4 na oras sa biyahe tungo sa araw-araw na gawain.

Sandosenang oras na lang! Ilalaan ang walong oras sa daloy ng gawain.

May butal pang apat na oras. Sabihin nang ilaan ang dalawang oras sa mabotehang usapan. Gimik. Investment in social capital. Higit na malaki’t mataas raw ang kita at antas ng pamumuhay ng mga naglalaan ng ganoong puhunan.

Dalawang oras na lang ang mailalaan para sa asawa’t anak at iba pang mahal sa buhay. Bonding. Dalawang oras lang ba sa araw-araw ang maiuukol sa kanila?

Natuos kung paano naubos ang 24 oras, walang nalabi kahit kapirasong sandal…

Sukat ng puso

ITIKOM ang kamay. Sinlaki ng nabuong kamao ang sariling puso—tambor de sangre, tambol ng dugo. Pero parang paru-paro o pulang mariposa na apat ang silid o apat na piraso ang marupok na pakpak.

Ang sukat ng isang tao ay matatagpuan daw sa kanyang puso, ayon sa sawikaing Latin.

Paano nga ba susukatin ang pagkatao kung sinlaki lang ng kamao ang taglay niyang puso? An open palm may be a fitting symbol for an open mind that can grasp, let go of any matter at hand. A clenched fist is obviously the sign of a tightwad.

Pansinin din na kabilang sa tatlong pinakamabangis na killer disease sa bansa ang sakit sa puso. Traydor na sakit daw ang atake de corazon. Makakalkal sa mga nakalipas na ulat na ang mga nasa dapit-hapon ng edad ang madalas na salakayin ng kanilang puso. Baka pinabayaan. Baka hindi kaya ang ibabayad sa triple heart by-pass o angioplasty.

Tiyak na marupok ang puso ng mga nabiktima. Kabilang sa mga gawain para sa mga may tibay sa puso ang marathon, mahabang lakaran, umaatikabong ha…

Halimuyak ng lupa

HINDI nagpaunlak si Ama sa paanyaya nina Tita Soledad at Tito T.T. Antonio na manuluyan siya sa bakanteng condominium unit sa may Buendia Avenue, Makati. Kahit walang bayad, talagang ayaw pumayag. Kahit pa ubrang magdala ng Magdalena para malahian, ayaw.

Bentahe nga naman na walang makikialam. Walang manghihimasok. Walang magmamasid ni susubaybay na kapitbahay o kalapit-pinto kapag nakatira sa ika-10 palapag ng gusali. Tiyak na kahit epikong tula, nobela o anthology ng kuwentutan, tahasang masasabakan at matutustusan ng panahon. Makakarami.

And so popped out that word, anthology. It’s simply a collection of flowers culled off the ground. Malaki raw ang kaugnayan ng pamumupol ng mga bulaklak mula sa pisngi ng lupa.

Sabi nga, you’ve got to stop and smell, deflower.

Masasagap daw sa itaas ang bawat bunton ng isusukang usok at asap mula mga tambutso sa lansangan. Pati na alimuom at alinsangan. Paitaas pumailanlang kasi ang mainit na hangin. Ganoon sa mga lungsod.

Kaiba sa bundok. Mas manipis…

Pakikipagtipan ng tikbalang

MO-ER o munting tainga na katumbas ng taingang daga o cloud ear mushroom ang talagang pakay namin tuwing papanhik kami ni Ama ng Bundok Makiling.

Mahina kung dalawang kilo lang ng tuyo nang mo-er ang malilikom mula sa mga sanga ng bagsak na puno. Sapat na ang ganoong dami sa santaong lutuan ng anumang ulam na malalahukan nito.

Ibababad lang sa tubig para manumbalik ang lutong ng mo-er. Naisasahog sa pancit at chop suey. Tulad sa tokwa na wala talagang lasa, humihigop ang mo-er ng linamnam sa mga kasama nito sa lutuin—mula tamis-alat ng oyster sauce hanggang suwabeng anghang ng luya.

Nakakapulot din kami sa bundok ng mga buto ng nutmeg o Myristica fragrans. Panlahok din sa pagkain pero ang taglay nitong myristicin ay tumatadyak daw sa utak. Mararamdamang tila lumalaki ang ulo—hindi sa ibaba. Pampalibog din. Tila pansamantalang mabubuksan ang ikatlong mata sa noo. Makikita ang mga nilalang mula sa ibang dimension.

Hindi naman namin sinahugan ng santambak na nutmeg ang aming hapunan ng ga…

How kulam I!

NAGBALIK-LOOB na pero hindi nakalaboso ang mangkukulam na kinapanayam noon ni Ama.

Sinibasib daw niya kasi ang mga aklat ni Carlos Castañeda hinggil sa kakatwang pananaw ng mga mangkukulam sa daigdig—Weltanschauung yata ang tawag doon—at umiiral na katotohanan. Kamukat-mukat, kathang-isip lang pala ni Castañeda ang mga brujo na gumabay sa kanya.

May sanaysay din ang bayaning Dr. Jose P. Rizal hinggil sa kulam. Pero hapyaw lang. Hindi masinsinan ni masusi ang pagbungkal sa anumang diskarte ng pangungulam.

Baka naman kasi kulang sa ulam. Pinaikli. Naging kulam. Tiyak na santimbang tubig at isang P5 na pakete ng instant noodles ang tahasang paraan sa kulam, lalo na sa panahong ito.

The genuine item pero born-again Christian na ang ex-mangkukulam na naisalang ni Ama sa tactical interrogation.

Marami raw kasing itinumba. P5,000 lang bawat ulo. Ganoon lang kamura ang buhay ng papaslangin. Nakapundar nga ng bahay at lupa. Kumita talaga mula sa pagkalakal sa kakatwang kakayahan. Talagang nakaram…

Usapang aso

ASONG umaawit pala ang talagang dapat itawag sa lahing asokal. Pinahiran natin ng konting pulot-pukyutan sa pangalan. Kumukuyog sa pagsalakay. Pero may katangiang hihimas sa panlasa.

May mga sinaunang paniwala mula India na ang mukha, leeg hanggang dibdib ng aso ay sumasagisag sa araw. Gabi naman ang sinasagisag ng nalalabi pang bahagi.

Daloy ng maghapon at magdamag ang tahasang sinasagisag ng aso.

Sa maniwala’t hindi, nababawasan daw ang marumi’t karumal-dumal na karma ng sinuman tuwing magpapakain siya ng aso.

Hindi na ako nagtataka kung bakit madalas na matokang magpakain ng aming mga potsosoy—‘yun ang term of endearment namin sa aso—si Ama. Tiyak na nagtutungkab ng kahindik-hindik na karma.

Umiiral pa rin ang isang paniwala na inangkat mula India. Maging ang mga dakilang guro at mga anghel ay nagkakatawang-lupa sa anyo ng aso.

Iba naman kasi ang paniwala sa ating lupain. Nag-aanyong aso daw ang asuwang—pero halata pa rin dahil kakaiba ang laki, tila nagliliyab ang lisik ng mata, kara…

Colostrum

HINOG na ratiles ang nakatampok sa katamtaman na laking milon. Ganoon ang humulagpos na dibdib nang matanggal ang kawit ng pantakip nito. Pero hindi sa kanyang sanggol ipasisimsim anumang nalalabi pang patak ng colostrum at kasunod na bukal ng gatas.

Wala sanang aantig na anuman kung tagakatas lang sa gatas-ina. Maaandap, mag-aatubili kung tagakasta ng ina.

Ngunit may kani-kaniyang matinding kailangan na dapat tugunan sa pagkakataong iyon, sa panakaw na pagtatagpong iyon.

“Tula! Kahit tahong na tula. Sabawan mo nang marami. Samahan mo ng maraming dahon ng malunggay. Para laging sanlitro ang reserbang laman nito,” anang lalaki sabay hagod sa kaliwang dibdib ng kausap. Masuyong paghagod para madama ang mainit na tibok ng kaba at kutob.

Pero matatag sa hawak ang nakaumbok na laman. May gatas at gatong na palaman. Masisindihan. Magliliyab.

Akmang lalapit ang ngusong may walis-tambok para itutok sa tuktok na tampok. Dahan-dahang napasunod-nguso sa suso; dahan-dahang padausdos na inilapat ng h…

Probing for sense organs and sex organs

TUMATABO raw si Ama ng may P300 araw-araw noong P16 lang ang minimum wage. Wala pang 500 metro parisukat ang kanyang gulayan. Talong, upo, at mais lang ang pananim.

Ni hindi nga pambenta ang mais. Panlahok lang daw sa suwam at nilagang baka. Sabaw pa lang ulam na. Matingkad kasi ang linamnam ng kapipitas na mais.

Wala raw sa 12 tudling ang upo samantalang mga 20 hanay ang talong, siyam na puno bawat hanay. Madaling araw pa lang, sagsag na sa kanyang gulayan ang dalawa o tatlong mamamakyaw. Hahango ng talong para dalhin naman nila sa Divisoria.

Matapos makaalis ang mga mamimili, masinsinan nang pakikipagniig sa mga halaman. Baka nga pakikipagtalastasan. Pingkian daw at palitang-kaalaman ng magkaibang uri ng anyong-buhay o life form. Parang French kiss na sabay na magpupuluputan-sipsipan-higupan ng hininga. Sa madaling sabi: Symbionts na magkasabwat sa symbiosis o pagsasalo ng biyaya’t pakinabang para kapwa mabuhay. Alam ng mga masugid na sumubaybay kay Peter Parker alias Spiderman ang …

Mag-ama

NAKATAYA ang aking pusta kay Erik “El Terrible” Morales. Maliit na halaga lang. Para may sumalungat naman kay Emmanuel “Pacman” Pacquiao sa kanilang basagan ng mukha ngayong Linggo.

Aaminin kong mas may tiwala ako kay Morales. Hindi man niya ginutay ang hilatsa ng mukha ni Pacquiao sa unan nilang salpukan, umihi naman ng dugo ang hinirang na pambansang kamao ng Pilipinas. Baka tuluyang natigok si Pacman kung sakali matapos ang una nilang paghaharap.

Sariling ama ang naghasa ng talim ni Morales sa unang salpok kay Pacquiao. Gusto ko ang ganoong father-and-son bonding. May antig ‘yon sa marupok na family values na umiiral sa ating bansa. Sariling ama rin ang tagasanay ng isa ko pang paborito, si Floyd Mayweather, Jr. na parang lintik kung sumagitsit ang kamao kapag pinakawalan sa kasagupa.

Lalong umangat ang paghanga ko kay Mayweather nang malaman na tatay pala niya ang katulong niya para bumuo ng plano ng pakikipagsagupa. Mahirap iwaksi na may matibay na bigkis silang mag-ama.

Ni hindi k…

Makabayang Pilipino

IMAGE make-over specialists are agog at the possibility of fitting out a new look for the Malacañang top tenant. A freshly minted image that becomes her was called for after she affixed her signature to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA in Helsinki last September 9.

Reports have it the two-way agreement allows Japan to dump its garbage onto Philippine soil. That means there’ll be mounds of cash for us for their mountains of trash.

Japan cranks out each year over 400 million tons of industrial waste alone.

That would be some 70,000 shiploads of filth we can use as landfill material to extend our nation’s coastline by several thousand more hectares. Landfill areas tend to become prime real estate over time. And we won’t mind if squatters use idled huge tracts as resettlement sites—it’s up to ‘em settlers to absorb and soak up the dioxin-rich atmosphere of such sites to render the additional territory fit for human habitation after a century or two, maybe more.

Gantimpagal, gantimpala

IBA ang kunat ng kawayan kung ihahambing sa tibay ng laman—28,000 PSI sa kawayan o ganoon karaming libra ang kailangan para bumigay ang isang pulgadang parisukat ng kawayan. Mas matibay pa nga ang kawayan kaysa bakal na bibigay kapag tinuunan ng 23,000 PSI. Tila tangkay ng kangkong ang buto ng tao, lasog sa isang PSI lang. Paano na lang ang malambot na kalamnan?

Samantala, hindi dapat lumabis sa 30% ng timbang ng tao ang bigat na dapat niyang balikatin nang matagalan. Kung 100 libra ang timbang, sapat nang 30 libra ang ihahapit na bigat ng dalahin sa likod o balikat. Panganib na sa kalusugan kapag pilit na babalikatin ang labis na bigat na unti-unting ngangatngat, dahan-dahang gugutay sa mga himaymay ng laman.

Maglalaro sa diwa ang ganitong tuusan tuwing magugunita ang pagsalok ni Ama ng tubig noon para sa araw-araw na pangangailangan. Mahigit sa 2/3 na bahagi ng utak ay tubig. Higit sa 2/3 na bahagi ng katawan ng tao, tubig din. Higit sa 2/3 na bahagi ng daigdig, tubig pa rin! Tatani…

Tubig

NAKATOKA sa ‘kin ang pagbabayad ng tubig para sa bahay. Kayang-kaya ng bulsa ang pumapatak na P500 lang sambuwan. Sulit na sulit naman ang bayad—pampaligo ng mga aso ang naipambanlaw sa washing machine, pandilig ng halaman ang pinaghugasan ng pinggan o pinaghandaan ng lutuin. Pati hugas-bigas, mapapakinabangan pa ng mga halaman sa paso.

Binata pa raw si Ama nang sa artesian well siya sumasalok para pumuno ng santuong sa araw-araw. Baka katumbas ng sambariles na krudo ang isang tuong. Naglalaman ang bawat bariles ng 42 gallons o 159 litro—kasukat ng isang tabo o bote ng Coke litro ang sanlitro.

Kasukat ng siyam na puno ng niyog ang inihulog na mga tubong bakal sa kailaliman ng lupa hanggang makasuksok sa aquifer o likas na imbakan ng tubig sa kailaliman ng lupa. May kabigatan ang pambomba ng tubig (tatlong metrong habang solid na lawaan) na karugtong ng naturang siyam na pirasong bakal na sintaas ng niyog.

Para daw makakalas ang kili-kili’t matutungkab ang gulugod sa sunud-sunod na pagti…

Salpukan

Salpukan

SA salpukan nauuwi ang pag-ungkat sa anumang tinutumbok ng mga programa sa telebisyon. Hindi naman kasi matiyak kung inaasinta nila ang karaniwang miron sa pagitan ng dalawang tainga, sa pagitan ng mga tadyang o sa pagitan ng nakabukakang hita.

Ipinipilit ng nakatatanda kong kapatid na para daw sa masa. Nagsusulat at nananaliksik kasi siya para sa isang programa ng Kapuso. Dati siyang Kapamilya. Bihasa na sa gawaing pantelebisyon. Sabi’y masa daw ang talagang inaalayan ng mga programa ng alinman sa mga nag-aangkas sa daan-libong boltahe ng kuryente.

Masa din naman ang tawag sa pinaghalu-halong arina, lebadura, mantekilya, gatas, itlog, asin, at iba pang sangkap para sa lulutuing pan de salsal (kailangan na ng ganitong paraan para lumaki ang naturang tinapay na unti-unting nanliliit) monay, pinaputok o pan de regla. Hindi kailangan ng panakip-butas sa huling nabanggit.

Kung masa ang talagang nais makinabang sa alay na panoorin, dapat na parang lebadura ang epekto sa masa. Umaangat…

Suwag-buwag sa tradisyon

PASLIT pa kami noon, hihimukin ni Ama na sumayaw-sumabay sa ilang galaw mula hung gar kung fu ng dalubgurong Wong Fei-hung. Sa iglap na igkas ng bisig at pihit ng baywang, gagagarin ang magkasanib na marahas na hampas at mayuming kislot ng alon.

Bibira pa a la Gregorian chant kasabay ng galaw ang isang salitang ugat mula Sanskrit. Tumutukoy daw sa tubig. Nananawagan. Taimtim na humihiling ng ulan. Maski buhos ng unos. Payag kahit todo delubyo.

Sanlinggo yata kaming magpapagpag ng mantika’t magpapatagaktak ng pawis sa ganoong ritwal bago sumapit ang Disyembre 31, bisperas ng bagong taon.

Kahit paano’y nasusuklian ang hirap namin ng katiting na ambon—na tahasang pagsuwag o mapangahas na pagbuwag sa pyrotechnic tradition para salubungin ng kasalaulaan ang pagpihit ng taon.

Talamak na air pollution daw ang nakagawian ng Filipinoise para magpaalam sa lumang taon, sumalubong sa bagong taon. Salaula raw ang ganoong gawi. Na hindi inuungkat, hindi sinusuri.

Malalagasan naman ang bulsa ng P15,00…

Lawit ni Kamatayan

SIYAM daw ang buhay ng pusa. Lima ang aming alagang pusa. Lumilitaw na 45 buhay-pusa ang inaaruga sa aming tahanan.

Kilalanin natin sila. Puting-puti si Shampoo, pinakamatanda sa kanila. Kinuha ang pangalan mula animé, sa Ranma ½. Babaeng isinumpa na nagiging pusa si Shampoo kapag nababasa, batay sa takbo ng kasaysayan sa naturang palabas. Pinapaliguan namin noon sa banyo si Shampoo. Kahit minsan, hindi nagbago ng anyo para kami makapag- work a broad. Opo, work a broad.

Bunso si Bonyat na puting-puti rin sana kung walang bonyat o munting tumpok ng balahibong itim sa noo. Hindi na namin matiyak kung sino ang nanay ni Bonyat. Tatlo kasi ang sinususuhan, sina Shampoo, Pin Yin at Toyang. Kuting pa ang damuho pero dalawa nang ibong maya ang nasisila nito. Matagal na paglalaruan ang nahuling ibon saka lalapain.

Puti si Toyang na asul ang mata. Anak ni Shampoo. Madalas maglambing, paminsan-minsan ay nakikisukob sa kumot kapag natutulog ako. Pinulot ang pangalan niya sa kanta ng Eraserheads.

“B…

Paggugol sa panahon

Pinakamatindi raw itong pangungusap para mahikayat o masulsulan ang pinipithaya para tuluyang mapitpit kapag tumihaya. "Rainen no kono hi mo issho ni waratteiy-oh."

Para palang tunog orasyon. Para mabugahan ng gayuma ang pinagnanasaan at pagpapasasaan na katakam-takam na katawan. Na baka mauwi sa rayuma sa halip na gayuma kapag ganoong pangungusap ang ibubulong. Ihahagod ng naglalagablab na hininga sa tainga ng inaasintang sinta dahil isang uri ng papaya ang sinta. Kailangan talagang papisil-pisil na hawakan nang mahigpit habang inaakyat-langit at kinakanta, opo, kinakanta’t ano pa nga ba ang magagawa sa leron-leron sinta.

Pero hindi iyon orasyon sa Latin—kung anu-anong nakabukang kuntil-butil lang ang alam kong salat sa Latin.

Basta pinaka-astig daw na maihihirit sa nililiyag ang ganoong pangungusap. Iyon ang iniulat ng isang pangkat ng Japanese cultural analysts. In plain English, that’s just a pick-up line to tow away a well-stacked chassis with a view to proper lubrication…

Para maiba naman

NAGMUNGKAHI minsan ang yumaong Lee Han Kiad. Mas kilala siya bilang Peter Lee na mahusay sa tennis at pagiging restaurateur. Mahusay ang mungkahi. Sa halip na dumagdag pa sa buhol-bulbol na usad-trapiko para madalaw ang puntod o libingan ng mga namayapang mahal sa buhay, pabayaan natin na tayo naman ang dalawin nila. Para maiba naman.

Napulot ng mga matanda sa aming angkan ang kinagawian mula pa sa Mexico. Katumbas kasi ng ating Undas ang magkasunod na araw na Dia de los Muertos sa lupain ng fuerte tequila y sabroso tamale ng mga ale at pinagmulan ng kinalokohang telenovela na Marimar alias Thalia na ang una palang pangalan ay Jenni.

Dumadanak ang pagkain sa piging na kaakibat ng Undas. Todo handaan. Pero mauungkat sa pagdiriwang ng Mexico (ang talagang pinaghanguan natin ng pagdiriwang) na karaniwang mga kinagigiliwang pagkain ng mga dinalaw na mga mahal na yumao ang inihahain. Para makisalo ang mga namayapa sa hindi pa matahimik.

Mga hamak na pagkain ang naibigan at niluluto ng isa kon…

‘Pag may tahong, may sagot

UMUUSOK pa ang higit sandosenang tahong nang ihain sa harap. Malasado lang—na tahasang hinihiling sa mag-iihaw. Bahagyang nakabuka ang takip para hindi lubusang lantad ang malarosas na laman. Masining na nakahanay sa dahon ng saging na isinapin sa lalagyang munting bilao. Pumailanlang at humaplos sa ilong ang sanghaya ng tabsing, ng tubig-alat na pinagmulan.

“Bakit ba ang hilig mo sa tahong?” untag ng naglapag sa hapag ng pulutan. Kasunod ang paglapag-himas ng kamay nito sa isang hita ng sumisimsim ng Cerveza Negra. Totoo talaga ang kasabihan. The hand is faster than the thigh.

Muntik mapaigtad sa mainit-init na dampi ng laman ng kausap. Nagtimpi’t nagpaliwanag: “Pampatigas daw. Saka masarap. Mura pa. Ganitong ganito pa ang hitsura ng malinamnam na… basta malinamnam din.”

“Hindi totoo ‘yan. Ba’t wala pa ‘kong nararamdamang tumitigas?”

Inilawit ang dila: “’Ta’mo naninigas na nga ‘tong dila ko. Epekto sa pagkain ng tahong.”

Napangiti ang mata ng serbidora sa tinuran. Maharot at nanunukso …

Happy birthday, Jesus Christ!

THERE’LL be much merrymaking and revelry today. But we’ll be at a loss what the hell this eating and drinking binge and the consequent hang-over, bum tummy and jumpy blood pressure is all about.

Were you born in this neck of the woods, those petty bureaucrats and mindless factotums at the National Census and Statistics Office will likely give you a thorough screwing. You’re an undocumented birth, you’re not supposed to exist.

Existence hereabouts needs to be backed up by tons and truckloads of documentation. You’ll likely won’t be issued a TIN, an SSS number, a voter’s ID, a driver’s license even a valid passport—every trenchant idiot and imbecile in civil service plying out identification cards will take pleasure in effacing every shred of evidence that points to your existence. That may explain why life in this country has been identifiably nearer to desperation and destitution.

Only mages and wizards, wise men wizened in long-lost eldritch knowledge would attest how you came about i…

Conversations

THE late prizewinning author Manoling F. Martinez spent a lot of daylight hours on a dreary slog through hallways of malls, soaking up sights he could lay his eyes on. As fillip to that trudge, he’d see a movie—any movie to while away a bit of time, maybe as prelude to a nocturne before hitting the road for an appointment with kindred spirits over suds and cud.

‘Tis tough to get into talking terms, even know by chance a kindred spirit. So he had to pore over books, the sort that kindles an inferno inside one’s head or slams a steamroller at the heart’s core.

Though monastic in his ways, Manoling never had a chance, maybe, a try at an interface with humble creation. If anyone were to spend time or pay attention—call it any which way it’s still an investment or time deposit-- to any being, there’s always a welcome company of the meek. They shall inherit the earth—maybe after we’ve thoroughly screwed and sucked it bone-dry.

Take that assertion by the late mystic Max Heindel on bacillus-ty…

A turn of the screw

NECESSITY the mother of inventions?

Totoo ka, mambabatas. A translation: Jodale, legislador. Another translation: Fact you, lawmaker.

It must have taken truckfuls of money to convince honorable members of the Casa de los Diputados to con us, ehek, we mean lump themselves into an appropriate mass with a view to an alteration here, there and everywhere on the 1987 Charter.

Before that sudden flanking move, a gaggle of dullards and laggards were telling people that the nation’s polished future is hinged on an evisceration of the 1987 Charter. As is, the country’s kismet is as midnight dark as the mons of, um, a Tetchie Agbayani in her salad days.

Arguably, we’d rather opt to come into such delicious darkness than try all that spit-and-polish approach to nationhood proffered by ‘em putative people’s deputies—there’s more spit than polish in ‘em.

For all we care, ‘em lawmakers can roll out barrels of arguments for what they see as dire necessity to work over the 1987 Charter.

After all, necessit…

Advertisement for myself

HE went just like that. No long goodbyes, no adieux to his readers. Manuel Festin Martinez didn’t exactly endear himself to readers. Their heads are embroiled in the labyrinthine twists and turns of a Kris Aquino’s life, or a breath-taking Vic Sotto-Pia Guanio union.

That guy could get a lot of things for his kind of writing. A lot. Say, get shot. Get sued for libel. Get mauled to an inch of his life. Get threats. Get fixed to shut him up. Get jailed—uh, he was a political detainee in the ancien regime.

His very few friends wish that the chap just get paid for his writings.

He caught me once too buried between a book’s pages so like a lecher lapping in sheer gusto at the coy lips between a maiden’s splayed thighs. I ought to be writing novels, he chided, instead of reading novels.

I’ll come to that, I shot back, and come inside a woman’s downy mound’s silken depths I will.

Unlike Manoling, I’ve never had a liking for the political front. Too tacky. The labor front? Rather toilsome. The …

Satan's clause

TWO of every three Filipinos say they will vote “No” in a plebiscite on a new Constitution that the current top tenant in Malacañang wants, according to the November 2006 Social Weather Stations survey.

The telling clause to that sentence? A new Charter that the current top tenant in Malacañang wants.

We can also substitute another clause. Say, a new set of errand dogs that the current top dog in Malacañang wants elected.

Plunk down another clause. What about new Garci that the current top resident in Malacañang wants for more satisfying mid-term election results?

Surveys like that one plied by SWS come in handy questionnaires. Respondents’ replies to questionnaires don’t necessarily reflect genuine sentiments.

Sentiments can be swayed, say, at gun point or before an overwhelming presence of hired riff-raff bristling with menace and mayhem plus firepower.

People’s sentiments and perceptions can also be coaxed for suitable ends with some legal tenderness.

Sumptuous sums could be trickled do…

Halalan na!

BLESSED be!

Chew the cud of that. Feel a humming thrum, a vibrant throb in bundled words that bring wonders. There’s magic in ‘em words of blessing.

Remember Jacob’s ruse we were told of in Sunday school? He got his ailing father’s blessings—just a clutch of mumbled words-- that were meant for the first-born brother Esau. Worded blessings were deemed as birthright for the eldest, how could shameless Jacob rob a sibling just like House of Rep denizens on a sally at the nation’s coffers for pork barrel chunks?

Spoken blessings must have been a big deal to ‘em both Israelites and Ismaelites.

One Dr. Masaru Emoto confirms the impact of blessings. He snapped photographs of polluted water with a dark-light microscope. A Buddhist monk pronounced blessings over the water sample—and voila! The messy, ugly molecules have turned into beautiful symmetric patterns.

Say, water makes up for about two-thirds of the human body. Blessings are likely to cause certain transformations in the body fluids. Chan…

Dance, dunce, dance!

A LOOMING water shortage won’t be much of a worry to certain species of reptiles. They can slow down their own signs of life, say breathing, gorging on food or taking water to keep body mass intact. They can play half-dead—the exact term is hibernation which sounds too close to nation. Reptiles like that are, for short, called Rep.

A liter of water costs more than a liter of premium gas any time. But sometimes a few drops of spittle turn out to be costlier burden on a consumer or taxpayer’s pockets. Say, the sort of spittle that time and again mists the august halls of the House of Rep.

We can zero in on one instance. Our reporter Tita C. Valderama’s story which saw print December 1, 2006 bore this four-decker: “GMA’s allies: Cha-cha more important than water crisis.”

Wow! That report was as mouth-watering as the waxed-neat fringes about the cleft ‘tween Britney Spears’ thighs that we see a lot of these days.

So we can drool and revel over the revelation.

As the Valderama report bears ou…

From dandruff to brain tumor

ADVERTISING folks from their minute-to-minute multi-media bombardment would have us believe the nation’s most compelling problem is dandruff, damaged hair, whatever distresses the tresses.

We’d like to buy that with a view to an expression of deepest condolence to whatever afflicts the spouse of Malacañang’s top resident.

The affliction, we’d hazard a guess, might be a bad case of split ends which any hair salon denizen would diagnose pronto with an appropriate shampoo and certain chemicals that can induce something called hair relax. Or a bit of hair rebond. Whatever.

It ain’t a headful of karma or which some would call as bad pate, bald fate, whichever sinks in conveniently.

As yesterday’s reports have it Gloria and her consort were rushed to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. Most people did an eeny-meeny-miney-mo as the most convenient tool to divine which one was ailing.

Those 43 newsmen and newshens facing libel charges filed by the consort are likely to wish wishes that are…

Lessons from storms

SUPER Typhoon Reming didn’t pack much mayhem unlike the 17th howler that blew into town, which was Milenyo. We’re still on bended knees, asking whoever brews those storms out there to bring two or three more howlers here.

We need torrents of rain to fill in our dams and reservoirs in anticipation of a blowtorch spell in the summer months—why, less than full water reservoirs means havoc on staple crop production and the expected rice bumper harvest to stave off costly rice imports.

Dapat mapuno ang ating mga imbakan. Para maging sapat din ang pantustos na tubig sa mga kabahayan at industriya sa mga lungsod.

The root word puno translates to tree and leader in the Filipino lexicon. Each meaning can be dealt the test of tempests.

Shallow-rooted trees like knife acacia, falcatta, and aratiles are easily blown down by gale-force winds. For such trees, their roots merely spread out and cover much ground. That’s not unlike a leader’s outcroppings whose hands dip in every pie and coffer. Their roo…

Pork eaters, read this

PIG-HEADED infidels and lesser mortals often savor this silly notion: You are what you eat.

Thus, they pig out on delicious drippings off so-called pork barrel to the consternation of dirt-poor and pigsty-dwelling folks grubbing on less than P50 a day.

Some are wont to bring home the bacon and relish crisp-fried morsels lavished on such staples as carbonara or finger-suckin’ goodness of Boston baked beans. Some would like to ham it up in showmanship, go for such rare delight at $80 a pound as bellota jamon Iberico— produced from free-ranging swine foraging on cork acorns that infuse the meat with an opulent nutty flavor and tender texture.

Cordillera natives take pride in their inasin—salted chunks of pork hung upon the hearth to amass a symphony of flavors from whatever’s cooking, why, even a frugal slice added to broth or brew can whip up a bit of ambrosia, transform frugal fare into a feast.

We can go easy on pig knuckles culled off pata negra—ah, the meat off those mountain-dwelling f…

Looming vendetta

ONION-SKINNED we are as any bank’s armored vehicle, a segment of unreeling news events for a month or so has nudged our noggin to coyly rework within a local context and setting a 1970s kung-fu flick, Rikishi kuri. Doesn’t anybody remember one Dexter Won who was hitched as rickshaw boy in that no-brainer movie?

Viewers won’t mind an outright rip-off so let’s plunk down the same frayed plot in Tala, a convenient cross between agrestic idylls of Bulacan and the noisome concrete jungle of Caloocan City’s southern spread.

Begin with a blast in broad daylight-- a ragtag crew of cops moonlighting as holduppers pump buckets of ammo on a hapless purified water peddler who reportedly also works for RPN Channel 9 as camera man.

Fully perforated victim bleeds to death as the culprits cart away his day’s earnings.

Dump the rickshaw in Rikishi kuri, use a local vehicle relevant to our version of coolie labor. Yeah, a tricycle! Any convenient stand-in for Dexter Won witnesses the crime, recognizes the …

Bushwhacking season is on

DUBYA Bush will likely be on pins and needles for the next two years before his inevitable dumping in the 2008 elections. His Republican party mates’ hold on Congress chucked loose by the recent mid-term vote, the U.S. head of state will be in for a lot of grilling as lawmakers less friendly to Bush gird for an investigative spree.

America had thrown billions of dollars and thousands of lives in the Bush-sponsored global war against terror. The war wasn’t exactly global in scope—it was a fray largely of Bush’s making against Iraq. Dubya insisted that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was holding on to a huge cache of weapons of mass destruction that could be launched against the US mainland or any of its ally nations.

After years of occupying Iraq along with an all-out search of every inch of Iraqi territory, not a faint trace of those so-called weapons of mass destruction was found. All that was accomplished was a systematic looting of ancient artifacts and relics of a millenia-old cultur…

Only in pain

THE doctors gave up on him. Terminal cancer. He’s left with precious bunch of days to endure the pain that wracks his insides before breathing his last.

Most times, he is under heavy sedation. Pain-killers. Probably morphine or any of its derivatives flooding his bloodstream. In opiate stupor, his awareness is tossed between drowsiness and dreamy wakefulness. The pain dulled, he drifts in waves of passing comfort. It would be futile to kindle small talk, just to hear his voice no longer raised in argument or greeting.

As the waves of pain surge through him, the numbness fades. He’d wince in recognition of familiar faces and voices, mostly of friends he hasn’t seen in weeks, maybe months.

In opiate comfort he would be beyond us.

Only in pain would he be with us now.

Nabanggit ko na minsan sa kanya na mas masahol pa sa pokpok ang hanapbuhay ng manunulat. Sa ngayon. Panahon pa ni Carlos Bulosan sa kaigtingan ng tinatawag na The Great Depression noong mga taon ng 1930 nang naging patakaran ng

Opening the third eye

‘TWAS some years back in Agoo, La Union where a psychic healer prayed smack over my brows to pry open the so-called third eye. I was told not to womanize too much as such a habit causes the peephole into another reality to gather wool— most likely pubic hair—over the extra eye. I reasoned with the healer that only a nun could drop a habit and she’ll probably be taking a bath or indulge in something more interesting to watch.

So that thingy between the eyebrows is now open for business. Open but not as gaping though as the splayed thighs of a maiden doing a split maybe a banana split.

I was told that the extra sense of sight would allow me to heal ill folks. I shirked from that task, stymied at the prospect of actually causing afflictions to fade away. With a toast followed by a thirsty swig of suds, I made the point clear: “Here’s to the wound that never heals! The more you scratch it the better it feels.”

I was warned that with that augmented sense of sight I’d be seeing things out of t…

Don’t we deserve a go at her?

AS that ancient manual on sex-- Kama Sutra—would have it, congress is two people of opposite sexes screwing each other.

The Congress we’ve grown too familiar with to the point of contempt, why, Congress isn’t only the opposite of progress. Congress is viewed by pundits as over 200 people screwing the entire nation—and we’re not even enjoying their mode of coition.

More than the perks and pork that send ‘em members of Congress into feeding frenzy, there are certain denizens there who dangle monies—shucked off taxpayers’ pockets, of course—to any well-stacked broad or number they take a fancy to or get the hots on.

A little birdie told us about this putative lawmaker on the prowl for young, fresh carcass, the supposedly hard-to-get types which induces any frog—filthy rotten old goat, that’s what it is—to drool like a famished canine. A frog like that is also called palakaplog.

This particular lawmaker skips the niceties of the chase.

Why go through the travails of a chase when oodles and oo…

All work no play makes 'em dullards

CHILDREN need a lot of time, even coaxed to stomp, romp, frolic. Enjoy, gambol, spill out those brimming wellsprings of adrenaline in themselves— let ‘em play to their heart’s content.

If not, as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported recently, they may not become fully adjusted physically, socially, and emotionally.

The report noted that in today’s world of overstressed parents and overworked children, too meager time was left for old-fashioned unstructured play.

In 1907, prolific plant breeder and genius Luther Burbank plied out the same counsel: “Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, water-lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hay-fields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education.

“By be…

Con us? No way!

HIGH-TENSION wires allow smooth flow of high-voltage electricity. Wires of low tensile strength cannot. Let surge high-voltage current in low-tension wire—that would trigger a power trip. The insulator sizzles, the wire melts, there’s power outage. The sparks fly starting a blaze that may raze an entire squatters’ colony—faulty house wiring is the usual culprit in fires of that sort.

High-tension wire for high-voltage current. Low-tension wire for low-voltage juice. A lesson in appropriate wiring can wisen us.

Maybe we can better appreciate such precious lessons in wiring. Haul ‘em Charter change proponents, trussing all like turkeys and hanging ‘em up there in power transmission lines as baseload power is beefed up by a few thousand more kilowatts. See those stack of steaks sizzle but we’d like ‘em well done.

That’ll be a sight too enlightening to behold—but don’t hold ‘em, huh?

Liken the 1987 Charter to the wiring schemata of a house in which we dwell. It took a gathering topnotch brai…

Haunting suds thought

LEFT-OVER foam roughly spelled out the name “ELY” after erstwhile PJI chair Bobby T. Capco took a long swig off his bottle, then pointed to the quaint suds spell. Haunting suds thought, that’s what we suspected it was and if Bobby had his drink in a can, we’d appropriately call it taunting can thought.

The late Eleazar Lopez, our regular beer buddy qua patron and advisor probably wanted to join us for a drink, so I poured out a frothy libation around our favorite drinking table at Estaya’s, the group’s usual hang-out. Small place, an eatery that takes pride in old-fashioned home cooking that draws a motley crowd from nearby government and customs brokerage offices at lunchtime. Off-hours, Estaya’s turns into a beer joint where we regularly repair to awaiting late-breakers that may call for a rematting of our paper’s city edition. A newsman’s routine can be like that of a lurking assassin out to waylay every lay along the way—yeah, good things come to those who wait in ambush.

When our b…

Family life

TO the chagrin and shock of political supporters, extant Virginia governer Mark R. Warner announced that he won’t be in the running for the U.S. presidency in 2008. A run for the White House would be too much interference for his family life, he reasoned.

After a weekend with his wife, three daughters and an octogenarian father, it must have dawned on him that he isn’t yet ripe or crusty enough for the goriest of bloodsports—a try at the presidential throne.

People who believe in Warner’s competence and political savvy are aghast, saying that they have deeply and emotionally invested in him.

Too, they cite that except for Warner, “there’s nobody in the United States better positioned to be president”—and that includes extant First Lady and Sen. Hillary R. Clinton.

It appears that this family man has weighed his choices and chances before that decision to pull out of contention: “"I bring a real desire to learn. I think I bring a tremendous curiosity. I think I bring a willingness to …

1950s relic

FABULOUS ‘50s, what a grand time it was. ‘Twas nitty-gritty rebuilding time for the nation from the rubble and ruins left in the wake of World War II. Remember? Two pesos equals a dollar. Minimum pay was P8 a day and that amount can sustain a family of six.

Then, a decent-sized oil painting by a Vicente Manansala, a Hernando R. Ocampo, a Cesar Legaspi, even that movie set designer qua gadabout poet of the brush Carlos “Botong” Francisco fetched for P5—what lush opulence such works in oil and canvas would lend to a drab wall!

A pesky urban legend of sorts from the ‘50s refused to fade away in certain local art circles. It’s about Botong Francisco. In a fit of generosity and just maybe all he had on his person was a rolled-up mural-size canvas on which the typical Botong pastorale had been painted, he gave that away in exchange for a meal. Even then, that artwork was worth more than a few lavish dinners— thrown in with a few magnums of Armagnac, hand-rolled and brandy-dipped Havanas, and…