“The day I was born I was born free and that is my Privilege.”

A Child’s Yield
May 29, 2008, 2:36 pm
Filed under: All That Jazz!, Tabloid | Tags: ,

I just shrugged off my shoulder when a man from Adarna Publications babbled about the value of reading to us children, how such a hobby will help develop our language skills, when I was in my elementary years.

I was not interested to that as much as I was excited when a group went to our room offering us to buy seeds of flowers and vegetables. My classmate was once dumbfounded by me buying seeds of carrots, cabbages and the like while she was holding in her hand a sachet containing sunflower seeds. I was just thrilled back then with the fact that carrots and cabbages do have seeds. I remember planting them in a pot, watering it, placing it away from my father’s chicken, and waking early every morning to see if the seedling has emerged. I was saddened that after more than a week of taking good care of it no greens came out. I had to get rid the impatient child in me who digs the soil after a day or two of planting the seeds, wondering if the seed is still there and no chicken has taken it out. But nothing came out still. I recall having that same feeling when a filthy kid neighbor of ours get the first yield of my tomato plant. I just saw it on the road outside of our house smashed, my poor tomato.

When I was little, my father used to store seeds of fruit-bearing trees and various vegetables in a container placed in our rack of groceries. He used to rant, why should I waste my time planting flowers and shrubs? Would it make my dinengdeng tastier? I always laugh imagining him saying that. I once dragged him out in our garden and had him name each seed I found in his container. Papa, was this a patani or a saluyot? My favorite was the Narra seed. To describe it, if I were watching Cinderella or Elang Uling, as NIck Joaquin calls it, I will say it is a castle with a moat but if I was in a kitchen watching my mother prepare our dinner, it is a wee meatball sandwiched in two siomai wrappers ready to be dropped on a boiling water to create a soup.

Now, back to the man from Adarna House, he handed me a list of books and some samples. I opened Ibong Adarna and there I was amazed with the pictures, with the colorful feathers of the ibong Adarna, but not with the content. I handed it back to him with an alibi that I had to ask my mother first if I really need to buy one or that we could not afford to even purchase a book.

I regretted that when I was in college taking a Language Development course. My professor once, when her coarse voice would not allow her to teach, brought her collection of children’s storybooks both by local and foreign authors and made us read whatever book we would like to throughout the entire class hours. I particularly like this one book because of its wordplay.

Here is the story:

Papel de liha (Sandpaper)
by Ompong Remigio

Ang nanay ko ang imis-imis. Kapag me duming nakadikit, kiskis dito, kiskis doon. Kapag may mantsa sa damit, kuskos dito, kuskos doon. Kapag me sebo sa kawali, kaskas dito, kaskas doon.

Dadako siya sa sala at mag-aayos. Kapag may diyaryong nakakalat, ligpit dito, ligpit doon. Kapag may tornilyong maluwag, higpit dito, higpit doon. Kapag may maumbok na kutson, pitpit dito, pitpit doon.

Papasok siya sa kusina at magbubusisi. Kapag may ulam na malamig, salang dito, salang doon. Kapag may isdang sariwa, sigang dito, sigang doon. Kapag may kalan na tabingi, kalang dito, kalang doon.

Tutuloy siya sa silid at titingnan ang aking gamit. Kapag may sintas na maluwag, tali dito, tali doon. Kapag may tastas na laylayan, tahi dito, tahi doon. Kapag may butas na pundilyo, tagpi dito, tagpi doon.

Gagawi siya sa paliguan at mag-uusisa. Kapg may wee-wee na nakita, buhos dito, buhos doon. Kapag may aah-aah na naiwan, buhos dito, buhos doon. Kapg may ooh-ooh na sumingit, buhos dito, buhos doon.

Iikot siya sa bakuran, sa may halamanan. Kapag may dahong naglalaglagan, walis dito,walis doon. Kapg may ipot ng ibon, palis dito, palis doon. Kapg may uod na naipon, alis dito, alis doon. ‘Yan si Nanay. Ang imis-imis. Maghapon at magdamad, kiskis-kuskos. Higpit-higpit. Salang-sigang. Tali-tagpi. Walis-palis.

Isang araw dumating si Tita Maring Ang sabi niya: “Ano ba naman Milagring! Kaskas-kiskis-kuskos ka nang kaskas, kiskis-kuskos kaya kumapal at gumaspang ang mga palad mo. Parang papel de liha na pang-isis. Hinay-hinay ka lang at magpalambot ng balat at baka hindi na hawakan ni Turing ang kamay mo.” Hindi na hahawakan ni Tatay ang kamay ni Nanay? Bakit? Ano ba ang papel de liha?

Naghanap ako sa bahay ng papel de liha pero papel de hapon lang ang nakita ko. Pumunta ako sa tindahan Ni Aling Epang at bumili ako ng papel de liha. Magaspang ito. Mahapdi sa balat. Gasgas ang kahoy sa isang kaskas. Nisnis ang damit sa isang isis. Ganito nga ba kagaspang ang kamay ni Nanay?

Minsan nilagnat ako at napilitang mahiga. Si Nanay, tumabi sa akin. Nang tumass ang lagnat ko, punas dito, punas doon. Nang sumama ang pakiramdam ko lunas dito, lunas doon. Nang sumakit ang mga buto ko, himas dito, himas doon. Pero bakit hindi mahapdi ang himas ni Nanay? Bakit hindi nagasgas ang balat ko nang humimas at humaplos siya sa akin? Lalo akong guminhawa sa bawat himas ni Nanay. Mali si Tita Maring. Hindi papel de liha ang mga palad ni Nanay.
Noong gumaling na ako, nakita ko na namn si Nanay na umiikot ng bahay. Kapag di panatay ang laylayan ng kurtina, lilip dito, lilipd doon. Kapg may bubuwit sa silong, silip dito, silip doon. Kapg may palay sa bigas, tahip dito, tahip doon. Kapg may laruang nagkalat, kipkip dito, kipkip doon. Kapag nabukulan ako, kapkap dito, kapkap doon. Kapag may naligaw na kuting kupkop dito, kupkop doon.
Minsan nakita kong magkahawak-kamay si Nanay at Tatay. Ang sarap tignan. Mali talga si Tita Maring. HIndi papel de liha ang mga palad ni Nanay. HIndi papel de lihang, isis dito, isis doon Kiskis dito, kiskis doon. Kaskas dito, kaskas doon.
Pero hindi ko pa rin matiis na tanungin si Nanay kung bakit nasabi ni Tita Maring na papel de liha ang mga palad niya? “Anak, makapal at magaspang na ang mga palad ko dahil sa kakatrabaho.” ang sabi niya. Iniisip ko, pinalambot ng magaspang na kamay ni Nanay ang unana ko sa ulo, ang manok na nilaga. Ang kutson sa upuan, ang medyas a t kamiseta ni Tatay, ang lupang batuhan, pati lumang pandesal lumambot din.
Pumunta ako kay Nanay at humawak sa kamay niya. Pakiramdam ko kahit kailan, ayaw ko nang bumitiw pa…

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Trisiklo: Prologue
May 27, 2008, 2:06 pm
Filed under: Tabloid

Going to work, the images I see suddenly become monochromatic. The once array of houses evoking their individual hue turned into a one long block of amorphous entity. Street corners then I see differently; it seems like a path that leads somewhere, a portal maybe that could lead me to the places I’ve never known, the path similar to what Alice and her friends had passed, leading them to the yellow brick road. And now, how melancholic that they no longer enthralls me. Whenever I see them, only the tall, blinking lampposts illuminating its grey face that their existence is known to me. And then he came; he who the Society condemns, the reason, that is, his insanity. He made a palace in the sidewalk.

Daily, he paraded himself on the street wearing his dull yet colorful clothes. A master of his own style, he made himself a baronness using a few pieces of garments that he has. In the open, smelly canisters, he glares and politely asks the fly which pieces will come good on his outfit that day. He asks, Will an empty bottle make a good hair adornment, or will a straw choker make me stand out? And he worries of his skin when the thought of sunburn came to his head and then felt relief after proudly thinking that grease and accumulated dirt on his body will protect him from the scorching summer heat.

He was ready. He sat on top of a rubber trash bin with a rat as his co-audience. The black curtain is yet to unveil. He felt thirsty, so he rummaged through the trash on his side. An almost empty plastic of softdrink caught his sight. Happy to the quencher that he has found, he immediately transferred it on a cup that says Starbucks. He got it from a woman with a flower shoe. Satisfied, he, again, sat on his throne, smiling to the rat who eyed him with disgust.

A thick voice over and then his most awaited musical has began. He steadied himself. A silhoutte of a man and a woman arguing opens the show. The protagonist/antagonist grabbed our heroin’s hair and slapped her. Heroin stood up and tried to make her revenge, but the man never wasted a time and hit her again. The performance lasts only for a few minutes.

He left his throne as appalled as before. He wondered what happened next after smears of blood stained the white cloth. He saw the rat eyeing at him again. This time, a smile of victory, while clutching in his claws the plastic of leftover thrown by a passerby.

He just looked back and find no interest to argue.

I heard the engine’s roar fading. I see my co-passengers handed their fare to the driver. I give mine, heads off and give a few nickels to the old beggar asking for alms on my way to my next ride. I turned to look at the folly, he’s silently watching the pavement.

Ensemble: A repost
May 27, 2008, 2:02 pm
Filed under: Tabloid

A womyn, disturbed in her purple silence, opens as a daffodil as I touched her soul.

She’s cynical but she has a conscience.

She admires even the crushed tomatoes that was thrown at her as they lay artistically on the concrete, which she also admires as they are similar by being the medium.

She’s trapped in a web, engulfed by a sickening cycle, she keeps on absorbing ideas without creating her own.  That I pity her but her innocence, I admire.

Hollow I am when she sees me.

Caught in the perplexity of the two apathetic beings watching each other’s back, and I see Ganesha in him.

I view him as something different. He’s the least person I expected to make me smile on those melancholic times.

And you, without doing anything, turn my chaos into nirvana.