Charles Sanchez

Here, There, Everywhere: Catching Up with Criselda Yabes

Criselda Yabes has published eight books, including Sarena?s Story: The Loss of a Kingdom, which won the UP Centennial Literary Prize for Creative Non-Fiction simultaneously with Below the Crying Mountain. A journalism graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, she worked as correspondent for the international press in Manila, covering politics and coups as well as other major events overseas.

It?s a humid June night as I step inside La Vie Parisienne for the first time after hearing so much about it over the years. I?m here to meet up (well, ?catch up? really) with Criselda Yabes, published author, journalist, traveler, and vegetarian, whom I first met at the San Agustin Writers Workshop in Iloilo just a little over a month ago, where she was a guest panelist on the first day and a craft lecturer on the last.

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HEXOPUS: The Six-Limbed Lad


It’s the start of summer vacation in the quiet little coastal municipality of Sto. Domingo, and thirteen-year-old Paul Pelegrino, a boy born with six limbs, four arms and two legs, can’t wait to enjoy waking up late and spending afternoons at the beach. His last day of school, unfortunately, is marred by a brawl with the local bully, which then leads to Paul’s puking of an inky black substance. 

Things take an even greater turn for the bizarre when a series of dreams he has involving a mysterious squid-like being of ancient folklore known as a Kamdiri, coincides with a string of murders in which the crime scenes are caked with the same black goo. Paul, under suspicion by the police and rattled by revelations about what he believes are his own out-of-this-world origins, is then compelled to conduct his own investigation into the macabre happenings, and maybe even make sense of his unusual comeuppance.

Blending humor, horror, and folklore, Hexopus: The Six-Limbed Lad marks the beginning of Paul’s coming of age, in a deeply conservative Catholic town still firmly tethered to its precolonial past, and amid a tumultuous time marked by fear, uncertainty, and empowered law enforcement.

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