Categories
Fiction

Solferino’s Talisman

His father, Sol, was stronger than a bull. Arturo knew that because his father tried to raise him to be the strongest. When he was a boy of five, his father began training him in the art of arnis. With a pair of rattan sticks, they’d strike at the black rubber tires tied to the trunks of palm trees outside their house for hours on end. Then they’d rest under the mango grove nearby and drink fresh coconut milk and eat the soft white meat straight out of the husks. All the while, he’d hear his father talk about their family’s heritage—that their forefather was a warrior and a hero, the island’s founder—that Solferino Borinaga, after whom his father was named, was among the earliest practitioners of the ancient art of stick-fighting in the world. His father believed that arnis should be the country’s national martial art as it was the oldest and used by their heroes in fighting against the invaders from the seas.

Sadly, such history was forgotten by the Borinagas as the century passed, and it was a shame they’d never had one in their line becoming an arnis world champion. His father told the young Arturo he could be the first one. But instead of the getting interested with the art of stick fighting, Arturo was so weaved inside Solferino’s stories that he’d run to the harbors and dive deep into the sea; when he’d surfaced, he’d witness the old battles happening all around him. So he never refused a practice no matter how bad his blisters got, for they were the only times he’d hear stories about Solferino—his sons, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—their whole line of ancestors who lived and died for the island.

Categories
Fiction

Quaranfic

Tondo 1

“Nay pwede na lumabas?!” Napabalikwas sa higaan si Jeng-jeng nang makarinig ng mga naghuhuntahan at naglalarong bata.

“Oo, ikaw na lumabas para bumili ng ulam at marami pa kong isasampay. Yung kapatid mo papasukin mo na rin dito!” 

Agarang tumayo si Jeng-jeng at kinuha ang barya mula sa ina.

Categories
Fiction

Lamiraw

Most people don’t know this. The only ones who do are seers, dreamwalkers and those born with the sight like me. Long ago before the age of Man, gods walked the Earth. It was a time when the world was newly-born like an infant, when there was no difference between waking and dreaming. This time was called Lamiraw, the Age of the Waking Dream. In Lamiraw, the gods walked upright on two feet like us. They looked like us except they were giants. Some gods were so tall that their heads scraped the sky. When they walked, the Earth shook with each footstep. When they waded into the sea, their every movement created waves as tall as hills. They sculpted mountains for them to rest their heads on as they slept. Lakes were created when they shed tears. Rivers were formed when they relieved themselves. Hills and mountain ranges were born when, you know. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about because we all do it once a day, sometimes even twice. We all have to do it, even kings, even popes, even gods, although the myths leave out their most intimate and natural bodily functions. 

I was riding a pumpboat at Malajog Beach in Calbayog, Western Samar when I had a vision-walk. When I experience a vision-walk, I am transported to Lamiraw, the age of the gods. While I am in Lamiraw, I feel like I am floating in a timeless space before time and distance held sway and when dreaming and waking were one and the same. 

Categories
Fiction

How Sitio San Roque Turned into a Garden

Everything in the dilapidated houses has been sitting on the same place for many years that if one lifts an object, its shadow will refuse to leave the surface. Except that there’s no one to do that now. Everything – not only in the houses but in the whole sitio where the houses stand limply – everything there is dew, devoid of any human presence. Debris that has fallen from the ceiling is covered with dew. Vines that creep throughout the debris are covered with dew. Flowers that grow from the vines are covered with dew. Everything there is dew. Fogs that never cease to float over the land. And plants. Especially plants.

The vast expanse of flowers is unbearable to see. They crawl across the ruins, unforgiving to the slits on the floor, the amakan holes, or the cracks on the doors, replacing window frames with thick bushes, trapped underneath pieces of furniture, dominating tin roofs to cover their rusts, all of them growing without discipline. One cannot ascertain if they’re ugly or beautiful. Sprouting from faucet mouths, holes of abandoned toilet bowls, or ribcages of goat carcasses, they’re chaotic, as if every petal is in disagreement. Even the most well-versed of all mathematicians cannot make out a clear pattern that dictates their growth. 

Categories
Fiction

Ghosts

Root crop, sugarcane, corn, and between these, giant weeds. It didn’t matter. They all speak, their susurrations a language the Maylupa do not understand. The Maylupa and their kin have been living in these hectares for as long as they can remember. And for as long as they can remember, they have been suspicious of the crop and their private speech. Because they are suspicious of their speech, the Maylupa likewise were suspicious of everything that triggers it: the cycles of humid heat and punishing rain, the ground, the wind. Distrusting the vegetation, they must content themselves with the other living creatures that reside in the fields: eels, toads, rats, locusts, birds. The pestilences ravage the crops, the species depending on the season. 

They boil stagnant water to drink, and are constantly sick. They only know what had been held true by their sires: that these lands was theirs by rights, but that it had turned traitor to them because of the hands that whispered, tilled, conversed with them. The land was not theirs in the eyes of the Maylupa, who had all the titles and deeds to disprove the claims of the nameless ones. The Maylupa had passed down the knowledge from their ancestors that the nameless ones had cultivated this secret, private language between them and the land.