Taglunod, Tagsunog

The First Arcology

When they had begun building the arcology it didn’t have a name. Many had not heard the word before, did not know the origins, and their minds fashioned an Ark of incredible size. It was beyond language and therefore beyond imagination. 

They were the dreamers with means. They wanted to dream their way out of the impending doom that came with the floods that always every year seemed to grow higher and higher, scorning every tired, inadequate effort to tame them. They had cast their dreaming eye upon the dark, clogged rivers and the worn cement of sinking cities, saw the cobbled houses on stilts with their patchwork roofs that lined the waterways and sewers and said We will make for them a new kind of city to unburden the old. When they closed their dreaming eyes they saw the arcology, able to feed itself and power itself, an organism not unlike a tree, needing nothing else but good land and the cooperation of all its parts, ready to survive into the new age. 

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The Ticket

Boys grow up to be men. And it’s men who cause all the trouble. They’re the ones who shed the blood and poison the earth.” – Stephen King, Sleeping Beauties

ONE SUNDAY MORNING, the world woke up without women. No man really knew what happened. Were they abducted by aliens? Were they all kidnapped by a mogul? A male news anchor on TV screamed, “We’re happy the transgenders and intersex who are biological glitches are gone but where the hell did our wives go?” News on the Internet kept announcing reward money from Caucasian men for any one with leads as to where their wives and children have gone. Even the male presidents and prime ministers did not know where their wives went or where they have taken their children. One Sunday morning, the world woke up without women. Of course, wherever the women go, the children go with them. 

As to Rolando Magsaysay, a Filipino with a sound mind and body at age of 35 years old, his world suddenly become at a standstill. He woke up expecting her wife and children at the dining table waiting for him to join their breakfast. Instead, he found the house empty. There was no laughter and heavy steps from their seven-year old daughter Charo and his three- year old son Gabrielle. There was no kitchen smelling like pancakes and coffee. There was no one but him. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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