The Heart of Davao City

Nonfiction by | March 23, 2008

For someone who has never been inside Bankerohan, the place is the worst idea of a tourist spot. People who do not visit the far dark corners of it would even wonder why it had been made a destination. Others question why a wet market is constructed beside a dental clinic and other establishments that offer a comfortable place and clean services. The stink which makes passers-by cover their noses when the jeepney drives through; the dirt which can be seen in every vendor’s clothes, stall, sack, cart, and anywhere along the sidewalk; the chatter of the people which is nearly unbearable – are the main reasons that some people prefer to go to air-conditioned supermarkets. Furthermore, the rows of stalls are not organized. Some vendors simply pile their fruits and vegetables on a dirty sack along the sidewalk, and some even go beyond the boundary line, making traffic worse.

Continue reading The Heart of Davao City


Nonfiction by | March 16, 2008

We all mature: one way or another. It is one of those simple facts of life we can never escape from. There will come a day when we realize that we have changed the way we view things — for the better, we hope. Just recently, that day made itself known to me.

Like Dorian Gray and Lord Henry Wotton, I used to value physical beauty above others. This was to me a tendency unconsciously observed. Do we not, as children, often choose playmates that look as pleasant as their genes or their parents’ money can make them? I was guilty of this. Aren’t we all?

When I was in grade school, there was this girl whom no one liked too well. I was not exactly the popular kid, either, but I thought I was better off than she was. At least I had some friends. She, on the other hand, was the sort others would run away from, as if she had a deadly and contagious disease. She was the perpetual ”it” of the oh-so-many playground games we played when we were kids.

Continue reading Maturity

Sunday Class

Nonfiction by | March 16, 2008

That January Sunday promised to the most charmless, cheerless day in years. The weather seemed hesitant, and the time passed by slowly and clinically as though the world was flat and on lithium.

I had set an afternoon appointment with a classmate from high school — a huge crush of mine back in the day — who, for some reason or other, deemed me geeky yet accessible enough consult for her thesis.

She gave me a call late in the week, quickly explaining the requirements for her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts.

How could I have said no? Or do you see why I couldn’t say no? Full to the brim though my calendar appeared, if this was the same hazel-haired, hazel-eyed young woman who, if my recollection serves, had the habit of biting her lower lip whenever she talked….

Continue reading Sunday Class

Ethnicity and the Choreographer

Nonfiction by | February 17, 2008

In transforming ethnic dance to neo-ethnic, it is a must to first align the mind to the fact that the creation of a new work, even though ethnic inspired, is simply that—a creation. And, since it is to be neo-ethnic, its intention as an artwork should pay tribute to the source of origin.

Authentic ethnic dance loses its magic when performed away from its natural environment. Its very essence is endangered when it is haphazardly pulled out by its roots and the dance, at its purest form, is brought to stages, streets, basketball courts and gymnasiums in urban settings. The dances are often made to wear colorful sequined costumes and, at times, even pretend to be the real thing.

Continue reading Ethnicity and the Choreographer

Memoirs of a "Gay-sha"

Nonfiction by | January 27, 2008

I have been gay since I was five. Playing with toy guns or miniature race cars were never my game. Instead, I fancied baby dolls and their flamboyant dresses and silky, curly locks. I considered them alive—my little friends and fairy godmothers with whom I shared my innermost desires.

But my Mama had a great distaste for watching me play with my little girly playmates and would pinch me hard to restore my male consciousness. After all, dolls are for girls and I was meant to play with less delicate things. To get back to my pink world, I decided to play with my dolls in a place where I thought we could be protected—behind the bushes in front of Mama Mary’s grotto in our backyard. Like the mists of Avalon, the bushes concealed us from the great perils of time and my mother’s disapproval. We played roles, had tea parties, and fairy dances. But our favorite musical act was Sister Act 1’s “I Will Follow Him,” in which the fake nun Whoopi Goldberg infected the world with happiness by reworking a boring church hymn into great song-and-dance number. It is the song that would best define my gay childhood. It carried me to beautiful heights of happiness and divinity.

Continue reading Memoirs of a "Gay-sha"

Making Real Friends in GenSan

Nonfiction by | January 6, 2008

Pioneer Avenue is a place in General Santos City that has made me feel the real spirit of friendship that no other friendship networks can provide, not even the ever-famous Friendster community over the Internet. Having lived in General Santos City for eighteen years, I feel so proud that Pioneer Avenue has come such a long way. The whole length of Pioneer Avenue extends from Sydney Hotel to Chowking on one side and from Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges to Golden State HRM laboratory on the other side. The place is purely a commercial area. It was named Pioneer Avenue because it was where the first settlers of General Santos City had lived — “the pioneers.”

Continue reading Making Real Friends in GenSan

Of the Bombs and the Sun

Nonfiction by | November 25, 2007

Tacurong City and I have seen good days. The atmosphere where I grew up in has continuously changed having something to do with my expanding horizons and growing consciousness of the various events.

When I was a child, all I thought was that Tacurong was my haven. I grew up with all the love and joy offered not only by the people around me, but also by the enchanted trees and the birds, I ran freely with the wind, I slept soundly with the crickets singing their songs.

I had a deep appreciation of the sunset that I always saw from afar – across the rice fields which were just meters away from our house, and across the mountains, the proud Daguma Range. My little eyes found pleasure watching the sun paint the sky with colors as it set. The mountain ranges looked as if they were palms embracing a crystal ball that predicted my future. I would always find myself leaning on our gate’s post, staring dreamily at the sun until it vanished and gave way to the stars.

Continue reading Of the Bombs and the Sun

One Sunny Day in Mintal, Davao City

Nonfiction by | November 18, 2007

One sunny day when green snakes basked by the dormitory gates, and the warty toads came out of the toilets, and trolls from the adjacent rooms were creating such a ruckus that my headache had a headache too, I decided to go to the mall for some peace and normalcy. The dormitory of the University of the Philippines in Mindanao was situated literally in the boondocks, and it was a 2 kilometer ride down unfinished roads to the highway. The only available transport was the habal-habal: a motorbike turned rough-road-taxi, whose driver ferried up to 4 to 6 passengers at a time.

To the people of Davao, this was a way of life. To me, it was a learning experience. On my first semester at the university, I was literally stuck at the dorm. I did not know how to ride a habal-habal. I was terrified of it, being the size of two normal Davaoeño. When an errant jeep or bus chanced by, I hailed it with so much zest that people thought my armpits were on fire. On one particular day, when I was desperate to get off the mountain, I begged for a ride on a meat delivery truck, and hung on a hook in its cargo bay like one of its produce. I knew, despite my circumstances, that I was blessed, since the truck’s cargo was long delivered and the bay was freshly cleaned.

Continue reading One Sunny Day in Mintal, Davao City