From a Davao Diary

Nonfiction by | April 19, 2009


There I was, one pleasant morning, on a long sweaty walk that started at the Davao City Hall and led to the unimposing Gaisano South Ilustre mall downtown: moving, maybe lost, but moving. Even though according to the locals I actually came close to the Chinatown of the largest city in the world, it was a stretch that struck me as more Western than Oriental: diners and billboards, no teahouses, and no lanterns.

No matter. Why exchange sixty minutes of sun and solitude for anything else? The weather was agreeable, and I was enjoying being a traveler, as opposed to being “just a domestic tourist.” Only briefly did I stop: upon a minor assault of hunger I had breakfast at a McDonald’s at one corner of an intersection. I forgot for one reason or another to take mental note of the streets’ names, a habit I had acquired in Manila. It was something else which I let guide me: the kites being flown above –looking like seven sperm cells in the clear blue sky– or something simpler perhaps, and vaguer, such as an impulsive fearlessness of the unknown. Whatever it is, if the guide disappointed, I still would’ve moved, just moved, in what R.L. Stevenson had once called “the great affair.”

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Nonfiction by | December 21, 2008

The full moon shone pale through thin clouds, diffusing its glow. The faces of the people looked peaceful and solemn in the subdued light of the many-colored lanterns that lined the sides of Lourdes Church in Quezon City. The priest’s voice echoed from hidden speakers and was thunderous, like the foreboding voice of God, but I did not see his face because I was standing in the adjacent car park. From outside, I could see empty pews, but more parishioners than what I thought was usual had gathered to listen and to pray.

The evening was chilly. One could almost imagine that the church, the streets, the shabby souvenir shops and donut chains, and all the rest of Manila were air-conditioned. The leaves of the fruitless trees beside the adoration chapel rustled gently, and the seven o’clock sky was pink. Indeed, the weather is best come December. It doesn’t rain and it is never too hot.

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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….

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