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The desecration of Mt. Apo

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Father Carlito never changed a bit. He recited the mass exactly the same way he did 10 years ago that I had to ask myself whether he knows the definition of the word innovation.

His celebration was the same monotonous throaty delivery that sounded worse when he commanded us to offer the sign of peace to the people around.

I smiled and whispered to the person beside me “Plastikan…plastikan.” I looked at the people at my back, flashed the same smile and whispered the same line. Still sleepy at 11eyem, the altar appeared smogged to me, only that the smoke was dead black and it silhouetted some stuffed gargoyles.

Last night, I noticed how lola Natty changed. She slimmed down. Or the coffin was just too small for her. She did not look comfortable too.

When I die, I would prefer a bigger coffin or I will die again in suffocation. I’m also not going to allow my body decay slowly and let worms burrow and feast on my flesh. That of course is very organic—the art of food chain—but I would rather be torched to ashes and save the world some space.

Right now, I adore the idea of having myself inside a Mandaya urn. Athan can keep me if he wants to. Well, I’m giving him the right. But he can also choose to throw my ash.

My family? Nah…they can have my pictures and my old clothes.

Father Carlito was saying the final requiem prayer when my former prefect of discipline came from behind the pew and asked about the skin print on my right hand.

“Are they real?”
“Yes.”
“How are you?”
“Well, I am good…Amen.”
“…Amen.”

After an awkward smile, the prefect of discipline left just as the recessional hymn was being sung.

As the priest passed by my pew, he threw a glance at me and smiled. Minutes later, he approached and gave a hug that he almost choked me. My suspicion that everything in him stopped 10 years ago was smoldered by the up-close encounter.


“How are you?”
“I’m good, father.”
“What do you do now?”
“Busy toppling down bananas.”
“Good job.”
“Where’s your wife?”
“Wife?”
“I thought you are married.”
“I was never married, father.”
“But what happened to her?”
“I don’t know. She’s still in the UK, I guess.”
“You never changed.”


Sure.

I’m no longer the same church worker.

I changed a lot that I had the urge to fart while everyone sang the lord’s prayer. L in lower case, deliberate.

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Twice did Grey’s Anatomy make me cry. No. Thrice—the last one was when Athan kept on switching channels and I walked out of the room and headed straight to the kitchen and washed the dishes.

Facing the washbasin, I found out that everything was greasy. Forks. Spoons. My face. My hands.

A glass slipped off from my grip and kissed the tile. Looking at the shards scattered close to my feet, I suddenly recalled how my friends ended up adoring me for giving them my version of Barry Manilow’s Sandra.

I was picking up some of the larger chips, hands still soapy and dripping, when Athan appeared, a blue towel wrapped around his waist. While helping me cleanup the mess, he mustered some courage to tell me “let’s watch Grey’s Anatomy.”

I just looked at him and went back to the washbasin. Silently, he left me and locked himself inside the bedroom. He has the penchant to keep himself inside enclosed spaces. He wraps himself with blanket regardless of the temperature.

Again, Athan decided to lock himself inside our room last night while I partied until 3eyem.

I urged him to go out with me. He refused saying all he wanted to do was to sleep---with me. Sweet but we have always slept together almost all our two-month life as boyfriends. Besides I have already programmed myself to go out last night and aborting the plan could well become a potential explosive issue.

His last ditch effort came as he kissed me and slowly pushed down towards the bed. I turned the offer down.

Eight hours after, Athan was awakened by a call from his mom. I cannot understand what Athan was talking about. I was half-asleep-half-awake and Athan’s words sounded gibberish. But I was sure that something was wrong and it was enough to wake me up.

“The landlord told mom that I have not stayed at the apartment for almost two months now. I’m afraid they would discover some more,” said Athan, fear all over his face.

Two hours has passed and here I am, locked inside my office room while Athan was packing his stuff at my apartment.

“I’m taking two of your boxers,” he texted.

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What will you do if I'll tell you that?

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ISIS

A sudden stroke of light broke out the darkness
Illuminated the gloom of Sirius
Exuberated the moon
The streaks of orange and yellow
And pastels of life
like murals amid pitch black hours
They spoke and glowed

Enough.
The gasping stopped.

From the bosom of the goddesses
Sweet water overflowed
Deluged the dried-up land
Awakened the oasis long slept
Only to breathe life to the barren desert

Cry.
Sigh.

The first breath reverberated all across.
Stillness was broken.
Anticipation all gone.

All over.

Then the gods came from dense dunes of silver and gold
Their offering swelled
There was not way to empty


Your bliss.
Their bliss.
Our bliss.

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The drizzle brought me a sudden rush of emotional force which left a mixed sting of strange yet familiar feeling.

I cannot call it déjà vu. I cannot even think of anything that could perhaps describe it except that it lingered on no matter how I tried to brush it off and forget.

The coffee was not enough. The Marlboro Lights was also useless. And then there was Karen Carpenter who was so irritating that I really wanted to scream. But I cannot scream inside this office but inside me.

I was screaming for no known reason. I cannot tell if I was angry. I have built this dense resistance wall that nothing can push me into becoming angry anymore. My fever had subsided and I was practically feeling well except for my clogged nose and the itchy throat.

I want to talk to Athan but he needs his space. And I need to work. Well, my apartment is supposed to be my place. But he has owned the place now just as how he has owned me. In that way, I also owned him. I asked him to come to the office with me but he opted to stay.

Before leaving, I checked my pocket and found several coins and realized I already spent the last few hundred I borrowed from Athan. Sensing that something was wrong, he picked his black fake Girbaud wallet from the drawer and pulled another hundred and gave it to me.

The other day, he paid for the electric bill. The other night, he paid for our dinner. Well, at least, his money is not fake.

I left him while he was picking up litters, cleaning up our room. Something that we both hate to do but end up doing anyway or we all know what happens. Last night, while he was running through his accounting subject, I swept the floor and dusted off hairs, including some pubic hairs.

I asked Athan if he knows anything about aphasia. His eye balls rolled and went on to mumble to himself something while skillfully punching the calculator. Last week, Athan arrived home looking really devastated and told me he did not pass his major exam.

At 18, he still throws tantrums and I am always the sponge, taking all the negative energies. He was beyond control. He was worried about his major subject and at the same time complained about his hair that, according to him, distracted his concentration. And he hated me for suggesting that he grows his hair long.

I already told him about having a strong attraction to long-haired and bald men and those who are ruggedly handsome. But he did not care. And I don’t care about long-haired and bald men anymore. I have Athan and he is over the top. What can I ask for?

I thought he was already pacified after we had sex. I was wrong. He was temporarily pacified by the sex. The morning after, he took his bath, wore the blue uniform I ironed for him, snubbed the food I cooked for him, and sped off without saying thank you.

My phone trilled. It was my mom. Asking for money.

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In their lonesome
They were being murdered
By the lonely river

Their flesh ripped off by the hungry silence
Blood draining down the loose sands


They opened their mouths
Screamed


No one was there to listen

But the sky
Which opened in tears
And dyed a floating canvass to red
Signalled that the end was close now


A process so painful and slow


And at the other side
The darkness grinned

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Come on, love
Now it is yours to own
Grope it in adoration
It’s better than the statues lighted with scented candles in San Pedro
Stop kneeling on them as they don’t kneel back

This one pushes down even sick white-robed souls to genuflect
To abuse unfortunate lesser creations

This one is alive.
In real flesh.
Blood running through its veins.

The liquid must be sweet now
Hope it is not acrid

Swallow if you want
Or you can spit
But even if you choose to spit
It will linger, love

Hear me out now
Please don’t waste
Make it yours.
Well, it’s yours.

It’s borne out of hardness
And motions deep and constant
Of moans seeping through the cracks on the walls
Of passionate thrusts
Of jaws almost locked
And skillful tongue gone tired
And throat hurt
But tickled

Taste.
Drink of its intoxicating sweat.

Come on, love before it goes limp
In sad frustrating surrender

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Move over American Top Models...



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Nip. Tuck. Dissect. Eat. Die.

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Of all the varieties of bananas, the one that I can’t surely swallow, or I’ll choke to death, is the Cavendish.

Cavendish bananas are nothing but deadly chemicals. The six to twelve inches long spotless and beautiful bananas, that always made Japanese children drool over, are genetically engineered.

From the moment of conception--when scientists work on with some tissues in Petri dishes and test tubes that we later see as full-grown banana shrubs, synthetic chemicals are already actively working.

Because bananas are pest-prone, growers and multinational owners of banana plantation resort to using chemicals. In the Philippines, the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) are using at least 22 different kinds of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides just to come up with export-quality products.

Included in the list are mancozeb-containing fungicides which are widely used by banana plantations against Sigatoka, a fungus that attacks the leaves of the bananas.

Mancozeb belongs to the ethylene bisdithiocarbonate (EBDC) group of pesticides which are converted into thylene thiourea (ETU). The ETU, on the other hand, is a known-cancer causing chemical. Thus, it is listed in the California’s office of Health Hazard assessment under proposition 65 or chemicals listed as probable carcinogens.

The ETU is an acknowledged thyroid toxin and also known to cause birth defects and tumors. It is not registered or approved in Chad, Gambia, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria. It is also restricted in Sweden and banned in Libya.

For more than 40 years now in use as aerial spray, mancozeb has, likewise, been listed by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) as toxic to humans and aquatic organisms.

Also being used is Gramoxone, a chemical that contains paraquat—a highly toxic synthetic chemical used as a plant killer or herbicide. Used in 131 countries all around the world, mostly the developing ones, chemicals with paraquat are classified by the World Health Organization as highly hazardous

The Malaysian government, however, banned paraquat last year after many incidents of poisoning and death among plantation workers.

But because of the weak enforcement of laws on deadly chemicals, Gramoxone is still being used in the Philippines today.

Even the fertilizers being used are all synthetic chemical-based. This only goes to show that Cavendish bananas are laced with poison.

By now, perhaps we already have an idea on how to kill a Japanese.

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I have a rapacious appetite for bananas. As a child, I can still remember how my tita made me repeatedly sing sitsiritsit in exchange for a few fingers of La Tondan every time she arrived home from the town.

My sitsiritsit was kind of twisted version in Ilocano.

Sitsiritsit, ubeng nga basit
Timakke idyay basket
Inangot na nabangbangsit
Kennan na nasamsam-it

English translation:

Sitsiritsit, Little child
Pooped in a basket
He smelled it and the shit stank
He tasted it, the shit was sweet

For the love of bananas, I also memorized and sang Manang Biday, still the lyrics all ripped and distorted to have this funny sexually-wrapped up version.


Manang Biday, agkiday-kiday
Ta urmot mo nagpuskol unay
Sagaysayim tapno rumasay…
(Ay! Matayakon no di nak kasyan)

The original version was:

Manang Biday, ilukat mo man
Ta bentana ikalumbabam
Ta kitaem toy kinawayam
Ay! Matayakon no di nak kasyan

I do not know how to translate the Manang Biday that was taught to me. I tried consulting several online dictionaries but I cannot, for one, find the English translation for the word agkiday-kiday. I am also not so sure about the existence of the word rumasay or rumomasay.

But what I am sure about is that the Ilocano term for pubic hair is urmot; nagpuskol is thick or bushy; and sagaysayin is to comb it or brush it.

It comes to pass now that the literal meaning of the songs is: Older sister Biday, please comb your thick pubic hair.