The last images he remembered were 2 shadows darting out of the darkness. He saw the Bigger J fall and take down the moldy bamboo fence with him. Then an angry face, a spurt of profanity, and a series of blows. When he came to his senses, he is in the middle of a cold nowhere. His chest throbbed with pain, his trembling hand feeling a thick and dripping wetness. “I’m bleeding!” he realized and frantically tried to stand up only to fall down as the mud sucked back his feet. He crawled, the sharp edges of leaves lashing at his face, until he reached the dirt road. He looked back and saw people milling near the house where the shadows attacked them moments ago. There were explosions and he thought he heard them coming after him. He ran…
5 HOURS EARLIER
Smaller J’s Tatang butchered a pig for the New Year feast. Abet and the Bigger J helped along until the meat has been blanched in boiling water and hanged in bamboo poles for the next day’s cooking. While Abet went out to buy a cuatro cantos, the Bigger J prepared the pulutan from pig parts called para kenni gobernador (i.e. the silit or small intestines) and para kenni kongresman (i.e. the testicles). The silit was also blanched in boiling water, sliced thinly, mixed with minced onion and ginger, flavored with suka ti basi and salt, and kicked a notch higher with a handful of chopped red sili. The testicles were pinulpugan until the blackened skin cracked and the white milky matter inside was pushed out, chopped, rinsed with vinegar to take the slimy smell out, and mixed with the silit.
Everything went fine until only the Js (both the small and the big one) and Abet remained. They claimed the bragging rights of being the strongest drinkers at that moment. Then both Js started arguing who among them can have the most drink and remain standing. They agreed to settle it by playing a game of basketball that went this way: it will be a mano-mano where both sides narrate how they will attack the basket and make a shot; each basket made is equivalent to 1 shot of gin for the defender; free throws were ½ shot each; Abet will be the referee.
And so the game was played with no missed baskets and a foul coming with every shot made. It was more like the perdigana mode of dama with the fast pace the shot glass made its way back and forth. By 10:30 pm, both Js were drunk and asked the referee to drink their baskets for them. By 11 pm, Abet was drunk too. They decided enough and went to prowl and cool out. The Smaller J passed out as they reached his Apong Baket’s house. They carried him to a wooden bench where the grandmother showered them with curses as she poured talc powder on her dead drunk grandson.
“Let’s go have some aroskaldo in our house,” said the Bigger J. They passed by Lakay Pulipol’s house on the way to purok siyete y media. “Let’s drop by my girl”, the Bigger J said and went inside. Abet saw the dagger looks of Lakay Pulipol and his nephew. “Let’s go now,” he told the Bigger J who seemed not to hear him. At five minutes before midnight, the shadows attacked…
A YEAR BEFORE
Lakay Pulipol have 7 daughters and the third youngest is Amelia. She is short and little bit plump but Abet likes her fullness and curves. And he knew she likes him back. So on the night it was her older sisters’ turn to host the lubi, Abet volunteered to do the cooking. His heart leapt when Amelia also volunteered to help him.
So while they mind the boiling kamoteng kahoy and as the older ones play a game of “Truth or Consequence”, Abet took out a piece of paper and asked Amelia, “I have a puzzle here. Would you like to solve it?”. “Sige,” Amelia replied as she reached for it. She turned red and smiled shyly as she read what’s written on the paper: I love you. “Here’s the pen. What’s the answer?” asked Abet who was suddenly juiced up by adrenaline. The puzzle solving went on until midnight when the remaining nilubian was divided among them to take home. By then, Amelia had solved the puzzle.
It was supposed to be a secret relationship but somehow, Lakay Pulipol got wind of it. And he did not like Abet. Not only him but the entire family. Its because Abet lives in a house that leaks like a mango tree during rains; that Abet goes out with a gang called the Samahang Dilim who likes to steal ducks, smoke grass and drink gin; and that they have better and bigger plans for Amelia. These Abet heard from somebody else. Then Amelia stopped sending him notes. One day, a tricycle stopped as he was idling in the coconut trunk in front of the Smaller J’s house and Amelia without getting out and uttering a single word handed him a piece of paper. It was the puzzle they solved during the nilubian. That was 3 months before the shadows attacked…
15 MINUTES AFTER NEW YEAR’S EVE
Somehow, Abet reached their house. He heard his mom and some visitors. He would not want them seeing the bloody him. So he washed himself in the banauang. There was no blood. The thick and sticky dripping was muddy water. And there were young rice grains sticking on his muddy clothes. He was in a rice field. Then he realized that people were not shooting at him. The explosions were firecrackers for the New Year’s Eve. He began to laugh. He laughed so hard that he fell into the banauang. That was when he saw 3 bewildered faces looking at him. The first one was the familiar “I will hit you with a hammer” expression of his mother. The second was The Girl from Purok Kuatro. He heard she likes him and will soon convince her mother to like him too. But the third unbelieving face of her mother quickly turned into a shadow and told him it won’t be so…
PHOTOS (top to bottom):
SARIAYA, QUEZON. Earthquakes attributed to the volcanic activities of nearby Mt. Banahaw and the recurring pirate raids destroyed the first parochial structures in 1743. The present church was started to be built in 1748 probably on the ruins of the old church where an image of the Cristo de Burgos was found intact wrapped in a white cloth after the church was razed by the pillaging pirates.
SAN JUAN, BATANGAS. San Juan de Bolboc was first established as a visita of Rosario. The first church was made of light materials. In 1845, Fr. Damaso Mojica had a stone church built. This was submerged during a flood in 1883 and was subsequently relocated to its present site where a new church was built from 1892 to 1898 during the administration of Fr. Celestino Yoldi (OAR). The mission was handed to the Capuchins in 1904. The town was renamed as San Juan de Boboc in 1914 and as San Juan de Nepomuceno in 1920. Fr. Bernabe Pena, Fr. Domingo Carceller, Fr. Inocencio Pena, and Fr. Daniel Ayucar initiated improvements, repairs, and renovations from 1922 until 1959.
SAN JOSE, BATANGAS. Fr. Tomas Canon (OSA) built the first parochial buildings at around 1788 that were replaced by Fr. Luis Blanco (OSA) in 1812. The church was razed in 1847 and subsequently underwent a restoration/improvement process until 1896 under the successive supervisions of Fr. Ramon Sanchez (OSA), Fr. Vicente Martil (OSA), and Fr. Victorino Perez.