Thursday, December 31, 2009


“Sulat”, my photo of Bulan poring over a map of Region II in black and white, was selected as the flickristasindios Photo of the Day for December 30, 2009. jobarracuda (aka Oliver Pensica, Jr.) commented that “the composition, B&W tone, and the story behind [the] image are all great”. Which is probably the reason why it was selected as the POTD.

The inside story? I ran out of images to upload so I decided to shot a complimentary Region II map where my photo of Balete Pass (formerly Dalton Pass) along the Nueva Ecija-Nueva Vizcaya boundary in the Caraballo Mountain range was published. I did several angles one of which is Bulan sitting in our backdoor poring over the map with my retired Olympus Camedia in the foreground. I thought the door was a perfect frame and nicely complimented by a contrast of bright outdoor light and dark indoor shadows. A little tweaking with picnik also helped achieve the desired effect.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


A new girl after every lantern parade.

I don’t know why but that’s the way it was in the 4 years that I attended CLSU’s annual lantern parade. The last one before graduation was particularly memorable and unexpected.

Sixteen years after, the beautiful friendship known as JARMMS came together for a lantern parade. We have grown bigger, particularly Mimi of the letter M1 and Me-ann of the letter M2, and certainly looked our age. All are married except Aiisa of the letter A (and Dapo of the +D who opted to be a single Mom). Too bad Aiisa did not make it and Joan of the letter J had to leave early.

Our College of Education shared with the College of Business Administration and Accountancy the overall championship that night. And we rejoiced, for this triumph of Tarods of the letter R who is now college dean, but more for the friendship which have endured time…

Monday, December 14, 2009


My only regret as our marriage turned 12 is I have grown bigger. And looked older. Other than that, the love and the kids and the pansit are great!

Friday, November 20, 2009


We have not seen Aiisa (left), the letter A of a beautiful and enduring friendship known as JARMMS, since more than 10 years ago when she stood as one of the bridesmaids in our wedding. So when Daffo (second from Aiisa) called to say that Aiisa was around, I organized an impromptu party for her in my place. Tarods (third from left) of the letter R who was also our bridesmaid and who now sports a PhD after her name and who is now a college dean came with her hubby Elmer (fourth from left). My wife (right) was extremely delighted to meet my college friends. We SMS-ed Mimi of the letter M1 and Joan of the letter J. No news so far from Me-an of the letter M2. I am the letter S and dinner stretched until midnight with no end in sight for the catching-up stories until Elmer said “Cut!” when Tarods’ was about to narrate an aborted affair with a Thai gentleman. It was a beautiful night…

Saturday, November 07, 2009


kung napansin mong
kulay asul ang luhang kumatas
mula sa sulat na matapos mong lamukusin
ay nilunod sa inodoro ng ‘sang tabong tubig
at kumitil sa lagablab ng murang pag-ibig.

may tilamsik na umalpas
gumapang, dumikit sa ‘yong balat
mantsang nangati at kailangang kamutin
dalawamput-isang taon matapos mong lukutin
at 6,772 milyahe mula kung saan ito inilibing.

Baka lang
sa limang oras na inumit
ang nalusaw na talata’y bumalik,
duduyan sa iyong karinyo at lambing
at sa maligamgam na tsaa at kape’y ipagbunyi
ang panghihinayang at kinimkim na pananabik.

ang bakas na naiwan sa aking puso,
at anino mong kumipkip sa aking braso
ang aaruga sa dighay ng masakit na puson
at ang marahil ay una at huling pahimakas nito
sa ala-ala ng sulat na inilibing sa inodoro.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Ang sumusunod ay akda ni Shubert Ciencia na nilapatan ng musika ni Nine Alcanzare para sa palabas ng LAHAR-GL noong 1993 sa CLSU.

Oo, tayo’y anak pawis
Sa araw at putik amoy panis
PInanday tayong mga lilik
Upang ang mundo’y ipaggiik

Huwag mong naising ipagpalit
Ang pamana sa pangarap na pilit
Ito’ng tumighaw sa dalit
Ng mga anak ng diyos na iniibig

Mabigat man ang araro at lubid
Madawag ang damo sa bukid
Lupa’y di dapat lisanin
Ito ang nagsilang sa mga bituin

May tuwa at galak na pagmasdan
Mga biyayang sa ati’y inilaan
Mga salagubang na nagliliparan
At papayang nagyayabangan

Kaydaming pangil, sungay at pakpak
Nakikipagtaguan sa mga bayawak
Namamahay sa mga puno at lungga
Tinutukso mga mangangaso ni Bathala

Apo Mallari, maraming salamat
Sa handog mong buhay at alamat
Lupang nagsilang sa lipi mong mahal
Binhi ng buhay na aming binubungkal

Thursday, October 15, 2009

KID BUNTAL (15 Oct. 1932 - 04 Feb. 2001)

Kid Buntal as a young student in Manila perhaps at the Far Eastern University where Auntie Angeling said he did college. He would always tell us later that he tried being a lawyer. He wanted me to become one too.

Kid Buntal sings with his left foot and definitely cannot play the guitar. This is probably a posed shot, perhaps with one of the many girlfriends he told us. Can’t blame him, he’s ruggedly handsome.

Kid Buntal always take us to the beaches when we were growing up in Mapandan, Pangasinan. Those were the age of youthful innocence and great joy. We were poorer than rich. But we were happy. Mom wrote a caption under this photo saying it was taken at the Blue Beach. Can’t find that place now though.

Mom quit her teaching job and went to work in Singapore. Kid Buntal quit too and went back home in Almaguer. We stayed in a small hut and for the first time away from the shadows of schools and churches. That’s when the angels left.

Kid Buntal and Mom’s last photo alive and together during my eldest niece’s second birthday in Bambang. On that niece’s fourth birthday in the same house, Kid Buntal dropped a rolled 500 peso bill I gave him during a visit to Almaguer. As he stooped down to pick it, his third heart attack came swift and deadly.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

WAT-ching Thailand 3: The Elephant in the Room

“There is an elephant in the room!”

The pretty Venezuelan negotiator is referring to the United States --- a country who did not sign the Kyoto Protocol but is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change --- and its refusal to commit in reducing domestic green house gas emissions by at least 40% in 2020 from 1990 levels, and provide financing to help vulnerable countries in their adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of climate change.

Ambassador Lumumba D’Aping of Sudan who chairs the Group of 77 and China bloc said that the US wants to kill the Kyoto Protocol and replace it with a less ambitious and non-binding international treaty. But the G77 and China, the Least Developing Countries bloc, the Africa Group, and the Alliance of Small Island States insist that there is no other mandate for negotiations than the Kyoto Protocol.

Perhaps the US is wary of the Kyoto Protocol that will bind it to a historical responsibility in polluting the atmosphere which spawned global warning and caused climate change. But polluters should pay and rightly so.

With the US stalling, the European Union --- erstwhile champion of the Kyoto Protocol --- wavered and toed its big brother’s line. Big brother and small brother did not budge despite Japan’s announcement that it is increasing its green house gas emission reduction target to 25% followed by Norway’s commitment to a 40% target.

As the 2009 Bangkok Climate Change Talks talks broke down, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos count their dead from an unprecedented storm many said is a tangible example of the impact of climate change. And as if in protest, the earth shuddered perhaps in anger leaving thousands more dead in a violent swath of earthquakes and a tsunami.

The battle lines between the developed/rich countries and the developing and least developed countries were clearly drawn by the end of the talks. The elephant has squeezed itself into the room.

“Yesterday’s land grab, modern day’s sky grab”. Thus ended Venezuela’s intervention and an indictment of those who refused to change their way of lives at the expense of others.

Profile: Wat Saket and a Plate of Pansit

Wat Saket or the Temple of the Golden Mount was built during the Ayutthaya era (1351-1767) as a crematorium and cemetery. It was renovated in the late 18th century when an artificial hill was added to support the huge Chedi or stupa shown here.
The pansit photo after Wat Saket shows a plate of Pad Thai along Khao San Road. This Thai national dish is a magic potion of stir fried noodles, eggs, been sprouts, shrimp, chicken, or tofu blended together in an oriental flavor of sour tamarind juice, hot chili, and salty fish sauce. A garnish of ground peanuts and coriander adds to it a a nutty and pungent flavor.

The first 2 photos above shows diplomats during the somber mid stock-taking of the Bangkok climate change talks, and protesters outside the UNESCAP building demand climate justice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya --- We’ve been robbed!

This was the collective outburst of the people of Almaguer after the winners for the 1996 Miss Bambang pageant was announced.

“My daughter is clearly the winner. This is an outrageous lutong macao!”, screamed a visibly agitated Baket Upris, mother of Miss Almaguer’s Sutsi who is the alleged victim of the cheating.

“Sutsi is the legitimate Miss Bambang and it will be written as such in all signages within Almaguer!” declared a defiant Kagawad Kit-to of Purok Singko where Sutsi and her family reside.

Pinakan da ti pangaldaw dagidiyay judge isu nga impangabak da diyay taga-Calaocan!” volunteered another Purok Singko resident.

The din went on for a week then simmered down as the emotions of a community spurned settled.

Back in CLSU as a junior Bachelor of Arts student, Sutsi went on with her “Almost…” spree by being crowned as the second runner-up of the Most Beautiful Face and Miss Night league pageants.

Sutsi was on her senior year and being geared for the Miss CLSU pageant when she had an “accident” and had to get married.

Her distraught brother who pinched pennies for her to get to college did not attend the wedding and banned Sutsi from their house in Almaguer.

Today, Sutsi is a mother of four kids. Her brother has forgiven her a long time ago.

And Almaguer has forgotten that almost Miss Bambang moment as the signages remained unpainted with her name.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Dear Ino,

You turned 38 today.

It’s amazing how time pass and suddenly realize we are no longer the innocent young boys whose one great joy was frolicking in Almaguer’s dacquel nga carayan. You are a father now as I am.

But those last few weeks have been frustrating for me and I guess you felt that. I was expecting you to be at that stage where rock stars mature and live the lessons they learned from their youthful brashness when all the world’s a stage. But some never did, like Kurt Cobain, and refused to move on opting instead to remain in that single frame of life’s fleeting journey.

It seemed to me that you are also determined to be that young angry rock star forever. I see you as recalcitrant, perhaps scared, of moving on.

Dear brother, heed Bob Dylan when he sang that the times are a changin’. We carry on with our lives but we have to adapt to the moving times too for us to be relevant. There are new roles to fit in and emerging responsibilities to carry on. The anchors that hold us through life’s tempests will fade away, like Mom and Dad, and we should learn to stand on our own.

At your age, perhaps you should take a moment of contemplation to discern the songs and the lyrics of its musical soul. The future that you planted through your kids is fast unfolding. You should teach them to swim in the dacquel nga carayan like we did when we were trying to decode the mysteries and goodness of our childhood. You do that and still be a rock star. The Eagles has proven that hell can be freezeth over and Nirvana can sing unplugged.

I have been grumpy with you and I apologize for that. It’s difficult being a big brother and having my own family to look at too. Mom and Dad’s shoes are too big for me to fill alone. We should walk in them together.

Please forgive me if I have been rough with you. Impertinence is a trait I have been trying to conquer for some time now. But whatever comes, the days of the eternal sun in Almaguer will shine on us forever.

Time passes, I remain…

FOOTNOTE: Sometime ago, several senior students from the Central Luzon State University staged a musicale titled “Sa Bawat Gubat” based on the life and times of the late poet Emannuel F. Lacaba as part of their requirements in Theater Arts. That theatrical experience inspired another musicale based on the stories spawned by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. It was titled “LAHAR” and Ino is one of its two main characters. The photo above shows Ino the Rock Star (right) with his big brother in the banauang that sources out from Almaguer’s dacquel nga carayan.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


My brother, Manuel Luis Quezon, was born on August 19, 1878 in the sleepy coastal town of Baler in what is now the province of Aurora. As a child, Kuya Manuel was called “Ang Kastila” because of his mestizo lineage. It is not clear if Kuya Manuel fought in the Philippine War for Independence but his father, a sergeant in the Spanish colonial government’s army, remained loyal to the Spanish flag which led to his and another son’s death in an ambush by Filipino Katipuneros while travelling to Baler from Nueva Ecija.

During the Filipino-American War however, Kuya Manuel served as an aide-de-camp of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and rose through the ranks from private to major until he surrendered in 1901 after which he was imprisoned for 6 months by the Americans. During that war, he was promoted to the rank of captain after rescuing the wounded Novo Ecijano and would-be general Col. Benito Natividad from the frontlines.

Kuya Manuel was made a master mason on 17 March 1908 in Manila’s Sinukuan Lodge No. 16 when already an elected member of the Philippine National Assembly. He went on to become a senator and the country’s first Senate President in 1916.

Most Worshipful Manuel L. Quezon is acknowledged as the First Filipino Grandmaster of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines which he helped establish in 1917 after spearheading the unification of American and Filipino Masonic Lodges in the country. He, however, resigned from Freemasonry in 17 September 1930 apparently due to the request of her wife, Dona Ma. Aurora Aragon-Quezon.

In 1935, Kuya Manuel won the Philippines’ first national presidential election which he contested with two other equally worthy brother Masons: Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and Bishop Gregorio Aglipay.

Seven years after leaving Freemasonry, Kuya Manuel clarified his resignation with the following statement: “I didn't and never will renounce Masonry. There is a form which those returning to the Church are supposed to sign but I refused to sign it. Instead, I wrote the Archbishop a personal note saying that I understand that I could not be readmitted to the Roman Catholic Church so long as I remained a Mason, and, for that reason I was resigning from Masonry but I never renounced Masonry”.

Kuya Manuel died of tuberculosis in Saranac Lake, New York while in exile in the United States during World War II. His remains were later interred at the Quezon Memorial in the city named after him.

Today, Kuya Manuel is honored in the town where he was born by the constitution of the the Manuel L. Quezon Memorial Lodge No. 262 that was presided by now Supreme Court Chief Justice and Past Grand Master Reynato Puno.

It is interesting to note that 3 more brother Masons served as president of the Philippines. They are Kuya Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo (Philippine Revolutionary Government, 1899-1901) of Pilar Lodge No 203 and now Pilar Lodge No. 15, and founder of Magdalo Lodge No. 31 and later renamed Emilio Aguinaldo Lodge No. 31 in his honor; Kuya Jose P. Laurel (Japanese-sponsored Republic, 1943-1945) , past Junior Warden of Batangas Lodge No. 383 and now Batangas Lodge No. 35; and (3) Kuya Manuel Roxas (First Philippine Republic, 1946-1948), Past Master of Acacia Lodge No. 13 and Makawiwili Lodge No. 55.

FOOTNOTES: The information used for this article was gleaned from the following sources: Quezon City Lodge No. 122, Our Famous Brother Masons, Wikipedia, RP Stamps and Postal History, An Online Guide About Philippine History, WikiFilipino, and the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines. Any errors in the interpretation of their work are mine alone.

Friday, July 24, 2009

100,000+ flickrin' Views

100,000+ views after 3 years of flickr.

27 photos Explored.

94 shooting friends and 229 contacts.

Two exhibits.

That amazing journey that was Lagalag.

49 photos known to be published plus a number requested with no proof of publication coming back.

Two photos sold for 1,500 each

And just recently, 5 photos published in National Artist for Literature Rio Alma’s modern epic “Huling Hudhud ng Sanlibong Pagbabalik at Paglimot sa Filipinas Kong Mahal”.

Thank you very much for the visits, the kind comments and the faves, the adds, the advice and pat on the back, the gentle admonition, and the cherished friendship.

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom): According to flickr world, my most interesting photo (Strawberries) followed by my most viewed (The White House) and my most faved and commented (Petronas Twin Towers).

Friday, July 17, 2009


The Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement celebrate its 57th year today and I have never seen such wide array of pansit dishes in my life (top to bottom): (1) the Seafood Marinara who I suspect made me pooh, (2) the Vegetarian Pasta recipe prepared by my boss , (3) a bilao of Pansit Malabon brought in by a former colleague, (4) and more pansit during the night’s party.

Friday, July 10, 2009


…I will take a moment of meditation so I could hear the counsel of the winds, discern the phantoms hiding in the shadows of the castle, and smell the fragrance of flowers grown by weary Lords from the distant frontiers.

…I will carry on the task from which the Kingdom was born, learn from the shattered monuments of the previous two Kings’ suicidal judgements, and promise never again to deviate from the Kingdom’s charter under the penalty of a most painful death.

…I will trim down my army to those who are relevant to the task at hand and have the courage move on, and banish those who pretend to be such but were not.

…I will strengthen the fortresses in the Outer Kingdom and provide the Lords with the arms to fight their battles because it is the villages and farms outside the walls of the castle where the Kingdom draws its strength.

…I will never betray my Kingdom and its people even to allies who gather at my courtyard under the guise of friendship.

…I am the King of my people and the general of my army; I will be decisive, and I will be strong.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Dumalaw ka kagabi
tangan ang karayom na bumutas
sa ga-semento kong balatkayo.
Nilagnat ka sa nalanghap
habang nagdedeliryo
ang ‘sang semestreng
magiging bahagi na lamang ng nakaraan,
mula sa paglalaro mo ng pingpong
tuwing gabi
hanggang sa pagtulog mo
tuwing tanghali.
Gusto ko lagi kitang kasama
kaya’t pinagtitiyagaan kong hulihin
ang naiwan mong multo
isinisilid sa aking balahibo,
sa gayon araw-gabi kitang
maramdaman, mapanaginipan.
Sayang nga lang
at sa tingin lang kita puedeng mahalin,
baka kasi ‘pag niyakap kita
maglalaho ka ring tulad nila,
wala nang maglalaro ng pingpong
at hindi na sisikat ang araw
tuwing tanghali.
Hindi ko kaya ‘yun kaya’t
nagmamartsa na lamang ako
sa ‘yong dinaanan,
pinupulot at ibinubuhol
ang mga nalagas mong buhok
upang ipangsilo
ng mga buntong hininga
at sunog na pandesal.
Katulad kagabi
kumandong ka sa aking balatkayo.
Sana hindi na ako nagising.

(STP, Hulyo 1993)

Friday, June 19, 2009


Malinamnam na ang tinimplang proposal
sa isang kilong utak
at limang gabing puyat.

Mamaya, alas diyes y media
sa internet café na amoy medyas
ito'y tutungo sa mga panginoon at pinagpala
huhubog ng himala

nawa'y maging pera ang mga dahon at balat ng sigarilyo
katulad ng amoy ng limandaan at ‘sanlibong ninakaw sa bangko
habang tinatiyani ang mga nakatagong sinsilyo
pambayad sa kuryente’t telepono.

Mamaya, ipamamalita ng hiningang pasmado
sa mga nag-aabang sa munisipyo, sa kapitolyo,
sa mga opisina ng NGO.
Tuloy ang proyekto! Nakapulot kami ng pondo!

Ganito kaming gumawa ng milagro
habang kapulong ang mga nagkaonsehang PO
nakikisindi sa mga kampanyador na walang panigarilyo
at kinikikilan ng mga COng walang pangkrudo.

Ang matira, kasama ang pinagputahan noong isang linggo,
ay ipantutubos sa Red Horse at Emperador
bendetang pantaboy sa mga maligno
nang may mapagpulungan sa palasyo’t maipagmalaki sa publiko.

Kami ang mga putok sa buho
mga kailangang pumasok ng Biyernes at Sabado
mga kinalimutan at isinuga sa impiyerno
nakikidigma kahit na pasko, Linggo, at walang pondo

nagtatampo, naninibugho, malapit nang maghuramentado.

Friday, June 12, 2009


The first time is always the best and this is so true for so many things.

My first taste of Pansol in Calamba, Laguna was a left turn from the highway going to Los Banos in December of ’94. Mama Butch, our Ina ng Laging Saklolo, led us there: me, a kabagis who was nursing a shattered heart, and my brother the boxer.

The hot spring resort featured a large pool surrounded by newly built apartments for rent which I presume is the business class for patrons who can pay. We stayed in the pavilion, the economy class if you may, which allowed us a free table and chairs. I recalled those in the pool as mostly senior citizens and I thought most of them were either going to be afflicted, already afflicted, and have been afflicted of the diseases of the heart that come with old age. They converge on the spot where one can actually feel the hot spring water seeping from the rock. It smelled of sulfur and from time to time, the bathers would catch the water with bottles and drink it like a magic potion.

Somewhere, the hot water meet a stream of cold spring water creating a perfect lukewarm temperature who younger people like me seemed to prefer having clustered on that part of the pool. Near where the water spills out, a busy line of masseuses were giving a good rub to some of the bathers, including us, for P100 an hour. The familiar smell of Safeguard soap hanged in the air.

Beside the resort is a restaurant of the turo-turo and carinderia type. Nothing fancy except for the displayed photos of showbiz stars who supposedly ate there, the most prominent of which is Bembol Roco. The specialty of the house is kanduling sinigang sa miso. I can still hear the angels sing whenever I recall the perfect sourness of that heavenly soup thick with the yellow grits of miso and the red juice of ripe tomatoes wrapped with a certain tanginess of the half-cooked mustasa leaf garnish and kanduli so fresh they were almost alive.

I was never able to find that place and food again. There are just too many left turns today, too many resorts, and too many ahentes hawking private pools that even stopping to pee in Pansol has become a challenge. It rained all day the last time I was there. The hot water was piped into the pool from somewhere and there were no masseuse. I comforted myself with a plate of pansit bihon and imagined the cascading rain as that glorious broth of kanduling sinigang sa miso from long ago…

Profile: Church of Sta. Rosa, Laguna

Finally, THAT church of Sta. Rosa de Lima. Three years ago, I stumbled into a cake-pink church in the middle of busy shopping district that I later learned to be the Pacita Complex. I thought it was the colonial church I read in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I posted photos of it in flickr and was told I got the wrong church. So I came back determined not to miss this one as that lost Pansol resort and kanduling sinigang sa miso.

Sta. Rosa was established by the Dominicans as an independent parish in 1792. It took 16 years to build the church from 1796 until 1812. The image of the patron saint enthroned in the church was a gift from the ambassador of Peru to the Philippines who brought the image in 1999. The church had been renovated several times.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Suman undressed to its bareness and embraced by the thickness of a seductive sugary brown dip.

Thin golden pancakes still wriggling from the pan smothered with melting margarine and a shower of white sugar.

Pansit bihon scooped from a tin batya of army camouflage color and drowned in a bowl of hot oily goto soup where it will be blessed with a drop of patis, a shake of pepper, a squeeze of calamansi, and washed down with a warm bottle of Pop Cola.

Small round pieces of hopia with an onion-like aftertaste from the neighborhood store.

Yes, my childhood recollection of Mapandan is good food.

And nearby San Fabian where we built a hundred mini castles from the dark sand of the beach, where the hot sun fried our skins that have been marinated tender in the foamy brine of the sea, and where the bathing multitude shouted abuse at colliding human excrement.

San Fabian owned us. It was our weekend haunt. Our only surviving family photo was taken there in a place called the Japanese Garden.

Wife’s last two birthdays were spent getting sunburned with the kids and riding short boat rides there. But me, I have mellowed from the sea to the comfort of a rented shed where I get a high watching the greatest fights of the great Manny Pacquiao, then switching to concert videos of the Queen, Scorpions, and ABBA in between sips of Spanish brandy and bites of grilled Bonuan bangus.

And every going home, we pass by Mapandan hoping to find the suman, the pancakes, and the pansit that now seemed to exist only in my memories…


(1) A sabadista picnic in a place called Japanese Garden somewhere along San Fabian. That’s me in the center with the white shirt and a green hat. Mom is the lady with the red pants on my right while Dad is the serious looking guy with the curly hair behind me.

(2) This year on our way home from San Fabian, we passed by Mapandan where I showed wife and the kids the places I walked through as a 3rd and 4th grader in the sabadista school where my Mom was a teacher. This photo was taken in the town plaza with Mapandan’s St. Joseph’s Church in the background.

(3) The closest representation of Mapandan’s pansit bihon in goto soup is a hot bowl of sotanghon na may sabaw at Pepita’s Carinderia in the public market of the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Boracay has changed a lot.

Caticlan now boasts of an upgraded airport and a spanking pink port terminal. The era of cows grazing along the runaway and passengers piggybacked into the boats is perhaps gone.

Eleven years ago, we were ordered to pack up to Boracay and never come home until we can present a comprehensive 3-year program phase-out plan. Day 1 was almost a disaster when our Nueva Ecija team got caught in one of those notorious old NLEX traffic jams, then made a wrong turn somewhere along EDSA, before reaching the domestic airport where we rushed though security, the guards and the check-in counter and the airport police running after us (this was before 9/11), in a vain attempt to catch our Air Philippines flight to Kalibo which we were told was the plane taking off as we finally arrived in the departure area. But our quick thinking branch manager heard the second call for passengers of an Asian Spirit plane bound for Caticlan, collected our 2k each pocket money, got us the tickets, and arrived a full hour ahead of the Kalibo group. I still get amused recalling the assorted expressions of amazement painted in their faces as they got off the chartered bus in Caticlan and found us on the last bottles of a case of San Miguel Beer. There were some 30 of us that time from the 5 SRDDP provinces and the Central Office.

Eleven years from that scenario, two from the same group came back to Boracay. And as we shuffled from window to window of the pink Caticlan port to pay the various fees, I realized that only about 9 from the 1998 group remained with us. I know of 2 who died: Menard from our Bataan Branch whose young life was snuffed by the violent streets of Manila, and Maricel Vigo of our North Cotabato Branch who with her husband were murdered by suspected military assassins as they were going home to their 5 children.

Bora is more crowded now. The piece of beach where we once played harang taga is eternally plastered with green slimy lumot. The people are more uninhibited and I saw several topless sunbathers and really itsy bitsy teeny weenie bikinis. I walk to both ends of the Long Beach every mornings and afternoons, trying to shoot Bora beyond the white sand, the emerald sea, and the hot bikinis. And thank God for the Talipapa where we found respite from the lousy hotel food.

My wife’s birthday caught me in Bora. She wanted to come to Boracay and I would have love walking the beach with her. I planned to make a side trip to Pan-ay’s national heritage colonial church and its 10.4 tons bell which is probably the biggest of its kind in Asia, which I did not, then promised myself at least to a church in Bora which I’m sure there is, but which again I did not. I did have some pansit moments though and I guess that will do…

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom): (1) The Nueva Ecija Team in Bora 11 years ago (from left): me AKA MVI, Pare Arden, Sir Tolits, and Pare Amor; (2) Maricel Vigo (left in white shirt) and the SRDDP cadres of PRRM; (3-4) breakfast in Boracay.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


BANGKING TRIED TO GET UP but unseen arms of the splinted bamboo bed seemed to pull him down. He closed his eyes as the thatched cogon roof suddenly contorted like gigantic waves rushing to engulf him. His stomach convulsed and he puked in an effort to keep from throwing what remained of last night’s pulutan and gin. The glow in his cheap imitation wristwatch said it is 4:30 in the morning. He should beat Barbasan to Lakay Puyot’s house.

He rose from the bed with one final effort, holding on to the sawali wall to steady his sinking feet, drinking the welcome cold morning wind that escaped from an assortment of rusty tin biscuit containers and shiny GI sheet retasos tucked in the walls and roof to keep the rain out.

Except for Lakay Porong who would be sweeping his yard by that time, Almaguer is still asleep. Bangking hurriedly washed his mouth, sprinkling what remained of the water in his head and folding down the unruly tufts of hair with his finger. He grabbed a neatly folded papelito wrapped around an aged yellow Bic pen and reminded himself to be careful in adding up the por lata. One saltod will take away the only work he can do at that time...

ALOT WOKE UP EARLY TO prepare for that day’s interview in the ili. Her Tatang Puyot, long time Apo Kapitan of Almaguer, had arranged a job for her as a clerk in the munisipyo that will pay her P1,500.00 every month.

She poured water into the sooth covered takore and added four scoops of ground barako coffee. Alot always liked the strong aroma of the barako. Somehow, that masculine smell arouses her, like what it is doing now, as she felt the familiar tingling sensation suddenly creeping from inside her up to her hardening nipples.

Last night’s dream was morbid. Alot shuddered as she recalled the big black snake wrapping itself around her body, hissing loudly and caressing her face with its darting forked tongue as they fall into a dark abyss. Bangking will explain to her the anunsiyo from the dream and she will bet on it. That’s what Alot thought as she started pumping water for her bath and mentally listed down what she could buy with a tumbok P10 sahod P5 win…

THE SIGHT OF A WET kamison clinging to the brown skin of Alot’s supine body blew away Bangking’s nasty hang-over. A surprised Alot stood up, covering her proudly protruding breasts with her hands. They stood there for a time, paralyzed by the suddenness of it all, until Alot finally walked to the banyo. Everything in Bangking suddenly came to life, and his heart leapt as he noticed that the banyo has no door. His mind screamed NO! as his feet began to pull itself towards the banyo. Alot is wringing her wet kamison when Bangking walked in. She tried to push him away as he began to caress and kiss her but her hands remained frozen to her breasts.


Bangking stopped.

“What is the lurok for a black snake chasing a girl into a hole?”

Bangking struggled with his words.

Uno and disi-otso for the snake. Treinta for the hole.”

Bangking’s hot gin-laced heavy breath smother Alot, and she felt his roused manliness.

“I’ll put P15 for a 1-18-30 kalut.”

Bangking nodded. Then kissed her. He began to explore inside her kamison. Alot closed her eyes as her hands groped that throbbing sensation pressed in her stomach…

ANSIT PHOTO: Pansit canton (and a pizza) from Bay’s Inn in Baler, Aurora.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Felicisimo Tapec is synonymous with his green racer bike. It would not be him without the bike and the bike would not be it without him.

Felicisimo Tapec always competed in those fiesta races. And the whole of Almaguer would line the gravel road to cheer for him whenever a race passes by. But he never won.

Felicisimo Tapec, like the rest of Almaguer and Bambang, would converge in the sasang-atan every year for that most anticipated event of summer. A trickle of support vehicles will confirm that the race will indeed pass that way, whose arrival would later be announced by the passing of a funny F1-like car that calls itself the Spearhead.

Lupo Alava of Bagabag always have a plastic of crushed ice for him from Felicisimo Tapec who will be waiting with his green racer bike in the sasang-atan. Lupo Alava was at that time Nueva Vizcaya’s bet for the Tour.

Lupo Alava was Rookie of the Year in 1980. He did not win the Tour and retired 5 years later but not after bringing over a kailyan.

Ariel Marana the kailyan was the next best thing Nueva Vizcaya had for a Tour champion for a time. A perennial contender and runner-up, he was a consistent Eagle of the Mountain and was comfortably ahead in the overall standings when an over zealous fan in Nueva Vizcaya threw a pail of water at him, including the pail. The injuries he sustained in that accident caused him to quit the race the next day. That’s what’s been told by the blow-by-blow account of M1 Earl “The Pearl” Sapelino.

Ariel Marana won laps, especially those coveted killer Baguio laps, but did not win the Tour. He retired like that but not after parting the curtain for a kaanakan.

Carlo Guieb the kaanakan introduced himself to the Philippines by winning 2 consecutive laps in Baguio. He went on to become the Rookie of the Year that summer.

Carlo Guieb led by 46.12 seconds with one lap to go in the summer of 1991 when Bernardo Llentada, carbon loaded with 2 bowls of spaghetti and employing a never-seen-before aerobar and disc wheel, snatched glory away from him in that individual time trial.

Carlo Guieb did come back from that disappointment with Domingo Quilban, Nueva Vizcaya’s first Tour champion in 1969, for a coach and won the Tour twice in 1993 and 1994.

Carlo Guieb thus became a legend by becoming the only Tour ng Pilipinas back-to-back champion (the rest of the back-to-backs won in the Luzon only edition).

Carlo Guieb, his name carved in the mighty mountains where he did his greatest races, retired after sometime. In his place came another mountain man from Aritao.

Rhyan Tanguilig of Aritao, coming off a sagely advice from the great Carlo Guieb, won the killer Baguio lap in 2004 and crowned himself that summer’s king of the road.

Felicisimo Tapec today is a grandfather. Lupo Alava now raises fish in Lamut, Ariel Marana is stateside, Carlo Guieb runs a transport business in Bagabag, Domingo Quilban still coaches from time to time, and Ryan Tangulig an OFW in Dubai. I miss M1. But I will always be the young fan who will wait for hours along the road to salute his heroes as they pass by…

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

KUYA (Men in Aprons)

The square and compass emblem prominently displayed in Uncle Doming’s office in the big house in Bambang might be because he is a geodetic engineer. Or that was what Abet thought. Some time later during Uncle Doming’s funeral after succumbing to an unexpected coronary thrombosis, Abet would understand that the square and compass are associated with the men in barong tagalog who lined up to pay an unusual homage to his late Uncle Doming by leaving pieces of acacia leaves in his casket. Abet also found it strange that the men were wearing aprons.

Freemasonry broadly defines itself as “a brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God”. It traces its origins back between 7100 BC and 2500 from the Megalithic Tribes of what is now England. Its ancient history was steeped in legends: from the masons of Tyre in Phoenicia who built King Solomon’s Temple at around 945 BC; to the Enochian-Zadokite priests who were said to have hidden their scrolls and treasures under the ruins of King Solomon’s Temple after being expelled from Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD; and Hugues de Payens who established a military order of fighting monks in 1118 AD that became known as the Knights Templars who were said to have returned to Jerusalem in 1140 AD and retrieved the hidden scrolls and treasures. Sir William St. Clair, who in 1446 started building the Rosslyn Chapel where Sophie finally met her lost family in the Dan Brown novel and Tom Hanks movie “The Da Vinci Code”, is said to be a direct descendant of Hugue de Payens.

Beyond the legends, the history of Freemasonry as backed by solid empirical evidence has been traced back to 1390 when the Regius Manuscripts, the oldest authenticated Masonic documents, was written. In 1717, four Masonic London lodges formed the Premier Grand Lodge of England and in 1731, the first American Grand Lodge was established in Pennsylvania.

Freemasonry came to the Philippines through the “Spaniards only” Primera Luz Filipina Lodge that was established in 1856. Thirty years later, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Graciano Lopez Jaena, the Luna brothers, Galicano Apacible, Domingo Panganiban, Jose Alejandrino, Tomas Arejola, Ariston Bautista, Julio Llorente, and Jose Rizal became the first Filipinos to be admitted in a Masonic lodge while they were studying in Spain. In 1912, a single and unified Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippine Islands was established but remained polarized into two main factions due to the issue of race: the Americans’ Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands and the Filipinos’ Regional Grand Lodge. These two factions were finally united in 1917 through an agreement of electing an alternating American and Filipino Grand Masters. The first Grand Master of the united lodge was MW William H. Taylor who is an American, and was succeeded by MW Manuel L. Quezon who was the first Filipino Grand Master. After 1946 when the Philippines formally gained independence from the United States, all Grand Masters were Filipinos.

Almost 30 years after Uncle Doming's death in Bambang, his nephew Abet paid homage to him by being admitted to the Model Lodge No. 373 of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines…

PHOTO EXPLAINED: Members of the Model Lodge No. 373 of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines in Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija during the second public installation of its officers for 2009.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Junie had a restless and sleepless night. He turned ten almost 3 months ago and at that age, he must participate in Almaguer’s annual summer ritual of the kugit. And summer started 3 weeks ago.

“Get up now and eat. You should have a full stomach today so you can endure the kugit”.

That was his mother doing her 5 am ritual of banging the pots and plates while preparing breakfast, calling the chickens to eat and at the same time sweeping the yard. Junie pulled himself up reluctantly, squatted on the papag, and nursed a scalding inky cup of coffee made from boiled toasted rice that tasted like pulitipot with the generous amount of brown sugar his mother stirred in. He tried to eat but the reheated rice from yesterday’s supper and the tough broiled tinapa felt like a lump of pulped cardboard in his dry mouth.

The familiar welcome yelp of their dog Salaki announced his father’s arrival from the taltalon. A muffled conversation between his mother and father, and the sound of the panabas being tucked in the sawali wall completed this everyday habit that always culminated in his father sitting down the papag. They ate in silence.

“Go now. Wrap this around after the kugit”.

He was handed by his mother a strip of newly washed white cotton cloth with a 50 centavo hole in the middle that was torn out from what used to be his father’s old working shirt.

“Take this and give it to Lakay Carling”.

His father handed him 4 sticks of Peak menthol cigarette wrapped in plastic. Then he was off to the karayan.

Junie found 9 boys already soaking and softening their skin in the cold waters of the karayan. He nodded to his friend Abet whom he thought looked so cold and so scared. They were assigned their sequences. He was last and number 10 but Abet who was number 9 pleaded to switch places with him.

After 8 calls followed by the sound of a pukpok, it is Junie’s turn. He started chewing on the mouthful of young guava leaves he picked along the way. The unspeaking and swarthy Lakay Carling commanded him to kneel and close his eyes. He felt the foreskin of his suddenly terrified penis being positioned in a piece of wood, a thumbnail tracing the skin, then pok!.

“Spit it out!”.

But he can only manage a dribble of what remained of the chewed young guava leaves he swallowed after the pok! and the hot searing pain that followed. The first thing he saw after opening his eyes was blood soaking up the white cotton cloth and Abet running away.

Two weeks later, he learned that Abet was bodily carried by his father to the district hospital who was holding a free pakugit spree in commemoration of its anniversary, and that Abet was finally circumcised while bawling out a long playing version of “You Are My Sunshine”.

PHOTO EXPLAINED: Bulan held my hands tight while his Nanay soothed him with words of comfort only a mother could give as our oldest son goes through a symbolic rite of passage from childhood to manhood.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Once upon not so long ago, Lenten was observed in Puncan in a not so usual way. By Palm Sunday, all the images in the old Spanish church were already draped in black for the symbolic week-long mourning of the death of Christ. Four kubols are erected in the church patio for the pabasa. Flowers and items of herbal medicine (i.e. leaves, barks, etcetera) were thrown in the air in an exultation of joy during the singing of the hosana.

By Monday morning, the marathon pabasa starts until midnight. This will be the case until Wednesday. By Holy Thursday, the pabasa will go on non-stop until the morning of Black Saturday.

But the highlight will be the ritual of the tiniblas --- the unusual Puncan way of accompanying a procession with loud claps from bamboo instruments called palakpak. The tiniblas starts with a short procession of the Nazareno bearing the cross on Holy Thursday. By Good Friday, the procession will be longer with more people accompanying the carriage of the santo bangkay on its way to the old church where a Latin mass will be celebrated led by the old cantor Cisto Sumaoay and his peers. They speak and chant together in varying tones, blending perfectly like the voices of singing angels. Twelve lights --- 11 torches and a Coleman lamp --- provided the funereal glow inside the old church. A light is taken out one after the other under the signal the Cantor Cisto following each recitation of the 12 mysteries of the cross until only the Coleman lamp is left. After this is also taken out and the old church completely enveloped in darkness, a sudden thunderous clapping of a hundred palakpaks will suddenly erupt inside the old church. The din will pervade for some time, then silence… until the next Lenten season.

But as the old church succumbed to the punishment of time, a treasure hunting folly and an earthquake, the sanctity of the tiniblas began to erode. The faithful started covering their faces during the palakpak to ward off the dirt thrown by ruffians unseen in the dark. They began covering their ears too in a fruitless effort to shut off the blasphemous shouts of drunkenness from among some of the crowd.

Perhaps from this disrespect that the old church fell down and the old cantors no longer lead the Latin mass until they too are gone. A new church was built but except for the 3 church bells, nothing remained of the past. And with the new church, the priests came and taught the “right” liturgy. The santo bangkay is no more. It has become the santo intiero.

One of my biggest regret is not being able to see the old church of Puncan when it still existed. Because it’s no longer there, I would not be going to Puncan if not for Oyet P. who asked me and Hermo, the prodigal son of Puncan, to find traces of the tiniblas. What I’ve had were stories from Nana Saling Pineda who grew up with the tiniblas, and an overview from the younger Diego Lomboy who witness its demise. Both, however, have no idea how it originated.

Then I went around shooting the old camino real of Puncan, and the motley train of penitents prostrating themselves under the burning summer sun followed by 6 drunk half-naked men with faces blackened by soot, carrying a soiled blue bagful of cuatro cantos, and beating 2 bamboo poles in an ati-atihan frenzy perhaps in a desperate remembrance of the legend and ritual of the tiniblas.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


My elementary education culminated at the Southern Nueva Vizcaya District Multi-grade School of the Seventh-Day Adventists after going through 4 schools in 4 provinces with my itinerant missionary teacher mother and literature evangelist father. I never returned since then. Not until 26 years later on March 30 when I was invited as the guest speaker of its 2009 graduation rites. The church in Almaguer has been made over but the school building remains the same. Relatives, most of them my late mother’s contemporaries, came to see me. I kissed their hands in respect and to salute the ties that will keep us together. The poignantly familiar place and faces tugged at my heart. I almost cried…

Four days later, I met some of my former teachers at what is now the Nueva Vizcaya State University (NVSU) and acquainted myself with the places that witnessed my turbulent 6 years of high school. I started well as a freshman with a partial scholarship at the Northeast Luzon Academy in Isabela. But the stars were not with me then. There were huge frustrations. I was too young, too alone, and too angry. I got kicked out in my third year and moved to the Nueva Vizcaya State Polytechnic College (what is now NVSU) where I set some kind of a record by being among the top three passers of the NCEE and yet failed to graduate in 1987 because of academic deficiencies. I sulked and ran away. But I came back to face my shame, picked up the pieces, moved on, and finally completed my high school education in 1989. I never came back, not until 20 years later as the guest of honor and speaker of the university’s laboratory high school recognition and graduation day last April 3. It was good that there was a lengthy program before my speech. I had time to battle the creeping nostalgia and swelling emotions. Otherwise, I would have choked and cried…

Within a span of 5 days, my adolescent past went full circle and I come to terms with it. Deja vu indeed. I guess that’s what we do when we have journeyed a lot and began to get older; we get invited to speak in graduations.

On April 17 of this year, the Central Luzon State University where I did my bachelor and masters degrees will hold its commencement exercises. But I won’t be speaking there. Not just yet…

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom): (1) Dear Mom pinning my second honors during my elementary graduation in 1983 at the Sabadista school in Almaguer where (2) I was the guest speaker 26 years later. (3) High school graduation in NVSPC (now NVSU) in 1989 that was 2 years over due and (4) coming back after 20 years as the guest of honor and speaker of the university’s High School Batch 2009. (5) That’s me about to receive my college diploma from CLSU in 1993.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The Kingdom of Pee is not just that. It is a dynasty and an empire among its peers.

Once upon time in a turbulent past, a few brave men and women dared ventured into the outlawed wilderness. They brought with them parchments to be learned, alchemy to cure maladies, implements to start a guild, and order against havoc.

From their adventure was spawned a kingdom that seeks to transform the world into a better place.

Since then, the Kingdom of Pee was ruled by a succession of Kings. Some were good, some were bad. But the Kingdom of Pee was strongly built. It rode through the ups and downs.

The Serf came on the 41st year of the Kingdom of Pee. It was then ruled by a good King who called upon all his subjects by their names. There was not much wealth but it was the period of plenty and everybody was happy. The King ruled wisely.

A new King ascended on the 46th year of the Kingdom of Pee. He was also wise as he was kind. But his subjects felt that the King was not really with them. He had as Prime Minister a Witch he brought from a distant lesser kingdom. And she must have hexed the King for it was only her poisonous voice he can hear.

By then, The Serf had been knighted a Lord. He and his fellow Lords of the Pee have long endured the unseen and impenetrable wall between them and their King. They felt the Kingdom of Pee stir in silent protest. The King must abdicate.

The King did reluctantly after an invisible battle. And so left the Prime Minister Witch as a Start-up Prince was enthroned as the new King of the Kingdom of Pee.

The new King was also wise and kind. But the Lords of the Pee sensed in him a foreboding dark motive that that was not good for them. The new King distrusted the Lords and brought with him an Iago to bring them down. The Lords helped install the King but they have to unsheathe their swords against him.

But when the swords were about to be drawn, the King fell from an unexpected mysterious illness. In his place was installed a Regent --- the reluctant Crown Prince who was also the wizard of the Kingdom of Pee.

That was how the reluctant Regent King-in-Waiting came to rule. But he was more of a Wizard than a King. How the Lords were awed by his sagely explanation of how things happen! But the Kingdom of the Pee is under siege. The Lords expected the Regent King-in-Waiting to do something to stop things from happening, and not to explain how things happen and what could happen.

And so the Lords of the Pee withdrew to their fiefdoms and kept to themselves. They were looking for heroes. But it seemed that the heroes of the Kingdom of Pee left a long time ago…

Profile: Church Ruins of San Jacinto, Pangasinan

The first parochial buildings were built in 1601 when San Jacinto was established as a separate town from nearby Mangaldan. There are currently no information on the suceeding churches. What are now the ruins of the last colonial era church was probably destroyed during an earthquake in 1892.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Pagkatapos ng ulan
sumisingaw ang init ng lupa
tinutunaw ang tintang dumikit
sa damuhan
upang muling hugutin
sa gabing nahamugan
ang mga tulang sumanib
na sa kawalan.
Sa ganitong panahon
lumalabas ang anino ng buwan
tinatanglawan ang sandaling
kapayapaang naghahanap sa
nawawalang katahimikan.

Pagkatapos ng ulan
umaalpas ang damadamin
sa katotohanan
sa imposible’t kabalbalan.
Sa ganitong panahon
hayaan mong matulog
ang kinabukasan
upang makapagsayaw ang ulap
sa kalangitan
at himuking umasa
ang nahihibang.
Sa gayon,
bukas, makalawa, at kailanman
muling bubuhos
ang malakas na ulan.
--- 89-csl011870

(Ang tula ay isinulat noong 1993 sa CLSU samantalang ang larawan ay kuha noong 1997 sa UP.)