Why people in Mindanao don’t mind Martial Law

As always there is war in my country.

But as always, two different wars are waging in Manila and in Mindanao.

In Mindanao the Maute group – sympathizers of International terrorist group Daesh – are assaulting the Islamic city of Marawi in Lanao. Duterte has declared Martial Law over all of Mindanao. In response the Communist insurgents – another group of terrorists – added to the fire by bombing my city of Kidapawan, injuring 2 policemen.

In Manila, the war is between those who are supportive of the Durian President, and those who are condemning him for being Marcos 2.0. Fears of human rights violations (already there because of Digong’s bloody war on drugs) are being aired, and rallies have been and continue to be organized by university students and others to oppose the declaration of Martial Law.

But this time, there is a war between these two wars.

Anti-Martial Law activists are under fire for intervening with Mindanao’s business, Pro-Martial Law Mindanawons are being accused of Regional closemindedness.

I do not begrudge the activists in Manila for rallying, that is their constitutional right and I celebrate their freedom to do so. I do not agree that they have no say in the debate of Martial Law’s appropriateness.

But I am still accusing them of Manila Imperialism.

Here in Mindanao the paramount concern is the threat of terrorism (which was the motivation behind the declaration of Martial Law in the first place). Texts messages and chats are being circulated from city to city of bombings being plotted in Malls and other city centers, images circulate on Facebook of the chaos and violence in Marawi and the ongoing acceptance of refugees in Iligan. Amidst the Budots and the Basketball tournaments, a faint climate of worry hangs in the air over Davao.

And once again, Manila has hijacked National attention by insisting its own experience with Martial Law is more important than fears of terrorism.

Sure, remind us of Manili and the killing of Favali and of Ilaga and of all the horrors of the last Martial Law in Mindanao,  I’ll be the first to preach the importance of remembering historical injustices (Favali was buried just ten minutes from my ancestral home in Kidapawan). It is almost arrogant to assume the Mindanawon does not know his/her history, and even if he/she doesn’t, there is nothing but the top-down education system – centered in Imperial Manila – to blame for not teaching local history.

All the injustices and fears of history repeating itself are second priority when public safety is at immediate risk. There are three peoples in Mindanao, each of them with their own harrowing experience of the Marcos years, but the attitude of Mindanawons to Martial Law is far more complex and far more nuanced that just fear of a heavy-handed government. All this talk of rights possibly being violated because of abuses under Martial Law only reveals Manilenos’ imposition of their own experience of military rule on Mindanao.

And we here in Mindanao don’t need Martial Law to have our rights abused, rights have been abused here for centuries. Bud Dajo, the Manhunt for Mangulayon, Malisbong, Manili, the Estrada offensive – Mindanao earth is no stranger to blood being spilled. Remember that military rule was declared in Maguindanao after the Maguindanao Massacre.

Marcos’ Martial Law was a horrible thing for Mindanao, but it was not the first, and it certainly wasn’t the last horror we have seen. Military rule itself did not leave a bad taste in our mouths.

If anything, a Mindanawon President leading Martial Law in Mindanao for many means order, security, and a firm command of the crisis. Whatever abuses may be committed by government forces, they are a preferable evil compared to the much worse threat of a Taliban State or a Khmer Rouge being established here.

Right now we don’t need history lessons, we need solutions. Martial Law is the only solution being presented to us, and instead of giving alternatives those critical of the move are simply indulging in the thrill of being outraged.

We here in Mindanao try our best to understand. It would be best if those in Manila try to understand us too.


Laksa is one of the greatest inventions of mankind, the Malay world’s great contribution to world cuisine. Whether Lemak (with coconut gravy) or Assam (with sour soup), Laksa demonstrates the intensity that so pleases the Malay palate.

I’ve been to Singapore three times and to Malaysia four, and on each occasion I made it a point to try as many kinds of laksa as I can. Here are some of them.


Geylang Laksa, the most typical form of the curry-style Lemak laksa, is touted as the best laksa in Singapore. It has an interesting history, dating back eighty years from an old man who sold laksa on the go along Geylang road.


Penang Laksa is the most typical form of Assam laksa. This one is from a stall near Singapore’s Aljuneid station, and is the best Assam laksa I’ve had. The sour soup is rich and glorious with mackerel pulp


The best curry laksa I’ve ever had is the Mee Kari from Nura Kasih, a stall in the food centre on the corner of Jalans Rajah Muda Abdul Aziz and Jalan Abdul Manan Nordin in Kuala Lumpur’s Kampung Bahru. What is known in Singapore as ‘laksa’ (curry laksa) is called ‘mee kari’ – curry noodles – in Malaysia, with the term ‘laksa’ being applied by default to some form of Assam laksa. In Malaysia too curry laksa is served with chicken, in contrast to Singapore’s seafood. The Mee Kari in Nurah Kasih is flavoured with star anise and cinnamon, with the whole spices served with the soup.


Not all Lemak laksa has curry. Laksam, a kind of laksa distinct for its thick chunks of dough as noodles, does not have curry. Like most Malaysian laksa it’s served with slices of raw stringed beans, which can be unpleasant to the uninitiated.


Johor laksa is a very particular kind of laksa. It is the most popular hybrid laksa, being both Lemak and Assam (with a sour coconut curry broth). But what makes it distinct is it uses spaghetti noodles.


There’s a quirky stall along Singapore’s Balestier Road that sells Mee Hon Laksa, or laksa with rice vermicelli. It makes the rich coconut curry broth much more enjoyable because the thickness of the noodles is no obstruction. It’s almost like the broth was solidified.


Katong Laksa is another uniquely Singaporean laksa. The chopsticks in this picture were never used, Katong laksa is distinct for having the noodles scissored into smaller pieces so the laksa can be eaten with only a spoon.

I hope to try all the kinds of Laksa out there, and as I try new ones this post will be updated!

Meeting Miguel Syjuco


I finally got to meet the most successful Filipino writer in the world.

Miguel Syjuco was disarmingly friendly, as he had always been online. Perhaps it was the death threats.

The Man Asia prize winner came to Davao at a very politically charged time: a consistent critic of the Duterte administration, he has been very vocal with his concerns about the many victims of alleged Extrajudicial killings in Metro Manila and other urban areas.

When he confided on social media that friends were warning him about his safety as he entered the baluarte of a politician he publicly criticized, Syjuco received a barrage of death threats, which only seemed to confirm his friends’ concerns. I had assured him there was nothing to fear, and he went to Davao anyway.

I met and hosted him as a Duterte supporter, as one who has been so since I was young (I had urged our then mayor in this blog to run when he was not even making national news yet), and whose family is passionately pro-Duterte.

But above all that, I met him as a genuine fan: I had read Ilustrado some years ago, when the Cebuano writer Januar Yap gave me his copy, and was floored by the skill of its writing. I still believe it is the closest anyone has come to a Great Filipino Novel, and ought to be taught in all schools instead of Rizal.

2013-01-14 18.37.29

My now missing copy of Ilustrado. I lent it to someone and I forgot to whom. I had a shaky hand with this photo!

Miguel came over for four main reasons: to see Davao for himself (he had not been here since the 90s); to lay the groundwork for a possible project with Ateneo de Davao; to give a workshop to my old club in Ateneo, SALEM; and to chat with my ninong, DCPO director Alexander Tagum.


Miguel with SALEM

In between excursions we would chat about politics, the Philippine literary scene, and some humorously bad jokes. He’d share personal struggles, his family’s not always successful foray into politics, and having to overcome the mob of pro-Duterte netizens who gang up on him.

In the lobby of the Marco Polo while he, I, and Nal had a drink on his first night, I joked that I hope he stayed safe, who else would win the Nobel for the Filipino people. He laughed it off with a National Artist’s name, though I was dead serious about him getting it. The only flaw Miguel Syjuco has as a writer is that he hasn’t written enough yet.

He has been saying he enjoyed Davao, though I feel he didn’t see as much as he should have. I’m hoping he finds time to return and see the Philippine Eagles.

Did we disagree while he was here? Surprisingly not much. What we learned early on online was that nobody is ever really entirely pro or anti anything. He wasn’t entirely critical of everything Duterte, as I was not entirely supportive of everything the President does.

We both agreed that the current climate of polarization, of painting everything black and white, is not productive for both sides and is unleashing a mob of hateful fanatics. Where the Duterte administration can improve with feedback, it turns a blind eye because all negative feedback is viewed with violent suspicion. Where it does good, the critics refuse to see because they only see the EJKs and a man who speaks nothing but murder.

And we both saw that while we stood on opposite sides of a political divide, we are linked together by a renewed passion for our country and its people.

On his last night while we lounged in the Marco’s lobby, a gunshot pierced the busy Davao evening. It turned out a guest who was surrendering his pistol to the guard accidentally fired a blank.

I asked, jokingly, if he thinks RJ Nieto had meant that as a warning.

An International Mention



Well, this is unexpected.

While vacationing in Singapore, I found my name in a book in Books Kinokuniya. My ego purrs with delight as it is stroked.


This is perhaps the most flattering rejection I have ever had. I sent a play for inclusion in Southeast Asian Plays, edited by Cheryl Robson and Aubrey Mellor and published by Aurora Metro Publications in the US. I didn’t get accepted, but it seems they acknowledged the writers who sent in submissions.

Normally, publicly accepting you were rejected would be unflattering. But this time it isn’t.

  • For one thing, I see my name in a book in Singapore. Beat that, HaveYouSeenThisGirl!
  • Then, the only Filipino to get in is Floy Quintos, and I don’t stand a chance against the likes of him
  • The other writers acknowledged were pretty accomplished writers too, so I’m in prestigious company

The least I could do in return, of course, is to promote the book. It’s available in most branches of Books Kinokuniya!

Every rejection should be like this!

SALEM 2017 Writers Workshop Fellows

(My old club in Ateneo de Davao is doing well!)

Sa Pagkaubos ng mga Bukid

(Published in Banaag Diwa 2016, Literary Folio of Ateneo de Davao’s Atenews. This is the first play ever published in Banaag Diwa)


Sa Pagkaubos ng mga Bukid


Mga Tauhan

Romnick Lumayon: 20 anyos, security guard sa Ateneo de Davao, taga-Mua-an, Kidapawan, may dugong Manobo na halata sa kanyang mukha

Charlene Villarico: 19, MassCom student sa Ateneo de Davao, taga-Woodridge, Davao

Janbert: 20 anyos, kasama ni Romnick sa inuupahang bahay sa Davao


Tagpo: Sa kwarto ni Romnick, sa isang bukot-bukot na bahay sa Baranggay 1A, Quezon Boulevard, Davao City, maulan na hapon. Gawa sa plywood ang mga dingding. May kawayang kama sa gitna, may maninipis na unan at kutsong may mga tila lumang punda. May de-plywood na aparador sa kanan, at may bintanang nakakurtina sa kaliwa. Nasa unahan ng aparador sa kanan ang pintuan palabas sa kwarto. Makinang sa floorwax ang sementadong sahig. Malinis ngunit may bahid ng kahirapan ang kwarto.  

Pagtaas ng tabing, naghuhubad ng pangtaas ng damit si Romnick. Sandali itong matutulala, nakatingin sa umuulang tanawin sa labas ng kanyang bintana.

Dudungaw si Janrick sa pinto.

Janbert: Sht, Romnick.

Romnick: (medyo nagulat) Atay, ‘Bert, pagkatok sad uy. Wa man ka gaila’g privacy.

Janbert: (pilit ang Tagalog) Privacy ka jan. Magpasok ako ha.

Tatango si Romnick, papasok si Janbert at uupo sa kama

Romnick: Ug nganong nag-Tinagalog man ka ha?

Janbert: (pakutsa) Ay para sana makapractice ka ba.

Romick: Ug ngano man daw sad ko mu-practice og Tagalog?

Janbert: Yung pinapanguyaban mo na kolehiyala ba. Yeeee!

Romnick: (magugulat, ngunit medyo mahahalatang kinikilig) Hoy giunsa nimo pagkabalo ha. Ug wa ko nanguyab ato oy, giistoryahan ra ko ato.

Janbert: Kay alangan part, kada muagi ra ko diha sa Atenyu, palagi na lang kitang mamatikdan na nakikipag-usap sa isa lang na babae habang naga-duty. Alam ka na nakin, part!

Romnick: Paghilom diha uy.

Janbert: (pilit pa rin ang Tagalog) Dali na, istoryahan mo na ako tungkol diyan sa iyong salad – ay una ko makalimot, may sulat pala para sa iyo. Kadadating lang. (kukuha ng bukas na sobre mula sa bulsa at iaabot kay Romnick)

Romnick: (tatanggapin) Ug nganong abri ni ha? Atay bay, ayaw sag pangabri og sulat sa ubang tao uy (manglilisik ang mata pagkakita sa likod ng sobre, dali-daling babasahin ang sulat)

Janbert: Gibasa ra nako, wa man pud ko kasabot kay English masyado (tatawa). Pero importante na no? Gikan man sa presidente sa Atenyu! Oy unsa na?

Magkahalong gulat at hirap makapaniwala ang makikita sa mukha ni Romnick. Ipapasok niya ang sulat sa sobre at itatago ito sa aparador

Janbert: Oy unsa to?

Romnick: (tila nagising sa panaginip) Ah wala, wala ra. (makakaisip ng pang-abala sa kausap) Hisgutan na lang taka atong babae be.

Janbert: Ay yan, gusto ko yan! Sino pala yan part?

Romnick: Ay ambot ana imong Tagalog-Tagalog do. (uupo) Estudyante sa AdDU.

Janbert: Klaro man sa uniform bay.

Romnick: (tatawa) Aw mao. MassCom, third year.

Janbert: Wow MassCom! Makauyab ka nito ng reporter part!

Romnick: Wa lagi ko nanguyab, unsa ba. Nag-istorya ra me kanunay. Akong naharang diha ikausa sa may Jacinto gate kay wa nagdalag ID. Kay ako ra may duty ato, ako rang gipasulod.

Janbert: Iingon daw inyong panagistorya bay!

Romnick: (madadala sa kilig) O, kahinumdom pa kaayo ko. Giingnan nakog ‘Ma’am, ID.’ Unya gitubag kog ‘Hala kuya guard, nakalimutan ko pala! Hala papasukin mo na lang ako please kay kalayo pa gud ng bahay namin.’ Gitubag pud nakog ‘Ma’am policy man gud ni sa school.’ ‘Alam ko talaga kuya, at nagasisisi talaga ako, pero ano man ang gawin ko?’ Ug nabal-an nakong bright bay kay nidungag og ‘alam mo kuya guard minsan ang policy kailangan iframe against sa backdrop ng greater mission ng university. Education baya ang purpose nitong Ateneo, kung makaabala itong policy sa purpose na yun – gaya nito o, hindi makapasok ang estudyante – tama lang man siguro na kalimutan ang policy. Tapos may super long quiz pa talaga kami ngayon kuya!’

Janbert: (halos hindi makapagsalita sa gulat) Part, kuyawa man diay nimog memory uy

Romnick: (mako-conscious) Ay ayaw na lang uy.

Janbert: Uy binuang ra uy, joke! Pero kacute sad ana niya, unya?

Romnick: (maeengganyo ulit) Kato, nalingaw ko kay maayo kaayo muhimog punto. Nipromise pa nga ipakita niya ang ID ig makuha na niya.

Janbert: Ug gipakita sad niya?

Romnick: Pagkahapon ato. Ug didto na mi nagsugod og tabi-tabi. Kanunay man siya muabot og sayo, unya timing sad nga wa koy kuyog sa Jacinto gate anang orasa. Kato, mutambay siya kuyog nako og magtabi mi. Katong nabalhin akong shift sa Roxas gate, didto na pud siya gasugod og naog.

Janbert: Yeeee! Sinadya talagang magnaog sa Roxas para makatabi ka. ‘Pag-ibig na kaya!’

Romnick: Saba diha uy, sekyu ra intawon ko…

Janbert: Kay siya pala?

Romnick: Taga-Woodridge bay. Benz ang gahatod kada-adlaw.

Janbert: Agay! Sino ba talaga yan siya, part, na dato man masyado?

Romnick: Negosyante ang papa – nakaingon man to nga apil daw anang rice smuggling maong nakapalit silag balay sa Woodridge. Ayg saba ha. Pero kwartahan na daan.

Janbert: Agay! Pero okay lang yan part, (kakanta ng Gloc-9) ‘kahit na, wala akong pera…’

Romnick: (bubuntong hiniga) Kon kwarta ra ang problema…

Janbert: (matatantong seryoso ang kaibigan, iibahin ang takbo ng usapan) Pero ano din ang pinapag-usapan ninyo part?

Romnick: (may kinang ng pangarap – na nababahiran ng kawalang pag-asa – sa mata) Ay bisag-unsa gud. Iyang lessons, iyang mga classmate, makipulitika sad sa campus. Makabright sad baya…

Janbert: (makikita ang kalagayan ng kaibigan, magiging seryoso) Bay, okay ra na, ako kabalo ko, maayo kang tao, ug bisan pag wa man kay Benz, kon utok ray hisgutan di ka malupigan. Pasaylui ra ko usahay ha kon wa koy ayo kaayo kaistorya

Romnick: (matatanto ang pinapahiwatig ng kaibigan) Okay ra uy, salamat sad. Ug okay ra kaayo nang imong katanga bay kay kataw-anan man sad.

Janbert: Agoy! Kasakit mo magsalita part! (tatawa ang dalawa)

Romnick: (Kukunin ang cellphone sa bulsa. Babasahin) Hala nagtext!

Janbert: Kinsa? Siya!? Atay nagpinangayua’y na diayg number! ‘Hey I just met you, and this is crazy..!

Romnick: Paghilom. (nagbabasa) ‘…asan ka gani nakatira dito sa Davao?’ (magta-type) Sent.

Janbert: Hala kinikilig ako na talaga!

Romnick: Saba diha – naa na dayoy reply!

Janbert: Grabe, kabilis ng mga pangyayari!

Romnick: (nagbabasa) ‘asan banda specifically?’ (magtatype)

Janbert: Gusto ka gyud talaga niya makilala part!

Romnick: (halatang kinikilig din) Pagpuyo diha uy. Hoy wa ba kay trabaho ron?

Janbert: Pinakyaw ni Angkol Muklo ang lahat ng aking Tamban, baby! Choks to Go ang hapunan natin ngayon!

Romnick: (matutuwa sa kaibigan) Sige bay, sa sunod ako na sa’y manglibre.

Janbert: Ay ayaw na uy, kabalo baya ko gatigom ka. Gibuhi pa nimo imong mama di ba?

Romnick: Wa ra uy, di gyud to musugot buhion nako, bahala na dawg asin ray masud-an niya sa halin sa tambo, basta iyaha dawng kwarta. Ako daw ning kwarta.

Janbert: Okay ra pud siya didto? Di ba bukid ang Mua-an? Ang tuhod ni mommy!

Romnick: Mao ganing kusgan gihapon. Mag saysenta na gaigib gihapog tubig pasaka.

Janbert: Kanus-a ka mouli sa Kidapawan sunod?

Romnick: Next month siguro, tan-awon ra.

Janbert: Unsa ganiy gitiguman nimo? Pamilya no? Yeee!

Romnick: Wala uy, wa pa na intawon misulod ang pamilya sa akong utok. (medyo mahihiya) Ganahan unta ko mu-skwelag college.

Janbert: Daan pa lagi ko. Sige ra part, tabangan taka ana.

Romnick: (mahahabag) Ay ra uy.

Janbert: Di bitaw, tabangan taka ana, hanapan kita ng bayot na magpalubot – ay!

Romnick: (babatukan) Amaw.

Janbert: Hindi bitaw part, magkayod din ako para sa iyo uy, para pag mag-reception na kayo sa Woodridge, i-invite niyo ako! ‘Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone…’

Romnick: Saba diha uy. (ngunit matutuwa sa kaibigan) salamat bay ha.

Janbert: Walang problema, parekoy. Basta, dal-a ra kog rambutan inig mouli kag Kidapawan.

Romnick: (tatawa) Mao!

Janbert: (titingin sa bintana) Aguy kinsa ning paingon dinhing gwapa! Gikaistorya man si Nang Soling.

Romnick: (lilingon, mabibigla) Charlene! Ginoo!

Janbert: Hala mao na siya part!?

Tatakbo sa bintana at dudungaw si Romnick

Romnick: Charlene!

Charlene (boses): Rom! (tunog ng paglakad sa matubig na daan) Dito pala ang sa inyo.

Romnick: Sus anong ginagawa mo nagpaulan! Pasok ka, pasok!

Janbert: (dudungaw sa bintana) Hi Charlene, ako si Janbert, best friend ni Romnick, nice meeting you.

Romnick: Saba diha, pasudla siya, abtik

Magkakandarapa si Janbert palabas ng kwarto. Dali-daling magsusuot ng T-shirt si Romnick.

 Maririnig ang tunog ng pagsara ng pinto.

Aktong lalabas si Romnick ng kwarto ngunit papasok sina Charlene at Janbert. Basang basa si Charlene sa ulan, ngunit mas gaganda siya dahil dito. Para siyang Nahamugang prutas, kumikinang sa kasariwaan.

Charlene: (maharot ngunit may bahid ng mapanganib na pamimighaning hindi mapupuna ni Romnick) Hi, Rom.

Romnick: Sus, basang basa ka. (kukuha ng twalya sa aparador at iaabot sa kanya) Ito o. Upo ka.

Uupo si Charlene sa kama habang nagtutuyo ng buhok at katawan.

Romnick: Bay, timplahi sa tag kape

Charlene: Ay ‘wag na, salamat na lang, Janbert.

Janbert: Sigurado ka, Charlene? Timplahan kita kung gusto mo. (madadama na ang tensyon sa kwarto) Kung-kung mayroon kayong kinahanglan, tawagin lang niyo ako ha, diyaan lang ako sa gawas.

Charlene: (nakangiti) Thank you, Jan.

Lalabas si Janbert.

Charlene: Kataw-anan lagi yung friend mo.

Romnick: (nakangiti) Ay ganyan talaga yan. Be, ano man din nakain mo na naisipan mong magpunta dito sa ganitong ulan?

Charlene: (maharot) Sorry na po, gusto lang kita makita. (tatayo, titingin-tingin sa kwarto) Kalinis ng kwarto mo. Akala ko makakita ako ng nakapaskil na picture ni Isabel Granada o sino ba sa dingding, pero kahit maliit na sticker sa lighter wala. (tatawa)

Romnick: (maaaliw) Isabel Granada talaga?

Charlene: Tingin ko ikaw yung type na Isabel Granada ang ilagay sa dingding.

Romnick: Na maglagay sa dingding…

Charlene: Oo, di ba ganun man ang uso sa inyo? (tatawa. Hihingang malalim) Kabango, amoy ikaw.

Romnick: Alangan naman.

Charlene: (tatawa, uupo ulit, yuyuko at titingin sa ilalim ng kama) Be daw kung nandito ba ang mga FHM… Uy, puro libro (kukuha ng isang libro)

Romnick: (nahihiya) wala na kasing lugar para lagyan, sa ilalim ko na lang nilalagay.

Charlene: (tatawa) Precious hearts! Mahilig ka pala sa ganito, Rom! (tatawa ulit)

Romnick: Ay kahit ano basta mabasa. Noon yan, yan man ang kalingawan ng nanay ko noon. Pagdating ko ng Davao nagsimula ako pangukay ng kung-ano-ano sa Booksale.

Charlene: (tatawa ulit pagkakuha ng isang libro) Wow sorry lang sa ‘landmark cases in Philippine Law.’ Wow tag-singko lang! Kataw-anan, precious hearts tapos Philippine Law!

Romnick: Malingaw man ako sa law. Makaisip ka minsan. Kinailangan ko din bumili ng dictionary na maliit.

Charlene: (hindi mapupuna ang kinang sa mata niya, ibabalik ang mga libro, lilingon-lingon ulit) Kalinis mo pala talaga ‘no.

Romnick: Pero hindi siguro kasing linis ng bahay niyo. Pero bitaw, bakit mo man din talaga naisipan magpunta dito?

Charlene: (tatayo, magagala tungo sa pinto) Ay wala lang gud uy, naisip ko lang na bisitahin ka. Bawal? (ila-lock ang pinto ng nakatalikod)

Romnick: (maririnig ang pag-lock ng pinto, kakabahan) Hindi man, pero – pero syaro pud gilusong mo itong ulan para lang magbisita…

Charlene: (lalapitan si Romnick, na dahan-dahang lalayo. Mapapatayo sa may bintana, si Romnick mapapatayo sa pinto, ngunit wala itong lakas na buksan ang kandado) O, para lang magbisita. (haharap sa bintana. Matapos ang sandaling katahimikan, isasara ito).

Romnick: (lalong kakabahan) Nag – nagtaxi ka?

Charlene: Nagsakay lang ng jeep. Kalingaw pala magjeep no, makaisip ka.

Romnick: Pero sigurado siksikan ang jeep ngayon kay ulan. Amoy singhot siguro no (sinusubukang walain ang tensyon)

Charlene: (dahan dahang lalapit) O, parang mga sardinas ang tao sa loob. Pero okay lang. Minsan magcrave man din ako ng amoy ng pawis. (nasa harap na ni Romnick. Aamuyin ang dibdib nito. Pabulong) Amoy pawis ka, Rom.

Romnick: (Mawawala sa sarili. pabulong din) Ikaw amoy ulan… (magkalapit na ang mga mukha nila. Ngunit bigla itong masisindak at itutulak palayo si Charlene). Uy naano ka na man!

Charlene: (may kaunting pagkayamot) As if ako lang…

Romnick: (matatanto ang muntik gawin, iibahin ang usapan) Pero – pero yung si – yung si Steven pala?

Charlene: Ay sus yun ba, Rom? (tatawa ng tila pilit) Wala yun uy, crush-crush lang man yun. (lalapit ulit) Wag mo na yun isipin uy…

hahalikan si Romnick

Maghahalikan ang dalawa ng ilang sandali, ngunit itutulak ulit ni Romnick si Charlene

Romnick: (pabulong) Charlene, anong problema? Hindi ka ganito…

Charlene: Ha? Wala uy, gusto lang talaga kita.

Romnick: (mahigpit) Hindi, may problema ka, anong nangyari?

Charlene: (magiging galit ang kanina lang ay mapang-akit na tingin) Grabe, ganon ba talaga ako ka-walang kwenta na kahit ikaw hindi ko malandi..? (Pipiliting halikan si Romnick ng ilang beses, ngunit tatanggi ito. Magdadabog ito sa inis, mapapaupo sa kama at iiyak) Ka-wala kong kwenta..!

Romnick: (bubuntong hininga. Uupo sa tabi ni Charlene) Sige, anong nangyari?

Sandaling iiyak si Charlene. Malulunod ng ingay ng ulan ang kanyang pag-iyak.

Charlene: (hirap magsalita sa kanyang mga luha, nakatitig sa kawalan) Ilang araw ko gud gihanda ang sarili ko para masabi ko na sa kanya. Kay alam ko na hindi na kami magtagal maging magkapit-bahay, magbalik na siya sa Manila kay tapos na ang bakasyon… Para akong tanga gakausap sa sarili ko sa mirror, balik-balik rehearse sa kung saan man mapunta ang usapan sa kotse niya… Ayun, kaninang tanghali giaya na naman niya ako mag-drive drive, last laag na daw niya sa Davao… Nasa may bandang Maa na kami nung magsimula ang ulan.  ‘Baha na naman?’ sabi niya sa may San Rafael, ‘bumabaha rin sa Kamaynilaan, pero tangina, doon walang kangkong ang bahaan’ tapos tawa… Hay kahit condescending yung tawa niya kacute pa rin… Ayun, hindi ko napigilan, nasabi ko… ‘Steve, yang… ngayong summer lang tayo nagkakilala, konti pa lang masyado ang alam ko sa iyo, pero, yang… I… I think I’m falling for you…’

Malulunod ulit si Charlene sa kanyang mga luha. Nakatitig sa kanya si Romnick, puno ng awa ang tingin.

Charlene: (mas lalong hirap magsalita) Gihalikan niya ako. Gihinto niya ang kotse sa may Marfori banda para halikan at hawakan ako. Pero nagtigil siya sandali. Nagpasalamat siya, pero nagsorry siya kay hindi daw niya mabalik ang naramdaman ko. ‘We can play around while I’m still here, pero walang seryoso…’ No offense meant daw, pero hindi daw niya talaga maimagine na magpatol ng promdi, ng taga-bukid. Siguro daw maintindihan ko man. Taga-Manila daw siya, Intsik pa talaga, ano daw sabihin ng mga tao sa kanila na nakauyab siya ng taga-Mindanao. Taga-bukid… Wala akong nagawa kung hindi magtango sa gisabi niya, so nag-patuloy siya ng drive, nag-yagayaga na parang walang nangyari… Pero pagdating namin sa may DMSF sa Bajada hindi ko na natiis, nagpababa ako. Ayun, nagsakay ako ng jeep papunta dito.

Romnick: (halos walang malay na pagkakasabi) Alam ng mga magulang mo nandito ka?

Charlene: Nasa-Cebu sila, next week pa babalik. (tila ngayon lang ulit naalala na katabi niya si Romnick, mapait na nakangiti) Rom, Taga-bukid lang daw ako… taga-bukid (tatawa ng hibang) Taga-bukid lang tayo! Mga nasa-ilalim ng Pilipinas (pilit na Bisaya) nasa ubos diay, hindi diay tayo mag-Tagalog-Tagalog kay wala tayong karapatan ana. (tatawa ulit. Unti-unting mapapalitan ng pagkamuhi ang awa sa mukha ni Romnick, hindi niya ito mapupuna)

Biglang hahawakan ang mukha ni Romnick, ihaharap sa kanya, at hahalikan ng masidhi.

Charlene: Kaya wag ka nang magdalawa-dalawa na dumihan ako, Rom. Taga-bukid lang tayo lahat dito. (tatawa, hahalikan ulit) Sige, dumihan mo ako. Ubusin mo ako.

Romnick: (mag-aalab ang muhi sa mata. Itutulak pahiga sa kama si Charlene. Habang nakapaibabaw dito) Sige, ubusin kita. Tilukin kita. Tilukin kita hanggang sa wala nang matira sa iyo. Hanggang sa wala nang matira sa iyong dignidad. Hanggang sa wala na yang bukid kung saan ka nagamaliit at nagataas-taasan. Ubusin kita, at ubusin ko ang iyong mga bukid.

Hahalikan niya si Charlene ng bayolente, ipapasok ang kamay sa bestida nito at dahan dahang iaakyat sa dibdib.

Masisindak si Charlene, didilat ang mga mata nito, at itutulak si Romnick palayo. Mahuhulog si Charlene sa sahig at iiyak.

Charlene: Hindi! Hindi ko kaya! Ayoko nito, ayoko! Madumi, masikip, mabaho, mahirap! Kadiri! Hindi ako dito, hindi! (iiyak)

Kakagatin ni Romnick ang kamao sa galit at maluluha sa hindi mabulyaw na pagkamuhi. Ngunit habang humahagulgol si Charlene makakalma si Romnick, hihingang malalim, at lalapitan si Charlene upang akayin patayo. Ngunit itataboy nito ang tulong ni Romnick, at mananatiling nakalupasay sa sahig, umiiyak. Titila na ang ulan.

Romnick: (matapos magtimpi ng damdamin) Charlene, tama na. (Walang kibo mula kay Charlene). Charlene. Tama na. (Wala pa ring kibo. Sandali ulit magtitimpi. Tatayo. Malamig ang pagkakasabi). Ma’am, kinahanglan na siguro ninyo mouli.

Mahihimasmasan si Charlene at mababalot ito ng matinding kahihiyan. Nakayuko itong tatayo, hihingi ng paumanhin, at tatakbo lalabas.

Mapapaupo sa kama si Romnick.

Papasok ng dahan-dahan si Janbert, may pag-alala sa mukha.

Susuntukin ni Romnick ang sahig sa galit at mapapaiyak. Lalapitan siya ni Janbert at tatahanin. Hindi muna ito magtatanong kung anong nangyari.

Janbert: Okay ra na bay, okay ra na.

Hihingang malalim si Romnick at tatayo. Kukunin niya ang sulat na tinago sa aparador.

Romnick: Bay, pasaha sa kog load palihog

Walang tanong na papasa ng load ni Janbert.

May tatawagan si Romnick

Romnick: (matapos ang sandaling katahimikan, sa telepono)… Mang, Mang si Romnick ni… Maayo kay naay signal diha… ay wala, gisip-on ra, ulan man gud diri… Mang, kanang, naa diay koy balita… Gitagaan kog scholarship sa Ateneo sa mga Hesuwita, four years undergrad unya pwede sad ko mag-law… (pipigilan ang pagluha) lagi mang, lagi… (hindi mapipigilan at luluha) muadto gani kog simbahan ron aron magpasalamat sa Ginoo… AB English man kunoy okay nga pre-law mang…. Aw, sakto ra man sad ni, basin naa sad koy ikadungag ani… Next month siguro, mang…. Sige, sige, ayo-ayo mang…. (ibababa ang telepono)

Janbert: scholarship bay..!?

Romnick: Lagi…

Janbert: Uy congrats..!

Romnick: Unya na na. Pila gani’y reward ni Duterte sa tip bahin anang smuggling?

Janbert: (malilito) Aw, depende daw unsa kadako, kanang bigtime gyud pagkabalo nako 2 million daw. Ngano bay?

Romnick: (hindi sasagot, tatawag ulit. Sa telepono) Hello. Good afternoon ma’am, City Mayor’s Office? Ay hala mayor, good afternoon… May ireport po sana ako doon sa smuggling information na ginahanap niyo… Jun Jun Villarico, negosyante na taga-Woodridge, may links kay Davidson Bangayan… Warningan ko lang kayo mayor na posibleng may koneksyon ito sa Sanggunian… Salamat mayor…. Ay saka na po siguro pag na-confirm na ninyo, hindi din po ako sigurado sa info ko, pero reliable po yung source ko… Sige, salamat po. (mapapaupo ulit at tatabunan ang mukha ng kamay)

Janbert: (may kaunting takot sa kaibigan) Okay ra na bay, okay ra na. Naa pay pag-asa.

Romnick: (mapapangiti ng mapait) Wala na bay. (sa sarili) Wala nang pag-asa, ubos na. (tatayo) Pero ang naa sa ubos, pasaka na lang ang kapadulngan.

Lalabas si Romnick at dahan dahan itong susundan ng maingat na si Janbert. Gabi na pagbaba ng


Tea pairings

I have loved tea since I was young, and I was fortunate enough to have the chance to try diverse kinds of teas from around the world. Some varieties I was able to enjoy on a daily basis, enjoying cups as is or milked and sugared while having snacks. Over the years I ended up developing specific pairings for food which I found worked best with particular teas, and collectively they represent for me either the taste of home or of specific places.

Here are some of these pairings. I will attach pictures when I get to eat the said pairings again

20170409_230749*Earl Grey (as is or milked), with bread with nutella and butter


Kaya toast in Taunggyi

*Xifeng Longjing, or Bilouchun, or Shan tea with Lahpet Hmwe, with kaya toast

*Oolong (Fujian or Taiwanese Tie Guanyin), or Houjicha, with Bongbong’s Piyaya



On the plate clockwise from top: Mastic lokum, espasol from Marbel, Davao Ticoy, Rose lokum

*Tra Sen, or Earl Grey unmilked, with Davao Star Bakeshoppe Ticoy, Kidapawan (or Marbel) Espasol, and Rahat Lokum (Rose and/or mastic)

*Milked Stewarts Strawberry flavoured tea, with Nissin butter coconut biscuits



On the plate, clockwise from top: cookies and cream, pinipig, peanut, and ube polvorons, soan papdi, small and big almond cookies, Goldilocks plain polvoron. I didn’t have tea with this one

*Milked Ceylon, or milked Masala Chai, or plain milk, with Polvoron, Macanese almond cookies, and Soan Papdi

*Lapsang Souchong, with lechon or any oily pork dish

*Lady Grey, with bread, butter and marmalade



*Biluochun, with boiled mung bean with milk and sugar

*Pu Erh, with Spanish sardines and mayo-ketchup, or any fish dish

*Milked Masala Chai (plain or Twinnings Hazelnut), with bread, butter, and dulce de leche

*Milked Ceylon, or milked Irish Breakfast (as is or Portuguese style: with cinnamon and nutmeg), with  butter toast

*Genmai cha, with rice and raw egg flavoured with soy sauce (tamago-kakegohan)

*Sencha, with bread, mayonnaise, and shredded nori, or anything with nori


Some pairings I associate with places I go to, and when I get back there I make it a point to eat this combination again


*Teh Tarik, or bandung, with kaya toast, for Singapore



The tea is not pictured

*Shan Tea with Lahpet Hmwe, with Monpyarlu, for Myanmar



*Shan tea with Lahpet Hmwe, with toasted bread, butter, and Pa’oh Strawberry Jam, also for Myanmar



*Tra Sen, with plum blossom flavoured Banh Khao, for Vietnam



*Tra Sen, with Banh Com, also for Vietnam