February 26, 2005

A LETTER TO ELISE

A Letter to Elise by The Cure
Not only in these moments that I have pondered the possibility of writing a long overdue requiem for an old friend that had already gone to the netherworld, but also in many other instances before. Maybe I just hadn’t had the time before or maybe the time wasn’t just right. And so now I shall speak of him in the best of manners and as far as my remembrances of him could take.

Aziz Vernon Mustapha was closer to me as a brother than as a friend. I met him during our first years in Ateneo de Zamboanga, in a time and place that was etched in my mind like mildew on a rock. He was sweating so furiously one sunny afternoon when he appeared out of nowhere and suddenly sat beside me without any prelude in a Religion 101 class that we had both attended. He kept on scrubbing the area around the back of his neck with a handy towel and that made me a little uneasy. It was the first week of school that year and I panned around the entire length of the room for any familiar faces, as well as amiable countenances that I could be comfortable with, those that I could possibly associate with later on. I did not find one familiar soul and most of them looked grim and sordid. Anyone sitting for a Religion class in Adez has exactly nothing to be cheerful for and everything to grieve. The words coming out of the religion teacher’s mouth can border from the murderously boring towards the unforgivably commonplace. I am now a strong advocate of religion and I assure you that religion is not such a dreary subject to brood over. Do not get me wrong on this. It is just that when we were so young and adventurous then, the matters of faith took a major backseat from our thoughts and attention, and became farthest from the pyramid of our wants and desires.

I attempted at a conversation with Aziz by asking: “What’s that CD about?”

Aziz handed me the square object that he was holding tightly in his hands like a precious ancient artifact (he held it so tightly as I have observed then) and I found out for myself that it was a recording of live performances by the Filipino new wave band “The Dawn”.

I said: “I like their songs and Jett Pangan was sublime in ‘Enveloped Ideas’; or something to that effect.

Aziz nodded and never spoke a single word to me up to that moment. I had rescinded my forward engagements towards him because of his seeming nonchalance. Sheik Bagis, the religion teacher that was in front of us called my attention and told me to shut up and be attentive. I did not notice the classes were about to start that I felt a little sore from embarrassment for the first time ever. I am not kidding. I was such a diligent student for most of my high school years that until that moment, my attention inside a classroom had not been questioned and called for. I never minded this discomfort so much and began to keep quiet and pretended to listen to what the teacher was reading from a fading textbook. Sheik Bagis knew me fairly well since he had also been one of my teachers in high school. He proctored us in SRA. I am never sure now what the exact denotation of the acronym SRA but Standard Reading Activity seems to be the approximate term.

Later that week, I was sitting with my Tau Gamma fraternity brods in the bench near the Ateneo Chapel when John Suico, a classmate from high school walked towards my direction. I stood up to meet him and gave him a hug. He was with Aziz. It was so long ago that we have been together so I asked where he had been?

“I was in Davao” John said. “ Our family had some business there you know.” He continued.

“How about you? I heard you were in Silliman with Tony?” John asked me.

I narrated to him how I spent one whole year in Silliman but found some difficulties there that I had to come back again to Ateneo and take up accountancy. John explained to me that he had likewise met Aziz just recently. “Pics, this is Vernon”. Pics was my nickname while Vernon is the name John use to refer to Aziz. I said, “I know him. We’re in the same class in religion”.

John had apparently got to know about Aziz in the orientation seminar given that year for incoming freshmen and transferees. I forgot the orientation schedule that if I remember too well, I might have been flying kites that day somewhere in the vicinity of the rice field just adjacent to our neighborhood.

I had surmised then that Aziz was a man of few words when during our initial encounters, he seem to have not spoken to me even a single word. But later, as our friendship blossomed, he had become the most gregarious among the three of us.

One afternoon, on a break from that arduous Citizen Military Training we usually had in college, we were munching on fried bananas when John noticed something. “What’s that smell?” he asked and we all look around for the possible source of the unwelcome scent. “ I do not smell anything.” I answered back. “It’s your shoes Pics. Your socks are dirty”. I protested that observation from John and I said that it was only in his mind. But I must have been guilty that one afternoon for I remember not a few times did I resorted to wearing socks that wasn’t fully dried up. I was not a sock person back then when I was in college. Usually, whenever Sundays were near approaching, it was usually the night before that I usually remember that I had to wear socks for the CMT drills the following day. I had to scurry up and wash some socks that I almost always left dirty and unattended in some dark corner of our house. Bad habits that I had then you might say but in college, I never really wore those big and heavy shoes that called for the wearing of socks, like the way those humongous basketball rubber shoes many wore during those years when Michael Jordan was the god of many gangly youths. All my loafers then were topsiders and some look like kung-fu shoes. I like those kinds of shoes better since they were so windy and my feet felt breezy in them all the time and I never had to wear socks often. Besides, you won’t have to go through the usually lengthy ceremony of tying up laces that big shoes demand. You can just pick up those topsiders and slip them into your feet and up you go in a jiffy.

John and Aziz both laughed citing my smelly socks but I just disregarded them. As the three of us were heading downtown, after that afternoon’s CMT session, I uttered to them while my eyebrows were furrowed from deep thought, a suggestion that could make our associations more rewarding and productive. I said, “You know what, ‘Dirty Socks’ seems to be a good name for a band”. Right up to that moment, we were really dreaming of forming a rock band and we were so serious about it that we have made acquaintances with some Ateneans who were already playing in one. They both agreed to this band moniker but later on, we had to change it to “Dirty Sox” to make it sound spikier.

We had a friend named Jerome then and he was already in a band. In fact, he was the bandleader of a band that played heavy metal music by Metallica and Iron Maiden. That time, if a band could play “Enter Sandman” with silkiness and spontaneity, that band is popular as hell. Every time Jerome and his band mates were rehearsing in Jerome’s house, we would be present just watching them and learning the craft from a distance. We all knew how to play the guitar but we were not so refined in that field that we had to observe how others did it. I had to learn how to play drums myself because John had wanted so much to be the lead guitarist and Aziz coveted the role of the bass player like he was yearning for a woman. Being unassuming that I was then, I agreed to beat the drums for them even when I had no professional training whatsoever in that field. Aziz had good things to say about my voice though. According to him, my voice was both full and raspy and among the three of us, I had the finest voice. So I had asked both of them that perhaps I could be the lead singer. They both answered yes to this particular intimation. But I eventually asked them about how I could be the singer of the band when at the same time I had to be the drummer? John said almost in a whisper, “Pics, if Phil Collins could both play the drums and sing the lead vocals for Genesis, I can see no reason why you could not do it.” I did not know how to react at first to this particular opinion of John but to be sure I was elated with the comparison to Phil Collins so I agreed to be both the singer and the drummer. In my lone moments after that, I had felt so confused and challenged thinking what great trouble I had found myself agreeing to become both the drummer and the singer. I reckoned that it would demand from me too much exertion for having to do two tasks at the same time. Yet, I let pass those doubtfulness and decided for myself that from then on, I should face the challenge of becoming the Phil Collins of the Philippines.

When Jerome's bandmates quitted on him one by one, we tried applying as his new band mates but he would not take any of us. He said our skill was still far from performance level. We said we could try harder in practice and play all the songs he want us to carry out but he would not let up. We were so disappointed with Jerome that we made jokes about him when he wasn’t around and laugh so hard on them. John said that at first Jerome had a complete band made of four individuals like U2. Then when a bandmate said quits, they became a trio like The Police. Then after another band mate left the band, they became a duo like Tears For Fears or Wham. Then Jerome became alone and became George Michael singing “Careless Whisper” like a cross-dresser in the middle of Plaza Pershing. We laughed so hard to this humorous crack at Jerome for being an inconsiderate fool, I mean friend. Even when all his band mates had quitted on him, he remains unwelcoming to our propositions of becoming his new bandmates.

I remember that I wasn’t only the singer and the drummer for “The Dirty Sox”, but I was also its main songwriter. Our first original composition was a song called “Sitting On My Backseat”. Part of the song’s lyrics goes this way on a D-G-C-G chord progression.
STANZA

D G C , G
Sitting on my back seat.
D G C, G
Playing with my yo-yo.
D G C, G
Waiting for the sundown.
D G C, G
Looking for a showdown.

CHORUS
F G C, G
Sitting on the back seat with the radio on.
F G C,G
Sitting on the back seat with the radio on.
F G C,G
Sitting on the back seat with the radio on.
F G D,G
And it feels like sunshine.
F G D,G
And it feels like moonshine.


Forgive the simplicity of the lyrics but that was how crude my writings back then, right about the time when I was still a college freshman. Aziz queried me about the meaning of the song’s lyrics and what the hell I was doing sitting on my backseat. He said that maybe I should change some wordings of the song to give it more sense. I refused to be edited and I said the person in the song is sitting in the backseat of a car listening to the radio and that he enjoyed that activity so much that it felt like a good sunshine on an ultra-cool afternoon for him---pure and simple. John on the other hand praised this eponymous composition of mine that he compared it to the Clash punk classic “Should I Stay or Should I Go”. It was so simple John added and the chord progression was so strong and very rock-oriented that according to him, the intro for the song “Sitting On My Backseat” reminded him of the fierce guitar in the intro part of Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water”.

John, Aziz and I were never really able to fully form our band called “The Dirty Sox”. We did not have the right amount of money to buy ourselves a complete set of instruments. With some savings, we were able to acquire a second hand bass guitar but that was all what we have gotten then. Usually, we just end up popping out in some other band’s practice sessions and when that band was resting for a while, we hopped in and play some number, hoping to hone our skills all the more. Most of those who were already in a regular band were mostly acquaintances from high school that they are just real kind to allow us to just appear in their rehearsals and made use of their instruments while they take some brief recesses. It was sort of a trade-off. I was already a writer then for the Beacon Newsmagazine, the official publication of the Ateneo de Zamboanga and I had featured those bands in some articles, or made some mentions about them. Perhaps, they decided that they could make use of some music journalist hanging around their necks.

John was already back in Davao when finally, me and Aziz were already able to form a band with a complete set of musical instruments. We were already working in the same government agency by then, earning quite contently and being able to buy those costly musical apparatus. Except for the drum set which would have cost us a fortune if we have gotten them. One of our officemate turned out to be a hobbyist of drums and he had a drum set he kept at home although he wasn’t in any band at all.

But without John, the camaraderie was never the same and the magic of three or four people longing for each other’s musical support, the kind that band mates usually have, was not present at all. And besides, we could not pour so much of our time into the band since both me and Aziz held crucial positions in our office---positions that demanded more attention than we were willing to give. I was the legal assistant reviewing piles and piles of project applications, examining each time if each folder was complete in its legal requirements while he was the procuring officer that took care of the adequacy of supplies and materials.

Farouq, the designated drummer, always had some excuse tacked under his belt. He had to bring his kids to the mall every time whenever weekend came and Schulk, our supposedly other member playing rhythm guitar was a computer programmer that always had some clients calling him on his ever-ringing bulky Motorola. After a while, we stopped pursuing the dream of forming a band as newer realities set in like being married and having children, being so busy taking care of them when the night came. Aside from that, work in the office had become so demanding that soon our rehearsals became so infrequent until there was none at all.

When our employment contracts were ended by the agency we were working for, I went into dried fish business with some capital from Aziz but the endeavor never really took off until I decided to take the bar examinations for the first time. While, we were still in the agency, a few months before our work ended there, Aziz was rushed to the hospital one morning as he suddenly lost consciousness while he was preparing to go to work, and needed blood transfusion so direly that I had to assist his brother in finding the proper blood source. I received the call while I was doing some task in the office and without asking permission from my boss, I headed for the door. While I was in the tricycle on my way to the hospital, my mind whirled like a train, asking what perhaps was Aziz’s malady that he needed to have blood transfusion.

I found out later, as I arrived at the hospital panting and perspiration was all over me, that he needed to be operated on in order to take away the kidneys that had failed him. I saw how his feet become so bloated as he lay there in bed. He was conscious and he told me, “Pics, why of all people this has to happen to me? My son is still young. Take care of my son if the worst comes.” I consoled him that everything will be all right and that he should not speak words like that. I wanted to cry thinking how in his most difficult times, Aziz thought of nothing except his son Jakob, my godson.

For two years, Aziz had to go through a laborious process called dialysis and his medicines was too costly that his parents struggled to maintain them and he needed them in such great volume that the boxes in the back of their house were stacked so high towards the ceiling.

While he struggled through nearly three years of painful medication, I could not remember him cry or looked so grim even once, the way sick people do. He was even extra cheerful in some moments like nothing was wrong at all. Perhaps, he was just hiding from me the many fears that he had to struggle against or maybe he was just all too positive that someday, his discomfort would someday vanish like a smoke in the wind. So every now and then, we still go about like nothing happened and I was relieved to see him up and about again. We played guitars while sipping some warm coffee while at times we go downtown and watch people pass by while inside the mall and talked on almost everything there is to talk about and also about the friends we had, some that were present still and those who aren’t anymore. Aziz had a way with conversation that when I was with him, there was no moment when we ran out of something to say or mean. I am naturally an introspective individual that I usually do not speak much but Aziz could always find something to say or utter.

Then came a time when his phone calls to me became infrequent, and since I was also struggling with some of my life’s own hurdles then, like failing the bar, an unstable business, joblessness, and other similar concerns, my visit to him also became infrequent that the distance between each visit to him could go for an extended period of a month or two. In the last six months of Aziz in this material world, I have observed quite well how his health deteriorated so quickly that the last time I saw him, he had became reed thin and he was struggling to carry himself---he had to walk with a cane in hand.

That fateful night when Aziz mom informed me by phone that finally Aziz had finally succumb to the illness that had longed bothered him, I sat by the stairway and tried to absorb the news with all my mind’s might and resolve. It was near midnight already and all I could hear was the songs of crickets in the shadowy bushes nearby. I kept telling myself that it was the moment that I had feared and yet at the same time it was also the moment that I saw coming. I convinced myself that Aziz should be better situated there in the afterlife, in the loving arms of the Lord, than be here and suffer that highly debilitating and often-cruel disease.

The following afternoon, we buried the remains of my friend in a seaside cemetery over a brimming sun that slowly descended on the horizon. The sky was clear and cloudless that day. I had seen the sky clearly that one fateful day and the sea was calm as a windless night. I had reckoned that it was a beautiful day for him to go away. I heard his father pronounced to the Lord his own pleadings as Aziz was gradually laid down to the ground. “That is my son, my Lord! That is my son that is being buried there!” Aziz’s father was saying those words as tears rolled down from his swollen eyes. I was not able to hold back some my own tears that I had to wipe them to look like I had not cried at all.

You could say that I had prepared myself for his passing that when his passing finally came, I had not been overtaken by so much grief and sorrow. But once, a few weeks after his death, while I was strumming a song titled “A Letter To Elise”, I wasn’t able to hold back tears that just flowed from my eyes automatically like a river that was dammed for too long and finally let gone by the opening of floodgates, as the song reminded me of him and I cried like a child and cried so hard that I wished he was still alive and walking like the man that I knew him to be and be there to receive my calls whenever I dial his numbers. But he wasn’t there already.

Aziz was more than a friend to me in more ways than one. When we were together, there was never a dull moment. We could just stroll along the side streets of downtown Zamboanga and sipped some cappuccino in a nearby donut store and our afternoon easily becomes delightful and full of joy. We usually talk about music and our favorite TV show “Friends” and we would laugh so hard recalling the many antics of Joey, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Peevee and Rachel. At other times, we just strum along an acoustic guitar and sang the song of our lives even in moments when the strings were not fine-tuned and our voices could not hit the nicer notes.

As I turn back time and reminisce the days that we both had, I am continually reminded of one of his favorite songs from his favorite band “The Cure” entitled “A Letter To Elise” and the song goes:

And every time I try I try to pick it up like falling sand.
As fast as I pick it up, it runs away through my clutching hands.
And there is nothing else I can really do.
There’s nothing else I can really do, at all….

It is not that there was nothing else I could do for him or could have done for him. It is only that I had to be brave for him in many times in the past so that he could be brave for his own self. I never really knew if he needed my urging for him to face courageously his own challenges while he suffered through that malady but in my mind, he had always appeared stronger than what could be expected from a person in his situation. I always thought that I should have visited him more during his last remaining days but I wasn’t there at his side as much as I would like to. And now I continually pray for him and plead to the Lord that his soul be taken into the great harbor of salvation. I believe that when the time comes, Aziz will be alive again in the company of angels and the Father who is in Heaven. Amen.

February 22, 2005

THE ANATOMY OF A BRIMMING ISSUE

Once I read a write-up on the subject of religion in a site called Experiment-Orange. It was an unusual blog entry because it was titled “Religion Is An Underwater Blowjob”. If you ask me why it was unusual, then perhaps you have still retained some bit of innocence in thyself. Read it HERE. Just Click.

Of course I was taken aback and commented in contradiction to the rhetoric raised in the abovementioned entry. See the comment box of that entry. You have to go there by clicking the link in the first paragraph to read the things I had to say about religion not being an “underwater blowjob”.

The issue did not die down as easily. For how could it die? Have you ever heard of someone who just retorted that our faith is nothing but a lurid sexual act and just get away with it? How could one say such things so easily?

So in my main blog, THE PROPHECY OF OUR TIME, I wrote an that I essay aptly titled “In Defense of Religion”, which counters the assumptions laid down by the writer of that “blowjob as a religion” entry and it includes a huge reference to the site mentioned in paragraph one. Read this essay on this link. CLICK HERE. Look for the entry dated Thursday 2.17.05.

Apparently, someone from the Experiment-Orange site read my work mentioned in the next preceding paragraph and called me an “idiot”. See his classic piece on this link. Again, just click. HERE.

NOW, if you want to read the content of the link I put on the last preceding paragraph together with my answer to that “not idiot” writer, then just click HERE.

IN OTHER WORDS, just go to my main blog THE PROPHECY OF OUR TIME if you want to dipped into this whole brimming issue and find out for yourself who is the real “idiot”.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO EXAMINE OR PARTICPATE IN THE ISSUE. NOT HERE. PLEASE.

ADOBONG KANGKONG AND ROBBERY IN TWILIGHT

Last Saturday, I found myself wondering why I feel a little strange, becoming aware so suddenly of the virtual isolation I have these days. It dawned upon me that I was really living a kind of a hermitic life, although not any of my intention to be so.

I was not always like this. As recent as two years ago, I was always out that I felt then that I had no time at home even when I was already married and having kids toddling around. I was always with my fraternity brods for some meetings on weekends or if not, I was out practicing with my band, then called “The Dirty Sox”. Yeah, I had a band then with my friend Aziz, who have passed away already due to a highly debilitating sickness. This story may need elaboration in future entries and Aziz is an old friend that needs an elegy.

Now I felt like I have not seen the sun for the longest time. Not really though, since I have to fetch the kids every day from school. I just felt like I haven’t had time for myself lately.

This April, I’d be thirty-three years old and you might think what’s a guy married and with four children having nothing to do. Do not get me wrong for in actuality, I have so many things to do.

You see, I am legal person but until now I haven’t pass the bar yet. I had jobs offered to me before but I was always looking for the impermanent ones since I really have my mind set on taking the bar again. A regular office job would intercede gravely with my readings. You’d asked: “How do I support my family?” It is for me to keep on my own, I guess. There are just so many things of my life that I couldn’t really articulate here yet. You can say I have some viable business on hand. Not so viable, but when it grows in the future, with attendant persistence and discipline, it could become huge that my kids may not even have to work no more. Just kidding, but every businessman dreams of such kind of success---the kind of success that makes you appear in front of Fortune Magazine.

I read my law books these days with hurdling that ever formidable bar examinations in mind. I was planning previously to take the bar this year but sadly, I felt so unprepared and I never had the inkling to risk resources by going to Manila like a warrior without a sword. I am setting my sight for next year’s edition of the Supreme Court examination instead.

Besides, I am in the stage of organizing a spiritual movement that I have in mind for a long time. I have already made the initial moves with some of my friends and members of our neighborhood. I just hope that this humble beginning would soon bear fruition. I do it for the Lord, since as a visionary, my mission to impart to the world a message of repentance and renewal is far from over. I have already a name for the movement and it shall be called “Renew The Spirit Movement”. I hope many would join on this voyage of our soul.

Let us go back to where I started in this post.

And so, last Saturday, I decided to give myself a break and thought of going downtown by myself for a great change. It had been months since I had this sort of activity. I hopped on my ever-reliable Jeep and headed for downtown not really having a particular plan in my mind. First, I went to a gaming station and found out that every one seem to be crazy about Ragnarok. I was looking for FIFA Soccer game but it was not available downtown. Usually, I play the game in a computer station somewhere in Sta. Maria, a barangay farther from the town proper by five miles. FIFA 2004 is the game I am most fascinated right now since it stimulates the soccer game so realistically that every time I made a goal, I could shout with joy. Really shout. And besides, I could play as Beckham or Lampard every time.

Next, I went to a video store. Maybe, I’d like to see some interesting movie. It had been weeks since my last rental. I scoured for titles but no movie caught my fancy. I had seen “Lost In Translation” in the racks weeks ago but it just disappeared. I did not bother to ask the sales counter when a very long line was in front of me.

I thought maybe I needed to read a book again so I went to a bookstore that sells both new titles and second-hand pocketbooks. This is my most favorite part of every sojourn I make to downtown---skimming for book titles. I could go on for hours and hours among the racks of books and I felt like I was back at the Ateneo library at which I spent a lot of time when I was there so many years ago. I went immediately to the used book section since I really had no inkling to buy a brand new title, for the good ones could go high as five hundred bucks per pop.

There were a lot of good titles available but most of them I have already read. There was Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” which came so cheap at forty bucks. Would I want to read it again? I decided not since I did not want to cry again. This book was a Pulitzer Prize winning story of a Negro girl with her diaries full of despair and failings. I do not remember what happened to her in the end so maybe I will read it again in the future, if I can afford to shed some tears again. There are only three books that had called for my tears while I was reading them and that was “The Thorn Birds”, “The Prince of Tides” and “The Color Purple”.

There were a lot of Joseph Wambaugh’s titles at that store but despite the number, every other one on the rack I have already read. Yes, that is how I loved his works. They are not very literary in nature or the kind that brings in the awards and prizes but I never had enjoyed police stories like I enjoyed his work. Imagine a former policeman like Mr. Wambaugh entertaining us with the written word. Who would have thought?

There were a lot of copies of “Primary Colors”, the one written by the controversial Anonymous, available and I wonder why they remain unsold. If only many knew how good this political satire is, it would not have stayed untouched for the longest time.

All in all, there were a lot of books that were authored by writers I haven’t had the slightest hint before if they really existed or not. There were names like “Dan Brennan”. Who the hell knows Mr. Brennan. Maybe, if one goes to a party full of pretentious guys, you could just drop the names of writers like that of Mr. Brennan. And since nobody know him really, you would sound cool for knowing something they do not know.

“Have you read Brennan?” You could start the conversation this way.

Of course, your companion would be taken out of sort and say “Brennan,…No…I have… not read him.” And he starts to lose some footing even while the conversation was just starting. With enough ground gained, you could completely dominate him by going on like this:

“Oh pity, Dan Brennan wrote this and that and according to him, the world is like this and like that.”

The guy would not really know who Dan Brennan was but at least you came out cooler than the lake in Alaska.

So much about unknown authors. I would be greatly embarrassed if someone in the blogworld really knows Dan Brennan and I will look stupid and ignorant after all.

I decided against coughing out some bucks for a new read. I reckoned that reading novels at this point in time is just all too time consuming when I still have to read my law books and at the same time do blogging every now and then. Maybe later, when I start to feel that time is becoming easier on me. Right now, time is such a word that evokes a highly-pressurized cooker that can overheat just about any time.

I went to buy the weekend papers and decided maybe I had enough time already enjoying some free moments on my own. I passed by a nearby Internet café and went surfing for more hours than I had initially planned. When I arrived home, it was nearly eight o’ clock, way past suppertime. I ate a stir-fried kangkong that I have cooked the morning of that day. In the fancy Patio Palmeras, on the road leading to the famous Pasonanca Park, they serve this meal and they call it Adobong Kangkong.

When I reached home, I finally realized that the toolbox was missing and of course all the tools of the jeep were lost with it. I was furious that some lowdown urchin might have done me in. You call this kind of thing as robbery because the malefactor has to force the thing out by breaking the lock imbedded in it. It felt a little scary realizing that I had just become a victim of a crime. To reconstitute my tool system would mean about a couple of thousand bucks. That is just too much at this point when every penny means a lot. Now I could not drive with enough confidence knowing that I haven’t got the tools needed when something goes wrong. My mind thought about what kind of soul a guy has that he has to do such thing to me. Maybe he needed the money. Or maybe, he needs it for medicine for someone who was in the hospital. You know the usual alibi. Or maybe, it was just a frank on me by the some owners of establishments in the area where I parked the Jeep. Many of these establishment owners feel always as if they own the sidewalk that they can prohibit any vehicle from parking in it. Even if the sidewalk is approximately in front of their stores, they have no right to ban any parking in it except if the government prohibits it in that area or if the particular area blocks a driveway. Maybe the Lord may one day take care of them for doing such devious thing to me. I just have to leave it to the Lord.

Might as well forget about that darn robbery that happened in twilight of that Saturday of my life. You might ask how I was able to cook the Adobong Kangkong meal. Here’s the way to do it.

Buy the following:

300 grams of fresh Kangkong leaves.
2 red bell pepper.
2 cloves of garlic.
2 fresh tomatoes.
2 onions.
1/2 ounce of powdered pepper.
2 ounces of corn oil. If you use olive oil, it will taste even better.
1 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup cane vinegar.


Slice the kangkong leaves into four inches length including the stalks. Minced or slice the red pepper, tomatoes, garlic and onions and set them aside in one place. The stalks are more salacious than the leaves as you will find it later on.

Heat the pan until it the surface smokes a little and pour the corn oil. Sauté the minced spices until the onions become transparent in appearance. After that, pour in the sliced kangkong and simmer with a very slow fire.

While it is simmering, pour the soy sauce and cane vinegar and seasoned with pepper and MSG according to your taste preference. The more pepper poured, the more piquant it would taste. After two or three minutes, the heavenly vegetable is ready to serve. Do not overcook and observe carefully the way the kangkong leaves look while it is simmering. The moment it becomes too soft, you must stop simmering it. It really depends on you if you like a crispier meal. In that case, you have to simmer the leaves for lesser time.

I must warn you that although this may look like a simple meal to cook, in reality, it took me about three cooking experimentations before I made it right. You may experience the same thing. So be patient for the meal is really worth all the fuzz.

This meal is really called Adobong Kangkong so if you know how to make adobong manok, then just apply the same principle in cooking this recipe. You know, the right amount of mixture between soy sauce and vinegar and the right amount of garlic.

I used to order this meal at Patio Palmeras. When the wife and me got married in that place five years ago, I wanted to include Adobong Kangkong among the food served. But at the last minute, we decided against it because who have ever heard of fried kangkong on a wedding day?

February 16, 2005

A Secret Love



“Once I had a secret love, that lives within the heart of me. All too soon my secret love, became impatient to be free. So I shout it from the highest hills. Even told the golden daffodils. At last my heart is an open door, my secret love is no secret anymore?” ---Secret Love, as Sung By George Michael

This is supposed to be a Valentine’s Day posting, something to think about, to sipped coffee over, and mull over the inanities about it all. But it came a day late while I weigh in if I should talk about it or not. For this might be a brimming scandal, where such is scandalous even to those who sell their souls to the devil.

What was in my mind was something about a secret love that never wanes and never fades as it goes on haunting my heart and soul like a runaway train that heads for nowhere and goes on traveling like a ghost ship in some dark and foggy side of the ocean.

She was like a jewel among the forest of stones and rocks, a lily within the pond. Every now and then I think about her, and in my mind she becomes a tale that knows no end and needs more retelling and retelling until there are no more words to speak and until there are no more tears to shed. My soul at times would scream in the strangest hours of the night but my voice wouldn’t appear. It perhaps lacked the courage and fortitude to declare its imminence and purpose.

I am trapped like a prisoner within the gaze of her eyes. There were moments in the pasts when she was just around me and near me, that I have looked intently and fiercely into those eyes, for moments that had seemed to last for an eternity, and I wonder what miracle is there in the world that her beauty is such a rekindling fire to this turgid spirit.

Am I the sinner? Am I the saint? Who am I then when I was laid before her like a sacrificial lamb to the gods of an ancient cult?

I have before spoken to myself for countless times and in endless days and asked myself if I am indeed worthy of these emotions that I hide inside me like a long lost treasure from the desert of Egypt. And now I have spoken about it to you after a hundred years of solitude and after myriad leaves of remembrances.

I wonder if I’d ever see her again or if I may hear her voice once more. And I keep on hoping and wondering, till now.

Is this what we mean by a secret love?

*Credits: Photo of "Tree" was downloaded from Free.Foto.Com. Site Here.

February 13, 2005

The Rose Bud

I met Evelyn, the wife, during my first year in Ateneo. Our family moved house towards a neighborhood that had once been familiar to me in the past. The old apartment where Uncle Mameng’s once rented was just nearby. Lustre Street felt familiar, there were those stark reminders of those adventures I had in my childhood. There were the chronic water ponds were fishes used to roam and we go fishing like there was no tomorrow. The rice fields somewhere in the out backs of the houses on stilts seemed barren now, but in the past, wild birds dotted the swampy area that I had slingered quite a number of them.

I never had a girlfriend up to the time I met Evelyn and it took me quite a number of nights thinking about my move. I was not used to these sort of things.The neighborhood friends were too urgent that I had to save some manly honors. There were not a few times that I sipped a bottle of beer before I would speak to her. And some nights it was not merely sipping when I was already half-conscious from too much beer.

There was nothing I thought I could do best at except at making love letters and I wrote them in stationeries that I burnt with cigarettes to heighten the effect and then I wrote her poems.

Poets have privileges that others do not have so perhaps when I finally got her acquiescence I celebrated my poems, almost putting them in plaques.

I wrote poems that were somewhat surreal; the kind only the poet knew the exact meaning and nobody else. They were erotic at times, but adventurous at most. There was the poem that I remembered the most and it was like magic that until now, I remain its most ardent admirer, though it may look I am the sole admirer. That poem was the “Rose Bud” and it goes…

Set your fodder widest
Like an ocean of yellow poppy field,
On an orange farm
That once ruled
The mazes of my perverted dreams.

Here I stand,
A smirking child
Lost in the underground caves
Where I set my Indian soul free
Always upon your magnificience.

You offer me your oriental meal
Flavored with salted tenderness,
Laced with diamonds of
Hopes and promises.

When you tamed a whispering storm,
The moon was a scarlet fire.

Aziz, an old friend, accused me of inventing some poem that was heavy on insinuations on drugs and sexual perversion. I said it was only in his mind. I explained that the poppy field is the beauty of the farm I used to see in pictures of Europe. They must have been tulips, but I preferred to coin them as the poppy flowers.

Poems are always misunderstood. Mine were not exempted.

February 09, 2005

The Sauteed Upo and Plagiarism In Our Midst

The Sauteed Upo
Yesterday, my stomach cringed a bit trying to put morsels of fried herring into my mouth. The day before, I just gobbled pieces of chicken meat and swallowed it just in order to put some heaviness in my tummies. I felt I was just flooded by too much fish and meat in the past days that I could possibly go haywire in the head when I see another dish of fish and chicken. So I said what’s enough should be enough. Last night, I swore before the evening stars that I shall eat vegetables by tomorrow come high or deep water. 

I went scouring for vegetable recipes in the internet and since I knew a few blogsites offering these kinds of postings, I went to them immediately. It was in Ting Aling’s site that I found the apple of my palate, of all blogsites in the world. Right before my eyes was the how-to-cook presentation of Guinisang Upo and my heart was palpitating a bit and was strained, worrying that I may become the dreaded plagiarists that the local blogosphere was talking about. The million-dollar question was whether or not to cook Ting Aling’s vegetable brew or not? More than one question were whirling in my head and my hands trembled like I was a thief. This dilemma--this doubtfulness--has never haunted me ever before, not even when I was into downloading music many months ago (which I have stopped already, to say in clarification).

I wanted to ask for the permission of Ms. Ting-Aling but I decided against it for it may take a lifetime to wait for her responses and besides, I would like to settle the question all by myself. I wanted to settle these questions on my own account and perspiration and analyze every matter of the issue like a judge about to pen his decision and worrying so darnest if there would be grave abuse of discretion.

I asked myself then, should Ting-Aling wish her readers to cook her suggestions when she posted these kinds of entries. If not, then why would she bother to put them in public view? What’s the use of her writings if she doesn’t want us to partake of its benefits? Maybe, it’s up for sale but I haven’t noticed anything that says “Download this for 95 Cents” button, which could bring us to the question of whether to “Open File From Its Source” or “Save to Disk”. I tried saving the web page of Ms. Ting Aling but the right-click was disabled so I reckoned she is protecting her works. I may warn her that despite the Java Script denying the right-click mode, one could still have her recipe by saving the web page as a text file.

And so I made a version of Ting Aling’s Guinisang Upo that is cooked daily by many Filipino households, the way our Moms and helpers do it. I must clarify that what I meant by “a version” is not exactly that of hers but one we are used to see everyday of our lives. And so this morning I said to the wife that I would be the one to cook today’s staple. I traipse along the sidewalks of Lustre St. and examine where I could find the freshest and crispiest upo. To cook this everyday Filipino meal we should need the following:

Half a Kilo Upo (which would be about half of a fairly sized one.)

300 grams Corned Beef

2 cloves Garlic

2 pieces Onions

3 pieces Shiny red tomatoes (Make sure they are red.)

1 ounce Peppercorns

1 pinch Rock Salt

1 quart Cooking Oil

1 Table Spoon Soy Sauce


Cut the upo into thin slices, not too thin but about ¼ inch in thickness.

In a saucepan, cooked the corned beef until its brown and supple. Do not overcooked it to avoid drying it up and count only about 120 seconds before you drain it and set it aside for the meantime. In cooking, one needs to know how to count even without a timer in hand. I wonder how dreadful life it is for those who couldn’t count pass 20. There would be no cooking in their lives. So educate yourselves in numbers to make your lives more sublime. If you do not know how to count pass 20, I could not see how you could be able to cook simple meals like instant noodles. The packages always say, “cook for two and half minutes” which is exactly 150 seconds. That is a lot of seconds to count.

In a separate pan, put enough cooking oil to a boil and sauté garlic, onions and tomatoes all at once until the tomatoes become tender in the eyes. After that, pour on the halfly cooked corned beef and count about two minutes before you pour the minced upo into the whole mixture. After a while, pinched in the salt and season with pepper and a few drops of soy sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for about ten minutes. Again, please do not overcook it for the vegetable may become soggy and the taste would be affected in a negative way.

Before noon, I ate the meal ahead of the rest and found out that at times, we can always get what we wanted if only we try our darnest and that I could get satisfaction contrary to what Mick Jagger was lamenting about for nearly four decades now.

After my meal, I went to the computer upstairs and wrote this posting. I wondered if I had become “The Plagiarist” many bloggers fear. I hope not.

KUNG HEI FAT CHOY to our Chinese brothers and sisters!!!

February 06, 2005

THE BOY WITH THE SWIRLING ROCKETSHIP

What do you know; I’ve got another vivid dream last night. No angels though yet I feel it’s worth elucidating if only for reason that it is such a lucid chunk of visions in my head while I slept so deeply and it may evoke some meanings for me or for the lives we all live.

The dream started on a steep hill in a place I have never been to in my entire life but it felt like I was in Antipolo, because the rolling hills reminded me of the place called Cherry Hill, the site of a famous landslide disaster some years back and which I was able to have a glimpse of in television and newspapers. I asked in my mind what was going on since there were a lot of people outdoors watching some neighborhood event, out in the open field while the sun was shining so brightly and the wind was warm as the summer breeze.

Some bystanders answered me: “A boy from Japan was showing some flying ship.”

I stretched my neck out and see for myself what the whole fuzz was all about. As I heard the whirling sound that went “whrrrrrrrrrrrr….whrrrrrrrrrrr…….whrrrrrrrrrrr……….”, like that of a motorized toy, I saw then what was to my eye was a colorful contraption the size of a small-sized passenger car, say a Kia Pride, lunging directly towards the sky like a rocketship although it didn’t look like a rocketship at all, at least not the specific way it had looked to me. The flying contraption look like a very small version of the Columbus---the Nasa space shuttle.

I observed the flying motion of the “thing” and the viewer could actually see the boy inside it, probably doing some navigation through some control dashboard. But with the manner it moves from one side to another, up and down, in steep trajectory and then changing directions so sharply, you wouldn’t think that it is being driven by someone, it moves more like a remote-controlled toy helicopter, so unstable and without a clear direction. I felt a lot of concern for the safety of the boy.

Yet, despite the queerness of the flying contraption, it actually earned my amazement and glorification. When the boy alighted from it, I was among the throng of men and women who trooped to him like he was a hero or someone famous. I said to him in a loud voice: “ What you got there is a landmark invention!” The boy probably did not hear my declarations that he turned towards another direction without a hint that he noticed me.

I was slighted by the boy’s disregard but I really felt that the thing was such an important discovery and it may be the prototype of a transport that would change the way we travel forever. In fact, the way it was designed earned my fancy for it looked like a very huge toy that every boy or every man with a child’s heart would like to have from the downtown toy store. The color was also my favorite---blue, yellow and red.

I will describe to you how the thing probably works. The flying contraption would lunge towards the heights by a turbo on its below, just like any rocketship, and when it is up in the air, it’s outer core would swirl so fast in circular movement that you could hear its sort of annoying, but mild whirling sound. This motion of its outer core probably was the main mechanism that keeps the thing above ground, and it has a couple of protruding wings that are also attached to smaller turbo engines. These wings probably control the direction of the thing aside from helping it stay afloat. The flying contraption moves in a speed that I have never seen before and that made me a little doubtful of the thing’s design credibility, for the safety of the passenger may not be secured.

Yet again, despite its flawed functionality, I truly believed that the invention by the Japanese boy could be build up further if only he meets the right persons that could help him find some technology companies willing to put money for its development. If the thing could work, we may finally welcome age of flying cars and finally say goodbye to the monumental cruelty of traffic jams in our streets and highways.

The boy went to see some persons in a nearby building that looked like the station of the Armstrongs in the old anime series “Voltes V”, in short it was a science building with an ultra-modern look and hi-tech facilities with a very high-ceiling. Buildings in the anime world seems all have extraordinarily high ceilings. I followed him of course and went into the building myself which I found to be completely empty although the mainframes and other electronic equipment were running since the lights on them were blinking and some sounds are whirling, a sign that some automated machines were on. I reckoned that the boy was inside some highly secured rooms busy discussing with some important personalities in the tech world. So I went upstairs but I still find the place empty as a dune. I took the elevator and went down to the ground floor and as I headed towards the main exit door, I saw the Japanese boy coming out of a room that I was not able to notice before. His face was full of distraught and I could see that he was disappointed. I knew then that the talks did not go well.

I watched him tiptoed through the tiled floor and could hear the sound of his footsteps reverberating throughout the building, the heaviness of his emotions were easily felt. I approached him thinking that I might desire to shake the hands of someone who invented what perhaps may be the future of transportation. He shook my hands so briefly and went on with his heavy walk without even looking at my face. I followed this boy who was so young and yet so arrogant and said in a loud voice, “You should bring it to the attention of NASA.” At this, he turned back and I could see that he wanted to cry. He said, “I will try.” And he went on walking, now in a hurried manner, as if he wanted to get rid of me. I just reckoned that a genius boy like him could afford some bad manners so I did not took it so badly that he doesn’t respond well to my engagements towards him. I just wanted to help him.

That same afternoon, as the day approached twilight, the boy was in the field again with the onlookers still on hand. I went to see the show again. He was with his mother this time around and they were in stiff argument as to how the thing should be launched into the air. This was in stark contrast to the smooth and confident launching he had earlier in the day. After some words, both mother and son agreed on the manner the flying contraption should be placed on the ground, and the boy step into the thing and soon the machine hummed again in a whirling sound.

The flying contraption indeed went steeply into the air that my heart leaped a bit as I see what a wondrous thing it was that such a small machine could actually fly into the air---like seeing a flying car for the first time. Yet, after a while, the thing kept on lunging downward and it was a little painful to see it struggling to keep itself afloat. The boy might be horrendously dizzy by then as the flying contraption went up and down in the air. I myself became a little bit dizzy just watching the thing fly in the strangest of manner.

Soon, the boy alighted from the flying contraption and he was sweating all over. I wanted to ask him if the ship had some appropriate ventilations but I decided against it. I approach the boy again without any inhibition that he might utterly disregard me again. He did not. I meant that he finally talked to me more graciously than before.

“It was hard,” the boy said.

“Yeah. I could see that” I said meaning to console him.

I asked the boy “Why did the thing fly so bad the second time around?”

“ I was flying on a manual mode this time.” The boy said in a sad tone. It turned out that the boy run out of hydrogen fuel and it was too costly for him to source them in a huge volume, in order to keep the thing flying for a longer period.

As we walked together towards a more shadowy area, I could feel the sadness in his breath. He confided to me that that the scientists he was negotiating earlier wasn’t sold out about his invention mainly because they said that the thing could not retain enough fuel in order for it to reach enough distance. The scientists instead advised him to find out the solution for this major flaw of his invention.

I suggested to him to use nuclear fusion instead because this kind of fuel is light and with a small amount aboard, the thing could go far. I also advised him to go to America because in the Philippines, even our own inventors do not get much support from the Government. He just nodded to my suggestions and we shook hands as we bade goodbye.

At this point, I woke up to a cloudy morning where rain was threatening. The weather made me a bit heavy inside as I remember the predicament of the boy with the swirling rocketship in my dream. I hope he would listen to all my advices and go to America where everything is possible it seems. I hope his dreams would all come true. I laugh a little inside thinking how could I wish well someone who doesn’t exist at all but only a creature of my dreams. But I remember the boy well, and if there is some sort of a police line-up, I could point to him always.

After I took my breakfast, while sipping hot chocolate, I pondered what the dream meant to me. There were no angels in it but I felt that the dream wanted to impart something to me. As I analyze the visions I had that night in my sleep, I now believe that sometimes we all have some idea that could really fly but could not fly so high at first due to some major flaws and yet, if only we try a little harder and knowing where to go and what to find and whom to approach, that idea could go a long, long way and may even change the way we live forever. Amen.

February 03, 2005

WANTED MURDERER: OGDEN KRONENGEKEL



OGDEN KRONENGEKEL---such is the name of the main protagonists inside my dream, other than myself of course. Have you had yourself a vivid dream? In my childhood days, I had numerous dreams of these sorts, the kind that are so crystalline in clarity that some of them I could still recall until now. I usually dream about angels in the past, flying with them into tree-lined outfields, and falling off from cliffs if I lose some footings while in the act of flying. Every time I fall from the air in those dreams, as I lose control of my body movements, I also fall from my beds that the falling sensation felt so real and everyone in the house could hear me scream.

My dream about Ms. Kronengekel (yes, she was a woman sporting jet-black hair falling down towards her knees) about three nights ago wasn’t purely about angels although some parts of it were about them cherubim. Unlike my other dreams, this one involves a narrator who whispers to me some facts that I need to know as the story progresses within that dream.

The visions in my sleep started as the narrator introduces me to the beginning scenarios (the narrator’s face does not appear throughout the dream and whispers only to my right ear as if he was afloat above ground just behind me and moves accordingly as I moved forward or backward or to any direction. He also has no name but in my mind he wears a huge black hood, just like the one wore by Death.). He introduced to me the people in the story. There was H. a friend who I knew in real life and the narrator also informed me that H.’s father was Mr. P. Mr. P. is a bailer of those arrested for crimes.

And then there was Ms. Ogden Kronengekel, a beautiful lad who always wears white t-shirts and fading jeans. When I was in Silliman University for about a year nearly two decades ago, I could recall that most students there wear this kind of generic outfit---white shirt on the top and faded or tattered jeans down below. It was known to be hip to dress so casually, a coy on pretending like a poor man when one looks so rich. I didn’t dress the same when I was in Dumaguete City because that kind of outfit needed a bunch of Levi’s 501’s which I only have one at that time. So I just was hip in few instances. The white shirt and jeans needed another garment and that was the bandana. In those years (somewhere between 1989 and 1991), to wear a bandana is to bring tribute to rock music, especially glam-rock music and since Axl Rose of the band Guns and Roses wear them always, a hip rocker ain’t hip at all without the head accessory. In those years, riffing guitars and bamboozling drumbeats emanates from every nook and corner of Dumaguete City and as freshmen students, we became so involved in the glam rock movement that spurned notable bands like Bon Jovi and Poison. In those pre-grunge days, new wave bands still had major clamp on the radio listeners and it was the times when the great Irish band U2 reached its artistic peak with a couple of great albums titled “The Joshua Tree” and “Rattle and Hum”. Making the “Joshua Tree” album for them was such an achievement already and yet within a year, they were able to released “Rattle and Hum”—how good can they get?”

So the dream was centered on a murder that I have got to know for reason that I was acting as an investigating officer in it and my work companion was H. All along H. wore a casual striped t-shirt, walking short and sporty beach sandals that I wasn’t really certain if he was toddling along with me in the investigation as a police officer himself, like I was, or just an ordinary companion. We went on scurrying up the whole facts of the case and proceeded on unraveling the mysterious death of a certain C., a fairly known rice trader in the city. If he was fairly known in the town despite his being merely a businessman (you know, as differentiated from high profile professionals like doctors and lawyers), it only means that he wasn’t just an ordinary businessman but a very successful one.

The main scene that really stuck vividly in my mind was the one in a downtown store that the victim Mr. C. owned. Me and H. went there to question some people about the murder. In actual times, the store really existed somewhere in San Jose Road within the city limits and it really sells rice, lots of them. When we got there, we saw Ms. Ogden Kronengekel walk by us and entered a small doorway just beside the rice store of Mr. C. and proceeded to the second level of the building. Throughout the story, I never really seen her face yet I knew she had a foreign-looking countenance. She was pretty, so pretty that she was familiar almost to every one we knew.

H. remarked to me: “ That’s Ms. Ogden Kronengekel. Ain’t she pretty?” I said,

“ Yeah, I am familiar with her. You know, from school.” I then asked: “What she’s doing here?”

To this question, H. just smiled and shrugged off his shoulders meaning that he does not have an idea. The way he smiled was a little insidious as if he knew something interesting that I do not know.

Then the scenes went into a cornucopia of various images. Just like any dream, the scenes in my mind change without lead ups or preludes and images and happenstances there intertwine like a spider web or a twirling spiral, at times without rhyme and reason, and they interlope upon each other like layers upon layers of sand.

The next memorable scene was the narrator telling me all the bits of information about the mysterious persona of Mr. Ogden Kronengekel. I bet I must have all the information I needed in order to solve the crime inside that dream—and Mr. Narrator helped a lot on this. Mr. Narrator said that Ms. Kronengekel grew up in Norway until the age of 5, and came to Zamboanga in the year 1986, the year when millions of Filipinos marched into the main highways of Metro Manila to overthrow The Strongman former President Mr. Marcos. Her father was of course Norwegian who married a Zamboangueña nurse then working in one of the big hospitals in Oslo, the most popular city in Norway. On the first time that Mr. Kronengekel went to visit the city, when he and Mrs. Kronengekel was still planning to tie their marital knot, he immediately fell in love with the local weather and particularly the beaches in the islands farther up north, and one just nearby town which is known as Sta. Cruz Islands. He decided then that he would not spend the rest of his life freezing among frozen lakes and icy boulevards in the Baltic Region and planned a scheme on how to make Zamboanga as the Kronengekel’s domicile. After five years of saving every penny they gained in Norway, they packed all their worthwhile things and settled here in 1986. It was rough times in the Philippines at that particular time yet Mr. Kronengekel did not allow any political disturbances to stifle his long-awaited journey to a land which according to him where the sun always smiled.

For quite sometime since they came here, the Kronengekel’s enjoyed a buoyant life full of travels around the country. You could really see for yourself how a man craves for seawater and sunshine in the way Mr. Kronengekel would stay in the water for hours and hours without getting ashore, snorkeling even in places when corrals where not all abound. In most of the beaches of Zamboanga, there are exactly no corrals or sea life to snorkel about except if one gets too deep into ten feet high seawater which would be a little risky with the sea currents so strong around here. There was even a story of some amateur boaters who went toddling in the night water in one of the resorts here while being a little drunk from alcohol. They paddled too far into the sea and apparently lost control of their boat due to the swirling currents that twirls and swirls like giant spirals in the span of both the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea. They found themselves in Indonesia a day after.

Mr. Kronengekel applied as an English Instructor in a nearby college and was hired initially as a part-timer. Yes, he had professional trainings in the languages, especially in English from a fairly known American University and worked before as a professor in the English Department of a known university in Norway. He became an instant celebrity in the local college and became instantly popular with the students. A blond-haired lean man nearly six foot tall walking along the walkways of a school in Zamboanga was not exactly an everyday occurrence but with Mr. Kronengekel around, it was a daily sight for the students who could not help snickering and making some hush-hush and whispers, every time he passes by.

One day, Mr. Kronengekel caused a minor rumpus inside the campus when he just walked away one afternoon from a class he was tutoring and shouted along the hallways, “I can’t take it anymore!!!” Apparently, he was having a nervous breakdown and never entered the campus again, not even once. The talk about him in school did not die down as easily and went own like a legend being told and retold.

The day that he found a certain man was the day that started his slide into the downward spiral of a doggoned life. This certain man was a student he befriended in school for reason mainly because this certain man had easy access to a drug seller in one of the mean streets of this town. Everyday, he would take in some puff of marijuana like it was his staple food---morning, noon and night. He was introduced to this illicit item in one of their travels to the islands farther up north in Visayas by a German tourist who took him for a couple of drink one cold night in the beach. He knew it was improper to take the item but he was too pretentious to let the German guy know that he is such a snob. In person, he is naturally a shy and introspective person but he was always inclined to hide this shyness when among a crowd, which he considered as his major weakness, and tend to overdo his show of coy extroversion by a mile.

So he smoked that illicit item just to do away with the German but it instead became the moment of his future desperation. At first, the stuff made him extraordinarily full of jest, snickered with the German to no end and laugh so hard even at the most humorless joke. His appetite for food became gregarious but what finally made him got hooked was the fact that the grass gave him a feeling of lightness that he never had before.

As his new habit progresses, Mr. Kronengekel had developed a general indolence that made him lose more focus in his daily tasks especially in his vocation as a teacher and soon started to miss on his own classes. He had been called twice to the Dean’s office until that one fateful day when he just stepped out of the classroom and never to return.

Mr. Kronengekel regressed so steeply into a man of unkempt behavior and soon Mrs. Kronengekel left home and went abroad again to earn when the finances of the family dwindled. Ogden Kronengekel became a “motherless” child at the age 9 and lived with aunts and cousins except when Mrs. Kronengekel was here for very brief annual or bi-annual visits. Mr. Kronengekel just wandered around the city drinking with by-standers from every mean streets there is in the city and huffed the prohibited item almost always until one day his body was found lifeless and stiffed as a rock near a city creek; probably by self-infliction as no contusion or bruises were marked on the corpse, and every possession in his body was intact, including a very expensive wristwatch. He just perhaps jumped into the shallow river and drowned himself by having so much alcohol to drink.

At the age of 12, Ogden Kronengekel goes home to a parentless shelter except for aunts and cousins she could bully around and whom she does not solicit for advises. The lack of sufficient moral guidance and the tragedy in her lives had affected Ogden so much that she became a wanderer herself, nearly like her father, taking drugs and alcohol in the night streets often than we breathe, never finishing college and running around with a lot of different men, even in illicit affairs. She became a creature of the night, as we know the term, hanging among many groupies in the city and creating troubles in the night streets as well as the streets of their own lives and of other lives.

I asked my friend H. about the person of Ms. Ogden Kronengekel for I could not forget his strange smirk the last time we saw her within the vicinity of the murder scene of Mr. C. At this moment of questioning, we were in the office of Mr. P., H.’s father and the owner of the bail company.

My friend H. told me: “ There is no more need to ask questions. The murderer of Mr. C. has been arrested and he is out on bail, care of our bailing company.”

He handed me the folder of the murder suspect and saw for myself the front-view, left-view, and right-view pictures of some youth with browning hair and dark oily skin, with eyes protruding from perhaps lack of sleep or extreme tiredness. It seems all petty criminals looked like the guy on the folder in my hands, except the case in hand was not petty at all.

I asked in my mind why H. remarked immediately that the murderer was already apprehended when I only asked him about Ms. Ogden Kronengekel’s person. I smelled something fishy and wanted to create a line of thought from this unusual answer of H.. I wondered of course, since I was the investigating officer in the case, how come I didn’t know the arrest of some suspect on the case I am handling myself. In the Philippines maybe, this sort of things happens and since we were inside a dream, everything could happen indeed without explanation.

The narrator made the story short and since Mr. Narrator seems to know everything, he saved me a lot of police work.

It turned out that Mr. P., the owner of the bail company, with connections in the police and in the Hall of Justice nearby, created a scenario where the murder has already been solved by the arrest of a pretending murder suspect, the skinny guy on the folder.

Mr. P. was able to convince some fish vendor from Rio Hondo to pose as the murderer on the agreement that he would be bailed out after a couple of days of detention and then he could disappear to wherever he wants to go. The guy needed the money so much and the offer was hard to refuse.

We asked perhaps why Mr. P. was interested in undermining the truth behind the murder Mr. C.. It turned out that the real murderer was none other than Ms. Ogden Kronengekel, the half-Norwegian wanderer and spoiled brat and Mr. P. was Ogden’s new paramour.

Ogden Kronengekel was still then involved with Mr. C. and Mr. P. wanted her to get rid of him. Ogden got rid of Mr. C. in the cruelest of manner, the details of which could not even be spoken here for decency measures. You say, Ogden Kronengekel developed psychotic tendencies as she progressed through a life full of desperate measures.

It was H. unusual answers that gave me the lead to the final resolution of the case and at the end of the dream, the murder of Mr. C, the well-known rice trader in the city, was finally a case resolved.

Now, I have said earlier that this dream of mine, which happened about two or three nights ago, was in some part about angels. Where are the angels? This is where the angels come in.


When Mr. Narrator elucidated to me on the true persona of Ogden Kronengekel, I forgot to mention to you that she was also a singer with a local rock band and that explains her rock-and-roll attitude. While telling me this particular fact, Mr. Narrator gave me a view of one of her performances (the narrator seem to have the power to go back and forth in time and view some happenstances in a three dimensional screen where the viewers are in it although unseen by the people inside the screen, like in Hollywood movies where there are repetitions of past events, like for example Bill and Ted’s adventures of years ago.)

So Ogden sang a song that was unlike any other song. In fact, despite the catchiness of the song, it was not a song that exists in real time. It was a song I have heard only in that dream. As she sang the song, heavenly choruses were backing her up. As the song progresses, I was taken through a time warp to a place where there was a low hill with trees lined up together like they were planted with great planning in mind and the air was so breezy and the sun was so radiant. It gave me a feeling of great joy like it was Paradise. And the place just faded after the song.

Ogden Kronengekel’s voice reminded me so much of Tori Amos. In fact, her voice was a beautiful combination of Tori Amos’s and of Fiona Apple’s. In real time, I doubt it if there is a woman living with this kind of vocal prowess. But the choral backing in the song of Ogden Kronengekel lifted me above air and gave me a gladness of powerful elation. Cherubim (with trumpets in each hand) sang the choral rendition behind Ogden Kronengekel’s main vocalization. What beautiful angels they were and what beautiful voices.

At the end of this post, we can now ask what did the dream meant to me and what message it tried to invoke? I do not know. Some dreams of mine, even as vivid as they were, just do not mean anything except that they were about angels and the angels remind me always of places and times that gives me fond memories and great joy. In my childhood, my dreams of angels were just about flying and nothing much else. No message. No declarations. Their declarations came not by dreams but through other manners instead, which of course if you are a constant reader of my works, you should already know by now.

Some characters in the dream above narrated may resemble some people I know in actual time but the resemblance was unintentional and does not portray their true persons’ character. Dreams are just dreams.



Tuba