The Prodigal Son Returns

The day started with me walking up Buendia Avenue on a nippy Saturday morning, on my way to a rendezvous point where Arniel, an old friend whom I haven’t seen for about a decade, give or take a few, is going to give me a ride down memory lane.

The blasted dude didn’t age one bit! Still the tidy, neat guy he was when we were getting shitfaced drunk back in the day (well I was always shitfaced drunk back then, he was seldom inebriated, methinks). He arrived and we gassed up, he did some work stuff for a couple of minutes and we were off.

We went to see the boys back home, home being Paete, Laguna, where we grew up.

The Bulldogs Club, as we’re famous, or infamous for, depends on who you’re talking to, was a bunch of guys growing up in Paete, painting souvenir bulldog pen heads, and everything started from there. We had a basketball team that became one of the team to beat at our local basketball tournaments (yes we have a pennant!) which came slow and hard, as we were wet behind the ears and was only in it for the heck of it. Our early team names, as Ka Emer reminded me, was Loafers, then became Youngsters, back then already giving the opposing team a hard time, and the official Bulldogs Team that won a championship, if I recall correctly. Basketball games at smalltowns are really an event worth cleaning and brushing your flipflops clean and be seen among the fans shouting bloody murder when a referee failed to call a foul.

Good times!

It’s not just being a basketball team, I can hardly dribble, but the rest of the guys were good at it. We also dabbled in music. Everyone in our crew can sing, but it was me who did most of the vocal duties when we decided to learn our chops seriously. Ambo on guitar, Tavern on drums, Me on bass and vocals, and most anyone who would jam with us, with the few song list we can play decently. Most of the time we were playing, we were also drinking, as most boys in our age then are wont to do. There was also that part of long forgotten memories, when, before we started palying in a band, we would pool up our money buy some pasta, set-up a place with a few strobes and colorful lights, taking turns at the tape player and turntable and viola! The party is on! To make sure all the invited girls can eat what measly food and drinks we had to offer, we made sure everyone has taken their share before eating ourselves, maybe even waiting for some leftovers.

Bulldogs Club Collage

Photos: Nelia De Luna, Arniel cajumban, Mahalia dalay, Rey Cajipe

Music has always been a part of the Bulldogs Club. And yesterday, I sang my heart out, because I haven’t anything to contribute financially, I just added some entertainment with my singing, even though it’s really hard to say the words when I’ve got less teeth now as I did back then. Still, yesterday was when I feel I could fuck up a song and the guys wouldn’t mind. But I think I did pretty well, considering I had to follow a more visceral singer in the person of Ramil. Continue reading

Angry Again

Angry Again

Just the other day I was at a counter, a prepaid loading station
at the nearvy mall. This woman, I wouldn’t call her a lady, with
her pompous chin and a gaggle of brand-name paper bags,
jumped the queue and insisted on purchasing a prepaid card,
while I was still talking to the salesclerk. Didn’t say anything, but
it burned me.

How could somebody, apparently well-to-do and with good
education, act so crassly as to think it’s her right to be served
first? The clerk and I exchanged quizzical looks and let it go.

It’s like the day I was in Quiapo, and another woman, no.
certainly not a lady, asked me where is the direction going to a
Mercury Drug Store. I answered politely that she just missed it, it
was on the other side (we were traversing the underground
passage). What do you know? She, with her fat arms, and her
cane, in a loud voice ” Tange! Yung isang Mercury? (Stupid! The
other Mercury!).

I was stunned. I would have punched this behemoth of
redundant flesh, but I stayed myself. No use in hitting a woman,
an older one at that. I said nothing. I moved along.

It’s the same everywhere. people who looked like they got
education, good clothes, high paying jobs, who behave like
privileged royalties, pushing, swerving, talking loud on their
mobile phones, while the phone itself is in speaker-mode, sitting
in trains like they paid for three persons, walking in no apparent
direction, waking in the wrong direction, conversing in the
middle of a busy street. I begin to think these persons got
ripped-off with their education. It’s evident they didn’t learn
any good sense, much less civilized behavior. They ought to ask
for a refund.

Males are worse. Ever been cramped in line during MRT rush
hour and some dude with well combed hair, and smelling of
expensive perfume ( I can tell if it’s real perfume, fake ones
make make me dizzy) sweep you aside so he can be first while
muttering ” I’m gonna be late for work!”

Oh, yeah? You shouldn’t have gone out last night with your
drinking buddies! Not our fault you keep a lousy schedule. But
no, I didn’t say it out loud.

Scooters with loud exhaustr pipes and lowered frames infuriate
me. Drivers who don’t lower their headlights at night are a pain
in the butt. Movie critics who write reviews, but just
paraphrased from Premier Magazine. People who scoff at other
people for finishing everything on their plate at a food court,
saying it smacks of being “patay-gutom”. I mean, why the hell
not, I paid for it? I enjoy eating! I coulnd’t say the same for the
health buffs who lecture other people about their eating
habits, or the vegetarian who would crucify you if given the
chance. Banks with such beautiful catchphrases they could not
keep. Wannabes who think just because they had the money
and printed their crap comics, they should be treated as the
old-timers who are still struggling. Calling their so-called art
minimalist, line-drawing, and all sorts of mind-numbing labels to
justifytheir ineptitude, and jons a group so they can fool
themselves they are real artists.

And I could think of two worse kinfd of people: HR personnel and Vapers. Some of my friends work as HR people. But hell, these are the worst kind when it comes to asking applicants to go out of heir way and be on time at a particularinterview. And afterwards, these smug bitches won’t even spend a peso texcting or calling you that you, unfortunately didn’t get he job. Civility aside, wouldn’t if be more civil if yu can tell job hunters, hey, guy you just didn’t cut it for the slot. Vapers are worse! Their withdrawal from tobacco makes them arrogant and seem to think it’s their God given right to expel thick, pungent sweet vapors to someone’s face , just because their expensive vapes cost more than their average income per week. I loathe these people. Makes me wanna bitch slap them to their senses.

Someone I worked for recently called me an ungrateful, thick-
faced, no-good [insert all expletives you can think of] and I
think had my name on police blotter, or so I was told. This prick
can’t manage his office, cannot make an appointment on
time, pays too little and all that while I do everything in and out
of the office short of wearing a skirt. Hell no, keep your stinking
job, I’d rather starve (of which I am currently doing) than be
the whipping boy for a firm that has no direction.

I could be rude, crude, nasty and crass to other people.

But I won’t step to their level of arrogance.

Keep looking down on us.

Remember when you fall, we are there to see you drop.

Oh I forgot.

I could be as basty as I wannna be.

I dropped out of college.

I’m an unecucated scoundrel. What’s your excuse?

Learning To Fly

At best it was a horrid day.

Not because of bad things that happened, no there wasn’t. But I am quite sure elsewhere, worse things did. The day was gloomy from the dark clouds and the threat of heavy rainfall was evident. But that was just it, just a threat. All day long it was sweaty and hot. The perspiration that dried at the base of my neck has become gritty salt when I noticed.

But I was in a good mood. Rarely do I get sad or weary.

There is still that novelty of learning new things. And I am learning a lot. When I woke up from a very long night of studying favorite authors’ works, my own inking progress and even more research, my process has turned to seeing and reading and listening.

I’ve had a signed copy of Vic Poblete’s Marco Piolo and amidst the vast stories and novels the man has published, mostly vague recollections of stories read from my youth, this particular komiks is the one that has taught me more than an interview with a person might turn out. I have met Vic Poblete and the man is what he is – feisty, intelligent, quick to wit and what we call the personification of the word masculine – and yet, if you’ll get the chance to shoot the bull with the man, he’s a simple and as real as any father or uncle can be. Which I wouldn’t mind considfering I grew up without a father. And Marco Piolo is so precise in it’s words and pacing that all I need to do was read and look and read again, catching how the man put descriptions and dialog. The man’s mastery of the vernacular is enviable. After reading F Sionil Jose’s The Feet of Juan Bacnang, which is another author I admire, and his prose is very much a sort of transcendental reading, but Poblete’s wit and grasp of the NOW is plain to see, you can feel the abruptness of events happening in the story. There is another author I need to study, another friend, but with her work I need to get my feminine mojo on, because I am, admittedly, not really into love stories. But Ms. Rose Tan has been writing for two decades now, and her vernacular prowess has grown into staggering proportions that she only needs to quip a part of her writing on social media and her fans are swooning! I may have to read Arik, but not right now. I’ll do it after I let her read my manuscript, after all, the best critic will be a friend who tells you what stinks.

Oh, you may have guessed by now that I am writing. Mostly fiction of the sci-fi and fantasy orientations. And have applied what I have done with my previous work, approach it as a newbie, learn as much as possible about it, and do it. If roadblocks appear, do research and solve the damned thing that is getting in my way. And reading up on it is teaches me more than attending writing classes and seminars. Those books I have read and lost long ago, Perez, Bautista, Bombeck among the few, and those I still have with me are actually teachers for my story telling.

I’ve been listening to an audiobook by Stephen King, On Writing, and the writer who has given me Pennywise and Roland and the Tommyknockers is teaching me more than just taking me to places in New England and of people I will never meet but totally exist in that hemisphere. He’s talking about what I’m learning from Poblete and Tan, from the booksale find of three Ruth rendell Wexford novels I am reading in between drawing and writing, from the est of my measly collection of thriftshop hardbounds and paperbacks. Oh, I would still like to write like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or HP Lovecraft, but these authors I have with me now – King, Poblete, Tan – they are what’s closer to me, in different ways possible.

Soon as I prepped for the days drawing, setting up my media player with my headphones and the day’s selection of music, probably Heavy Metal or Jazz, depends on how noisy it is outside my door, I dive deep into learning. Even with my drawing I have seen my own progression. There is a difference between wanting to and doing it – the confidence of doing it is the key. And I have become confident in what I am doing.

Maybe because I have grown.

Or maybe I have accumulated all sorts of experiences and it is time for me to tell stories, to describe each experience within the walls of my fantasy. All the love, the hurt, the exhilirations and frustrations, misgivings, apprehensions, disappointments, immorality and honesty, exaltations and confusion. I’ve even made it a point to illustrate what I believe happened rather than what was taught me in since childhood.

It’s what good about writing and creating, I can shut the worl out and be with myself and the stories. Even with the constant braying of the twin kids below my room, or the incessant cha-cha music from the other side of the street, I could be with my own, in a world where I am learning as I move along.

But when the couple next door happens to make love, all bets are off. The house moves like a jellyfish and that is the only distraction I cannot possibly ignore, so I stop, giving them enough time to finish and I start again.

And by the time I have my fill of learning, writing, drawing, it’ll be past 3am, which is what I will be doing affer I have written down this affirmation of sorts.

Heavens, please make it rain, it’ll make the night cooler and much more lucrative for creativity . . .